Two Films About Old Age Feb12

Two Films About Old Age

45 YEARS Directed by Andrew Haigh Written by David Constantine Starring: Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtney THE LADY IN THE VAN Directed by Nicholas Hhtner Written by Alan Bennett Starring: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings Although these films were very different in tone, subject and story, both dealt with being old in the UK, or anywhere perhaps. Both were helped enormously by great acting and a terrific story. Alan Bennett, who wrote THE LADY IN THE VAN about his own experiences with a homeless woman who took up residence in his driveway (for 15 years!), excels in writing plays and stories about quirky characters. Himself included. Maggie Smith plays the irritating, irascible and more than a little crazy lady of the title. She’s been passed from driveway to driveway on his street and his suits her longest. Her back story, when it comes out, is a sad one. Parallels between his relationship with the lady and his mother are interesting and poignant. Maggie has never been better. 45 YEARS is perhaps the better film because it nails how a long and supposedly happy marriage can unravel quickly. Secrets from the past are no farther away than an attic hovering menacingly above. Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling play the childless couple who are planning an anniversary party, which threatens to become a wake. Perhaps the camera dwells lovingly on Rampling’s face too often, but it is certainly a worthy one. You can’t help but wonder if those 45 years have been lived mainly by rote rather than by passion. Rampling’s face and eyes are able to convey so much information. What a gift. And Courtney, in the less developed role, is touching. Highly recommended for those who love great writing. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

THE REVENANT Reviewed Feb05

THE REVENANT Reviewed

THE REVENANT Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu Written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu, based on the book by Michael Punke Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck This was not a film I expected to like. Watching a man undergo an attack by a bear does not head the list of what I want to see portrayed on a huge screen. However, the former history major in me ended up liking this film quite a bit. Short on words, but long on gorgeous cinematography, it takes the viewer to places they rarely see. And 1823 Montana and South Dakota are as foreign to me as Westeros (Game of Thrones). DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, an experienced frontiersman out west leading a group of trappers who have survived an attack by a posse of Arikara Native Americans. After Glass is attacked by a bear, he is left to die by a man (Hardy) who resents him and is especially hostile to Glass’s son, who is part-Native American (Goodluck). The majority of the film details wordlessly Glass’s ordeal in returning to the base alone and injured. And in exacting justice for what this man has done to him. Following up last year’s BIRDMAN, Iñárritu has done an amazing job once again. He may be taking a second Oscar home. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

Film Review: ANOMALISA Jan29

Film Review: ANOMALISA

Directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson Written by Charlie Kaufman Featuring the voices of Tom Noonan, Jennifer Jason Leigh and David Thewlis Anomalisa, Kaufman’s stop-motion animation feature is set in a number of numbing settings (taxi, airport, hotel, restaurant, sex toy shop) that contribute to the loneliness (perhaps self-induced) that is its middle-aged male protagonist’s condition. Other people have no affect for or on him, and in fact, speak with the same voice, share a similar face.  Only Lisa, soon named Anomalisa, (Leigh) has a different voice and makes some inroads in permeating his walled-off state. This would make it seem like a movie about a man I should feel very sorry for. Because surely he is enduring a deep depression. Instead though, I watched a man (very successful in business) who is too narcissistic, even cruel, for me to pity. This may be only my interpretation. Perhaps you would take pity on him and interpret his actions as born of mental illness or psychic distress. Any detailed look at what I find him guilty of would serve as spoilers. Recommended for its ambiguity mostly. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

Film Review: THE BIG SHORT Jan15

Film Review: THE BIG SHORT

THE BIG SHORT Directed by Adam McKay Written by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, based on the book by Michael Lewis Starring: Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrel, Hamish Linklater, Finn Wittroci, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo I began to write this review listing the players in three separate by ultimately converging groups who figured out (some by brains, some by luck, some by stealth) that a financial crash was coming. But really that isn’t necessary for this review. Perhaps highlighting Christian Bale’s character, who seemed to be first to see it, is enough. A doctor, wandering around financial offices in flipflops with little to do, he sussed it out. What kind of person sees the possible collapse of most of the world coming and thinks only about how to profit by it. Well, I guess a lot of people who’ve chosen a life of profiting through manipulating money would see it like that. A few of these characters bemoan what is happening but not enough to not to put their hand in the till. The filmmaker did a great job of making it possible to follow–even for someone who doesn’t really understand finances beyond a savings account. To extract so much humor from the situation was sort of amazing. One shot of a retired person who had just lost everything would have brought the humor to its knees however. Also a few half-hearted attempts to give a few characters a home life didn’t work. Of course, the players all assumed that a lot of people would be going to jail. People in finance, real estate, etc. Only one person did. And that’s the real tragedy of the 2008 crash. Highly recommended. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Reviewed Jan08

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Reviewed

STAR WARS:  THE FORCE AWAKENS Episode Seven in the Series Directed by J. J. Abrams Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, Michael Arndt Based on Characters by George Lucas Starring Daisey Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac There is very little point in my summarizing a movie that I am sure most of you have seen and also one that has already been analyzed by keener minds than mine. Just a few words then-the film-makers have done an outstanding job of anticipating just what was needed to get this series back on track: a new group of winning heroes, the old group of winning heroes, a villain to match Darth Vader, some great new creatures, some great old creatures, a plot that is more than serviceable, effects that will thrill you, lots of humor, lots of excitement. I can hardly think of a negative to throw out here. Perhaps a bit too calculating, a bit too on the nose. But hey, you’d be crazy to pass it up if there’s any kid left in you. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...