with the bold text in the example below:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I Origins by Mike Cahill, 2014 (R)

I ORIGINS, the second feature film from writer and director Mike Cahill, tells the story of Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt), a molecular biologist studying the evolution of the eye. He finds his work permeating his life after a brief encounter with an exotic young woman (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) who slips away from him. As his research continues years later with his lab partner Karen (Brit Marling), they make a stunning scientific discovery that has far reaching implications and complicates both his scientific and spiritual beliefs. Traveling half way around the world, he risks everything he has ever known to validate his theory.

Interesting, definitely. The idea, not too far from perhaps Cloud Atlas, in a very different prism, talks about the connectedness and the intricate relationship we can have with random people, but also about science, and evolution. It is tricky, as the project is ambitious and the production still small. And mostly perhaps because it tends to mislead the audience into what we are going to get from the movie. The main character, performed by Michael Pitt, can be confusing, and I wonder if this is not a deliberate choice that they chose him in particular to confuse us, since Michael Pitt previous roles in movies are a little unsettling, from psychopath to unbalanced men. Of course Brit Marling is really good, I am always amazed by how natural her characters come to her, she is an amazing actress. Astrid Bergès-Frisbey is annoying, and a little cliché, which breaks the magic. The rest of the cast is impeccable, and as expected from his previous movie Another Earth, despite a big topic of science and fiction, he maintains a character driven movie with beautiful imagery.

with Michael Pitt (The Dreamers), Brit Marling (The Company You Keep, Another Earth), Steven Yeun, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Archie Panjabi, William Mapother (Lost, Another Earth), Cara Seymour (An Education, Jack and Diane), Venida Evans

watch trailer:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

3 Days to Kill by Joseph McGinty Nichol (McG), 2014 (PG-13)

After a terminally ill secret agent retires to spend his remaining time with his family, he's asked to complete a dangerous last mission in exchange for an experimental drug that might save him -- if he can survive its hallucinatory side effects.

This movie is a disaster, combining drama, comedy and suspense in such as scattered way you never know if to laugh, if even it is funny, and definitely start loosing interest in the whole story. The characters are caricatures and situations are completely unrealistic and predictable. The only one saving the movie is Kevin Costner who is really good portraying his character and manages to keep a little coherence to the diversity of situations.

with Kevin Costner (The Company Men, Man of Steel, The Bodyguard, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), Amber Heard (The Rum Diary), Hailee Steinfeld (Begin Again, True Grit), Connie Nielsen (Nymphomaniac, Perfect Sense - The Last Word), Tómas Lemarquis, Richard Sammel, Marc Andreoni, Bruno Ricci, Jonas Bloquet, Eriq Ebouaney (Disgrace)
From the director of This Means War

Watch trailer:

A Secret (Un Secret) by Claude Miller, 2007

Claude Miller directs this engrossing drama about a Jewish boy in post-World War II Paris who stumbles upon a mysterious toy in the attic, exposing his family's secret dark past and how it survived Nazi atrocities. Can the child grasp the devastating truth, or will it drive him deeper into his personal fantasy world?

Again a movie on World War 2, with a closer look at the collaborationism, which made some French under the Vichy government commit cruelty against Jews the same way the Nazis did in Germany. It is not a topic that is widely spread, despite the fact that we study it in history class in France, mainly because of the shame, and the fact that it is easier to see France as one of the winners of World War 2 and highlight the resistance — which was also a powerful movement. The reality is that by 1940, France had surrendered and became another territory of Nazi Germany. The collaborationism is something that I was surprised to see in "Elle s'appelait Sarah - Sarah's Key" as still widely unknown. The movie is interesting in the way it is presented, from the very particular view point of a Jewish family with a father very liberal with religion, and yet very aware of how things could turn. He uses the example of the Dreyfus affair to show his surrounding there is something about France that might be a threat through the Nazi occupation. The movie also shows the post-war France and the will to have it all forgotten, as if everything was perfect again, which is a phenomenon we know more from the recovering Germany. The movie is very beautiful, with perfect scenery and people, but looking into details, it is full of little clues that makes you anticipate the collapse, such as a street plate that honors Marshal Pétain... The storyline is based on three periods, the present in black and white, the colorful post-war, and the less and less colored short time before the war and during war, going back and forth as the story unravels. The performances are great, Cecile De France so beautiful, and the cast is amazing.

with Cécile De France (Hereafter, L'auberge Espagnole), Patrick Bruel, Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool), Julie Depardieu (Paris Je t'aime), Mathieu Amalric (Cosmopolis, Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon, Un Conte De Noel), Nathalie Boutefeu, Yves Verhoeven, Yves Jacques (Les garçons et Guillaume, à table), Sam Garbarski, Orlando Nicoletti, Valentin Vigourt

watch Un Secret trailer:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by Josh Boone, 2014 (PG-13)

Teenager Hazel, who has pushed people away since her cancer diagnosis, reluctantly joins a support group, where she bonds with a boy named Gus. Together, they face the challenge of building a relationship under the shadow of terminal illness.

Haven't cried like this since most likely "Billy Elliot"... Damned... The story makes you wonder if the characters are real, and because then you get to know that this is actually a book, you wonder if (just like in the story), the writer couldn't write something more about Hazel, getting to know the rest of her life. It is definitely a down to earth sort of movie, on the edge of emotion, with frantic dream come true becoming nightmare. It is honest, and never the less completely romantic. Quite a strange combination. Fascinating.

Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, Divergent), Ansel Elgort (Divergent), Nat Wolff (Peace, Love & Missunderstanding), Willem Dafoe (Out of the Furnace, Paris Je T'aime, Fireflies in the Garden, The English Patient, Farewell, Daybreakers, Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 & 2), Laura Dern (The Master, Dr. T. and The Women), Lotte Verbeek, Sam Trammell (True Blood), Emily Peachey, Mike Birbiglia (Your Sister's Sister)

watch The Fault in Our Stars trailer:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by Ben Stiller, 2013 (PG)

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an employee at Life magazine, spends day after monotonous day developing photos for the publication. To escape the tedium, Walter inhabits a world of exciting daydreams in which he is the undeniable hero. Walter fancies a fellow employee named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and would love to date her, but he feels unworthy. However, he gets a chance to have a real adventure when Life's new owners send him on a mission to obtain the perfect photo for the final print issue.

It was with reluctance that I saw this movie, the trailer was terrible and I was afraid Walter Mitty would be this laugh out loud movie trying to go indie. Turns out the story evolves in a human way, with some scenes that are off but made of his crazy imagination. His journey goes beyond the physical journey, and although the outcome is quite predictable, it is still enjoyable to go through it. Ben Stiller as the main actor and director is proving himself to be more than Zoolander and Dodgeball, and shows some maturity, which suits him well.

with Ben Stiller (Tower Heist), Kristen Wiig (Despicable Me 2, All Good Things, Bridesmaids, Date Night, How to train your dragon, Friends with Kids), Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott (Friends with Kids, Kathryn Hahn (Our Idiot Brother, We're the Millers), Sean Penn (The Game, Milk, Fair Game, The Tree of Life), Patton Oswalt (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Young Adult), Adrian Martinez (American Hustle), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty trailer:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Omar by Hany Abu-Assad, 2013

With his girlfriend, Nadia, living on the other side of an Israeli-built boundary wall, young Palestinian Omar regularly scales it to visit her. But he faces even greater obstacles after a lethal confrontation with an Israeli soldier.

I haven't seen Paradise Now which is his masterpiece, but it would seem that Omar is from the same stream, and definitely quite a unique and somehow beautiful love story, although with a depressing and violent surrounding. It feels, like in Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's Inch'Allah, that it is more and more impossible to know really who started the violence, is it Palestinian men who killed an random Israeli soldier, is it the Israeli soldiers arresting randomly Omar on the side of the road and threatening him, or the wall surrounding and splitting Palestine in so many pieces they have to climb the wall to see their childhood best friends. The viewpoint is so individual and personal that the war seems absurd, the violence pointless and the resistance inevitable as well as impossible. Omar is in the middle of it, somehow with dreams that contradict his actions, his love for the sister of his leader, his day to day life in a bakery, his savings to buy a house and his survival as an oppressed Palestinian, trying to join the resistance. The story revolves so tightly around the intertwined love story and politics that it is impossible to break them apart, which is what makes the movie unique. And of course, the cinematography and the actors are simply amazing.

with Adam Bakri, Iyad Hoorani, Samer Bisharat, Leem Lubani, Waleed Zuaiter (The Visitor)

Watch Omar Trailer:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Begin Again by John Carney, 2014 (R)

A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.

Cute comedy, giving the vibe of New York in a realistic way, and a creative way of making a record, with all the great energy and talent New York is filled of. The cast is great, and I am surprised how Mark Ruffalo always make you believe everything on screen. He is so believable you ride all along with him, even if it might be cheesy or embarrassing. The original turn of the end gives hope there is something else than the music industry to actually achieve recognition as a musician.

with Keira Knightley (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Love Actually, Anna Karenina, A Dangerous Method, Never Let Me Go), Mark Ruffalo (Thanks for Sharing, Now You See Me, Margaret, The Kids Are All Right, Shutter Island, Avengers), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Adam Levine (American Horror Story: Asylum), James Corden, Yasiin Bey, Cee Lo Green, Catherine Keener (Enough Said, Captain Phillips, Out of Sight, Please Give, Peace Love and Misunderstanding, Simone)
From the director of Once.

watch Begin Again trailer:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Interstellar by Christopher Nolan, 2014 (PG-13)

I went to the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 to see Interstellar, in one of the largest theater screen in the US and the world (not to be advertizing it). Seeing it in IMAX 70mm Film was definitely something unique. Of course, in all the close-ups of characters, it felt a little too big, but when it was in space, there was a show. Then they gave us a poster for free :) well... the ticket price could afford it, Anyway...
About the movie. It was a great story, combining excellently technology, the human aspect, and the futuristic science fiction plot. In a way, it could have happened nowadays, and the characters are no heroes. Some are bright, but Mcconaughey is such an ordinary parent who yes, used to be an astronaut... People are described with their flaws, no one is perfect, there is a moment for each of them where you could see what would have happened if they didn't have their humanity bringing out the best but most of the time the worse of them. The story takes its time to unravel, but never leaves you a second bored. There are moments that are so tensed that it is almost torture, and then more contemplative shots which are outstanding of beauty. The movie is sometimes going for the tear-jerk, but most of all is challenging our mind to expand the possibility of science and theories on time and space, singularity, black holes, without sounding pedagogical nor arrogant. The grandiose of the special effects are actually closed to the visualizations of space Nasa is providing nowadays in their website, giving a realistic feel to the adventure. It seems that Nolan didn't fall into the same trap Scott did with his Prometheus. He relied on science to a realistic level, and didn't go away from the essential, which is the story of his characters.
The only detail I found a little ridiculous is the trademark Nolan implemented first in Inception and back again in Interstellar of the curved spaces. Wondering why...
Also, it was somehow a little hard when meeting each characters not to think "oh, Michael Caine, oh Wes Bentley, oh Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain..." Everyone is soo famous it is very strange to see them altogether, and not think of them as actors first before getting into their characters. And don't get me wrong, the last thing I forgot to mention is how perfectly the movie is directed and acted.

I am putting three other posters today, which I believe are in a very radical way opposing and part of one and the same story, and so reflective of the movie. One is about life on earth, one is the journey to the universe, and one is the search of a viable environment to move to.

Watch Interstellar Trailers (I definitely needed to watch more than one trailer, and then ran to the theater):

with Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, Magic Mike, The Paperboy), Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow (Rise of the Planet), Timothée Chalamet, Anne Hathaway (Brokeback Mountain, Alice In Wonderland, Rachel Getting Married, Valentine's Day, Love and Other Drugs, The Dark Knight Rises, One Day, Get Smart), Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games), Michael Caine (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Sleuth, Now You See Me, Miss Congeniality), David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas), Casey Affleck (Ocean's Twelve, Out of the Furnace, Ocean's Thirteen), Jessica Chastain (Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty, The Debt, The Help, The Tree of Life, Take Shelter), Matt Damon (Ocean's Twelve, The Monuments Men, Ocean's Thirteen, Behind the Candelabra, Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!, Herafter, Inside Job, The Adjustment Bureau, Promised Land, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Contagion), Topher Grace (Valentine's Day)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lore by Cate Shortland, 2014

As the Allies sweep across Germany, Lore leads her siblings on a journey that exposes them to the truth of their parents' beliefs. An encounter with a mysterious refugee forces Lore to rely on a person she has always been taught to hate.

As in Cate Shortland's previous film Somersault, there is a lot of silence and contemplation, both main characters are at an age of discovering what is is to become a woman, and suffer from the lacking of teachings from their parents. The comparison stops there, with a far more dramatic destiny for Lore, becoming a leader in her family, carrying the responsibility that her mother left her with no promise of reversal. Humanity at its worse is trying to rebuild itself with the resemblance of value that is left, from one extreme to the other, and most of all, not really understanding what exactly is the right position to have. The only frail constancy is the relationship between Lore and her brothers and sister, and this man we know nothing about. Their journey is a fascinating one, somehow overexposing their emotion by not displaying any, with few words and powerful imagery.

with Saskia Rosendahl, Kai-Peter Malina, Nele Trebs, Ursina Lardi, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Mika Seidel, André Frid, Eva-Maria Hagen, Nick Holaschke, Sven Pippig, Philip Wiegratz

watch Lore trailer:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hannah Arendt by Margarethe von Trotta, 2012

A look at the life of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

I was looking forward to watch the movie, after recording and editing a segment for the DVD release in the US, featuring Margarethe von Trotta, Barbara Sukowa and Janet McTeer.
The movie surprised me by creating an internal conflict between what we are politically correctly thinking and what she stood for, in a philosophical way. She was indeed quite a thinker, and in a way, a free woman, free from her origins, free from her upbringing, and freed from her own past. Yes, she might have written all the bitterness and pain the people trialing Eichmann felt, but she detached herself from the personal, and studied the situation as in a world where people would behave in an expected manner, and modeled it to understand what has gone wrong. Her accusations are hard to take, and perhaps her expectation for a entire community to unite and remain organized in a total chaos targeting them are a little high. And on the other hand, her views of the Nazi regime authorities were a little too much about organization and not so much about people's personality. But as hard to believe as it is, it indeed created two complete opposites that in her argument created one of the worse chapters of our history.
I forgot to mention the performance of Sukowa which is very good, on top of it because she is performing in English most of it, and developing complex ideas in an intelligible way. It is a pleasure to attend what could have been one of Arendt classes and lectures. Her husband played by Axel Milberg is amazing in creating that intimacy that helps us see Arendt beyond her lack of sensibility as a philosopher. Janet McTeer is the most unusual character, reflecting on the superficiality and brilliance of the mind of Mary McCarthy.

with Barbara Sukowa, Janet McTeer (Portrait of a Marriage, Albert Nobbs), Julia Jentsch, Axel Milberg, Ulrich Noethen, Michael Degen, Nicholas Woodeson, Victoria Trauttmansdorff, Klaus Pohl

watch trailer:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

American Horror Story: Coven by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk - FX, 2013 (TVMA)

Exploring humankind's unsettling capacity for evil, this darkly twisted drama plays upon the power of supernatural fears and everyday horrors. Each season brings back familiar faces, but they're playing different characters in an all-new setting.
Coven tells the secret history of witches and witchcraft in America. Over 300 years have passed since the turbulent days of the Salem witch trials and those who managed to escape are now facing extinction. Mysterious attacks have been escalating against their kind and young girls are being sent away to a special school in New Orleans to learn how to protect themselves. Wrapped up in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe, who is harboring a terrifying secret of her own. Alarmed by the recent aggression, Fiona, the long-absent Supreme, sweeps back into town determined to protect the Coven and hell bent on decimating anyone who gets in her way.

This third season has a lot of interesting elements, but in the end, it feels a little too light, there is nothing about the characters that helps us empathize, feel that the story is coherent. It feels like some sort of Harry Potter with all the voodoo culture of the South packed together. We forget about the neighbors, the Beowulf, and even most of the witches are not as relevant. Somehow, also, the empathy for Evan Peters is limited to his performance of an irrelevant character. Jamie Brewer is great but same happens to her, because the meaninglessness of her existence in the script. The freshness come from the new cast made of Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and most of all Gabourey Sidibe, although somehow, they are simplistic and exaggerated. The only characters that are somehow intriguing are the ones performed by Denis O'Hare and Sarah Paulson, still with an expected outcome. Jessica Lange's characters are now a continuous performance of the same, but simplified more and more. Anyway, the third season is always a more challenging one, and they pulled it off ok.

Currently watching Season 4: Freak Show. Will keep you posted.

with Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange (Tootsie, The Vow), Sarah Paulson (Game Change, Mud), Emma Roberts (We're the Millers), Evan Peters, Lily Rabe (All Good Things), Taissa Farmiga, Jamie Brewer, Denis O'Hare (The Normal Heart, Dallas Buyers Club, True Blood, Milk, Duplicity, Michael Clayton), Angela Bassett (This Means War), Kathy Bates (Valentine's Day), Gabourey Sidibe (Tower Heist, Precious), Patti LuPone, Danny Huston (The Congress, Hitchcock, You Don't Know Jack, Robin Hood, The Conspirator), Stevie Nicks

Read more about
Season 1: Murder House
Season 2: Asylum

watch trailer:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

American Horror Story: Asylum by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk - FX, 2012 (TVMA)

Exploring humankind's unsettling capacity for evil, this darkly twisted drama plays upon the power of supernatural fears and everyday horrors. Each season brings back familiar faces, but they're playing different characters in an all-new setting. Season 2 of this horror anthology brings new characters and a new location as Jessica Lange returns to portray the administrator of an East Coast mental institution for the criminally insane in the 1960s.

I love the concept of recreating a total different scenario with the same cast as season 1. It works almost like a theater company performing different plays, and somehow you feel the actors are getting to know more about how to work with one another. This season was in a way far scarier than the first one, in the way people were far more twisted, mentally dark, and it used the fascination of the darkest sins to make us feel uncomfortable about humanity. Nevertheless, the characters are explored in various ways, and play with the humanity in each of them, or even play us into believing one thing and twisting it into another. The set for the second season is also far more interesting that in the first one, and the performances pushed to more extremes, to our very pleasure. It is a great second season, even better than the first one.

Read More about Season 1: Murder House and Season 3: Coven

with Jessica Lange (Tootsie, The Vow), Sarah Paulson (Game Change, Mud), Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek Into Darkness, Margin Call), Lily Rabe (All Good Things), James Cromwell (The Artist), Frances Conroy, Chloë Sevigny (Boys Don't Cry), Ian McShane (Snow White and the Huntsman, Scoop), Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, The Red Baron - Der rote Baron), Lizzie Brocheré, Naomi Grossman, Clea DuVall (Argo), Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Adam Levine

Watch trailer:

American Horror Story: Murder House by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk - FX, 2011 (TVMA)

A Boston family makes a new start by moving cross-country to Los Angeles ... only to find that their new home might already be "occupied." As the house's dark secrets come to light, creepy characters come out of the woodwork. Exploring humankind's unsettling capacity for evil, this darkly twisted drama plays upon the power of supernatural fears and everyday horrors. Each season brings back familiar faces, but they're playing different characters in an all-new setting.

This is a very particular way of looking at haunted house. The beginning of the season was giving you great scare, but it would seem that the producers were more interested in getting to know the monsters, and somehow unveil the real monsters, who don't correspond to the cliches of monsters. The story twists in itself making you less and less fearful, and more interested about what really happened in that house. The performances are great, the characters completely and sometimes absurdly realistic. You might even think of the series as a comedy. Anyway, hard not to spoil the suspense. I got into watching the next one right after!

Read more about Season 2: Asylum and Season 3: Coven

with Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Connie Britton, Taissa Farmiga, Jessica Lange (Tootsie, The Vow), Evan Peters, Denis O'Hare (The Normal Heart, Dallas Buyers Club, True Blood, Milk, Duplicity, Michael Clayton), Frances Conroy, Kate Mara (127 hours, House of Cards), Lily Rabe (All Good Things), Alexandra Breckenridge, Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek Into Darkness, Margin Call), Sarah Paulson (Game Change, Mud)

watch trailer:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Alceste à bicyclette (Bicycling with Molière) by Philippe Le Guay, 2013

A TV celebrity faces an uphill battle as he tries to persuade his old pal, once-famous actor Serge Tanneur, to take on the lead in a Moliere play, no easy task considering the reclusive Serge has given up acting and burns every script he receives.

This is an interesting original idea, with quite brilliant ideas, and... with always the same Luchini character, and a plot that becomes a little repetitive after a while. I have to say, from the same director, I loved "The Cost of Living - Le Coût de la Vie". This one was a little weak. We could believe totally Fabrice Luchini in his eternal grumpy role, but Lambert Wilson's role was a little fabricated, somehow too fake or too nice, and not really coherent. I would love to have more opinions on it.

with Fabrice Luchini (Paris), Lambert Wilson (The Matrix: Revolution, On connaît la chanson - Same Old Song, Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et des Dieux), Maya Sansa, Camille Japy, Laurie Bordesoules, Patrick Bonnel

watch trailer:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Penny Dreadful by John Logan - Showtime, 2014- (TV-MA)

with Reeve Carney, Timothy Dalton (James Bond), Eva Green (300: Rise of an Empire, Dark Shadows, Perfect Sense - The Last Word), Josh Hartnett (The Virgin Suicides), Rory Kinnear (Wild Target, Skyfall), Billie Piper (Secret Diary of a Call Girl), Danny Sapani (Trance), Harry Treadaway (Fish Tank)

The classic tales of Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and more are woven together in this horror series set on the dark streets of Victorian London.
To be honest, aside from the aesthetic, the series isn't very interesting. It is pulling all the strings of the masterpieces of British literature and culture, piecing it like doctor Frankenstein, and the result is a little scattered, with intense scenes, no sense of humor and a heavy weight story that now has all the strings interlaced and stuck together in a huge mess. Could have worked still, but the characters are not interesting enough, and Eva Green is too much Eva Green in any movie, which tends to be tiresome. My only curiosity now is to see where the Egyptian lead of the very beginning is going, with the unleashing of a combination of gods, and the last tale of vampire that has been released just before the end of the season.

watch trailer:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fruitvale Station by Ryan Coogler, 2013 (R)

This dramatic rendering of a real-life tragedy recounts the final hours of Oscar Grant, shot by San Francisco transit police on New Year's Day, 2009. In portraying the energy Oscar brought to life, the film mourns the tragic loss of a unique soul.

This is not a movie I was going to watch, and when I did, It reminded me of the recent excesses of the police in Ferguson, and how justice is often slipping away from its true definition. Racism is still overly present, and with a minority of African American in the police, the police isn't doing a great job proving itself impartial. Anyway, another sad story it is important to hear, to see... The tragic end of Oscar Grant isn't a pattern that we can't change.

with Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer (Snowpiercer, The Help), Kevin Durand (Cosmopolis, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O'Reilly (The Help), Ariana Neal

watch trailer:

The Newburgh Sting by David Heilbroner and Kate Davis - HBO, 2014

Just 60 miles north of New York City sits the poverty-stricken town of Newburgh, where, in 2009, four men were LURED by a shady Pakistani man into a plot to bomb Jewish centers in the Bronx. But once the men were on board, their leader, who doubled as an FBI undercover agent, led them straight to the authorities. Their arrest was hailed as a national victory in the war on terror. Using never-before-seen footage from hidden cameras, David Heilbroner and Kate Davis investigate just what homegrown terrorism truly means in this shocking and galvanizing exposéis.

This is a documentary that came out I don't know how, since all the footage I guess were supposed to be confidential. This explains so clearly the entrapment there is little to rethink about. The press ate the information provided by the FBI and the Mayor's office, simple PR, good PR for the war against terrorism, except they had it all wrong. Targeting Islam isn't going to build a confidence between the Mosks and government, and therefor isn't going to facilitate a dialogue in case of suspicious behavior within their community. This guy was really an obvious case of somebody trying to get people involved in extremism, that even the Imam noticed in his first visit. Then, the recruiting looks even like a joke. Non-practicing, poor and called by the money, how could they possibly have been smart and say no. The involvement was minimal, and they were naive enough, perhaps unconscious. Now, yes, they accepted to be a part of it, for their own reasons, which are explained by bits by their family, they were following somebody who knew what he was doing, and honestly it looks like it wouldn't have been possible without him. So what does it say about the war on terrorism... There are times when the counter-terrorism is effective, but in this particular case, it has deviated to a community-targeting, with an accent on poor and hopeless people, and Muslims, which is exactly wrong in essence. I think Ben Affleck said it better the other day: "How about more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punch women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you’re saying of all Muslims. It’s stereotyping.”

watch trailer:

Homeland Season 4 Premiere, by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa - Showtime, 2014 (TVMA)

with Claire Danes, Rupert Friend, Nazanin Boniadi, Laila Robins (Concussion), Tracy Letts, Mandy Patinkin, Amy Hargreaves, Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi), F. Murray Abraham, Sarita Choudhury, Corey Stoll (House of Cards, Non-Stop, The Normal Heart), Nimrat Kaurm

Carrie Mathison is calling the shots as the newly appointed Station Chief in Afghanistan, deploying every weapon in the Agency's arsenal to fulfill her mission. But every drone strike and tactical raid comes at a cost and she soon learns the true price of power. 

Fuliginous start for Homeland with a two-episode premiere. Honestly, aside from missing Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) through Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), his death doesn't feel like a gap in the story. We already moved on to a far more intriguing storyline. The story reflect on the reality of today's wars in the American way and the controversy of it, through drones and blind operations, as well as the question of guilt and detachment when everything is only visible through screens. On a different level, the series explores the ethical conflict of being a mother but not being able to confront the responsibility. And more... because everything is on a spinning table and we don't know anything, so much is open to possibilities. Looking forward to see where the characters of Aayan Ibrahim (Suraj Sharma - Life of Pi) and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) are going, and how they will put back once more Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) into the action.
More on Homeland past seasons

watch trailer:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow by Doug Liman, 2014 (PG-13)

As Earth fights an alien invasion, Lt. Col. Bill Cage is killed in action, and a time loop forces him to continually relive his last day.

A Strange combination of The War of the Worlds with Groundhog Day. The movie is great, the story holds together, Emily Blunt has an interesting strong (and fascinating) female character, Tom Cruise plays well the guys who was on top who winds up at the bottom, and making his own way to survival. The aesthetic is not really original, with aliens that look like the Sentinels in The Matrix, but because the movie is really well done, it doesn't matter. There is a good balance between how the characters are developed and the action, none overtaking the other, the shortcuts from one day to the next is well done, the editing impeccable. Yes, that was a good entertaining movie with some bright ideas.

From the director of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Fair Game
with Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher, Eyes Wide Shut, Knight and Day, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Oblivion, Cocktail), Emily Blunt (My Summer of Love, Wild Target, The Adjustment Bureau, The Five-Year Engagement, Your Sister's Sister, Looper), Bill Paxton (Haywire), Jeremy Piven, Charlotte Riley, Madeleine Mantock, Jonas Armstrong, Marianne Jean-Baptiste (360), Kick Gurry

watch trailer:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Orange is the New Black Season 2 by Jenji Kohan, Netflix, 2013- (TVMA)

A dozen Emmy Award nominations went to this acclaimed comedy drama series including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Lead Actress for star Taylor Schilling, and one won for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Uzo Aduba. A crime she committed in her youthful past sends Piper Chapman (Schilling) to a women's prison, where she trades her comfortable New York life for one of unexpected camaraderie and conflict in an eccentric group of fellow inmates. Shocking revelations and new arrivals shake up the lives and relationships of Litchfield's prisoners in the highly anticipated second season.

What you would think might fail season 2 (the almost absence of Alex Vause) doesn't. We were all prepared to not see her at all, from all the reviews, so her little presence was sufficient. We got instead to know more about Poussey, Crazy Eyes, and even if somehow the additional character Vee (impressive Lorraine Toussaint) gets us a little on our nerves towards the end, she is an amazing character and trouble-maker. Then the storyline of Chapman and her ex-future husband, which was turning a little boring, fades, so even better. From the book I read from Piper Kerman, there is little left to compare, the story shifted away and continues growing to a complete different plot, and that's okay. After the nominations and one win for Uzo Aduba, I hope the third season is not going to fail, the bar is now raised high.

with Kate Mulgrew, Yael Stone, Laverne Cox, Natasha Lyonne, Laura Prepon, Taylor Schilling (Argo), Uzo Aduba, Selenis Leyva, Samira Wiley, Danielle Brooks, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Taryn Manning, Dascha Polanco, Lorraine Toussaint

Watch trailer:

read more on the 1st season of OITNB

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Congress by Ari Folman, 2013

More than two decades after catapulting to stardom with The Princess Bride, an aging actress (Robin Wright, playing a version of herself) decides to take her final job: preserving her digital likeness for a future Hollywood. Through a deal brokered by her loyal, longtime agent (Harvey Keitel) and the head of Miramount Studios (Danny Huston), her alias will be controlled by the studio, and will star in any film they want with no restrictions. In return, she receives healthy compensation so she can care for her ailing son and her digitized character will stay forever young. Twenty years later, under the creative vision of the studio's head animator (Jon Hamm), Wright's digital double rises to immortal stardom. With her contract expiring, she is invited to take part in "The Congress" convention as she makes her comeback straight into the world of future fantasy cinema.

Robin Wright "At" the Congress makes a lot of sense after five seconds of the movie. Which initially felt like a weird way of putting it in the poster. She (a version of herself) is the center of the story, picking up from her past career and creating an alternate reality where she would be of the downside of her career, with very beautiful personal moments, evolving into science fiction scenario (which reminded me somehow of SimOne), where the reality isn't very far from fiction, to a world that transition to animation in a radical psychedelic way (this time reminding me of the world of Philémon, considered one of the most poetic and original bande dessinée series of all time, see picture below). The movie around that time becomes a little long, but somehow the journey makes the twist even more relevant. It is quite a story to tell the truth. Then I have one question that seems to not be of the matter in the movie, but who are the people controlling all the mess (trying not to spoil the movie)? All the alternatives seem to have lost any kind of power... Perhaps I should read the book from which the story is inspired, The Futurological Congress by Stanisław Lem (who wrote Solaris) to get answers...

Philémon - Le Voyage de l'incrédule by Fred

with Robin Wright (Forrest Gump, (House of Cards, Breaking and Entering, The Conspirator, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Moneyball, Adore), Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave, Saving Mr. Banks, Cosmopolis, Duplicity, Barney's Version, Deconstructing Harry), Jon Hamm (Friends with Kids, Bridesmaids, The Town, Mad Men), Danny Huston (Hitchcock, You Don't Know Jack, Robin Hood, The Conspirator, X-men Origins: Wolverine), Harvey Keitel, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sami Gayle, Michael Stahl-David
From the director of Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir)

Watch trailer:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Words and Pictures by Fred Schepisi, 2014 (PG-13)

with Clive Owen (Shadow Dancer, Duplicity, Killer Elite), Juliette Binoche (Cosmopolis, Breaking and Entering, Chocolat, Certified Copy, Paris, Paris Je T'aime), Bruce Davison, Navid Negahban (Homeland), Amy Brenneman, Valerie Tian, Adam DiMarco, Josh Ssettuba, Janet Kidder, Christian Scheider, Keegan Connor Tracy

Prep school English teacher Jack Marcus laments his students' obsession with social media and good grades rather than engaging with the power of the written word. A one-time literary star, Jack has not published in years filling his time with drink versus the art of language. He meets his match in Dina Delsanto - a painter and new teacher on campus, who was once celebrated for her art. The two flirt and provoke each other with equal relish. Jack hatches a plan for galvanizing student interest in their studies: he declares a war between Words and Pictures, confident that the former can convey greater meaning than the latter. Dina and her art students accept the challenge between Jack and his English students, and the battle lines are drawn.

This is very cute, in the style of Dan in Real Life perhaps because of Juliette Binoche, perhaps because the movie tends to avoid romantic clichés, and create romanticism through moments that are special and unusual, mostly intimate, connected. The chemistry between the two actors works, is definitely believable (the reviews compare them to Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in Adam's Rib), so are the weaknesses of the characters. The reality in which students are now (getting As so they can get to the best college) creates the argument of the movie and the contrast and passion for the Arts, and justify some of the pedagogical detours, without becoming a didactic movie (well sometimes, it still is, but it is hard to avoid). A funny and smart romantic comedy.

watch trailer:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ocean's Twelve by Steven Soderbergh, 2004 (PG-13)

Danny Ocean reunites with his old flame and the rest of his merry band of thieves in a caper covering three huge heists in Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. But Europol agent Isabel Lahiri is hot on their heels.

This is my favorite one of the series, most of all because of Julia Roberts' performance as herself, and the spice of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Overall, the story is solid, well put together, the actors impeccable, and you get the feeling that there is some chemistry beyond the acting that makes it more believable, they all have worked together before, they all know each others and they all know the director, so the bond between those random characters is perfect.

watch trailer:

with George Clooney (The Monuments Men, Ocean's Thirteen, Gravity, The Descendants, Out of Sight, Up in the Air, Michael Clayton, The Men Who Stare At Goats), Brad Pitt (Ocean's Thirteen, world War Z, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, Across the Tracks), Matt Damon (The Monuments Men, Ocean's Thirteen, Behind the Candelabra, Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!, Herafter, Inside Job, The Adjustment Bureau, Promised Land, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Contagion), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Broken City, Traffic, Side Effects), Andy Garcia (Ocean's Thirteen), Don Cheadle (Ocean's Thirteen, Iron Man 3, Out of Sight, Traffic, Flight), Bernie Mac (Ocean's Thirteen, The cooler), Casey Affleck (Out of the Furnace, Ocean's Thirteen), Scott Caan, Julia Roberts (August: Osage County, Duplicity, Mirror Mirror Snow White, Eat Pray Love, Larry Crowne, Fireflies in the Garden), Vincent Cassel (Trance, Adrift - À Deriva, A Dangerous Method, Black Swan), Elliott Gould (Ruby Sparks), Carl Reiner (Ocean's Thirteen), Cherry Jones (The Horse Whisperer, Amelia, The Beaver), Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin
From the director of Magic Mike, Out of Sight, Traffic, Haywire, Contagion, The Informant!, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, Side Effects, Behind the Candelabra and sequel Ocean's Thirteen