Catch Up Time! (Again.)

Playing catch-up…again.  I am seriously behind on current films–life seems to be getting in the way of posting lately–but, I have watched a few.  Here we go with another compilation post!

Robot and Frank

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I LOVED THIS FILM!!  Wonderful.  Every once in awhile you find a treasure and Robot and Frank is a just that.  It is a quiet film from first time director Jake Schreier and TV writer Christopher Ford, that appears simple yet reveals its complexity deliberately and slowly.  It is a shame that Frank Langella was not nominated throughout the award season last year and that this film went almost unnoticed.  Langella is brilliant. I must mention Robot’s voice, which is performed by Peter Sarsgarrd and I was impressed what he is able to achieve without the aid of facial expression.  The supporting cast (Tyler, Marsden and Sarandon) happens to be perfect, too.  This film will touch you and make you consider the passage of time, aging and the moments that connect us to each other.   It is beautiful.  Warm, funny and poignant.  Find it and watch it!  😀

Olympus Has Fallen

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Big and fun!  Olympus Has Fallen reminded me of an 80’s action movie–and that is not totally a bad thing.  Of course, you have to suspend your rational thinking and knowledge of how the American government works (things would’ve never gone that far)–but, it is still fun.  I like the action version of Gerard Butler (than all the horrible rom-coms of late) and was happy to see him kick some ass.  The main star of this film though is director Antoine Fuqua, who knows how to direct tense, well paced action.  Thank goodness!  Because if I had to take this on credibility–it would FAIL!  LOL!

Admission

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I liked Admission–a lot.  Also, it is NOT a romantic-comedy–it is more like a dramedy.   It may have helped that I am a huge Tina Fey and Paul Rudd fan and they have a wonderful chemistry that carries the film.  Director Paul Weitz has yet to make a better film than About a Boy, but he still has a nice style of telling a story.  My favorite aspect though is the non-Hollywood approach to everything.  That is refreshing and adds extra points of awesome.

PS Lilly Tomlin needs to make more movies!  She’s fantastic.

The Oranges

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The Oranges has a very strong, capable cast and a unique approach to a common movie theme, yet somehow it fails to impress.  It is not bad–it just feels uneven.  I think the main problem is tone–the narrative never finds the right approach.  I think it was going for dark comedy, without being truly funny or cutting deep enough.  I did like the freshness of the theme and the honest growth of the characters–but not enough to love it.

Sinister

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Oh Sinister!  At first, I was hooked.  Heavy on mood and a clever, original premise, the story starts strong–yet, I found the typical, horror-movie stupid choices (redeems itself a little too late) and the drawn out tension scenes start to wear you down.  I went from tense…to annoyed (does anyone ever turn ON a light??)… to not scared…to yup, he had it coming.   Not as bad as most of the dumb horror stuff that has come out and with a strong performance by Ethan Hawke, Sinister rises a bit above the norm.

Hitchcock

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So much potential…wasted.  I love Hitchcock!  Truly a genius and innovator in modern film.  I was excited that this was going to revolve around the making of his 1960 seminal film, Psycho–I was expecting behind the scenes drama because it is well-known that this was controversial film, on many levels (a transvestite? a toilet on-screen? nudity (implied or not)? etc–etc)–and yet, it was dull.  All the juicy details were only spoken about and the film spent more time on an obvious “MacGuffin” of Hitchcock’s marriage woes.  NOOOO!

It is even more upsetting because Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are great together.  When they are on-screen it works–the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, should have been the main focus, but with their positive dynamic in the forefront.  I tired of the heavy-handed “Hitchcockian” touches throughout–why?  Why did it have to become an homage to his style? Why not focus on the really interesting story of the making of Psycho?   Oh well.   **Sigh**

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Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction–Bernie proves it!

Wow! It is hard to understand at times what people do, say and believe. Bernie is a true story. And although it is told from a black comedy angle, the events and reactions are real. Director Richard Linklater has even interviewed the real citizens of Carthage (east Texas town this takes place in) and woven it into the narrative or should I say dramatization.  Gossip, speculations and craziness ensues.

Adapted from a 1998 article in Texas Monthly, titled “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas.” written by Skip Hollandsworth (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Linklater), this tale reads like pure fiction.  A fiction full of all sorts of drama, deception and murder.  I did not know too much going in except for what I just stated and (as you know by now) I will not spoil it for you–discovering what happens is part of the experience while watching this film.

The cast is small and spot on. I like Jack Black. Yes, I know he can be over the top at times but I love it when he gets it right. And he gets Bernie right. Black’s charisma and exuberance are the perfect fit for this man and yet, it never feels like a caricature. It feels natural and easy.  Matthew McConaughey continues his supporting role awesomeness. He is a pure treat in this film–his expressions alone are worth it.  And last, but not least, the incomparable Shirley MacLaine.  She is amazing.  No one else could have portrayed this character so perfectly.

Linklater purposefully creates a small, intimate movie and in turn, it makes you feel like you’re part of this community. It is incredible how powerful perception can be and how strong personal convictions can taint your reality. A very interesting, thought-provoking tale that is well structured and told. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it’s not made up.

Again, wow.