Advertisements
jump to navigation

Into the Wild-DVD Review *** 10/13/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Based on true story, César Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, David di Donatello Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Highly recommended, Movies, National Board of Review, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Young Artists Awards.
1 comment so far

INTO THE WILD (American) 2007 ***
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless
Adapted from the book by Jon Krakauer

Screenplay written and directed by Sean Penn
Starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Hal Holbrook

Into the Wild received many awards and nominations, too numerous to list here.

In the early 1990s, Christopher McCandless graduates from college but does not follow the path to law school that his parents (played by Harden and Hurt) expect. Instead, he takes all the anger he feels toward his dysfunctional family and escapes from civilization, intending to live totally in the wild, completely untethered to society. Renaming himself Alexander Supertramp, he does so – for a time.

Outstanding cinematography and performances by respected actors make this a film definitely worth seeing. Hirsch does a superb job of balancing anger toward his parents and openness to life. Hal Holbrook plays a kindly grandfatherly type who is one of several interesting people who cross Alexander’s path. A young Kristen Stewart, who appears as a brief romantic interest, shows her singing ability.

Author Jon Krakauer has authored other bestselling books about the wilderness, including Into Thin Air, about climbing Mt. Everest. McCandless himself left behind photographs and journals. For a wealth of related information and links, check here.

Highly recommended. (#170 on IMDB’s Top 250)

149 min. Rated R.

For more info:
Into the Wild

Advertisements

Silver Linings Playbook-DVD Review 08/29/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Academy Awards, Based on a novel, Comedy, Emotional Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (American) 2012
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick

Directed by David O. Russell
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver

This film was very popular on the awards circuit, so click here for a list of awards and nominations.

Former teacher Pat Solitano (Cooper) returns to his parents’ house after spending some time in a mental institution where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His parents, Pat Sr. (De Niro) and Dolores (Weaver) do their best to cope with his ups and downs. When Pat Jr. meets the offbeat Tiffany (Lawrence), his life seems to take a new and more promising turn.

The beginning of this movie didn’t seem very entertaining or humorous to me, and I almost stopped watching it. One of its benefits is said to be an increased awareness of this type of mental illness and how the family is affected by it. That it did do, I suppose, although I venture to say that not all (and probably not most) outcomes are so positive. Overall, I thought the film was worth watching and that the versatile Jennifer Lawrence did deserve her Oscar win.

For more info:
Silver Linings Playbook

After the Wedding-DVD Review *** 08/01/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Academy Awards, Bodil Awards, Danish language film, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, Highly recommended, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Rouen Nordic Film Festival.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

After the Wedding (Danish) 2006 ***
Efter brylluppet

Directed by Susanne Bier
Starring Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgård, Sidse Babett Knudsen, and Stine Fischer Christensen

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Christensen); NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lassgård); Best Actress (Knudsen); Best Film (Bier), Bodil Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Mikkelsen); Best Director (Bier), European Film Awards
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize-Best Actor (Mikkelsen), Palm Springs International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actress (Knudsen), Rouen Nordic Film Festival

Jacob (Mikkelsen) has dedicated his life to working in a Bombay orphanage. In order to secure funding from wealthy businessman Jorgen (Lassgård), Jacob is summoned back to Denmark. There, at the mercy of the manipulative Jorgen, Jacob is forced to confront his complicated and dissolute past.

Mikkelsen will likely be a familiar face, as he has appeared in movies such as Casino Royale and more recently A Royal Affair. He starred as Ivan in the 2005 crime comedy, Adam’s Apples (see my review of that film).

Highly recommended.

120 min. Rated R.

For more info:
After the Wedding

Searching for Sugar Man-DVD Review *** 05/15/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Based on true events, Biographical, Critics' Choice Awards, Hamburg Film Festival, Malik Bendjelloul, Movies, Music documentary, National Board of Review, Rodriguez, Sugar Man, Sundance Film Festival, Vancouver Film Critics Circle.
Tags: ,
3 comments

Searching for Sugar Man (Swedish/English) ***
Based on true events in the life of Sixto Rodríguez

Directed by Malik Bendjelloul; written by Bendjelloul and Craig Bartholomew Strydom
Starring Sixto Rodríguez and a cast of others involved in the search for him

Among many other wins and nominations (too numerous to list here):
WINNER, Best Documentary-Features, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Documentary Film, BAFTA Awards
WINNER, Best Documentary, Critics’ Choice Awards
WINNER, Art Cinema Award (Bendjelloul), Hamburg Film Festival
WINNER, NBR Award-Best Documentary, National Board of Review
WINNER, Audience Award and Special Jury Prize-World Cinema Documentary, Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Best Documentary, Vancouver Film Critics Circle

A truly inspiring story about Sixto Díaz Rodríguez, whose career as a 1970s singer-songwriter received little recognition in the United States, although his music was often compared to Bob Dylan’s. Having failed to achieve his dream to bring his music to the world, Rodríguez returned to his job as a hard laborer in the city of Detroit.

Totally unknown to Rodríguez, his music and lyrics were inspiring generations of South Africans. He became famous in that country, although rumors and reports had spread about his onstage suicide in the U.S. This film is the result of two South African fans’ efforts to track down information about him and clear up the mystery about his life and death. They were astonished to find he was still alive and well.

An awesome story about an incredible man. Rodriguez is on tour; visit his website for more information about his upcoming tour dates. He was also just awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Wayne State University in Detroit for his “musical genius and commitment to social justice.” “Sugar Man” is the name of one of his signature songs. Sample his music on YouTube.

Highly recommended.

86 min. PG-13.

For more info:

Searching for Sugar Man

About the soundtrack:

Searching for Sugar Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

A Separation-DVD Review *** 04/11/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Asian Film Awards, César Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Fajr Film Festival, Golden Globes, Iranian language film, Movies, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Pula Film Festival.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

A SEPARATION (Iranian) 2011 ***
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin

Directed by Asghar Farhadi
Starring Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami, and Sarina Farhadi

Among many other awards and nominations, here are a few:
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film; NOMINATED, Best Original Screenplay, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Director; Best Editor; Best Film; Best Screenwriter; NOMINATED, Best Actress (Hatami), Asian Film Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film (Farhadi), César Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Film; Crystal Simorgh-Best Cinematography; Best Director; Best Screenplay, Fajr Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, New York Film Critics Circle Awards
WINNER, Golden Arena-International Competition (Best Film), Pula Film Festival

Nadir (Moadi) and Simin (Hatami) are a couple facing separation and possible divorce when the wife wants to leave the country to provide a better life for their teenage daughter Termeh (Farhadi). After Simin moves back into her parents’ house, Nadir, who has been caring for his ailing father, gets embroiled in a possible murder charge when the housekeeper he hires suffers a miscarriage.

Very compelling performances by all parties, with the lack of a soundtrack contributing to the authenticity of the emotions portrayed.

The film was a big award winner in many international competitions (above are just a few examples). In the interview with the director, Farhadi provides insights about the culture behind the dilemma faced by the participants. Also, the girl who plays Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) is the director’s daughter and has appeared in some of his previous films.

Highly recommended.

123 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
A Separation

Biutiful-DVD Review 01/27/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Goya Awards, Image Awards, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Biutiful (Spanish) 2010

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, and Guillermo Estrella

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Leading Actor (Bardem), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Iñárritu), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Score; Best Production Design; Best Original Screenplay; Best Supporting Actor (Eduard Fernández); Best Supporting Actress (Ana Wagener), Goya Awards
WINNER, Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture, Image Awards
WINNER, International Star Award (Bardem), Palm Springs International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

In Barcelona, Uxbal (Bardem) is steeped in the world of corrupt cops, drug dealing, and illegal immigrant labor. Since his ex-wife Marambra (Alvarez) suffers from bipolar disorder, he raises their two children, Ana (Bouchaib) and Mateo (Estrella) as best he can. When he learns that he has terminal cancer, Uxbal lovingly tries to do his best to provide for their future, in increasingly negative circumstances.

Not an uplifting subject, and sometimes tough to watch, but it is well worth it for the very admirable performance from Javier Bardem (one of my favorite actors).

148 min. Not rated. Adult themes and language.

For more info:
Biutiful

Il Divo-DVD Review 12/16/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Based on true events, British Independent Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival, David di Donatello Awards, European Film Awards, Golden Globes, Italian language film, Italy, Movies, Paolo Sorrentino.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Il Divo (Italian) 2008
Il Divo: La spettacolare vita di Giulio Andreotti
Based on true events

Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Starring Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, and Giulio Bosetti

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Achievement in Makeup, Academy Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, British Independent Film Awards
WINNER, Jury Prize (Sorrentino), NOMINATED, Palme D’Or (Sorrentino), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, David Award, Best Actor (Servillo); Best Cinematography; and five other awards; NOMINATED, Best Director; Best Film; Best Screenplay; and five others, David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Servillo); NOMINATED, Best Cinematographer; Best Director; Best Film; Best Screenwriter, European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Screenplay; NOMINATED, Best Director, Golden Globes, Italy

Please note that this is not a music DVD!

Among other government posts, Giulio Andreotti (Servillo) served as Prime Minister of Italy for several terms during the 1970s and early 90s. Il Divo (the star) was one of the many nicknames associated with him.

Via a compelling performance by actor Toni Servillo, director Sorrentino delivers a sense of the personality behind the man, keeping the controversies that surrounded him as a series of montages in the background.

In 2003, Andreotti was in the news when he was cleared of a murder charge.

110 min. Not rated. Violence.

For more info:
Il Divo

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button-DVD Review 11/27/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Based on a short story, Emotional Drama, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fantasy, Golden Globes, Movies.
add a comment

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (American) 2008
Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Directed by David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt, Taraji P. Henson, and Cate Blanchett

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Art Direction; Best Makeup; Best Visual Effects; NOMINATED (among others), Best Music; Best Motion Picture; Best Leading Actor (Pitt); Best Supporting Actress (Taraji Henson); Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth and Robin Swicard), Academy Awards
NOMINATED, Best Director (Fincher), Best Motion Picture; Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplay); Best Actor (Pitt); Best Screenplay (Roth and Swicard), Golden Globes
Many of the other awards and nominations recognized the soundtrack and special effects.

Benjamin Button (Pitt) narrates his own life story through diaries that are found after his death and read to his dying friend Daisy (Blanchett) by her daughter. Benjamin, whose mother died in childbirth, was born with the physical characteristics and illnesses of an old man. Rejected by his grieving father because of his appearance, Benjamin was raised by Queenie (Henson), the proprietor of a local rooming house. He recounts the experiences of his life, which was spent growing younger and younger.

I’ve meant to watch this film for some time, mostly because the subject matter seemed so curious, for lack of a more imaginative word. Brad Pitt certainly deserves kudos for not relying on roles that use his good looks only. In this case, he undergoes a transformation that is nothing short of astonishing (hence all the awards and nominations for special effects). Surprisingly, Cate Blanchett didn’t seem emotionally present in her role as Daisy; in my opinion, Taraji Henson as Queenie steals the show in that regard. Definitely worthwhile viewing if you haven’t already seen it.

166 min. Rated PG-13.

Check it out on Amazon:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Single-Disc Edition)

Under the Sun-DVD Review *** 11/18/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Brothers Manaki International Film Festival, Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, Comedy, Guldbagge Awards-Sweden, Highly recommended, Light Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Swedish language film.
add a comment

Under the Sun (Swedish) 1998 ***
Under Solen

Directed by Colin Nutley
Starring Rolf Lassgård, Helena Bergström, and Johan Widerberg

NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards
WINNER, Silver Camera 300, Brothers Manaki International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Favorite Choice Award, WINNER, Best Feature (both awards for Nutley), Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lassgård); Best Supporting Actor (Widerberg), Guldbagge Awards
WINNER, Special Mention (for quality acting); NOMINATED, Golden Seashell (Nutley), San Sebastian International Film Festival

Olof (Lassgård) is a shy farmer who lacks experience in matters of the heart. He is lacking sexual experience as well. At 40, he decides that it is time to find a mate. Olof, who can’t read, enlists help to place an ad in the paper looking for a housekeeper. When Ellen (Bergström) arrives, it doesn’t take long before Olof is totally smitten with her. But his friend Erik (Widerberg), whose motives are questionable, tries to convince each of them separately that the relationship has no future.

A very sweet and entertaining love story about an unlikely couple. The film is filled with funny scenes, especially via “friend” (and Elvis admirer) Erik.

Highly recommended.

130 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children (sexual content and language).

Check it out on Amazon: Under the Sun (Under Solen)

or Netflix

The Descendants-DVD Review 10/07/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Young Artists Awards.
add a comment

The Descendants (American) 2011

Directed by Alexander Payne
Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, and Amara Miller

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Writing; Best Adapted Screenplay (Alexander Payne et al.); NOMINATED, Best Director (Payne); Best Picture; Best Leading Actor (Clooney), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Clooney), NOMINATED, Best Director (Payne); Best Supporting Actress (Woodley); Best Screenplay, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Woodley); NOMINATED, Best Director (Payne); Best Feature, Independent Spirit Awards

WINNER-tied, Best Young Actress in a Feature Film (Miller), Young Artist Awards

When his wife has an accident that leaves her on life support, Matt King (Clooney) has to get more involved with the day-to-day lives of his two daughters (Woodley and Miller) while also dealing with the discovery that his wife had an affair.

The story takes place in Hawaii and ties in with Matt’s attempts to make a profitable land deal for his extended family members, who are heirs to a large parcel of beautiful and unspoiled land.

Despite its overriding premise, the film does have humorous moments. It was very well received at awards ceremonies (what I’ve listed above doesn’t begin to cover them). I thought it was very good (not great) and worth watching, especially for the scenery (which includes Mr. Clooney).

115 min. Rated R.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Descendants