As always, I didn't manage to watch all the movies I wanted to watch. They might have possibly had an effect on the collection below. My ranking is highly subjective and reflects, if anything, the lasting impact the films had on me.
Please feel free to comment and give recommendations!
A substitute teacher who drifts from classroom to classroom finds a connection to the students and teachers during his latest assignment. (98 mins.)
“ "And never have I felt so deeply at one
and the same time so detached from myself
and so present in the world." Albert Camus
This movie just blew me away. I saw the great rating on imdb and had a quick look at the plot summary. It seemed like another 'dangerous minds'/'freedom writers'-kind-of story (or maybe 'class') to me but because I enjoyed them I decided to watch 'detachment'. I quickly realized that there’s much more to it. It's Tony Kaye.
Adrien Brody gives an Oscar-worthy performance. His face expression reflects the desperation, helplessness, and sadness that is an understandable reaction to the chaos at school as displayed in the movie and also certain situations in life that we all go through sometimes.
I love when movies allow for discussion about psychological behavioral patterns and dismissive-avoidant attachment is what came to mind when observing Brody’s character. A person who establishes a careful distance to others, values feeling self-sufficient and independent, and doesn’t risk close emotional relationships. This protective mode is, obviously, like a prison on a far-away fortress. Abandoning this state means becoming vulnerable and allowing others to come close.
The movie does not scare away from showing all kind of horrors and it doesn’t try to to make it easier for you to accept them. Maybe that’s the sense of it. Bad things happen and one should do oneself the favor of stopping finding meaning in everything. Strictly speaking, there is meaning where we put it. This view includes that the world is a meaningless place but also says that we are the masters of our own destiny. We are not to result of you circumstances but our actions.
"Some of us, believed that we can make a difference, and then sometimes, we wake up, and we realized, we failed"
Mr. Barthes ” - marina-mp
Sound of My Voice
Two documentary filmmakers attempt to penetrate a cult who worships a woman who claims to be from the future. (85 mins.)
“ Maggie: "Every life is death, and most deaths are suicides. Some are just more gradual than others"
Another wonderful collaboration of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij (after "Another Earth") that proves that beauty doesn't need big budget. A story about a couple that joins a cult following a mysterious woman in order to make a documentary about it but soon starts to question what is real. A tale of faith and reason that is great material for a fertile movie discussion that won't lead to a single right or wrong. Brit Marling has great screen presence and keeps your attention from start to end. The mood is similar (or similarly captivating) to that of "Another Earth". I am not totally happy with the ending but considering that the rest of the movie was absolutely mesmerizing (and also that it is supposed to be part of a trilogy), I am more than willing to give "Sound of my voice" 4,5 stars. ” - marina-mp
Take This Waltz
A happily married woman falls for the artist who lives across the street. (116 mins.)
“ "Life has a gap in it, it just does. You don't go crazy trying to fill it. " (Geraldine/Sarah Silverman)
The story can be summarized on one sentence: a married women falls in love with her neighbor and doesn't know what to do about this. So if you looking for action and new turns, this movie is definetely not for you. So no big box office potential here.
Instead, the movie is a great character study. Michelle Williams does a great job with expressing the internal struggle she is going through. She loves her husband, but is missing something and is considering filling this gap with Luke Kirby. The husband's role is a very unusual role for Seth Rogen. Yet he is perfectly cast as the kind loving husband. I found Luke Kirby's character to be a bit one-dimensional but he's good enough. Silverman as a wise alcoholic is a good fit.
I took me some time to get used to the slow pace of the movie. The dialogue kept me interested. But it's probably what it takes to develop the characters and let them grow on you. Also, it might be closer to everyday life's speed than most other films. I found it quite interesting to watch Williams' character with her fear of in-betweens and maybe also fear of the responsbility that comes with adult life. Sometimes you identify with her, other time you just watch her commit mistakes and shake your head. With all her flaws, she never seems stupid (like, in my opinion, is the case in most Hollwood romances) but just human. Williams and Rogen have great on screen chemistry and make a great quirky couple with their own strange rituals and jokes that show love and trust yet famililarity and lack of excitement.
This is definetely a film you can watch multiple times because it's not primarily about the outcome. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys melancholic quiet character studies. I can imagine that this movie is more geared towards women but it's still enjoyable for some males, too. ” - marina-mp
A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the "El camino de Santiago," and decides to take the pilgrimage himself. (123 mins.)
“ Daniel: "You don't choose a life, dad. You live one."
One of the best films I have watched this year. A father, wonderfully portrayed by Martin Sheen, goes on a pilgrimage that his estranged son could not finish. The film documents his journey as he comes closer to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia and also closer to making peace with his son's death. On his way, he meets other pilgrims, each with a unique story and a different motive. It's a quiet heart-warming film that really grows on you. At the end, the protagonist is able to make his peace and this feeling stayed with me. And I love when a movie succeeds to do that. ” - marina-mp
Safety Not Guaranteed
Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel. (86 mins.)
A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. (104 mins.)
“ Km Ki-Duk is one of favorite directors, so I was eagerly expecting his new film. Pieta has been widely critically acclaimed and received the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival. Difficult to keep your expectations low.
Pieta (Pity) is about a young man who makes his living by working for a corrupt money lender and turning insolvent borrowers into cripples in order to collect their insurance money. One day, a woman appears in his life stating she was his mother who gave him up for adoption when very young. Needless to say, the ruthless killer changes when faced with his potential mom. The viewer watches and feels his emotional tour-de-force. The acting performances are all terrific. In the known Kim Ki-Duk style, the movie is quiet but uncredible emotional and moving. At the end, I felt emotionally drained and exhausted. The last scenes stay with you. A rare piece of art that is not for the weak-hearted. ” - marina-mp
After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step. (117 mins.)
“ "Once more into the fray / Into the last good fight I'll ever know / Live and die on this day / Live and die on this day"
It starts off as a nice survival thriller - man against nature - but developes to become more profound and philosophical than initially assumed. Liam Neeson is perfect for this role. As a tall and strong guy, he is believable as a survivor in the wild. But Neeson is also a great actor who adds considerable depth to his character. As the story goes, we get to know the survivors better - only to learn that it doesn't keep them from dying. The movie is just the right pace to allow you to feel with the characters and yet be excited with fear for their life. Stay to see the credits because there's another scene. ” - marina-mp
At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed. (94 mins.)
“ A beautiful film about grief in adults and children. When a teacher commits suicide in a classroom, Algerian immigrant Bachir Lazhar gets to chance to prove himself as a replacement. Bachir helps the kids overcome their trauma but not always are his efforts appreciated. As the story evolves, it becomes evident that Bachir has his own tragedy to process. It's a quite movie with excellent performances by Fellag and the child actors. The metaphor of a chrysallis is a powerful image for the role of teachers and parents in helping children grow and mature. Apart from the grief aspect, the movie also sheds some light on the problems in the educational system. ” - marina-mp
Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way. (92 mins.)
“ Maybe I'm just in the mood. And I also get easily involved with sports movies. But this was the best comedy I have watched in a while. It's an interesting story. I have no idea about hockey and even less about hockey goons but his movie does not really require much interest for the sport. Seann WIlliam Scott is such a lovable character. Eva is just hilarious as is Jay Baruchel, who produced the movie. The film certainly has some inappropriate language so I understand the R rating. The best thing about this movie is that it's funny and heart-felt and doesn't try to be more than it is. The dialogue and the great performances just won me over. ” - marina-mp
A man's carefully cultivated private life is disrupted when his sister arrives for an indefinite stay. (101 mins.)
“ Quite intense and raw portayal of a sex addict whose life spirals out of control when his little sister - who is not without problems herself - comes to live with him. It's incredible how Fassbender has this magnetic presence that just leaves you glued to the screen. I can't remember any recent performance where an actor was able to convey emotions with so little dialogue through face expressions alone. McQueen does not shy away from explicit content. And Carey Mulligan is superb as usual. I kind of hoped for a different ending although I can't tell which one exactly. Probably, I just hoped for a clearer answer. ” - marina-mp
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested. (127 mins.)
“ No one expects a movie about an aging couple to be fun to watch and it's not. At one hand side, this movie shows the difficulties an old couple experiences when the wife suffers a heart attack with consequences and the husband is worn down by these consequences. At the same time, it's a testimonial of love you don't see everyday. It's heart-breaking and evoked terrifying thoughts about the future but also shows what really counts in life. One of this year's best. ” - marina-mp
Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, works to take care of his family, and struggles for his own survival. (108 mins.)
“ I really liked it. Particularly because I remained glued to the screen until the end. Woody Harrelson was born to play this character. And all the supporting cast is great as well. Only a few minutes into the film, when Woody verbally forces his female colleague to eat the ordered fries although she doesn't like them - I got really scared by this cop. He is violent like no intelligent man can be but also extremely eloquent. As the film moves on, you see his soft side, when he is with his kids. He seems to have it under control but later realizes that he is neighter the law nor right. I understand that many viewers complained about the plot, the ending in particular. It is not the movie where you get a well-put conclusion and a clear-cut lesson for life. Maybe that would also be too simple. Why make a moral statement at the end about how wrong violence is? Don't we know it already? I think the last scene was perfect. The thing he wanted the most was to hold his family together, and - after his professional life has come to an end - he sees that his family is perfect without him, too. It's like a bullet to the head (i.e. the realization that he is wrong) was not enough; here comes another one: straight to the heart. ” - marina-mp
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife. (83 mins.)
“ "Everything and everyone is interconnected in this universe.
Stay pure of heart and you will see the signs.
Follow the signs and you will uncover the destiny."
The movie starts with this quote by Jeff. Jeff, has seen the movie "signs" and looks for signs in his life that would reveal his destiny. At this moment you already know it's probably not going to be what you would expect from Jason Segel and Ed Helms. The first half of the movie is funny but seems meaningsless. It all makes sense at the end. Maybe that's the messege. Life is complex and boring. And forcing yourself to do all the meaningless little things seems stupid. Yet, there comes a point, a perfect moment, when it all makes sense. Holding on to ideas that others deemed insane leads to fulfillment. The climatic ending is a spiritual moment that stayed with me.
The characters are quite likable. Who is best to play 30-year old slacker than Jason Segel. Ed Helms is great as the brother who misses to read the signs his estranged wife, Judy Greer, is sending him. Susan Sarandon as their mom and Rae Dawn Chong (from 'commando') as her friend and colleage also have their great moments.
I was greatly surprised by this little movie by the Duplass brothers and would recommend it, as well as the appreciation of other little things in life. ” - marina-mp
An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling. (138 mins.)
“ A great movie based on a unique idea but actually mesmerizing through the multi-layered and captivating performance by Denzel Washington. Whip Whitaker is a divorced alcoholic earning his money as a pilot. He manages to prevent a plane catastrophe by miraculously invertsing the plane and is celebrated as a hero. Problems arise as it becomes known that he was heavily drunk and on cocaine when flying the aircraft. The rest of the movie shows how Whip lives, changes and grows with this dilemma. It's a brilliant character study of a hero who is far from perfect. I expect a Oscar nom for Denzel. ” - marina-mp
It's 1968, and four young, talented Australian Aboriginal girls learn about love, friendship and war when their all-girl group The Sapphires entertain the US troops in Vietnam. (103 mins.)
“ Maybe it's only me, but this year has been truly lacking heart-felt comedies. When Hollywood fails, others can provide. "The Sapphires" is probably the first Australian comedy with a story centered on Aboroginal characters that I have ever heard of. Four talented girls under the wing of Chris O'Dowd as their manager take the chance to entertain American troops in Vietnam. Each of the girls has her own story which unfolds in the movie. The movie is inspired by a true story, which - as always - adds an extra emotional and charming feel to it. The soundtrack is exquisite. The acting performances are terrific. Especially Deborah Mailman as the oldest sister is a powerful character that is stuck in my memory. The movie has heart, wit and the right amount of drama, which all add up to wonderful and entertaining movie experience. ” - marina-mp
A chef and a scientist fall in love as an epidemic begins to rob people of their sensory perceptions. (92 mins.)
“ Movies about diseases and such are ususally not my cup of tea but this one really caught me, although more gradually than by surprise. I think, everyone knows what the story's message is going to be. Still, at the end, it feels like a revelation. Maybe because we catch ourselves identifying with the people in the movie who try to live their lives as they used to when their senses disappear one after another, without really understanding what's most important until all else is gone. I think, especially given the low budget, the director has done a great job at conveying the message with almost poetic although at times brutal imagery. I haven't seen "contagion" which is so often compared to this one. But 'perfect sense' reminds me of "Blindness" and "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind", and maybe even "tree of life" - which I all like. ” - marina-mp
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than advertised, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. (124 mins.)
“ This movie really brings together some great actors and actresses from the British acting elite. Their performances are really stunning. It's through their performance that the film is fresh and vivid although its main characters are all in their golden years. The most interesting part is probably Maggie Smith's who plays an old bitter woman with a lot of prejudice against other nationalities that are challenged when she goes to India for a hip transplant. Judi Dench is simply perfect as the widow who sells her home to pay back her husbands debt and comes to India to make a fresh start. Tom Wilkinson in an unusual role as a gay man who comes to India 40 years after he has last visited the country. Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton as a married couple with differences that are revealed in India. And Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup who don't give up on love. Dev Patel also does a great job as the over-enthusiasthic but unexperienced hotel manager.
The film was shot in India and the cinematography is breath-taking. Obviously the focus is on the good sides. The problems the retirees face reflect cliches. Yet, a lot if them match my personal experience in India. It is, nevertheless, interesting to watch the characters deal differently with this new world. The biggest letdown is the plot. The idea is quite compelling. However, the way the story is told, there not much excitement and the transitations are not very smooth sometimes. The dialogue still offers some funny lines. ” - marina-mp
In the Land of Blood and Honey
During the Bosnian War, Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, re-encounters Ajla, a Bosnian who's now a captive in his camp he oversees. Their once promising connection has become ambiguous as their motives have changed. (127 mins.)
“ This movie is quite difficult to evaluate. I am not well informed about the true happenings. The movie largely looks at Serbs as the villains and Bosnians as victims. Angie does not scare away from showing the brutuality of war. The actors are great and I am glad she chose natives. Accuracy with respect to the truth is a key determinant of the quality of the movie, so I just have to disregard this aspect because of lack of knowledge. In the end, it's not a retelling of the happening during this horrible war, but a story about two people whose love is tested (and trialed) by ethnic differences. One might say, it's exploitation of the artrocities of war for the purpose of entertainment. I think that it was the right decision to make the movie about people and not the war itself because sometimes it's only by seeing what it actually does to selected people we understand the true damages. I applaud Angie for picking this difficult subject and making it into a movie. She deserves great credit for educating the current generation about the what happened 20 years ago in front of our eyes and yet remained ignored by the average person. ” - marina-mp
Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980. (120 mins.)
“ One of the best movies Hollywood could offer this year. Ben Affleck, once again, proves his talent for directing and stars in the adaptation of a true story. When the US embassy in Iran is stormed and hostages are taken, six Americans manage to escape. A CIA expert has to help these people, hiding with Canadian embassador to Iran, leave Iran before the Iranians find them. The idea is to pretend to shoot a sci-fi movie in Iran and take the hiding embassy employees back as the film crew. A crazy story which actually took place. Obviously, Affleck added some extra suspense and glam to make a movie that can entertain the mainstream audience. The results is a clever yet easy to absorb movie with a unique plot and good level of adrenaline. ” - marina-mp
After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver. (112 mins.)
“ Great French movie that perfectly knows to combine humour and the sadness of the situation without dropping into a sobby tearjerker or an insensitive comedy. Engaging and gripping from start to end. Also a great original score by Ludovico Einaudi. ” - marina-mp
A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help. (107 mins.)
“ "Nothing is beyond money for you, Robert. We both know that" (Jimmy)
I always thought that Richard Gere was perfectly able to combine certain interesting aspects in his roles: fragile yet composed, wealthy yet approachable, intelligent yet modest. Unfortunately, and especially at the beginning of his career, he used these specialties to star in romances and to sweep women off their feet with his gentleman-like manners. Who would have thought that exactly this characteristics would make him perfect for the role of a matured investment magnate who has to deal with the homicide of his lover, the closing of a sale of his own company, and his family troubles.
Due to Gere's superb performance, 'Arbitrage' is more a character study than a thriller. Looking at it as a simple thriller will leave you disappointed with the ending. It doesn't have enough twists to be extraordinarily thrilling - although some turns are not expected. The slower pace and lower adrenaline give you time to absorb and reflect on the acting performances which are all great. The world of Wall Street and rich people who donate 7-digit money is far from my own world. Consequently, it's very suspect to me. The movie gives you an insight look at this world. ” - marina-mp
End of Watch
Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves. (109 mins.)
“ Nice thriller with a tense and energizing vibe and enough heart to keep the audience involved from start to end. Gyllenhaal and Pena play two LAPD cops patrolling one of the most dangerous areas in LA. One day, they find something out that makes them the target of a feared criminal group. The film has a very raw and realistic look to it, especially with Gyllenhaal having a camcorder with him on the job. The dialogue is sharp and unapologetic. The film manages to keep your attention level high all throughout the movie. The ending sticks with you. An emotional ride I don't regret taking. ” - marina-mp
Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits. (116 mins.)
“ Forrest Bondurant: "We're survivors, we control the fear. And without the fear, we're all as good as dead"
High expectations are the worst. I am still trying to separate my opinion about the movie from the influence of my high expecations. I am somewhat disappointed (it's even hard to admit) but it has its good sides. Starting with the acting performances. Tom Hardy is superb in his role as the distant and sensible yet sometimes unpredictable Forrest. Not to mention that he is a sexy beast. Shia LaBeouf surprised me in his role of the young emotional brother. Jessica Chastain is brilliant as usual although more screen time would be necessary for her character to develop. The scenes with her and Tom Hardy are my favorite. Gary Oldman brings fire to whatever he touches. So does Guy Pierce. Miia Wasikowska and Jason Clark also give nice performances. From the trailer, I thought 'Lawless' would be a Western which it is not. However, in my opinion, it manages to capture the atmosphere of the time quite well. The mix between humor, brutality and heart is well-balanced. The great soundtrack (Nick Cave) contributes a lot to that. I liked the movie but given how hyped it was I was expecting something more deep and epic. = ” - marina-mp
In small-town Alaska, a news reporter recruits his ex-girlfriend - a Greenpeace volunteer - on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. (107 mins.)
“ I really liked this movie. It's been a while since I have seen a nice Disney-like movie that is heart-warming and funny (without vulgar jokes). It's starts a bit slow but grows on you as the situation of the whales is getting worse and more and more parties are involved to help them. It is based on a true story taking place in Barrow, Alaska in 1988. If I had to evaluate the movie based on the hard technical criteria, the movie would fare well but not become extraordinary. What made the movie remarkable, at least to me, is the story and the message. The subject of environmental awareness has never been more important than now. This movie highlights the importance of working together in solving this problem, even if it means collaborating with people you don't usually agree with; individual efforts count but the total matters. The depiction of collaborative efforts that changes everyone's opinion in the right direction might be cliched but no party is really displayed as superior. Instead each party's stand is discussed but not judged. It is important to educate children about environmental issues because they will aggrevate when they become grown-ups. Understandably, most children are not excited about watching documentaries that reiterate the pros and cons of counter actions. But I think children will love this movie that educates and entertains at the same time. At the box office, the movie turned out a disappointment. I think it's a perfect DVD material for winter holidays spent in a family circle. I bet I will watch it again sometime on a snowy december afternoon. ” - marina-mp
A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission. (93 mins.)
“ Very nice action movie with a special feel to it. The original score and Soderbergh's direction really give a very cool atmosphere to the film. I felt perfectly entertained although I wished for a bit more. Gina's acting is a bit weak (I hope to see her improve) and she doesn't do well in scenes with dialogue. However, being a professional fighter, she easily steals away the show in fighting scenes that are perfeclty executed and very raw and fresh. Her atheletic fitness kind of energized me. Would have loved to see more of Fassbender but maybe another time. Although, I hoped for a more twisted story. Don't be discouraged by my numerous suggestions for improvement. It is still well worth seeing. ” - marina-mp