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Bernie-DVD Review 06/09/2013

Posted by dmbinder in American, Based on true events, Comedy, Crime, Golden Globes, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Movies, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
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Bernie (American) 2011
Based on actual events

Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Shirley MacLaine

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy (Black), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Best Ensemble Cast (McConaughey, Black, MacLaine; Best Film, Gotham Awards
NOMINATED, Best Feature; Best Male Lead (Black), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Top Ten Independent Films, National Board of Review
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (McConaughey); Second Place-Best Actor (Black), New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Bernie Tiede (Black) moves to the small town of Carthage, TX and finds work at a funeral parlor. He proceeds to impress the entire town with his engaging and caring personality. He even wins over Marjorie Nugent (MacLaine) the wealthy, curmudgeonly widow of the bank president, a task that was thought to be impossible. But Mrs. Nugent gradually shows her true colors, and Bernie concludes that the way she treats everyone, including himself, is just not right.

A funny, documentary-style telling of events that surely fall into the category of “truth can be stranger than fiction.”

Jack Black especially amazes with his singing voice (who knew?), and Shirley MacLaine’s facial expression is spot on for her character.

99 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
Bernie

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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

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

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

Biutiful-DVD Review 01/27/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Goya Awards, Image Awards, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Spanish language film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards.
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Biutiful (Spanish) 2010

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, and Guillermo Estrella

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Leading Actor (Bardem), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Iñárritu), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes
WINNER, Best Actor (Bardem); NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Score; Best Production Design; Best Original Screenplay; Best Supporting Actor (Eduard Fernández); Best Supporting Actress (Ana Wagener), Goya Awards
WINNER, Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture, Image Awards
WINNER, International Star Award (Bardem), Palm Springs International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

In Barcelona, Uxbal (Bardem) is steeped in the world of corrupt cops, drug dealing, and illegal immigrant labor. Since his ex-wife Marambra (Alvarez) suffers from bipolar disorder, he raises their two children, Ana (Bouchaib) and Mateo (Estrella) as best he can. When he learns that he has terminal cancer, Uxbal lovingly tries to do his best to provide for their future, in increasingly negative circumstances.

Not an uplifting subject, and sometimes tough to watch, but it is well worth it for the very admirable performance from Javier Bardem (one of my favorite actors).

148 min. Not rated. Adult themes and language.

For more info:
Biutiful

White Material-DVD Review 11/11/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, French language film, National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics Awards, Satellite Awards, Venice Film Festival, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards.
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White Material (French) 2009
The Criterion Collection

Directed by Claire Denis
Starring Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Isaach De Bankolé, and Nicolas Duvauchelle

WINNER, Top Five Foreign Films, National Board of Review, USA
THIRD PLACE, Best Foreign Language Film (Denis), National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Satellite Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Lion (Denis), Venice Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards

As civil unrest invades the countryside, Maria Vial (Huppert), a headstrong but not totally rational white woman, is determined to remain on the African coffee plantation that has been in her family for generations.

Isabelle Huppert is physically slight and somewhat vulnerable-looking; her portrayal of Maria Vial combines that appearance with an inner strength that inexplicably refuses to acknowledge the very real physical and emotional dangers facing herself and her family. At times the story does seem disjointed and confusing; this I think is mostly because there are so many different factions active, and the story covers a very short span of time (about two days). Still, Huppert’s performance (as well as those of the other actors named above) definitely makes it worthwhile watching.

105 min. Not rated. Adults and older teens.

Check it out on Amazon: White Material (The Criterion Collection)
or
Netflix