Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How I learned to love Magic in the Moonlight trailer

Blue Jasmine is absolutely one of my favorite 2013 movies. Not only for the huge and emotional performance from Cate Blanchett, but because it just works as a movie. It is endlessly watchable and I kept discovering gems and falling in love more as I re-watched.

With all this I was looking forward to Woody Allen's next, Magic in the Moonlight. Not to mention that it has the delightful Emma Stone. I have to say I was a bit deflated after watching the trailer. Shades of Curse of the Jade Scorpion. I wasn't expecting that. But I decided to look again and I found a lot to be excited for :

- Emma Stone is still in it and it looks like she knows how to deliver the Allen dialogue.
- it looks gorgeous, from sets to light to costumes.
- it has a lot of charm and looks like a funny zany romantic comedy.
- Jacki Weaver sighting! Yes, yes and yes again. I can't get enough of Jacki.
- Colin Firth looks OK and has nice rapport with Stone.

Bring it on I say now. I'm ready Woody. Take a look and tell us what you think in the comments.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Short Notes on 2014 Movies

Here are short notes on few films I saw in the first 4 months of 2014:


I saw this at Rendez-vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center. At the screening the director, Katell Quillevere, said they had no US distribution. Whaaat? It's a fantastic film, come on distributors somebody snap up the rights. Now!

Suzanne is an episodic tale of love and familial bonds told through the life story of the title character (played by Sara Forestier) staring as a child until she's in her mid 30s. I was knocked over by it. Strong filmmaking that handles the passage of time beautifully with a huge emotional punch to the gut. Sara Forestier is fantastic, in fact all the performances are great and naturalistic.


Hateship Loveship

I was not enamored of Kristen Wiig's post Bridesmaids choices. I was excited for Girl Most Likely but the tepid response kept me away. Walter Mitty was just awful. So with trepidation I went in to see this movie. To my surprise and delight I found that all the honesty and open wound acting she brought to her character in Bridesmaids were here in abundance.

It's a small story about a small person. Small in that you don't notice her but she's big in her emotions. A caretaker and the family she works for and the man she gets to build a life with. I don't want to say more about the specifics because the movie lives by the surprising ways this story unfolds. It is a very assured and smart directorial accomplishment for Liza Johnson. I can't wait to see what she does next. it is absolutely Wiig's film but it also finds fantastic ways to use Hailee Steinfeld, Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte, Sami Gayle and ChristineLahti. A wonderful ensemble.

Amalric and Seigner

Venus in Fur

I like Roman Polanski in general but he’s not a favorite of mine. Liked his earlier stuff better particularly Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby although recently Ghost Writer was fantastic.

The movie is basically a director auditioning an actress for a part in his play. I saw the play this is based on and the movie doesn’t compare favorably with it. Somehow the power play and shifts within looked weird onscreen when they were provocative on stage. Both actors, Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric, were good and had their moments specially early on in the scenes when they first meet. The scenes at the end were a bit ridiculous and didn’t serve them well.

Said Mrini and Amin Ennaji in Salvation Army

Salvation Army

Another Rendez-vous with French cinema entry. My favorite point came in the post screening Q&A when the director Abdellah Taia, spoke of the influence of Egyptian Ciema on him while growing up in Morocco. The moderator tried to dismiss Egyptian cinema as "melodrama" and Taia praised it saying "watching Douglas Sirk is like eating sweet honey". Loved that quote. So true.

The film tells the story of Abdellah a young man growing in Morocco, his interactions with family and sexual awakening. The movie is obviously autobiographical so I was surprise at the precise, economical and unflinching way it presented its protagonist. It is a very empathetic portrayal but one that is very clear eyed too.

Pearce with Jones in shadow as she should always be

Breathe In

The plot of this movie is like the plot of 95% of porn movies: young au pair/exchange student falls for head of the household she’s staying at. Ridiculous and this movie does not give this thin well-worn plot any new shadings or perspective. Best thing is a long close up of Guy Pearce’s lips. And is Felicity Jones going to stop getting cast in movies; mediocre at best in everything she has done.

Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? Tell all in the comments.