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Terribly Happy-Movie Review 11/19/2016

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Bodil Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Danish language film, Dark Comedy, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Robert Festival.
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TERRIBLY HAPPY (Danish) 2008

Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz

Starring Jacob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, and Kim Bodnia

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Film; Best Actor (Cedergren); Best Actress (Christensen); Best Supporting Actor (Bodnia); Best Cinematography; Special Award; NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Lars Brygmann), Bodil Awards
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Direction, Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, BEST in 10 categories, including Film, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay; NOMINATED in 4 other categories, Robert Festival

After he has a nervous breakdown, Robert (Cedergren), a police officer in Copenhagen, is sent to a small, tight-knit town located near an infamous bog, where things and people sometimes just disappear. Robert doesn’t try to fit in at first, but he is gradually sucked in (sorry for pun-didn’t try) by the weirdness of the townspeople.

If you like offbeat tales from the northern climes, you will likely enjoy this one.

99 min. Unrated; not suitable for younger audiences, IMO.

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The Robber-Movie Review 09/13/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Austrian Film Awards, Based on true events, Bavarian Film Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Crime, German Film Critics Award, German language film, Movies, Suspense.
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The Robber (German/Austrian) 2010
Based on true events

Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg
Starring Andreas Lust and Franziska Weisz

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Director (Heisenberg); Best Actor (Lust); NOMINATED, Best Screenplay; Best Feature Film; and other wins and nominations, Austrian Film Awards.
WINNER, Best Direction-Young Film (Heisenberg), Bavarian Film Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Heisenberg), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo-Best Feature; Best Feature (both Heisenberg), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lust), German Film Critics Association Awards

In Austria, Johann Kastenberger (Lust) serves time in prison for bank robbery, where he diligently pursues physical training. After he is released in 1984, he begins to win marathons but pursues a double life as a serial bank robber. Kastenberger doesn’t seem motivated by simple greed–but by a desire to win, perhaps?

The film is based on a real events in the life story of Kastenberger, who was finally stopped in the late 80s after eluding the police for several years. The film has very little dialogue, but plenty of action and chase scenes as it portrays the string of brazen robberies and incredibly successful getaways. It leaves much of the psychological interpretation behind events to the viewer.

97 min. Unrated.

For more info:
The Robber

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

AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS:
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.

For more info:
The Two Faces of January

Animal Kingdom-DVD Review *** 06/25/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Australian, Australian Film Institute, Australian Writers Guild, Chlotrudis Awards, Golden Globes, Movies, Satellite Awards, Sundance Film Festival, Suspense.
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ANIMAL KINGDOM (Australian) 2010 ***

Written and directed by David Michôd
Starring Jacki Weaver, James Frecheville, Joel Edgerton, Luke Ford, Ben Mendelsohn, and Sullivan Stapleton

Among many other wins and nominations (too many to list; here are just the wins from one):
WINNER, Samsung Mobile AFI Award for Best Film (Liz Watts); Best Direction (Michôd); Best Lead Actor (Mendelsohn); Best Lead Actress (Weaver); Best Supporting Actor (Edgerton); Best Editing (Luke Doolan); Best Original Music Score (Antony Partos, Sam Petty); Macquarie AFI Award for Best Original Screenplay (Michôd), AFI Members Choice Award (Liz Watts); Readers’ Choice Award (Liz Watts), Australian Film Institute

When teenager Josh “J” Cody’s (Frecheville) mother dies from a heroin overdose, he gets reacquainted with the rest of her family. And what a family it is. Grandmother Janine (Weaver), who is affectionately referred to as Smurf, is the matriarch. She has three sons, each of whom is in his own way a hardened criminal. Janine herself will stop at nothing to keep her family together.

A very suspenseful thriller from start to finish. Jacki Weaver, who might be familiar from her role as a very different mother, Dolores in Silver Linings Playbook, gives a chilling performance as a mother who is overly involved in her sons’ lives. Director Michôd has a more recent film, The Rover, which has received excellent reviews from viewers.

Highly recommended for a good action thriller.

113 min. Rated R.
For more info:
Animal Kingdom

Oblivion-DVD Review 06/17/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, American, Golden Trailer Awards, Science Fiction.
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Oblivion (American) 2013

Directed by Joseph Kozinski
Starring Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, and Morgan Freeman

Nominated for several awards, including:
NOMINATED, Best Action Film, Golden Trailer Awards

In the year 2077, Jack Harper (Cruise) and his girlfriend Victoria (Riseborough) are on a dangerous patrol mission on what is left of planet Earth. They’re looking forward to their imminent return to Titan, where life will be more enjoyable. But Jack is troubled by some flashbacks that seem like they are actual memories. A chance meeting, seemingly with someone from his past, brings Jack to the brink of grasping what is real–or maybe what might have been real.

Although the storyline is somewhat confusing, it does get tied together in the end, and the special effects and soundtrack make up for any lack in that respect. Worth a look-see if you enjoy this type of movie, which I do occasionally!

125 min. Rated PG-13.
For more info:
Oblivion

The Adjustment Bureau-DVD Review *** 04/27/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Academy of Science Fiction, Action/Thriller, American, Based on a short story, Black Reel Awards, Bram Stoker Awards, Drama, George Nolfi, Movies, People's Choice Awards, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
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The Adjustment Bureau (American) 2011 ***
Based on the short story by Philip K. Dick

Directed and screenplay written by George Nolfi
Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, and John Slattery

Among a few other nominations:
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Blunt); NOMINATED, Best Science Fiction Film, Saturn Awards, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA
NOMINATED, Outstanding Supporting Actor (Mackie), Black Reel Awards
NOMINATED, Bram Stoker Award-Screenplay (Nolfi),Bram Stoker Awards
NOMINATED, Favorite Drama Movie, People’s Choice Awards
NOMINATED, Bradbury Award, (Nolfi-writer/director), Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

David Norris (Damon), a politician on the rise, accidentally finds out from the “Adjustment Bureau” that he is not meant to be with Elise (Blunt), a dancer he fell in love with after a few minutes of conversation.

A fast-paced and interesting movie that combines a believable romance with a quirky sci-fi/action story about the forces that shape our lives: human decision-making and chance versus the possibility of other powers-that-be. [Note: said “other powers-that-be” must wear hats of some sort or other!!! I’m just saying . . .]

As a side note, Matt Damon claims this is his first romantic lead role, and he proves himself up to the task; Emily Blunt, who had no formal dance training prior to getting herself prepped for this role, does too.

Highly recommended.

106 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
The Adjustment Bureau

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

Jerichow-DVD Review 02/22/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, German Film Awards, German Film Critics Association Awards, German language film, Movies, Suspense, Venice Film Festival.
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Jerichow (German) 2008

Written and directed by Christian Petzold
Starring Benno Fürmann, Nina Hoss, and Hilmi Sözer

NOMINATED, Best Direction; Outstanding Feature Film, German Film Awards
WINNER, Best Film (Petzold), German Film Critics Association Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Lion – Petzold, Venice Film Festival

Ali (Sözer), a German citizen of Turkish background, hires dishonorably discharged veteran Thomas (Fürmann) to help him run a string of snack bars. Thomas falls in love with Laura (Hoss), Ali’s wife, who has more than one reason to be indebted to her abusive husband.

A satisfyingly suspenseful retelling of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Christian Petzold directed The State I Am In as well as Yella (which also starred Nina Hoss) and Gespenster which together comprise what is known as Petzold’s Gespenster trilogy.

93 min. Unrated. Adult themes and content.

For more info:
Jerichow

Biutiful-DVD Review 01/27/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Goya Awards, Image Awards, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards.
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Biutiful (Spanish) 2010

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, and Guillermo Estrella

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Leading Actor (Bardem), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Iñárritu), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Score; Best Production Design; Best Original Screenplay; Best Supporting Actor (Eduard Fernández); Best Supporting Actress (Ana Wagener), Goya Awards
WINNER, Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture, Image Awards
WINNER, International Star Award (Bardem), Palm Springs International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

In Barcelona, Uxbal (Bardem) is steeped in the world of corrupt cops, drug dealing, and illegal immigrant labor. Since his ex-wife Marambra (Alvarez) suffers from bipolar disorder, he raises their two children, Ana (Bouchaib) and Mateo (Estrella) as best he can. When he learns that he has terminal cancer, Uxbal lovingly tries to do his best to provide for their future, in increasingly negative circumstances.

Not an uplifting subject, and sometimes tough to watch, but it is well worth it for the very admirable performance from Javier Bardem (one of my favorite actors).

148 min. Not rated. Adult themes and language.

For more info:
Biutiful