Category: Romance


Celeste & Jesse Forever

August 12th, 2014 — 6:52am

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Celeste and Jesse Forever nf-   Young couples that start as a high school romance may have tremendous chemistry and compatibility but one or both may not be mature enough to stick it out and allow the couple to develop into a long term relationship. They may breakup early on or split after a couple of years of marriage. They may move on never to forget each other and what could have been. That is life . It also is the essence of this very thoughtful and touching film. Jesse is played by Adam Samberg (of SNL fame but comes across as a serious, sometimes silly but very likeable guy) and Celeste is the successful half of the couple but with still room to grow (played by Rashida Jones who had to have understood this character quite well as she co-wrote the screenplay with Will McCormick who also played a role as a friend). The movie is directed by Lee Toland Krieger, who is under 30, as would seem to be most of the characters in the film. The setting is current day Los Angeles where we see how young people party, drink and smoke weed. It is also where we are led to believe there is opportunity for success if you have talent and you hustle, or find the absence of it, if you don’t make the big effort. This would seem to be in job success as well as romance. This is a light modern romantic comedy that will touch a lot of people. No matter what your age, unless you were born a mature adult, you will probably find something in this movie that could have been you. (2012)

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Romance

Belle

June 22nd, 2014 — 5:24am

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Belle-rm- This is a complicated film which deals with slavery, race relations in England in the latter part of the 18th century, women’s dependency on men, love, relationships, a tragic event at sea and an historic legal case. Yet in the end you come away with a sense of satisfaction, that things are working out for the best. The film is based on a true story written by Misa Sagay and Amma Asante who also directed this film and showed her sensitivity to the many issues covered in this story. The story revolves around Dido (Gugu Mbaatha-Raw), an illegitimate mixed race child of a Royal Navy admiral who brings his young daughter to be raised by his aristocratic uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkerson) and his wife Lady Mansfield (Emily Watson) while he goes off to sea. The Mansfields are also raising another child Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) born to another member of the family who is not around. The two girls become very close as they grow to marriageable age. Great Uncle Mansfield also happens to be the Chief Justice of England who is about to rule on an important case concerned with the Zong Massacre. This involved a ship at sea that was transporting slaves from Africa and threw a number of them overboard to drown claiming they were out of drinking water and had to do this in order to survive and subsequently made a claim to their insurance company for their “lost cargo.” The story also shows the somewhat formal courtship of these now young women, the importance of the presence or absence of a dowry, and the view and treatment of women at this time and place. Of course the racial factor is also high lighted as there is this unique situation of a black girl being raised in the aristocratic home and now receiving a proposal of marriage from the men who come courting these women. There are tense moving interactions between the various characters as well a dramatic courtroom scene by Tom Wilkerson who we feel deserves special recognition among an outstanding cast. At the conclusion of the film we see a large completed oil painting of the two young women who are the centerpiece of the film and which was being painted earlier in the story. Then during the rolling of the credits we see another large painting of the actual women who are depicted in the story and are told where the real canvas is hanging. This reminder of the historical truth of all the themes shown in this film, makes it quite a memorable accomplishment.(2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History, Romance

At Middleton

January 30th, 2014 — 8:35am

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At Middleton – sp-    A middle-aged husband and wife (not married to each other) bring their own teenage child to a beautiful college for the perennial campus tour. He (Andy Garcia) in suit jacket and bow tie, a little awkward, is a cardiac surgeon, She (Vera Farmiga) attractive, good sense of humor, sells high-end children’s furniture. They begin to casually interact and become separated from the tour and take their own tour of the campus.  Hence the premise of the film which is stated somewhere in the dialogue is revealed. What if you get your kid ready to go to college and you realize that you are not happy with the life you now have with your spouse? You come to this realization in the midst of  a totally enjoyable interaction with this complete stranger with whom you are now spending a few delightful hours. The screenplay by Glenn German and Adam Rodgers (who also directed it) was co-produced by Garcia who discussed the movie in a  post screening meeting. The script he said required hardly any additions or changes by the actors during the 21 days shooting. In fact, there literally were no rehearsals as most of the time they went   straight to the camera with cinematography by the esteemed Emmanuel Kadosh. The music was by the famed Cuban musician Arturo Sandoval who was actually played by Andy Garcia in a 2000 HBO biographical drama. It captured the moods of the film quite well, which ranged from the pulsating excitement of new adventure to the sentimentality and sorrow of what could have been. The story was unpredictable and quite creative as it used the beautiful setting of this idyllic campus with magnificent overlook which rapidly changed to an amazing scene of the unlikely couple taking part in a college acting class where their inner most feelings were revealed. This low budget (2 ½ million dollars) independent film is worth seeing and we believe it will hold up well as new films of 2014 are released. (2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance

Her

January 5th, 2014 — 11:59pm

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Her –  rm This movie certainly has to rank as one of the most daring and creative movies of the year. It is founded on a somewhat outrageous premise, which if the audience does not buy into, the film would be a ridiculous flop. The man who had to sell the concept and the execution of this movie is screenwriter/director Spike Jonze  who is best known for Adaptation (2002) and Being John Malklovich  (1999) both of which produced award winning performances, as well as a large number of short films and many music videos. The premise of Her is that technology has now produced a computer operating system, which can think, learn and even feel as a human being.  Theodore ( Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely guy who has a job writing nice romantic letters for a website program. He is going through a divorce after 8 years of marriage with Catherine (Rooney Mara) who he thought had been the love of his life but they have grown apart. He readily connects with his new computer operating system who named herself Samantha (the voice of  Scarlett Johansson). She understands him, is clever, funny, warm, sexy and they even have sex together which is a successfully done cinematic accomplishment although she doesn’t have a body. With a small earpiece in his ear, a little video camera sticking out of his front shirt pocket, they are always together. They chat, she does work for him, they discuss personal things, go out to dinner and even join another couple for a social evening out together.  There is also Amy (played quite well by the talented Amy Adams) who is a friend and neighbor going through her own domestic issues and has a whirl with her own new operating system. The film is set in a beautiful future Los Angeles. However, what makes this movie a success is that it is much  more than a story about a funny gimmick or an advanced Siri. It is  a depiction of  how lonely a person can be, despite having interactions with lots of people. It also is an examination of what love is and how it can slip away when you think you have it. This is tackling some big issues and you have to be willing to accept the daunting premise of the film, which is a difficult thing to do. But if you do, you will have quite an experience. (2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Broken Circle Breakdown

November 7th, 2013 — 7:57am

***The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown –sp (In Flemish with subtitles) This will be Belgium’s bid for the best foreign film of the year. Early on in the movie you learn about  a married couple, very attracted to each other, have a 5 year old child who is dying of cancer. Elise is a tattoo artist (played by Veerle Bactens a very popular Belgium actress who can also sing quite well ) who joins her husband Didier (Johan Heldenberg)  and his  bluegrass musical group. Their grief over the loss of their adorable daughter Maybelle  (Nell Cattrysse) tears them apart and they turn on each other. The anger and the hurt that they inflict on each other breaks up this wonderful relationship. This is one of the points of the film. Number two would seem to be the difference in how people deal with such a loss. Elise would like to believe that their daughter’s soul or spirit might reappear as a bird or is living on in some way whereas Didier believes that when you are gone you are gone! The third point we get from the film seems to come out of left field but is connected to the storyline. That is related to former President George W. Bush who vetoed stem cell research in the US and all the people who on religious grounds might have agreed with him. Didier in the film ridicules this point of view and goes on a tirade against it since he feels such research can save lives such as that of his daughter. The final point we believe that is made is that some people can never recover from such a tragedy, leaving one to believe that you should enjoy life while you can because you never know what terrible thing is around the corner . These are all worthy themes for a movie but we felt that they were dealt with in a relatively superficial manner thereby missing the opportunity to leave us with memorable film. Certainly the acting was outstanding. The movie was directed by Felix Van Groeningen who also wrote the screenplay with Carl Joos, after he saw the story written and directed on the stage by  Johan Heldenberg who played Didier in this film. Van Groeningen showed the sexual chemistry of the couple quite well. He also used flashbacks, which is often the vogue in today’s movies but which we thought was somewhat overdone in this one. Whatever shortcomings the film may have had was made up by the effective intertwining of some terrific country bluegrass music throughout the film which included vocals by the two stars. This is particularly interesting because we learned that bluegrass music is not yet a popular genre in Belgium today. (2013)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, Romance

Don Jon

October 13th, 2013 — 7:46pm

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Don Jon- rm – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a writer, director and lead actor takes on a complicated and difficult subject and that is relationships and sexuality. He also takes a swipe at the Catholic Church and what some might say is the stereotype of New Jersey women and men. Don Jon  (certainly a name to remind us of the great lover Don Juan), played by Levitt is a 30 something guy living a single life in New Jersey. He lives near his parents (Tony Danza and Glenne Headley) and is a working guy like his dad. He has a bachelor pad where he enjoys sex with his latest girlfriend. However, he enjoys watching pornography on his computer even more. Ms. Sugaraman (Scarlett Johansson), his new girlfriend is a knockout but she has definite ideas what a man should be like and thus tries to set the bar for Don Jon. This includes, going back to school, having a maid clean his apartment rather than himself (which Don would rather do), spend time with her and her friends together and most of all enjoy seeing romantic movies with her. Don tries to do all of this but still goes back to his Porn. All the Hail Mary’s ordered by his Priest after his Confession don’t help. He meets a slightly older widow (Julianne Moore) who shows him that sex and lovemaking can even be better than porn when the two people are really into each other. Levitt makes his points with good writing and great acting (especially his and Johansson’s). However, it isn’t clear to us if he is talking about the current state of sexuality in today’s society or if he is making a statement about the coming of age of his generation or both. In either case, he made a bold creative movie that may be able stand on it’s own. We suspect that Mr. Levitt who has established himself as an actor will be on the scene as a filmmaker for some exciting new movies. Perhaps we are seeing the the new Woody Allen. (2013)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Romance

Enough Said

September 22nd, 2013 — 1:24am

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Enough Said rm- Once you get over the fact that you are seeing the late James Gandolfini’s last performance you will find that you are watching a very insightful and touching romantic comedy. This is the story of two divorced middle age people with flaws and baggage who encounter each other and develop a romantic relationship. Eva (Julia Louis –Dreyfus), a masseuse, is as expected funny but yet poignant as she finds chemistry with her new friend Albert (Gandolfini) but yet is unsure of herself and doesn’t really appreciate what she has found. She is greatly influenced by her old friend Sarah (Toni Collette) who would rather change her furniture than consider changing her misfit husband (Ben Falcone) as well as by her new client and friend Marianne (Catherine Keener). This film also examines the interaction between parents and daughters at the point where the daughters (Tracy Fairaway and Michaela Watkins) are going off to college. Screenwriter and Director Nicole Holofcener has weaved this complicated and poignant relationship into the story as both main characters are in this situation. There are some great comedic moments, which play off the big coincidence of the story, which the audience becomes aware early on and watches the characters come to their own meaningful realization. This movie is also a showcase for Gandolfini to demonstrate his versatility in showing vulnerability as a gentle man as compared to that trait in his role as a tough guy, for which he will forever be remembered in the Sopranos. (2013)

 

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Romance

Afternoon Delight

August 27th, 2013 — 5:56pm

Afternoon Delight***

Afternoon Delight-sp-  First time movie Writer/Director Jill Soloway (known for writing and directing TV’s Six Feet Under and other shows) pulls no punches as she takes on the young modern 3rd generation post feminist  woman represented by Rachel (Kathryn  Hahn ). This character is living in a beautiful home in  Silver Lake, California with the tall Los Angeles skyline in the background. She has one small child and is married to Jeff ( Josh Radnor) , a successful app designer. Their sex life has gone stale and they try to stimulate things by going to a local strip club where Rachel has a lap dance by McKenna (Juno Temple), a 20 year old beautiful stripper, (we understand that this is not an unheard of pastime in this generation). By coincidence a few days later  Rachel meets this young woman  (self defined as a sex worker) who has lost her place to stay and being the “do-gooder” that she is, Rachel  tries to help her out by giving her a temporary room in her house. It is through the study of these two women that Soloway (who won a Best Director Award at Sundance for this film) attempts to explore what contemporary female sexuality is all about . She does this not only by examining Rachel’s marital situation but through the attitude of McKenna who seemingly is very comfortable being paid to satisfy men’s sexual needs . Rachel’s friends reveal their inner feelings while loosened up by some alcohol at a girl’s gathering. There is discussion about connection between men and women and looking into your partner’s eyes during orgasm etc. There is a hint of the ability of women to want love and sensuality from men and women. Rachel even accompanies McKenna on a visit to a client. In seems that we are supposed to conclude that people should be happy with what they have.  But how do you really come to appreciate that? The film certainly makes a valiant effort to do this by stripping away all the airs and defensiveness that people frequently show to each other. There also is  great acting by Kathryn Hahn who conveys her pain, struggle and arousal in a very real and yet at times comedic manner. Jane Lynch plays a psychiatrist who initially was providing insight to Rachel but then deteriorates into a ridiculous character that has a need to talk about her own problems which don’t seem to be related to the themes of the movie. While perhaps we are sensitive to such satire but it seemed to detract from the movie. Whether there be enough left in this film to satisfy the 30 something woman and those who want to understand her, remains to be seen.

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Don Juan DeMarco

July 29th, 2013 — 6:51am

***Don Juan DeMarco

Don Juan DeMarco nf   - When we chose this film for our next Netflix choice, we thought it might be quite interesting to see two great actors of different generations interacting. We also heard that Brando played a psychiatrist, which is always of special interest to us. We encountered an extremely obese Brando (almost 70 years at the time) playing Dr. Jack Mickler, a psychiatrist working in an hospital in Queens,  New York 10 days away from retirement, who encounters Depp, 31 years old at the time but playing Don Juan De Marco , 21 years old on the verge of suicide, who believes he is the greatest lover in the world, having made love to over a  1000 women. The young masked lover relates his tale of growing up in Mexico and having fallen in love with his tutor at age 16 and then the circumstances which  led to his having to revenge his father’s death in a dual while defending his mother’s honor. He goes on to relate  the unusual story which this young lover of women has experienced in his short life. It is told with such intensity, sensitivity and almost believability that the good doctor reexamines his relationship with his wife (still beautiful Faye Dunaway) and their romance seems revitalized. The story was written and directed by Jeremy Leven who shared the writing credits with Lord Byron , who wrote the original Don Juan. The magic of this movie is both the empathy which Depp elicits for the tale of his life and the empathic feelings and identification which Brando conveys for his patient. The latter is in contrast to the psychiatric colleagues who are insisting on antipsychotic medication rather than hearing him out and understanding his story (which is something we do encounter from time to time  in well meaning colleagues in various mental health settings). In the end we had the pleasure of getting a taste of the subtlety that Brando could bring to a role as he performed in  the 35th of what was to be a 39 film magnificent career. At the same time we saw Depp in his 12th film appearance which thus far has included 49 movies in which he often takes on as he did in this one, a very unusual and unique character. (1994)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

The Spectacular Now

July 24th, 2013 — 3:37am

The Spectacular Now

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The Spectacular Now –sp    If you are ready for a film about high school seniors that don’t turn into zombies or are “glee” fully dancing and singing, this film might catch your fancy. It is based on National Book Award 2008 finalist by author Tim Tharp which was adapted for the screen by Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber before a very thoughtful, intelligent director, James Ponsoldt was brought in to direct the film. The movie was R rated because the main  characters put whisky in their 7-up slurpies and have pocket flasks, talk about drinking and say and do things that high school seniors frequently say and do. Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) might not be the typical student but is probably one that exists in most high schools. He seemingly is the life of the party, first one in the pool with clothes on, goes through many girl friends, popular, well liked, not doing very well in school but he didn’t really care because he is “living in the moment.” Not surprising, he is from a divorced family being raised by single mom and never really had any role models. After he is dumped by his last girl friend he meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley) shy, not popular, smart, somewhat naïve and destined to change his life. We don’t know how their lives will ultimately progress (unless a sequel develops down the road) and one of us hopes that “therapy” would be in the cards for someone like Sutter. However, it  is the interaction between these two that provides us insight into Sutter’s personality, which gives this movie the depth and intensity to merit the attention of both young and older film viewers.(2013)

1 comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

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