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Review

Le Week-End | Review

Having just returned from a vacation in the city of lights, I was both excited and delighted to watch the latest offering from Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Hyde Park on Hudson) and writer Hanif Kureishi (My beautiful Launderette, The Buddha of Surburbia) Le Week-End starring the inimitable Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum. 

Broadbent and Duncan play a long-married couple Nick and Meg who revisit Paris for a long weekend for the first time since their honeymoon, in hopes of rekindling their relationship-or, perhaps, to bring it to an end.  Nick is reticent and wistful whilst Meg is demanding and take-charge.

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The movie excels at showing the couple flip-flop between harmony and disharmony to resignation and back again as they take stock and grapple with love, loss, regret and disappointment in their own very English way.  Tensions rise even further when Meg and Nick run into Nick’s insufferably successful old friend Morgan, an American academic superstar with a fancy Parisian address played by the delightful Jeff Goldblum.

The one thing that elevates this movie is watching veterans of the craft mastering subtle yet impactful acting.  I very much felt like a fly on the wall following Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan playing a couple who have clearly had many decades together.  Their incredible chemistry even when they are fighting is mesmerizing to watch and I couldn’t decide whether I was routing for them to stay together or willing them to break apart.  Just at the point when you begin to feel a little more uncomfortable about being present during this couple’s unraveling, Jeff Goldblum brings some respite in the form of comedy.  His quirky yet intriguing character is just what we need as we need as we head into act three

Hanif Kureishi’s wonderfully poetic screenplay is admirable to watch.  Filled with witty dialogue and heartfelt conversation, this adds a layer of richness to this already beautifully performed movie

Overall, I enjoyed my weekend with this couple although I felt the movie was just shy of greatness.  Higher highs and lower lows would have made elevated this movie from very good to excellent.

Le Week-End will be will be opening on Friday 14 March at The Landmark in West L.A. and Angelika NY, Lincoln Plaza in New York.  Check local listings

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The Mule | SXSW 2014

What would make you carry twenty condoms full of narcotics in your stomach? My automatic answer to this question was “Nothing”, but what if your families’ life was at risk if you didn’t? Welcome to the movie The Mule.

the-mule-poster-404x600Written, directed and starring Angus Simpson with the help of a few others, The Mule set in an 80’s Australia is based on a true story that tells of an innocent rather stupid and simple man called Ray Jenkins (played by Angus Sampson) who gets caught up in a drug smuggling scheme after he wins a yearly award at his local football club

Swallowing around 20 condoms full of narcotics, Ray almost makes it home before he nervously loses his cool in front of security, landing him in a nearby motel so the drugs can flush out of his system. Under the watchful eyes of Detective Croft and Detective Paris, Ray struggles to keep his secret hidden, inflicting bodily harm by avoiding deification. Can Ray keep himself out of jail by swallowing more than his pride, or will the drugs make their appearance in the filthiest of ways?

Regular listeners of the Moviewallas podcast will know that some of my favorite movies are Australian; indeed I own my own copies of Strictly Ballroom and Muriel’s Wedding which are well worn by now. So it stands to reason that I was equally fascinated, disgusted and thoroughly entertained by the movie The Mule. Beware though; the toilet humor in this movie is like none that I have ever seen before and definitely not for the faint hearted.

Brilliant acting by an incredible cast including Hugo Weaving, Leigh Whannell (who also shares writing credits) and Ewen Leslie elevate this movie from a good black comedy to an incredibly smart and surprising dramedy which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out how it will all end for poor Ray. The twists and turns are not predictable and the story is original, if it wasn’t based on a true story, I would think it was unbelievable. This mule is definitely worth a ride if you can get your hands on it. the-mule-slice

The Infinite Man | SXSW 2014

What would you do if you could time travel? This is a question I have often asked myself and even fantasized about many times, so when an opportunity presents itself to watch a movie about the subject, of course I’m not only going to be excited about watching such a movie but I’m also going to have high expectations about it.

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Disappointment then is definitely not a word I will use to describe the movie The Infinite Man which is written and directed by Hugh Sullivan and stars Josh McConville, Hannah Marshall, Alex Dimitriades and is about a man’s attempts to construct the ultimate romantic weekend. However when his plans backfire his quest for perfection traps his lover in an infinite loop.

Like all memorable Sci fi movies, at it’s core, this is a love story…well sort of; what I mean to say is that all great Sci fi movies reach elevated heights because they eventually become about mundane things that we can all relate to in our everyday lives despite the fact that they are asking us to buy into a totally implausible idea or concept.Well written, brilliantly constructed and exceptionally acted, I laughed, empathized and cried at some point during this movie but I was always entertained and enthralled unable to predict how this mess would end. The Infinite Man captures perfectly the feeling of being in love and that of being consumed by another whilst taking us to the brink of hysteria and obsession all within the perfect rules of the time travel world that it creates.

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How life actually is vs. what we believe or wish it to be is examined in such a smart, quirky and sweet way. Borrowing cleverly from movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Groundhog Day, Hugh Sullivan has created something tragic, memorable and incredibly romantic in one package. I believe this movie will stay with me for a long time and hope that it quickly finds it’s way to a general release

 

Chef | SXSW 2014

SXSW 2014 is underway and this evening we were treated to the headline movie of the day Chef written, directed and starring the extremely talented Jon Favreau.

Chef tells the story of Carl Casper who suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman). As a result, he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara), his friend (John Leguizamo) and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen and zest for life and love.

chef poster

With Food trucks ever popular these days, this is an interesting story about a disillusioned chef at the top of his game who takes to the road to find his mojo again and although the film is very sweet at times mainly due to the wonderful relationship and good acting by the youngest cast member Emjay Anthony who plays Favreau’s son, the flavor of this movie at times is rather confused and overdone. A good example of one too many ingredients that leaves you feeling like you couldn’t manage another spoonful.

Jon Favreau deserves props however for capturing the essence of the quintessential chef, tattooed arms, large frame and a brusque Emeril type character whose kitchen is a delight of plastic bottles filled with exciting colorful concoctions. This along with large amount of food porn that is amazing to watch for those of you who are food lovers keeps you entertained for most of the movie.

Short appearances which feel like amuse bouche by Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Oliver Platt are like visits with old friends that whet our appetites but it is a great performance (although not long enough) by the ever talented Robert Downey Junior which is the cherry on the cake in my opinion.

Overall the message of the movie is a worthy one that reminds us to be true to ourselves and that success will come to those of us that work hard and care about what we do. Unfortunately for me however, this didn’t satiate my appetite overall, and left me feeling like I’d chosen the wrong entree

Open Road will release Chef on May 16.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON | Review

 

Two couples find out that their five-year old sons had been switched at birth.  Think about this premise, and then imagine what most filmmakers might have done with it. To see what Hirokazu Kore-Eda does with this story is to recognize why he is one of the master filmmakers. LIKE FATHER LIKE SON (SOSHITE CHICHI NI NARU) stands head and shoulders above any film I have seen so far this year.

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Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s latest film LIKE FATHER LIKE SON

 

The film presents a fascinating moral quandary. The discovery of a son you weren’t previously aware of is one thing. But that still cannot match the anxiety of knowing that the child you did rear as your own now legally belongs to other parents who could forcibly take him away. Does it matter that the children in this film are only five years old, in that formative phase when they are most impressionable? Would it have been easier if the children were younger?  Is it better to just quickly “exchange the kids” as suggested by the lawyers representing the hospital where the mix-up occurred at birth? What carries greater moral imperative: nurture or bloodline? Confronted with this premise, most of us might say that this would be an easy decision: your child is the one you have loved and cared for as your own, not the one connected by genetics; keep the child you have, and bloodline be damned. But the film argues that the situation might not be as simple.  How are you to observe a child grow up with other parents and see him start to physically look increasingly like yourself?

 

Consider the two couples. Ryoto Nonomiya is an aggressively competitive businessman on the fast track to corporate success. His stay-at-home wife, Midori has given up her career to care for their son Keita. Several characters in the film comment that the Nonomiya home in a gleaming high-rise reminds them of a hotel room. This is a family that is not lacking for much. Yudai Saiki works outside of the city in a somewhat run down appliance store and his wife Yukari is employed at a fast-food chain. They support their three kids including the mischievous Ryusei. The paths of the two disparate families intersect when genetic testing initiated by the hospital confirms that Keita and Ryusei were switched at birth.

 

This story could have lent itself to any manner of tonal or stylistic construct. This might have been a bitter, angry film. It might have been a legal procedural. It might have been a deep, soggy wallow of a movie. But LIKE FATHER LIKE SON is none of those things.  Instead the film is elevated because the treatment given to this material is one of quiet observation. Kore-eda has been called an heir to Ozu for reason, not least because of his ability to watch his characters from afar without judgment. And this movie is no exception. It has no interest in melodrama; you will not find a shrill note here. And then there is the one thing about Kore-Eda’s work that makes him one of my favorite filmmakers: he refuses to create villains. There isn’t a mean character in any of his films. Not the over-ambitious Ryoto in LIKE FATHER LIKE SON, not the strict patriarch in WALKING STILL, and not the absent mother in NOBODY KNOWS. Kore-Eda recognizes that people are seldom all-out malevolent, and to his great credit as a scriptwriter, he has never granted himself an easy out by generating conflict by way of an ill-intentioned character. No, the people who populate his stories all mean well; their actions are driven by who they are and their behavior is conditioned by their upbringing and values. But they are all, without exception, decent people. This is what makes Kore-eda the most humanist of all filmmakers working today.

 

Does it matter that this story plays out in Japan? Not one bit; this film could have been set anywhere in the world. The grandparents are recognizable in their yearning to see more of their children and grandkids, while walking a fine line with not overstepping. Observe the grace and  uncannily natural rhythms captured from the child actors here. And when you have as gentle, nonjudicative, and keenly observant a filmmaker as Kore-Eda, the experiences of a specific few slowly begin to reflect the universe. Notice how the specifics of the two families in LIKE FATHER LIKE SON are used to make deft observations about class differences. The Nonomiyas are the definition of cultured living: they eat healthy, have their son tutored for piano, and live in a catalog-ready home. The Saikis are struggling to make ends meet, live in a much smaller space, and are frequently late; but they are also quick to the laugh and agreeably content. When the Nonomiyas suggest that they are financially capable of taking care of both sons, the one they have reared as their own as well as their biological child, the Saikis bristle with honest indignation. See how easy it would be for this film to tip over, if even very subtly, with its sympathies toward one family. It would have been easy to call the rich couple out for their patronizing, intellectual detachment, or call the other couple out for being irresponsible and crude. But the film resolutely does not. It quietly makes it clear that each set of parents are well-meaning and generous in their love for their children.  They may be flawed, but both sides are inarguably decent.

 

It is in this recognition of the decency of those who love a child that the film ultimately provides an abiding definition for family; the only one that matters.  That it does so apolitically, unemotionally and with authenticity, is cause for gratitude.

 

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON is screening in San Diego at the Landmark Hillcrest cinemas February 14-20. http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Market/SanDiego/SanDiego_Frameset.htm

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; Oscar Nominated Shorts | Review

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  No, I’m not talking about the holidays, I’m talking about the yearly ritual that us film lovers and movie geeks get to indulge in which requires taking a trip to watch the highly coveted series of Oscar Nominated Shorts at the local cinema.

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Oh I how I look forward to this annual treat where I go with my fellow Moviewallas and get to spend a delightful afternoon watching ten of the best shorts Animation and Live action Features; two separate programs with a short break in between.  This year a special pleasure for me, I got to watch five incredible documentaries too.

This collection of shorts representing filmmaking in 2013 is no different to any other year in that the Oscar nominated shorts is an opportunity to watch bite size nuggets of incredible film making from a variety of talented filmmakers from around the world.  Only I am shocked that year upon year the standard gets better and better.

In the live action category:

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” (Director: Esteban Crespo, Spain/Spanish). Synopsis: Paula, a Spanish aid worker, has an encounter with an African child soldier named Kaney.

“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything) (Directors: Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras, France/French). Synopsis: Miriam has left her abusive husband and taken refuge with her children in the local supermarket where she works.

Helium” (Directors Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson, Denmark/Danish). Synopsis: A dying boy finds comfort in the tales of a magical land called HELIUM, told to him by the hospital janitor.

“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)” (Directors: Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari, Finland/Finnish). Synopsis: Sini tries frantically to get her family ready to leave for a wedding, but her husband and two children are interfering with her efforts.

“The Voorman Problem” (Directors: Mark Gill and Baldwin Li, UK/English). Synopsis: A psychiatrist is called to a prison to examine an inmate named Voorman, who is convinced he is a god.

This a rare occaision when I am glad I don’t have to vote for a winner since If I had to pick one, I couldn’t.  I was fascinated by That Wasn’t Me, sat on the edge of my seat as the riveting drama of Just Before Losing Everything played, laughed at Do I Have to Take care of Everything, pondered existential questions whilst watching The Voorman Problem and even shed a tear or two during Helium

 I could have spent way more time with any one of these five movies given the deep well rounded characters and back stories each presented that merit full movies of their own.

For the Animated shorts, this season brings us:

“Feral” (Directors Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden, USA/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: A wild boy who has grown up in the woods is found by a hunter and returned to civilization.

“Get a Horse!” (Directors: Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim, USA/English). Synopsis: Mickey Mouse and his friends are enjoying a wagon ride until Peg-Leg Pete shows up with plans to ruin their day.

“Mr. Hublot” (Directors: Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, Luxembourg/France/Non-dialogue). Synopsis: The eccentric, isolated Mr. Hublot finds his carefully ordered world disrupted by the arrival of Robot Pet.

“Possessions” (Director: Shuhei Morita, Japan/Non-dialogue).  Synopsis: A man seeking shelter from a storm in a dilapidated shrine encounters a series of household objects inhabited  by goblin spirits

“Room on the Broom” (Directors: Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, voices by Simon Pegg, Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon in UK/English). Synopsis: A genial witch and her cat are joined on their broom by several friends as they set off on an adventure

The animation shorts for me represent a vast array of style, story and genre even.  Whilst watching we are reminded by those super smart and talented people at Disney that there is always room in your heart to let in a fresh Mickey Mouse Adventure. In Get a Horse, Mickey and his pals return in this old/new caper.  This time however our eyes get to feast on incredible technology that combines black and white with color and 2D with 3D type animation.  Room on a Broom is a sweet modern day fable told in verse that had me smiling from ear to ear; a special treat for animal lovers.  Atypical subject matter for a traditional cartoon, in Feral and Possessions which to me represent more adult type themes and style and finally a cute futuristic tale called Mr Hublot  which at it’s core is represents a beautiful tale of a man who rescues a dog but realizes in the end that it is he who has been rescued.

Again, a wonderful gaggle of talent collected under the umbrella of animation and if you weren’t  lucky enough to catch The Blue Umbrella when it played as an appetizer to last year’s Disney/Pixar’s Monster’s University, it plays in the  “highly commended section” in this program.  Despite the number of times I see The Blue Umbrella, I can’t help but marvel at the human like emotion that is generously created by Pixar and I always have a lump in my throat when the credits run.

 

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I love the action shorts and the animations, but I am a documentary lover at heart and so the documentary shorts were an absolute treat for me to watch.  This year’s entries:

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life” (Directors: Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed, Canada/USA/UK – English). Synopsis: At 109, Alice Herz Sommer is the world’s oldest pianist…and its oldest Holocaust survivor. At the heart of her remarkable story of courage and endurance is her passion for music.

“Karama Has No Walls” (Director: Sara Ishaq, UAE/UK/Yemen – Arabic). Synopsis: When protesters in Yemen added their voices to those of other nations during the Arab Spring, the government responded with an attack that left 53 people dead and inspired widespread sympathy throughout the country.

“Facing Fear” (Director: Jason Cohen, USA/English). Synopsis: As a gay 13-year-old, Matthew Boger endured a savage beating at the hands of a group of neo-Nazis. Twenty-five years later, he meets one of them again by chance.

“Cavedigger” (Director Jeffrey Karoff, USA/English). Synopsis: New Mexico environmental sculptor Ra Paulette carves elaborately designed and painstakingly executed sandstone caves, driven by an artistic vision that often brings him into conflict with his patrons.

 “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” (Director: Edgar Barens, USA/English). Synopsis: In a maximum security prison, the terminally ill Jack Hall faces his final days with the assistance of hospice care provided by workers drawn from the prison population.

By far, the most difficult category to judge, I was incredibly moved and inspired by The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.  Angered by an astonishing tale of the human spirit and the importance of revolution in Yemen’s account of the Arab Summer in Karama has no Walls, challenged and troubled by both Facing Fear and Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall which made me question my own prejudices and preconceived ideas and intrigued by the account of the environmental sculptor Ra Paulette and his cave digging antics in the aptly titled Cavedigger

So there you have it.  If you have never seen an Oscar short program, I strongly urge you to rush out and watch and if you love movies and have seen a Short program, I urge you to rush out and see this year’s nominees, given the standard is exceptional, in either case, you will not be disappointed, I certainly wasn’t and look forward to next year’s most wonderful time of the year again with baited breath

The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014 open nationwide this Friday, January 31st

In San Diego, the Live Action and Animated programs will open at the Landmark Ken, In Los Angeles the Live Action and Animated programs will open at The Nuart in West L.A. and in Orange County at the Regency South Coast Village 3.

Please see local listings or the link below to find a cinema near you

http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/dates-locations/

CAUGHT IN THE WEB | Review

 

It’s a great hook for a film: a young woman on a public transport bus refuses to give up her seat to an elderly passenger. The incident gets recorded on a camera phone and the video goes viral when posted online. The repercussions play out.

MV5BMjI0NDMxMjE4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjkzNDc2MDE@._V1_SX214_Kaige Chen, best known to western audiences for helming FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE, takes on this story in his latest film CAUGHT IN THE WEB. And disappointingly misses the mark. This is a contemporary story set in a gleamingly urban China.  But what should have been a brutal, unrelenting satire on the pervasiveness of social media and its readiness to grant easy fame to anyone, instead becomes a springboard for an unnecessarily complex soap opera. Even more misjudged is the turn toward the end to a romanticized tragedy that feels entirely unearned.

The film starts with the incident on the bus and then delves into the lives of the young woman in the video, her caricature of a patriarchal boss, and his privileged but disengaged wife. And also the wannabe journalist who filmed the video, her ambitious boss (who tries to push the story as her own), and the boss’ boyfriend. And the movie spends much of its time running the plot through these characters in mostly predictable ways.

Did the filmmakers not recognize the full potential of their initial premise? How could a seasoned filmmaker squander a concept this ripe for exploration? Or was this a case of an incisive original script that got overridden during the production of the movie. Consider for example, SPRING BREAKERS, which takes off from a similar headspace but leaps into a gonzo, depraved tone right off the bat, and then sustains it. Or consider any episode of 30 ROCK where the satire comes with the tongue permanently stationed in the cheek.  I wish CAUGHT IN THE WEB had followed either approach. But the tone in this film starts off deadpan then settles on telenovela camp before ending on staged sincerity; it doesn’t all fit together. Perhaps it was because I was so enamored with the original hook that I was disappointed to realize that the film’s ambitions do not run deep at all.

Stylistically, CAUGHT IN THE WEB is structured with deliberate stiltedness. Shots are cut close to each other, often with exaggerated camera angles, and they leap forward in time in quick succession.  This sort of cutting might work well for a film that is overtly spoofing a genre, but not for a movie that settles into a very traditional narrative as it progresses. So the stylistic choice remains a gimmick.

The movie attempts to comment on how our judgment of an individual might change as we find out more about that person. That the pivot for our moral assessment of a character could turn completely as we became privy to more truths. But this is not an entirely successful exercise in CAUGHT IN THE WEB, especially compared to the masterful delicacy with which this was accomplished in the wonderful A SEPARATION from last year. Better yet, one need only look at another film playing in cinemas right now, the stellar LE PASSE (THE PAST), from the same director (Asghar Farhadi) as A SEPARATION. Notice how Farhadi’s films effortlessly comment on the inscrutable nature of truth.  I realize I am writing about CAUGHT IN THE WEB, but why not spend your twelve dollars to see the sublime and vastly superior LE PASSE (THE PAST) instead.  Now that is a film that knows how to spin a web around its characters.

 

OUT OF THE FURNACE | Review

OUT OF THE FURNACE is a well-made film. I respect its discipline and its hard-working craft. But I cannot abide by what it represents.

MV5BMTc2MTQ4MDU4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU1ODgzMDE@._V1_SX214_And what it represents is another one of those Americana tales that is going for the mythic by way of violence. It is achingly blue-collar – with the collar so scuffed with the dirt and grime of hard-working, economically hurting Americans that it might as well be brown-collar.

Christian Bale plays older brother Russell in the economically frayed industrial Northeast. He is trying to curtail Rodney his more impetuous sibling (played by Casey Affleck), who has just returned from a war deployment and is getting involved with backwoods criminals in an effort to earn some money. Soon upon return from jail after serving time for an accidental killing, Russell finds his brother missing. And has to deliberate on options for trying to find Rodney.

There is much to appreciate about the film’s commentary on many things. About how there is dignity in the lives of those working hard, to get by. By working in mills, by taking care of aging parents, by going off to fight the country’s wars, by taking ownership of honest but no less irreversibly harmful mistakes.  The movie does a fine job of conveying the nobility of its characters. It is hard to do this without patronizing, and the film and its amazing actors manage to reflect these lives with remarkable authenticity.

But then why soil this hard-won authenticity with savage violence. The film begins and ends with violence as horror. And then in the middle tries to find poetry in revenge. And it is this poetry in revenge that I couldn’t bring myself to buy. What is this film saying? That there are monstrous people in the world and the only way to deal with them is by retaliatory blood-letting?

I know the film is not trying to deliberately do so, but in this grim, acutely considered American tale about the degradation resulting from violence, the film instead reveals its own unhealthy fascination for violence. People are killed off ruthlessly – and quickly – leaving one wondering as to what this director was aiming for? To make the point that this happens in real life?  Maybe so, but why should this make for good cinema?

I have tremendous appreciation for Christian Bale who completely possesses this role.  Here again is reason, if you ever needed one, that Bale is best in class amongst his generation of actors. And for Casey Affleck, who is turning in consistently believable, complex turns in film after film these days. And Woody Harrelson who makes you look away in fear every time he is on screen, which is saying something considering his more recent filmography of scary bad men. There is a scene halfway through the film where Christian Bale reaches out to Zoe Saldana in a park, hoping to win back her love. It is spare, and beautifully written and sublimely acted, especially by Bale. He breaks your heart. I wish the film had towed more closely to these characters and their lives as its reason for being.

Rare is the film that touches upon so many contemporary American issues. Including how we do not seem to have a place of stability, or even dignity, for soldiers returning from war. The situation created with Bale’s character getting involved in a car accident that results in fatalities is handled with uncommon deft; how often have you see a film delve into the resultant hopeless and crippling guilt. There is so much to be said with these players in this setting. It is disappointing then that the film chooses instead in its final act to settle for being a grotesque revenge tale.

Scott Cooper, the director made his debut helming CRAZY HEART a few years ago, and that film too was about a weathered, beaten character who is trying to claw out of the hell of his addictions and failings. But that film was ultimately about redemption and so found grace in its final notes. There will be those who fill find grace in the final notes of OUT OF THE FURNACE too. I am just not one who can get behind a validation, no matter how genuine, no matter how to the bone and unadorned as it may be, but a validation no less for an-eye-for-an-eye.

 

Episode 214 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire / The Broken Circle Breakdown

It’s Episode 214 of Moviewallas!  In this episode we discuss:

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– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

– The Broken Circle Breakdown

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What’s in a Name | Review

How many times have you heard the phrase “If you want to stay friends with someone, stay away from religion or politics”?  Well, in the movie What’s in a Name, we get to experience both during an intimate evening with a group of family and friends.  Written and directed by the talented duo Alexandre de la Patelliere and Matthieu Delaporte who adapted this delightful film from their highly successful stage play, What’s in a Name tells the story of a slick real estate agent Vincent who is about to enter into fatherhood. During a dinner with family and childhood friends he announces the name of his future son, however a discussion about the scandalous moniker explodes into a feisty debate that brings the group’s past bubbling to the surface albeit with hilarious, dramatic and altogether unbelievable results.

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What’s in a Name is an enchanting heart warming and often too realistic window into how relationships with family and friends evolve over time.  It explores the roles we play in a group and the grudges and opinions we harbor about each other that most of us never share.  Just what would happen if we could tell others what we really thought about them and their life choices?

Natural and convincing performances from a talented cast including Patrick Bruel, Valérie Benguigui,  Charles Berling,  Guillaume de Tonquedec and Judith el Zein elevate this movie from a family melodrama into a witty and surprising black comedy that makes you feel like you really are that fly on the wall of this rather dysfunctional yet clearly affectionate group of people who argue with each other like it’s a national sport.  The smartness of this movie is further showcased by its ability to share Parisian life and attitudes to class, sexual orientation and political leanings.

The dialogue is witty, punchy and hard hitting at times but you are never far from a smile, a giggle or belly laugh whilst being equally moved by the writers’ ability to distill human behavior and basic emotions that if allowed to come to the surface reduce us all to six year olds in a playground

This charming movie, which has already been a huge hit in France, will be opening in theatres in the US on Friday 13th December and will also be available on VOD.  Check local listings

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/whats-in-a-name-le-prenom/id625282414?ign-mpt=uo%3D4