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Half Nelson-DVD Review 12/21/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Drama, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Movies, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Sundance Film Festival.
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Half Nelson (American) 2006

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Leading Actor (Gosling), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Female Lead (Epps); Best Male Lead (Gosling), Independent Spirit Awards
NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize-Dramatic (Fleck), Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Best Film (Fleck); Breakthrough Award (Epps); Breakthrough Director Award (Fleck), Gotham Awards
NOMINATED, Outstanding Leading Actor (Gosling), Screen Actors Guild Awards

Directed by Ryan Fleck
Starring Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps

Ryan Gosling stars as Dan Dunne, an inner-city public school history teacher with a significant drug problem. When Drey (Epps), one of his tough and street-smart female students, discovers her teacher’s secret, they develop something of a friendship.

Both Gosling and Epps received several well-deserved awards for their performances in this film, as did director Ryan Fleck. This was Fleck’s first feature film.

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Half Nelson


The Station Agent-DVD Review *** 12/13/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, BAFTA Awards, Comedy, Drama, Highly recommended, Independent Spirit Awards, Movies, Sundance Film Festival.
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The Station Agent (American) 2003 ***

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Original Screenplay, BAFTA Awards
WINNER, John Cassavetes Award; Best First Screenplay Award (McCarthy); Producers Award; NOMINATED, Best Male Lead (Dinklage), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Clarkson), National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
WINNER, Audience Award-Dramatic (McCarthy); Special Jury Prize-Dramatic (Clarkson); Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (McCarthy), Sundance Film Festival

Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy
Starring Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Dinklage

A funny and emotionally engaging film about three people living in rural New Jersey. Olivia (Clarkson), who is separated from her husband, moved away from her previous town so she could deal with her little boy’s death. Joe (Cannavale), a friendly and easygoing guy from New York, is there to care for his ailing father and look after his food truck. Fin (Dinklage), a dwarf, is a loner obsessed with trains. When he inherits a train depot building on the outskirts of a small town and decides to move there, he meets up with the other two. The three form an unlikely friendship.

Patricia Clarkson has appeared in many films and television series; she often plays quirky characters. Cannavale is especially known for his roles in television series such as Third Watch, Law & Order, and Cold Case, among others. Dinklage has appeared in stage, film, and television productions.

Highly recommended.

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The Station Agent

Under the Bombs-DVD Review 10/06/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Emotional Drama, Film Movement, Hebrew language film, Movies, Sundance Film Festival.
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Under the Bombs (Lebanese) 2007
Sous les bombes

NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Alternative Vision Award and EIUC Award (Aractingi); Venice Film Festival
WINNER, Muhr Award, Best Actress (Farhat); Best Film (Aractingi), Dubai International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actress (Farhat); FIPRESCI Prize and Prize of the Ecumenical Jury-Special Mention (Aractingi); NOMINATED, Grand Prix (Aractingi), Bratislava International Film Festival

From Film Movement
Directed by Phillipe Aractingi
Starring Nada Abou Farhat and Georges Khabbaz

Set in war-torn south Lebanon, a touching story about a mother’s search for her little boy, left for safety in the care of her sister. As Zeina (Farhat) travels through the bombed out sections of the country, she is accompanied by taxi driver Tony (Khabbaz). Tony’s original motivations are less than noble, but as the couple face dangers and share the losses that have impacted their lives, feelings of love grow.

Without taking a stance, the director uses the devastation of the countryside and the dangers and heartache experienced by the couple to show the universality of the effects of war on everyday people.

98 min. Not rated. Violence and destruction.

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Under The Bombs

The Maid-DVD Review 07/13/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Dark Comedy, Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Movies, Sebastián Silva, Spanish language film, Sundance Film Festival.
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The Maid (Chilean/Spanish) 2009
La Nana

Among many wins and nominations:
WINNER, World Cinema-Dramatic Jury Prize (Silva); Special Jury Prize-Acting (Saavedra), Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Breakthrough Award (Catalina Saavedra), Gotham Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes

Directed by Sebastián Silva
Starring Catalina Saavedra and Claudia Celedon

A dark comedy. Raquel has worked as a maid in the same household for 23 years, taking care of the family’s four kids. Now, realizing that the older ones are growing up and no longer need her, she starts to develop headaches and reaches a breaking point. The mother of the household, Pilar, wants to make Raquel’s life easier by hiring some more help, but Raquel sabotages her actions every step of the way.

Kudos to director Silva and actress Catalina Saavedra for maintaining feelings of sympathy for the character Raquel despite the despicable things she does.

94 min. Unrated. Adult themes and some nudity.

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The Maid