with the bold text in the example below:

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: