with the bold text in the example below:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lawless by John Hillcoat, 2012 (R)

with Shia LaBeouf (The Company You Keep, Constantine), Tom Hardy (This Means War, Warrior, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Larry Crowne, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby), Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce, The King's Speech, The Hurt Locker, Prometheus, Iron Man 3), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter), The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter), Mia Wasikowska (Albert Nobbs, Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right), Dane DeHaan (Jack & Diane), Chris McGarry, Tim Tolin, Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Dark Knight Rises), Lew Temple (Unstoppable)

This true-to-life action saga profiles Virginia's bootlegging Bondurant gang, whose exploits during the Prohibition era made them outlaw heroes. The three Bondurant brothers tussle with the law and each other as they try to survive changing times.

This is not a genre I am familiar with. Prohibition time in the countryside, gangster movie. And perhaps because it doesn't generally appeal to me. My curiosity for this one was the cast, with Jessica Chastain and Tom Hardy who I really like in general. Anyway, the story is good, the rhythm keeps you hanging in there, good guys are bad guys and bad guys are really freaky. The movie is about men, and how their humanity is defined through the changes of the society. It is intelligent, not sophisticated, there are no crazy pursuits, everything feels like it should have been back then, and somehow that feels right. (Tired of special effect action movies...)

Watch trailer:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness by J.J. Abrams, 2013 (PG-13)

Nominated for the Oscars 2014 for the following category: Visual Effects

Chris Pine (Unstoppable, This Means War, People Like Us), Zachary Quinto (Margin Call, Heroes), Karl Urban (RED), Benedict Cumberbatch (War Horse, Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, The Whistleblower), Zoe Saldana (The Words, Avatar), Simon Pegg (Ghost Protocol), John Cho (Total Recall), Anton Yelchin (The Beaver), Peter Weller (RoboCop), Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood (Flight, Deja Vu, Barney's Version)

This sequel returns much of the cast from the Star Trek feature released in 2009, breathing new life into the seemingly ageless space franchise. Led by the intrepid Captain Kirk, the Enterprise crew still includes Scotty, Spock and Chekov as well.

There is a lot of action, a lot of combat. The bad character is a little bit interesting, specially because Benedict Cumberbatch is a really good actor. Zachary Quinto managed to make me laugh with his dry way of expressing himself, but the whole thing is predictable, in the end, cheesy, and Chris Pine has this overacting tendency that can become irritating. The landscapes were definitely inspired by the latest imagery that Hubble collected, mixed with some creative visual ideas of other planets and the future, but unfortunately this is not enough...

Watch trailer:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Company You Keep by Robert Redford, 2012 (R)

with Robert Redford (The Horse Whisperer, Out of Africa, The great Gatsby), Shia LaBeouf (Constantine), Nick Nolte (Warrior), Brit Marling (Another Earth), Susan Sarandon (Solitary Man, Jeff Who Lives At Home, You don't know Jack, Cloud Atlas), Julie Christie (fahrenheit 451), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Captain America: The First Avenger, Julie and Julia, Margin Call), Terrence Howard (The Princess and the Frog, Dead Man Down), Chris Cooper (The Company Men, American Beauty, The Horse Whisperer), Richard Jenkins (Eat Pray Love, The Visitor, The Rum Diary, Jack Reacher, Liberal Arts), Anna Kendrick (Up in The Air, 50/50, Twilight), Brendan Gleeson (Albert Nobbs, In Bruges), Sam Elliott (Thank you for smoking, Did You Hear About The Morgans?), Stephen Root (The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Conspirator, Mad Money, Rango, Ice Age, J. Edgar), Jackie Evancho
From the director of The Horse Whisperer, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Conspirator...

Robert Redford stars as Jim Grant, a lawyer and single dad who has to go on the lam after a reporter identifies him as a long-sought U.S. terrorist. As the journalist locates more of Grant's old contacts, his guilt begins to appear less certain.

The story unveils like a very good thriller. The suspense is carried over, the story is complex, the historical context fascinating due to the revolution that it engaged, the change of mentality it provoked. And still, the story is not what makes you carry on. The complexity of the characters is interesting, instead of being about what is right and wrong, it understands the choices, the acts, the memory and how you, as an individual can either choose to listen and understand, have a bigger picture of the consequences of your acts, and what might change you eventually. The cast is so impressive that each character gets to be understood in the complexity of what time has changed in them, and the young generation that Redford chose is of the utmost quality, with Shia LaBeouf, Brit Marling (beautiful in Another Earth) and Anna Kendrick. The only hiccup to the whole praise is the performance of Julie Christie, a little too forced in the "trying to be still a cool eternally young and carefree rebellious being of over 70".

Watch Trailer:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Inception by Christopher Nolan, 2010 (PG-13)

with Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby, J. Edgar, Hubble, Django Unchained, Marvin's Room, Titanic, Shutter Island), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Lincoln, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, 50/50), Ellen Page (To Rome With Love), Tom Hardy (This Means War, Warrior, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Larry Crowne, The Dark Knight Rises), Ken Watanabe, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy (In Time), Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard (Contagion, Midnight in Paris, The Dark Knight Rises, Little White Lies), Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine (The Dark Knight Rises, Sleuth, Now You See Me, Miss Congeniality), Lukas Haas (Contraband)

In this mindbending sci-fi thriller, Dom Cobb runs an espionage business built around entering the subconscious of his targets to steal their thoughts. A new, complex job promises great rewards, but Cobb's personal demons threaten the operation.

How my memories started combining Inception with Shutter Island, I don't know. Perhaps because the reality of both characters have something similar, and the feeling that perhaps it is not completely the reality... Anyhow, there is a definite interest in this movie, in how it conceive dream as an alternate reality where people can connect and unveil truth. The imagination is the limit, and the special effect give everything to make it believable. It has great suspense, although, in the end it becomes a little overdone, nevertheless an interesting thriller.

Watch Trailer:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Frozen River by Courtney Hunt, 2008 (R)

with Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Mildred Pierce, Flight), Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott, Michael O'Keefe (Michael Clayton), Mark Boone Junior, James Reilly, Jay Klaitz, John Canoe, Dylan Carusona, Michael Sky

On a Mohawk reservation on the Canadian border, Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo, in an Oscar-nominated turn) teams with widowed tribe member Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham) to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States. Though the work provides the women with much-needed money, each trip puts them in peril. Charlie McDermott and Michael O'Keefe also star in this riveting drama nominated for multiple Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature.

It was shocking to see how realistic the movie was, no fancy make up, no glamorous outfit. It's raw, it's somehow brutal, undistinguished, abandoned. And on the other hand, the landscapes are amazing, the people have their own way of being beautiful, in their determination, their deeper priorities...

Watch Trailer:

El mismo amor, la misma lluvia (Same Love, Same Rain) by Juan José Campanella, 1999 (PG-13)

With Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Ulises Dumont, Eduardo Blanco.

This is the story of Jorge Pellegrini and Laura Ramallo throughout almost two decades. It begins in 1980 and it finishes nowadays, going through all the phases of their relationship, break ups, personal failures while showing in the background Argentina's politic and social changes.

The problem is I am in love with Soledad Villamil since "El Secreto de Sus Ojos". Well, I really like her and Ricardo Darin together, directed by Juan José Campanella, because I tried Ricardo Darin and Juan Jose Campanella without her and I didn't get hooked the same way, and I tried Soledad Villamil without them and it didn't work either. So... I love this combination actors directors, and them make me fall in love with Soledad Villamil. Ok, that is not the only theme of the movie, but their relationship is really amazingly believable and you connect so much with them that every mistake they make is painful to watch. But they do, and it is very attaching. It is also very well integrated with the historical background, without being political, and impact the characters in a realistic way, as a third major character.

watch trailer (in spanish :(

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Adore - Perfect Mothers by Anne Fontaine, 2013 (R)

aka Perfect Mothers, from the short novel The Grandmothers by Doris Lessing
with Robin Wright (House of Cards, Breaking and Entering, The Conspirator, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball), Naomi Watts (Fair Game, J. Edgar, Dream House), Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse), James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn (Killer Elite), Sophie Lowe, Jessica Tovey, Gary Sweet, Alyson Standen, Skye Sutherland, Sarah Henderson, Isaac Cocking, Brody Mathers
From the screenwriter of Chloe

Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) are two lifelong friends, having grown up together as neighbors in an idyllic beach town. As adults, their sons have developed a friendship as strong as that which binds their mothers. One summer, all four are confronted by simmering emotions that have been mounting between them, and each find unexpected happiness in relationships that cross the bounds of convention.

Robin Wright is definitely belonging to the strong (and fascinating) female characters club! She is amazing, intense and at the same time so guarded. Her friendship requires sacrifices, and you love her no matter her mistakes. She reminds me definitely of Miss Elinor Dashwood, with the convictions so high that sometimes, it disturbs the obvious happiness she could have. I believe Xavier Samuel's character looking at her with such an adoration also projects how amazing she is. Both actors are amazing. Naomi Watts is sometimes overacting, and somehow makes the character weaker, unreal. The relationship she has is meant to be less believable, but in a way, it turns out to be uninteresting, secondary, and it weights on a movie that could be flawless. The story is absolutely heartbreaking, playing with a theme that is outside of the politically correct, which was a great challenge.

watch trailer:

Venus and Serena by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, 2012 (PG-13)

with Venus Williams and Serena Williams

Offering an inside look at the Williams sisters -- Venus and her younger sibling Serena -- this documentary follows the tennis megastars throughout 2011, when disabling injuries and illness threatened to end their careers.

These two women are phenomenal, in the literal sense of it. And a little above all laws. It is fascinating to wath them grow old, becoming women and tennis champions, both of them, and how they kept up with real life, emotions, injuries. It goes all the way to the summum of their career, although 2013 was another one of them. Beautiful.

watch trailer:

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Bang Bang Club by Steven Silver, 2010 (R)

with Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Neels Van Jaarsveld, Frank Rautenbach, Nina Milner, Jessica Haines, Russel Savadier, Lika Van Den Bergh, Kgosi Mongake

Four combat photojournalists document the end of apartheid in South Africa, a turbulent period marked by brutality and anger. This real-life drama is based on a memoir by Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe) and Joao Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld), who won Pulitzer Prizes for their work. Along with Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) and Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), the group exposes the tragic violence that spawned a new regime in the country.

The story is so good that it can take away all the defects that the movie has, such as stereotypes to explain the obvious situation of inequality in the apartheid, or the difficulty to actually understand the context of South Africa's apartheid within the communities. The journey of the photographers is an interesting one with the ethical conflict of being an eye, but not able to take part, and therefor somehow the question of indifference to the subject matter. Interesting.

Watch Trailer:

Anthony Zimmer by Jérôme Salle, 2005

with Sophie Marceau, Yvan Attal, Sami Frey, Gilles Lellouche (Tell No One - Ne le dis à personne, Little White Lies - Les Petits Mouchoirs), Daniel Olbrychski, Samir Guesmi (Granny's Funeral - Adieu Berthe, Tell No One - Ne le dis à personne), Dimitri Rataud, Nicky Marbot, Olivier Chenevat, Alban Casterman

Anthony Zimmer is a genius career criminal who is wanted by police around the world. He has used ingenious methods to launder money legally, such as creating a dummy corporation and filing a lawsuit against a firm outside of France. In addition to the police, Zimmer is wanted by the "White Collar Barons", a powerful Russian Mafia Zimmer was working for. Zimmer is an elusive character, and no known description is available as he has apparently had drastic plastic surgery to alter his appearance and voice. A standout detective, Akerman (Sami Frey), is ahead of others in the race to catch the criminal mastermind. Akerman knows that Zimmer will risk everything to see the lover he left behind, Chiara Manzoni (Sophie Marceau).

Have you seen "The Tourist", yes, ok, now watch Anthony Zimmer, no, well don't and certainly watch Anthony Zimmer. I saw it when it came out, and I found it amazing. It is not the French movie you expect, it is closer to the movie "tell no one" ("Ne le dit a personne") in the way that it is a thriller using American codes of filmmaking. But still with the french touch. Which mean, the actors are impeccable, the cinematography and editing excellent and dynamic, but there is a lot of subtlety, nuances, charm that makes it work. Which couldn't work in the American version based on the spectacular, the cascades, the passion and the - in a way - fast food kind of industry blockbuster they make, and I am not anti-American movies at all. On the contrary. I am actually now thinking about watching "The girl with the dragon tattoo" American version and I will hope they did a better job on that one. Same thing, they should be careful about subtlety, because the Swedish version was all about details and that made it excellent.

Watch Trailer:

White Material by Claire Denis and Marie NDyaye, 2009 (PG)

with Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher, Ma Mere, Amour), Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Isaach De Bankolé, William Nadylam, Adèle Ado, Ali Barkai, Daniel Tchangang, Michel Subor
From the director of Trouble Every Day

A tale of a country torn apart by civil war, as African soldiers force French nationals to abandon their land. At the center of the story is Maria (Isabelle Huppert), a white woman who ignores her family's fears and steadfastly refuses to leave her coffee plantation. Isaach De Bankolé and Christopher Lambert also star.

I read a book named Trois Femmes Puissantes (prix Goncourt) from Marie NDyaye, two years ago, that I loved. A year ago I watched a movie from Claire Denis, "Trouble Every Day", that I hated, maybe too strong/gore for me. And I watched this one feeling the same strength that occurs in the book of Marie NDyaye, and discomfort of "Trouble Every Day", in a blend that was going beyond both of them. And Isabelle Huppert is perfect in those both aspect, isn't she?

Watch Trailer:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making Plans for Lena (Non Ma Fille, Tu N'iras Pas Danser) by Christophe Honoré, 2009 (NR)

with Chiara Mastroianni (Un Conte de Noel), Marina Foïs (Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra), Marie-Christine Barrault, Jean-Marc Barr (Côte d'Azur - Crustacés et coquillages), Fred Ulysse, Louis Garrel (Ma Mere, The Dreamers), Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Alice Butaud, Julien Honoré

Deciding to leave her unfaithful husband (Jean-Marc Barr) behind, 34-year-old Léna (Chiara Mastroianni) travels from Paris to her family's country home to gain some emotional refuge and restart her life. To her dismay, Lena discovers that family members have their own plans for her. The first of these comes from her high-strung sister, Frédérique (Marina Foïs), who's arranged a surprise appearance by Léna's ex-husband.

The cast is impressive, this could be the perfect French movie about family drama, such as "Un Conte de Noel". Except the director is Christophe Honoré (Ma Mere), and everything turns out overacted, slow, painfully boring and dramatized, where there is in fact not much to be dramatic about... Definitely very fashionable, and definitely to be forgotten soon.

Watch Trailer:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eraised - The Expatriate by Philipp Stölzl, 2012 (R)

with Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato, Olga Kurylenko, Garrick Hagon, Eric Godon, Yassine Fadel, Neil Napier, David Bark-Jones, Jade Hassouné, Nick Alachiotis

Ex-CIA agent and current security expert Ben Logan has moved to Belgium with his estranged 15-year-old daughter. But when they're both targeted for assassination, they must go on the run and learn to trust each other.

Taken? Unknown? The Bourne Identity? Ok, no joke... This movie is a thriller, with a decent plot, that works well as a formula, but feels like a formula. Everything match in terms of timing, betrayal, race, music, editing... It is the perfect template. But template anyway, and therefor predictable.

watch trailer:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Take This Waltz by Sarah Polley, 2011 (R)

with Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain), Seth Rogen (50/50), Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman, Jennifer Podemski, Diane D'Aquila

Filmed in Toronto, this intimate, unflashy romantic drama portrays a happily married woman who experiences a sudden and strong desire for another man. Further complicating the situation, the object of her desire resides just across the street.

You can feel this is not an American production, which is a good change. It is not really a "romantic" drama, in the sense that the way the story is told, the focus on the relationship have little to do with romanticism, it is about the day to day life of a couple which in a way is very ordinary, and about falling out of love over time, the distances you create, the boredom... It is not a very appealing movie, very raw in many way. The characters reminded me of Blue Valentine, Michelle Williams is in a similar mood, which to be honest I wasn't a fan of, and still not now. Seth Rogen is very good, but the movie goes on and on... The only moment I really enjoyed was the time-laps they created to show the history repeating.

watch trailer:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Call by Brad Anderson, 2013 (R)

with Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Rango), Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Michael Imperioli (Love in the Time of Money), Justina Machado, José Zúñiga, Roma Maffia, Evie Thompson, Denise Dowse, Ella Rae Peck

When an abducted teenage girl makes a frantic call from the trunk of a serial killer's speeding car, she connects with a sympathetic 911 operator who's dealt with the perpetrator in the past.

The concept is great, for more than three quarter of the movie, there is a woman in a truck, and a woman on the call center, so connected you are buying the story. The suspense is really good, the acting excellent, the little you see is the little you need to see, no more. No flash back, no explanation, just the moment. The bizarre twist of the end was completely unnecessary, but anyway, 3/4 of a movie being excellent is still worth seeing. It reminded me in a less extreme way of Buried by Rodrigo Cortés with Ryan Reynolds.

watch trailer:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Trance by Danny Boyle, 2013 (R)

with James McAvoy (The Conspirator, X-Men: First Class), Vincent Cassel (Adrift (À Deriva), A Dangerous Method), Rosario Dawson (Unstoppable, Men In Black 2, Love in the Time of Money), Matt Cross, Wahab Sheikh, Danny Sapani, Mark Poltimore, Tuppence Middleton, Simon Kunz, Michael Shaeffer, Tony Jayawardena, Vincent Montuel, Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, Haywire, A Dangerous Method, Shame, X-Men: First Class)

Danny Boyle directs this psychological thriller about an art heist gone wrong and the hypnotist who's hired to ferret out the missing masterpiece. Everything is a jumble after an auctioneer gets hit in the head while double-crossing some art thieves.

Inception with amphetamines, right? Well, everything Boyle is always a bit too much. This one doesn't miss. Regarding the initial idea, the search of memory where the brain tried to erase, or perhaps something more, very interesting. The one hour revealing aka eternal ending is absolutely annoying, to say the least. The switch in roles, layers after layers after layers, jumping from reality to hypnoses, ping pong between violence and hysteria and more gets you lost, and found with a barely interesting conclusion.

watch trailer: