Tag: 2009


It Might Get Loud – Guest review by Leo Blumenfield – Age 12

May 8th, 2016 — 8:04pm

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It Might Get Loud-nf

            This 2009 documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim, tells how three amazing guitarists, Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White, all from different backgrounds and times can really connect and tell their own story. Jimmy Page comes from London, England, The Edge comes from Dublin, Ireland, and Jack White is from Detroit, Michigan. I thought this was a interesting documentary because of the way you can see the history of guitar and rock-and-roll from these three different perspectives. It is very inspiring, showing how these unique guitarists got their start from playing in a small garage to performing in front of thousands of people. All three of these guitarists have strange and different styles of music and attitude that is so fascinating. 

            I highly recommend this documentary because whether you are a musician or not, this movie really tells you a story that you will never forget. You can also see in this movie what beautiful sounds can come out of some of the greatest musicians when they jam together. Jack White, The Edge, and Jimmy Page talk about some of their favorite songs and musicians and how that inspired their music and their style. They talk about how blues, rock, and soul influences lead them to where they are now.

            Overall, It Might Get Loud is a very fascinating documentary because it shows that wherever you are from, music can always bring you together, and you can bond over something that is so special to you. (2009)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Documentary, Musical

Still Bill

December 10th, 2011 — 11:10pm

***

Still Bill- nf  It is very possible that you have never heard of  singer songwriter Bill Withers unless you are a big fan of rhythm and blues of the 1970s-1980s and thereabouts. But almost for sure  you have heard recordings of him singing his music , Lean on Me, Aint No Sunshine, Just the Two of Us and many other great hits of that time. Damani Baker and Alex Vlack as young filmmakers knew about his music and a little about the man and as is often the case with Independent films, it took them about 11 years to make this documentary. Needless to say , it has a great music track. It is a film not just about the man and his music but it is about the character of man who wasn’t out for the adulation and glory that easily descended upon him. He cared about expressing himself in the stories that he wanted to tell through his music. He led an unlikely career and then faded from the public music scene at the height of his fame. He was born the youngest of 6 children in the  coal mining town of Slab Folk  West Virgina . His grandfather was born a slave and he was greatly influenced by his grandmother whom he immortalized in one of his classic songs, Grandma’s Hand . He stuttered for the first 28 years of his life  He enlisted in the US Navy and worked as a mechanic and then took a job in an aircraft factory. Around this time he started playing the guitar and writing songs and decided to give it a try when he was given the opportunity to record an album. He had no idea if it would work out and was prepared to continue his work “ installing Johns on planes.” Almost overnight his album was a gigantic hit and he found himself on the Johnny Carson show. This documentary begins with a 70 year old seemingly very contented Bill Withers who hasn’t been on the music scene for probably at least 20 years. He is married and his daughter is  finding her way as a singer. He reflects on his career and how he has faded into the background because, as he says, he just doesn’t have much to say at present. He appears to be financially secure having had 3 gold albums with numerous successful songs and having toured and sang with many great musicians. The film makers show the essence of this man through informal conversations with several of his friends including Tavis Smiley, Jim Brown (the football player) , Bill Russell (the basketball player) , his son, wife, daughter and others.  At times he tears up as for example when he visits a school where young students with stuttering problems put on a small concert for him. In a heartwarming sequence although perhaps somewhat contrived, he decides to go back into the studio with a good friend who is a blind musician and his daughter. They begin to write and record. Wither’s delight in the process and in the music seems genuine and is wonderful to watch. The documentary ends on this note. You get the feeling that there is now more to come. (2009)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary, Musical

Play The Game

March 27th, 2011 — 5:13am

**

Play the Game-nf We debated whether we should give this movie a two star or a one star which is our lowest rating. It is not that the movie wasn’t pleasant, held our attention and perhaps made us smile a few times. It was “smaltzy”, perhaps a little cute. However it was also quite predictable, showed older folks in a stereotypical if not demeaning manner, had little defects in the continuity, had just fair acting with pros such as Andy Griffith, Doris Roberts and Liz Sheridan who probably could have done better if given a decent story. And what was the story? Old man (Andy Griffith) is in senior living facility after his wife of many years dies, feels lonely and sad. Grandson David (Paul Campbell) who works as a car salesman and also knows how to con women to win them over, visits granddad and encourages him to meet new women. He would show him how to “play the game.” This means giving the woman the impression that you are really not interested and yet show yourself to be intelligent and very desirable. The next thing you know the woman is hot for you and things go from there. Grandpa only wants companionship and doesn’t want to go this route. He certainly doesn’t even think he could do the “wild thing” even if he wanted to do it. His grandson eventually convinces him to give wooing women a try because after all that is what he promised grandma he would do once she was gone. In the meantime “boychek” ends up getting conned by a girl (Marla Sokoloff) who he really likes. Grandpa, on the other hand is suddenly very successful with women in the senior residence who are all hot for him. One of them even slips him a Viagra and now he is up and ready to go. Even though you are probably not going to see this movie we are sure you will not be surprised when we tell you that it eventually has a happy ending. (2009)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Romance

A Single Man

September 15th, 2010 — 2:24am

***

A Single Man – nf-  This is one of those films which tries to explain what life is all about. It is set in 1962 and George Falcon  (Colin Firth)  is a gay English Professor at a college in Los Angeles. Very early in the movie we learn that his partner of 16 years has died in car accident while visiting his family in the north. The funeral is only for  “ family” and George is not welcome to attend. The movie proceeds to show a subsequent meaningful day in his life, albeit with various flashbacks, while he is drowning in his grief. It is a meaningful day because we see that George is planning for this day to be his last one. Many of the people whom he meets in his usual day seem to detect that he is unhappy and do seem to care about him. There are two people who are capable of moving him   We meet Charley (Julianne Moore) whom he first knew in England, was briefly a former lover  and now lives nearby and is a very good friend. She seems to mirror his struggle trying to find the meaning of life and their interaction is warm, intimate and provides rich insight into both of them. However he seems to be able to leave her behind. As determined, as George is to make this his last day, his order of things seems to be shook up as Kenny (Nicolas Hoult) one of his students seeks him out and makes a connection with him. This is very complicated connection, no doubt, and this relationship makes the point of the movie about the meaning of life. This film is based on book written by Christopher Isherwood more than 25 years ago and appears to have had a very special meaning to director Tom Ford who wrote the screenplay with David Scearce. In the commentary on the DVD, it is clear that Ford clearly identifies with the main character. He describes many of the complicated symbolism and imagery, which he used in the film which certainly did not come to mind while watching it.  On  the other hand, it is the total effect that really counts and Ford has put into the film a musical score that parallels the mood being developed, as does the changing tints and colors that have been used . Whether or not you get caught up in the message of the movie, it is easy to see why Colin Firth was nominated for an Oscar for this performance. In his British understated manner he conveys usually just with his facial expressions a range of emotions from unmitigated grief and sadness to the subtle joy of caring and being cared about. (2010)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance

Crazy Heart

September 15th, 2010 — 1:58am

**

Crazy Heart- nf–  A self centered , has been,  country music singer by the name of Bad Blake  ( Jeff Bridges ) is an , alcoholic , big time smoker, overweight who is reduced to playing with the local band in dinky  bars. He   rolls into a small town and meets a young women  (Maggie Gyllenhaal)  with a four year old son  who interviews him for a local newspaper.  They end up in bed together and our has been country singer with four failed marriages and son he hasn’t spoken to in 24 years wants  immediately decides that he has to be with her. He gets  inspired to write some new songs, which he hasn’t done  in many years, for his former protégée ( Colin Farrell )  who is now big time star. Bad Blake also wants to change his ways so he isn’t so bad. Don’t worry that some of the plot is revealed. If you see decide to see the movie you shouldn’t be doing it for the storyline which is hackneyed and not very believable. Both Bridges and Gyllenhaal were nominated for Academy awards for their acting and Bridges actually snared the award.  He was outstanding as he actually made this fairly obnoxious character almost likeable. He did his own singing as did Farrell although there may have been a little lip syncing. If you have any inclination towards enjoying country music that is the best part of the film and there also was an Oscar for one of the original songs. The great  acting, the enjoyable  music and even a supporting role by Robert Duvall who was a producer for the film and  played  a friend and a bartender, can’t make us say we were glad we saw this movie or recommend it  (2009)

1 comment » | 2 Stars, Drama, Musical, Romance

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

September 9th, 2010 — 7:01am

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - 2010* * * *
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
– nf – This is the Swedish portrayal of the first of the three popular novels by Stieg Larsson. There is an American film of this novel due out in 2011. One of us read the trilogy and the other did not. When you have read the book, you are aware of all the subplots, relationships, twists and turns that are left out and of course you pretty much know how the mystery is solved. With a few exceptions, the movie followed the book fairly closely. The one of us who didn’t read the book was pretty much able to keep track of the somewhat complicated plot and the various Vanger family members which could be a tad confusing. The male lead here is not a crusty or a brilliant detective but rather an investigative journalist by the name of Mikael Bolmkvist (Michael Nyqvist) who has just been convicted of libel with a pending jail sentence and has been asked to investigate the disappearance of a the niece of wealthy Henrik Vanger which occurred about 40 years before. The female lead is not the typical beautiful women you might expect to see in this situation but rather a very unusual 26 year old girl name Lispeth Sallander (Noomi Rapce), boyish, attractive, body piercings, dresses in black, rides a motorcycle. and has the huge dragon tattoo on her back. As a child she has had some type of psychiatric care and requires a guardian to manage her finances but is a brilliant computer hacker and has a photographic memory. There is violence, sex and nudity at times in combination but all in the service of the plot, not overdone, but enough to clearly deserve the R rating. The story will pull you in and the direction by Niels Arden Oplev captures the gamut from the beautiful outdoors in Sweden to the effects of painful violence. Despite it being almost 2 and half hours, the film does not drag at all. If you like this movie and are a fan of the late Stieg Larsson who didn’t get a chance to see the great success of his work, there are two more Swedish movies in the can which complete his trilogy and then there is the American version of the first book which is coming out next year. I also heard that additional stories were found on the author’s computer. The Netflix DVD which we viewed had an interview with Noomi Rapace who was quite impressive as she described how she approached her role and inhabited Lispeth for 1 1/2 years while the three films were being made. 2009

Comment » | 4 Stars, Crime, Drama, Foreign, Mystery, Thriller

Taking Woodstock

September 9th, 2010 — 2:31am

Taking Woodstock* * * *
Taking Woodstock
– nf – Woodstock was a massive event in which hundreds of thousands of people descended on a small town in upstate New York in 1969 to listen to music and experience peace, love, drugs and rock and roll. It also was also an historic event in that it has come to be the defining moment of that generation. Rather than try to recreate the entire event Director Ang Lee used the screen play based on Elliot Tiber’s memoir to focus mainly on one twenty something young man (played by Demetri Martin) and his parents who are holocaust survivors and owners of run down motel in the Catskills. They follow his odyssey as president of the dinky local chamber of commerce as he entices the organizers of the concert to come to his town after another town where they were planning to hold the concert rejects them. You meet the farmer on whose land the gathering was held and see how the plans for the event take root. You watch how it then grows in an inevitable manner, as it becomes a magnet for the hippies of the peace and love generation. At the same time the film takes us on the journey of this young man who ultimately comes to realize that this is his time to join his generation and move away from his needy parents although his Dad is able to gently give him a push onward. Ang Lee has done a masterful job of capturing the atmosphere, sights and sounds and even an LSD experience of that conglomeration that was Woodstock. He did this with many extras that swayed with the music and imaginary images, took off their clothes, played in the mud while communing with nature and each other. He chose not to show any newsreel clips of the actual music performers although that would have been fun to see. Since most people we know missed being at Woodstock in person or in spirit by being too old or too young, this film almost makes you feel as though you really didn’t miss it and all the planning and drama that led up to it. It was a special experience. 2009

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Musical

I Am Love

September 9th, 2010 — 1:35am

I Am Love* * * *
I Am Love
– rm – This Italian film with English subtitles is unusual in several respects. It is beautifully photographed with each frame seemingly magnificently painted. Director and screenwriter Luca Guadagnino takes his time in setting the scene. The film maker seems to respect the audience to be able to understand very subtle points throughout the movie. The story also takes on a sexual relationship which we usually do not see depicted on the screen. The movie is a modern film set Milan, Italy where we are introduced to a wealthy family who live in a grandiose home with servants who are an important part of their everyday life. We meet the family during a leisurely birthday party for the grandfather patriarch who announces he is turning over the industrial manufacturing company to his son and oldest grandson. We also meet the grandmother, wife of the son who is a transplant from Russia, and their three grown children (two boys and a girl). Early in the story we see the fleeting attraction of the wife to her son’s close friend who is planning to open a beautiful restaurant in the countryside with him. Perhaps more likely in Europe than in the US, this quickly develops into a passionate sexual relationship without us seeing any other reason for them to be drawn to each other. Their hidden liaison continues and we also learn of another secret relationship which the daughter reveals. Food is also a player in this movie as it adds to sensory pleasures which are being depicted. There is much passion and beautifully photographed sexual encounters, tension and fear of discovery and then a tragic confrontation. Tilda Swinton who plays the wife is superb as she creates this sexually obsessed woman who also demonstrated some of the most painful emotions a person might ever feel. 2010

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign

The Hangover

September 8th, 2010 — 8:10am

The Hangover* *
The Hangover
– nf – We know that this movie won a Golden Globe for the Best Comedy. We also know that young people ( probably mostly guys ) about to get married or those who just got married find this film really cool and quite funny. We even laughed and thought some parts were quite creative and amusing! However we can’t really recommend that you spend 96 minutes with this movie unless of course you just want to chill out and fantasize a bachelor party – out on the town in Las Vegas! The premise here is that 4 guys from LA take a car ride to Vegas because one of them is getting married in a few days. They get wasted and drugged. When three of them wake up in their hotel suite they can’t remember what happened the previous night, find a tiger and a baby in the room but the groom to be is missing. And that is not the half of it. !! The three guys ( Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper) bounce all over Las Vegas trying to find their buddy and they end up finding out a couple of other things that they have no idea had happened to them while they were whacked out of their minds.. Maybe at least one of the characters discovers something worthwhile about himself that he didn’t realize before. Unless this storyline is really up your alley, we suggest that you pass on it. 2009

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Crime

The Blind Side

September 8th, 2010 — 4:40am

The Blind Side* * *
The Blind Side
– nf- A few months after the Academy Awards we decided to see this movie since it was nominated as one of the 10 best pictures of year and of course Sandra Bullock was named Best Actress. While it was a good performance by Bullock who had a fine southern accent for her character, we decided that she probably was given the Oscar for “her body of work”. The movie was a predictable “feel good” story that in our opinion was not in the same league as the other nominees for best picture. It is based on a true story of Michael Oher, an oversized black teenager from the wrong side of the tracks ( Quinton Aaron), who gets “adopted” by a rich Memphis couple ( Sandra Bullock and country music star Tim McGraw) with two kids of their own. The school football coach drools over his potential as a offensive lineman but it is not until his new Mother knowing that he has tested to have high aptitude in the “protectiveness” scale encourages him to “protect” the quarterback or the running back as he would protect his own new found family does he show his stuff. He now is able to use his size and power and become a great football player who is recruited by many colleges including his new parent’ s alma mater “Ole Miss”. In order to play football and stay in the game he had to be tutored by a teacher who also went to Ole Miss played by Kathy Bates. There are a few mild twists and subplots in the story line but no big surprises. You come away from the movie with a warm feeling, especially as you look at the closing credits interspersed with photos of the real Michael Oher and the family that adopted him, as well as confirmation that he eventually made the NFL. (2009)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Biography, Drama, Sport

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