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Hard Candy (2005)
Suspenseful, electric, and riveting!!
Ellen Page was masterful at presenting herself as a naive young girl, while in reality being a conniving revenge seeker. Patrick Wilson is such a terrific actor. How can a man be so handsome and yet fully embody some of the most hateful characters in film? There's always something mysterious and captivating going on behind those blue eyes.
Wilson skillfully plays both predator and prey in this stunning film. His character is such a loathsome, manipulative monster -- but he has clearly misjudged the wily object of his intentions.
It's not easy for two actors to carry a movie by themselves, but Page and Wilson play off each other in such devious and malevolent ways, which makes for a riveting audience experience.
I agree with another reviewer that this is a masterpiece. I've never seen a movie by, for, and about women that was so powerful. The reviews for this film will probably come down along gender and/or religious lines. What I took away from this movie was the point that not all women want to have children and no amount of pressure from men, religion, family, or society can change that. When safe abortion was or is not available, many teenagers find themselves ill prepared physically, emotionally, or financially to care for a child since they are still children themselves. When illegal or haphazard abortion techniques are used, women die. So, it's important that children are expected and wanted. While it's very important that a child be loved, the person doing the nurturing doesn't have to be the mother.
The lead actress poignantly portrayed the type of despair that women feel when their lives are predetermined by pregnancy, men, relatives, religion, politics, or society. You don't have to live in a repressive regime like Bulgaria to be a woman under stress to become a mother. That can (and does) happen everywhere in the world. In most societies, women suffer scorn and social ostracism if they don't want to get married and have children. Mostly, women don't have access to education or opportunity to do anything other than marry and reproduce. The female body seems to be viewed more as function.
It was ironic that the Bulgarian politicos thought that a baby girl with no belly button was emblematic of the new age of communism. I wonder how they would have celebrated if it was a boy with no penis. Maybe that's a topic for another movie.
First and Only Review
I cannot find a single critic review or user review on this movie. The literal title comes with a colon instead of a dash (Goldman Sachs: The Bank That Runs the World). I did find this title in IMDb with the dash. I can't find a single review on Netflix either even though it was referred 192 times on instantwatcher.com and was #2 on that list. But no reviews -- not even the one I submitted yesterday -- shows up.
The revelations are jolting in this 2012 documentary. Unless these big banks are broken up and strictly regulated, a 1929-style depression is inevitable. Republicans rule and they hate regulations as much as they hate social programs, so no bank regulation or breakup while they're in power for the next 4 years.
Mary's Land (2013)
Lacks critical thinking or scientific insight
I never had any imaginary friends when I was young. Too late for me to adopt some now.
It's bewildering to me that so many people need and want to be told what to think. They will live their whole lives without any doubt about the fantasies and contradictions their faith poses.
And whose religion is the one true faith? The Catholics? The Muslims? The Sikhs? Hindus? Or is all of it so at odds with science that none are to believed? This movie was more of a play and the actors are advocates for one belief system that enthralls them to the point of hysteria.
Sunset Song (2015)
This movie is the most artistically excellent film I've ever seen. The frames in this movie could be stopped and transferred to oil on canvas and mounted in an art museum. The photography was flawless as were the performances.
(My one criticism was Ewan's total change of personality when he came home on furlough. You'd think he would be eager to be with his loving wife -- but he went off his head and raped her. Their idyllic life was torn apart.)
Also -- who was that twit in the pulpit pushing political coercion and calling young farmers "cowards" if they didn't enlist? So much for separation of church and state.
This movie was lovingly photographed. It made me want to move to Scotland.
Some time ago I watched the terrific French film "Ridicule." The French aristocracy's main form of entertainment was to fool someone in the "lower class" into joining their parties and, at first, let them think that they have been invited to the parties because of their wit and charm -- only to be humiliated, mocked, and scorned. Ridiculing someone was their ultimate pleasure. There have always been bullies.
This movie was well done, but I have no idea why Weiner would subject himself and his wife to this terrible humiliation. I blame him for wanting to do this. Maybe he thought it would help restore his political career. I fault myself for watching his fall from grace because I knew about his story already. It was morbid curiosity and I felt ashamed of myself. We Americans seem obsessed with famous people's personal lives.
Humiliation is a terrible experience. His name will be associated with his indiscretions for a long time. His wife and son are collateral damage. I feel sorry for that family and hope they heal. This feels like his last chance and he needs to get psychiatric help with his seeming need to destroy himself. Anthony is not a bad man. He made his political career the center of who he was. He liked the fame. The fall was long and steep.
A Group United by Love
The story is really about the individual members of this glorious team. Both the coach and each member of the team became better men as a result of their relationships with each other. ("with" is the operative word here.) I'm not a football fan and I'm an atheist, but this story of inspiration moved me. Racial unity is well-exemplified in this episode as the players got to know and care about each other. You get to meet these thoughtful men in the interviews.
After watching "The Gospel..." I watched a few more in "30 for 30" series and they are uniformly excellent. However, it's sobering to know that these gridiron heroes (plus boxers and racehorses) can end up with career- and life-ending injuries.
These finely directed documentaries primarily feature the glory of the games/contests/races. It focuses on the "moments of greatness." In this episode's interviews with the retired "Buffs", you will laugh right along with the players as they reminisce about the good (and bad) times. It's a trip.
The Lobster (2015)
One of Two
I ordered two DVDs this week: "High Rise" and "The Lobster." In a miracle coincidence, they both ended up (it was a tie) as the worst movies I have ever seen. I have seen thousands of movies over my long life and these two movies challenge my brain to find the most fair but critical terms I could use: "awful" is true; "stupid" is true; but "insipid" and "pretentious" are the most specific and accurate.
No amount of money should have been enough for Farrell and Hiddlelston to do these movies. (Although Hiddleston has done some cheesy stuff, e.g., "The Avengers." Colin gave some ridiculous testimonial about the uniqueness of the script and the directors' genius.
Both movies stink. You've been warned.
The Night Of (2016)
Wow -- What Great Filmmaking!
It's rare to see something so terrific -- the actors are uniformly brilliant, the direction so intricate, and the story so mesmerizing. I am a big fan of Paul Sparks ("House of Cards"), who is featured in this series. Turturro gives his best work ever. The writing is the best I've seen in years.
I promise that if you watch the first two episodes, you will be hooked. I have only re-watched a few movies in my lifetime (e.g., "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Man Who Would be King"), but I find myself re-watching every episode of this series to catch all the nuances and specific performances. Jeannie Berlin is a revelation. And the MUSIC is SO good!
The best movies are those that transport you to the time and place in which the characters reside. As in a dream, you are THERE while everything is going on, feeling lost, working against the odds to get somewhere safe. You will experience what it was like for Naz, Stone, the parents, Freddy, and even the jurors.
Riz Ahmed, the British actor, is terrific in the lead role. Michael K. Williams is predictably brilliant in his sinister, charismatic role as the Rikers prison boss. I can't imagine who in the cast has not submitted an award-winning performance here. I would give this series a 20 or 80 or 100 if that were possible. A perfect 10 is all I'm allowed.
This series should be an Emmy-winning sweep for everyone involved.
O.J.: Made in America (2016)
I Don't Get Jeffrey Toobin
This is a terrific documentary of OJ Simpson's life and especially his trial. The one thing that stuck in my craw was Jeffrey Toobin's role in the trial. I had respected Toobin and his legal insight -- but what was he doing delving into Fuhrman's past to find some dirt on him before the trial -- helping the defense team divert the trial from Simpson and making it about Furhman's use of derogatory terms. There;s a huge difference between slaughtering two people and name calling.
Toobin, after aiding the defense, made a name for himself on cable programs by being an "insider" in the trial. I think it's another case of sleazy self-promotion by Toobin and the other losers who exploited this trial. Why weren't jurors picked from Simpson's peers, his neighbors in the area where he lived? That's the normal way that jurors are selected. Simpson didn't live in downtown LA.
Anyway, this movie is so well done. I think it's going to win a lot of awards -- and deservedly so. I was riveted throughout the 5 episodes. Like "The Making of a Murderer," this film, with all the additional footage of Simpson's life and career, provides a multi-level perspective on a man with two sides: (1) the jovial, friendly personality and (2) the dark rage=filled side.
I highly recommend this top-quality production: the camera work, music, interviews, and new footage make this a must-see for the discriminating movie buff who appreciates quality story telling.