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The Broken Circle Breakdown-DVD Review *** 05/15/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, César Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Flemish language film, Movies, Norwegian Int'l Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival.
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The Broken Circle Breakdown (Flemish) 2012 ***

Directed by Felix Van Groeningen
Starring Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film (van Groeningen), César Awards
WINNER, Audience Award (van Groeningen ), Norwegian International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Motion Picture-International, Satellite Awards
WINNER, Best Actress-Narrative Feature (Baetens); Best Screenplay (Carl Joos and Felix Van Groeningen); NOMINATED, Best Narrative Feature (Van Groeningen),Tribeca Film Festival

In Belgium, Elise (Baetens) and Didier (Heldenbergh) meet and fall in love. Elise is a tattoo artist; Didier is a singer with a band that plays American country music. They marry and have a daughter, but soon the couple must face a heartbreaking tragedy that strikes their family.

Highly recommended.

111 minutes. Not rated (adult themes).

For more info:
The Broken Circle Breakdown (English Subtitled)

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Delicacy-DVD Review 08/08/2014

Posted by Films to consider in César Awards, Comedy, French language film, Light Drama, Movies, Romance, Romantic comedy, Sarlat International Cinema Festival.
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DELICACY (French) 2011
La délicatesse

Directed by David Foenkinos and Stéphane Foenkinos
Starring Bruno Todeschini, Audrey Tautou, Melanie Bernier, and Francois Damiens

NOMINATED, Best Adapted Screenplay (David Foenkinos); Best First Film, César Awards, France
WINNER, Prix Aquitaine: Prix d’interprétation masculine (Damiens), Sarlat International Cinema Festival

After losing her husband in an accident, young widow Nathalie (Tautou) devotes herself to her work. She seems to have no time for romance, but one day she inexplicably plants a sensual kiss on Markus, a Swedish coworker who is unpolished, to say the least. Once she happens down that road, there is no going back.

A romantic comedy/poignant story that will be enjoyed by fans of Audrey Tautou, although this film is not of the same caliber as the better-known Amélie. Bruno Todeschini does well in his role as her bumbling but charming suitor.

105 min. Rated PG-13

For more info:
Delicacy

I’ve Loved You So Long-DVD Review *** 07/07/2014

Posted by Films to consider in BAFTA Awards, César Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, French language film, Movies, Vancouver International Film Festival.
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I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG (French) 2008 ***
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

Screenplay and Directed by Philippe Claudel
Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Grévill, and Frédéric Pierrot

Among many awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Film Not in the English Language (Yves Marmion and Philippe Claudel; NOMINATED, Best Screenplay-Original (Claudel); Best Leading Actress (Thomas), BAFTA Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Zylberstein); Best First Film (Claudel); NOMINATED, Best Film (Claudel); Best Actress (Thomas); Best Original Screenplay (Claudel); Best Music Written for a Film, Jean-Louis Aubert, César Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Thomas), European Film Awards
WINNER, Most Popular Film (Claudel), Vancouver International Film Festival

Juliette (Thomas) is released from prison after fifteen years and welcomed into her sister Léa’s (Zylberstein) home. The secrets and circumstances surrounding her crime are gradually revealed.

This debut feature film of director Philippe Claudel is a beautifully rendered and unpredictable story in which the viewer learns about the past along with Juliette’s sister, Léa. Kristin Scott Thomas is one of my favorite actresses, and she plays Juliette with a mixture of strength and vulnerability that is a pleasure to see. Also worth mention is Elsa Zylberstein as Léa, who grew up with no understanding of what happened but remained loving and faithful to the sister she remembered.

Highly recommended. ***

117 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
I’ve Loved You So Long

Romantics Anonymous-DVD Review *** 04/03/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Cabourg Romantic Film Festival, César Awards, Comedy, French language film, JeanPierre Améris, Light Drama, Romance, Romantic comedy.
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Romantics Anonymous (French) 2010 ***
Les émotifs anonymes

Directed by JeanPierre Améris
Starring Benoit Poelvoorde and Isabelle Carré

WINNER, Best Actress (Carré), Cabourg Romantic Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Carré),César Awards, France

A very sweet and funny story about a couple who meet because of their mutual love of chocolate. Jean-René (Poelvoorde) and Angélique (Carré) are each afflicted with a level of shyness that is emotionally crippling. At work Jean-René hides his anxieties behind a stern demeanor, but his business is failing and will soon be bankrupt. Angélique is too overcome by her fears to have her skill in creating exquisite chocolates acknowledged. The couple meets by chance, but beginning a relationship is not simple.

The cast, including the supporting characters at Jean-René’s chocolate-making business, helps the movie soar above the simple plot.

Highly recommended.

80 min. Not rated.

For more info:
Romantics Anonymous

Lorna’s Silence-DVD Review 03/21/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Belgian/French language film, Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Lumière Awards, Movies, Suspense, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.
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LORNA’S SILENCE (Belgian/French) 2008
Le silence de Lorna

Written and directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Starring Arta Dobroshi, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, and Alban Ukaj

WINNER, Best Screenplay and NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Dardenne & Dardenne), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film (Dardenne & Dardenne), César Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Dobroshi), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best French Language Film (Dardenne & Dardenne), Lumière Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Dobroshi), Toronto Film Critics Association Awards

Lorna (Dobroshi) a young Albanian woman, is in a scheme to make money and create a new life with her boyfriend. She agrees to a fake marriage to Claudy (Renier), a heroin junkie in Belgium. After she becomes a Belgian citizen, the junkie will no longer be necessary. Lorna, as you might expect, is in cahoots with some very shady characters, and they won’t let their plan go awry.

The movie’s ending is unforeseen, and while it ends this part of Lorna’s story in a satisfactory way, her overall plight is unresolved. Her emotional turmoil remained so intriguing I could have watched part two.

105 min. Rated R.

For more info:
Lorna’s Silence

The Tree- DVD Review 02/15/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Bratislava International Film Festival, César Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Fantasy, Julie Bertuccelli, Movies.
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THE TREE (Australian/French/English) 2010

Directed by Julie Bertuccelli
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Morgana Davies, and Marton Csokas

Among several other nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Gainsbourg), Bratislava International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo, Best New Director (Bertucelli), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Gainsbourg); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Music for a Film, César Awards, France

When her husband dies suddenly, Dawn (Gainsbourg) and her four children try to cope with their loss by defending/transforming the enormous fig tree that is threatening to overtake their house and their lives. Eight-year-old daughter Simone (Davies) convinces her mother that her father speaks to her through the tree.

Part fantasy and part emotional family drama, for me this story was surprisingly moving. Charlotte Gainsbourg sometimes shows up in unusual roles that allow a true acting talent to shine through. I thought this was one of them. And that is one impressive tree. Filmed in Queensland, Australia, with beautiful cinematography of the surrounding area.

100 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.
For more info:
The Tree

Autumn Sonata-DVD Review *** 02/04/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, César Awards, David di Donatello Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Highly recommended, Ingmar Bergman, Movies, National Society of Film Critics Awards, Psychological Suspense, Swedish language film.
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AUTUMN SONATA (Swedish) 1978 ***
Höstsonaten
Criterion Collection

Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Starring Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullmann, and Halvar Bjork

Among several other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman); Best Screenplay (Ingmar Bergman), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film; NOMINATED, Best Actress-Drama (Ingrid Bergman), Golden Globes
WINNER, Best European Film (Ingmar Bergman), César Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Actress (both Ingrid Bergman and Ullmann), David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman), National Society of Film Critics Awards

Charlotte (Bergman), a famous concert pianist, visits the isolated home of her daughter Eva (Ullmann), who lives quietly with her minister husband Viktor (Bjork). The two haven’t seen each other for years, and the visit starts out on an optimistic note. But soon the family secrets work their way to the surface.

Autumn Sonata provides an opportunity to see two outstanding actresses face each other under the direction of a master of portraying emotions. During his lifetime, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was nominated for a total of nine Oscars and won many other awards. Director Ingmar and actress Ingrid, who are not related, reportedly had some differences of opinion during the making of Autumn Sonata, and much has been made of the parallel situations in this film and Ingrid Bergman’s own much-publicized personal life, something she too acknowledged. This was her next-to-last film; she died in 1982. Actress Liv Ullmann is still making films; her latest is Two Lives (2012), a thriller set in Norway.

Highly recommended.

93 min. Rated PG (harsh and highly emotional situations)

For more info:
Autumn Sonata (Criterion Collection)

A Royal Affair-DVD Review *** 10/28/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Based on true events, Bodil Awards, César Awards, Danish language film, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, Golden Globes, Historical Drama, Movies, Philadelphia Film Festival, Romance, Satellite Awards.
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A ROYAL AFFAIR (Danish) 2012 ***

Directed by Nicolaj Arcel
Starring Alicia Vikander, Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Academy Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, César Awards

Based on true events during the reign of Denmark’s King Christian VII (Følsgaard). When young Princess Caroline (Vikander) is “imported” from England to become his queen, it soon becomes apparent that the king is not in his right mind. Queen Caroline and the king’s German doctor, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mikkelsen) fall in love, and together they try to put things right in the country.

Mads Mikkelsen adds a gentler touch to his character than might be expected from some of his other roles, and Alicia Vikander has a regal presence befitting her role of queen. But it is Mikkel Følsgaard who deserves special mention; in his first movie role, he plays a complicated, increasingly manic character, who is nominally in charge of an entire country’s fate.

Highly recommended if you like this kind of movie (and I do). ***

138 min. Rated R.

For more info:
A Royal Affair

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.
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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

Declaration of War-DVD Review *** 05/06/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, César Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Gijón International Film Festival, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Romance.
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Declaration of War (French) 2011 ***
La guerre est déclarée
Based on true events

Directed by Valérie Donzelli
Written by Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm
Starring Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Actress and Best Director (Donzelli); Best Film; Best Original Screenplay; Best Editing; Best Sound, César Awards, France
WINNER, Best Actor (Elkaïm); Best Actress (Donzelli); Grand Prix Asturias-Best Film, Gijón International Film Festival
WINNER, Directors to Watch (Donzelli), Palm Springs International Film Festival

Roméo (Elkaïm) and Juliette (Donzelli) are a young couple who meet, fall in love, and move in together. Soon they are having a baby, and all is well with their world, although the baby does cry a lot. When the baby begins to show other signs of distress, they take him to the doctor and receive the kind of diagnosis no parent ever wants to hear.

Based on true events. Although the brief description might make this seem like a sad movie, it surprisingly is not. The young parents, who are determined to “declare war” on their son’s disease, do not do so in the somber way one might expect.

Highly recommended.

100 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults, due to subject matter.

For more info:
Declaration of War