263 Reviews
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Brave and Unflinching
11 September 2017
It seems that some of the reviewers found this movie bad and boring. Some of them just didn't get it, and one (who calls himself "The Cinema Man")vents his dislike for leftist politics on this movie. Oh well, people see what they see." The Measure of a Man" is one of the best movies I've seen in last few years. In a series of vignettes played in real time we see an unemployed man in his 50's,who is desperately drowning in the modern world of low level sociopath bureaucracy. You don't have to be vengeful leftist to see the deep level of dysfunction on our planet. Vincent Lindon, the only professional actor in this film, played a role of a lifetime. Brave and unflinching actor in a brave movie for frightening times.
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Gem of a movie
27 December 2015
The pure simplicity of the creative filmmaking. We almost forgot that the main staple of a good movie is a story to tell. It all somehow got gradually replaced with car chases and explosions and stunning lack of anything to say, that doesn't prevent so-called "directors" from continuing to torture us with tons of decomposing garbage. And there comes this small, low budget gem of a movie. Teenagers, fight for independence, stirrings of forbidden love and all done with exceptional taste without the need to drown us in syrupy clichés. The innocence of youth, that breathtaking time of endless possibilities, brought to us with such cautious and tender hand. Such a refreshing movie, just in time for the Holiday season.
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The Conjuring (2013)
Old-fashioned spine- chiller
20 December 2015
These days it is harder to find a good horror movie than be a presidential candidate. The amount of sheer dross is staggering. "The Conjuring" is really an old-fashioned ghost/possession spine-chiller. There is an innocent family and not so innocent house in, of course, New England (where else?). Peaceful countryside, rickety old house with appropriate noises, and the vengeful former inhabitants. And all of this could have so easily slipped into the bad symphony of clichés, but for a steady hand of a smart movie director named James Wan. With a right amount of old, reliable tricks, but put together with fresh hands, it gives a jolly good scare. The only blemish is ever so sweetened ending in an old moronic Hollywood tradition. God forbid something doesn't get neatly wrapped up. That would be the end of the silly world we know.
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13 December 2015
Personal courage becomes a scarce commodity when the times get tough. And there weren't times much tougher than 1930's and the rise of Nazism. Europe stood paralyzed in an unlikely marriage of fear and denial. Veteran director Jan Troell tells a story of a public figure that bravely attacked Nazis in his newspaper column. Torgny Segerstedt was revered and much suspected. His principals made the others look corrupt and petty. And they were, but that is beside the point, because nobody has more concern about appearances than the immoral and tainted. The interesting quirk of this brilliant movie is that Torgny himself was a deeply flawed human being, in turns neglectful and cruel to his wife and kids. Somehow this man with such strong sense of morals, cared about the humanity in general, but alas, not for individuals. Well, that might be understandable. The messiness of humanity would try the patience off all saints combined. Our times prove that beyond any doubt.
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Artistic integrity
6 December 2015
Great men, the esteemed highly revered figures, but only human, just like the rest of us, mere mortals. Charles Dickens, one of the greatest writers of all times left his wife and 10 children for a young lady 27 years his junior. His artistic greatness didn't correspond to his personal conduct. For all of his eccentric exuberance, he had far too much concern for his reputation at the expense of everybody else's. This second movie by immensely talented Ralph Fiennes is much more then the average British period piece. He manages with such strong artistic integrity to transport us to the Victorian era of fake propriety and ersatz family values. Excellent acting and the movie to ponder upon for along time.
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Leviathan (2014)
29 November 2015
Unforgiving, stark landscape of Northern Russia. Hard lives, tough people. Andrei Zvyagintsev, author of few masterpieces (" Elena", above the others comes to mind ),is telling a story of the corrupt system and helpless individual that stands in its way. It is a very taxing job for a viewer to follow the plight of Kolya and his family. The director shows no mercy piling up image after image, till the full picture of utter despair emerges in the end. This is not a black and white propaganda piece. There are no angels and perfect heroes in this world. Even the wronged and victimized fall short, drowning their sorrows in gallons of vodka. But, then if these were our lives what other option would be available? Brave, unflinching portrayal of not just Putin Russia, but of any and every society in which corruption seems to be as natural as the air we breed.
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Child 44 (2015)
Dark and Hopeless
20 October 2015
The drab grayness and squalor of Stalin Russia. Seen before, but so what? That is not a real problem with this movie. Lack of originality is not a cardinal sin. But everything else, just plain silly accents, manic desire to outdo the horror with ever worse horror of that monstrous political system and just unforgivable lack of subtlety. Even in this hellish place at that hellish time must've been, at least a detail that could lighten their miserable lives. If everything was as dark and hopeless , why the complete population of Soviet Union didn't commit a collective suicide. They just had to, there was no other way. Hollywood again kills a good book and makes it into nothing. Quite a feat.
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Poklosie (2012)
12 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Backward Polish village stuck in the past. Different generation of people, but little else changed. Story of endless human capacity to commit or allow evil deeds to happen. It soon becomes clear that this is a story about Polish anti-Semitism, so perhaps a spoiler alert wasn't in order. Nothing enrages and mobilizes masses more than guilty conscience. And this godforsaken village has enough guilt to drown the whole country. Hard, unflinching look at the shameful past. Even victims ( and Poles suffered enormous losses in World War II), could be responsible for crime and atrocities. Tough, uncompromising movie, about horrible shame.
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Trite and Predictable
25 September 2015
There is a waterfall of fantastic reviews for this flick. Of course, it is perfectly fine. We all have different tastes. One's treasure could be someone else's junk. I found this movie to be trite and predictable, typical feel good Hallmark TV movie. All those ridiculous German accents ( with an occasional German word snuck in), all these million times chewed upon saccharine sweet messages, that everybody enjoys, but nobody takes seriously. And, above all not a single one original idea, even a sentence. So, if you like a bit of kitsch, nicely colored, wrapped in shiny paper, knock yourself out. You could do worse. Or many times better.
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Locke (2013)
19 April 2015
Rarely we see a creative idea in today cinematography. Same tired and predictable plots are being recycled to death, peppered with explosions or violence." Locke" is a brilliant idea brought to us in a short, only 85 minute long flick full of masterful movie-making. A decent man makes a mistake and tries to the right thing. That's about it. He drives and through series of phone conversations his life alters forever. Sounds simple but it certainly isn't. Amazing actor Tom Hardy carries the immense burden on his handsome shoulders, but the actors, some of them quite well known and respected, just through voice draw vivid and colorful personalities. A lesson in creative movie-making.
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L'immortel (2010)
7,5 stars
12 April 2015
There is something about the revenge movies...Perhaps it taps into some primal hunter and protector in all of us. Even after centuries of so-called civilization, we are still creatures of instinct.

And here comes a very well done, albeit not very original revenge thriller. There is nothing here we didn't see before, many, many times. Nevertheless it works. Excellent pacing, well choreographed violence, good character actors, and, of course a sense of justice done. Something we do not see very often in real life. The bad guy these days not only gets away with murder, but usually runs for office and lecture us about patriotism. Maybe that's why this flick works so well. Like an old-fashioned western. You run the villains out of town and ride into the sunset.
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Gorgeous music
6 April 2015
String quartet that successfully plays for 25 years hits a snag, when their leader gets diagnosed with the Parkinson's disease. In their small, contained world that is tantamount to nuclear explosion. Quartet deeply depends on its member uncanny closeness and almost supernatural ability to intertwine emotions. Their famous performing piece is the Beethoven's masterpiece String Quartet, Op.131, grandiose monster with 7 movements and no pause. So, as this disaster looms over them, their grievances and pent up emotions, threaten to undermine everything they managed to accomplish. Unfulfilled ambitions, loves not returned, or just the merciless passage of time, when looking behind you is less painful than glancing into the future. And above all, gorgeous music, mostly Beethoven, and the stunning aria written by Erich Korngold, sung by Anne Sofie Von Otter. Life continues because it must, all the flutter of our hearts slows down and we plod along. Beethoven helps.
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Hannah Arendt (2012)
Brilliant film-making
29 March 2015
What is the role of an intellectual in an increasingly anti-intellectual world? In a world of uncontrolled and under-analyzed displays of emotion, room for an intellectual, even more so for a political philosopher, is getting smaller and smaller. Hannah Arendt's thesis about banality of evil stirred the world. Perhaps because it is more terrifying to see the potential for evil in benign looking individuals than in larger than life monsters. It seems almost that we are more comfortable with childhood ogres that are hiding under our beds. If evil could be anywhere or present in anybody, can we ever be safe? Brilliant film-making, a taught provoking masterpiece in unthinkable times.
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Tammy (2014)
Stunning nonsense
22 March 2015
Where do I start? Of course I certainly didn't expect a masterpiece, but this sad excuse for a comedy, rehashes old and exhausted jokes, one after another. There is no moment of a glimmer of an inspiration in any of this drivel. And why in the world would you hire Susan Sarandon( grandmother???), Allison Janney (mother???), Toni Collette and Kathy Bates and let them just plain embarrass themselves. It is really a sad state of affairs that wonderful, talented women over 40 have no respectful place in the movie industry. Apparently every old codger can be believed to be a sex symbol, or a leading actor, but women are not supposed to age. Even in a second decade of a 21 century we have to put up with this crap and horrendous movie like this, stunning nonsense.
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Shadow Dancer (2012)
9 March 2015
Bloody streets of Belfast, lives that resemble a terrifying dream and people both Catholic and Protestants caught in this seemingly endless madness. You must be one or the other, no room left for undecided. Having any doubts means betrayal, and betrayal means death, sometimes swift, sometimes painfully slow. "Shadow Dancer", an uncomfortable, but nevertheless brilliant movie. There is a family, broken, and people in this family not just broken, almost shattered. No loyalty must come before loyalty to faith and nationality. So, things you were born with, things you didn't earn or deserve are the most important things in your life. Ergo, these are their destinies. Like some twisted, bad lottery, the one you pray not to win.
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Freier Fall (2013)
Courageous Movie
2 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The macho world of policemen, guns and other phallic symbols, sweat and testosterone. But what happens when little love and passion gets in the way of violence. Marc, young strapping hunk with a pregnant girlfriend and Kay, equally strapping, but much more in touch with his own sexuality, discover strong attraction for each other. Almost an impossible situation. Child, parents expectations, fellow policemen prejudice, heavy dollop of self-loathing and homophobia and we know that it just can't end well. And it doesn't in any predictable way. Although, new life, definitely not less complex, but with much more potential for self-fulfillment. Strong, smart, courageous movie.
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Broken (IV) (2012)
Lika a punch in a gut
22 February 2015
There is something so heartbreaking about viewing the world through eyes of an 11-year old. Pure, curious desire to absorb and deeply inhale life, and the world of jaded, self-centered adults. The is not a story about projects, or, how the British call them, estates. This is ordinary, unimaginative suburbia, one of those places where people politely nod at each other, without any interest in neighbors. And here it comes, violence and family dysfunction to top all dysfunctions. The secure, civilized world of these regular people is in real danger. The ever so thin veneer of ordered society gets scratched and the hell breaks loose. Strong, like a punch in a gut movie, hard but necessary.
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Jagten (2012)
16 February 2015
Idyllic, bucolic town, where everybody knows and cares about each other. A good place to raise a family, or is it? The innocence of children might be highly overrated, mostly because of us, adults. The purity has no chance for long if tainted by the bitter and suspicious. In a town where your passage to manhood is a hunting license, what we would be more natural than to hunt for any aberration or exception to the norm. And if anybody dares to attack our offspring, all bets are off. Friendly, though highly imbibing companionship, quickly transforms into a vigilante pack of rabid wolves. Hard, unflinching look at the false courage that we humans draw from being a part of a crowd. Either courage or permission to do evil. And there is no going back, you can't unlearn anything. It stays on the outskirts and waits for the right moment.
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Glorious nothing
11 February 2015
There is a lot of corruption and manipulation in this world. Those who posses most of the resources, control the flow of information. The old-fashioned censorship transformed into more devious, more subtle ways. Mix in some highly emotional, but completely irrational nationalism, and you rule this foolish planet. And then arrives Julius Assange, much maligned villain or praised hero, depending on one's political views. I am a passionate liberal, so I welcome any push to reclaim some of our liberties. The movie, though is a mixed bag. Not being a hip computer geek, I admit that grungy camera work, and immensely irritating music doesn't help the clarity of the plot. Nevertheless, there was a story to be told. And Hollywood being Hollywood, it all got tangled and mangled into a mess of not very much logic, but very, very much of now days so prevalent shiny packaging of glorious nothing.
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Ida (2013)
18 January 2015
Post Stalin Poland, early 60's, whole different world behind the Iron Curtain. Filmed in black and white, very fitting for the period. Not much room for nuance in those days, although it seems more and more familiar today. Young novice, sheltered behind the cloister walls and the aunt powerful judge and hard drinking wreck of a woman. What unites them for a fleeting moment is that they are Jewish. Two Holocaust survivors, a future nun and an atheist. " IDA", short, only 82 minutes, but speaks for a lifetime of loss and hurt. Not a one word recklessly tossed around or wasted, not one image out of place. Two women who could change each other's lives, or could they? Stunning, terse movie like a stark canvas. Perfect clarity of talent and mind alike. Rare gift to be savored.
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In Her Skin (2009)
Twisted and Heartbreaking
11 January 2015
Movies based on true crimes quite often tend to be exploitive and lurid. We can watch all kinds of imaginary horrors, switch the TV-set off and go to sleep. But when the story happens to be a real tragedy and told in such painstaking detail, it brings us much closer to the darkness of life than we wish to be. Australian movie " In Her Skin " is a powerful and precise storytelling. It almost feels like watching the vivisection of both body and mind, of victim and killer alike. Unwanted, unloved child and cherished, beautiful princess cross paths and somehow that simple, everyday occurrence alters the outcome of everything. This is a difficult film to watch, even if it doesn't try the cheap manipulation or aims for righteous indignation. It just slowly grabs you in it's twisted, heartbreaking spider web and makes you a witness to violence you dearly hoped never to be part off. But it is too late for that, you were.
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Blue Jasmine (2013)
24 September 2014
It's been a very long time since Woody Allen had much to say. As many extremely prolific authors find out, inspiration dries out and it all becomes repetitive.

Fantastic Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins bravely try to carry this tired vehicle on their shoulders, but to no avail. Even some really frustrating details irk this disappointed viewer.

Her sister from San Francisco lives in a huge, smartly decorated apartment, while bagging groceries for a living. How out of touch with the real life you have to be to make a mishap like that. All and all another old contemplation on neurosis and angst of the have it all's. Did we need another one? I don't think so.
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You Don't Know Jack (2010 TV Movie)
7 September 2014
Is life a precious thing? It certainly is to those who enjoy good health and someone to share it with. For centuries people didn't think about those things. After all the life expectancy was significantly shorter, and the death seemed to be a natural end of life. Then the medicine advanced and we keep people alive even after they lose any quality of life. Because life is precious, or because there is more money to be made in keeping people around? Then came Jack Kevorkian and his passionate belief in helping people to end their lives with dignity. Now we know what conservative, fundamentalist religious people think. Well I am definitely not one of them, so I am torn between these deeply moral questions. Very good HBO movie, cautious not the shove the point down our throats, but discretely portraying a strange, damaged man with good notions, but the wrong personality for his beliefs. At the end it is all about the skill to sell us whatever nonsense they think of. Look at the politicians. Charm and white teeth, and what is underneath is scarier than Dr. Kevorkian's paintings.
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3 September 2014
I've been living on this loony planet long enough to be easily shocked or disgusted. But watching this lesson in immorality ,expertly performed by a merry band of man of cloth, I shudder at the state of humankind. A priest who seems to be a perfect example of a sociopath, manages to fulfill all of his sick fantasies on children as young as 9 months, with a generous help of the church brethren. Being a religious person myself, albeit not Catholic, I am stunned with the arrogance of the clergy. Because their cassocks give them such special powers, they convinced themselves that any attack upon their actions is unwarranted. How can any real Christian live without any doubt and self questioning? Well, real Christian can not. But they can, God help them.
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Nest of vipers
22 June 2014
Family nest or a nest of vipers. Perhaps both in the same time. Here we have Weston family, a severely damaged bunch. to say the least. Oklahoma plains, intense heat, and the death in the family. Booze and pills, little bonding- little whiff of incest. A mesmerizing movie to watch, first class actors spreading their wings, and still something just isn't right. Maybe the play borrowing a bit from Tennessee Williams, some from Edward Albee seems a bit contrived. Somehow a play that actors would kill for is in return killing actors. Grant it, it was a marvelous enjoyment watching these people bicker, snarl and repeatedly hurt each other. Is it really life? No it isn't. Still a movie that grabs you and even stays with you for a while. Not a bad feat after all.
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