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Evening (2007)
10/10
And a great ending too!
1 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Having just seen it Friday afternoon, trust me when I tell you that any plot is incidental in this excellent character study. "Slice of life" also doesn't give it justice as a description. This brilliant film is about life choices in an era when there weren't many choices to be had, particularly for women. Doing what you were supposed to do - the dutiful wife, stay-at-home mother, win-at-all-costs businessman versus living your dreams that don't fit into society's so-called "norms" is what is reflected in the lives of the characters of "Evening." In a film dominated by women and their powerful performances, it is Hugh Dancy's character that, in my estimation, embodies this struggle in choices. His demise, while tragic and unnecessary, is almost a "put him out of his misery" situation, for you just get the feeling that his parents and many of his friends would never approve of or understand his chosen direction in life, not to mention the very core of his being.

But make no mistake, this is a smorgasbord of great acting from some of the best actresses to ever grace stage or screen. Vanessa Redgrave's eyes are as expressive as ever, and given the space in which she has to play here, must be used to utmost effect and, of course, she delivers. There has been some criticism of Natasha Richardson's work, but after a few days to reflect, I found to be very well done in that she was playing her character exactly as she should - an uptight career woman, loyal wife and doting mother - which contrasts perfectly with Toni Collette's lost and searching sister, another magnificent turn from this compelling actress. It was great to see Eileen Atkins and her crooked little mouth, Mamie Gummer was a revelation for me and Glenn Close will rock you with her power. The scene with Meryl Streep and Redgrave was a mystic experience, these two titans sharing one last moment of discovery at the wonder of life.

Everyone will take what they want from this film, but the message for me was it's not enough to make choices and live with them - you really have to LIVE them!
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10/10
Wow.....just, Wow!!!
7 October 2006
I was literally trembling at the sight of Forest Whitaker's Idi Amin. I always wondered what it would be like to watch a movie that would truly make my heart pound - that happened tonight.

Both Whitaker and James McAvoy are incredible when it comes to acting with just their eyes - but make no mistake, that is not all that's going on here. IMO, both men deserve an Oscar, just like Hoffman and Voight should have won in '69 for Midnight Cowboy. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Bravo to all involved. The first must see of 2006. And I've still got Little Children and The Departed to see this weekend.
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Ask the Dust (2006)
9/10
Excellent performances, but not for everybody
7 April 2006
Judging from some of the scathing comments in this forum, it appears some people don't get it or don't "want" to get this film. I personally enjoyed it throughout. For me, the characters seemed real - people who were trying to be someone they were not, which fits with their environment. Arturo and Camilla seemed to "fight" their love for each other, moment to moment alternately revealing or suppressing their prejudices. Take out the racial element and it reminded me a bit of Deanie and Bud in "Splendor in the Grass", you almost expect them to burst into flames as they battle the demons that conspire to keep them apart. Just when they finally seem to find some peace with each other (I was touched by Arturo's attempts to teach Camilla to read and attain citizenship) it all falls apart during the simple gesture of going on their "first" date.

I was also impressed with the performances of Idina Menzel and Donald Sutherland (the latter a bit reminiscent of Sutherland's Homer Simpson in "The Day of the Locust"). I was so glad to see Robert Towne's name in the credits again, I based my decision to see the film on my high regard for his work and that of Salma's as well. I was not disappointed and I think this film beats the hell out of most of the garbage Hollywood is churning out these days, indie films excepted. I find it ironic that Robert Towne, a product of the last golden age of cinema, would re-appear just as we seem to be having a 70's-like renaissance in independent film. Could it be that the political climate in this country is inspiring filmmakers again, just like the 70's/Vietnam era? The parallels are there, in my opinion.
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Familia (2005)
10/10
Incroyable!!!
14 March 2006
This is how they made them in the 70's, the golden era of film-making, in my opinion. No easy answers. No resolution. The ending packs a wallop, unlike few I have seen. More questions than answers. Real people, real life unfolding before you. Unflinching emotions. Through most of the film, I thought Sylvie Moreau was giving the knockout performance. Then Macha Grenon blindsided me with her power in the final quarter. Everyone should see this, but unfortunately, because it is not a mainstream American film, it will not be seen by nearly enough of us. Bravo to everyone involved. I haven't seen C.R.A.Z.Y. yet, and I will this weekend, but it will have to be incredible to be better than this one, at least for me.
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8/10
I think "UglyToes" was thinking of another Quebec romcom....
28 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I found this to be an enjoyable romantic comedy, and not a 90 minute feminist rant. If it were, the Alice character would have never had the baby. I think another reviewer might be thinking of another Quebec romcom, "Comment Ma Mere Accoucha de Moi Durant Sa Menopause." Now that was male-bashing! If you think "Maman" was male-bashing, maybe you did take the "slurs" too seriously.

This was a good "coming of age" story. Alice has to grow up and figure out how to juggle career and family, so she discovers a lot about herself. I find Quebec romcoms to be less "formulaic" than what Hollywood has given us in recent years, for the most part. Or maybe it's just the difference in cultures.
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