Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Goldfinch (2019)
Interesting--but confusing--film about a famous painting
The Goldfinch (2019) was directed by John Crowley. The real star of the movie is the painting itself, painted by the Dutch Golden Age artist Carel Fabritius.
In the movie, the painting comes into the hands of a young man named Theo Decker. Oakes Fegley plays the young Theo Decker and Ansel Elgort portrays the adult Theo Decker. Nicole Kidman plays Mrs. Barbour, who takes Theo in when he needs a place to stay. All three do an excellent job.
Actually, Kidman's role is relatively small, but she's an Oscar winner and a marquee name, so she is listed as a star. (Incidentally, she looks great and, as always, her acting is superb.)
The concept of the film is interesting, but I had trouble with the constant back-and-forth among times and places. Also, there were too many coincidences, and--at 2 1/2 hours--it's too long.
The Goldfinch has a dismal IMDb rating of 6.4. I thought it was somewhat better than that, and rated it 7.
A great TV show doesn't always work as a feature film
Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020) was directed by Tony Tilse. It's based on the TV program Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
The TV program is great. It's based in Australia, and the plots range from very good to excellent. The magic comes from the work of Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher. The supporting players are all solid, but Davis is one of a kind. She inhabits the role and makes it her own. She is Phryne Fisher.
However, the movie has a weak script. The director decided to "open it up," so that we see more of Palestine and London than we do of Australia. (The Palestine plot is Palestinians vs. The English. The situation was very complex, but in this movie it's just good guys against bad guys. The British were the bad guys.)
Even the talented Ms. Davis can't turn this script into a decent movie. The film carries a terrible IMDb rating of 6.0. I agreed, and rated it 6.
Wonderful movie of a great opera
Verdi's opera Rigoletto (1987) was directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Ponnelle was a brilliant operatic director. He directed many operas on stage, almost always to great critical acclaim.
What makes this Rigoletto different is that it's not a filmed opera performance. It's a movie, where Ponnelle can use his talents to embellish the great voices in the cast.
The excellent Swedish baritone Ingvar Wixell stars in the title role. The Czech Nightingale, Edita Gruberova, portrays Gilda, and Luciano Pavarotti is the Duke of Mantua.
If you know opera, you'll love this movie. If you don't know opera, you'll love this movie. This is the greatest opera on film that I've seen. It has a very strong IMDb rating of 8.1. I thought that it was even better than that and rated it 10.
The Good House (2021)
Selling real estate is a tough way to make a living
The Good House (2021) was co-written and co-directed by
Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky.
Sigourney Weaver stars as high-profile realtor Hildy Good. Weaver is perfect for this role. She looks and acts like the person for whom the role was written.
In an interesting twist, Sigourney doesn't just play the part. She also confides to the audience watching the film. This has been done before, but I've never seen it done as well. (You could consider Shakespeare's soliloquies in the same light. However, most actors I've seen do soliloquies appear to be talking to themselves. Sigourney Weaver is definitely talking to us.)
Hildy is a top-notch realtor, but it's a tough, dog-eat-dog world, and she is holding her own, but not thriving. One problem is that she's an alcoholic. Not a sleep-it-off-and-have-a-hangover alcoholic. She's an alcoholic who drives while drunk, and who has blackouts that are scary.
Kevin Kline portrays Frank Getchell. Getchell is a wealthy businessman, but we are supposed to accept him as a grizzled New Englander. (Inigo Montoya, yes; The Pirate King, yes. Grizzled New Englander, no.)
The movie shows us how a talented realtor works to match owners and buyers. It also shows us views of the beautiful Atlantic seacoast.
(Actually Nova Scotia, not Massachusetts.)
I enjoyed The Good House, mostly because of Sigourney Weaver's outstanding performance. The film has a very weak IMDb rating of 6.4. This is a case where I say, "Did they see the same movie that I saw?" I rated the movie 8. I recommend it.
When you are blind, you sometimes seek silence
The Iranian film Sokout (1998) was shown in the U. S. with the translated title The Silence. The movie was written and directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
The protagonist of the film is Khorshid, portrayed by Tahmineh Normatova. He is sightless, but manages to eke out a living tuning musical instruments. In order to get to his work, he has to be brought to the bus by his sister, and taken from the bus to the workshop.
The problem is that his hearing is so acute, and he loves music so much, that he often follows a musician and becomes lost. It's hard to tell whether he's good at his job or not. However, he's often late, so he's about to be fired. He needs his salary to pay the rent to prevent the family from being evicted from their home.
Director Makhmalbaf is a genius, and the film is very moving. For example, when Khorshid puts his fingers in his ears, he can't hear anything, and neither can we.
The movie drifted into magical realism at the end, and I didn't think that worked, but I still thought that it was a great film. The Silence has a tepid IMDb rating of 6.9. I thought that it was much, much better, and rated it 9.
Guernsey was not Denmark or Greece
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) is an English film directed by Mike Newell.
The movie stars Jessica Brown Findlay as Elizabeth McKenna, a London-based author, and Michiel Huisman as Dawsey Adams, a man who lives in Guernsey.
Truth in reviewing: I didn't know anything about the island of Guernsey before I saw the movie. After I had watched the movie, I did some research to see if what was depicted could, indeed, have happened. In my opinion, the movie depicts events that really could have taken place,
Just for the record, Guernsey is an island in the English Channel, located close to France. When WWII started, the English demilitarized Guernsey, and evacuated most of the children. The German troops occupied the Island until the end of WWII.
Unlike other occupied regions, there was barely any resistance to the Germans. One reason for this is that Hitler was obsessed with Guernsey. He sent an enormous number of soldiers to the island, and fortified it far beyond its military worth. There was one German soldier for just three of the populace. Most of the resistance came in the form of trying to help the people brought to Guernsey as forced laborers.
The movie presents the type of symbolic resistance that occurred in Guernsey--people gathering on a regular basis to discuss literary and other matters free of German interference.
The basic plot--sophisticated young woman goes to a rural area and is changed by it--isn't very subtle. However, an interesting movie isn't hurt by a romantic plot. The film was, indeed, an interesting movie, and I enjoyed it.
The movie has a solid IMDb rating of 7.3. I thought that it was better than that, and rated it 8.
Love, Lights, Hanukkah! (2020)
No surprises, but it's a movie worth watching
Love, Lights, Hanukkah! (2020 TV Movie) is a Hallmark movie directed by Mark Jean.
Mia Kirshner portrays Christina Rossi, a young woman who was adopted as an infant. She is culturally Italian, but when she takes a DNA test, she learns that she's half Italian and half Jewish. She receives email messages from people who think they may be related to her, and the plot moves on from there.
Because it's a Hallmark film, everything and everyone glows. However, the plot has some surprises, and Mia Kirshner is a good actor, so I liked the movie.
Love, Lights, Hanukkah! Has an anemic IMDB rating of 6.8. I thought it was better than that, and rated it 8.
Not just about Mr. Rogers
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) was directed by Marielle Heller. Of course, it's about Mr. Rogers, but it's not a biopic. The plot involves an investigative journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) who is assigned to write about Mr. Rogers as a hero.
Rhys is excellent, but Tom Hanks plays Mr. Rogers so well that it's hard to see anyone else when Hanks is on the screen.
The plot is really about the writer's life, and how Mr. Rogers enters into it. (A writer named Tom Junod did, indeed, write an article in 1998 for Esquire magazine. The film is loosely based on the events of Junod's life at the time.)
A Beautiful Day has a pretty good IMDb rating of 7.2. I thought that it was much better than that, and rated it 9.
Vanity Fair (2018)
Solid rendition of Thackeray's novel
Vanity Fair (2018) was a seven-episode made-for-TV miniseries that works well as a movie. James Strong directed six of the episodes, and Jonathan Entwistle directed one.
The movie is a retelling of the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. It stars Olivia Cooke as the protagonist, Becky Sharp. Cooke is an excellent actor, and her performance carries the movie.
I read Vanity Fair years ago, so I can't be sure of how closely the movie follows novel. However, I believe that the film is a good rendition of what Thackeray wrote.
There's a substantial portion of the film devoted to the Battle of Waterloo. I don't know how accurate the battle scenes are, but they are graphic and realistic.
Vanity Fair has a solid IMDb rating of 7.3. I thought that it was better than that, and rated it 8.
Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)
A must-see for Downton Abbey fans
Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022) was directed by Simon Curtis. Julian Fellowes wrote the screenplay.
Almost all of the regulars from the TV series return in this movie, and they are as excellent as ever. Of course, Dame Maggie Smith stars in every scene in which she appears, but all the other regulars perform as well as they did on TV.
Unlike the 2019 movie, the plots are realistic, or at least within the realm of reason. Two main plots emerge in the first few minutes of the film. One is that a French nobleman has left the Dowager Countess (Smith) a beautiful villa in the south of France.
The other is that a film crew is going to use the abbey as the set of a major movie.
This is a must-see film for Downton Abbey fans. However, if you've never seen Downton Abbey, it probably won't work. (Too many back stories are omitted from the movie. The movie won't make sense if you don't know about them.)
The film has a solid IMDb rating of 7.4. I thought that it was better than that, and rated it 8.
Leonie Gilmour made some bad choices
Leonie (2010) was directed by Hisako Matsui. The film was based on a book written by Masayo Duus about a woman named Leonie Gilmour.
Emily Mortimer portrays Gilmour. Her partner, Yone Noguchi is played by Shidô Nakamura.
Emily Mortimer is a skilled and charming actor. The screenplay apparently reflects Leonie's life accurately. (Obviously, I'm not an expert, but from what I can learn, it's a solid biography.)
The problem is that the film represents Gilmour's complex life history. It's interesting, but the movie implies that her great achievement was to give birth to a gifted son, the artist Isamu Noguchi. Still, the movie was titled Leonie, not Isamu, and it just didn't work for me.
Leonie has a very low IMDb rating of 6.1. I thought that Emily Mortimer's performance was so strong that I bumped my rating up to 7.
Miss Austen Regrets (2007)
What does Miss Austen regret?
Miss Austen Regrets (2007 TV Movie) was directed by Jeremy Lovering. It reconstructs Jane Austen's life when she was older, and just beginning to notice her serious illness.
Olivia Williams portrays Jane Austen, and she is excellent. Greta Scacchi portray's Jane's sister, Cassandra Austen. Imogen Poots plays Fanny Austen-Knight, Jane's niece.
The plot revolves around Jane's decision, as a young woman, to turn down a suitor who had proposed to her. Her niece Fanny has a similar decision to make, and she looks to her aunt for advice.
The film has BBC production values, so it's a pleasure to watch. Miss Austen regrets has a modest IMDb rating of 7.1. I thought that it was better than that, and rated it 8.
Plowright and Friend are great
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005) was co-written and directed by Dan Ireland. It was based on a novel by Elizabeth Taylor. (The writer, not the actor.)
Joan Plowright portrays Mrs Palfrey, an older woman who moves into the Claremont Hotel. (This is a residence hotel. It's sort of like Fawlty Towers without the comedy.) All of the other residents are lonely and isolated, and so is Mrs. Palfrey. Her grandson, who lives in London, doesn't visit her.
By chance, Mrs. Palfrey meets an impoverished writer, Ludo, played by Rupert Friend. Ludo stands in for the neglectful grandson, and Palfrey and Ludo develop a real relationship.
Plowright and Friend are superb actors, and the movie flourishes because of their skills. On the other hand, in the plot, Mrs. Palfrey does nothing to relieve her loneliness. She could do more than eat in silence and go to bed. Her happiness shouldn't depend on whether or not her grandson visits her. (To be fair, the plot of the movie sticks very closely to the novel, so we can't blame director Ireland for that.)
Mrs. Palfrey has a strong IMDb rating of 7.6. I didn't think it was quite that good, and rated it 7.
Not exactly Jane Austen
Clueless (1995) was written and directed by Amy Heckerling. Alicia Silverstone stars as Cher, who is the coolest trendsetting student at Beverly Hills High School.
The movie is based on Jane Austen's novel Emma. Well--sort of based on it. Roughly based on it. More or less based on it. Emma is beautiful and wealthy, and she sees herself as a matchmaker. Cher is beautiful and wealthy, and sees herself as a matchmaker. That's about it. (Emma's father is neurotically timid, while Cher's father is a tough litigation attorney--big departure from the novel.)
The movie is really an excuse to dress Alicia Silverstone in 1990's teen fashions, in which she looks incredible. (Silverstone was 19 at the time, so she could carry this off.)
Although Jane Austen would probably not recognize Clueless as being one of her novels, the movie works on its own terms. It has been called the greatest teen comedy of all time, so I was surprised that it has an anemic IMDb rating of 6.9. I thought that it was better than that, and rated it 8.
You Can Live Forever (2022)
A Jehovah's Witness community is not a good place for a lesbian relationship
The Canadian film You Can Live Forever was co-written and co-directed directed by Sarah Watts and Mark Slutsky.
Anwen O'Driscoll portrays Jaime, a teenager who is sent to live with her aunt after her father's death. Her aunt and uncle are Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jaime develops a romantic relationship with Marike (June Laporte). Marike is also part of the Jehovah's Witness community. It's not a community that accepts lesbian love, and the path forward isn't easy.
This is an extraordinary film. The acting is excellent and the plot is believable. The movie has a very strong IMDb rating of 7.5. I thought that it was even better than that, and rated it 9.
We saw this movie as part of Rochester's outstanding ImageOut LGBTQ film festival.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022)
Funny and charming
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022) is an English film co-written and directed by Anthony Fabian.
The movie stars Lesley Manville as Ada Harris, who cleans houses in London for a living.
As the title tells you, Mrs. Harris does, indeed, travel to Paris. That's the plot. What's interesting about the movie is how Mrs. Harris gets to Paris, what happens when she's there, and what happens when she returns.
This movie isn't extraordinary, but I enjoyed it for what it was was--a charming film with beautiful 1950's Dior gowns everywhere.
Lesley Manville is a superb actor whom I've seen before in Mike Leigh movies. She makes you believe that Mrs. Harris would takes the actions that she takes. Without an excellent actor in the title role, the movie wouldn't work.
The wonderful Isabelle Huppert portrays Claudine Colbert, manager of the House of Dior. It's actually a small role. I think director Fabian wanted an important French actor for the Paris portion of the movie, and he chose Huppert.
This film has a respectable IMDb rating of 7.1. I thought it was better than that, and rated it 8.
Licorice Pizza (2021)
Don't waste your time watching this movie
Licorice Pizza (2021) was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The movie stars Cooper Hoffman as 15-year-old Gary and Alana Haim as more-than-21-year-old Alana. Their interaction struck me as creepy at best, and terrible at worst.
If you check the IMDb link for this movie, you'll see one trailer and 12 short videos. That in itself isn't bad. The problem is that each one of those 12 short videos represents a scene in the movie that didn't relate to any of the other scenes. The movie is pointless and disjointed. It's as if director Anderson shot scene after scene, and then used those scenes to randomly fashion a movie.
Director Anderson likes long tracking shots. The movie shuts down for ten minutes while we watch Alana drive a truck with no gas--the truck rolls backwards and then forwards. It's boring and unrelated to the rest of the movie.
I rated the movie 2. It would have been 1, except that the soundtrack is good. Licorice Pizza has a solid IMDb rating of 7.2. Here's a situation when I ask, "Did they see the same movie that I saw?"
If you haven't seen it yet, you'll have to decide whom to believe--the IMDb raters or MDtMC. It's up to you, but at least you've been warned.
Kam motýli nelétají (2022)
They're in a place with no butterflies
The Czech film Kam motýli nelétají (2022) was shown in the U. S. with the translated title Where Butterflies Don't Fly. It was written and directed by Roman Nemec.
Daniel Krejcík portrays Daniel, a 19-year-old young man who is generally unliked and unloved. Jirí Vojta plays Adam, a closeted gay teacher at Daniel's school.
Once we've met the cast--Daniel's mother and father, Adam's partner--the movie is essentially a two-person drama. The acting is good, the plot is well-developed, and the interaction between the young man and his teacher holds your interest.
This movie has an acceptable 7.2 IMDb rating. I thought it was much better than that, and rated it 9.
We saw the film as part of Rochester's wonderful ImageOut LGBTQ Film Festival. I hope it finds a distributor so it's available commercially.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
The lawyer you love to hate
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) was directed by Brad Furman.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Mick Haller, a lawyer who is smart enough, and sleazy enough, to get not-guilty verdicts for people who have committed crimes.
He's called the Lincoln Lawyer because he does most of his work in the back seat of a black Lincoln . He doesn't have a real office.
Most of the people he defends are relatively small time criminals, but he hits the jackpot when he is chosen to defend a very wealthy young man accused of assaulting a prostitute.
Marisa Tomei portrays his ex-wife, Maggie McPherson. Ryan Phillippe plays the accused young man--Louis Roulet, while William H. Macy is Frank Levin, Haller's investigator. Obviously, director Furman was working with a solid group of supporting actors.
Of course, McConaughey is an Oscar award winning star, and it's his work that moves the movie forward.
This isn't the movie you choose to watch if you think criminals deserve to be punished. It's a movie you choose to watch if you want to see a strong actor playing a tough lawyer with no scruples.
I thought that the film worked at that level. The Lincoln Lawyer has a pretty good IMDb rating of 7.3. I considered it somewhat better than that, and rated it 8.
Wet Sand (2021)
Powerful film from Georgia
The Georgian film Wet Sand (2021) was co-written and directed by
Bebe Sesitashvili portrays Moe, a young woman who travels to a Black Sea village because her grandfather has committed suicide. On the surface this village is full of friends. However, many of the friendships are more superficial than real.
Homosexuality plays a role in the plot, and there's no shortage of homophobia in this small village. That's why the film was shown as part of Rochester's superb ImageOut, the LGBTQ Film Festival.
The movie has a weak IMDb rating of 6.9. I'm not sure why the rating is that low--it's a powerful, well-made film. I rated it 9.
P. S. If you plan to see the movie, don't watch the trailer--it gives away too much of the plot.
Unidentified Objects (2022)
A very unusual couple in a road movie
Unidentified Objects (2022) was co-written and directed by Juan Felipe Zuleta.
Sarah Hay portrays Winona, a young woman who is obsessed with travel to Canada for complex reasons. Matthew Jeffers plays Peter, a gay man with dwarfism.
The link is that Peter has a car, and Winona needs a car. Peter won't give Winona the car, but he will drive with her to Canada. What follows is an interesting movie that goes in unusual directions.
The film has an excellent IMDb rating of 7.7. I thought that it was even better than that, and rated it 9.
We saw this movie as part of Rochester's excellent ImageOut, the LGBTQ Film Festival.
Så jävla easy going (2022)
Strong film about ADHD and sexual attraction
The Swedish movie Så jävla Easy Going (2022) was shown in the U. S. with the title So Darned Easy Going. It was written and directed by Christoffer Sandler.
The movie stars Nikki Hanseblad as Joanna, a young woman with ADHD, who really, really needs her medication. (Not only does she need it to concentrate, but she sees continuous flashes of light when she's not medicated.)
Nikki's prescription has run out, and she can't afford to buy more medication. Despite this crisis she finds that she is attracted to a young woman at school. She hasn't thought of herself as a lesbian, but she's beginning to change her mind. What will happen next?
We saw this movie at Rochester's great ImageOut LGBTQ Film Festival. It has a weak 6.6 IMDb rating. I thought that it was much better than that, and rated it 8.
P. S. If you enter Så jävla into Google Translate, you'll see that the U. S. title is a euphemism.
Nelly & Nadine (2022)
Love conquers all things
Nelly & Nadine (2022) is a documentary film co-written and directed by Magnus Gertten. After the German defeat, a boatload of women who had survived the concentration camps were brought to Sweden. Someone filmed the event, and director Gertten has previously identified two people in the film and made movies about them. This is the third movie, and it involves two women--Nelly Mousset Vos and Nadine Hwang.
The two women met and fell in love in Ravensbrück concentration camp. They were separated, but both survived. Years later, Nelly's granddaughter contacted director Gertten, who made this meticulous documentary about a lesbian couple who traveled all over the world in order to be together.
Nelly & Nadine has a good IMDb rating of 7.3. I thought it was an outstanding movie, and rated it 10. We saw this film as part of Rochester's great ImageOut, the LGBTQ Film Festival.
A great novel turned into a bad movie
Persuasion (I) (2022) was directed by Carrie Cracknell for Netflix.
When translating a period novel into a film a director has several choices. She can stay with the period costumes and settings, and use the dialogue from the novel. If done skillfully, that will work.
Another option is to direct in the Clueless mode--make a modern movie "based on" a Jane Austen novel. (In this case, it was Emma.) That's an honorable option, although the movie wasn't all that good.
A third option is to use period costumes and settings, but transform the protagonist into a modern woman. That just doesn't work.
Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot acts well enough, but she is a 2022 woman dressed in Empire fashion. That doesn't work. Director Cracknell tried to accomplish two things--adapt Persuasion and bring it up to date--and she accomplished neither of those things. She made a mess of a novel that really can work as a movie.
This film has a disastrous IMDb rating of 5.8. I didn't think it was quite that good, and rated it 5.
Jane Austen's Persuasion (1995)
Superb adaptation of Jane Austen's novel
Jane Austen's Persuasion (1995) was directed by Roger Michell. Persuasion is an Austen novel that is readily transferred to film, and there are many, many versions available. This version is an excellent movie, and I recommend it.
The key to a successful version of Persuasion is the protagonist--Anne Elliot. Amanda Root, who portrays Anne, is a superb actor, and that's what makes the movie work.
Of course, as a BBC movie, the production values of the film are outstanding. The supporting actors perform very well. In summary this is a movie worth seeking out if you love Jane Austen. Even if you don't love Jane Austen, it's still worth seeking out.
The film has an outstanding IMDb rating of 8.6. I thought it was even better than that, and rated it 10.