Tag: Vera Farmiga

At Middleton

January 30th, 2014 — 8:35am


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

HIgher Ground

August 26th, 2011 — 6:27am


Higher Ground-sp  Vera Farmiga for her directing debut chose a movie in which she also starred and one that had a background with which she apparently was quite familiar. Having grown up in a fundamentalist community herself, she knew exactly what she was doing when she took on the story written by Carolyn Briggs and Tim Metcalf. It shows two generations of a family steeped in a Christian congregation led by Pastor Bill (Norbet Leo Butz) that prayed and sang to Jesus and all seemed happy and content no matter what happened to them. There certainly was lot of singing and praying on screen. Corrine Walker  (Farmiga) is swept along with this unbending faith as she marries her teenage sweetheart (John Hawkes) whose happy religious contentment is even greater than hers. All the lovely children in the family seem angelic as they are brought along in the fold. Being a believer in this community means more than just praying to God and Jesus. It also means that women have s subservient role and even in their declarations of faith that should never even suggest that they are lecturing or teaching the men.  Subtle doubts in Corrine are exacerbated as her friend develops a brain tumor but she obviously tries to keep her faith. When she begins to doubt, she has to encounter what erupts in her husband.  She can understand the faith that others maintain but will she be able to keep her own? Part of any success of an Independent film such as this one is the propensity of the audience to identify with characters in the film. That will be a stretch for many of modern day Americans even those with a religious tilt. In the end, the theme of doubt may not be even palatable with the hardcore religious groups to bring them into the movie theatres for this one.  (2011)

1 comment » | 2 Stars, Drama

Henry’s Crime

April 1st, 2011 — 6:28am


Henry’s Crime-sp  Henry (Keanu Reeves) is sort of a nebish, stumbling through life as a toll collector on what seemed to be the New York State Thruway,  in a a loveless marriage to Debbie ( Judy Greer). He just seems to have no purpose in life.  Through no fault of his own, he ends up in jail for a crime he really didn’t commit and serves a year in the clinker. He meets Max  (James Caan) an old timer who was once a con or  “confidence” guy who isn’t even sure he wants out on parole even if he could. Henry’s life is about to change after Julie (Vera Farmiga in a great spirited performance) an actress rehearsing for a play in Buffalo runs into him in a chance meeting. Shortly before this meeting Henry has found a goal in life as nefarious as it might be. There is a play within the movie and a Chekhov play at that, which is driven by love, emotion and suspense. At the same time the life of the characters are filled with suspense, drama, passion and the fun of a heist movie plot. Director Malcolm Venville in his second feature film and American debut, seamlessly moves back and forth between these two dimensions  building to a great movie climax in which we heard out loud reactions from the  audience watching the play within the movie  as well as from our audience viewing this screening. Our reaction was very positive and we recommend that this movie not be missed. (2011)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Crime, Romance

Nothing But the Truth

September 5th, 2010 — 11:50pm

* * * *
Nothing But the Truth
– sp – This movie was clearly inspired by the Judith Miller/Valerie Plume story, but is not that story. It was a very well-crafted film about two strong women, one a journalist with a Pulitzer Prize nominated story which happens to “out” a strong and committed C.I.A. agent. The consequences of all this are dire and difficult on both women and their families and the film provokes much thought about “our right to know”, the “right to not reveal sources” and all the unintended consequences therein. Well worth seeing. 2009

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Thriller

Up In The Air

January 16th, 2010 — 2:33am

Up in the Air* * * *
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

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