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Days and Clouds-DVD Review 04/04/2015

Posted by Films to consider in David di Donatello Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Italian language film, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, Rome Film Fest.
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Days and Clouds (Italian) 2007

From Film Movement
Directed by Silvio Soldini
Starring Margherita Buy, Antonio Albanese, Alba Rohrwacher, and Paolo Sassanelli

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Buy); Best Supporting Actress (Rohrwacher); NOMINATED, Best Director, David Di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Actress, Moscow International Film Festival
WINNER, Premiere Prize-Special Mention (Soldini), Rome Film Fest

Elsa (Buy) and Michele (Albanese), a middle-aged couple in Genoa, face financial hardship when Michele loses his job. Their formerly well-to-do lifestyle must change, and as it does, their relationship changes as well.

Soldini, director of Agata and the Storm (2004), and Bread and Tulips (2000) presents a thought-provoking and engaging look at a relationship in crisis, this time from an economic impact that affects the couple’s individual identities as well.

115 min. Unrated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Days and Clouds

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The Grand Budapest Hotel-DVD Review *** 12/15/2014

Posted by Films to consider in American, Berlin International Film Festival, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, Golden Globes, Movies, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Suspense.
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The Grand Budapest Hotel (American) 2014 ***

Directed by Wes Anderson

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Mathieu Amalric, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum and several other big-name stars

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Director (Anderson); Best Motion Picture; Best Actor (Fiennes); Best Screenplay, Golden Globes
WINNER, Silver Berlin Bear-Grand Jury Prize (Anderson); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Anderson), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Film (Anderson), David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Screenplay, New York Film Critics Circle Awards

In a formerly majestic hotel in a mountainous area of Eastern Europe, Zero Moustafa (Revolori), now an old man, tells the fantastic story of how he rose from lobby boy to owner, with the help of his former boss Gustave H (Fiennes). What ensues is a zany and fast-moving tale that features an all-star cast in roles ranging from supporting to cameo.

Highly recommended if you like a quirky comedy. Wes Anderson also directed The Darjeeling Limited and the Royal Tannenbaums.

*** Highly recommended.
100 min. Rated R.

For more info:
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another Year-DVD 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!)

For more info:
Another Year

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)

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

Le Havre-DVD Review *** 01/19/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, French language film, Light Drama, Munich Film Festival, National Board of Review.
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Le Havre (French) 2011 ***

From the Criterion Collection

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Starring Andre Wilms, Blondin Miguel, Kati Outinen, and Jean-Pierre Darroussin

Among many other wins and nominations:
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention; NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (all Kaurismäki), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Gold Hugo-Best International Feature (Kaurismäki), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Director; Best Film; Best Production Design, César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best European Film, David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Arri-Zeiss-Award (Kaurismäki), Munich Film Festival
WINNER, Top Five Foreign Films Award, National Board of Review

In the harbor city of LeHavre, Marcel Marx (Wilms) is an older man who shines shoes for a living. When his wife Arletty (Outinen), who is seriously ill, goes to the hospital for treatment, Marcel accidentally meets Idrissa (Miguel), a boy who has immigrated illegally with his family. Idrissa managed to run away when authorities caught up with them, but he is actively being sought. With the help of friends and neighbors, Marcel harbors the boy in his home.

Winner of, or nominated for, many awards (see above), Le Havre’s story is touching and quietly funny at times. Prolific Finnish director Kaurismäki has boldly taken on a film in French, which is not a language he speaks or even understands fluently. Likewise, Kati Outinen, who plays Marcel’s ailing wife, is also Finnish and speaks French somewhat haltingly. Kaurismäki has chosen his French actors wisely, as you would never know they were receiving their direction either non-verbally or through a translator.

Highly recommended.

93 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens+ because of subject matter.

For more info:
Le Havre

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.
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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 Sicilian Girl-DVD Review *** 08/31/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Based on true events, Bastia Italian Film Festival, Crime, David di Donatello Awards, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Mafia, Marco Amenta, Movies.
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The Sicilian Girl (Italian) 2008 ***
La siciliana rebelle
Based on true events

Directed by Marco Amenta
Starring Veronica D’Agostino, Marcello Mazzarella, and Gerard Jugnot

WINNER, Audience Award; Youth Jury Prize; NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize (Amenta), Bastia Italian Film Festival
NOMINATED, David Award-Best New Director; David of the Youth Award (Amenta), David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Silver Ribbon, Best New Director (Amenta), Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists

Rita Atria (D’Agostino), a tough-minded seventeen-year-old Sicilian girl, takes it upon herself to avenge her father’s and brother’s deaths at the hands of the Mafia. She has kept meticulous diaries for many years, and delivers them to the chief prosecutor (Jugnot), who has been trying to bring some of the men to justice for many years. Her information about the activities that took place in her village of Balata seem to provide the evidence he needs. Rita must eventually admit that her father, who was respected in their town but was also a Mafia don, was as guilty of killings and rapes as those she helped put on trial.

Although there is the expected Mafia violence in the film, the focus remains on the girl and her emotional, often erratic, reactions to what goes on around her. The ending is incredible, and even more so because it is true.

Some interesting trivia: Jugnot, who is French, speaks no Italian, and D’Agostino speaks no French. They acted against each other in Italian but otherwise could not communicate between scenes. The pair seemed to have an almost father-daughter type of connection.

Highly recommended.

114 min. Unrated. Adults themes and violence.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Sicilian Girl

The Best of Youth-DVD Review *** 08/06/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, David di Donatello Awards, European Film Awards, Movies, National Board of Review, Seattle International Film Festival.
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The Best of Youth (Italian) 2003 ***
La meglio gioventù

Directed by Marco Tullio Giordano
Starring Luigi Lo Cascio, Alessio Boni, Jasmine Trinca, Maya Sansi, Sonia Bergamasco, and Adriana Asti

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Un Certain Regard Award (Giordano), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best European Union Film, César Awards, France
WINNER, Best Director (Giordano); Best Film; Best Editing; Best Producer; Best Screenplay; Best Sound; NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lo Cascio); Best Supporting Actor (Fabrizio Gifuni); Best Supporting Actress (Trinca), David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lo Cascio); Best Director (Giordano); Best Screenwriter, European Film Awards
WINNER, NBR Award-Top Foreign Film, National Board of Review, USA
WINNER, Golden Space Needle Award, Best Director (Giordano), Seattle International Festival

An epic Italian film about two brothers, starting out during their young adult years in the 1960s and following them through several tumultuous decades into the early 2000s, a time during which their lives separate but often intertwine. Nicola (Lo Cascio), the thoughtful and responsible brother, becomes a psychiatrist; Matteo (Boni), impetuous and hot-tempered, ignores his true yearnings and becomes a policeman.

When I say the film is epic, I mean long, and, in this case, I mean very long (approximately 6 hours), but viewing times can easily be broken up as the story covers different parts of the brothers’ lives. The entire ensemble cast is outstanding and, similar to reading a good lengthy book, I didn’t want their stories to end. And if the ending doesn’t make you tear up or yell “Kiss her, you fool,” don’t brag about it.

According to Wikipedia, Director Giordano made a previous film about the death of controversial Italian poet and director Pier Paolo Pasolini. The title of this film is taken from one of Pasolini’s poems.

Highly recommended.

366 min. Rated R (language and brief nudity).

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Best Of Youth

The Chorus-DVD Review *** 06/01/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, César Awards, David di Donatello Awards, Drama, French language film, Golden Globes, Highly recommended, Lumière Awards.
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The Chorus (French) 2004 ***
Les choristes

Directed by Christophe Barratier
Starring Gerard Jugnot, Jean-Paul Bonnaire, Marie Bunel, François Berléand, and Jean-Baptiste Maunier

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Music in Feature Film; Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Music; Best Sound; NOMINATED, Best Actor (Jugnot); Best Director (Barratier); Best Film (Barratier); Best First Film (Barratier); Best Design; Best Supporting Actor (Berléand), César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best European Film (Barratier), David di Donatello Awards, Italy
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film (Barratier), Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Film (Barratier), Lumiere Awards, France

In post-war France, Clément Mathieu (Jugnot) takes on a new job teaching music at Fond de L’Etang, a school for incorrigible boys. Mild-mannered but tough, Clement has an unusual approach – he teaches the boys to sing. One in particular, Pierre Morhange (Maunier) has a special talent. Although Clement soon finds himself on the outs with the cruel Principal Rachin (Berléand), he finds solace in the knowledge that he has played a role in helping Pierre’s talent get recognized.

This was the first film for director Christophe Barratier, and it met with much critical acclaim. The lyrics of the Academy Award-nominated song “Look to Your Path” (Vois sur ta chemin) were written by Barratier. The film’s story line is certainly not unique, but it is definitely worth seeing. Besides outstanding acting by all parties, the music is absolutely beautiful, as is Jean-Baptiste Maunier’s angelic voice.

Favorite line: Action – reaction! (Principal Rachin’s chilling modus operandi for punishment)

Highly recommended.

97 min. Rated PG-13 for language, sexual references and violence

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Chorus (Les Choristes)