June 5th, 2016 — 6:22pm
George Clooney and Julia Roberts are a combination that usually would be a must see movie for us. We weren’t disappointed this time but the plot is a stretch to make this a great movie.
A disgruntled young man (Jack O’Connell) is quite upset that he lost his $60,000 listening to the advice of TV money guru, Lee Gates (George Clooney). He breaks on to the TV set and puts the money man into a bomb jacket with his thumb on the detonator. Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is the TV director behind the scenes talking into the earpiece in Gates’ ear. The plot involves a company led by a shady CEO by the name of Walt Camby (Dominic West) who claims it was a computer glitch that caused his company to lose $800,000. All of this is taking place “on air” with the New York City Police responding to this dramatic event. This theme could have ripped from the current headlines. After all, one of the presidential contenders is warning us about the unsavory deals of all the Wall Street guys.
Director Jodie Foster is pulling the strings behind this movie and does a pretty good job. She may have missed one detail as one of us thought that the Dow Jones average shown on the screen that was at the bottom of the TV screen as the action was taking place on camera never changed, so that must have been a slip up.
In the end, we are left with the idea that the financial markets are subject to the behind-the-scenes activities of unsavory people, and you better be careful listening to them. That probably is a bad rap about most of them (at least we hope so). (2016)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama
February 15th, 2014 — 10:05pm
The Monuments Men -Guest Review
This is a guest review by Ron Turco, M.D. Dr. Turco is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from Portalnd, Oregon. He is Chair of the Committee on Art, Culture and Creativity of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry
I read with substantial disappointment David Denby’s shallow and un-insightful review of George Clooney’s new film “The Monuments Men.” (New Yorker – Feb. 17-24, 2014).He compares this film to the old Frankenheimer movie “The Train.” There is no comparison, as the train was not historically accurate and barely mentioned in passing Rose Valland, Temporary Custodian at the Jeu de Paume whose influence was so important in the discovery of looted works in France, at the risk of her own life, that she received the French Legion of Honor and the Medal of Resistance becoming a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, making her one of the most decorated women in France. She also received a Medal of Freedom from the United States in 1948 and an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany. It was her book “Le Front deL’Art” that was the basis of the 1965 movie “The Train”, a movie in which she was only briefly mentioned, although she had also received a commission in the French First Army.
The Monuments Men were a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created Monuments, Fine Arts and and Archives section (MFAA) of the military, attempting to save as much of the culture of Europe and Western Civilization as possible and were willing to fight and die for something greater than themselves. Some were killed in combat.
George Clooney has done an outstanding job with his film “The Monuments Men” and in reminding us that the story of The Holocaust must be told over and over again in different ways and at different times. He masterfully and in sometimes direct or subtle ways brings out the Nazi horror and disregard for human life. Mr Denby has missed the point entirely in his understanding of these heroes and heroines and mentions that most of the works were returned to private collectors. That is not completely true. The works were returned to the countries of origin or to the Jews from whom they were stolen. In the film George Clooney also does an excellent job in presenting the value and importance of the sacrifices of the MFAA people, a job that was endorsed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and strongly supported by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many of these people went on, after the war, to make substantial contributions to art and culture. Private First Class Lincoln Kirstein founded the legendary New York City Ballet as one of the most important cultural figures of his generation. Second Lieutenant James J. Rorimer, who worked closely with Rose Valland, was instrumental in founding the Met’s medieval collections branch, the Cloisters. “The Monuments Men” film is very close to the facts (a few minor changes, as with all films, including “Lincoln” and “The Navajo Code Talkers”). The acting is superb and I highly recommend this film, especially to young people who may not have an understanding of the broad ramifications of The Holocaust or the history of these brave people. John Edsel’s scholarly book “The Monuments Men” should be required reading in high schools throughout our country. (2014)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History, War
October 5th, 2013 — 10:11pm
Gravity rm– We saw this film in newly furbished movie theatre with very comfortable large seats that go back almost 180 degrees, a gigantic new screen and a magnificent sound system that was capable of shaking the entire building. We chose the 3D showing which was perfect for this film. The view shown of earth from space was breath taking. Director Alfonso Cuaron obviously had the money and the special effects people to make the most of this experience You probably have seen the coming attractions of this film. You can also get a pretty good feeling what it is like to float in space with only your thrusters to move you around by going to the movie web site and take their simulated space walk where you control the movement (http://gravitymovie.warnerbros.com/#/experience). So what is left?A little of George Clooney and a lot of Sandra Bullock who really carries the movie. She flips, turns, worries, frets, thinks about her daughter and really does a great one woman show. There really is no great story line. It is a fun experience and perhaps it shows you the state of the art for making a movie “in space.” We think many sophisticated movie goers will probably want more than this movie provides. Maybe visiting the website will be enough.. (2013)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Thriller
October 12th, 2012 — 7:47am
If you are old enough to remember the Iran hostage crisis of the late 1970s or are a student of history of such events , this movie will remind you of those turbulent times in vivid detail. On the other hand you just have to recall the horrific details of a short a time ago when our embassy in Libya was stormed and the US ambassador was murdered, to get into the mind set to appreciate this movie. In fact, even if you knew nothing about recent or past history you could very easily get caught up in this exciting, suspenseful, thrilling, heart pounding movie. When the movie audience cheers and claps for joy at certain parts of the film you realize that they are feeling tension that is is being built up and released. This film stars Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez a CIA agent, who actually in real life was was awarded a secret medal by that agency (everything is a secret in the CIA) for what he did which was depicted in this movie. The task he took on was to try to sneak out of revolutionary Iran, 6 Americans who had fled to the Canadian embassy and were hiding there, when the Iranians had stormed their embassy and made hostages of the other Americans . The plan revolved around the making a fake movie which was to be produced and directed by Hollywood mogul types played respectively by John Goodman and Alan Arkin. This gave the movie a comic relief and a little spoof of Hollywood. This real movie Argo which had the same name as the fake movie, was directed by the star of it, Ben Affleck who also co-produced it with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Well deserved credit for this movie should also go to the screen writer Chris Terrio and award winniing editor William Goldenbery, Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto and music by Alexandre Desplat. The realism that was achieved with this reenactment of those dramatic days was shown at the end of the film as part of the credits. Photographs torn from the newspapers of that time were put side by side on the screen with still images from this film and many were nearly identical. This included a photo of people climbing over the fence and into the embassy grounds, a man being hanged in the street as well as the real faces on the passports of many of the characters. This film may not surprise you but you will come with a away with a reminder of how easy it can be to become swept away with a thrilling Hollywood movie.(2012)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History
November 27th, 2011 — 9:35pm
The Descendants-rm This movie immediately puts you into the life crisis of a man(George Clooney) as he come to grips with the fact that his wife who on life support in a coma after a water skiing accident is about to die. He is confronted with the question of what kind of a husband has he been, as well as the nature of his relationship with his two children. His learning something about his wife that would be devastating to any man then complicates things and sets the trajectory of the story. Clooney out does himself with one of his finest performances where he starts off as an insensitive, somewhat awkward husband who also obviously has not been a very good father and is now overwhelmed with what he is facing. He evolves throughout the movie to connect to his daughters, as they become a team with a mission with a 4th member (Nick Krause) who is the older daughter’s boyfriend and provides some help in understanding his plight as well as a comedic touch. Clooney emerges as a now likeable guy who appears to have accepted his tragic circumstances and you believe is going to make the best of it. Aside from Clooney there are two standout performances. One is by Shailene Woodley as the 17-year-old daughter who goes from a bratty teenager to a caring sister and daughter who is wise beyond her age. This is her first major role and is clear that she has a great future. The other star is the beautiful state of Hawaii with its magnificent vistas and breathtaking coastline as well as it’s unique history which are all part of the storyline of this movie. However, much of the credit of the success of this move should be given to director Alexander Payne (Sideways) who brought out excellent performances by his two younger cast members (Woodley and Amara Miller) . There also was the every effective Hawaiian musical background provided by Dondi Bastone and Richard Ford. The film is based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and the screenplay is by Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Payne probably could have worked with many other very fine male leads and ended up with an excellent film as this one is. However, the presence of Clooney will assure it the attention which it deserves and demonstrates once again the versatility of this great actor.
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama
October 30th, 2011 — 8:30pm
Ides of March– rm- It is not a coincidence that this movie opens in the US as there is a hotly contested primary race in one of the political parties prior to the 2012 Presidential Election.The stories that emerge from behind the scenes of these campaigns usually mesmerizes the public. The people running these campaigns have to be the brilliant tacticians who understand politics and the power of the press. They encounter nosey reporters exemplified in this story by NY Times reporter Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei). They play a complicated chess game as they present their candidates. Everything and everybody is expendable including the campaign leaders themselves. Steven Myers (Ryan Gosling) is the idealistic very smart staffer working for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) under very wise campaign director Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). The campaign manager for the oppositional candidate is a very crafty (Paul Giamatti). The Governor while politically very principled has some Clintonesque weaknesses and we should mention there is a pretty young intern (Evan Rachel Wood). Mix these ingredients together and you get a suspenseful fast moving screenplay by Grant Heslov with contribution from Clooney who also directed the film. It was based on a play, Farragut North, by Beau Willimon which having seen it in Los Angeles, we felt the suspense and surprises of the story were slightly muted. In real life, reading the newspapers and various biographies, we get snippets that makes us understand that in big time politics there can be deception, lying and compromising of principles. This movie gives us a depressing view how it might go down. This isn’t a pretty picture but it is a great story and an effective movie (2011)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama
January 16th, 2010 — 2:33am
* * * *
Up In the Air – sp – George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham a man whose job is to fly around the country and fire people since their bosses didn’t want to do it themselves. He is very well accommodated to life in the air without much of a home base. He has learned all the tricks of this life style and makes the point that one should travel light since baggage weighs you down. He also feels that relationships weigh you down. He has traded the messiness of relationships for neatness and efficiency Screenwriter and Director Jason Reitman (son of Ivan the Director) who was a guest at our screening told us that he took six years to write this movie. During this time he married, became a father, directed Thank you For Smoking and Juno, which he also penned. While still a young man he appears to have learned enough about life to show a core of sensitivity in his main character in this movie who develops insight into his own loneliness. Vera Farmiga plays Alex, a woman who appears to be the female equivalent of Bingham but yet his attraction to her challenges his notions about life, as does the impending wedding of his sister and his realization of how he is regarded by his family. There is clever dialog and meaningful themes, which not only deal with relationships but also with the hardship of job loss and unemployment. Reitman shares with us how when he started writing the script the economy was in full gear but by the time he was shooting it, the idea of people losing their jobs was much more common and personal to so many people in this country. He therefore chose to use real people who had recently lost their job to play the parts of a series of people being fired in the film. This provided an intensity and authenticity in these people, which Reitman admits he could not have written. This movie deftly combines comedy, realism and thought provoking emotion. (2009)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama
January 16th, 2010 — 2:20am
The Men Who Stare At Goats – sp – This is a comedy, or more specifically, a farce that is trying to make fun of the US Army for some ventures that they made into exploring the use of new age techniques and the potential of the application of the paranormal for fighting the enemy. The story is loosely based on book by Jon Ronson published in 2004 where he described the ideas of Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon who served in Vietnam War and in the late 1970s proposed the formation of the First Earth Battalion. He produced a 125-page manual of drawings, graphs, maps, polemical essays and point by point redesigns of every aspect of military life. Movie producer Paul Lister who was the guest at our film course told us that the actual manual was shown in the movie. In that manual it was proposed that rather than using bullets and munitions, a new force would attempt to first win the hearts and minds of the enemy by doing such things as using positive vibrations, carrying “symbolic animals” of peace—such as baby lambs—into hostile countries, greeting people with “sparkly eyes.” There was a bit in the movie where the character played by George Clooney tries to flash his eyes to bring about this effect. The overall storyline is that a recently divorced, unhappy newspaper reporter played by Ewan McGregor goes to Iraq to find a good story and meets
Clooney who tells how he is a former Jedi of the above group and is reactivated for a new mission. You add Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges to the mix with this premise and you get some good delivery of comedic situations, which brought about some loud laughs in the movie theater. There are attempts at “remote viewing” walking through walls, killing goats by starring at them etc. They also brought in the idea of giving LSD to people without them knowing it, which the US and the CIA are known to have actually done about 50 years ago. A real film clip shown in the movie of a news report of Iraqi prisoners continually being subjected to bothersome music to break them down to get information. Thus the film seems to also be attempting to satirize recent US actions with prisoners as well as the earlier time when the Earth Battalion was being proposed. Technically speaking, they are also confusing psychological warfare with paranormal or new age warfare. But after all, it is a comedy albeit it somewhat slapstick. In the end the movie goes nowhere. The targets of the satire are nebulous. It was fluffy without any real depth. (2009)
Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, War