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Il Divo-Movie 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.

 

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When We Leave-Movie Review*** 12/05/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Critics Association Awards, German language film, Ghent International Film Festival, Movies, Tribeca Film Festival, Turkish language film.
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When We Leave (German/Turkish) 2010 ***
Die Fremde

Written and directed by Feo Aladag
Starring Sibel Kekilli and Nizam Schiller

Among many wins and nominations:
NOMINATED, European Discovery of the Year (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Kekilli); Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Feature Film Debut (Aladag); Best Film; Best Film Score; Best Screenplay, German Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Film; Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Narrative Feature (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), Tribeca Film Festival

Umay (Kekilli), a young Turkish woman, is in a loveless and physically abusive marriage. She leaves home with her young son Cem (Schiller) to return to Germany where she was raised. But Umay finds that she is not welcomed back into her family because of traditional beliefs about a woman’s role.

Highly recommended, but with the caveat that this is not a movie with a happy ending (understatement). Winner of many awards, When We Leave is the first feature film for director Feo Aladag, who is also a German actress.

119 min. Unrated. Adult themes and violence.

Séraphine-Movie Review *** 09/30/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, Cairo International Film Festival, César Awards, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, French language film, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Martin Provost, Newport Beach Film Festival.
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Séraphine (French) 2008 ***
Based on true events

Written and directed by Martin Provost (with co-writer Marc Abdelnour)
Starring Yolande Moreau, Ulrich Tukur, and Anne Bennent

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Moreau), Cairo International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actress (Moreau); Best Film; Best Music for a Film; Best Original Screenplay; NOMINATED, Best Director (Provost); Best Sound, César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Moreau), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Moreau), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Jury Awards-Best Actor (Tukur); Best Actress (Moreau); Best Director (Provost); Best Film; Best Screenplay, Newport Beach Film Festival

Based on true events in the life of artist Séraphine Louis.

In early twentieth-century France, German art collector Wilhelm Uhde moves temporarily to the rural town of Senlis. There, he becomes aware that his cleaning lady, the humble Séraphine, privately produces exquisite paintings that he believes would thrill the art world. Séraphine is completely unschooled in art, and even makes her own paint colors. Uhde promises to become her patron and create an exhibition in Paris, but then he must flee France because of the war. Séraphine continues painting constantly. A deeply religious woman, she believes that her inspiration comes directly from God speaking to her, a belief that eventually carries her into madness.

For more about Séraphine Louis’s life, and to view a few of her magnificent paintings, visit Art Scene Today or do a search for Séraphine Louis. When I see the photograph of the real Séraphine, I appreciate the casting of the incredible actress Yolande Moreau in the title role.

Highly recommended.

125 min. Not rated. Suitable for older children and teens.

 

Adam’s Apples-Movie Review *** 09/09/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival, Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, Danish language film, Dark Comedy, European Film Awards, Movies, Warsaw International Film Festival.
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Adam’s Apples (Danish) 2005 ***

From Film Movement

Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring Paprika Steen, Nikolaj Kaas, Mads Mikkelsen, Ulrich Thomsen, and Nicolas Bro

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Silver Scream Award (Jensen), Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
WINNER, Golden Raven; Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver; Pegasus Audience Award (all Jensen), Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film
NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Film (Jensen); European Film Award-Best Screenwriter (Jensen), European Film Awards
WINNER, Audience Award (Jensen), Warsaw International Film Festival

Adam (Thomsen), a tough and violence-prone ex-convict, must spend part of his parole time working at a rectory in a remote country area. Its priest, Ivan (Mikkelsen), looks at the world and all those he comes in contact with in a biblically-based way that is so positive it has become irrational. The townspeople just accept that Ivan is insane and let him be, but Adam is determined to convince Ivan that everything he believes about the world is false.

A dark comedy with a very unusual collection of characters thrown together in an odd setting.

Highly recommended.

94 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults (violence).

 

Michael-Movie Review 08/25/2012

Posted by Films to consider in British Film Institute Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Dublin International Film Festival, European Film Awards, German language film, Markus Schleinzer, Movies, Psychological Suspense.
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Michael (Austrian/German) 2011

Directed by Markus Schleinzer
Starring Michael Fuith and David Rauchenberger

WINNER, Best Actor (Fuith), Dublin Film Critics Award, Dublin International Film Festival
WINNER, Vienna Film Award-Best Feature (Schleinzer), Viennale
NOMINATED, Sutherland Trophy (Schleinzer), British Film Institute Awards
NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Schleinzer), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, European Discovery of the Year (Schleinzer), European Film Awards

Don’t mistake this for the 1996 movie starring John Travolta as the archangel Michael!

Trying to come up with a word to describe this film, I bow to so many other reviewers and use the word chilling. It’s definitely a case of caveat spector, with subject matter that is not easy to portray or to watch. But sometimes a reminder is needed that monsters such as the title character exist in this world.

Michael (Fuith) is a mild-mannered but decidedly odd insurance agent who is secretly holding a ten-year-old boy prisoner in his house. Michael leaves clues by his weird behavior but no one heeds them.

Director Schleinzer lets the viewer fill in many of the blanks along the way, which leads to a restrained telling of a difficult story and a very effective ending. The film includes what I thought was the scariest version of the song “Sunny” I can imagine.

96 min. Not rated (not suitable for children)

 

The Best of Youth-Movie 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).

 

Moscow, Belgium-Movie Review 07/22/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival, European Film Awards, Flemish language film, Light Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy, Zurich Film Festival.
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Moscow, Belgium (Belgian) 2008

Directed by Christopher Van Rompaey
Starring Barbara Sarafian, Jurgen Delnaet, and Johan Heldenbergh

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, ACID Award (Van Rompaey); Grand Golden Rail (Van Rompaey); SACD Screenwriting Award (Van Rijckeghem and Van Beirs), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Krzysztof Kieslowski Award: Best Feature Film and Best Film (Van Rompaey), Denver International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Composer (Tuur Florizoone), European Film Awards
WINNER, Jury Award-Best Actress (Sarafian); Youth Grand Prize-Best Film (Van Rompaey), Mediawave Hungary
WINNER, New Talent Award (Van Rompaey), Zurich Film Festival

An enjoyable romantic comedy, with the emphasis on comedy as the romance itself is funny (and unpredictable). Matty (Sarafian) is a harried mother of three whose husband Werner (Heldenbergh) has moved out as part of a midlife crisis. When Matty’s car backs into a truck owned by Johnny (Delnaet), the younger man becomes smitten with her. Although Johnny has a volatile temper and seems to be no big prize, Matty experiences something of a midlife crisis of her own.

As the awards indicate, many aspects of this film are worth noting, chief among them the fast-paced dialogue and Barbara Sarafian’s performance. Her facial expressions portray the complex range of emotions that Matty undergoes, making the decisions she makes more plausible.

106 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults.

For more info:

The Ghost Writer-Movie Review 05/06/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, British, César Awards, European Film Awards, National Board of Review, Political Thriller, Suspense.
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The Ghost Writer (British/German/French) 2010

Adapted from the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Silver Berlin Bear, Best Director (Polanski); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Polanski), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Director (Polanski); Best Music; NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Sound, César Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (McGregor); Best Composer (Alexandre Desplat); Best Director (Polanski); Best Film; Best Screenwriter (Polanski and Harris); NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Film, European Film Awards
WINNER, NBR Award-Top Independent Films, National Board of Review, USA

When a ghost writer (McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of Adam Lang (Brosnan), a former British Prime Minister, he discovers that the writer he is replacing died under mysterious circumstances. He becomes caught up in political intrigue and physical danger when the Prime Minister is accused of war crimes.

Although this movie is somewhat long (just over two hours), the suspense builds enough to keep interest going. The scenery, a desolate shoreline area, contributes to the spooky atmosphere as the ghost writer (who remains unnamed throughout) uncovers the mystery behind the unlikely political rise of Adam Lang.

Director Polanski, despite his ongoing troubles, does know how to show-and-tell a good story.

128 min. Rated PG-13.

 

Agata and the Storm-Movie Review 04/15/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, European Film Awards, Film Movement, Italian language film, Romance.
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Agata and the Storm (Italian) 2004

From Film Movement
Directed by Silvio Soldini
Starring Licia Maglietta, Guiseppe Battiston, Emilio Solfrizzi, Marina Massironi, Giselda Volodi, and Claudio Santamaria

NOMINATED, Best Actor (Battiston); Best Actress (Maglietta); Best Supporting Actor (Solfrizzi); Best Supporting Actress (Volodi), and several other categories, David di Donatello Awards
NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Actress (Maglietta), European Film Awards

A light romantic comedy combined with a story about redefining one’s identity, all done in the Italian way.

Agata (Maglietta), who owns a bookstore and is given to flights of fancy, is being pursued by a younger man. She is also experiencing some sort of psychic phenomenon: she causes light bulbs to go out and other electrical appliances to go haywire. When her serious, hardworking brother Gustavo (Solfrizzi) finds out that he was adopted as a baby, Agata tries to help him adjust to the idea of having a brother, the fun-loving and aptly-named Romeo (Battiston).

While not overly remarkable, this is a pleasant enough movie. I’m looking forward to watching Pane e Tulipan (Bread and Tulips), an earlier (2000) film by the same director that features some of the same actors. Pane e Tulipan was more critically acclaimed.

118 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

 

Cherry Blossoms-Movie Review *** 03/09/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bavarian Film Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Butoh performance, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Awards, German Film Critics Award, German language film, Seattle International Film Festival, Valldolid International Film Festival.
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Cherry Blossoms (German) 2008 ***

Written and directed by Doris Dörrie
Starring Elmar Wepper, Hannelore Elsner, and Aya Irizuki

WINNER, Best Actor (Wepper); Best Production, Bavarian Film Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Dörrie), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Wepper), European Film Awards
WINNER, Film Award in Gold, Best Leading Actor (Wepper) and Best Costume Design; Film Award in Silver, Outstanding Feature Film; NOMINATED, Film Award in Gold, Best Direction (Dörrie); Best Supporting Actress (Elsner); Best Screenplay (Dörrie), German Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Wepper), German Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Golden Space Needle Award-Best Film (Dörrie), Seattle International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Golden Spike (Dörrie), Valldolid International Film Festival

When a doctor tells Trudi (Elsner) that her husband Rudi (Wepper) doesn’t have much longer to live, she decides it would be best to keep the prognosis from him. Instead, she tries to get Rudi to visit his children, one of whom lives in Japan, a place she herself always longed to visit.

A story of love and grieving, beautifully photographed and beautifully acted. Especially entrancing are the sequences of Butoh, an avant garde performance form that began in Japan in the 1960s.

Highly recommended.

124 min. Not rated.

Here’s a short Butoh performance (not from the movie):