Reviews written by registered user

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82 reviews in total 
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A film for mature moviegoers...Creativity and aging are treated with insightful respect. a, 10 May 2008

A film that at last has some substance...the story of an aging writer, trying to come to terms with his work, as well as his relationship with his 40 year old daughter...and his own waning sexuality. I would give very high praise to the four main actors (I was amazed that Frank Langella wasn't nominated for an Oscar), but it is also the pacing,cinematography and over-all direction by Andrew Wagner that deserves special commendation.

Too few films today have the courage to bring this kind of profound movie-making to the screen. Here is a movie that deals with real people, in very real life situations and yet done with imagination and originality. I await with enthusiasm Wagner's next creation.

Hell (2005)
11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Using the visual medium as it should be used., 25 September 2006

I found this film to be visually beautiful and totally satisfying on that level. The story (already well documented here) is a bit more melodramatic than I had hoped...considering that Kieslowski (whose film I treasure) was the originator of the concept.

The saturated color throughout the film...the subtle, wordless way in which Danis Tanovic uses images to say far more than words as haunting as anything I've seen in movies for many a year....probably not since Kieslowski's own work.

It seems a crime that this movie has not been released in theaters in the U.S. A real deprivation. I would urge lovers of film as art to buy the available DVD. You'll find it rewarding.

Gabrielle (2005)
18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
A stunning evocation of marital relationship, 10 August 2006

This incredible adaptation of Joseph Conrad's story,"The Return" has been haunting me for days. The visual beauty of its cinematography in contrast to the devastating psychological and emotional pain of its characters, brilliantly portrayed by Isabelle Huppert and Pascal Gregory. has rarely been achieved in film. No need here to repeat the details of the story...I do however want to point out what I have not read in any reviews or comments...that this is basically, as I see it, an evocation of the power and control struggle in a marriage...that moves between husband and wife in the most fascinating and brilliant way. My most grateful appreciation and admiration to Patrice Chereau for giving us this remarkable film. In a time of blockbuster, action movies, what a joy to experience a work of art that provides intense emotion, intelligent food for thought and visual nurturance.

Saraband (2003) (TV)
19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Profound, soulful film of human love and hate, 10 July 2005

For many years "The Seventh Seal" has not only been my favorite Bergman film, but my all-time list topper. Although others have since moved into that place, Bergman's genius as a probing and revelatory filmmaker continue to astound and reward me.

"Saraband" for me is about as good as he gets...and that's high praise. Here the human soul in anguish is laid bare in all its honest need...a thwarted one...for love and understanding. A once married couple, Marianne and Johann (brilliantly portrayed by Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson) do their saraband even after 30 years apart. And like that dance, in its repetitive themes, their relationship as well as that of Johann's son and granddaughter form a kind of tragic rondo, sadly and inexorably replicated. Henrik, the 61 year old son (portrayed with amazing profoundity by Borje Ahlstedt) cannot extricate himself from the slings and arrows aimed at him continually by his father. The one character, now dead, who serves as a graceful inspiration to them all is Henrik's wife and his daughter, Karin's mother...Anna. We see her beautiful face in a photographic portrait, but her loving presence in their memory is so strong it becomes a kind of living influence. Karin, played by the stunning Julia Dufvenius, is also the victim of the family dynamic and forms the important fourth in this saraband of life and fate.

164 out of 180 people found the following review useful:
A masterpiece of cinema art!, 24 March 2005

Can art transform life? If so, I would elect "The Best of Youth" as a primary candidate for that possibility.

Almost never in my over 60 years of film viewing have I been as deeply affected, haunted by characterizations, poetic dialog and brilliantly unexpected turns...and breadth of scope. The nuances of relationship between this case the Italian family Carati, their lovers, friends, wards...are so moving, so deeply portrayed and inhabited by the actors that I was not only moved to tears, but inspired. Here is a view of how human beings can live the humanity so desperately needed in this crazed and warring world...also presented as an integral part of plot and interaction...and this done without any sort of didactic or polemic foisting...All achieved through the intimate and profound struggles of the film's characters.

Imagination and the incredible sensibility of director (Marco Tullio Giordana),writers (Petraglia and Rulli) and actors (most outstanding: Luigi LoCacio, Alessio Boni, Adriana Asti and Jasmine Trinca) combine to offer a film that carried this participant (for that's what I felt) into a realm only experienced by exceptional literature.

As is obvious...I highly recommend seeing this movie.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A masterpiece that speaks to the soul., 28 February 2005

Although there have been some very eloquent comments already made about Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside), I feel compelled to add my few words to pay homage to this work of art.

This young director, Alejandro Amenabar, has created a film that has all the elements of a that will go down in cinema annals as a poetic masterpiece.

And what are these elements?...First, a moving and original screenplay, then great direction (including visually rich, emotional cinematography), and equally splendid performances...with the outstanding one given by Javier Bardem..and a beautiful score.

The particulars of the story have already been addressed both here and in the press. The basic line is of a quadriplegic who, after 28 years of bedridden confinement, opts to end his life...but comes up against church and state opposition. Those are the bare bones...but how those bones are fleshed out into a profound and sensitive paean to love, life and the human spirit is what constitutes the real genius of this film. Certainly, in my estimation, the finest in many, many years.

Do not miss it!!

Closer (2004/I)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A brilliant film, seen symbolically, 18 December 2004

"Closer" can, of course, be seen a movie (or play) about four vacuous people caught in a round robin of deceit and conquest. I choose not to view it that way...and I suspect, the author, Patrick Marber and the director, Mike Nichols had more in mind than mere surface.

To me the film is a brilliant depiction of the desire for power and control, masquerading as "love". that leads to manipulation and betrayal...symbolic of our prevailing society. Just think of the political scene, both in America and Britain...The parallels of the movie's theme and the lies and betrayals in each of our countries is astonishing.

Art is always meant to be seen on more than one is life itself...but too often we settle for what seems obvious and literal. The richness, as in this film's layers, can be lost. What a pity!

35 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Accurate and moving depiction of sad lives., 18 December 2004

Sadder than this very moving film are the reactions of those who found this movie boring or too "slow." What a comment on the need for car chases and explosions that seem so pervasive in American flicks!! One of the reason I prefer foreign films.

"Mr and Mrs Bridge" is an amazingly accurate depiction of upper middle class lives, caught in the trap of repression and respectability. To watch the fate of Mrs Bridge (exquisitely portrayed by Joanne Woodward) as a woman trapped in a marriage to an inexpressive, career-focused man is to understand how women, even today, can lead limited, unfulfilled lives, bound up with a decisive husband and children who grow into self-absorbed adults, leaving their mother with a longing they won't or can't assuage.

Seeing the character of Mr. Bridge (another outstanding performance by Paul Newman), himself caught in the routine of his life, his sexual yearnings repressed, convinced of his correctness and respectability is a picture of the rigidity of ideas, values and prejudices rampant in our society, even in our own time.

An amazing and insight movie!!

Vera Drake (2004)
A portrayal of innocent kindness by a consummate actress!, 24 October 2004

"Vera Drake" is a ten plus! An absolutely beautiful movie...perfect tone, perfect pace and a tour de force for Imelda Staunton, who plays the title character. By far the best Mike Leigh film I've seen! The way it slowly, quietly moves from the innocent, loving kindness of Vera's attitude and behavior to the chill and low-key stunner that breaks her heart and remarkable. I've rarely seen the like. Of course, it has the usual Mike Leigh contrasts of the fate of working class people with that of the rich...which in this case is very affecting. The profound emotional impact for me came with the sad evidence that well-meaning innocence and kindness are dangerous without a wise dose of caution and awareness of ultimate consequences. If Imelda Staunton doesn't win the Oscar for best actress,there is no justice! Don't miss this lovely film, no matter what the critics say!!

18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
The grace of transformation through relationship, 21 June 2004

What a rich and satisfying film this is! The complexity of lives interweaving, with a transformative impact is a rare experience in this medium.

Life is full of chance meetings...often ignored...but in this film it is pivotal. A young couple, having serious relational problems, come upon a dazed old man on the street. His entrance in their lives, his own dramatic life and the wife's (Giovanna's) ultimate connection to him serves as a link to her profound choices...First, to risk a sexual encounter with the handsome neighbor she's watched through her facing windows and second, to recognize that her discontent has been with herself, more than her loving husband. The complexity of the old man's life...his survival of a concentration up a beloved lover to save others...his success as a famous pastry chef...all contribute in a tangential way to Giovanna's transformation. The final scene is enormously moving and meaningful.

Don't miss this gem...if humanism, great performances and cinematic richness are important to you.

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