Film Review: Woman In Gold

Yesterday evening I went to see Woman In Gold.

Woman In Gold is based on the lives of Maria Altmann and Randol Schoenberg. Maria fled to America, from Nazi Austria, during the 1930s… and then, in the 1990s, started a legal campaign – with Randol Schoenberg – to reclaim paintings stolen from her family, by the Nazis, during World War II.

The film weaved together various scenes, from different time periods, seemlessly.

Max Irons as an Austrian Opera singer and Tatiana Maslany (the 'younger' Maria) were wonderful together.

Max Irons – he sings opera in the film! – and Tatiana Maslany (the ‘younger’ Maria) were perfect for their roles… As was Helen Mirren!

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Ryan Reynolds stepped beyond his comedic roots with this film.

I’ve already visited the Holocaust memorial in Vienna, but seeing it again through Maria’s eyes, for me, was one of the most powerful moments in the film; the memorial stands today as a warning, a memory and an apology.  IMG_1262You can view the film’s trailer here:

Film Night: The Water Diviner

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Tonight a few of us went to see The Water Diviner – Russel Crowe’s new movie.  The film is set in Turkey, shortly after the end of the First World War. The characterisations were fantastic; and I was especially impressed by the actor who played Ayshe’s son, Dylan Georgiades.

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This film takes a sincere and sensitive approach to its historical setting, without ‘papering’ over the issues of the day.  My eyes were glued to the screen for the entire 2 hours… I can’t believe this was Russel Crowe’s first attempt at directing. This film was perfectly conceived, scripted, shot and acted.

5 STARS!

Cinema Visit: Stuck in Love

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A few nights ago I went to see Stuck in Love not knowing quite what to expect, just that the film had been running empty all week… and… it was great, I loved it. It was funny and touching and full of literary references and great music and wonderful first lines.

The film revolves around the Borgens family and the people in their lives.

William Borgens is an acclaimed author who would love nothing more than for his children to write and his wife to come home.

Just waiting for Kristen Bell to stop by, as you do...

In the mean time I’m just waiting for Kristen Bell to stop by, as you do…

Erica his estranged wife wants to reconnect with Samantha, their college attending, ‘book being published’, ‘determined to avoid love’ daughter who hates her for cheating.

Clearly no longer together, oh no!

Life is clearly soo much better apart…

Of course, Samantha (played perfectly by that girl from The Mortal Instruments movie) ends up meeting Lou…

Anyone else object to the haircut?

Anyone else object to the haircut?

Meanwhile Rusty, their son, is on a quest to gain ‘life experiences’ so he can improve his writing and falls for the beautiful, but troubled Kate.

First love in a high school hallway, bring back any memories?

First love in a high school hallway, cutesy!

One guess what Rusty thinks ‘life experiences’ is code for…

So if you like well written witty drama/comedy with side helpings of exceptional acting, romance, irony, life choices and STUFF, this is the perfect choice of movie.

Recommended for girls nights!


Film Night: Please Exit Through The Gift Shop

Four Stars – “interesting documentary.”

Out on DVD, some subtitles.

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IMDB synopsis:

Los Angeles based Frenchman ‘Thierry Guetta’ gets the idea that he would like to film street artists in the process of creating their work. He tells them that he is making a documentary, when in reality he has no intention of editing the footage into one cohesive movie. One of the artists that participates is the camera-shy Brit Banksy, who finally convinces Thierry to use the footage to make a movie.

Soon enough Banksy comes to the realization that Thierry is a lousy filmmaker, so Banksy decides to use the footage and add additional material to make his own movie about Thierry’s journey in this project. Since Thierry spent so much time involved in the process of street art, Banksy also convinces Thierry to become a street artist himself. Thierry reinvents himself as street artist MBW, an acronym for “Mr. Brainwash”. Banksy, in the end, may regret this suggestion.

What I Thought:

An interesting look at graffiti artists and the emergence of street art as ‘modern’ art (accepted in galleries everywhere).

Banksy turns up in person 1/3 of the way through the film and it’s his part of the story that brings the most [tongue-in-cheek] humour and clarity to this documentary; he’d make a fantastic school teacher.

I would have liked more details on different types of street art – not just ‘artists’ – but I still found this documentary enlightening and entertaining.

Film Night: The Untouchables

Five Stars – “extraordinarily good!”

Out on DVD. French film with English language subtitles.

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IMDB synopsis:

In Paris, the aristocratic and intellectual Philippe is a quadriplegic millionaire who is interviewing candidates for the position of his carer, with his red-haired secretary Magalie. Out of the blue, the rude African Driss cuts the line of candidates and brings a document from the Social Security and asks Phillipe to sign it to prove that he is seeking a job position so he can receive his unemployment benefit. Philippe challenges Driss, offering him a trial period of one month to gain experience helping him. Then Driss can decide whether he would like to stay with him or not. Driss accepts the challenge and moves to the mansion, changing the boring life of Phillipe and his employees.

What my dad said:

“Life affirming. The best film I’ve seen in years.”

“Didn’t the guy who played Philippe look just like Dustin Hoffman?”

What I said:

“It was touching and laugh out loud funny. The sort of film that only the French could get right.”

DVD Night: Red Tails

IMDB:

“A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.”

Before watching this film I knew very little about the role of black American fighter pilots in World War II, but quite a bit about the Black civil rights movement in the 1950s and Jim Crow. I feel much more informed on the matter now.

The film was educational and offered entertainment as an action/comedy/drama film. The acting was great and the film itself was very diverse in the topics it broached (romance, POW camps, dog fights, bomber raids, American politics, social issues etc) and quite long. I had thought that this was going to be a small historical film, but it wasn’t, it was an epic movie – maybe I should have guessed from the incredible cast list!

The script was very intelligent and the dialogue flowed naturally in each scene, while giving you a real sense of who these characters were and their individual motivations. It was peppered with historical facts, terms and ideas which gave a real sense of time and place to the movie, beyond anything a mere set design could have achieved – phrases like ‘the Atlanta Compromise’ sparked my interest (and turned me to wikipedia two minutes after the credits rolled).

I had thought this film might remind me of the last great military airplane film I watched (no not Top Gun), ‘The Red Baron’ set in WW1 which I adored, but the tone of this film was completely different. Somehow it escaped the nitty gritty attitude of that film, ‘Red Tails’ is much less harrowing and the sort of film I might let older kids watch with me.

So, a great film night! What are you watching?

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Cinema Trip: Life of Pi

Not for the faint of heart.

Although Life of Pi has sometimes been billed as a children’s book, there’s violence and subtitles and scary ‘carnivorous’ islands in the movie edition. And Richard Parker, a full sized Bengal tiger.

To adult eyes it’s a great adventure, if somewhat dark, and leaves a viewer with far more questions than it answers. All in all, a worthwhile experience!

Now on to the real meat of this post: why are none of my local cinemas showing The Oranges? I would love to see that one and the cast list looks phenomenal!

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Cinema Trip: So Undercover

So Undercover

I’ve never watched Hannah Montana, but I did see ‘The Last Song‘ because Nicholas Sparks makes the best movies – ‘A Walk to Remember‘, ‘The Lucky One‘ etc. Anyway, I decided to see ‘So Undercover’ today for a number of reasons…

1. It had Daniel Grayson (Revenge) in it! And Kelly Osbourne (Shut Up).

2. There was romance and action hinted at in the trailer and the female detective angle gets me every time – I think I’m one of the few people who loved Katherine Heigl doing ‘One for the Money‘.

3. I needed a humorous, light hearted chic movie to get me through the first real day of my cold and there just aren’t many around at the moment…

Did I like it? Yes.

Main criticism: It was fast paced, I would have like more ‘down’ moments in the script so the characters could have been developed more.

3 and 1/2 stars out of 5 I think.