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Wild Grass-Movie Review 03/08/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Comedy, French language film, Light Drama, Movies, Romance, Romantic comedy, Sant Jordi Awards, Suspense.
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Wild Grass (French) 2009
Les herbes folles

Directed by Alain Resnais
Starring André Dussollier, Sabine Azéma, and Anne Cosigny

WINNER, Special Award to Alain Resnais for all his works; NOMINATED, Palme D’Or (Resnais), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Film, César Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Actor (Dussollier), Sant Jordi Awards

When dentist Marguerite Muir (Azéma) has a purse stolen, retired Georges Palet (Dussollier) eventually comes across the wallet from it. Although Georges delivers the wallet to the police, he remains intrigued with what he knows about its owner.

For those who like a quirky story and don’t need to understand where it’s going at all times, this one should fit the bill. There’s a bit of suspense, a bit of comedy, and a bit of romance (I think).

While this particular film was not a big award winner, director Alain Resnais has been making critically acclaimed films since the 1930s. He has released yet another, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, in 2012. I’ll be on the lookout for that, and for some of his earlier films.

104 min. Rated PG.

 

Le Havre-Movie Review *** 01/19/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, French language film, Light Drama, Munich Film Festival, National Board of Review.
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Le Havre (French) 2011 ***

From the Criterion Collection

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Starring Andre Wilms, Blondin Miguel, Kati Outinen, and Jean-Pierre Darroussin

Among many other wins and nominations:
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention; NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (all Kaurismäki), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Gold Hugo-Best International Feature (Kaurismäki), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Director; Best Film; Best Production Design, César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best European Film, David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Arri-Zeiss-Award (Kaurismäki), Munich Film Festival
WINNER, Top Five Foreign Films Award, National Board of Review

In the harbor city of LeHavre, Marcel Marx (Wilms) is an older man who shines shoes for a living. When his wife Arletty (Outinen), who is seriously ill, goes to the hospital for treatment, Marcel accidentally meets Idrissa (Miguel), a boy who has immigrated illegally with his family. Idrissa managed to run away when authorities caught up with them, but he is actively being sought. With the help of friends and neighbors, Marcel harbors the boy in his home.

Winner of, or nominated for, many awards (see above), Le Havre’s story is touching and quietly funny at times. Prolific Finnish director Kaurismäki has boldly taken on a film in French, which is not a language he speaks or even understands fluently. Likewise, Kati Outinen, who plays Marcel’s ailing wife, is also Finnish and speaks French somewhat haltingly. Kaurismäki has chosen his French actors wisely, as you would never know they were receiving their direction either non-verbally or through a translator.

Highly recommended.

93 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens+ because of subject matter.

 

Under the Sun-Movie Review *** 11/18/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Brothers Manaki International Film Festival, Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, Comedy, Guldbagge Awards-Sweden, Highly recommended, Light Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Swedish language film.
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Under the Sun (Swedish) 1998 ***
Under Solen

Directed by Colin Nutley
Starring Rolf Lassgård, Helena Bergström, and Johan Widerberg

NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards
WINNER, Silver Camera 300, Brothers Manaki International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Favorite Choice Award, WINNER, Best Feature (both awards for Nutley), Cinequest San Jose Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lassgård); Best Supporting Actor (Widerberg), Guldbagge Awards
WINNER, Special Mention (for quality acting); NOMINATED, Golden Seashell (Nutley), San Sebastian International Film Festival

Olof (Lassgård) is a shy farmer who lacks experience in matters of the heart. He is lacking sexual experience as well. At 40, he decides that it is time to find a mate. Olof, who can’t read, enlists help to place an ad in the paper looking for a housekeeper. When Ellen (Bergström) arrives, it doesn’t take long before Olof is totally smitten with her. But his friend Erik (Widerberg), whose motives are questionable, tries to convince each of them separately that the relationship has no future.

A very sweet and entertaining love story about an unlikely couple. The film is filled with funny scenes, especially via “friend” (and Elvis admirer) Erik.

Highly recommended.

130 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children (sexual content and language).

 

The Secret of Roan Inish-Movie Review 10/12/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Folktale, Independent Spirit Awards, Irish film, John Sayles, Light Drama, Movies.
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The Secret of Roan Inish (Irish/English) 1995
Island of the Seals

Directed by John Sayles
Starring Jeni Courtney and Pat Slowey

Among one award and several other nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Director (Sayles); Best Feature; Best Screenplay, Independent Spirit Awards

A little off the beaten path: a friend recommended this movie, which is a retelling of the Irish folktale about the island of Roan Inish, the island of the selkies – seals who are said to take human form. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

Fiona, aged ten, is sent to live with her grandparents across from the island of Roan Inish that they (and she) used to call home. When she gets curious about the local legends about the island, she finds out about her own family history and about her baby brother.

Director Sayles tells the tale without being overly sweet or sentimental; credit in this respect should be also given to the young actress Jeni Courtney in her introductory role. Apparently, she did not go on to act in many other pieces (only three are listed on IMDb).

A great movie for kids and adults.

102 min. Rated PG.

 

The Descendants-Movie Review 10/07/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Young Artists Awards.
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The Descendants (American) 2011

Directed by Alexander Payne
Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, and Amara Miller

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Writing; Best Adapted Screenplay (Alexander Payne et al.); NOMINATED, Best Director (Payne); Best Picture; Best Leading Actor (Clooney), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Clooney), NOMINATED, Best Director (Payne); Best Supporting Actress (Woodley); Best Screenplay, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Woodley); NOMINATED, Best Director (Payne); Best Feature, Independent Spirit Awards

WINNER-tied, Best Young Actress in a Feature Film (Miller), Young Artist Awards

When his wife has an accident that leaves her on life support, Matt King (Clooney) has to get more involved with the day-to-day lives of his two daughters (Woodley and Miller) while also dealing with the discovery that his wife had an affair.

The story takes place in Hawaii and ties in with Matt’s attempts to make a profitable land deal for his extended family members, who are heirs to a large parcel of beautiful and unspoiled land.

Despite its overriding premise, the film does have humorous moments. It was very well received at awards ceremonies (what I’ve listed above doesn’t begin to cover them). I thought it was very good (not great) and worth watching, especially for the scenery (which includes Mr. Clooney).

115 min. Rated R.

 

Nora’s Will-Movie Review 09/16/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards, Ariel Awards, Biarritz International Festival of Latin Cinema, Dark Comedy, Light Drama, Mariana Chenillo, Mexican/Spanish language film, Miami Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies.
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Nora’s Will (Mexican/Spanish) 2008
Cinco dias sin Nora

Directed by Mariana Chenillo
Starring Fernando Luján, Ari Brickman, Silvia Mariscal, and Angelina Peláez

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Silver Condor-Best Foreign Film, Spanish language, Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Golden Ariel (Chenillo); Silver Ariel-Best Actor (Luján); Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Peláez), Ariel Awards, Mexico
WINNER, AFCAE Award-Best Film (Chenillo), Biarritz International Festival of Latin Cinema
WINNER, Audience Award, Miami Film Festival
WINNER, Silver St. George-Best Director; NOMINATED, Golden St. George (Chenillo), Moscow International Film Festival

An entertaining family drama/comedy with slightly dark elements, as the story is set around the suicide and subsequent burial of Nora (Mariscal), ex-wife of the irreverent Jose (Luján).

Nora has controlled her Jewish family’s life for many years, through her ongoing mental illness and several failed suicide attempts. Now, her successful attempt leaves behind a religious dilemma surrounding her burial that her ex-husband and family must resolve.

92 min. Not rated.

 

Moscow, Belgium-Movie Review 07/22/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival, European Film Awards, Flemish language film, Light Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy, Zurich Film Festival.
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Moscow, Belgium (Belgian) 2008

Directed by Christopher Van Rompaey
Starring Barbara Sarafian, Jurgen Delnaet, and Johan Heldenbergh

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, ACID Award (Van Rompaey); Grand Golden Rail (Van Rompaey); SACD Screenwriting Award (Van Rijckeghem and Van Beirs), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Krzysztof Kieslowski Award: Best Feature Film and Best Film (Van Rompaey), Denver International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Composer (Tuur Florizoone), European Film Awards
WINNER, Jury Award-Best Actress (Sarafian); Youth Grand Prize-Best Film (Van Rompaey), Mediawave Hungary
WINNER, New Talent Award (Van Rompaey), Zurich Film Festival

An enjoyable romantic comedy, with the emphasis on comedy as the romance itself is funny (and unpredictable). Matty (Sarafian) is a harried mother of three whose husband Werner (Heldenbergh) has moved out as part of a midlife crisis. When Matty’s car backs into a truck owned by Johnny (Delnaet), the younger man becomes smitten with her. Although Johnny has a volatile temper and seems to be no big prize, Matty experiences something of a midlife crisis of her own.

As the awards indicate, many aspects of this film are worth noting, chief among them the fast-paced dialogue and Barbara Sarafian’s performance. Her facial expressions portray the complex range of emotions that Matty undergoes, making the decisions she makes more plausible.

106 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults.

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A Touch of Spice-Movie Review 02/02/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Greece, Greek film, Light Drama, Movies, Romance, Turkish language film.
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A Touch of Spice (Greek/Turkish) 2003/2010
Politiki kouzina

WINNER, Audience Award-Greek Festival (Boulmetis); Greek Competition Award in eight categories, including Best Fiction Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay; Greek Union of Film and Television Technicians Award (Boulmetis), Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece

Directed by Tassos Boulmetis
Starring Markos Osse, George Corraface and Tamer Karadagli

As a young boy in Istanbul, Fanis (Osse) learns about cooking–and the importance of spice–from his grandfather. He falls in love with his friend Saime, but has to leave her when his family gets deported back to Greece. The grownup Fanis (Corraface) never finds another love; he lives his life without that “touch of spice” his grandfather taught him to appreciate. Eventually he travels back to Istanbul, where he meets Saime (Karadagli) again.

Reportedly based on the experiences of director Tassos Boulmetis, A Touch of Spice mixes a lighthearted story about family and romance with the political overtones of the times (1960s and 70s). The film received a lot of attention when it was released in Greece (see above), where it had record-breaking attendance in theaters. There’s no mention of awards from elsewhere, other than that it was Greece’s official entry in the 2005 Academy Awards. (The DVD was just released in 2010.)

One of several food-related films I’ve watched recently. Not outstanding (and not as good as Mostly Martha) but worth a look.

108 min. Unrated. Brief partial nudity.

 

Mostly Martha-Movie Review 01/03/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, European Film Awards, German Film Awards, Light Drama, Mons International Festival of Love Films, Nantucket Film Festival, Romance, Sandra Nettelbeck.
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Mostly Martha (German) 2001
Bella Martha

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actor (Castellito); NOMINATED, Best Actress (Gedeck), European Film Awards
WINNER, Film Award in Gold, Outstanding Actress (Gedeck); NOMINATED, Outstanding Feature Film, German Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Castellito); Best Actress (Gedeck); Best Screenplay (Nettelbeck); Grand Prize (Nettelbeck), Mons International Festival of Love Films
WINNER, Best Feature Screenplay (Nettelbeck), Nantucket Film Festival

Directed by Sandra Nettelbeck
Starring Martina Gedeck, Sergio Castellito, and Maxime Foerste

Martha Klein (Gedeck) is a highstrung chef who is passionate about food and obsessed with her work. She becomes guardian to her eight-year-old niece Lina (Foerste) after Lina’s mother is killed in a car accident. Martha is used to life as a single woman, and their life together is hectic. While Martha tries to cope with her demanding job, her grieving niece refuses to eat or attend school. When an Italian chef named Mario is hired to fill in at the restaurant, his carefree approach to cooking distresses Martha, but he eventually wins her over.

While the plot is not too inventive, Gedeck and Castellito make the most of some funny kitchen scenes, and Maxime Foerste plays Lina with just the right touch of sullenness considering her situation. And, of course, the beautifully presented food dishes will make you hungry.

This film receives high ratings from viewers on IMDB, more so than the 2007 remake, No Reservations, with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin, which I haven’t seen (and don’t necessarily plan to).

106 min. Rated PG

 

Tulpan-Movie Review *** 09/04/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Asia Pacific Film Awards, British Film Institute Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Comedy, Kazakh/Russian language film, Light Drama, Movies, Sergey Dvortsevoy.
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Tulpan (Kazakh/Russian) 2008

*** Highly recommended.

Among many wins and nominations:
WINNER, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Best Film; NOMINATED, Achievement in Directing (Dvortsevoy), Asia Pacific Film Awards
WINNER, Sutherland Trophy, British Film Institute Awards
WINNER, Muhr Award, Best Actor (Kuchinchirekov), Dubai International Film Festival
WINNER, Feature Film Award, Montréal Festival of New Cinema

Directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy

Starring Askhat Kuchinchirekov, Ondasyn Besikbasov, and Tulepbergen Baisakalov

On the desolate Hunger Steppe in Kazakhstan, Asa (Kuchinchirekov) is looking for love and learning to be a shepherd. He gets questionable advice from Boni (Baisakalov), his good friend, who has gold-capped teeth and a fun-loving attitude toward life.

Asa is living in very close quarters with his sister Samal and her family, including her three endearing children; Samal’s husband Ondas (Besikbasov) is equally determined to see Asa set up his own household. Prospects are limited. The mysterious (and never seen) Tulpan is the only young woman in the region available for marriage, but she reportedly doesn’t like Asa’s big ears.

In this very funny, joyous, and touching story, viewers get an up-close and personal look at life on the harsh steppe, to the point of seeing sheep as they give birth and even get CPR of sorts from their human caretakers. A very worthwhile film and highly recommended.

100 min. Not rated. Younger kids might not want to watch some of the animal scenes.