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gradyharp

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2026 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Another form of Ekphrasia, 14 December 2014
7/10

First things first: for those unfamiliar with the work of Pulitzer Prize winning poet CK Williams, the following may be helpful – 'CK Williams is especially known as an original stylist; his characteristic line is extraordinarily long, almost prose-like, and emphasizes characterization and dramatic development. His early work focused on overtly political issues such as the Vietnam War and social injustice. In his later work, Williams has shifted from a documentary style toward a more introspective approach, writing descriptive poems that reveal the states of alienation, deception, and occasional enlightenment that exist between public and private lives in modern urban America.' That this film is a project created by James Franco's class is another aspect of Franco's individuality in exploring all aspects of the arts. That it will not find a large audience is not so much the film as the concept that few viewers wish to become involved in a small introspective experimental film, preferring the big epics and apocalyptic ventures and coarse humor movies as escapes form reality. James Franco is a unique actor – quite gifted and wiling to take on difficult biographies (he has portrayed Allen Ginsberg, Hart Crane and others). Give him credit for paying homage to CK Williams.

The Color of Time is based on Pulitzer prize-winning poet CK Williams' collection of the same name. The film blends together adaptations of 11 of the poems to create a poetic road trip through CK William's life. The film takes us on a journey through several decades of American life from CK's childhood and adolescence in Detroit in the 1940s and 50s to the early 1980s: CK and his wife Catherine are married with their son Jed. CK prepares for a reading of 'Tar' in New York City, and spends his nights struggling to write new poems, haunted by memories of his past. As CK drives to his reading in New York City, he remembers central moments of his life: we come to experience and understand both his relationship to love and loss, and how he found his calling as a poet through the women in his life. The film takes us back and forth between past and present, punctuated by voice-over from CK Williams' poems, recreating the experience of memory and exploring how the fragments of one's man life can be turned into poetic expression: his loving relationship to his mother, his first sexual experiences as a teenager, his first love and the struggle to preserve a form of innocence and wonder, the illness and loss of a close friend, and finally his life together with Catherine.

The cast, though not individually used extensively includes Franco as CK Williams, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Zach Braff, Henry Hopper, Bruce Campell among many other bit parts. The music by Garth Neustadter and Daniel Wohl, contributes significantly and for a class project the 'directors and writers' deliver a moody quiet exploration of the genius of CK Williams. A bit of understanding on the part of the audience will result in a gently ekphrastic exercise.

Mumbai to Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, 6 December 2014
7/10

Richard C. Morais's book by the same name has been dissected and recombined by Steven Knight into a screenplay for Lasse Hallström to direct. The book was solid: the movie wanders a bit but the overall result is a pleasant if not exceptional film.

Talented Mumbai cook, Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), has a life filled with both culinary delights and profound loss. Drifting through Europe after fleeing political violence in India that killed the family restaurant business and their mother, the Kadams arrive in France. Once there, a chance auto accident and the kindness of a young woman, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), in the village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val inspires Papa Kadam (Om Puri) to set up a Indian restaurant there. Unfortunately, this puts the Kadams in direct competition with the snobbish Madame Mallory's (Helen Mirren) acclaimed haute cuisine establishment across the street where Marguerite also works as a sous-chef. The resulting rivalry eventually escalates in personal intensity until it goes too far. In response, there is a bridging of sides initiated by Hassan, Marguerite and Madame Mallory herself, both professional and personal, that encourages an understanding that will change both sides forever. The importance of the Mihelin Star seems paramount until the plot become syrupy and a bit to heavy on the predictable sweet this-is-the-best-of-all-possible-worlds side.

Nice cast (including bit parts by Clément Sibony, Michel Blanc, Amit Shah), colorful settings (though the cinematographer blinds us a bit too often by shooting into the light), and a nice lesson on inter communications and cooperation between cultures. Grady Harp, December 14

'Someone must make the world see....', 2 December 2014
9/10

A film about a female investigative journalist is bound to raise a reaction among viewers, especially when the atrocities filmed are so brutal. But that is the point being made by writer/director Erik Poppe (with added written material by Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and Kirsten Sheridan). The main character in this story is Rebecca (a radiant and brilliant Juliette Binoche), one of the world's top war photographers. She must weather a major emotional storm when her husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau) refuses to put up with her dangerous life any longer. He and their young daughters – especially Steph (Lauryn Canny) but also the much younger Lisa (Adrianna Cramer Curtis) - need Rebecca, who, however, loves both her family and her work. Rebecca has been angry, since a child, over the way people around the globe focus on the detritus of local news and pay little attention to the horrors that occur daily in the countries besieged by terror. Rebecca resolves to take Steph (at Steph's request) to Kenya where inadvertently they witness terrorist acts even though Rebecca had been promised the area was safe. The result of Rebecca's endangering her daughter results in her marriage dissolving, but other changes in Rebecca's smoldering anger and angst result also.

The film is very well photographed and both Binoche and Coaster-Waldau are excellent. The supporting cast is strong (especially a very small bit part for Maria Doyle Kennedy) and the musical score by Armand Amar is deeply moving. The film places before us the incalculable struggles war correspondents face but at the same time it brings to out attention just how impossibly difficult life in troubled countries can be. Grady Harp December 14

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
zzzzzzzzzz......., 30 November 2014
4/10

Based on a novel by Marcus Sakey, adapted for the screen by Kelly Masterson and directed by Henrik Ruben Genz, GOOD PEOPLE just doesn't make it. And that is sad as it has two very fine actors (James Franco and Tom Wilkinson) and a beautiful actress (Kate Hudson). But the story is lame and predictable and not very interesting – an American couple, childless, moves to London when the husband's relative dies and leaves him her home. They live on very little and finally find funds when a renter dies and a half million dollars falls into their hands. Of course not telling the police about it leads to problems and a boring 90 minutes later they ultimately get some of the stolen money courtesy of the detective they lied to and also find out they are finally pregnant.

To grim a story for Hallmark but in every other way this trite film tries to have a moral. Too bad Franco and Wilkinson agreed to add this to their resume. It is pretty sad. Grady Harp, November 14

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
'Have you ever seen blood on the street?', 23 November 2014
10/10

John le Carré's brilliant novel A MOST WANTED MAN has been transformed into a screenplay by Andrew Bovell and Stephen Cornwell and as directed by Anton Corbijn the very complex story works well - primarily because of the performances of a near perfect cast. The theme is in keeping with John le Carré's loathing of the Cold War spying crimes and this particular story, though difficult to follow at times (a factor that helps the innate confusion of the spying and counterspying - a process examined by the film) it is a piercingly indictment of the machinations of the spying and terrorist techniques of all countries.

When Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill gotten fortune, both German - Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a worn-out, beat-up, used-up operative and his aides Irna Frey (Nina Hoss) and Maximillian (Daniel Brühl) - and US security agencies - Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright) take a close interest. One Human Rights Lawyer (Rachel McAdams) attempts to help Issa with the aid of Bachmann and Frey. As with almost all evil acts the villain is money - Issa has come to inform his father's best friend, banker Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi) that the money he is to inherit must be given to charities (Issa vehemently disapproved of his father's ill-gotten gains). As the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man's true identity - oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist? A MOST WANTED MAN explores the dirty side of intelligence work complicated by counterspying and is a contemporary, cerebral tale of intrigue, love, rivalry, and politics that prickles with tension right through to its last desperately surprising scene.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant in this downbeat, distrusting, disheveled, difficult role and is well supported by a fine cast, including Willem Dafoe, the underused Mehdi Dehbi and Neil Malik Abdullah. The film is choppy, the accents and all spoken dialogue is rather difficult to follow, but the impact this anti-spying statement makes is well worth the time invested.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
La Dolce Vita in Perpetuity, 17 November 2014
7/10

This is one of those films you want to love – strong lead actors and a solid supporting cast showing another homage to aging gracefully. But the cake was left in the oven a bit too long and the resultant 'romantic comedy' becomes so Hallmarky that the script drowns the fine intentions of the actors. Written by Anna Pavignano and Michael Radford (who also directs), the story is given its best shot by Shirley MacLaine (age 80) and Christopher Plummer (age 85) but the saccharine ending is a bit too heavy to hold up the good moments.

Set in New Orleans, the story introduces two people who at the end of the road, discover that it's never too late to love and make dreams come true. Elsa (Shirley MacLaine) has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: the scene in 'La Dolce Vita' at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroiani but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred (Christopher Plummer) has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa. From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live -- be it more or less -- is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa's frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness. And this is how Fred learns how to live. When he learns about Elsa's terminal illness, he decides to make her dream come true and takes Elsa to Rome to reenact with her the famous scene at the Fontana di Trevi.

The supporting cast includes Scott Bakula, George Segal, James Brolin, Chris Noth, Wendell Pierce, and Erika Alexandra (in the most entertaining role as the 'housekeeper' for Fred). It has its moments and it always is a pleasure to see MacLaine and Plummer no matter how lame the script's ending. Not exactly the reincarnation of Fellini's La Dolce Vita, but an entertaining movie.

'Don't you ever stop dreaming. You can be anyone you want to be.', 2 November 2014
7/10

The cinematic version of story of PL Travers' book-into-film that was to become Walt Disney's Mary Poppins, written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith and directed by John lee Hancock, is light and fluffy and fun – and a bit too long. It boasts a fine cast and for the most part is credible.

The plot has been described as follows: 'When Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins (1964), he made them a promise - one that he didn't realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney's plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn't budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.'

Emma Thompson offers a fine caricature of PJ Travers, Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, but the credits for stunning performances go to Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson as the parents of Travers as young child. If the rest of the film feels a bit 'pushed' then remember it is about Walt Disney….

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
'Watch me', 9 October 2014
7/10

Paul Haggis both wrote and directed this very long movie (137 minutes) that plays with our minds in a way not dissimilar to his most famous similar film CRASH. The quilted story takes patience and close attention to paste each of the three running stories together – three (at times augmented) couples whose lives are altered in some way by a child – drowning, abusive by placing in a plastic bag, a conveniently imagined child – and it all ties together with slips of paper, pages of novels, paintings and other threads spread around Paris, Rome, and New York.

'Michael (Liam Neeson) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author who has sequestered himself in a hotel suite in Paris to finish his latest book. He recently left his wife, Elaine (Kim Basinger), and is having a tempestuous affair with Anna (Olivia Wilde), an ambitious young journalist who wants to write and publish fiction. At the same time, Scott (Adrien Brody), a shady American 'clothing designer' businessman, is in Italy to steal designs from fashion houses. Hating everything Italian, Scott wanders into the Café American with barkeep Marco (Riccardo Scamarcio) in search of something familiar to eat. There, he meets Monika (Moran Atias), a beautiful Romanian woman, who is about to be reunited with her young daughter. When the money she has saved to pay her daughter's smuggler Carlo (Viinico Marchioni) has stolen, Scott feels compelled to help. They take off together for a dangerous town in Southern Italy, where Scott starts to suspect that he is the patsy in an elaborate con game. Julia (Mila Kunis), an ex-soap opera actress, is caught in a custody battle for her 6 year-old son with her ex-husband Rick (James Franco), a famous New York artist. With her support cut off and her legal costs ruinous, Julia is reduced to working as a maid in the same upscale boutique hotel where she was once a frequent guest. Julia's lawyer Theresa (Maria Bello) has secured Julia one final chance to change the court's mind and be reunited with the child she loves. Rick's current girlfriend Sam (Loan Chabanol) is a compassionate onlooker.'

With a cast such as this the film works as well as it can with such obtuse twists and turns involving each of the three couples. The film 'feels' like it wants to be wonderful, but it just plods along too slowly to make us care very much about this odd groups of maladjusted misfits.

Enemy (2013)
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
'Chaos is order yet undeciphered', 27 September 2014
10/10

Portuguese author José Saramago (1922 – 2010), whose celebrated novels can be seen as allegories and commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the human factor (BLINDNESS, SEEING, THE STONE RAFT, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO Jesus Christ, DEATH WITH INTERRUPTIONS, THE CAVE, ALL THE NAMES, CAIN etc), published THE DOUBLE in 2002: it took more than 10 years before being transformed for the screen by Javier Gullón and directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve. For those who remain under the spell of Saramago's strange and seductively intelligent writing this film will satisfy. For those who prefer linear story lines of everyday possibilities the film will likely not find an appreciative audience. This is a film that demands the full attention of the viewer and the acceptance of alternative ways of viewing reality and alternative reality.

Living in Toronto, Adam Bell Jake Gyllenhaal) is a college history professor, a loner, routiner, whose contact with the world outside the classroom is limited to life with his live in girlfriend Mary (Mélanie Laurent). A fellow teacher (Joshua Peace), apparently attempting to open Adam's vistas, recommends he watch films and recommends a particular film to Adam. When Adam watches the film he notes an actor playing a bellhop who looks like Adam. He becomes obsessed with finding out about this double of his. He learns that the actor's stage name is Daniel Saint Claire, whose legal name is Anthony Claire (again Jake Gyllenhaal). Claire is a Toronto based actor with only a few on-screen credits, and is married to a woman named Helen (Sarah Gadon) who is six months pregnant. Adam becomes obsessed with meeting Claire, who he learns upon first sighting that they look exactly the same, from the facial hair to a scar each has, but Claire who seemingly better adjusted than Adam. Their lives become intertwined as Claire himself ends up becoming obsessed with Adam, but in a slightly different way. Is Adam viewing his alternate real self (a married man with a child on the way) and escaping his reality with an affair with Mary? It is left for the viewer to decide.

The atmosphere created by the actors (Gyllenhaal is excellent as are Laurent, Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini who plays Claire's - or Adam's? - mother), the cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc and the music score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans are stunning. The introduction of a tarantula motif adds further mystery to this vivid film. A film for adventuresome thinkers who enjoy being challenged. Grady Harp, September 14

Felony (2013)
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
'Time... time and the world swallows events. And it's sad but that's how it is.', 25 September 2014
10/10

From Australia comes this very well written and acted, tense drama that is particularly attuned to our times – the recently noted role of the police force involved in criminal activity and brutality. Written by actor Joel Edgerton who also stars this is storytelling on the first order – well worth viewing and pondering.

The concept behind the film is the inner workings of the police force, both old timers such as Detective Carl Summer (a brilliant performance by Tom Wilkinson), hard working detectives like Malcolm Toohey (Joel Edgerton) who happen to make mistakes after having celebrated with booze a recent traumatic arrest, and a newcomer to the force Jim Melic (Jai Courtney is a very sensitive portrayal). Though the focus is on an accidental hit and run between Toohey and a bicycle riding youngster following a checkpoint where Toohey (who has been drinking is stopped by local police but not held because he is a fellow cop) calls for help but decides to cover-up his part in the encounter, the other two cops are at equal crossroads: Summer tells Toohey to fabricate a story to prevent his being arrested for hit and run, a fact that Summer's new ride along partner Melic cannot justify and seeks the mother of the injured child (Sarah Roberts) to console her. As the tension mounts and the youngster's situation deteriorates and so do the lives of these three detectives. Despite Toohey's wife (Melissa George) encouraging him not to tell the truth as well as Summer's insistence that for the safety of the force and the three cops Toohey maintain his fabricated story, Toohey is ridden with guilt and begins to change his mind about the incident and his involvement. Summer is intolerant of Toohey's weakness and in a struggle Melic (who has made an indecent advance to the child's mother despite his extending support for her) brutally assaults Summer resulting in brain damage. All three cops must walk that thin line between truth and fiction and the effect that truth will have on their careers.

At times the Australian accents are tough to understand but that is a very minor point. This is a beautifully scripted, conceived, photographed and acted film that should be high on everyone's list of top films of the year.


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