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Death Becomes Her (1992)
"Death Becomes Her" is over 20 years old but I bet it took a potion to remain splendorous for ever. Everything ages, even special effects but the elegance and wit of most of the dialog remains fresh and brisk. "I wasn't the sort of girl who could say the word sexual without blushing" tells Goldie to poor, emasculated Bruce - What happens to Bruce's face is just brilliant. He can't believe it. He is excited and terrified at the same time. A new DVD blue ray edition is overdue, with lots of extra features, please. Why haven't we seen more work like this? I'm a great fan of Martin Donovan and David Koepp, the writers, and this was their second and last collaboration. Koepp went on to write Jurassic Park and Mission Impossible and directed the delightful Ghost Town and Premiun Rush. Martin Donovan does extraordinary work with actors at Playhouse West and the Director's Playhouse of Los Angeles. I sat at three of his sessions and I left inspired and breathless. I asked him about "Death Becomes Her" and our exchange will be posted in his Message Boards here on IMDb. It made me want to see the film again, immediately.
The Tillman Story (2010)
Lies My Government Told Me
How appalling and at the same time, how inspiring. Thank God for the Tillman's, even if God doesn't come in into their equation, their life is a model of integrity. Pat Tillman married his high school sweetheart. She was her first and only girlfriend. Always loyal to her as he was loyal to us, to his country, to his believes. Next to him, the government appears as a sleazy bunch, corroding our standards. Films like this make sure we keep our eyes open. The sobbing in the movie theater where I saw the film made me feel very American because we now know and knowledge is power. We won't let this horrors happen again. We can'TV allow it. The world is looking at us.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
The Freudian Pizza
Two moments have stayed with me, one in particular: Javier Bardem crying as he says goodbye to his 19 year old son. The moment provokes a reaction on Julia Roberts's character that makes her totally human. The moment comes on the last third of the film so I thought it was a bit too late to start my relationship with her. The other moment happens at the beginning after she decides to walk away from her marriage and realizes she has broken her husband's heart. Terrific Billy Crudup fighting back tears as the elevator door closes. I love Julia Roberts but I can't quite buy her "philosophical face" 42 years of age in the new millennium is far too young for that kind of crisis, specially when the crisis is provoked by something missing in her. So, okay, a journey of discovery, but then...? The discovery is that she knew it all along. What next. I must say the guys in the movie get the prize, third price really. The first price goes to the location, second price to the food - goodness, the food! - and third to the guys. Bardem fantastic, Richard Jenkins superb - Billy Crudup surprisingly real, James Franco also great and Luca Argentero another plus.
Oh Bruno, Bruno...
I laughed until it ached. I was exhausted after the 80 odd minutes were over but didn't stay with me the way that Borat did. Borat was unquestionably fresher - if you can call it that - the horrible surprise was a one off situation. Bruno is a priceless creation but somehow the pranks are already part of the audience's expectation. A talking penis or Ron Paul trapped in a sex film are things we're not about to see anywhere else anytime soon and that's were the power of this new Sacha Baron Cohen shocking, hilarious opus resides. He is an irresistible, shameless, fearless genius. He knows exactly where the corpses are buried and he digs them up in the most unexpected way. The charity girls, the army guys, Paula Abdul sitting on a Mexican worker. Awful and very funny, very funny indeed.
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
A Brilliant And Courageous Departure For Jim Carrey
A packed screening at the Sunset 5 in Hollywood. The audience rewarded it with a heartfelt applause and me among them. A stunning surprise. The film starts by telling us the story is true, really, really true and that adds to the already enormous surprise. A con man in the vein of Leonardo Di Caprio in "Catch Me As You Can" that deep down is overwhelmingly honest. After years of being a wonderful father and husband he confesses to his wife that he's gay. He remains friends and close to his family. Ends up in jail and meets the love of his life. The love story between Jim Carrey and the astonishing Ewan McGregor is a first for the screen. Miles away from the wonderful Brokeback Mountain because here their love is public without borders. I totally believe in the flame that both of them ignite looking into each other's eyes. It is so intimate and real that I realized I had never seen it quite like this on the screen before. The fact that this film couldn't get a distribution is beyond me. I'm certain it's going to be one of the hits of 2009 and Jim Carrey as well as Ewan McGregor will get Oscar nominations. I saw the film on the 8th, 4 days ago and I've been craving to see it again ever since. Look at McGregor's face when he realizes this man really loves him. The tenderness is nothing short of breathtaking. As if all of the above wasn't enough "I Love You Phillip Morris" is hysterically funny. Highly and warmly recommended.
The Re-Awakening Of The Giant
Enthralling, captivating. Buenos Aires, maybe? Black and White scope mostly, the limpid soul and devastating smile of Alden Ehrenreich. Coppola enjoys his freedom and so do we. At the base of it all, a juicy melodrama but the master flies over it with a tireless, youthful zest. Vincent Gallo seem a bit of an odd choice to play the title role and in fact I just found out that Matt Dillon was supposed to have played it. It certainly would have added up the romanticism and the sensuality that runs through it but, never mind. Alden Ehrenreich as Bennie is, quite simply, fantastic. Maribel Verdu another stand out as Tetro's loving if long suffering companion. Karl Maria Brandauer is horribly perfect, a character that emanates the kind of debauchery fame and rotten ego can provide. "There is room for just one genius in this family" I saw the film last night and it hasn't left me for a moment. I can't wait to see it again.
The Failed Plot Against Tom Cruise
I'm appalled at the way the specialized and not so specialized media attacked Tom Cruise for this movie. Why? He's not just good but very good in his against type performance. I've heard critics calling him "distractingly bad", how ridiculous and nasty. The film by the great craftsman Bryan Singer is a suspenseful, beautifully made historical thriller with a remarkable attention to detail. In an effort to be accurate the Jews are never mention because in fact the attempt to assassinate Hitler had nothing to do with that. The real reason? The war had turned against the Germans, it was clear that they were entering a down spiral and Hitler's madness was at the center of that. Regardless of the fact we know how the story ends, the movie manages to be a gripping tale based on real events. Well done Mr.Cruise, you won! Your Valkyrie is performing stupendously at the almighty box office.
Sweet And Powerful Milk
It happened only 30 years ago but it looks and feels as if it had been much, much longer and yet we're still dealing with many of the same issues. Gus Van Sant moves slightly and respectfully to mainstream to tell us this inspiring and tragic story. Sean Penn is superb as Harvey Milk, none of the traits that made him famous are present here, other than his talent that is, he exudes a positive sweetness that is compelling and contagious. Josh Brolin as Dan White, manages the impossible by giving the assassin an unexpected but welcome humanity. James Franco as Milk's lover is, quite simply, scrumptious. As it happens with most biopics we're forced to run from event to event to be fair and accurate and "Milk" suffers from that. I wanted more insight into Diego Luna's character - the most problematic - and into Emile Hirsch's character but the essentials are here and the essentials must be listed in lyrical terms. History yes but also poetry. Hope as a theme. A triumph!
The Age Of Wisdom
An optimistic tale from Mike Leigh of all people. This is one of those films in which everything comes gloriously together. It is impossible to imagine it without Sally Hawkins. This is one case in which actress and character merge into one spectacular creation. In fact Sally Hawkins in Happy Go Lucky and Melissa Leo in Frozen River are the two best female performances I've seen in a long, long time. Sally Hawkins's Poppy is a teacher a wise, compassionate, strong, extraordinary teacher. She seems totally unaware of it but we are not. All she knows is that she loves her job. That feeling, if true, can be very contagious. We fall for her not because some kind of gimmick but because her truth precedes her and we learn to know her and respect her almost immediately. As if this wasn't enough, she's very, very, funny.
As it happens more often than not, greatness is relegated to some obscure angle. In a year of brilliant opuses by the Cohen Brothers and PT Anderson, this Tim Burton film shines as the best from every angle. It's not just that Burton creates another superb, dark universe with Dante Ferretti's complicity or that Johnnt Deep breaks new ground, or that Helena Bonham Carter surprises us with a complex, marvelous realistic parody. The film touches visually a very private cord. Ed Wood managed that but Tim Burton with "Sweeny Todd" elevates it to the purest form of art. He will be punished for that, as Ed Wood was in its day. Disappointing grosses in a world that worship grosses will make it appear as a sort of a failure. My advise to you is run to see it wherever you can find it. Try to see it in a big screen with great sound. You will fly and dream and be taken away by the masterful hands of Tim Burton and the glorious faces of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.