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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

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How I Live Now-DVD Review 07/21/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Academy of Science Fiction, Based on a novel, British, British Independent Film Awards, Movies, Science Fiction.
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How I Live Now (British) 2013
Based on the novel by Meg Rosoff

Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Starring Saoirse Ronan and George MacKay

Nominated for a few awards:
NOMINATED, Saturn Award-Best International Film, United Kingdom; Best Performance by a Younger Actor
(Ronan), Academy of Science Fiction
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Ronan); Most Promising Newcomer (Harley Bird), British Independent Film Awards

A dystopian story, set in the near future. Daisy (Ronan) is a troubled American teenager sent to live with her three cousins in the English countryside, where the adult supposedly in charge (her aunt) is often absent because of work. As Daisy warms to her surroundings, she develops romantic feelings toward Eddie (MacKay), the eldest cousin. When they receive reports that the war breaking out in the world will soon reach their doorstep, the cousins must rely on themselves to survive.

Saoirse Ronan earlier appeared in Atonement, for which she received nominations for Best Supporting Actress from both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, among others. She also appears in the 2011 film Hanna. How I Live Now is geared more to a teen audience; with that said, it’s okay for what it is.

101 min. Rated R.

For more info:
How I Live Now

Death at a Funeral-DVD Review 05/11/2014

Posted by Films to consider in British, Comedy.
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Death at a Funeral (British) 2007

Directed by Frank Oz
Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Jane Asher, Ewen Bremner, Peter Dinklage, Daisy Donovan, and Peter Egan

Daniel’s extended family is about to arrive for his father’s funeral, and he is hoping for a most dignified affair. From the very first moments, that was not to be the case; amidst all the usual and unusual family interactions, a secret is revealed and soon there are two bodies in the casket.

A thoroughly British comedy that was much funnier than I expected. Although the movie was not an award winner, it does get high audience reviews. Star Matthew Macfadyen as Daniel will be familiar from many other roles; his wife in the movie, Keeley Hawes, is his real-life wife (which I didn’t know) and former MI-5 co-star (which I did know). They are accompanied by a motley collection of characters, all contributing to the mayhem that ensues.

90 min. Rated R.

For more info:
Death at a Funeral

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

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

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel-DVD Review 01/13/2014

Posted by Films to consider in BAFTA Awards, British, British Independent Film Awards, Comedy, Golden Globes, Light Drama, Movies, Romantic comedy, Screen Actors Guild Awards.
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THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (British) 2011

Directed by John Madden
Starring Dame Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, and Dev Patel

Among other nominations (no wins are listed):
NOMINATED, Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical; Best Actress (Dench), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (Madden), BAFTA Awards
NOMINATED, Outstanding Supporting Female Actress (Smith); Outstanding Cast, Screen Actors Guild Awards
NOMINATED, Best British Independent Film; Best Director (Madden);Best Actress (Dench); Best Supporting Actress (Smith); Best Supporting Actor (Wilkinson), British Independent Film Awards

A group of retired British citizens decide individually to move to India where they plan to take up permanent residence in what they soon find out is a rundown hotel.

An amusing story that makes little sense if/when you think about it, but it does provide a pleasant enough vehicle for some major British stars, all of whom give good performances as expected. Over two hours long, though.

124 min.
For more info:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Backbeat-DVD Review 07/07/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Based on true events, Beatles, Biographical, British, Movies.
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BACKBEAT (British) 1994

Directed by Iain Softley
Starring Ian Hart, Stephen Dorff, and Sheryl Lee

A look at the Beatles tour of Hamburg, just as they are about to burst into stardom. While following the teenage musicians as they get their first tastes of success, this movie focuses on the relationship-almost-love-triangle between John Lennon (Hart), his very close friend from Liverpool, Stu Sutcliffe (Dorff), and German photographer Astrid Kircherr (Lee). Stu must choose between his place in the band and his love for painting and for Astrid, but he comes to a tragic end.

I have watched several Beatles-related movies lately, and while this is not one of the best, and is criticized as not totally historically accurate, Backbeat does shed some light on the band’s early days. Astrid’s black and white photographs of those times have become iconic. She was interviewed for the movie as was Klaus Voormann, her musician-artist friend, who remained tangentially connected with the Beatles.

Not a big award winner, either; check the few here.

100 min. Rated R.

For more info:
Backbeat

The Last Station-DVD Review*** 07/29/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Based on a novel, Biographical, British, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Hessian Film Award, Highly recommended, Independent Spirit Awards, Michael Hoffman, Movies, Romance, Satellite Awards.
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The Last Station (British) 2009 ***
Based on Jay Parini’s 1990 novel, The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy’s Last Year

Directed by Michael Hoffman
Starring Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, James McAvoy, and Paul Giamatti

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Mirren); Best Supporting Actor (Plummer), Academy Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Mirren); Best Supporting Actor (Plummer), Golden Globes
WINNER, Best International Literature Adaptation (Hoffman), Hessian Film Award
NOMINATED, Best Director (Hoffman); Best Feature; Best Female Lead (Mirren); Best Screenplay (Hoffman); Best Supporting Male (Plummer), Independent Spirit Awards
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (McAvoy), Satellite Awards

As renowned and beloved author Leo Tolstoy’s (Plummer) life approaches its end, unwanted drama surrounds him in the form of his family and associates. His associates aim to convince Tolstoy that, in his final will, his works should become the property of the Russian people; his passionate wife, Countess Sofya (Mirren), fears that she and her children will be left with nothing.

Plummer’s Tolstoy tries (but doesn’t always manage) to retain a sense of peaceful dignity as he contends with his distraught wife. Mirren’s Sofya pulls no punches with increasingly erratic behavior as she once again puts in an outstanding performance that makes this a film worth seeing.

Highly recommended.

112 min. Rated R.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon The Last Station

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

The Bank Job-DVD Review 03/23/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, British, Edgar Allen Poe Awards, Movies, Suspense, Thriller.
2 comments

The Bank Job (British) 2008
Based on true events

Directed by Roger Donaldson
Written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Starring Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows

NOMINATED, Best Motion Picture Screenplay (Clement and La Frenais), Edgar Allen Poe Awards

Happily married and settled with a family, Terry (Statham) becomes intrigued by former girlfriend Martine’s (Burrows) idea about tunneling into a bank’s temporarily unalarmed vault. The vault, she assures him, is filled with safe deposit boxes containing millions in cash and jewelry. Terry assembles a team of petty thieves to pull it off. The entire plan seems highly unlikely, but timing, as they say, is everything.

There’s a good twist to the story: Martine has other motivations. The actual bank heist took place in 1971, and the cash and jewels were never recovered.

112 min. Rated R.

For more info:
The Bank Job