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Wuthering Heights (2011)
Finally! If you've read the book, watch this!!!
This is the first adaptation I've yet seen which actually captures the true feeling of the novel. I haven't seen all of the movies, so I may be wrong, but everything I've seen so far has portrayed Catherine and Heathcliff as completely sympathetic characters, and I'm just not OK with that, considering there are so many Heathcliff groupies out there.
While I was reading the book several years ago, the involuntary expression on my face was the same as the one on Colin Farrel's face in "In Bruges" when he's viewing the medieval paintings depicting torture scenes: an expression of unprepared revulsion.
This film is brilliant in a million ways, particularly its direction and cinematography, but it's especially brilliant in that it shows in an extremely visceral way (beware of animal cruelty images!) how very messed up these people in the story are.
A Uniquely Endearing Film
I happened upon this DVD at the library, and because I love watching movies I've never seen which also have strange titles, I checked it out. After watching it a couple of times, I've decided to buy it!
"Smiling Fish & Goat on Fire" will definitely not appeal to everyone. It's a quiet little story about relationships, both romantic and brotherly, and "coming of age" (funny, I never knew what that term meant until seeing this film).
I hadn't ever heard of the Martini brothers, nor Kevin Jordan or Bill Henderson for that matter, and I probably never would have were it not for the lucky happenstance at the library. This film is genuinely charming, thanks in no small part to the actors and the screenplay. Not your basic Hollywood romantic comedy in the least (and I'm not averse to those), "Smiling Fish..." is in full possession of its own self. Bravo all around! Anyone who comes from a close two-sibling-of-the-same-sex family will probably love this film, as well as anyone who enjoys a touching "slice-of-life" story with much originality, and even more heart. Funny, unique, and sweet!!!
Io non ho paura (2003)
A work of art in every sense
I just happened upon "I'm Not Scared" at the library. I'd seen the preview several times through the years, thought it looked good, and never came across it 'til today. I'm so glad I finally did!
This is a truly beautiful film, from the stunning cinematography all the way to the very emotional story of two young boys meeting under extraordinary (and scary) circumstances. The acting was fantastic, particularly the young protagonist played by Giuseppe Christiano.
It's almost like a crime thriller told in story-book-speak. Pretty understandable since it's seen and told through the eyes of children.
Absolutely brilliant and unique! I can't BELIEVE this escaped Oscar notice!!!
Burn After Reading (2008)
Dang I love the Coen brothers!
This movie is hilarious however many ways you slice it! Yeah, it's short, and not so very substantive, but it embodies the wonderful brilliance, silliness, and continuing originality that I've come to love from these wacky sibling film-makers (I love it so much that they're brothers!).
The actors are all at their best--each and every one of them! Gotta give a shout-out to Brad Pitt--Dude, I didn't know you had it in you! Bravo sir.
This is one of my favorite Coen brothers' movies. Very well done boys!!!
Bernard and Doris (2006)
A Sadly Beautiful Character Study
This is a fantastic movie. I don't know thing one about the life and death of Doris Duke, and as it says in the beginning credits: "Some of this film is based on facts...Some of it isn't." What writer Hugh Costello, director Bob Balaban, actors Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes have come up with here is sheer brilliance. Two troubled people who come together, almost accidentally, only to find that each of their unique psychological troubles meshes extremely well with the other's. Yes, it's a story about "enabling" and "codependence", but it's also a story of the power of friendship and loyalty (no matter how sadly unhealthy it might be for both parties involved). I can't say enough good things about the performances of both Sarandon & Fiennes, not to mention all the other actors, and the director, cinematographer, etc... But I must say, the writing is paritcularly effective. The story of these two people's intertwining lives comes off as so true, so kind-of tragic, and so compelling, that I will never forget this film. Bravo!!!
The Onion Movie (2008)
Monty Python, American Style
This movie possesses that rarest of combinations: utter brilliance and unbridled stupidity. Obviously, nothing can compare to Monty Python's Flying Circus, but The Onion Movie's creators were plainly big fans of that show, and succeeded in delivering "something completely different".
While this movie is chock full of current-societal satire (which Python never was), it uses the clever segues to new scenes, the reappearance of characters you'd just about forgotten, and the absolute Absurdity (it has to be capitalized!) that those wonderful Brits mastered decades ago.
The Onion Movie is not a regular movie. If you insist on plot, and/or are easily offended, this movie is not for you. But if you're in the mood for laughing about cultural stereotypes, or people with enough humor to parody themselves (you rock Steven Seagal!), or just enjoying the ride through countless ridiculously silly situations (God bless you, Armed Gunman), you might want to take a peek at The Onion Movie.
Do you have the balls?
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Things that make you go awwwww!
Sweet. Sweet. Utterly sweet.
I rented this movie thinking it would be an original, offbeat comedy, which it is, in a way. What I wasn't prepared for was how deeply, almost heartbreakingly, moving an experience "Lars and the Real Girl" is. Wow! It's the story of a lonely, emotionally traumatized, young man who discovers happiness (sort of) with his new girlfriend, the life-sized, anatomically-correct doll Bianca...and it's also so much more.
Warm, fuzzy feelings abound as the small-town community comes to embrace Lars and Bianca, all in an effort to help this sweet, wounded soul. Ryan Gosling plays this character beautifully (which is no surprise, considering his amazing performances in his other films. I'm totally in love with him!). The whole rest of the cast, and Emily Mortimer especially, delivers big time as well.
If you're at all down in the dumps, or feeling disillusioned about your fellow humans, check out "Lars and the Real Girl". It'll restore your faith in humanity, and, assuming you have a pulse and aren't completely evil, maybe even make you go "Awwwww".
He Was a Quiet Man (2007)
"He Was a Quiet Man" is perhaps the most original and unpredictable movie I've ever seen. If you're looking for something "normal", you should probably look elsewhere.
A story of an extremely lonely, put-upon, disturbed man who desperately wants to be Somebody. Christian Slater plays this man absolutely brilliantly. In watching his performance, I kept thinking "Where is Christian Slater?" ... Well, he's not even in the neighborhood. Well done, guy!
The direction is absolutely amazing: colorful, imaginative, darkly funny, and surreal. Cubicles, and hummingbirds, and talking fish, oh my!
While the film is not particularly emotionally satisfying (to say the least), on the cerebral and aesthetic level, it delivers big time.
"He Was a Quiet Man" answers the musical question: "Now maniacs will think twice before going crazy."
No Country for Old Men (2007)
I only just saw this movie on DVD, well after the Oscars, but my (belated) response is an unequivocal "Wow!". "No Country For Old Men" is like a slow, hypnotic, completely mesmerizing "Pulp Fiction". I was glued to the screen the entire time. It's like something Quentin Tarantino would create if he were on quaaludes and mushrooms combined. I'm a huge fan of the Coen Brothers ("The Big Lewbowski", "Raising Arizona", "Fargo", and "Intolerable Cruelty" are among my all-time favorites), and I'm thrilled they finally got their shining moment with this completely brilliantly conceived film! I'm not normally a fan of westerns, and how very slowly they usually seem to pan out, but this movie used every possible slow-moving scene to up the adrenaline one (or two, or three, or ten) more notch(es). Not to be overlooked was the ethical stance the movie took. The title itself bespoke what is a major problem in the world today: socio/psychopaths, and their unerring tendency to breed... With all these ultra-creepy, conscious-less people being born indiscriminately, it's no wonder this may end up "no country for old men"... Old men who actually have a sense of ethics and fair play. Old men who actually CARE. Wow! Great job boys!!!
Martian Child (2007)
Yay For The Outsiders!
HELLO! SPOILERS APLENTY! The first time I saw this film, I enjoyed all the clever comedy and the warmth of the story. I felt a little teased, though, to find out that the boy wasn't, in fact, from Mars. That would have been so perfect, and meaningful too! BUT, I watched the DVD extras, and discovered that "Martian Child" was actually based on a true story (not 100%, but with creative license).
SO, I watched the movie again, and was completely charmed. It's a story of someone who truly, conscientiously, wants to be a parent, rather than someone who simply has children without even thinking about how their children's' psyches will end up years from now.
I wish more people would see this movie...It would certainly benefit mankind! Despite the first-viewing tease, I think "Martian Child" has a great deal to offer. I totally recommend it!