I like watching Ryan Gosling on screen as much as the next person.  We all know the man’s gorgeous.  But even his radiance isn’t a good enough reason to watch this film.  Well, maybe that’s an overstatement.  It’s worth muting the sound and fast-forwarding through all the scenes that Mr. Gosling is not in.  I know I’m late to the game watching this one, but considering the accolades it received when it was released, I was truly excited to see what was what.  The first and foremost disappointing factor is that I know this story.  Politics sucks, absolute power corrupts absolutely, blah blah blah.  I’ve heard this story so many times and so many ways already.  If you want to bring a new and exciting twist to table, then I’m ready to take a look.  Otherwise?  Yawn.  I’ve got other ways to spend my two hours. 
Even aside from a clichéd and overdone premise, there just weren’t other redeeming factors in this movie, in my humble opinion.  The pace was fairly plodding.  There’s a lot of scenery and not a lot of action.  Suspense is lacking.  I realize that the perpetual gray skies and overall darkness in every room was part of the message (and there was a general weary and gloomy feeling) but it certainly didn’t help with my boredom.  The characters were completely one-dimensional and I had a hard time caring about any of them.  The poor intern’s suicide was unnecessary – a total cop-out.  The dialogue left something to be desired, and I was particularly annoyed with how heavy-handed the irony was.  She made a mistake.  He made a mistake.  Yeah, we get it without being specifically told.  Paul Giamatti provided his usual breath of fresh air, but his part was too small.  Marisa Tomei’s character seemed completely superfluous.  And that last line?  Puh-leeze.  Overall the plot was boring, the acting was boring, the dialogue was boring, the sets were boring.  You guys know this story and you know how this turns out.    But you do get to see Ryan Gosling topless. 


Comments and Questions are welcomed.


I get pretty excited when the author of a great book writes the screenplay of the movie.  There’s no better way to make sure the film is at least true to the tone and intention of the book than to have the creator involved.  Stephen Chbosky translated his story to the screen pretty seamlessly – I felt like I was living the story just as much as I do in his written work.  I’ve read some reviews indicating that some of the plot points felt hastily thrown in at the end.  I disagree.  I think they unfolded in the story as they unfolded in the character’s mind, and it became a big deal in the film when it became a big deal to him.  The handling of that situation was a little different than we usually see for such things, but it was done very well.   I loved that it was not so overt.
The cast is definitely noteworthy.  I am fascinated with Ezra Miller in general – not only is he an aesthetically pleasing individual, but he’s a pretty fearless actor with a surprising amount of range (particularly for someone so young).  His portrayal of Patrick is spot-on:  flamboyant and outlandish when it needs to be, and quiet and subtle when it needs to be.  He brings just the right amount of nuance to the character.  And how often do we get to see him in a tuxedo and as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the same film?!  Well done, indeed.  Emma Watson is just so beautiful and so talented.  This role seems like a bit of a departure for her, and she pulls it off wonderfully.  I’ve been impressed with the choices that all the Harry Potter kids have made since the Potter franchise ended. I’ll chalk that up to the fact that they’re British.  And sidebar – watching Emma and Ezra dance was truly delightful. I’ve only seen Logan Lerman in a few things, and most of them when he was much younger, so I don’t feel like I’m very familiar with his work.  I was so impressed with his performance in this film that it makes me want to go back and explore further.  His role was very quiet, but so much of what was going on was on his face.  The scene when Emma stands in the back of the truck while they’re driving through the tunnel is a great example – the look on Lerman’s face conveyed so much.  We’re also treated to some fantastically understated supporting performances from such heavy hitters as Paul Rudd and Dylan McDermott.
The soundtrack is exquisite and very dear to my heart – so much Smiths music really took me back to my high school days.  Bowie’s Heroes was a great nod, and quite fitting.  Music played a big role in the film, and I remember it playing a huge role in that period of my own life.  I would say the same for the costumes – very accurate and very well done.  Mae Whitman’s look in particular is classic.  And the homage to Rocky Horror was one of my favorites that I’ve seen so far.  Overall, a movie that I loved!  I highly recommend it.


Comments and questions are welcomed. 




I love a great story told in a great way, and this film fortunately has both of those elements.  I’ll say that it unfolds so spectacularly that it’s probably better to watch without any prior knowledge at all, so sorry in advance, kids, for some plot-spoilers that will be contained in this post.  Hats off to the editors of this film for putting it together in a way that builds up just the right amount of suspense and anticipation, and keeps just the right amount of interest.  It’s quite an intriguing story.  Rodriguez (Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, to be precise) was a Mexican-American musician in Detroit in the early 1970’s.  His music serves as the backdrop for the film, and it’s some really good stuff.  And yet you’ve never heard of him, or at least not before this movie, you say?  Me neither.  And I consider myself to be fairly well-versed about music.  His music seems to have been the perfect sound to really take off at that time, and every producer, marketer, manager, etc that he worked with seemed to feel the same way.  So why didn’t it take off?  Nobody has a good answer for that.  It’s maybe a sad commentary on the music industry that perhaps the quality of the music has less to do with popularity than it should.  I would like to think that great musicians will find ways to get heard and eventually be spread to some of the masses, anyway.  Well, have faith –there’s exactly that twist to this story.  Purely by word of mouth and bootleg copies, it seems, Rodriguez became wildly popular in South Africa, of all places!  How does that even happen?  The story is that an American visiting Cape Town had his album, and copies were made for friends, and then those friends passed along copies to other friends, and, well, you see where this is going.  Eventually record store owners and record labels in Cape Town caught wind of this and managed to get his album and distribute it.  This was of course during apartheid, so the government and the radio stations tried to keep this music under wraps.  But like all good music (I hope), it found a way to get played.  Rodriguez ended up helping to provide the soundtrack for South African dissonance and revolution.  You know what’s perhaps the most bizarre thing about the whole story?  He had no idea.  Conversely, his South African fans didn’t know anything about him.  This led to some crazy rumors of elaborate on-stage suicides.  These rumors were perpetuated because there just didn’t seem to be any information about him to be found.  I find this fascinating in the age of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, etc, etc.  I can find out where my favorite artists went to elementary school, what books they like to read, and possibly even what they had for lunch.  The concept of not being able to find any information about someone is foreign to me.  As the plot thickens, it turns out that the internet indeed played a part in bringing all this together.  In the late 90’s, one of Rodriguez’s daughters stumbled across a website dedicated to finding out how he died.  She wrote to the creators of the website, and then next thing you know Rodriguez is touring in South Africa!  To sold out crowds!  How cool is that?  Rodriguez had spent the previous few decades working in construction in Detroit, and even running for office at one point!  He ran for City Council, and since it is noted in every single mention of this that I’ve ever seen, I’ll follow suite and point out that his name was misspelled on the ballot.  Now he still lives in Detroit and still works in construction, but he occasionally returns to South Africa and Australia to play shows for his adoring fans.  A great story and a great movie.  I’ve heard that there’s even Oscar buzz, and my fingers are crossed.  Well worth a watch.

Comments and Questions are welcomed

Searching for Sugar Man

This is the best of Matthew McConaughey’s films by a long shot, in my humble opinion.  I always knew he had this performance in him.  His swagger and demeanor are spot-on for the ruthless Texan hit man that he plays.  Thomas Haden Church is brilliantly understated, as he always is.  Gina Gershon’s role is like it was written just for her.  Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple are also excellent.  The whole story is gritty and dirty and unreal, and all the elements fit. The dialogue, the sets, the camera work, and the soundtrack compliment the mood and the story well. The suspense builds beautifully throughout the whole film, and the climactic final scene is so intense, it’s almost hard to watch.  I would say this film is not for the faint of heart, but it’s wonderfully done and it’s well worth a watch.  This is Matthew McConaughey like he should always be.

Comments and questions are welcomed.

I’m a fan of cult films in general.  Even the ones that are done badly are often great in their way, and if nothing else they’re generally quirky and not boring.  I wish I could say the same for Sound of my Voice.  I’ll have to go on record as saying that I really thought it was shite.  I found myself giggling on a fairly regular basis during some of what were supposed to be pretty intense scenes ( you can’t go by me, though-I’m the girl that got shushed for laughing out loud in the middle of Tree of Life, aka “three hours of my life that I’ll never get back.”  But I digress).  This was a glaringly holey story, with seriously underdeveloped characters that I didn’t care anything about.  The so called climax at the end felt like a lazy non-ending, and we all know how much fun those are… And don’t get me started on the ridiculous secret handshake, the applevomiting, or the allergies associated with traveling back FORTY YEARS in time.  And the Cranberries song was outright stupid.  This one is not worth the hours to watch it.  Watch a few episodes of Mr. Show instead.  Trust me.

Comments and questions are welcomed.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel made me happy.  It’s the kind of film that leaves you feeling as if it’s possible for your faith in yourself to be restored.  Mind you, if you have no doubts about your self faith, this is still a delightful way to while away a couple of hours.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll put it out there that at the particular time that I saw this film, I was having some existential doubts (more about the people around me and less about myself), and it happened to present exactly the message I needed to hear.  I wanted to be friends with all the characters, which is my favorite way to leave a cinematic experience (cinematic experience??  That’s a bit heavy-handed, isn’t it?).  This film boasts all those British heavy hitters we all adore (so already I’m biased and ready to love it) – Bill Nighy, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson- to name a few.  And then,off course, was the ever wonderful and adorable Dev Patel, who I just want to carry around in my pocket at all times.  Is anyone more fun to watch?  So overall, a big thumbs up and a hearty recommendation.  See this movie- its sweet and inspiring without being annoyingly so.

Comments and questions are welcomed.

 Footnote came off a bit like two entirely different movies put together.  The first half was comical and a little whimsical, with that dry and ironic type of humor that I just love.  We meet an aging professor who is past his prime, and his professor son who’s just reaching his. The two unfortunately work in the same field, adding a whole new level to the already combative father/son dynamic.  Through a silly administrative mixup, the father is informed that he has won the prestigious Israel prize that he’s always coveted.  It turns out that the prize was actually awarded to his son.  His son is informed of this error in top secrecy by the prize committee, and he winds up being the one to make the decision about how to proceed.  The movie seems to take a dark turn with the son’s decision.  We go from a fairly lighthearted story about father/son relationships to a much darker and heavier take on the meaning of your life’s work and your role in your family.  The exchanges between father and son grow darker and progressively more hostile.  The professor son who actually won the prize decides that the best thing to do about the prize is allow his father to win it.  His father is less grateful and exuberant than expected, and in fact specifically lashes out directly about the son’s work.  The son, in turn, becomes increasingly more resentful of the whole situation.  As time goes by he becomes crueler and crueler to his own son.  As anxious as he is to revere his father, he seems to want very much not to become like him- even as he is actively doing so. the father/son relationship is explored with due complexity.  I felt like the role of the mother was a little lacking, by comparison.  While the implication is that both the father and son are influenced by their wives (and this is touched on in a few brief scenes), those relationships are left ambiguous and unresolved.  The situation between the father and his rival is also not explored.  I truly expected, through the entire movie, for the reason behind all that venom and those years of hatred to be explained.  It was not.
Overall, this was a beautifully directed and superbly acted film.  The plot and the acting were wonderfully understated, as is typical of foreign films.  I find that American films tend to spell things put so explicitly that it insults my intelligence.  This film allowed me to draw my own conclusions and made me think- and what greater thing can a film do?  It made me laugh and cry and left me wondering.  It’s a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.
Comments and questions are welcomed.