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Both Smiths Are Glorious.
27 October 2017
Well you know the story don't you. The pedicurist (Michael Palin) and his social climbing wife (Maggie Smith) live with her mother (Liz Smith) and a pig they've stolen. The pig's smell, naturally, permeates the entire house. When people come in, that's the first thing they notice, the smell and Maggie Smith justifies it by saying "My mother, she's seventy four" I laughed so hard that I had tears running down my face. It's not the line per se the cause of it but its delivery and the faces, the faces of Maggie and Liz Smith. I've been a ardent fan of Maggie Smith all my life and I had a unshakable memory of Liz Smith and Dora Bryan as the British spinsters of Apartment Zero. Here the two Smiths create a subliminal duo that is downright irresistible. Don't miss it.
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Beauty Is In The Heart Of The Beholder
13 March 2017
After I saw it I had to stop and wonder, what happened to this work of art? It affected me as much if not more than anything I've seen in years. But I don't know anybody who's seen it or heard about it. It has holes in its narrative, yes, and sometimes I felt a bit lost. The score is brash and doesn't seem to belong to the same movie. But Johnny Whitworth is pure magic. He takes us through his personal labyrinth with a lopsided smile and infinite melancholy in his eyes. Gabriel Byrne plays his father with a shattering weakness that sometimes is hard to watch, it's so recognizable. A man who's been given a second chance to be in charge but he knows, you can see it in his eyes, he knows he's going to fail. Nastassja Kinski, of course, out of this world in more ways than one. Beautiful. Shirley Knight (Heavenly in "Sweet Bird Of Youth") and Brian Donovan as the deaf brother are two characters I would've loved to see more of. Didn't quite understand who Shirley's Irma was, but I loved her anyway. I think the strongest recommendation I can pass on is that I can't wait to see it again.
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The Working Women Of La La Land
13 March 2017
Ryan Murphy managed the virtually impossible. Finding a tone and the tone has to do with the humanity of this Hollywood gargoyles. I wonder if young Joan and Bette knew where they were heading. Those women that their daughters wrote about, were they who they were or who they became. Jessica Lange throws a light on Joan Crawford that made me, already, re-think her myth. Her fear is actually tangible. Great, great performance. Susan Sarandon captures Davis's temperament and allow us a glimpse into the contradictory nature of the woman. Brilliant, succinct observation - when she throws herself into the role of wife and mother, she was thoroughly miscast. Alfred Molina is superb as Robert Aldrich and Stanley Tucci is terrific as Jack "I show you my hemorrhoids" Warner. I can't wait for the next episode.
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Silence (I) (2016)
Piercing Silence
7 January 2017
The experience is extraordinary from different reasons. Martin Scorsese with a legendary career behind him breaks new ground with the fierce and renewed passion. A film made for the love of film not for box office expectations. A work of love from beginning to end. Then, Andrew Garfield. What a year for this young spectacular actor. The kindness in his eyes made the journey so personal for me. I must say that I've been very lucky because I've been lead by my mentor (another Martin by the way)into the world of Scorsese. I found Scorsese's films brilliant yes, but too dark, too violent and hopeless and my mentor said, "No, don't stay in the periphery, go in. You'll see Martin Scorsese's films are religious experiences" Well I got in, I saw, I felt, I understood and as a consequence I wept for most of Silence. Thank you Marty and Martin from the bottom of my heart.
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The Tourist (I) (2010)
It was true!
5 October 2016
I've heard so many awful, ridiculous things about this movie that I thought to myself. I don't believe it. Like "Ishtar" remember? Everyone thought it was the worst film ever made and then when I finally saw it. I liked it. I laughed, etc, etc. The Tourist however had the opposite effect. In fact is not bad as I had heard, it is worse, much, much worse. Maybe it was the beginning of what was about to happen to Johnny Depp, the brilliant actor of "Ed Wood" one catastrophic film after another. Not just bad films but terrible performances. Angelina Jolie showed she couldn't be a ,lighthearted romantic heroine. The lack of chemistry between them made me think there was some personal animosity between them. What a terrible movie experience.
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I Am Love (2009)
Bold and Shameless In The Best Possible Way
15 July 2010
I was amused and entertained. Taken, very taken by how seriously it takes itself but I don't mean that in an patronizing way. For those people the subject treated is of paramount importance. The past and the future mingling in a world where profit commands. The young son, a stunning, Flavio Parenti, is the one attached to the old traditions. A rich capitalist with a socialist sensibility. Tilda Swinton runs the gamut of emotions and she does it beautifully. Details are terribly important here and, I must confess, I thought of Visconti, specially because Violante Visconte di Modrone is part of the cast. Who is Mr Guadagnino, the director? Where does he come from? He seems incredibly sure of himself. Costumes, interiors, landscapes are a visual feast. The score is also a very bold touch. Marisa Berenson (Barry Lyndon) and Gabriele Ferzzetti (L'Avventura) are added pleasures to this unexpected, if sometimes irritating, treat.
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14 July 2010
It's unavoidable to compare. We're at the beginning of the world our grandchildren are going to take for granted. But now, we compare and realize that family is by choice or design a place, a state of mind, in which love does or must flourish. Beautifully told with a sensational performance by Annette Bening. Without preaching or candy coating the story we realize that the future has a chance. Two women, one sperm donor and two children. Why not? We see the results on the children's faces. Mia Wasikowska is the daughter. Smart, compassionate, mature beyond her years. Josh Hutcherson is the son and, although he is the least developed character, I loved him, with his lopsided smile and his healthy curiosity. Mark Ruffalo, wonderful, showing us, as the sperm donor, another face of a character he has a monopoly in, the lovable loser. He is terrific! Julianne Moore is still an actress I find very hard to surrender to. Her acting is so much upfront that it takes you out of the truth she's trying to convey. However I loved the film and I only hope Hillary Swank is not nominated next year so Annette Bening finally gets what she so richly deserves.
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Avatar (2009)
7 For Chutzpah
8 February 2010
You put your glasses on and you're in. A feast for the eyes at least for the first hour. The brain, however, remains asleep. How strange that such an ambitious enterprise could ignore its most important aspect, the story. A rehash of other things with dialogues from a high school play. Also, very self referential. The bitch! from Aliens truly omnipresent. I was surprised Sam Worthington didn't say "I think I've seen an iceberg" or maybe he did say it while I conceded myself a little nap - after the second hour - So here we are, facing a film future in 3D" I will, still, long for characters in movies, people I can, not just relate, but be inspired by, thought provoking and all the rest that goes with it. So, Cameron did it again and if money is at the center of the world, he remains "king of the world"
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Fun with Charles and Marlene
4 January 2008
To see "Witness for the Prosecution" for the first time in 2008 is a jolting surprise. Nobody could do it better than Billy Wilder did in 1957. A man accused of murder, Tyrone Power, the weakest link in this terrific chain. Sir Wilfred is called to defend him, he is played by the extraordinary Charles Laughton, but he's just out of hospital - he wasn't dismissed he was expelled - and due to doctor's orders he's not to take any criminal cases. He finds Power charming and personable enough but he's not going to risk his life to save his until Marlene Dietrich makes her entrance - and what an entrance! How marvelous that what amounts to a bit of Agatha Christie's usual fare becomes such an entertaining and at times right down riveting piece of film-making.
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Taxi Driver (1976)
A Shattering Tale In First Person Singular
11 October 2007
The impact that "Taxi Driver" had in its day hasn't diminished, on the contrary, it has acquired a relevance of Shakesperean proportions. Travis's loneliness is a hyper representation of the same loneliness most humans have experienced at different times in different measures. It is always associated with a nightmare and Martin Scorsese delivers it like a nightmare. Travis, possessed by Robert De Niro at the zenith of his powers, cruises in his taxi enveloped in Bernard Herrman and we, well, we're the passengers and everything looks terrifying and familiar at the same time. Paul Schrader sensational screenplay comes to life with the jolting force of a rude awakening. Like it happens, more often than not, with masterpieces, it signed in a rather direct way the lives of the ones who live it in a movie theater and the ones who made it. Scorsese being the giant that he is, survived it and will continue startling us I'm sure but I also bet that for years everything he did was compared to this movie. De Niro and his "You looking at me" became such an iconic phrase that even he himself ended up impersonating it. Jodie Foster awoke the insane devotion of a real life would be killer and New York, the greatest city in the world was shown with its underbelly up. A work of art, a superlative reminder of what film could actually give us and very rarely does.
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