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Solnichka

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82 reviews in total 
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Carol (2015)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Story good, but why does Rooney Mara keep getting these roles?, 27 March 2016
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story itself is timeless: forbidden love, etc. That in itself is good, and it tugs at heartstrings because of what society wouldn't accept in the past, etc. Blanchett is excellent, of course, as she usually is in any decent film. What makes this film almost unwatchable is Rooney Mara, who—like Dakota Johnson—seems to keep getting roles simply because her family is famous/wealthy. She cannot act at all, and it makes this film sink into the abyss of "forgettability". I saw the film for the story and Blanchett, and I have no idea why Mara was nominated for an Oscar. It's like Claire Danes winning all those Emmys despite being terrible in everything she does. Mara is lifeless on screen in a film where she should be alive and eliciting deep reactions from the audience.

Risen (2016)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
I'm an atheist, but this was an excellent film, 27 March 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Biblical stories are excellent stories, whether you take them to heart as fact or not. The cinematography is amazing, and the music is very powerful. But what makes the film work so well is the acting. Joseph Fiennes puts his best stuff out there that we've seen in two decades: Not since _Elizabeth_ and/or _Shakespeare in Love_ has he carried the screen so well. His performance is understated and accentuated by much physical performance: body language and facial expressions. To sell the narrative, the lead had to not "overact", and Fiennes nails this. The three supporting actors of note —Cliff Curtis as Jesus, Tom Felton as a Roman officer and Peter Firth as Pontius Pilate —all follow Fiennes' lead in terms of their performances. The story itself needs no embellishment by the actors, and thus the casting choices here were excellent. The only actor hamming it up, really, is Joe Manjón as Bartholomew. Curtis doesn't speak much in his role, but when he does, you listen. Thus, props to the screenwriters for doing the right thing here: The film doesn't preach, but it does teach. That's the best kind of film.

Rudderless (2014)
Valuable contribution to society's perspective on tragedy, 13 March 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Accidentally watched this one day, having no idea what it was—but drawn in by the opening scenes which serve as an excellent hook for the audience. I once reviewed another film based on tragedy here, and this film is a whole different take on it. The music is good, yeah, but there's a human interest story here that more and more people need to know: What happens to the loved ones of those who cause tragedy? This film takes a crack at that necessary story, and we all can benefit from watching something like this. Tragedy leaves no person untouched, of course ... and in the quick rush to judge and blame, people forget there are no winners in situations like this. I feel like a better person for having watched this movie—and cared about its characters. A few thoughts on the acting: Selena Gomez is wasted here, as that character needed more development. Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin do well carrying the picture overall, though. On to the music: It's good, and I'm not a music expert, even if I have written dozens of music articles in my years as a journalist. But the songs are engaging emotionally considering the film's content, and they sound good playing on a car stereo driving with the sunroof open on a coastal highway. What else is there to say?

Wind (1992/I)
Love, love, love THIS MOVIE, 11 March 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is sort of reminiscent of Dennis Conner and his saga (lose-the-Cup, win-it-back-Down-Under), although no character provides direct association. It's a simple movie, which grossed only about $6 million when it was released, but watch it on a big screen with surround sound, and you will be amazed. Modine is his usual, likable self, albeit in a goof ball way. But Jennifer Grey is wonderful, and she proves again, during her peak, she was a most underrated actor. Stellan Skarsgard, who appeared in Good Will Hunting, has a strong performance as well. One performance which almost steals every scene is Jack Thompson's portrayal of the Australian skipper. Rough, hardy and good-natured, he provides a stark contrast to Cliff Robertson's snotty, Martha's Vineyard American pig. The intricate way the characters interact is nicely orchestrated through the film, and those relations strengthen the film. There's a love quadrangle, sexist and masculinist America broken down, and the race scenes are better than any car chase. Think of Top Gun and then think of sailing on the ocean off the East Coast and Australia. You don't need to know anything about sailing to enjoy this as there is not a lot of technical talk. Yes, the cinematography makes this film stand out. And since I am partial to sailing, having done too much as a kid, I found it a beautiful experience. The plot is a little predictable, but it still manages to captivate you right to the end. Watch this movie!

Interesting, but not great, 11 March 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, Paul Newman is good, but this film is not among his best. His character is annoying at best, for a variety of reasons, the least of which is he's a lawyer. That being said, let's get to the rest of the film. It is a strong-plotted film, with the time- earned theme of the wronged-little-guys against the big-money-big-guys in a courtroom. Who wins? Watch the movie. Medical malpractice always makes for engaging material. Not much else to say about this film. Newman is solid, but not great. Jack Warden is okay, because that's all he really can be. James Mason is good, and the court scenes are among the best in the film, especially when Mason cross- examines an Irish-accented former Boston nurse. There is a gratuitous love interest and an eventual plot twist that is totally predictable. Watch it, but if you want better Newman, watch Seinfeld or Absence of Malice.

Entertaining but not complete enough, 11 March 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We need to start with the plot - it's engaging and relatively true. It captures the spirit of American ingenuity with decent acting and nice cinematography. But somehow, this film is laughable and almost a farce. As noted above, Bridges' performance is almost a sketch of a clown, rather than a visionary like Preston Tucker. He's likable and funny, but you never get the sense he takes anything seriously, unless it's his wife's dress color being denied a spot in the auto paint selection. The supporting cast is very solid, with Martin Landau and Lloyd Bridges showing their experience. Dean Stockwell has a cameo as Howard Hughes, the only part of the film which is not based on reality. Elias Koteas is also in the film, showing the promise of his future - he was also in Some Kind of Wonderful at the same time. Try comparing the roles and see his diverse abilities. But again, for some reason, the film just is not good. Perhaps it's the light-hearted way the screenplay touches upon antitrust issues and collusion between automakers and lawmakers. It's a big suggestion to make, and the film does not explore the conspiracy fully enough.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
They just don't make them like this anymore, do they?, 11 March 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the best films you'll ever see. Almost the entire film takes place in a small jury room, and the dialogue and plot are excellent nonetheless. What is reasonable doubt? Is it easy to condemn a man to death? These are just a few of the tough, not-easy-to-answer legal questions proposed in this film. Furthermore, what is the motivation of a jury? Do they want to be there? You'll recognize many of the actors, including a young Jack Klugman and a young Jack Warden. Lee J. Cobb is brilliant, and his passion as an actor once again shines in this performance. The film is in black-and-white, which heightens the tension of the situations. A viewing tip: watch the intricate nuances as the director captures the developing interpersonal relationships between jurors. It's one of the best aspects of the film.

Very good, but ... kind of creepy, too, 11 March 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How long has it been since you've seen this one? Even today, it's still a delight. Looking at Julie Andrews' glowing face, you almost feel young again yourself. To look at little Jane and Michael, in their innocent purity, is to remember the first time you saw the movie. But enough of that. Laced with fun songs, including A Spoonful of Sugar and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, this a pretty cheery movie, although there are some darker scenes, including those at the bank. Dick Van Dyke is amusing, and the laughing scene is still a classic. What stands out the most in this film? I am not sure. The color is magnificent, but there is a dark underlying theme in this movie I cannot put my finger on. Whether or not it's the creepy scenes at the bank, or even the dark mood of the chimney sweep song and their songs (not the chirpy Step in Time, of course), this movie is a dichotomy of emotion. Andrews lights up the screen, Van Dyke sometimes darkens it; Tomlinson is representative of both. Humor is everywhere, in the form of cannon-firing British seamen, clowning housemaids and a cheery Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks. The songs quite often make the movie enjoyable, more so than the often-dark plot line. But really, if you want better fare, go check out The Sound of Music - it's much more delightful than this film, although probably not so for the kids.

Brilliance ..., 11 March 2016
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a movie! Brilliant acting, ingenious cinematography, and based on true events, although the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Shot in black and white (although it was 1960), the film mostly takes place in a courtroom, but the cinematography brings us deep, introspective camera angles to emphasis the emotional issues at the center of the story. The 1920s and the small-town South are clearly depicted as religious zealots, in an era of discovery and enlightenment. The resulting battles between evolutionists and creationists are predictable, but still engaging. Tracy is brilliant, as usual, and March delivers a strong performance as the evermore out-of-control "Brady." Dick York, in his pre-Bewitched days, plays the biology teacher with passion and confusion, unaware of the larger issues at stake. He also looks a lot like Jim Carrey! However, the two best performances are turned in by Gene Kelly as an annoying Baltimore journalist and Claude Akins as the town preacher. Kelly is down-right likable as the prodding, ridiculing writer - and while you still expect him to bust out singing and dancing, he plays his role in control, mocking the creationist theory. Akins is so convincing as a religious zealot, and his voice (in my mind, his signature acting trait) booms as always - strong and willful. Good stuff, to be sure.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Made before O'Connor made SCOTUS, it's pretty good, 11 March 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ever get the feeling Walter Matthau plays the same character in every movie? Oscar Madison? Buttermaker? Dan Snow? Yup, it's no mirage. But give him credit - no one does the grumpy routine better than Matthau. This film - conceived, written, produced and prepared before Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed to the Supreme Court - deals with the relationship between Matthau (his character is based loosely on William O. Douglas, I suspect) and Clayburgh and their differing legal perspectives. It's actually a charming look at a serious subject, the basic dilemma between morality and legality. Unfortunately, there is some gratuitous gender humor and nudity, which really has no place in this film. Clayburgh is likable enough, but her role is ridiculous, assuming the character really is a prominent woman - if you can overlook the tasteless gender jokes, the film is worth viewing.


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