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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

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The Tree- DVD Review 02/15/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Bratislava International Film Festival, César Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Fantasy, Julie Bertuccelli, Movies.
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THE TREE (Australian/French/English) 2010

Directed by Julie Bertuccelli
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Morgana Davies, and Marton Csokas

Among several other nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Gainsbourg), Bratislava International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo, Best New Director (Bertucelli), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Gainsbourg); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Music for a Film, César Awards, France

When her husband dies suddenly, Dawn (Gainsbourg) and her four children try to cope with their loss by defending/transforming the enormous fig tree that is threatening to overtake their house and their lives. Eight-year-old daughter Simone (Davies) convinces her mother that her father speaks to her through the tree.

Part fantasy and part emotional family drama, for me this story was surprisingly moving. Charlotte Gainsbourg sometimes shows up in unusual roles that allow a true acting talent to shine through. I thought this was one of them. And that is one impressive tree. Filmed in Queensland, Australia, with beautiful cinematography of the surrounding area.

100 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.
For more info:
The Tree

Autumn Sonata-DVD Review *** 02/04/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, César Awards, David di Donatello Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Highly recommended, Ingmar Bergman, Movies, National Society of Film Critics Awards, Psychological Suspense, Swedish language film.
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AUTUMN SONATA (Swedish) 1978 ***
Höstsonaten
Criterion Collection

Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Starring Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullmann, and Halvar Bjork

Among several other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman); Best Screenplay (Ingmar Bergman), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film; NOMINATED, Best Actress-Drama (Ingrid Bergman), Golden Globes
WINNER, Best European Film (Ingmar Bergman), César Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Actress (both Ingrid Bergman and Ullmann), David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman), National Society of Film Critics Awards

Charlotte (Bergman), a famous concert pianist, visits the isolated home of her daughter Eva (Ullmann), who lives quietly with her minister husband Viktor (Bjork). The two haven’t seen each other for years, and the visit starts out on an optimistic note. But soon the family secrets work their way to the surface.

Autumn Sonata provides an opportunity to see two outstanding actresses face each other under the direction of a master of portraying emotions. During his lifetime, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman was nominated for a total of nine Oscars and won many other awards. Director Ingmar and actress Ingrid, who are not related, reportedly had some differences of opinion during the making of Autumn Sonata, and much has been made of the parallel situations in this film and Ingrid Bergman’s own much-publicized personal life, something she too acknowledged. This was her next-to-last film; she died in 1982. Actress Liv Ullmann is still making films; her latest is Two Lives (2012), a thriller set in Norway.

Highly recommended.

93 min. Rated PG (harsh and highly emotional situations)

For more info:
Autumn Sonata (Criterion Collection)

Midnight’s Children-DVD Review 01/26/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, British, Emotional Drama, Fantasy, Genie Awards, London Film Festival, Movies, Valldolid International Film Festival.
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MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN (British/Hindi) 2012
Based on the novel by Salman Rushdie

Screenplay written by Salman Rushdie et al.
Directed by Deepa Mehta
Starring Satya Bhabha, Shahana Goswami, and Rajat Kapoor

Check out wins and nominations on IMDB

The title Midnight’s Children refers to those babies born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the date that India declares independence from Great Britain. The children are born with special powers, with each individual having his or her own specialty. However, two of the babies are switched in the hospital, leading Saleem to be raised by wealthy parents instead of living a life of poverty. As changes occur in the political landscape, Saleem’s life also undergoes changes, but Midnight’s Children are always part of it.

A good movie that, considering the novel it was based on, could have been better. The first part was much better than the second part, which seemed rushed and less intriguing. Rushdie wrote the screenplay, as far as I can tell his only attempt at this. Deepa Mehta is known for his trilogy of films: Fire; Earth; and Water.

148 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.

For more info:
Midnight’s Children

Broken Flowers-DVD Review 12/28/2013

Posted by Films to consider in American, Cambridge Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Comedy, Drama, Emotional Drama, Movies, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.
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BROKEN FLOWERS (American) 2005

Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Starring Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, and Tilda Swinton

Winner of the following awards and nominated for several others:
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Film (Jarmusch), Cambridge Film Festival
WINNER, Grand Prize of the Jury, NOMINATED, Palme d’Or, (both for Jarmusch) Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film (Jarmusch), Czech Lions
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Wright), San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

Bill Murray gives an unexpectedly touching performance in this low-key drama/comedy. Don Johnston (Murray) is a man with little emotional connection to life. He receives an anonymous letter informing him that he has a nineteen-year-old son he knew nothing about, but no other details. From his past relationships, there are four possibilities. Urged on by his neighbor Winston (Wright), a family man with dreams of writing mystery stories, Johnston makes unannounced visits to his former girlfriends to see if he can figure out who might be the mother.

Some of the comedy falls flat, but somehow the overall story makes up for it.

106 min. Rated R for language, graphic nudity and brief drug use.

For more info:
Broken Flowers

Amador-DVD Review 12/07/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Dark Comedy, Drama, Emotional Drama, Spanish Actors Union Awards, Spanish language film.
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Amador (Spanish) 2010
From Film Movement

Screenplay written by Fernando Léon De Aranoa
Directed by Fernando Léon De Aranoa
Starring Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Fanny deCastro, and Pietro Sibille

NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Bugallo); NOMINATED, Best Actress (Solier), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
NOMINATED, Award of the Spanish Actors Union, Film: Supporting Performance, Female (DeCastro), Spanish Actors Union

When Marcela (Solier), a young immigrant from Peru, discovers she is pregnant, she hides the fact from her boyfriend because she’s not sure about their future together. To make money for their plans to open a flower shop, she takes a job caring for Amador, an elderly invalid man. Her plans go awry when Amador dies.

This movie took me by surprise. Without revealing more about the plot, there was a backdrop of dark humor behind a story that generally has sad overtones. Director De Aranoa and actress Magaly Solier do an admirable job of holding the two elements in balance. I’m surprised that it didn’t receive more accolades, at least according to IMDB’s listings.

Also watch the short film, How It Ended, starring Debra Winger.

112 min. Not rated.

For more info:
Amador

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

Into the Wild-DVD Review *** 10/13/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Based on true story, César Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, David di Donatello Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Highly recommended, Movies, National Board of Review, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Young Artists Awards.
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INTO THE WILD (American) 2007 ***
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless
Adapted from the book by Jon Krakauer

Screenplay written and directed by Sean Penn
Starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Hal Holbrook

Into the Wild received many awards and nominations, too numerous to list here.

In the early 1990s, Christopher McCandless graduates from college but does not follow the path to law school that his parents (played by Harden and Hurt) expect. Instead, he takes all the anger he feels toward his dysfunctional family and escapes from civilization, intending to live totally in the wild, completely untethered to society. Renaming himself Alexander Supertramp, he does so – for a time.

Outstanding cinematography and performances by respected actors make this a film definitely worth seeing. Hirsch does a superb job of balancing anger toward his parents and openness to life. Hal Holbrook plays a kindly grandfatherly type who is one of several interesting people who cross Alexander’s path. A young Kristen Stewart, who appears as a brief romantic interest, shows her singing ability.

Author Jon Krakauer has authored other bestselling books about the wilderness, including Into Thin Air, about climbing Mt. Everest. McCandless himself left behind photographs and journals. For a wealth of related information and links, check here.

Highly recommended. (#170 on IMDB’s Top 250)

149 min. Rated R.

For more info:
Into the Wild

La Moustache-DVD Review 10/02/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Chlotrudis Awards, Dark Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Psychological Suspense.
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LA MOUSTACHE (French) 2005

Directed by Emmanuel Carrère
Starring Vincent Lindon and Emmanuelle Devos

WINNER, Label Europa Cinemas (Carrère), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (Carrère), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actor (Lindon); Best Adapted Screenplay (Carrère), Chlotrudis Awards
WINNER, Citizen Kane Award for Best Directorial Revelation (Carrère), NOMINATED, Best Film,
Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival

When Marc (Lindon) decides to change his image by shaving the mustache he has had for years, no one–including his wife Agnès (Devos) or his friends and coworkers–notices. Soon, he begins to doubt whether he actually had the mustache; eventually, he is forced to question his own sanity.

A psychological suspense story that keeps you guessing about what is real and what might be a brush with madness.

Vincent Lindon has a great face for showing the internal confusion his character experiences. Both he and Emmanuelle Devos are popular French actors.

87 mins. Not rated.

For more info:
La Moustache

Silver Linings Playbook-DVD Review 08/29/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Academy Awards, Based on a novel, Comedy, Emotional Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy.
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SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (American) 2012
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick

Directed by David O. Russell
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver

This film was very popular on the awards circuit, so click here for a list of awards and nominations.

Former teacher Pat Solitano (Cooper) returns to his parents’ house after spending some time in a mental institution where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His parents, Pat Sr. (De Niro) and Dolores (Weaver) do their best to cope with his ups and downs. When Pat Jr. meets the offbeat Tiffany (Lawrence), his life seems to take a new and more promising turn.

The beginning of this movie didn’t seem very entertaining or humorous to me, and I almost stopped watching it. One of its benefits is said to be an increased awareness of this type of mental illness and how the family is affected by it. That it did do, I suppose, although I venture to say that not all (and probably not most) outcomes are so positive. Overall, I thought the film was worth watching and that the versatile Jennifer Lawrence did deserve her Oscar win.

For more info:
Silver Linings Playbook