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I’ve Loved You So Long-Movie 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.

 

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Safety Not Guaranteed-Movie Review 05/24/2014

Posted by Films to consider in ALMA Awards, American, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Fantasy, Independent Spirit Awards, Romance, Romantic comedy, Sundance Film Festival.
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SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (American) 2012
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Karan Soni

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Favorite Movie Actress-Comedy/Musical (Plaza), ALMA Awards
NOMINATED, Most Promising Filmmaker (Trevorrow), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Best First Screenplay (Derek Connolly); NOMINATED, Best First Feature, Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (Connolly); NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize-Dramatic (Trevorrow), Sundance Film Festival

Darius (Plaza) is a lowly intern at a Seattle feature magazine. She volunteers to accompany coworkers Jeff (Johnson) and Arnau (Soni) to follow up on a quirky classified ad. As Darius gets to know its creator, self-proclaimed time traveler Kenneth (Duplass), she begins to question whether he is as delusional as everyone else thinks.

An unusual and enjoyable story. The movie was filmed in Seattle, with a low-key cast of actors who lend an unaffected charm to its telling.

86 min. Rated R.

 

Another Year-Movie Review *** 03/02/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, British, Cannes Film Festival, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Chlotrudis Awards, David di Donatello Awards, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, Light Drama, Mike Leigh, Movies, Romance.
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Another Year (British) 2010 ***

Directed by Mike Leigh
Starring Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Oliver Maltman, Peter Wight, and David Bradley

among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Leigh), Academy Awards
WINNER, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention (Leigh), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Manville), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Manville); Best Ensemble Performance (cast members); NOMINATED, Best Movie; Best Director (Leigh); Best Original Screenplay (Leigh), Chlotrudis Awards
NOMINATED, Best European Film (Leigh), David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Manville); Best Composer (Gary Yershon), European Film Awards

Another Year follows a year in the life of a happily married middle-aged couple. As Tom (Broadbent) and Gerri (Sheen) interact with their family and friends, humor and happiness appear in equal measure with poignant moments and sad developments.

This movie will not appeal to those looking for a complicated plot or a lot of action, but the depiction of lifetime friendships and the changes in the characters were very moving. As noted above, actress Lesley Manville garnered honors in her role as Gerri’s needy workplace acquaintance, Mary.

Highly recommended.

130 min. Rated PG-13 (but subject matter unlikely to be of interest to a teen!)

Into the Wild-Movie 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.

 

The Messenger-Movie Review *** 06/17/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Oren Moverman, Samantha Morton, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.
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The Messenger (American) 2009 ***

Directed by Oren Moverman
Written by Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
Starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, and Samantha Morton

Among many awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); Best Original Screenplay (Camon and Moverman), Academy Awards
WINNER, Peace Film Award (Moverman); Silver Berlin Bear-Best Screenplay (Camon and Moverman); Golden Berlin Bear (Moverman), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Breakthrough Award (Foster), Gotham Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); NOMINATED, Best First Feature; Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Morton), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (MORTON); 2nd PLACE-Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); NOMINATED, Best Actor (Foster), San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

Returning from Iraq, injured and with three months of service left, Will Montgomery (Foster) gets assigned to Casualty Notification and is paired up with career officer Tony Stone (Harrelson), a recovering alcoholic. Their job is to inform the next of kin, in person and as soon as possible, when a loved one has been killed in the line of duty. The range of emotions they must deal with in the family members corresponds to the range of emotions they must face in themselves.

As noted above, Woody Harrelson received much-deserved acclaim for his role as the tough-minded captain trying to break in the new messenger. I also thought Ben Foster did an outstanding job as the younger, more vulnerable, and, in some respects, more mature Will Montgomery.

Highly recommended.

112 min. Rated R. Adult themes.

 

City of God-Movie Review *** 03/16/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Autobiographical, Based on true story, British Independent Film Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Ciinema Brazil Grand Prize, Crime, Independent Spirit Awards, Toronto International Film Festival.
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City of God (Brazilian/Portuguese) 2002 ***
Cidade de Deus

Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Starring Alexandre Rodrigues and Leandro Firmino da Hora

Among many other wins and nominations :
NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Director (Meirelles); Best Film Editing; Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film, British Independent Film Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film-Brazil, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER and NOMINATED in many categories, Cinema Brazil Grand Prize
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film (Meirelles), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Visions Award-Special Citation (Meirelles), Toronto International Film Festival

The story follows a few decades of boys growing up in the drug-infested world of one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (shanty towns). Most will eventually take their places as thieves and killers. L’il Dice (Firmino da Hora) gets a taste for killing early on. He earns the name L’il Z and becomes an undisputed drug lord given to unpredictable acts of violence. Rocket (Rodrigues) narrates the film. Watching the inaction and corruption of the police, he wants no part of the gang violence that surrounds him – he wants to become a photographer.

Watch the Special Features for a look at some footage that shows how true-to-life the film is. There is a followup DVD based on a television series called City of Men that I also recommend – more to follow in another post.

Highly recommended.

130 min. Rated R. Violence and drug use.

 

The Usual Suspects-Movie Review *** 01/14/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Dark Comedy, Golden Globes, Movies, National Board of Review, Thriller.
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The Usual Suspects (American) 1995 ***

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Spacey); Best Screenplay (McQuarrie), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Editing; Best Screenplay; NOMINATED, Best Film (Singer), BAFTA Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Spacey): Best Screenplay (McQuarrie), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Spacey), Golden Globes
WINNER, NBR Award, Best Ensemble (for nine actors) and Best Supporting Actor (Spacey), National Board of Review, USA

Directed by Bryan Singer
Written by Christopher McQuarrie
Starring Kevin Spacey, Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Chazz Palminteri, and Pete Postelthwaite

A recent post by a friend prompted me to re-watch this movie. It’s a thriller, but one with a lighthearted twist, and was well worth a second look.

Verbal Kint (Spacey) is a small-time con man, rounded up for an unusual lineup – with four other known criminals. During his interrogation, Kint describes the convoluted happenings that led to many killings and a huge explosion on a ship docked in the port of Los Angeles.

Kevin Spacey is one my favorite actors, and he won many kudos for his role as the unassuming and not-very-bright Verbal Kint. Although a few critics panned the film, the response of most critics, and of the general public, was overwhelmingly favorable.

Highly recommended.

106 min. Rated R. Violence, bloodshed, and general mayhem.