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Safety Not Guaranteed-Movie Review 05/24/2014

Posted by Films to consider in ALMA Awards, American, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Fantasy, Independent Spirit Awards, Romance, Romantic comedy, Sundance Film Festival.
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Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Karan Soni

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Favorite Movie Actress-Comedy/Musical (Plaza), ALMA Awards
NOMINATED, Most Promising Filmmaker (Trevorrow), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Best First Screenplay (Derek Connolly); NOMINATED, Best First Feature, Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (Connolly); NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize-Dramatic (Trevorrow), Sundance Film Festival

Darius (Plaza) is a lowly intern at a Seattle feature magazine. She volunteers to accompany coworkers Jeff (Johnson) and Arnau (Soni) to follow up on a quirky classified ad. As Darius gets to know its creator, self-proclaimed time traveler Kenneth (Duplass), she begins to question whether he is as delusional as everyone else thinks.

An unusual and enjoyable story. The movie was filmed in Seattle, with a low-key cast of actors who lend an unaffected charm to its telling.

86 min. Rated R.


The Tree-Movie 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.

Midnight’s Children-Movie 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.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button-Movie Review 11/27/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Based on a short story, Emotional Drama, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fantasy, Golden Globes, Movies.
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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (American) 2008
Based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Directed by David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt, Taraji P. Henson, and Cate Blanchett

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Art Direction; Best Makeup; Best Visual Effects; NOMINATED (among others), Best Music; Best Motion Picture; Best Leading Actor (Pitt); Best Supporting Actress (Taraji Henson); Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth and Robin Swicard), Academy Awards
NOMINATED, Best Director (Fincher), Best Motion Picture; Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplay); Best Actor (Pitt); Best Screenplay (Roth and Swicard), Golden Globes
Many of the other awards and nominations recognized the soundtrack and special effects.

Benjamin Button (Pitt) narrates his own life story through diaries that are found after his death and read to his dying friend Daisy (Blanchett) by her daughter. Benjamin, whose mother died in childbirth, was born with the physical characteristics and illnesses of an old man. Rejected by his grieving father because of his appearance, Benjamin was raised by Queenie (Henson), the proprietor of a local rooming house. He recounts the experiences of his life, which was spent growing younger and younger.

I’ve meant to watch this film for some time, mostly because the subject matter seemed so curious, for lack of a more imaginative word. Brad Pitt certainly deserves kudos for not relying on roles that use his good looks only. In this case, he undergoes a transformation that is nothing short of astonishing (hence all the awards and nominations for special effects). Surprisingly, Cate Blanchett didn’t seem emotionally present in her role as Daisy; in my opinion, Taraji Henson as Queenie steals the show in that regard. Definitely worthwhile viewing if you haven’t already seen it.

166 min. Rated PG-13.


Pan’s Labyrinth-Movie Review *** 04/11/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Fantasy, Movies, Spanish language film.
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Pan’s Labyrinth (Spanish) 2006

Nominated Best Foreign Film Academy Awards and Golden Globes (among numerous other nominations and wins)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López and Doug Jones

Set in the countryside of Spain following the civil war, Ofelia (Baquero) and her mother Carmen (Gil) move in with her sadistic new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Lopez), a captain in the military. As the young girl copes with the harsh realities of her new life, she spends part of her time in a fantasy world of possibility and danger. A fairy tale but not for children.

This one slipped by my radar until a friend recently recommended it to me (thanks, George!). Now it is on my short list of all-time favorites and one that I plan to watch at least twice a year. Visually beautiful; the soundtrack by Javier Navarrete is also outstanding and might have you humming a lullaby for days afterward.

I’d recommend the version with a very entertaining and informative commentary by the director and other features.

119 min. Rated R.