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
August 12th, 2014 — 6:52am
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
August 27th, 2013 — 5:56pm
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
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
January 5th, 2013 — 9:16pm
This is Forty-rm.No doubt you have to be just on the other side of 40 or know some people who are there to fully appreciate this movie. We obviously fit the later category. This is vintage Judd Apatow who wrote the screen play, directed and co- produced the movie. It is a sequel to his 2007 hit “Knocked Up” which introduced us to Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie ( Leslie Mann) also known as Judd Apatow’s wife ) We see them now several years later in the house that they can’t quite afford with two kids ( who happened to be the Apatow’s real kids Maude & Iris who play the bickering siblings perfectly because they are real sibs or perhaps because they are two excellent budding actresses ). The setting is west-coast suburban but the story is the conflict, anger and yet wonderful familiarity that characterizes this marital relationship. It zings and satirizes modern sexual relationships, the challenges of raising kids and even visits to the doctor. Only the father’s of Peter and Debbie are shown. Pete’s father (Albert Brooks) remarried with three young sons who needs to constantly borrow money from Pete is not a stereotype that we know but the duo captures the warmth of their relationship. Debbie’s father (John Lithgow) is also remarried with children and visits his daughter only once every several years. The pain that she feels in this neglect is communicated quite well. Both of these relationships may play out in somewhat extreme manner but there will be something in them with which most of the audience will be able to identify. In the midst of the exploration of how school impacts the modern preteen there is a great performance by Melissa McCarthy as a mother of one of the kid’s friends who has occasion to sound off and really does quite a job of doing so. Lest you think that this is a serious drama, let me allay your concerns as it is mostly a comedy even if you are laughing at yourself or someone you have been or someone who you know quite well. (2012).
Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama
July 28th, 2012 — 5:59am
Hope Springs- sp. This is the kind of movie that in addition to being quite entertaining, might very well stimulate discussion in married couples about what may have lost in their marriage over the years. Early in the movie we meet Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) from Omaha, Nebraska who have been married 31 years, have grown children out of the house and now sleep in separate bedrooms. Kay is not happy with this situation and she books a week of intensive couples therapy with the famous author and therapist in Maine Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell). Then the fun begins or perhaps the pain, depending how you experience this well done movie directed by David Frankel based on script by Vanessa Taylor. Producer Todd Black who spoke to the audience we were in at the UCLA Extension Course at the Screen Writers Guild theater, noted that varying groups previewing this movie had different reactions. The younger audiences apparently are rolling in their seats with laughter so you can’t even hear some of the lines. The older audiences laugh a lot but in different places and seem to have a different appreciation of the film. No doubt this is an entertaining movie but sometimes laughter is a cover up for anxiety that can occur when some hidden truths are exposed. Meryl Streep, we are told was one of driving forces wanting to make this movie and send a message to middle aged couples who might need some motivation to examine a marriage that has lost it’s spark. She as usual is terrific. She found a way to look and act like every woman and yet have that special desire and also show it. Tommy Lee Jones was not a bad choice for the husband that most guys wouldn’t mind identifying with as he goes about his everyday business pretending that he doesn’t miss the early days of his marriage. He comes off a little too stereotypical in this role but it works. Steve Carrell has that same bland look and tone that he conveys in the Office but his hint of a smile and his persona makes us believe that he really cares as the doctor therapist. Much of the movie is about what happens to sex in marriage. There is some practice with bananas and at least one orgasm but everybody pretty much keeps their clothes on and the movie did get a PG 13 rating. If the star power of the movie works and the hype doesn’t scare off the guys, this should be a successful film. All the adults should be in for an enjoyable movie with the possibility of some good repercussions for many.(2012)
Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance
May 27th, 2012 — 7:30pm
The Grand Canyon nf– After recently seeing Director/Writer Larry Kasden’s latest film Darling Companion and liking it very much we decided to view this 1991 film also directed by Kasden and co- written with his wife Meg Kasden. This film was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay. It is set and made in Los Angeles about one year before the LA Riots. It is about people from different parts of town whose lives intersect due to some random circumstances. Kevin Kline plays Mac, a successful attorney who goes off the beaten path in more than one way but finds himself seemingly rescued by Simon (Danny Glover), a tow truck driver. Their lives and their life styles reflect their different social, racial and economic settings. The important people in each of their lives are struggling with their own identities and life crisis. Mack’s wife Claire (Mary McDonnell) questions her marriage and tries to deal with her feelings as she is watching her teenage son grow up and have his first romance. She has to decide how to fulfill her own life as well as that of a newborn abandoned child who she discovers while out jogging. Simon’s sister (Afre Woodard), on the other side of town is trying to figure out how to raise her teenage son who can’t see any other choices than being a gang member. Everyone’s lives are intersecting. Not only does the film contrast different life styles in Los Angeles that are only a few minutes car ride away from each other but also puts a mirror to the personal decisions that each person has to make. Kasden uses an ensemble cast of excellent actors and it seems that he has chosen Steve Martin to play the character closest to himself. In a non-comedic role Martin is Davis, a movie producer who wants to make honest films that show the human condition even if they contain realistic violent action that he does best. We come away from this movie reflecting that we are each a tiny spec in this universe that we can’t control but we still have decisions to make that can make a difference. (1991)
1 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
September 6th, 2010 — 3:07am
* * *
The Last Kiss – nf – This is a movie that tries to examine the nature of love as well as marital and impending marital relationships in young people close to turning 30. The main focus is a couple confronting parenthood and the need to get married. Michael (played by Zach Braff who is a perfect younger Ray Romano look alike) realizes he is frightened about his future prospects with Jenna his lovely girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett)of three years who is now pregnant. He allows himself to get drawn into a brief affair with younger very tempting college student. His close buddies are dealing with their own variations of the relationship theme. One can’t get over a breakup, another married guy with small child ( played by Casey Affleck) walks out on his wife and still another can’t figure out what to do even though he is successful in seducing women. At the same time Jenna’s parents (played very well by Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson) are examining their 30 year marriage. All the main characters ultimately confront their vulnerabilities, are insightful and try to be honest with their partners and themselves. That is the strength and the somewhat refreshing component of the film. However, the movie is a cliché. The storyline is shallow and old hat. The comedy component is average TV sitcom material. We liked the characters but weren’t moved by them. It probably isn’t worth your time unless perhaps you are under 30. 2006
Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance
September 6th, 2010 — 2:17am
* * *
Revolutionary Road – sp – Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite since Titanic but this time they play an almost middle aged couple who have moved to the suburbs and struggle with their identity and the meaning of life. The relationship is not pretty but the acting and directing is outstanding. Unfortunately despite a skillful script by Justin Haythe who was the guest at our film course, we did not care that much about the characters.(2008)
Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Romance