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Wadjda-DVD Review *** 01/24/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Arabic language film, BAFTA Awards, Drama, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Movies, National Board of Review, Satellite Awards, Vancouver International Film Festival.
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Wadjda (Saudi Arabia) 2012 ***

Written and directed by Haifaa Al Mansour
Starring Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Film-Non-English Language, BAFTA Awards
NOMINATED, Best First Feature, Independent Spirit Awards
NOMINATED, Best Motion Picture-International Film, Satellite Awards
WINNER, Freedome of Expression Award, National Board of Review, USA
WINNER, Most Popular International First Feature, Vancouver International Film Festival

Wajdja (Mohammed) is a feisty ten-year-old girl who attends a strict girls’ school in Saudi Arabia. Wajdja wants to get a bicycle, but her mother (Abdullah) patiently explains that girls aren’t supposed to ride bicycles.

When Wajdja, who is not a very dedicated student, hears about a prize competition at school, she is determined to win so that she can buy a bicycle for herself.

According to IMDB, Wajdja was both the first feature-length film set entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature-length film by a female Saudi director. The story, while set within such a conservative society, is lighthearted and often outright funny. Mohammed’s Wajdja is charmingly recognizable as a typical high-spirited and stubborn pre-teen girl.

Highly recommended. ***

98 min. Rated PG.

For more info:
Wadjda (Two Disc Combo: Blu-ray / DVD)

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A Time for Drunken Horses – DVD Review *** 07/21/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Independent Spirit Awards, Kurdish language film, Movies, National Board of Review.
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A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES (Iranian) 2000 ***
Zamani barayé masti asbha

Written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Starring Ayoub Ahmadi, Rojin Younessi, Amaneh Ekhtiar-dini, and Madi Ekhtiar-dini

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, WINNER, Golden Camera, both Ghobadi, Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Special Jury Prize, Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Freedom of Expression Award; WINNER, NBR Award-Top Foreign Films, National Board of Review, USA

In a Kurdish family living at the border between Iran and Iraq, 12-year-old Ayoub becomes the head of the household of four siblings when his father dies. His brother Madi is severely handicapped and needs immediate medical attention. Rojin, the older daughter, is forced into an arranged marriage in order to get the money for his surgery, but Ayoub chooses to enter the dangerous world of smuggling across the border.

It’s difficult to explain the story behind A Time for Drunken Horses without making it seem like something you might not want to watch. The film is commonly called heartbreaking (and it is), as viewers are given an intimate glimpse of life in this harshly beautiful area of the world. The children, who are not professional actors, will draw you immediately into their world of struggles and strengths.

I’ve also seen (and recommend) the very different 2009 film by director Bahman Ghobadi, called No One Knows About Persian Cats, about a band trying to leave Iran. I’ll post it sometime soon.

*** Highly recommended.

80 min. Not rated. Difficult subject matter.

For more info:
Time For Drunken Horses

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

The Secret of Roan Inish-DVD 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.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Secret of Roan Inish

Lady Chatterley-DVD Review 04/29/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Étoiles d'Or, César Awards, France, Independent Spirit Awards, Lumière Awards, Pascale Ferran, Tribeca Film Festival.
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Lady Chatterley (French) 2006
Based on the D.H. Lawrence novel, John Thomas and Lady Jane

Directed by Pascale Ferran
Starring Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coullo’ch, Hippolyte Girardot, Hélène Alexandridis and Hélène Fillières

Among several other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Hands); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Film (Ferran); Best Cinematography; NOMINATED, Best Director (Ferran); Best Sound, César Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film (Ferran), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Hands); Best Director (Ferran), Lumière Awards, France
WINNER, Best Actress (Hands), Tribeca Film Festival
WINNER, Best Film (Ferran); Best Female Newcomer (Hands), Étoiles d’Or

As only the French can do, a very long but still entertaining story about the sensual awakening of a young woman in a repressed marriage. This film is based on a lesser-known version of D.H. Lawrence’s well-known story.

Faced with her husband’s paralysis due to a war injury, the young Lady Constance Chatterley (Hands) finds an unlikely connection with Parkin (Coullo’ch), the rough-hewn, somewhat oafish gamekeeper on the Chatterley’s idyllic country estate. As noted in the awards above, both the cinematography and the sound contribute much to the sensuality of the story, and make the couple’s tender love for each other more believable.

160 min. Nudity; sexual content and adult themes.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: Lady Chatterley (2006)

The Station Agent-DVD Review *** 12/13/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, BAFTA Awards, Comedy, Drama, Highly recommended, Independent Spirit Awards, Movies, Sundance Film Festival.
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The Station Agent (American) 2003 ***

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Original Screenplay, BAFTA Awards
WINNER, John Cassavetes Award; Best First Screenplay Award (McCarthy); Producers Award; NOMINATED, Best Male Lead (Dinklage), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Clarkson), National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
WINNER, Audience Award-Dramatic (McCarthy); Special Jury Prize-Dramatic (Clarkson); Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (McCarthy), Sundance Film Festival

Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy
Starring Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Dinklage

A funny and emotionally engaging film about three people living in rural New Jersey. Olivia (Clarkson), who is separated from her husband, moved away from her previous town so she could deal with her little boy’s death. Joe (Cannavale), a friendly and easygoing guy from New York, is there to care for his ailing father and look after his food truck. Fin (Dinklage), a dwarf, is a loner obsessed with trains. When he inherits a train depot building on the outskirts of a small town and decides to move there, he meets up with the other two. The three form an unlikely friendship.

Patricia Clarkson has appeared in many films and television series; she often plays quirky characters. Cannavale is especially known for his roles in television series such as Third Watch, Law & Order, and Cold Case, among others. Dinklage has appeared in stage, film, and television productions.

Highly recommended.

For more info:
The Station Agent