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Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 3rd, 2015, 4:06 pm
by Vienna
I enjoyed A WALK IN THE WOODS. I haven't read the Bryson book,but will now. Nick Nolte almost stole the film . Very funny performance .
The trail looks magnificent .
I've liked Robert Redford in this and ALL IS LOST.
Also liked THE MARTIAN though I thought 140 minutes was too long - maybe because I'm used to little B movies running an hour at most!
Was disappointed in Meryl Streep's RICKI AND THE FLASH.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 3rd, 2015, 4:23 pm
by Rita Hayworth
I'm watching Star Trek - The Motion Picture right now on IFC.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 3rd, 2015, 8:43 pm
by kingrat
Last night we saw THE INTERN and both enjoyed it very much. Excellent cinematography--none of the mannered stuff so common today, just beautifully graduated colors--and set design, with very becoming costumes for Anne Hathaway. Robert De Niro not in a campy part is a big plus; one of his better performances in the last decade or more. Anne Hathaway is equally good. Rene Russo as a masseuse looks mighty good. The gal has had some work done, but she still has a natural look. If you're wondering what Linda Lavin, TV's ALICE, looks like these days, she has not had work done and looks every bit of her age, if not more. Straightforward script and direction by Nancy Meyers. My expectations were not high, but this was a good movie.

We both liked PAWN SACRIFICE, about the Bobby Fischer/Boris Spassky world championship chess match. I'd give Tobey Maguire, as Fischer, and Peter Sarsgaard, as a friendly priest, Oscar nominations, and Liev Schreiber as Spassky wasn't too shabby, either. Michael Schulbarg shone as the bureaucrat (with probably CIA connections) trying to shepherd Fischer where he needs to go. This could have been a nothing part, but Schulbarg made his character memorable. A literate script, capable direction by Edward Zwick. The only two quibbles: pop music of the times is slathered onto the score, always the obvious choices, never a smidgen of imagination. And the extreme close-ups show you more than you want to see of Maguire's facial moles and Schreiber's acne scars. But these are minor issues. Catch this on Netflix if it's already left a theater near you.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 4th, 2015, 10:25 am
by Professional Tourist
I appreciate the recent reviews from Vienna and Kingrat. I plan to watch a couple of them once they become available online, The Martian and The Intern. Conceptually, The Intern may have quite a bit in common with The Internship (2013), but since I loved that one I'd be up for a reworking of it with a somewhat older intern. :wink:

This weekend I've seen a few recent films based on the concept of people disappearing -- just vanishing into thin air: Don't Blink (2014), The End (Fin) (Spain, 2012), and Vanishing on 7th Street (2010).

The first two deal with groups of friends where one by one the people go missing from one moment to the next; the third presents the general population of a major US city as disappearing.

There are variations on this theme among the three films, such as in one the animal life disappears too, while in the others the animals remain; and in two of them everything they were wearing/holding disappears along with the people, while in the third one, empty clothing, shoes, etc are left behind.

I have seen other films that focus on the disappearance of large numbers of people, but they generally revolve around natural or man-made disasters, or else religious apocalyptic themes, where the audience knows (or eventually finds out) what's happening. In these three, no one knows what is happening or why, or if the phenomenon is local, world-wide, or somewhere in between.

Of these three, the only one I would not recommend is Vanishing on 7th Street. It has more of a cool sci-fi feel, with less character development. The people who remain are strangers to each other, we learn little about them, and they don't form much of a relationship among themselves. The other two films center on groups of friends and spouses, and so have more warmth and human interest.

Between Don't Blink and Spain's Fin, I like the Spanish film better, for two reasons. In Fin the characters venture out of the area where the disappearances start to happen, which I think is more natural than staying put, and in the process they and we get more of a feeling for what's happening and where, even though there are no definite answers, which to me makes Fin a more satisfying experience. Don't Blink although interesting, is ultimately more frustrating because you don't have any sense of what's happening and if it extends beyond that one place. Some people may like that better because it means they can use their imagination more, or because it makes the situation more frightening, but I prefer seeing more of the big picture to give my imagination some guidance. Maybe I don't want to do too much of the work myself, or I prefer to have more of an idea of the author's intentions. But in my opinion they are both worth watching.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 4th, 2015, 11:33 am
by fxreyman
Rita Hayworth wrote:I'm watching Star Trek - The Motion Picture right now on IFC.

IFC probably cut the heck out of STTMP. The original running time of the movie was 132 minutes. Theh Robert Wise had a special directors cut issued for the dvd which ran 136 minutes and included updated visual effects and better sound effects. Hopefully IFC did not place the film into a two hour window.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 4th, 2015, 7:00 pm
by moira finnie
For some unplanned reason I recently saw four movies dealing with the art world:

Above: Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds in front of one of Gustav Klimt's masterpieces in Woman in Gold (2015).

I recently saw Woman in Gold (2015) with Helen Mirren playing real life survivor of the Nazi era Maria Altmann. We initially meet her as an elderly, precise and rather flinty woman in LA who is trying to reclaim her legitimate inheritance of Portrait of Adele, a magnificent portrait by Gustav Klimt that was done of Ms. Altmann's aunt. The film shifts back and forth in time to Vienna before, during and after the Nazis took over as well as the modern era. The film's strengths are the performance of Mirren (making you forget completely that she is Helen Mirren, not a proud and frustrated elderly Jewish lady from Vienna), the beautiful depiction of the comfortable and accomplished family life in Vienna prior to the Anschluss, and the legally surreal situation that allowed art work and other treasures stolen from the persecuted to remain in private or national galleries long after the war. Well worth seeing as well for a different performance from Ryan Reynolds as a young lawyer whose involvement with Maria Altmann leads him on an emotional journey that he had not anticipated.

My POV: Highly recommended for anyone looking for some fine acting and still relevant questions of justice.

Above: George Clooney and Hugh Bonneville in the WWII story of The Monuments Men (2014).

A kind of companion film to the above movie, The Monuments Men (2014), which I saw for the second time recently, was more likable this time than when I initially saw this George Clooney-directed story. Inspired by the real life art historians who raced to save the art work that had been looted by the Nazis from their victims and from the great museums of Europe during WWII, the episodic movie has a few genuine moments of poignancy involving Hugh Bonneville's character and toys briefly with the idea that human life might be more important than art--a point that John Frankenheimer made with memorable force in the Burt Lancaster movie, The Train (1964) five decades ago. The Monuments Men's cast, led by Clooney, also included Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin and even John Goodman as a motley crew of scholars hunting down the stolen paintings, sculptures and altar panels with some help from Cate Blanchett, who played a highly fictionalized version of Rose Valland, a genuine French patriot who was a curator at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris. Matt Damon is along for the ride as well in a role that seems to be there for comic relief most of the time and kept making me think this might have been intended to be a kind of Oceans 14 (?)--not a dramatic war story. BTW, Robert M. Edsel's three non-fiction books on the extraordinary efforts of Allied groups to save the culture of Europe during this perilous time make for more compelling and moving reading. The movie missed the mark for me, but I did find it made me go back to the books again. It was also enjoyable to see an unexpected appearance by an elderly Nick Clooney (the director's father, formerly of AMC in the "good old days" and a fixture in broadcasting for several decades).

In sum: the real life story was more compelling. Rose Valland deserves her own biopic--not just being portrayed as a cranky flirt opposite Matt Damon.

Above: Timothy Spall as the British painter J.M.W. Turner in Mr. Turner (2014).

Mr. Turner (2014), directed by Mike Leigh, starred Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner (1775-1951), the great British painter whose later, intensely dramatic landscapes seemed to anticipate abstract expressionism by a century as he conveyed a sense of loss and loneliness as well as turbulent change beneath the surface of life on his canvases. The film, which the director and actors reportedly improvised after discussing the point of each scene on set, was sometimes affecting but quite often hard to follow. If I had not had some knowledge of Turner's life before seeing the movie I think I would have given up halfway through the movie. The leading man's performance was punctuated with a series of grunts and moans rather than very much coherent speech, conveying the feeling that Turner seems to have had a serious learning disability. He sure had a helluva time expressing himself verbally. Spall's best moments in the film are between Turner and his father (Paul Jesson), a barber and wigmaker who devoted himself to son, the artistic genius by preparing his canvases and giving his life a modicum of order. Turner expressed his affection openly for this individual, but most others seem to have been exploited for their social connections (an epicene John Ruskin is portrayed as the biggest twerp among several pretentious types), though a later liaison with a kind, working class woman, Mrs. Booth (Marion Bailey) seems to have given him some peace and grace. Others are ignored (Turner's two daughters and their mother) or kept around for their practical or sexual usefulness, including Turner's devoted, benighted housekeeper, Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson). Danby's employer fondles or mounts her without a word when the spirit moves him, even as the poor woman suffered terribly with a skin affliction (historians think it may have been psoriasis or scleroderma, but no one knows for sure). Given his character's problems with his social skills, Spall--still makes him a compelling figure burdened with a towering gift for painting. I was moved by the end of this challenging (and at times tedious) movie. The cinematography of Dick Pope was beautifully modulated, using a palette strong on bronze and gold, but might have been better if more of Turner's canvases were on display. The musical score by Gary Yershon was among the most annoying I've heard in many a day.

Takeaway for me: Love the paintings. Too bad the movie didn't have a bit more structure, but perhaps the director Leigh felt this was his way of relating his subject's untidy talent and lofty vision. As one of his contemporaries put it: “The man must be loved for his works; for his person is not striking nor his conversation brilliant.”

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: October 6th, 2015, 9:59 pm
by RedRiver
I knew this was a Mike Leigh film the minute I saw Spall's recognizable jowly face! I wasn't aware of this movie, but I admire most of the director's work. As you commented, Moira, his films appear to be largely improvised. It's usually effective.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: November 28th, 2015, 2:45 pm
by Lzcutter
We saw The Martian a few weeks back and really enjoyed it. Matt Damon is quite good in the role and it is a very un-Ridley Scott type film. Well worth seeing especially on the big screen.

Also, last week we saw Bridge of Spies, another good film I highly recommend. A very timely script (especially in the beginning that I doubt all involved would realize just how timely given the atmosphere and news of the day it was released into), great acting especially by Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, beautiful cinematography and direction by Spielberg.

Well worth seeing!

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: December 18th, 2015, 11:05 pm
by Lomm
Just back from the new Star Wars film, and it was fantastic. Everything you may have loved about the original trilogy is here, from the "lived in" look of the world to the focus on characterization over CGI display (though there is plenty of that's just a movie that has beats and takes time to make you care about the characters in exactly the way the prequels didn't).

I will not spoil anything so that's all I can say. It's my 3rd favorite Star Wars movie, just behind Empire and the original. Go see it!

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: December 19th, 2015, 3:25 am
by Vienna
I too enjoyed BRIDGE OF SPIES. Another example of real life stories being as exciting as any that a screenwriter can dream up.
Another new film SPOTLIGHT comes to the UK in January - about Boston reporters who uncovered child abuse by priests.Has anyone seen it?
I want to see the new STAR WARS just to see Ford,Fisher and Hamil reunited!
Watching the TV's series ALIAS, one could see the skill of director J.J.Abrams.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: December 22nd, 2015, 8:50 pm
by Lzcutter
Saw "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on Friday and all I can say, without spoiling, is I can't wait to see the next one!

Missed some of the Joseph Campbell magic of the first one but am very happy with the direction of this film and want to see how the storylines play out going forward!

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: December 27th, 2015, 5:16 pm
by Professional Tourist
I'd like to share some brief reflections on several recent films I've seen over the past couple of months:

Room (2015) -- intriguing concept, but was more interesting while they were within 'room' than afterward, when the story didn't really go anywhere. Nice to see William H. Macy, although he was pretty much wasted in that tiny role.

The Martian (2015) -- excellent! I've seen it twice so far, and know I will revisit periodically. Gripping plot, interesting main characters, and most of the science actually makes sense. :) Three cheers!

A Walk in the Woods (2015) -- surprisingly dull, the title actually fits. Even though they're hiking the Appalachian Trail, very little happens in terms of personal experiences, interactions with nature, or meetups with others. It's difficult to keep track of where they are or how far they went because, although there are titles to show the passage of time, there is very little to indicate the various locales. The location photography should be a consolation, but it's not. The panoramic vistas especially are quick and nothing special. The one saving grace is Nick Nolte's performance. [Mary Steenburgen is completely wasted in a brief, insignificant appearance.] A better choice is Wild (2014) where Reese Witherspoon's character hikes the Pacific Crest Trail. Although she is alone, it's a much better story, and more actually happens.

Joy (2015) -- just okay, nothing special to me. I'm not a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, and was not particularly eager for a reteaming of her with Robert de Niro, as I don't find any special chemistry between them. I didn't care for the story nor the main characters, even though it was based on real people.

Carol (2015) -- other than the theme of what was a forbidden love for the time and place, I found the story and characters rather dull. Perhaps the film suffers from lack of dialog, as everyone seems to be afraid to say what they really think and feel on this 'taboo' subject. Also Cate Blanchett, in her mid-forties, is unbelievable as the mother of a four-year-old. Back in the 1950s, a married woman didn't have a first/only child in her early forties (or very rarely) especially when she did not have a career.

By the Sea (2015) -- dull, dull vanity project. No one says or does anything much. Brad Pitt's french is horrible. Angelina doesn't look too good, and speaks very little. The photography of the island of Malta is spectacular (the real location, although the story is set in France) but not a reason to slog through this.

Brooklyn (2015) -- good story, interesting characters who are good people for the most part, rising to challenges. But it's tinged with sadness, so be prepared for that.

Bridge of Spies (2015) -- very good. I'm a fan of Tom Hanks, but even without him this would be an interesting story. Good location photography in the US and Europe. It's nice to find films like this and Brooklyn are still made, which focus on story and character development, instead of replacing those elements with sex, violence, action, and/or foul language.

The Revenant (2015) -- grim and dull, although it does serve as a good illustration of a fate worse than death. If you would enjoy hearing Leo groan and moan loudly as he fights doggedly to survive near-fatal injuries and conditions, then this is for you, but I say, 'why bother?'

Toute premiere fois (2015) -- a nice tale from France, which is the polar opposite of a 'coming out' story. Silly at times, but fun.

The Intern (2015) -- okay, not bad, but nothing special. Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway are good together. But for a much better treatment of a similar theme, I would recommend The Internship (2013).

Irrational Man (2015) -- the latest offering from Woody Allen. I liked it: good story, good location photography in Rhode Island, interesting character development. Subtle humor but I think it's more of a drama, a morality tale at heart. Very good performance from Joaquin Phoenix. And background music I actually like and do not need to turn down the volume!

Going Clear (2015) -- documentary on the inception, evolution, and practices of Scientology. Interesting and informative. Good interviews with former members, including screen writer/director Paul Haggis.

That's about all for now. I've got a lot more queued up, ready to go. :)

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: January 2nd, 2016, 11:13 pm
by movieman1957
I saw "The Martian" the other night. Two things struck me in that I didn't get the sense that Damon was as panicked as I thought he might be. Everything seemed to come to him pretty easily. (I don't think I'm putting my own reaction on it too much.)


I thought of the sling shot way before they did. Of course, I had no clue of the amount of time added to the trip but it certainly seemed viable. Overall everyone did a fine job in their roles. I did think about what the music rights clearance team must have had to do to get it all in but overall the score was quite nice.

Best part - Sean Bean survived the film.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: January 3rd, 2016, 3:07 am
by Professional Tourist
movieman1957 wrote:I saw "The Martian" the other night. Two things struck me in that I didn't get the sense that Damon was as panicked as I thought he might be. Everything seemed to come to him pretty easily. (I don't think I'm putting my own reaction on it too much.)

This struck me too, especially as I compared Damon's character to Tom Hanks' character in Cast Away. Hanks' character was still on Earth and had plenty of air to breathe, but given the challenges of food, water, and separation from society, he was by turns suicidal and looney-tunes with his volleyball-friend. Yet Damon's character, stranded on the moon and with a serious injury at the start, was cool and collected throughout.

These are the reasonings to which I arrived for Damon's business-as-usual state of mind (some spoilers ahead):

1) He was an explorer and scientist who took a high-risk mission voluntarily; he wasn't a routine business (or pleasure) traveler who was deposited on Mars due to an accident.

2) He was an astronaut, and as such was screened and selected for his psychological makeup as best able to handle the requirements and dangers of this type of mission. Also received extensive training for it.

3) He was a scientist and engineer, with a tremendous skill set from which to draw. He was also extremely intelligent and expert at problem-solving. This would give him peace of mind and confidence that he can rise to the challenge. [Think of Robert Redford's character in "All Is Lost," but on a grander scale.]

4) Although stranded on another planet, even before he re-established communication with Earth, he had a lot of technology to "keep him company." Music, movies, reading materials, the equipment to record a video journal of his daily experiences -- these would have helped him maintain a feeling of connection to humanity.

Re: What recent films have you seen?

Posted: January 3rd, 2016, 3:08 am
by Lomm
Disappointed to hear A Walk in the Woods is boring. I was looking forward to catching that in the near future. I will still, but with diminished expectations. I expect to also see the Martian and Revenant, of the above films. Maybe Joy, Room, and Bridge, but with declining levels of likelihood in order of typing. :)