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The Two Faces of January – Movie Review 08/10/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Academy of Science Fiction, Action/Thriller, Based on a novel, British, Drama, London Critics Circle Film Awards, Online Film & Television Assoc., Thriller.
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The Two Faces of January (British) 2014

Directed by Hossein Amini
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, and Oscar Isaac

NOMINATED, Saturn Award-Best Independent Film, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA
NOMINATED, Breakthrough British Filmmaker ALFS Award (Amini), London Critics Circle Film Awards
NOMINATED, OFTA Film Award, Best Feature Debut (Amini), Online Film & Television Association

In the early 1960s, Chester MacFarland (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) live an upscale lifestyle, supported by Chester’s skill as a swindler. As they are traveling across Europe, they meet up with Rydal (Isaac), a young guide who does some small scale cheating of his own. When Chester accidentally murders a private detective hired by some of his American victims, Rydal agrees to help the couple and the three get caught up in emotional turmoil.

A pretty good thriller, despite some plot holes that must be overlooked. The film is based on a novel by the prolific Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train. Director Hossein Amini garnered a few nominations for his debut film.

96 min. Rated PG-13.


Mysteries of Lisbon-Movie Review 07/15/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Athens Panorama of European Cinema, Golden Globes, London Critics Circle Film Awards, Prix Louis Delluc, Raoul Ruiz, São Paolo International Film Festival.
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Mysteries of Lisbon (Portuguese/French) 2010
Based on the novel by Camilo Castelo Branco

Directed by Raoul Ruiz
Starring Adriano Luz, Maria João Bastos, Ricardo Pereira, João Arrais, Joana de Verona, and Clotilde Hesme

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Best Film, Athens Panorama of European Cinema
WINNER, Best Actor (Luz); Best Actress (Bastos); Best Film, NOMINATED, Best Actor (Pereira); Best Actress (de Verona), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, ALFS Award, Foreign Language Film of the Year, London Critics Circle Film Awards
WINNER, Best Film (Ruiz), Prix Louis Delluc
WINNER, Critics Award-Best Film (Ruiz), São Paulo International Film Festival

Based on Portuguese author Camilo Castelo Branco’s popular 19th-century novel, originally published serially in newspapers, Mysteries of Lisbon generally follows the story of João (Arrais), a boy whose parents were forbidden to marry. Raised by Padre Dinis (Luz), a kindly priest, the teenage João wishes to know the truth about his parentage. The viewer soon discovers that no one is who they seem to be.

Some compare Branco’s lengthy (900+ pages) novel to those of Charles Dickens, and the length of the film (more than 4 hours) might cause many to give pause, so caveat spector in that regard. Director Ruiz skillfully weaves the novel’s sprawling diversions and intertwining stories, which include subtle humor and the occasional flight of fancy. I found the story, with its depiction of the customs and lifestyles of the aristocracy of that time period, interesting, entertaining, and touching at the same time.

257 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens.