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Interesting Appalachian Bootlegging Tale
This was an interesting drama about the bootlegging culture of Franklin County, VA circa 1932. It was compelling the way bootlegging moonshine was such a mainstream activity in that area. Nearly everybody with the means and the desire could run a still. Sell the stuff to the local mobsters, who trucked it into the market place.
It was also an interesting contrast between good and evil. The bootleggers were the good guys. The G-man was the epitome of evil.
The main star was Shia LeBeouf as the narrator, the youngest brother of the Bondurant clan, longtime residents of the area who turned to bootlegging during prohibition. He basically helped out his older brothers, tending to the bootlegging business, working the production and distribution of the moonshine. His older brothers were played by Tom Hardy (Forris Bondurant), the muscle of the family, and Jason Clarke (Howard Bondurant). Hardy and Clarke are both British, but you could never tell from their accents.
Guy Pearce played the wicked and no good G-man, out to get his fair share of the loot, rather that protect citizens from the evils of liquor.
Maybe in some backhanded sort of way, this movie is a call to legalize drugs. The laws do far more damage and corruption to society than the product.
Killer Joe (2011)
Wickedly Good Film Noir
I really like this movie. As excellent film noir thrillers go, with a good streak of black comedy, this movie rivalled "Double Indemnity". I suspect the reason for the delay may have been the producers tying themselves into knots to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating. Could they have cut out some of the more violent scenes that were sex related? Probably so. Would the movie have been as good? Probably not. Anyway, the cast was perfect. Matthew McConaughey was great as the title character "Killer Joe", a rogue Texas lawman who works on the side as a contract killer. Emile Hirsh plays the hapless Chris, who owed some local drug dealers a lot of cash. His plan was to hire "Killer Joe" to commit murder to help him get out. He had plenty of help from family members, some of whom were working different angles. Thomas Haden Church was really excellent as Chris's father. Gina Gershon was wickedly great as his step-mom. It was all very clever and never was slow.
If you like some of David Lynch's better work ("Wild at Heart", or "Blue Velvet", you'll like this move.
The Fighter (2010)
Christian Bale is surreally good as crackhead former palooka
Mark Wahlberg keeps up to as the brother and aspiring boxer. Amy Adams was great as Mark's girlfriend, and the entire supporting cast was pitch perfect. How did they ever cast the family? One gets the impression they were real life & not actors. The mother and her brood of harpie daughters were the roughest bunch of females ever to appear in a movie that wasn't science fiction. You could definitely see how they were cut from the same mold as Bale's character but Wahlberg's character seemed too decent to be from that group of people.
You wonder who gets the nod for best actor in this film. Wahlberg or Bale? Bale's character might seem to be confined to a supporting actor nod but Bale made the film a great one and if it wins best picture (which seems like a good bet), Bale would seem to be inline to get most of the credit.
Anyway, a great picture, not to be missed. Quite possibly one of the best boxing films ever made. And Bale's performance was one for the ages.
Great Action Thriller!
I really like this action film. It was very well directed and filmed, with great shots of the rugged hills and gritty old industrial towns of western PA, and the blue collar workers who live there. The screenplay was also very good, with no down time at all. Everything clicked from start to finish.
Denzel Washington was great in the lead role of Frank, a grizzled railroad veteran who only has a few weeks to go until his forced retirement. Chris Pine (better known as Capt. Kirk in the recent fabulous Star Trek remake) plays young hotshot Will, who is teamed up with Frank to make a routine train run.
While Frank and Will are doing their thing, a 39 car train heavily loaded with hazardous chemicals is left unmanned by Dewey, played by Ethan Supplee as pretty much the Randy character he played on "My Name is Earl". Dewey gets off the train to throw a switch (a big no-no) and left it in gear. The gear slips forward and off the train goes. The rest of the movie involves everyone in the great state of Pennsylania trying to stop it.
This is where Frank and Will work their magic.
I recommend this movie highly and don't think anyone who sees this will walk out disappointed.
Kick Ass is Original, Visually Stunning, and Hilarious
The trailers for this film looked like it had a lot of potential and for once the film was everything hinted at in the trailer and more. The main plot of teenagers dressing up as super heroes with predictable consequences was well written, acted, and very funny. Aaron is a teenager who buys a wet suit and calls himself "Kick Ass". He fancies himself a crime fighter but most of the time ends up getting his own ass kicked.
What makes this movie special, unforgettable really, is the performance of Chloe Moretz, who plays the role of "Hit Girl", the daughter of "Big Daddy" (Nicholas Cage). Her introduction has to be one of the all time great action scenes ever. I'm not being overly generous. "Kick Ass" was trying to persuade a local drug dealer to stop harassing a girl "Kick Ass" was in love with, and when the drug dealer was about to dispatch "Kick Ass" to the afterlife, we are introduced to "Hit Girl", who proceeded to deal with the drug dealer and his room full of thugs, while the theme song from "The Banana Splits" blared. My god it was awesome.
I don't know about "Kick Ass" the character, but "Hit Girl" could start a franchise with this movie. The violence was over the top but in a fun comic book sort of way. Peter Parker's Spiderman can't hold a candle to "Hit Girl".
Anyway, the movie was way cool and totally worth checking out. I'll probably see it again.
Oddly compelling saga of an unlikable neurotic
The trailer for the film made it seem as though it was a comedy but it wasn't. It was more a poignant drama on dysfunctional relationships and how people deal with them. The laughs were few and mostly unintentional.
The main character is 40 year old failure Roger Greenberg (played by Ben Stiller) who is staying at his wealthy brother's house in Los Angeles while the brother and his family are off on vacation in Vietnam. Roger is recovering from a "nervous breakdown" while living in NYC and is convalescing in LA. While there, he is introduced to Florence, his brother's Nanny, a pretty and sexually accommodating 26 year old. They have a quick sexual encounter at Florence's apartment and Roger promptly departs, ashamed of taking advantage of his brother's employee.
This is pretty much how the movie evolves. Roger gets together with old friends, gets into petty arguments over the silliest things, storms off in a huff, and than patches things over with lame and utterly self absorbed apologies.
Roger gets into repeated arguments with Florence, with his friend Ivan, and others in the movie, to the point where one has to wonder why anyone would be friends with this guy. Roger is irredeemably unpleasant, self absorbed, irrational, and not someone anyone in their right mind would want to be around.
If you can get past Roger's noxious personality, the movie is pretty good. I liked Greta Gerwig as Florence. She was the real star of the movie.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Dazzling Technical Wizardry and Excellent Story
I've seen several 3D movies in the past few months, including "Avatar", and I rate this one the best of all. The story itself was clever and original, about a young Viking lad named Hiccup who marches to a different drummer in that he's not your typical blood thirsty Viking but more an artist. Part of a young Viking's training is learning how to master the art of dragon slaying. Hiccup has an inside track on learning how to deal with dragons, and becomes what would be known today as a "Dragon Whisperer" (my term, not the movie). He knows how to make them do whatever he commands. However, slaying dragons is not in his ken, and the film's main plot centers around how to reconcile Hiccups pacifist tendencies with the ethos of the Viking Warrior.
The 3D animation was absolutely exhilarating. I enjoyed this even more than "Avatar", if only because the story was good, unlike the tiresome boilerplate plot in "Avatar". I would recommend seeing this in 3D but lacking a 3D screen, go see it in 2D. It would still be excellent.
War & Peace (1972)
Better than the Book!
That may sound like faint praise for what many cite as the most boring novel ever written. I suffered through the novel and had a difficult time keeping up with the characters, multiple plots, and backstories. Not so with the movie. I found I was able to keep up with the story and to take an interest in the characters, something I was unable to do when reading the novel.
Keep in mind this is a 20 part mini-series, 750 minutes in length. Don't plan on watching this over a weekend, unless you have some dexedrine. I was considering borrowing the 1956 version with Henry Fonda as Count Bezukhov and Audrey Hepburn as Natash Rostova but when I saw that it only had a tepid 6.7 IMDb score, I decided against it. I figured it was due to the short length of the film that voters didn't like it. How can you film "War and Peace" in 208 minutes? When I saw the 1972 version starring Anthony Hopkins as Bezukhov scored an impressive 9.4 on IMDb, I immediately placed a rental order on Blockbuster Online, & preceded to watch all 5 discs. It was an excellent experience.
Now for another crack at the novel. Maybe I'll begin to understand what all the critics were raving about.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Raunchy & Funny Time Travel Story
I wasn't expecting much when I saw this. It looked like it had some good possibilities and I wasn't disappointed. John Cusack was good as the straight man and Rob Cordry was his usual over the top manic type, but very funny. Cordry played a suicidal, oversexed, hard drinking friend.
Anyhow, the plot is as it sounds. The actors are transported, while in a hot tub in some type of ski resort, back to 1986. I wasn't aware folks dressed so loudly back then. Anyhow, there is plenty of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and high jinks. It's a plot done many times before, most successfully with "Back to the Future", which ironically was filmed in 1985, 1 year before the year these present day time travelers were taken to.
Time marches on, as they say. A good movie, very raunchy at times, with many cheap laughs. An entertaining diversion, nothing more.
The Art of the Steal (2009)
Jeremiad of a Soon Lost Treasure
I've lived in the Philly area my entire life & followed the Barnes Foundation saga from the very beginning until its tawdry denouement and I don't understand some of the bizarre postings above.
No doubt the filmmakers had an agenda, which was that the Barnes should stay in Merion but the power brokers in Harrisburg and Philly colluded to drive it into the ground to force the move to the BF Parkway, which was entirely at odds with Dr. Barnes Last Will & Testament.
This was pretty convincingly driven home by the movie.
The collection isn't invitation only, you simply request a timed ticket on their website and you're in. The entrance fee is a reasonable $15 and the museum housing the collection is truly world class, on par with the Villa Borghese in Rome or the Frick in Manhatten, only better. It is truly one of a kind, one of the treasures of the art world.
It's true that the Barnes was mismanaged by Richard Glanton, the President of the Trustees, during the 1990's. His lawsuit against the Merion Neighbors Association was as disastrous as it was idiotic. But that was no excuse to move the whole operation to the Parkway. It seems it would have been quite easy to raise the money to keep it at Merion.
Who cares if the number of eyeballs weren't maximized? It was never intended to be run that way. And after Episcopal Academy moved away from it's previous City Line Ave location, an entrance from Route 1 (City Line Ave) could have easily been paved (Episcocal even offered to donate the land to make it happen, a fact oddly not mentioned in the film). This would have entirely eliminated the neighbors complaints. However, those talks went nowhere (did the power brokers intervene to squash that also?) Saint Joseph's University ended up buying the entire Episcopel property. I have no doubt SJU would have been more than willing to work something out with a treasure like the Barnes. Having a world renowned art institution as a neighbor would be woth that much, at least.
The question arises, "what would Barnes think of the move?". He despised the stuffy, Republican WASPs that ran Philadelphia and who looked down their noses at the upstart Barnes and his post impressionist art. He left control in his will to the downtrodden African Americans who ran Lincoln University, as a way to "stick it" to the powers that be. But now that those outsiders are actually the insiders, and helped engineer the move to the Parkway, would Barnes object? Who really knows.
In any event, I thought the documentary was great & recommend it highly.
The Last Station (2009)
Excellent Historical Drama
This was an excellent historical film based on the relationship between Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya (Helen Mirren), during Tolstoy's final years. The film also explores Tolstoy's relationship with his Assistant, Valentin (James McAvoy) and his cabal of acolytes, lead by Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti). The main tension comes between Vladimir, who wants Tolstoy to bequeath his copyrights to "The Russian People" and Sofya, who naturally would like the copyrights reserved for herself and family.
Mirren earned an Oscar nomination for Lead Actress and Plummer received one for Supporting Actor. I believe both were well earned. I liked the performance from the entire cast, particularly McAvoy as the adoring Assistant to Tolstoy. The screenplay was excellent and the Director, Michael Hoffman, did an outstanding job bringing pre-Communist Russia to life. The time period is 1910 and the cinematography beautifully captured the era. During the closing credits, actual film of Tolstoy and his Wife was run, underscoring what a great job the Director did in filming this.
A great movie and well worth seeing or renting.
The Crazies (2010)
Great Zombie Flick
Zombie flicks are becoming far too over exposed. The film "Zombieland" had a good run making fun of this fact. The central premise of this film has been done many times already. But what makes this film better than most is the strength of the acting. Timothy Olyphant was great in the lead role. Radha Mitchell plays his wife. They are stuck in a small town in Iowa suffering the after effects of a military accident.
Is this like most other Zombie movies? Yes. But is it good and worth checking out? Absolutely. This was a very well written, acted, directed, and filmed horror flick. I had a good time watching it. I wish I could say the same for my Wife. Poor thing couldn't take it & walked out. But my daughter thought it was good.
Andrew Wyeth meets Stephen King
This was an unforgettable movie experience. I don't recall ever seeing such starkly beautiful cinematography, where every frame seemed like an Alfred Stieglitz black and white photograph. The artistic nature of this film seemed to combine the rustic simplicity of Andrew Wyeth's paintings coupled with the literature of Stephen King. The trailers seemed a bit pretentious, but the rave movie critic reviews now seem well deserved. The story itself had a slow but ominous development, where the people of a rustic pre-WWI German village are experiencing various accidents and wanton acts of vandalism. It's unclear who is at fault, and much of the storyline falls around who the culprits could be. I found the pace fit very well with the plot development. The movie really kept me on the edge of my seat. The dialogue and plot are all very good, and the camera work and photography are truly one of a kind.
Many might find the plot too slow and the characters too harsh and unlikable. Yet the character development was excellent and the screenplay seemed as though it could have been written by Thomas Mann. I hadn't seen any of the other Best Foreign Movie Oscar nominations but it wouldn't surprise me at all if this film walked off with the prize. It was outstanding.
Crazy Heart (2009)
Best Movie of the Year
I just saw this movie for the 2nd time yesterday, and I enjoyed it even more than the first. The performances by the supporting cast were awesome, with Robert Duvall in a great role as "Bad" Blake's friend, helping him overcome his alcoholism. The other minor roles, mostly of Blake's devoted fans and fellow musicians, really made this a great movie. Of course, Jeff Bridges as "Bad" Blake was outstanding and should be the runaway favorite to win Best Actor. But he had great material and a stellar cast helping him out.
Why this movie did not make it onto the expanded list of Best Movie Oscar nominations is baffling. Was it too "Red State" for the mostly liberal movie critics that comprise the Academy? They didn't overlook Jeff Bridges or Maggie Gyllenhall for their performances (for Best Actor & Best Supporting Actress) and it rec'd a nod for Best Music. But why not Best Picture? Or Screenplay? The entire story was very well written, the cinematography was outstanding, with excellent panoramic scenes of the western US, the music scenes were all perfectly choreographed, even when "Bad" Blake was too drunk to stand, and the character development was pitch perfect. As good as Bridges was as Blake, the writing had much to do with his ability to connect with the movie goer. This was some very excellent screen writing and deserved an original screenplay nod.
A truly worthwhile movie experience and should most definitely have been nominated for Best Picture. Go see this gem.
Crazy Brave or just plain Crazy?
This movie was one long gay joke. I don't see how a movie like this is even permitted to be made, given the homophobic nature of its humor and Hollywood's proudly gay leanings. The bit with his boyfriend "Diesel", the pygmy flight attendant, was perhaps the most homophobic bit of comedy ever shown in movies (and yes, it was extremely funny). Yet Bruno was probably considered politically correct because it captures some of the anti-gay bias of the "redneck" culture, but the way it does it is highly questionable. It uses homophobic based comic satire to the point that the movie itself becomes homophobic.
The stunts he pulled were so egregiously offensive, it's a minor miracle he wasn't murdered. He actually went to Beirut, Lebanon and asked the local chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to kidnap him so he could become famous. He told the local chief: "Your king Osama looks like a dirty wizard or a homeless Santa Claus". I thought the chief was going to unsheath his scimitar and behead Bruno on the spot. He looked as though he wanted to. But man was it funny.
He also pulled a stunt at the end where he posed as "Straight Dave", a cage match professional wrestler whose schtick was being straight while fulminating against homosexuality to the screaming crowd. After a brief setup with somebody from the crowd who called him a "faggot" (his assistant) he then had simulated gay sex with his male assistant in front of the rabidly anti-gay mob (stoked into a red hot fury by "Straight Dave" a/k/a Bruno himself). People were throwing chairs into the ring, just missing Sasah Cohen's head by mere inches. He was very lucky he wasn't killed or grievously injured. Again, it was one of the funniest bits I'd ever seen.
After all of this, I believe that Baron Sasha Cohen just might be the bravest man in show business. Or maybe just the craziest.
It's Complicated (2009)
1st Half Great, 2nd Half Incoherent
This was a good comedy for the 1st half but the 2nd half was largely laugh free and thus seemed incoherent overall. The viewer wasn't sure if this was a comedy or a drama. Some of these dramadies work (see "500 Days of Summer") but this didn't work because the ending didn't close well and the viewer wasn't sure what to make of it.
Part of the problem was Alec Baldwin was such a likable character but was written up to be a cad who we aren't supposed to feel the least bit sorry for. Steve Martin wasn't all that likable, but the way it was written he came out on top. But why? I can't see how the Producers, who focus group these things eight ways to Sunday, thought this ending was a winner.
The children were also incoherent. We are lead to believe they loved their Dad (Baldwin) but when he discloses he wants to get back with their Mom (Meryl Streep), they seem to go catatonic with grief, curling under the covers with tears in their eyes. One minute they love him and want him around all of the time and the next minute they are numb with confused feelings of disbelief. It was all a bit confusing.
In any event, it's worth seeing just to see the performances of Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep. They were both great and Baldwin's was particularly noteworthy. It might be the highpoint of his movie career.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Excellent Sherlock Holmes Adaptation
This was a very good adaptation of the classic detective series. While purists of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels may sniff at the liberties that Film Director Guy Ritchie took with the title character Holmes and his faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson, the movie was highly entertaining with great cinematography and a fast paced plot that didn't let up throughout and kept the viewer in suspense up until the very end. In other words, it was well worth the money and I will be looking forward to the next installment, which will feature the better known nemesis, Dr. Moriarty.
Robert Downey Jr. was excellent as Holmes. He is one of the best actors for this type of role, a flawed super hero who doesn't take himself too seriously. Jude Law was up to the task of playing Dr. Watson, and Rachel McAdams was excellent as the mystery woman who is both the object of Holmes affections and a possible adversary. The rest of the supporting cast was also first rate. Guy Ritchie deserves a lot of praise for pulling all of this together. It's nice to see him making entertaining films again.
Great movie and well worth checking out.
Avatar 3D - See it for the visuals, not the plot itself
Saw this in 3D Imax and highly recommend it in this medium. I am sure it is also outstanding in the standard format but the visuals ARE the movie and if you have a 3D screen within driving distance, definitely take advantage and go see it.
The plot itself is somewhat generic. It's the stereotypical military / industrial complex (i.e. – The USA) exploiting the natural resources of indigenous peoples (i.e. – Iraq) with ruthless and inhuman efficiency. The protagonist is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is an Army soldier who is transformed into one of the indigenous natives in order to better exploit them (ie. – steal their oil, or "unobtainium" in the film). The natives are 9 feet tall blue people who can communicate with other organic beings in their universe through their hair. If this sounds dumb, it is. But the visuals are stunning and well worth putting up with the D grade movie plot.
I don't have much else to say about his movie. Dumb plot and insipid dialog, but breathtaking technical wizardry making this an incredible experience.
Up in the Air (2009)
Most Overrated Film of 2009
This was a good movie but I'm not sure why it's on top of all the movie critics top 5 lists. It seems to push all of the politically correct anti-business buttons in terms of heartless corporations mass firing downtrodden proletariats from their soul sucking jobs in the private sector while enlightening the movie viewer with the redemptive story of Ryan Bingham (Clooney) whose full time job is firing people while bedding down different women along the way. He is a "termination consultant" who is contracted by different companies to tell their employees they are fired. There are a number of scenes of him firing people with the predictable tears, violence, suicide threats, and so forth. You see, life in the private sector is really like this, day in and day out. Capitalism is exploitation, property is crime, we are all expendable components of an evil machine that ends up destroying us in the end. No wonder the left wing film critics love this movie.
Anyhow, Ryan falls in love with a fellow business traveler, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) whose soul is even more shriveled than his own. Ryan also develops a relationship with a newbie to his "firing" company, named Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who eventually becomes disillusioned with firing people for a living. Go figure. Ryan becomes humbled by Natalie's humanity, not to mention his own experience of being used and discarded by Alex. Thus, we are lead to believe, Ryan becomes a better person for being on the receiving end of what he is usually dishing out. This aspect of it wasn't remotely believable.
A good movie, but for my money, the most overrated of the year.
The Young Victoria (2009)
When Did Emily Blunt Become a Great Actress?
She was outstanding as young Victoria. Deserves an Oscar nomination, absolutely. It seems I was just watching her as a working class lumpen prole in "Sunshine Cleaning" and now she's pulling off this role. It's simply incredible. I am now a devoted fan.
The character who played Prince Albert was also outstanding. He really did an excellent job and played it perfectly I don't think your average movie goer can appreciate what an outstanding movie this is. Like it's earlier historical movie gem, "Bright Star", this film was simply mind boggling in its ability to portray life as it was back in the 1830's ("Bright Star" was a tad earlier, 1820's).
As for the rest of the film, it was first rate. The screenplay and cinematography was first rate. I am a devotee of historical dramas of this type, but it was truly an outstanding film and brought to life the relationship of Victoria and Albert. A truly great film worth checking out.
The Blind Side (2009)
I don't think I've seen a Bullock movie since "Speed" that didn't leave me watching my cell phone for the time. Her movies have been pretty awful and worth skipping. Not this one. The story received a lot of press and one has to give her much credit for snapping up the rights to it. She also did a fabulous job as the heroine. I was simply amazed. It was really one of the most amazing career rehabilitations since Travolta in "Pulp Fiction".
I loved the story. It is a genuinely heartwarming tale of an abandoned teenager adopted by a wealthy family and guided to success. And it's all true. This is what make me love movies. What a great film! Go see this movie. I loved it and so will you.
The Road (2009)
I read Cormac McCarthy's novel a few years ago & figured it would be made into a movie (this was when "No Country for Old Men" was playing) but I wondered how they could make this extremely grim tale into something that people would want to see.
This film was every bit as grim as the novel and it seemed to be a faithful adaptation of it. The characters seemed more believable in the film than in the novel. This is probably due to the medium but Viggio Mortenson did a fabulous job as the Protagonist (the unnamed father) and his son was also great. They both were tremendous and brought a lot of character development and engagement to an otherwise totally bleak story.
I loved Robert Duvall's turn as the grizzled survivor. It was a supporting role sure to win an Oscar nomination. I think this will win more than its share of Oscar nominations, for Viggio at the very least.
Great film, go check it out.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Superb Version of Scrooge
I just saw this in 3D and I was amazed at how good this was. I'm glad I saw the 3D version because the special effects were phenomenal. The portrayel of Dickensian London was breathtaking. The screenplay adaptation by Robert Zemecki was pretty straightforward but what really set the film apart was the incredible graphics. It was simply mind boggling. I think this is going to be a Christmas classic.
When the movie first came out, the critics were lambasting it but I think they largely missed the mark. This was a great adaptation & the 3D effects will make this a holiday tradition. Jim Carrey was great in multiple roles (he played Scrooge but also Ghost of Christmas Present), Colin Firth as the nephew and Gary Oldham as Bob Cratchitt were very good.
This is great holiday entertainment. If you can, go see the 3D version but standard version is good to.
The New Year Parade (2008)
Poignant Mummer's Tale
This was a fascinating "reality show" type movie set in Philadelphia from Jan 2004 to Jan 2005. The subject matter of the film is a working class family in South Philly going through a messy divorce, the relationships between the Father, Mother, Daughter, & Son. There is a great deal of tension due to the impending divorce. The Father & the Son belong to the South Philly String Band, which marches in the annual Mummer's Day parade each New Year's Day. The story is thus twofold: the dynamics of the family going through the divorce process and the Mummer's Day parade backstory, which is actually the main story and what gives this movie a special edge, especially if you live around Philadelphia and watch these parades each year.
The casting and screenplay did have the appearance of a "reality show". I'm sure there was a screenplay but it's hard to tell while watching the movie. That's not to say the dialog was anything less than outstanding, it just had a spontaneous character to it. It seemed very genuine working class Philly.
The cinematography was outstanding, with many excellent pictures and scenes of South Philly, Mummer's preparing their costumes & practicing their music & dance routines, the screenplay and backstories were great.
As a Philly native, I really loved this movie, but even if you live in LA or NY or Dallas, this is worth checking out. It's a very good movie and as Indie movies go, quite excellent.
An Education (2009)
Everything about this film was superb. The acting, screenplay, cinematography, the plot and pacing of the story, all of this worked to create this gem of a film.
The movie explored the degree to which people will rationalize their actions based on perceived material interests. It was a fascinating morality tale and very well told.
I really liked the work of the lead actress, Carey Mulligan, who plays 16 year old student Jenny, in 1961 London. She develops an unlikely affair with an older man, David, played by Peter Saarsgard. While the affair seems hard to believe, David charms Jenny and her family, overcoming their doubts about his intentions. He seems, by all accounts, a wealthy and successful businessman, and Jenny's father, played excellently by Alfred Molina, believes that his daughter would be well provided for, negating the need to pay for college.
There is much more to the story, but suffice it to say, things are not what they seem. The film goes into a lot of detail on Jenny's school, her relationship with her family, teachers, David's business partner, and her dilemma between her personal aspirations of attending college at Oxford or the "good life" with her wealthy and dashing boyfriend. The story was beautifully crafted and should garner some nominations for screenplay, at the very least. I would think Carey Mulligan and Alfred Molina would deserve some recognition to. The entire cast was fantastic. Rosamund Pike was excellent as Helen, the street smart but otherwise dense girlfriend of Danny (Dominic Cooper), who was Davids business associate. There were many great performances by many different supporting actors.
It's a shame great movies like this don't have a wider release. It was only playing in a few theaters in the greater Philadelphia area. More people should see quality movies like this. They are a rarity these days.