Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Light comedy that touches all the bases
Interesting combo of send-up and genuine entertainment. For example, there are two production numbers that are exaggerated, but not in a way that diminishes the original genres that they were derived from. Instead they are updated, and watchable.
It's not a weighty movie -- just a lightweight look at a bygone era, and the things that happen when movies are being made, with familiar faces (although I challenge you to spot Frances McDormand) and funny jokes. I don't know what anyone else is saying about Channing Tatum, but I really liked his performance. And this guy Alden Ehrenreich -- whoa! He is just great. He has a gift for comedy and movie star good looks, and his character is *earnest* -- and likable. He is fun to watch. The secretary to Eddie Mannix, the studio head (presumably named after notorious MGM fixer Eddie Mannix) is a prominent character and she is compelling - she steals every scene, I think: Heather Goldenhersh! Today she'd be a producer, and I think the movie makers are making a poignant statement with her character.
Lots of cameos: "Newman" from "Seinfeld,: David Krumholtz, Alison Pill from "Newsroom," the stand-up comic from "Mad Men" -- really fun seeing so many familiar faces in unfamiliar roles.
I saw it in preview at Cinemark Egyptian in Hanover Maryland. I can't wait till it opens so I can see it again.
Approaching the Elephant (2014)
Audience at Maryland Film Festival loved this film
Saw this at Maryland Film Festival and it was received very well.
It's a documentary about a free school in New Jersey. The film maker and the sort of main character (the director of the free school, Alex) presented the film, which was shot in 2007 and 2008, at the Festival.
The movie follows a group of kids who are the first students of this new free school. Without giving anything away, there is much conflict that arises around a couple of kids, especially one particular child -- if you watch the movie, you'll probably have a pretty good idea of which kid is going to be at the center of the conflict pretty much from the beginning. There is also one child who takes charge of the situation in a way that I think most adults would not be capable of. The children, given huge amounts of autonomy, behave in various admirable and not-so-admirable ways.
What stands out in this documentary is the ability of the director, who operated the camera, to seemingly always know where to point the camera. Of course, the viewer doesn't know what events were missed, but what was captured is woven together into an fascinating narrative, complete with an amazing climax.
I was a homemaker and homeschool parent from about 1987 - 2000 -- I worked with lots of homeschoolers (mainly unschoolers) and much of what is presented in "Approaching the Elephant" was familiar to me - the balance between allowing the children autonomy and self-direction on the one hand, and creating chaos and child tyrants on the other.
Luckily for the filmmaker, although not necessarily for the students and the administrator of the school, there were lots of interesting things going on at this place.
This film is utterly absorbing, and there's never a dull moment.
Wild Canaries (2014)
Liked it a lot
Every once in a while you see a gem at Maryland Film Festival. This picture is a gem.
I'm giving them an extra point or two for being young filmmakers. Really good tho. A dream of a screenplay, with several events taken from the filmmakers' lives -- Lawrence Michael Levine wrote and directed, and plays the male lead. His real-life wife, Sophia Takal, co-stars. Ms Takal's dream of resurrecting a casino, which Mr Levine thought was a bad idea in real life, recurs in the film, and the mysterious wild canaries of the title appear at the casino.
This is a screwball murder mystery a la The Thin Man. Levine and Takal are also big Colombo fans, and Colombo's trench coat makes an appearance.
A very hip comedy, with great jokes and payoffs (a running gag about who should drive the car pays off hilariously), along with expert physical comedy. Funny and endearing. Nick and Nora would be proud.
Take Shelter (2011)
Excellent in all regards
Saw this yesterday at Cinema Sundays at the Charles in Baltimore.... Masterful. Wonderful appearances by Katy Mixon ("Eastbound and Down"), Kathy Baker and Lisa Gay Hamilton. Michael Shannon is compelling, and Jessica Chastain is simply wonderful. Shea Whigham is fantastic as Curtis's work buddy; the dialogue between those two at work is hyper-real. The entire film feels like a slice of reality -- excellent casting, dialogue, and production design no doubt account for this.
The host of CSC said he enjoyed the score -- can't wait to see it again so I can hear the score. It certainly worked on me, even if I "heard" only a little of it.
The little girl who plays the deaf daughter, Tova Stewart, centers the picture -- it wouldn't have worked without her, and with her it works -- man, does it work. Much of what I've seen and heard in the real world since watching it has reminded me of the film. Not easy to watch, but very rewarding
We didn't stay till the end
My wife and I saw this as a revival at the Charles Theater in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Katherine Hepburn, Technicolor, good reputation -- how can you lose, right? About an hour in, at the time when Rosano Brazzi had come to the pensione and K Hepburn was being absolutely obnoxious to him, I gave a big sigh, and Mary asked if I was ready to leave. I said only if she was -- "I'm ready," she said.
What a stupid movie! She was acting the way no one acts, then, now, or ever. Comparing it to "Roman Holiday," well, there's no comparison. "RH" is a delight -- this is a look inside the mind of a very disturbed person who, if she ever did hook up with a man, would make his life miserable until he found a way to escape her.
Comparing it to "Miss Potter," the seduction scene in "MP" is actually very sexy -- Renee Zellwegger shows us a woman who hadn't realized she had sexual urges until, suddenly, everything comes rushing in and she realizes she's not only in love, she's EXCITED.
I did not see the whole thing, but that's because the whole thing wasn't worth my time to wait for. I would have stayed if the Long-suffering Mrs hadn't been ready to leave too.
Wow -- should have seen "City Island" again!
Fish Tank (2009)
Writing, directing, and acting
"Fish Tank" is about Mia, a 15-year old girl who lives with her younger sister and their mother in low-income housing in Essex, near London, England.
Mia, played by Katie Jarvis, who was 17 at the time the film was shot, is on the way to a worse life than she already has lived. She is being kicked out of school, her hair-trigger temper and violent behavior have alienated her from her friends, and she has a hate-hate relationship with her mother.
Into Mia's life comes her mom's new "friend," Connor (Michael Fassbender). Connor is ruggedly good looking, and he's actually nice to the girls, something they're not used to.
Connor's presence in Mia's life changes her in many ways, some of them good.
Katie Jarvis had no experience as an actor prior to her being chosen by director Andrea Arnold ("Red Road") -- in fact, Arnold "discovered" Jarvis when she saw her loudly arguing with her boyfriend at a train station. In 2008 she was an unemployed school dropout. In 2009 she was nominated for Best Actress by the British Independent Film Association (she didn't get it, but did win "Most Promising Newcomer.") Katie Jarvis's performance is a delight (although her character and the film's plot are anything but delightful). Her ability to display complex sets of emotions on her face is simply phenomenal, especially given her lack of acting experience.
Comic relief comes in the form of 12-year old Rebecca Griffiths,a wonderful little clown who plays little sister Tyler. Hers is a brave performance, alternately hilarious and moving.
This movie is a dark and frightening look at a life on the edge of destruction. It is violent and mostly pessimistic. It is profane and disturbing, but it is not without hope.
Happy Tears (2009)
Saw this at Cinema Sundays at the Charles here in Baltimore.
The audience liked it a lot, from their reactions during the film and also at the Q&A. Parker Posey and Demi Moore play two sisters who are faced with taking care of their father in the house where they grew up. Their father, played by Rip Torn, is becoming less and less compos mentis. Not forgetting the wonderful Ellen Barkin, who brings humanity to the role of Shelley, a woman who has reached bottom.
The movie has some pretty trippy sections, a fair amount of things that make you not so sure what's supposed to be happening in the movie's reality, and what's just happening in the head of one of the characters.
It's primarily a good-natured comedy about people and how they get along. It's very funny, with some subtle and unexpected laughs. I can't wait for this to be shown in a local theater so I can see it again.
The Guild: Wake Up Call (2007)
Well, I'm in love with this web series. I have watched the first season in, like, an evening, on Youtube, and now I'm hungry for more. According to IMDb there are more made, but I can't find them yet. It's about people who are members of an on-line gaming "guild" who begin to interact face-to-face.
Felicia Day, who is "Penny from the Laundry" in "Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog", writes the episodes -- very imaginative and funny. Greg Benson directs some of the eps, while Kim Evey produces -- they of "Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show." It was supported by a Pay Pal button when it started. I think that's great!
The characters are funny and appealing: they've found some really interesting people to play the slightly over-the-top characters. THere's a running joke in which Clara ("real name: Clara") neglects her children because she's too busy gaming on line. Vork, Zaboo, and Codex (Felicia Day) do improv in L.A. The rest were cast through casting calls. Search for "The Guild" on Youtube and you'll find it. Enjoy!
Brick Lane (2007)
I couldn't understand what anyone was saying
I thought the movie was okay, what I could understand of it.
It is based on a novel, which I haven't read, so I don't know how much of the corniness of I-used-to-be-happy-but-now-Im'-SO-sad motif comes from the novel and how much comes from the filmmaker. But I was plenty sick of seeing this young woman wallowing around in her own self pity, scene after scene. We get it already -- she's unhappy! Good grief.
But my main complaint is that, while I understood all the Bengali (I presume) dialogue, I understood only a little of the English dialogue, because the former was given subtitles and the latter was not. Partly the sound quality, partly the fact that the characters were speaking very heavily accented English -- some of the most pivotal lines, which I was leaning forward to hear, turned out to be gibberish. Very frustrating. This movie needs subtitles throughOUT. Without them, in the auditorium where I saw it anyway (Cinema Sundays at the Charles in Baltimore), nobody knew what they were saying! I'd know more how I felt about the movie if I knew what the people were saying. I did enjoy the older daughter though. I've had one of those, and it rang true!
The Singing Revolution (2006)
Times like this I wish there were a number above 10
I'm pretty generous with films which I like -- if I'm really enjoying something, I'll usually give it a 10. Some people save 10 for that rare film that comes along every couple of years, and I wish I did that, so I could bestow a rare 10 on this film. But, 10 is as high as it goes.
I saw it at Cinema Sundays at the Charles, here in Baltimore. As the director, who presented the film, said about persuading people to see the movie, "Let's see, it's a film about a singing revolution in Estonia, what shall we do instead?" But, he said, once people see it they love it. Certainly we did -- there was applause for two-thirds of the credits, and then a long, partially standing, ovation for the director after the credits were over.
The film opens with history -- the Soviet occupation of Estonia under Stalin, then the Nazi occupation, then after that the Soviets again.
Then it goes to the present day -- a man is conducting what seems to be a chorus of thousands of people, of all ages, in a song -- the subtitles tell you it's a patriotic song. The shots of the faces of the singers and the audience are warm and moving -- most of the people are smiling --some in the audience are holding back tears. The physical beauty of the people and the setting, combined with the welling voices and harmonies, are powerful, entrancing.
The movie then describes, through incredible archival footage combined with interviews with people who participated on various sides, Estonia's use of song and non-violence to precipitate the downfall of the Soviet Union.
This is a story and a half -- and it's much more powerful because you know, incredibly, it really happened. This is a story of people who, after thousands of years on the land, were occupied by Germany in the 1200s and were essential serfs for 600 years. In 1869 their awakening nationalism led to the first singing festival (Laulupidu).
In 1918 the country declared independence, but after about 20 years the land was again occupied, this time by Bolsheviks. The land was then briefly occupied by Nazi Germany, and then became part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
In 1947, the Singing Festival was reborn. To mark the occasion, a composer wrote a tune for a patriotic poem, which translates as "Land of my fathers, land that I love" in English, and it became a musical symbol of the desire for independence of the Estonian people. But in 1969, the 100th anniversary of the singing festival, the Soviets forbade the singing of "Land of my fathers." Nevertheless, the choir, having sung their Soviet songs, refused to leave the stage, and 20,000 audience members began singing "Land of my fathers" in defiance of the authorities. Eventually the Soviets allowed the song's composer onto the stage to conduct the song, as though it was their idea all along.
That act of defiance -- that singing of a song -- marked the start of a non-violent revolution which brought independence to Estonia and led directly to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The movie details the various times when things could have gone wrong -- the times when the Estonians might have gone too far and precipitated a bloodbath. But, through a combination of bravery and a stubborn refusal either to back down or provoke, Estonian nationalists created a unique revolution -- the Singing Revolution.
This is a gorgeous story -- a story of persistence, bravery, sacrifice. This is a movie which will appeal to the Left and the Right. It's a movie which makes a case for nationalism. It's a movie which will inspire you.