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Declaration of War-DVD Review *** 05/06/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Based on true events, César Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Gijón International Film Festival, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Romance.
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Declaration of War (French) 2011 ***
La guerre est déclarée
Based on true events

Directed by Valérie Donzelli
Written by Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm
Starring Valérie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Actress and Best Director (Donzelli); Best Film; Best Original Screenplay; Best Editing; Best Sound, César Awards, France
WINNER, Best Actor (Elkaïm); Best Actress (Donzelli); Grand Prix Asturias-Best Film, Gijón International Film Festival
WINNER, Directors to Watch (Donzelli), Palm Springs International Film Festival

Roméo (Elkaïm) and Juliette (Donzelli) are a young couple who meet, fall in love, and move in together. Soon they are having a baby, and all is well with their world, although the baby does cry a lot. When the baby begins to show other signs of distress, they take him to the doctor and receive the kind of diagnosis no parent ever wants to hear.

Based on true events. Although the brief description might make this seem like a sad movie, it surprisingly is not. The young parents, who are determined to “declare war” on their son’s disease, do not do so in the somber way one might expect.

Highly recommended.

100 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults, due to subject matter.

For more info:
Declaration of War

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Ariel-DVD Review 04/28/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Dark Comedy, Finnish language film, Light Drama, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, National Society of Film Critics Awards, Romance, Swedish language film.
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ARIEL (Finnish) 1988
Written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki
Starring Turo Pajala and Susanna Haavisto

WINNER, Bronze St. George-Best Actor (Pajala); FIPRESCI Prize (Kaurismaki); NOMINATED Golden St. George (Kaurismaki), Moscow International Film Festival
WINNER, NFSC Award-Best Foreign Language Film, National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

After the mine he was working in closes down and his father commits suicide, Taisto (Pajala) gets thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He escapes and leaves town, hoping to find a new life in a big southern city. Almost immediately he meets Irmeli (Haavisto); they strike up a very low-key romance, but soon Taisto gets caught up in trouble.

Dry and quirky humor. Not a big award winner, this short (only 73 min.) film definitely has the 80s look about it. It’s the second part of Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy, which also includes Shadows in Paradise and The Match Factory Girl.

73 min.

On Amazon, I could only find it as part of the Criterion Collection.
Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy

Here it is on IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094675/

The Sound of the Spirit-DVD Review 03/30/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Emotional Drama, Light Drama.
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The Sound of the Spirit (American) 2011
Written and directed by Michael Robert Wolf
Starring Anna Lasbury and Nicky Blavitz

Rivka is a twelve-year-old girl immersed in the usual issues of adolescence. After a life-changing event, she finds herself in a spiritual dilemma when she has to reconcile the Messianic Jewish beliefs of her own family with the traditional beliefs of her relatives.

A film for this spring season of renewal, The Sound of the Spirit presents a serious topic told with some appropriately lighthearted moments. Although the story focuses on a particular religion, Rivjka’s struggle is relevant to anyone who goes “against the grain.”

Produced by a Messianic community in the Midwest, the movie’s script and direction make the story very compelling. Anna Lasbury is likewise compelling as the emotionally vulnerable–but very articulate– young Rivka.

131 min. Not rated. Suitable for preteens through adult.

For more info:
The Sound of the Spirit

The Princess of Montpensier-DVD Review 02/12/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novella, Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Emotional Drama, French language film, Movies, Philadelphia Film Festival, Romance.
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The Princess of Montpensier (French) 2011
La princesse de Montpensier
Based on a novella by Madame de Lafayette

Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
Starring Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gaspard Ulliel, Raphael Personnaz, and Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet

NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Tavernier), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Best Costume Design, NOMINATED, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Music for a Film, Best Production Design, Most Promising Actor (Leprince-Ringuet), Most Promising Actor (Personnaz), César Awards, France
WINNER, Audience Award-Honorable Mention, New French Films, Philadelphia Film Festival

A lavishly filmed story about duty, desire, and social customs, set in violently religious 16th century France. Marie (Thierry) is a beautiful young woman who must obey her father’s command and marry the Prince of Montpensier (the aptly named Leprince-Ringuet) against her wishes, denying her obvious sexual attraction to Henri de Guise (Ulliel). Also attracted to Marie, and presenting her with lessons about what true love is, are her much older tutor (Wilson) and the eccentric Duc d’Anjou (Personnaz). As the plot unfolds amidst backgrounds of battle scenes and court scenes, Marie develops an unexpectedly modern approach to love and matters of the heart.

The movie is over two hours, and will hold the attention of those who like such movies (as I do), but might seem overly long to those who don’t.

140 min. Not rated. Adult themes and content.

For more info:
Princess of Montpensier