Monday, May 27, 2013

Frances Ha

At my age, stories of twenty-somethings are wearing a little thin. For all the critical acclaim, I was skeptical going into Frances Ha. When an older gentleman tore my ticket at IFC Center he said, "The great Frances Ha is in Cinema 1." I thought, if he liked it, maybe I would too. What unfolded when the lights went down was a story of facing reality, finding self, survival and maturity. In stunning black and white, the story of Frances is realistic and satisfying. I'm glad I went.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Behind the Candelabra

Liberace was the original showman. He was a gifted pianist who took his art to another level of performance with theatrical staging and costumes. In Behind the Candelabra we see an unblinking look into his world from the time he meets a a very young Scott Thorson to his death. The performances are amazing and the portrayals of these men are a bit brutal at times. Well done.

The Stories We Tell

When actor/film maker Sarah Polley learns a family secret, involving her mother who died when she was 11 years old, she decides to gather family and friends to share their memories of the woman. In Stories We Tell, the story unfolds from her script and the memories of others. The stories come together to give us a view of a vibrant woman. There is a reveal that is handled with love, compassion and little drama. This film is beautifully structured and tells quite a story. Worth a look.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Before Midnight

In Before Midnight we catch up with Celine and Jesse 18 years after they first met. They are on vacation in Greece with their children as the guests of one of Jesse's colleagues. We follow them for a day as they discuss life, work, relationships, children and aging. The dialogue flows and has very realistic moments. They reminisce, they flirt, they fight, they kiss, they make up, they let us in on what's been going on with them. It is mesmerizing and heartfelt. I liked that you did not have to have seen the films Before Sunrise or Before Sunset to enjoy this film. I think it is the best of the three.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stand Up Guys

In Stand Up Guys, three career criminals work on what it means to be a stand up guy. After getting out of jail, Val deals with friends, family and old enemies. He and his friends must deal with the fact that they are not young men any more. Mortality is at their door and knocking in more than one way. Dialogue driven, I liked this film. "Chew gum or kick ass? I'm all out of gum."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby has been interpreted in film several times. Baz Luhrmann's latest interpretation is flashy, passionate and stylish. I was surprised that hip hop worked in the sound track. It added edge and pizazz. The visual effects in this film are stunning. Color and light create mood and tone. Though a bit long, I liked this much more than I expected to.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

I was 10 years old when Star Trek hit TV in the 60s. It was a wonder. My brothers and I were fast fans. There was adventure, humor, the future and I developed a quick crush on Captain Kirk. It was followed by movies and series reboots in the 80s that were OK, but when JJ Abrams grabbed the reins a few years ago, new life was breathed into that universe. In 2009 Star Trek won over legions of fans, and it looks like Star Trek Into Darkness has done the same. A very simple battle with a terrorist, for very simple reasons, is all we need for story. There is action, there are fights, chases, quips and yes, love. The audience I saw this with was full of fans, and at one point, when an explosion was imminent someone yelled, "get out!" The next line from the screen? "We'd better get out of here!" It was awesome. This film was a fun ride and a new actor interprets a familiar character masterfully. I really enjoyed this movie.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Loved One

When Johnathan Winters passed away, the film The Loved One was recommended to me. A satire from the 60s, this black and white gem pokes fun at the funeral business at the expense of Hollywood. The script is brilliant as is the cast Winter, Robert Morse, John Gielgud, Milton Berle, James Coburn, Paul Williams, Liberace, Roddy McDowall, Rod Steiger.... Their goal was to offend everyone. Mission accomplished with a lot of laughs. Fantastic!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Iron Man 3

The third film in the Iron Man franchise explores a much more vulnerable Toby Stark than we have seen thus far. It plays well as entertainment and humor, but I think superhero fans will be disappointed in an insecure, vulnerable Iron Man. Iron Man 3 finds Tony Stark, a bit traumatized post-Avengers fighting off monsters in NYC. He is working out his anxieties by making an army of suits and amping up the technology as therapy. When The Mandrin post a terrorist threat, Stark challenges the villain and a new battle begins. I liked how it played out. There are a few surprises and twists that I liked. So glad I sat through the credits for a scene that made me laugh. Fun start to the summer movie season.

The Angels' Share

When distilling whiskey, the percent that evaporates is called The Angels' Share. Take that information with you when you see this film. In The Angels' Share a band of misfit criminals enjoy the benefit of a probation officer's love and appreciation of whiskey. All are looking for a way out of their lives of crime, but they choose to commit a crime to achieve the goal. A bit of a disconnect, but the entertainment value is high. Lovely film.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Beautifully shot, well acted and a story that moves, Mud was a nice surprise today. Motivated by his belief in true love, a young boy aids a man who is dangerous and undeserving of his efforts. Well done.