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The 100-Year-Old Man . . . Movie Review *** 10/30/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Adventure, Based on a novel, Chicago International Film Festival, Comedy, Dark Comedy, European Film Awards, Movies, Swedish language film.
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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Swedish) 2013
Based on the novel by Jonas Jonasson

Directed by Felix Herngren
Starring Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, and David Wiberg

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Audience Choice Award (Herngren), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Audience Award (Herngren), European Film Awards

Allan Karlsson (Gustafsson) doesn’t want to celebrate his 100th birthday at the nursing home, so he opens the window of his room and climbs out. Off he goes on an adventure that will eventually include disposing of a dead body.

The quirky tale of Allan’s latest adventure is interspersed with flashbacks from what has been a most unusual life. We see events of decades of history unfold through a series of coincidences that brought him into contact with major players; unwittingly he influenced the course of history.

The 100 Year old man is not your usual generic look at aging. If you like dark humor, this movie should tickle your funny bone.

Highly recommended. ***

114 min. Rated R.

For more info:
The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared

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Ida-DVD Review 01/16/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, European Film Awards, Golden Globes, Independent Film Awards, Minsk International Film Festival, Movies, Pawel Pawlikowski, Polish Film Awards, Polish language film.
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Ida (Polish) 2013

Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska, and Dawid Ogrodnik

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Audience Award (Pawlikowski); Best Director (Pawlikowski); Best Screenwriter; Best Cinematographer; NOMINATED, Best Actress (Kulesza); Best Actress (Trzebuchowska), European Film Awards
NOMINATED, Best International Film (Pawlikowski), Independent Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Kulesza); Grand Prix Golden Listapad-Best Film (Pawlikowski); Listapad Silver Award-Art as Phenomenon (Pawlikowski); Yury Marukhin Memorial Award-Best Cinematography, Minsk International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Film (Pawlikowski); Best Director (Pawlikowski); Best Actress (Kulesza); NOMINATED, Best Screenplay (Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz); Best Cinematography, Best editing, Polish Film Awards

In 1960s Poland, young Ida (Trzebuchowska), who was raised in a convent as an orphan, is about to take her vows to become a nun. She must first visit Wanda, an aunt who is her only known relative and whom she has never met. When Wanda (Kulesza) reveals that Ida is of Jewish background, Ida’s faith and decision about her future are tested.

The film is shot in black and white, which adds to the pensive atmosphere behind Ida’s struggle to decide between the outside world and her commitment to God. Agata Trzebuchowska was a non-actress when tapped to play Ida; she was chosen after the director had already auditioned over 400 actresses. She received many accolades for her performance; so far this is her only role.

82 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
Ida

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

The Big Lebowski-DVD Review 04/20/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, American, Berlin International Film Festival, Comedy, Dark Comedy, Empire Awards, European Film Awards, Joel Coen, Movies, Satellite Awards.
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The Big Lebowski (American) 1998

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore

Among other awards and (mostly) nominations:
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Coen), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Film (Coen), Empire Awards, UK
Nominated, Screen International Award (Coen), European Film Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actor-Comedy or Musical (Bridges); Best Supporting Actor (Goodman); Best Supporting Actress (Moore), Satellite Awards

The Dude (Bridges) likes his lifestyle on the casual side. For him, smoking pot and bowling with his friends describes a typical good day. But it turns out his real name, Jeffrey Lebowski, is the same as that of a very rich and powerful guy. Because of a mixup the Dude gets involved in a kooky kidnapping scheme, when all he wants is his rug back. It really ties the room together.

If you haven’t seen this movie–or haven’t seen it for a while–it’s definitely worth a look. The dialogue, while replete with foul language, is non-stop funny.

119 min. Rated R (Language, drug, sexuality, and violence)

For more info:
The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector’s Edition)

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

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

Kon Tiki-DVD Review *** 11/11/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Adventure, Amanda Awards, Based on true events, European Film Awards, Golden Globes, Movies, Norwegian Int'l Film Festival, Norwegian language film, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Satellite Awards.
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Kon Tiki (Norwegian) 2012 ***
Based on true events, as also recorded in a book and documentary film by Thor Heyerdahl.

Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Starring Pal Sverre Hagen and Odd Magnus Williamson

Click here for IMDB’s complete list of awards and nominations
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, Academy Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes

Very interesting and engaging story of a real-life adventure, undertaken by a group of Norwegians (and one Swede) led by Thor Heyerdahl. In 1947, with little to no experience on the open seas, they set out to prove Heyerdahl’s idea that the Polynesian Islands were long ago populated by people from Peru.

The men construct a raft using mostly methods and materials thought to be used by Peruvian sailors 1500 years ago. After sailing nearly 5,000 miles westward across the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, they make landfall in Polynesia after 101 days. They survived against some incredible odds, and their story has become a legend in Norway and elsewhere.

I watched the Norwegian version of the film, but there is an English version, which in this case I suggest watching. The English subtitles left something to be desired, and I had to keep stopping the movie to read them. The Special Features are worthwhile mostly for some interviews with Heyerdahl and with people who knew him.

Look for the original documentary created by Thor Heyerdahl, which includes actual footage shot on board the raft. This film won an Academy Award in 1951. Although the documentary gives the impression that they did not have much in the way of difficulties, the later film (and apparently the book, which I have not read) understandably shows otherwise.

Highly recommended.

118 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info (this is the English language version):
Kon-Tiki

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

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.
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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

Elena-DVD Review 04/20/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Drama, European Film Awards, Ghent International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Russian language film, Suspense, Thriller.
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ELENA (Russian) 2011

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, and Elena Lyadova

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Un Certain Regard-Special Jury Prize; NOMINATED, Un Certain Regard Award (both Zvyagintsev), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Markina), European Film Awards
WINNER, Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Russian Film Clubs Federation Award (Zvyagintsev), Moscow International Film Festival

Elena (Markina), a middle-aged woman, marries for a second time, and her husband Vladimir (Smirnov) turns out to be a domineering man who is wealthy but tight-fisted. Even after Vladimir has a heart attack and comes close to death, he refuses to help Elena’s son financially.

The director makes good use of striking images and outstandingly suspenseful music (Philip Glass). The film is labelled a thriller on the DVD case, but I’d consider it more of a psychological suspense.

109 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Elena