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The Humbling (2014)
Humbling with Courage
Let me say immediately that I loved it or to be more precise, I loved him in it and by him I mean Al Pacino. An act of generosity a profoundly moving performance. I connected immediately with his disconnection. Al Pacino, through his character, is telling us something personal, something important. Yes, it became personal to me, important to me. How rewarding to be able to say that, to feel that about the work of one of the giants of the XXth Century and counting. Thank you Mr Pacino, thank you very much.
The Children's Hour (1961)
Lillian Hellman's Women
Lillian Hellman is an American Icon. A woman ahead of her time, in every department. Her women are never easy to read but they are real. From the icy Regina in "The Little Foxes" to the sisters of "Toys In The Attic" - Jane Fonda played her, brilliantly, in "Julia", Here, her women walked a slightly edgier plane."The Children's Hours" was a big Broadway success and William Wyler, one of the best, directed the film version as "These Three" in the 1930's, washing away any reference to homosexuality. I think that may be one of the reasons why he remade it in 1961 under its original title "The Children's Hour" Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner, Fay Bainter and Miriam Hopkins who also was in the original in Shirley MacLaine's part. The film is compelling and looks wonderful and I think it's more a document of its day by one of the most courageous writers of her day. The strange thing here is that the women are the ones who remain firmly in their day, they show us the outrage from their perspective and that's why it feels "dated" They would behave very differently today but not the rich southerners. I believe, they would also remove their children from the school. just like they did then. The oppressed have move on but the oppressors, have diminished in numbers, but they havent changed much. A fascinating film.
No Redaction Will Be Allowed
The facts, not alternative facts but the facts. Once you have that then the artist comes and tells us, dramatizes, enlightens without distorting the facts. I was sweating when Detroit ended but I needed to go back and check the historical records of the events. The movie is a faithful depiction of the facts with the artistic eye of the amazing Kathryn Bigelow to illustrate them. The film will make you mad, it will desolate you and anger you and force you as an American to ask yourself, how can this possibly be?
Detroit as an artistic venture is a marvel with a cast of fantastic actors. Bravo!
Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele debuts in style
Get Out provided me with something I long for. The debut of a new filmmaker that makes you look hopefully into the future. Jordan Peele has done just that. He wrote and directed this smart, elegant film and even made us find a new way to classify it. Horror, comedy, drama, social satire. What matters really is that it's a first of sorts and then some. It introduced me also to a major talent in front of the camera. Daniel Kaluuya is sheer perfection. As an actor he projects and provokes empathy. Whatever your race or races you will be in his shoes, feeling what he's feeling. I was him, throughout. The gasps of fear mixed with the bursts of laughter from the audience - me included - made Get Out one of the most rewarding film experiences of 2017. Kudos also to Bradley Whitford and the phenomenal Catherine Keener. They are terrifyingly recognizable and what about Caleb Landry Jones? Menacing enough and comic enough - he reminded me of Peter, Chris Elliott's character in Everybody Loves Raymond - to be all the things he needed to be. Perfect. As is the human relief provided by the wonderful Marcus Henderson. As you may gather I'm celebrating. So, Mr Peele, thank you very much.
Rules Don't Apply (2016)
Looking Back With Mahler
I have so much to say about this gem that I'm not sure where to start from. Let me just say that as soon as I heard Gutav Mahler's Adagietto coming out of the Hollywood Bowl while the young virginal couple sit in the car facing the moon, I was transported to Venice, the Venice of Luchino Visconti in Death in Venice. Throughout the film Mahler's Adagietto kept magically coming back so, for me, that's the film. Art and commerce, too much and too little, life and death. Warren Beatty, writer, director, producer also stars as Howard Hughes, a character who's lived in Warren Beatty's mind for decades. He moved me. It was clear why Hughes was a character that could allow Beatty to talk about very personal things without having to do it in first person. - Mia Farrow told Michael Caine between takes in Hannah And Her Sisters: "Woody is telling me things through you" - Here Warren Beatty is telling us things about him through Howard Hughes. A mass of contradictions that can only be explained in the heart and mind of an artist. I'm already a huge fan of Alden Ehrenreich right from Tetro and here he is wonderful, tender and real. Lily Collins is new to me but Annette Bening, well Annette Bening reminded me in her few minutes on the screen that she is one of the greatest actresses we've got. Death in Venice and the last image of Howard Hughes left me with a knot in my throat. I will certainly see it again, just as sure that Rules Don't Apply will be rediscovered in years to come.
A Miracle Of Sorts
If this film is not a miracle of sorts, then, I don't know what is. Time is the plot, yes, and it overtakes without us noticing when or how and the next stop is "my f"%&ing funeral" Patricia Arquette gives "Boyhood" its palpitating heart. It reminded me and confirmed that the future is female and that Patricia Arquette is one of the greatest actresses that ever lived. That incident with her Mexican laborer and its consequences (I don't want to give away too much) are one of the many gems this miracle of a movie exposes. Ethan Hawke, heartbreaking, funny, enormously real and then, Lorelei Linklater, beautiful, unique. Ellar Coltrane...where do I start here? I hope he knows that the truth and beauty of his creation, touched, transformed and enlightened anyone who came to meet you with an open heart. Firstly and lastly, Richard Linklater...he's been a hero mine for a long time but now, he's in a place that I reserve only for him. Artist, adventurer, explorer, storyteller, miracle worker. His film, for us who look from the outside, is a hymn to family, friendship, loyalty and cinema. Thank you sir, thank you all.
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Stranger (And More Human) Than Fiction
Certain images and moments of this stunning surprise come to visit me in the middle of my day. Phillip Morris has become someone to me. Someone I crave to revisit. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor create, not merely a novelty but a revolution of sorts. They took what is still a taboo and gave it a human, a truly human face. The story seems a recreation of Spielberg's "Catch me if you Can" or Robert Mulligan's "The Great Impostor" but "I love You Philip Morris" has a life all of its own. Jim Carrey uses what made him famous to present us with a unique, true character, in all its complexities, contradictions and depth. It is a staggering performance that will make me look at this actor from now own under a new light and with oodles of renewed respect. Ewan McGregor comes back to renew his early promise with a character of such tender honesty that I'm sure will re-open the book of his career with a brand new, brilliant chapter.
Jolene shines at the Seattle Film Fest
Of all the films I saw at the 2008 Seattle International Film Fest, "Jolene" is the one that stayed with me. Jessica Chastain gives a multi layered, complex, superlative performance as the title character. A girl drifting through her life looking for love in all the wrong places. The film stays away from sentimental payoffs giving it a very distinctive tone. Are we suppose to sympathize with Jolene? Dan Ireland, the director, leaves that to us in another honest and wonderful tale of longing and hope. From Rene Zellwegger in "The Whole Wide World" to Joan Plowright in "Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont" Dan Ireland has shown a remarkable flair to bring out the best on his female characters and more. Frances Fisher gives an Academy Award worthy performance in a part so far away from anything I've ever seen her do that it took me a while to realize it was her. Michael Vartan, Dermot Mulroney, Chazz Palmintieri and in particular Rupert Friend give vivid, powerful performances. "Jolene" is unique in a year of sequels and TV adaptations. I can't wait to see it again. Congratulations Mr. Ireland and thank you for your passionated and coherent commitment to the independent soul.
Room at the Top (1959)
Loneliness and longing in this extraordinary, ageless masterpiece. The film is dominated by the phenomenal Simone Signoret and I got dizzy looking at her beautifully complicated face. Laurence Harvey's petulance works wonders here and Jack Clayton, the director, orchestrates a soap opera for the thinking man. Everythings rings true even the most unbelievable details. The older woman syndrome is so masterfully captured here that, at times, you want to look away because the truth in Signoret's eyes is piercing as she sexily smokes her cigarette blowing the smoke right at us. I'm just rambling I know, my intention is to wet your appetite. Another extra bonus is the superb performance by Hermione Baddely, renamed by Noel Coward as Miss Gooddely. A total must!