April 26th, 2017 — 1:21am
We learn at the beginning of the story that a father and his grown son have just lost a wife and mother and are about to begin the grieving process. The father is played by two time Oscar winner Kevin Kline who turns in an outstanding performance. Likewise Dean, the son, is played by Demetri Martin in a excellent break through performance. So is the director, screenwriter and producer also in the person of Demetri Martin. An important part of the story are single panel cartoons which are interspersed throughout the film and focuses the mood and irony of various situations in the movie. These drawings are also by Demetri Martin. So who is Demetri Martin? He has been a stand up comic for many years, has worked with Conan O’Brien on TV and has published a book of his own cartoons. He is obviously very talented and was able to draw upon his own experience of having lost a parent at a young age and his understanding of the universal search for love combined with a finely honed sense of humor.
Despite the initial premise of the story, this is really not a sad or tearjerker of a story, except the few times that Dean listens to a saved message on his iPhone of his late mom giving him words of encouragement. This is more a story of exploring different ways of grieving, as well as budding love of both a young and older man. It also uses two great exciting American cities that traditionally have been a backdrop for cinematic romance, New York (Brooklyn) and Los Angeles. The two respective women who have stirred the potential of deep romantic feelings in father and son at a time that they were on opposite coasts were Nicky (Gillian Jacobs) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen). Many of Dean’s buddies in the movie, are played by actors and comics who have captured the beat of his generation.
The net result of this 87 minute film is a feel good experience which reminds us that the connection between loss and new love is natural and inevitable. We highly recommend this movie. It is funny and poignant with surprising depth. (2017)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama
February 16th, 2017 — 5:23am
Everybody Loves Somebody
This movie would probably belong in the romantic-comedy genre. However, it is much more, as it is a delightful and thoughtful look at relationships and love.
Clara (Karla Souza), a single Los Angeles obstetrician, is planning to attend her parent’s 40th anniversary of being together who are celebrating it, by getting married! At the wedding Clara reconnects with Daniel (Jose Maria Yazpik) a former boyfriend of years ago who drops by after being away with Doctors Without Borders. Their old chemistry seems ignited but so are memories of his inability to make a commitment. Then there is Asher (Ben O’Toole), an Australian born new friend of Clara’s who is a pediatrician and knows something about commitment as he was married nine years until he became a widower. The complex feelings between all these couples including Clara’s sister and her husband are quite intense, palpable and interesting.
Writer director Catalina Aguilar Mastretta has magnificently captured these universal conflicts, emotions and attractions. Therapists and non-therapists alike will appreciate these psychological and real-life issues depicted in this film.
However, there is another aspect of this movie which gives it important significance, especially in today’s political and social climate. The film is bilingual and bicultural! Clara’s parents are Mexican and live in Ensenada. Clara, her parents and her sister as well as Daniel speaks Spanish as their first language and Asher although from Australia is able to speak it also. They also all speak perfect English. The storyline moves seamlessly back and forth across the border between Ensenada and Los Angeles. All the characters comfortably speak Spanish and English at various times throughout the movie and subtitles are provided as needed. The appropriate set of titles will be furnished depending on which side of the border the film is being shown. We suspect that this movie has the potential to be a big hit in both English and Spanish speaking locations throughout the world. (2017)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Foreign, Romance
July 25th, 2016 — 1:55am
This movie is set in the 1930’s, which is more of the generation of Woody Allen’s parents than his own. Yet the film is in the voice of Allen who not only actually narrates the movie but also directed and produced it. The central character, Bob, played so well by Jesse Eisenberg, speaks and acts with Allen’s inflections and mannerisms.
The story opens in the Bronx (Allen’s hometown) and we see Bob is leaving to seek his fortune in Hollywood where his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell) is a successful movie agent for the stars and he hopes will give him a job. Stern is seemingly happily married for 25 years but he’s having an affair and falling in love with his very young secretary (Kristin Stewart) who no doubt is half his age (sounds familiar?). Complication of complications, young Bob meets Veronica and there is much chemistry between them.
As is typical for an Allen movie, there is an intriguing plot but also great character development. The action of the film shifts back and forth between Hollywood and New York and we get to know Bob’s family. We meet his mother, as you would expect, his father who is a failed jeweler, his sister and her husband who is a outspoken communist, as well as Bob’s brother who is a gangster who occasionally kills people.
Hollywood and New York of the 1930’s are vividly brought to life with clothes, cars, and people as real and true to life as they could be. The casting is wonderful (by Juliet Taylor as usual) and as would be expected, there is period music throughout the movie.
This may not be Allen’s best film but Allen aficionados will not be disappointed and everyone will be reminded about how wonderful and complicated it can be to fall in love. (2016)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama
December 14th, 2015 — 6:46pm
Early in this British film, the husband (Tom Courtenay) of this couple that is about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in a few days, learned that the body of his previous girlfriend many years ago who died by falling into crevice of icy water during a mountain climbing trip, has just been discovered and was fully preserved. His now wife of nearly 45 years (Charlotte Rampling) then finds out that her husband recently secretly visited a travel agency to inquire about going to Switzerland where the discovery of his old girlfriend was made. She is already very hurt about this set of unusual circumstances. She appears to be questioning the many years of the seemingly happy but childless marriage (spoiler alert, the old girlfriend was apparently pregnant).
Andrew Haigh, the young (43-year-old) director/writer in a post-film discussion at our screening revealed his insight and seemingly his major point in writing the film was now that the wife knows this ancient story of her husband’s early love, she realizes that if certain events hadn’t happened, her whole life could have been different. “Duh” – isn’t that so true in everyone’s life? If MB hadn’t accepted the blind date with his 18-year-old now wife of many years (SB), his entire life – children, grandchildren and so many choices in life would not have happened. This movie seems to be built upon this premise. which of course is true for everyone’s life. What the movie demonstrates is under the surface anger and hurt feelings that Charlotte Rampling very well conveys with her facial expressions and demeanor.
Moviegoers today have a right to expect a richer and more complicated story then that which is presented in this film. Now, if the husband had murdered his wife all those years ago (which we both thought for a second might be the case before it became obvious that that wasn’t the situation) then we might have been drawn into the storyline.
Despite the nice photography and excellent acting, we were glad that the running time was only 95 minutes rather than a longer 2-hour film. Still, the film dragged and it felt as though there was “no there there.”(2015)
Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama
July 26th, 2015 — 8:01pm
We were prepared not to like this film as we assumed it was geared for a much younger demographic than ourselves which may very well have been the case. However, we enjoyed it immensely.
The opening scene showed a father teaching his two young girls a mantra that “monogamy is not realistic” as he tells them about his pending divorce to their mother. One of the girls is Amy, played as a grown up young woman by Amy Schumer who also wrote the screenplay.
From the beginning we had the idea that Amy’s psychology was not founded on traditional family values. She had lots of boyfriends and sex seemed to be mainly an end into itself. It was also mixed with lots of drinking and smoking pot. Interestingly this was in contrast to her sister Kim (Brie Larson) who having heard the same message from her father was now married with an adorable stepson and a new pregnancy.
Amy works as a successful writer albeit with a magazine that seems to view life and sex in a manner similar to hers. With Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids) at the director’s helm we would expect Schumer’s comedic writing and her persona to provide lots of good laughs, which was certainly the case if we were to judge our own reactions and that of our theatre audience. However, the film developed much more than an extended Saturday Nite Live routine (which is where co-star Bill Hader achieved his renowned success). He plays Dr. Aaron Connors, a successful sports doctor, who Amy is assigned to interview for her magazine. The chemistry between them goes beyond the sex and they fall in love. Amy and the good doctor struggled with their differences and their attraction to each other. There are some very poignant and dramatic scenes, which Ms. Schumer carries off extremely well while staying within her character. We read somewhere that she is a classically trained actress and she certainly handled the tearful moments, angry outbursts and the comedy to perfection. The story uses satire especially in the sex scenes but also with the cameo appearances by Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, Chris Evert, Daniel Radcliffe and some well-known professional basketball players.
We are left with a tour de force about the impact of childhood, falling in love, and growing up, which are all presented to us with a wonderful sense of humor.(2015)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance
June 22nd, 2014 — 5:24am
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
June 17th, 2013 — 3:59am
Before Midnight– We didn’t see the two prequels of this movie, Before Sunrise (1995) and After Sunrise (2004) and don’t believe it is necessary in order to appreciate this superb examination of the relationship of the couple Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) now in their early 40’s. Director Richard Linklater reunites with his two stars and they collaborated in writing this sequel which they filmed on the Greek Peloponnesian peninsula. The movie opens with Jesse saying good-bye at the airport in Greece to his 14 year old son who is returning to Chicago after a summer visit with his Dad. The parents divorced many years ago . Jesse now lives with Celine and their twin 9 year old daughters. He is a successful novelist clearly very happy with French born Celine and their family, but obviously feels guilty that he will not be able to regularly see his son during his high school years. In the subsequent car ride back to where they are staying as invited guests for the summer at the home of a Greek author, as well as at a dinner with two other couples, we learn more about their back story. This dinner conversation unfolds and reveals the values and attitudes of three different generations. The main focus now spotlights Celine and Jesse as they walk through the magnificent Greek location to a quaint hotel and then spend a special planned evening together without their children. They become engaged in what turns out to be a no holds barred examination of their overt and hidden feelings. While the interesting specifics of their circumstances were unique to this couple, we recognized the conflicts, dilemmas and angst were universal and we could extrapolate them to familiar issues in many couples of different ages and generations. The unsolved and continued exploration of how a couple will raise children in this post feminist era is laid out in the back and forth recriminations of this couple. How do couples make decisions about where to live and which careers to support when both have career opportunities and there are children involved? How do you distinguish between being true to yourself and your love for your partner ? Does love and loyalty trump all and overcome an extramarital attraction or a fling? What will a couple say in the heat of an argument and can they forgive each other for what they might say? There were many long uninterrupted scenes which underscored the chemistry between this trio (We have to include the unseen director). The subtle facial expressions which included anger and tenderness added to our identification with Celine and Jesse. In the end we are left with a very stimulating movie to discuss. It becomes our challenge to also ponder how the next sequel will turn out. (2013)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance
December 23rd, 2012 — 6:37am
A movie with this subject matter has to be done extremely well or it will be a big flop. It seems to us there would be no middle ground and screen writer and director Ben Lewin amply succeeded. It is based a true story of Mark O’Brien a young man who had spent most of his life in an “iron lung” since he had polio as a youth (played by John Hawkes). He has full sensations but his muscles are very weak and he can’t move his arms or legs.He can only breath on his own for a couple of hours before he is exhausted and needs to be in his metal breathing apparatus. He lives his life flat on his back but yet he managed to graduate from UC Berkeley with the help of caretakers. He is a poet and a freelance writer. One day he is asked to do a story about sex therapists who help disabled people. He ends up contemplating going to a sex therapist himself in order to lose his virginity. He begins a series of discussions on this dilemma with a new local Priest (William Macy) who becomes his sounding board, friend and supporter in his new endeavor. The story soon becomes about the relationship with his sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt) who is a married middle aged woman with a teenage son. Hunt is natural and comfortable in this R rated magnificent performance. Through the interaction and relationship of this man and woman we see how emotional attachments can be formed. For the young man it is a desire and fulfillment of his sexual yearning which gets turned into romantic feelings, poetry and all. For the woman, she was prepared to give herself sexually but she felt more than she expected. For the audience, it is a gratifying, touching experience where most of us are educated about sex among the disabled as well as being given a chance to reflect on the true nature of romance and sex. ( 2012 )
Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Romance
July 28th, 2011 — 7:18pm
Crazy, Stupid, Love, sp Dan Fogelman, who wrote Cars and other successful animated movies wrote this well thought out comedy about all too human relationships. He wrote it having Steve Carell in mind as Cal , the middle age guy around whom all the actions swirls as his marriage suddenly falls apart. Carell loves the project and decides to produce it with Warner Brothers coming on board to make it a big studio film. The team of Glen Ficarra and John Requa are brought in to direct it. They have been working together since their college days at Pratt in New York City. They have written Bad Santa and Bad News Bears as well as recently directing I Love You Phillip Morris with Jim Carrey. After meeting these three talented people at our screening we can see how their chemistry worked for this character driven comedy with a wonderful cast. Ryan Gosling played Jacob, the cool single but obviously complex guy who takes the recently jilted Cal under his wing. Julianne Moore is Emily, Cal’s wife who is going through what she describes as a mid-life crisis. Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon round out this all star cast with each putting just the right touch on their characters. Special mention should be made about young Jonah Bobo who plays Robbie, the 13 year old son of Cal and Emily whose emotional experience helps all the characters and the audience understand the essence of the movie. The result is not only a funny comedy but a touching story which examines love that can start as teenagers and sometimes be destined to last a life time with trials and tribulations. It also looks at teenage “love” that may only just feel like love. The story line is close to being brilliant as the characters evolving relationships are charming, touching, surprising and fun to watch as well as being easy to identify with. (2011)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Romance