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Ex Machina (2015)
With acting this good, the reviews are irrelevant
Another summer, another lengthy period of over blown movies. Then there is this. A simple film, shot on one location and a very simple premise revolving around the question of the proof of true artificial intelligence. What the reviewers here don't seem to be reflecting is the fact that the film is not really about AI but about technology itself. And it paints a very dark picture of the outcome of a society like ours where we have become so isolated and swallowed by digital mechanization, that we can no longer unplug our phones and even speak to those of us around us. We are the robots, and we are the isolated people in cold and empty rooms. The key to this analogy, is when the young person chosen to test AI suddenly cuts himself to see if he is robotic himself. Yes, we have created a god like software that seems to know everything. But have we lost our humanity? And will we ever regain the connection with the earth, before this very same science destroys the nature we depend on? Stay tuned.
One of the greatest music movies ever
This could be rated one of the greatest music movies of all time. There has never been anything like it, and there may never be another any time soon. It seems there are a lot of films being made, but it is getting harder and harder to see many of them. Film makers get funding, and then are in no rush to start showings. There are special screenings and small to huge film festivals, but following all of it is pretty much impossible. So your chance of actually seeing this film are quite small. Never the less, I was luck to see a special screening and I am writing this to alert anyone who reads it that this is an unbelievable film. It portrays genius as it happens. Good luck finding it!
Blue Jasmine (2013)
no there there
Woody may have once been a comedian, but he now has produced one of the most depressing movies in years. Even Cate Blanchett cannot save this derivative, dark and pointless study in modern melt downs a la Bernie Madoff. He also makes the ultimate cardinal sin of modern film making; letting the geography completely contradict the action and tone of the film. What is left is an emotional jumble that never lets the audience breathe. And the ultimate problem is that Woody just has not only lost his sense of place, but the characters do not work when the emotional drift is all down hill. Woody, San Francisco may not be your cup of tea, but as a back drop, it is not New Orleans. If you are going to do Streetcar Named Desire, you have to be able to show a little more of real emotion, and realistic doom and despair. This film is an idea that was never worked out. Because the real tragedy here is the film itself, not the plot.
Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)
the best music movie in years! Why the media ignores this kind of film
If this film is not an example of what gets buried in our overloaded information society, I don't know what is. So here it goes--this is the film of the year on my list. But of course I am a music fanatic who always wondered about the role of background singers in the great rock bands. This movie answers that, and much more. Because as the film reveals, reading between the frames, the entire era of big production rock bands is probably over. That is news you will not find on the cover of Rolling Stone, but as the movie makes abundantly clear, the huge wave of rock has crashed on the shore and this movie is just one small piece of the music disaster. The film itself follows the careers of a number of anonymous and almost famous background singers, and their experiences are glamorous, thrilling and ultimately tragic. The one singer who rises from the fray is the fabulous Darlene Love. This is one film where walking out during the credits is a big mistake. The segments of the film with Mick Jagger are worth the entire price of admission. One last thought, try to see this film in a theater with a full house. I can't reveal all of it, but bring some tissue and remember that those days were sweet. And the memories are even sweeter. Why does the media ignore this kind of movie? It just is not a summer block buster advertising with full page ads,
The East (2013)
a stunning film that grows on you-it is a summer burner do not miss it!
Without going into a lot of detail, this is the perfect movie for a summer day. And it just keeps on growing on you. The fact that there is another movie on this topic waiting to be made, well, that is often the case. The really exciting part of this is that Britt is not, drum roll, a star, but now she is. It can always be said that a film that is a stunning star vehicle for an actress, well, that only seems to come along every few years. And this ranks right at the top of those. Britt is not only beautiful and charismatic, but she obviously has a deep intelligence and creativity that is a perfect mix for this day and age. I say -rush out a see this, do not read about it, and try to remember one thing, great actresses are like great bottles of wine, they get better and better for a long time. Looking at what is coming for her, she is already very busy. And the fact that she hit this out of the park, is a great career lift off. Brit, this is your time.
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
A genuine American masterpiece-and a film that gives us hope
For the word masterpiece to mean anything, it has to be used selectively. But I believe I have just a movie that reaches into that category. For one thing, there just has not been a recent movie or any movie since American Beauty that has reached so deeply into the spirit of a broken, violent and twisted country like ours. And this film rips away any pretense of making things look better than they do. At the same time each scene is filled with emotion. The acting. direction, camera work and screen writing is all to notch. But beyond all of this, is a tale that rings so very true on every level.
I will write more, but for now. please do not miss this. We may have a damaged and tragic country. But the genius of great art can heal us all. This film is certainly proof of that.
Bel Ami (2012)
Are you missing a movie that is beyond critics?
I must say that I am astonished at all of the negativity in the reviews on this site. I say do not listen to any of it. I have a theory of the immune film, that is an entertainment (remember that idea?) that is so delicious, that it is only understandable by those at the supper. Film goers that are spending their money to hate and despise the majority of movies they see are not to be trusted. So you are choosing what to do on a Friday night and have many choices. One of those is to spend a little time with three of the most wonderful actresses in the world. Hmm, I can sit home, watch television (ughh) or watch what is to this viewer a rather divine, wonderful and original (to a degree) work of art. Now to enjoy this, you have to be the kind of viewer that can accept the Hollywood conventions of romantic movie, that are now quite out of date and reached their peak in the 1920's, 30's and 40's. And in the spirit of true romantic film going, you have to be the kind of viewer that is capable of falling in love. That's right, feeling a romantic and emotional link with the actors is REQUIRED. That said, with these requirements, you will not be disappointed. Because beyond the romance, this movie presents a sad and very painful truth of modern love, and that is the cold fact that there are elements of life that can crush our most loving dreams. So I say, sit back and give yourself to an experience that your mother's and hopefully, fathers had. They could watch the sirens of old present dramas that were not real, but were oh so true. And when you have three actresses this beautiful, passionate, and good, I say fall in love. It won't hurt, but you may leave with one piece of doubt, is love possible in a world where everything else seems to count for so much more?
House of Games (1987)
This is a brilliant summary of the very essence of the modern world in one killer film
This is very nearly a perfect film. The ideas would be repeated by Mamet, but never told so succinctly. This is really about the failure of trust, of the human condition. The film weaves the idea that we are all criminals, no one is innocent. Is there anyone alive today who hasn't seen this play out in our own society, every single day? The film is very much structured like a Hitchcock thriller. Except, there are no more innocent characters. The world is now completely polluted, ruined and everyone is participating in the con. Could anything be more true?
Don't miss the soundtrack. It is wonderful.
El cantante (2006)
A music movie that is not perfect, but a must for music fans
Sure, this movie is not perfect. But the fact that it is a snap shot of the glorious high point of SALSA, makes it something special. The story is sad and clichéd, but the excitement of seeing Mark Anthony on the screen is real. Jennifer adds pathos, and really does quite well as the framer of the plot. But the movie wouldn't have been made with Mark Anthony as the center of the film. Then it would have been a concert movie, not a dramatic work. He is a stunning and unbelievable musical talent, and the form of the film is a classic one, where a great singer gets to make a movie. If you compare it to all the other films where this was done (think Elvis), this film far surpasses all of them. But the whole point of the movie is Mr. Anthony's dream,,,to show how a wonderful moment in musical history unfolded and sadly came to an end. This is a story beyond the life of Hector, and one that is classic in illustrating the rise and fall of popular music and culture. The great artists in our pop culture only have a short life before they are destroyed by a society and media that eats its young. If you love music, Latin culture, and reliving the 70's and 80's, this is a movie you will not soon forget. Viva!
The Rape of Europa (2006)
A very powerful documentary that shows how the movie theater is a social force
As everyone in America retreats to their suburban mansions and the computer screens, it is a great experience to go out to the movies and see a film of real social import. If you love history and art, like I do, you certainly do not want to miss this film. The brutal effects of Nazi destruction never goes away, it keeps on coming, like a nightmare from the 20th century that we are all dreaming about. This film demonstrates the innate power of art. It shows, through a deep examination of the looting of Europe's treasures, what these works really meant to the countries who had them. And it reveals the utterly strange connection between the life of Hitler, failed art student, and the hellish destruction he unleashed on the world. In this season of filmic dreck at the mall, this strong documentary is definitely worth seeking out.