Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Director: Clint Eastwood. Cast: Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Annie Corley. 135 min. Rated R. Drama/Romace.

Streep is a lonely farm town housewife in Iowa who falls for Eastwood, a National Geographic photographer who's passing by - and the burden rests on her shoulders to decide whether to leave this life, or stay and suffer for the rest of it. Not a romantic movie fan, but I have to admit: this story is very believable. No question that Eastwood is an eternal Hollywood icon, but even his acting in a few scenes paled in comparison to Streep. Still, the movie made me care for these people, and kept me thinking afterwards: What if ...

PS: Thank you, Shahram, for the recommendation.

Mo says:

The People vs. George Lucas (2010)

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe. 93 min. Documentary.

A documentary solely made for Star Wars fans. It very clearly shows why Star Wars is so important, and why it is ingrained in so many aspects of our lives. Then, it shows why the multitude of re-editions and the new trilogy created such major disappointments among fans - most points of which are right on target (although I'm glad the film's only criticism to my own beloved Episode III was bogus). At the end, with all their ups and downs, I'm sure we would all salivate at the news of another trilogy, if Lucas decides to embark on another.

Mo says:

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Director: Robert Wise. Cast: James Olson, Arthur Hill, David Wayne. 131 min. Rated G. Sci-Fi.

The Michael Crichton story of a virus falling from outer space and spreading a fatal disease with crazy features (a microscopic version of "War of the Worlds") may have been attractive for its own time, but boy ... is the movie slowed down with all the technicalities. Watching how Crichton elaborates on every scientific detail at the risk of boring the audience, makes you wonder at the genius of Spielberg who made Jurassic Park based on a novel by the same author, and still made the movie incredibly entertaining. Here, we're dealing with the director of The Sound of Music.

Mo says:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paul (2011)

Director: Greg Mottola. Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen (voice), Kristin Wiig, Bill Hader, Jason Bateman, Sigourney Weaver, Jeffrey Tambor, Steven Spielberg (voice). 104 min. Rated R. USA/UK. Sci-Fi/Comedy.

An alien that talks and acts like ... Seth Rogen. But no, Paul is far beyond that. Like Galaxy Quest, Paul is a movie very specifically made for sci-fi nerds like me. And very brilliantly so. So if you're well-acquainted with every scene, dialogue and soundtrack clip from the original Star Wars trilogy, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, E.T., Aliens, Back to the Future, and so on, this is definitely the movie for you; because the homages are subtle, intelligent, and funny. If not, don't even bother; you won't get it.

PS: Thank you, Mohi, for the recommendation. I wasn't planning on watching this.

Mo says:

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr. Cast: Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Bela Lugosi. 79 min. Sci-fi.

If Troll 2 is the best worst movie ever based on RottenTomatoes scores, Plan 9 is the best worst "classic" movie of all time. Books can be written about how idiotic this movie is, with all its cardboard sets, flying saucers dangling from very visible strings, dialogue stupid beyond imagination, and a narrator who narrates exactly what you're seeing on screen. To demonstrate the magnitude of the event, I'll post a few lines from the movie, but highly recommend you to check out the movie's trivia, especially to discover how Bela Lugosi starred in the movie after his death.

Please note that Plan 9 from Outer Space was not initially written as a comedy:


Eros:You do not need guns.
Jeff Trent:Maybe we think we do.


Paula Trent:...A flying saucer? You mean the kind from up there?
Jeff Trent:Yeah, either that or its counterpart.


Paula Trent:Now, don't you worry. The saucers are up there. The graveyard is out there. But I'll be locked up safely in there.


Air Force Captain:Visits? That would indicate visitors.


Colonel Tom Edwards:This is the most fantastic story I've ever heard.
Jeff Trent:And every word of it's true, too.
Colonel Tom Edwards:That's the fantastic part of it.


Lieutenant John Harper:But one thing's sure. Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody's responsible.


Paula Trent:I've never seen you in this mood before.
Jeff Trent:I guess that's because I've never been in this mood before.


Lieutenant John Harper:It was a saucer.
Patrolman:A flying saucer?


Lieutenant John Harper:Kelton, Get down there and check it out!
Patrolman Kelton:Well, how do I do that sir?
Lieutenant John Harper:By going down there and checking it out!
Patrolman Kelton:Aww, why do I always get the spook details?

Mo says:

Bridesmaids (2011)

Director: Paul Feig. Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy. 125 min. rated R. Comedy.

This comedy makes a dangerous move. It starts out as a very feminine overlong SNL skit, at the risk of losing all its male audience members. But then a turning point occurs: there's an incredibly funny sequence in a bridal gown shop, and after that, the movie pulls itself together and becomes a study of concepts such as honesty, loyalty, and friendship. Kristin Wiig is pleasant and very much at home in her role as the lonely character right out of a Jane Austen novel, but the true star here is Melissa McCarthy, who absolutely steals the show.

Mo says:

Play It Again, Sam (1972)

Director: Herbert Ross. Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts. 85 min. Rated PG. Comedy.

The Woody Allen version of Casablanca. The ever-neurotic Allen is recently divorced and in search of semi-true love, and after several failed attempts with advice from Humphrey Bogart's ghost along the way, finds it in his best friend's wife (played by Keaton), leading to a familiar but hilarious ending in the airport. A must-see for fans of the classic.

Mo says:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Win Win (2011)

Director: Thomas McCarthy. Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Melanie Lynskey. 106 min. Rated R. Drama.

A good-hearted New Jersey lawyer, faced with the possibility of going broke, stumbles on a supposed win-win situation: he obtains a court order to support a demented old man, then sticks him in a nursing home, and rakes in the monthly $1500 commission. This film has one giant flaw: terrible use of great actors - especially Amy Ryan. But it also has an ending, or better said, one beautiful ending scene, that makes the flaw forgivable. Consider the ending a simple solution to almost all financial problems families deal with.

Mo says:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2010)

Director: Morgan Spurlock. 90 min. Rated PG-13. Documentary.

The setting is paradoxical: Spurlock is making a documentary about the advertising world, to put the whole co-promotion/product placement process to shame - but is looking for one of those same advertisers to sponsor this film via product placement! And we're the audience to this search. He eventually succeeds to find 8 companies to self-depreciate (or actually self-promote) themselves by this film, and there are some eye-openers on the mind-controlling advertisement busniness, but I found the immense time allotted to Spurlock's search boring, and somewhat ... self-promoting. Nothing compared to his previous film, Supersize Me.

Mo says:

Angel-A (2005)

Director: Luc Besson. Cast: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen. 91 min. France. Comedy/Fantasy.

A short dark-skinned gambling Moroccan low-life decides to commit suicide by jumping into the Seine, and meets a tall blond fair-skinned Swedish-looking girl trying the same. Then, she changes his life. Without spoiling anything, let's say this is heavily inspired by Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. Worth the watch if only to be entertained by the site of this oddest of all odd couples, but I was slightly offended by the direct in-your-face morality lessons of "love yourself" or "value yourself" and all that crap. Still, I couldn't remember a more fitting reason for black-and-white cinematography in recent cinema.

PS: By The Professional/Leon and The Fifth Element, Luc Besson has shown great expertise in discovering new female acting talent (Natalie Portman and Milla Jovovvich, respectively). Surprised that six years after Angel-A, Rasmussen hasn't made it yet.

Mo says:

State of Siege (État de siège) (1972)

Director: Costa-Gavras. Cast: Yves Montand, Renato Salvatori, O.E. Hasse. 115 min. France/Italy/West Germany. Political/Thriller.

Costa-Gavras' political thrillers have this uncanny ability to deliver messages throughout decades, in lieu of the supposed worldwide spread of democracy. A Uruguay military dictatorship uses the help of American democracy-loving investors to crack down on the opposition (holding gruesome "torture classes" for the military and thugs along the way), keeps the country under a state of siege for years (while the democratic Constitution only allowed two weeks), and the opposition uses violent means to uphold non-violent democracy. Oh isn't this never-ending vicious cycle all so familiar. Not to be missed, even if only to hear Mikis Theodorakis' nostalgic soundtrack.

Mo says:

Everything Must Go (2010)

Director: Dan Rush. Cast: Will Ferrell, Jennifer Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace. 97 min. Rated R. Drama.

I love it when comedians play serious drama. Mix that with a Raymond Carver (Short Cuts) story, and it's impossible to fail. A man loses his job, is abandoned by his wife, and ends up living with his belongings on his frontyard lawn - all in the same day. Carver's super-cynical look on American life is rampant again: You're only as good as your connections, and start achieving value as a human being ... only if you give all your "material" away. Similar to Stranger than Fiction, this is a Will Ferrell dramedy worthy of viewing.

Mo says: