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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

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The Grand Budapest Hotel-DVD Review *** 12/15/2014

Posted by Films to consider in American, Berlin International Film Festival, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, Golden Globes, Movies, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Suspense.
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The Grand Budapest Hotel (American) 2014 ***

Directed by Wes Anderson

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Mathieu Amalric, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum and several other big-name stars

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Director (Anderson); Best Motion Picture; Best Actor (Fiennes); Best Screenplay, Golden Globes
WINNER, Silver Berlin Bear-Grand Jury Prize (Anderson); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Anderson), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Film (Anderson), David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Screenplay, New York Film Critics Circle Awards

In a formerly majestic hotel in a mountainous area of Eastern Europe, Zero Moustafa (Revolori), now an old man, tells the fantastic story of how he rose from lobby boy to owner, with the help of his former boss Gustave H (Fiennes). What ensues is a zany and fast-moving tale that features an all-star cast in roles ranging from supporting to cameo.

Highly recommended if you like a quirky comedy. Wes Anderson also directed The Darjeeling Limited and the Royal Tannenbaums.

*** Highly recommended.
100 min. Rated R.

For more info:
The Grand Budapest Hotel

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

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

Elena-DVD Review 04/20/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Drama, European Film Awards, Ghent International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Russian language film, Suspense, Thriller.
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ELENA (Russian) 2011

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, and Elena Lyadova

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Un Certain Regard-Special Jury Prize; NOMINATED, Un Certain Regard Award (both Zvyagintsev), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Markina), European Film Awards
WINNER, Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Russian Film Clubs Federation Award (Zvyagintsev), Moscow International Film Festival

Elena (Markina), a middle-aged woman, marries for a second time, and her husband Vladimir (Smirnov) turns out to be a domineering man who is wealthy but tight-fisted. Even after Vladimir has a heart attack and comes close to death, he refuses to help Elena’s son financially.

The director makes good use of striking images and outstandingly suspenseful music (Philip Glass). The film is labelled a thriller on the DVD case, but I’d consider it more of a psychological suspense.

109 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Elena

Wild Grass-DVD 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.

For more info:
Wild Grass

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

Fear Me Not-DVD Review 10/20/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bodil Awards, Danish language film, Dark Drama, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Suspense, Thriller.
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Fear Me Not (Danish) 2008
Den du frytger

Directed by Kristian Letring
Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Paprika Steen, and Emma Sehested

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actor (Thomsen); Best Screenplay; NOMINATED, Best Film (Letring), Mar del Plata Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Thomsen); Best Supporting Actress (Sehested); Best Supporting Actress (Steen), Bodil Awards

A pretty good psychological suspense thriller in which Mikael (Thomsen), unknown to his family, takes part in a trial of antidepressants that completely alter his outlook on life. When the trials are discontinued, Mikael continues to take the pills anyway. Soon his personality undergoes radical changes; he feels free to be himself as he has never done before, leading to unforeseen consequences that affect his family (to put it mildly).

Star Ulrich Thomsen may look familiar; he has appeared in many films worldwide. On films reviewed on this site, he stars in Adam’s Apples and The Inheritance.

95 min. Unrated. (Violence; not suitable for children.)

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: Fear Me Not

Cell 211-DVD Review *** 06/24/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Goya Awards, Seattle International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Suspense, Toronto International Film Festival, Turia Awards, Venice Film Festival.
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Cell 211 (Spanish) 2009 ***

Directed by Daniel Monzón
Starring Alberto Ammann, Luis Tosar, Antonio Resines, Carlos Bardem, and Marta Etura

Among many other awards and nominations:
OFFICIAL SELECTION, Venice Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER, CEC Award, Best Actor (Tosar); Best Director (Monzón); Best Film; Best Editing; Best Score; NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best New Artist (Ammann); Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actors (Bardem; Resines); Best Supporting Actress (Etura), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
WINNER, Best Actor (Tosar); Best Director (Monzón); Best Editing; Best Film; Best New Actor (Ammann); Best Screenplay; Best sound; Best Supporting Actress (Etura); NOMINATED in several other categories, Goya Awards
WINNER, Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actor (Tosar), Seattle International Film Festival
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Spanish Film; WINNER, Turia Award-Best Spanish Film, Turia Awards

When it comes to prison movies, here is one that is definitely worth watching. Prison guard Juan (Ammann) shows up a day early for his new job and gets caught up in a prison riot. Juan, whose wife is expecting their first child, must figure out a way to survive inside the cell block, which is run by vicious inmate Malamadre (Tosar).

The number of awards the film received, especially in Spain, is not surprising. This story takes many unpredictable and well-executed twists and turns. Actor Luis Tosar has many credits to his name, but this is the first film for Alberto Ammann.

111 min. Not rated, but do expect a good deal of bloody violence (it is a prison riot, after all).

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon Cell 211

The Ghost Writer-DVD Review 05/06/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, British, César Awards, European Film Awards, National Board of Review, Political Thriller, Suspense.
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The Ghost Writer (British/German/French) 2010

Adapted from the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Silver Berlin Bear, Best Director (Polanski); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Polanski), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Director (Polanski); Best Music; NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Sound, César Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (McGregor); Best Composer (Alexandre Desplat); Best Director (Polanski); Best Film; Best Screenwriter (Polanski and Harris); NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Film, European Film Awards
WINNER, NBR Award-Top Independent Films, National Board of Review, USA

When a ghost writer (McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of Adam Lang (Brosnan), a former British Prime Minister, he discovers that the writer he is replacing died under mysterious circumstances. He becomes caught up in political intrigue and physical danger when the Prime Minister is accused of war crimes.

Although this movie is somewhat long (just over two hours), the suspense builds enough to keep interest going. The scenery, a desolate shoreline area, contributes to the spooky atmosphere as the ghost writer (who remains unnamed throughout) uncovers the mystery behind the unlikely political rise of Adam Lang.

Director Polanski, despite his ongoing troubles, does know how to show-and-tell a good story.

128 min. Rated PG-13.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Ghost Writer