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“Non-Fiction”–movie review   Leave a comment

Non

In 1927 Al Jolsen sang and spoke in a movie instantly making ‘silents’ become ‘talkies’ and for many years most movies had a lot of talk with some silence and then the “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” among others brought the more action than talking in films. “Non-Fiction” is definitely a talking movie with, maybe, 3 minutes of silence, no dialogue!

There is a lot of talk mainly about books being published, print versus digital, where blogs are the novels, documentaries, etc., and what Truman Capote in 1966 called a non-fiction novel an author here refers to his work as ‘autofiction’, works based on his real life with names, places and, possibly, events changed.

Leonard (Vincent Macaigne) the author is having an affair with Selena (Juliette Binoche) the wife of his editor, Alain, (Guillaume Canet) who is having an affair with Laure (Christa Theret) who Alain has brought into the company to head the digital department.  The only one not having an affair is Leonard’s wife, Valerie, (Nora Hamzawi), who is aware and okay with her husband’s affair, (hey folks this IS a French film!) as she is very busy helping a Socialist candidate running for office.

The film starts with Alain telling Leonard that he won’t publish his latest book which leads to many very interesting discussions about today’s publishing world and what it may be tomorrow.  Even with scenes of the various couples in, and out of, bed there is talk about writing, reading, authors and what the latter use for source material. Here and there other, non-literary, topics are discussed, some for humor others to explain their relationships but it all gets back to what Leonard’s new book is about and the ‘autofiction’ that pleases the woman, Selena, he is having the affair with or his wife, Valerie, who doesn’t want to know anything about the affair.

“Non-Fiction” though well acted and interesting belongs more on PBS or a Hollywood Reporter round table session as it needs a more intimate setting than a theatre auditorium and a large movie screen and you very seldom hear me suggest that!

synopsis

Juliette Binoche and Guillame Canet reunite with acclaimed director Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper, Carlos) for this wry, slyly seductive tale of sex, lies, and literature. Set amidst the bohemian intelligentsia of the Parisian publishing world, Non-Fiction traces the romantic and emotional fallout that results when a controversial writer (Vincent Macaigne) begins blurring the line between fact and fiction, using his real-life love affairs – including a passionate fling with an actress (Binoche) who happens to be married to his editor (Canet) – as fodder for his explosive new novel. Balancing dry wit with keen observations on the tensions between art, commerce, and technology, Non-Fiction is a buoyant, breezy delight from a master director at his most effortlessly brilliant.

 

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YSvT701TKM

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“Rocketman”–Movie review   2 comments

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Magic! Whimsy? Reality? Fantasy? Truth? “Rocketman” is all that plus more with a screenplay by Lee Hall, direction by Dexter Fletcher, director of photography George Richmond, not to forget the costumes by Julian Day as they reach into the life of Elton John with a not to be forgotten performance by Taron Egerton as the star.

Opening up so soon after the massive success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” this movie has to do a lot of business to match it financially though the bottom line is “Rocketman” is a much better movie showing who the man is including all the bad out front and not being shy either about his addictions or his Gay life. At the very beginning we see Elton in a massive devil’s outfit invading a rehab center and talking about his coke, crack, sex, shopping weed, alcohol among various addictions plus his bulimia and anger issues. It is at this point the fantasy musical numbers start along with his life before he became famous and the years that established him as a star up until he makes the decision to stop the drugs and booze.

Targon Egerton is stellar as John Elton using his own voice to sing the Elton/Taupin songs without imitating the former. He goes through a heart attack, an attempted suicide (fantasy or truth?), loving people without the love being returned. He has a mother who tells him she wishes he had never been born, that because he was gay he would never be loved, a father who never hugs him and one day just leaves and never comes back, a lover/manager who doesn’t love him, cheats on him and his feeling that he doesn’t deserve to be loved. Matthew Illesley does a fine job as the child Reginald Dwight as does Kit Connor as the teenager Reginald, both to become the Elton John who is in so much pain as a young man.

The one man who loves Elton John is his working partner, Bernie Taupin the man who wrote the words and still does and they both claim not to have had an argument in those 50 years, is not gay. He is played by Jamie Bell who deserves as much recognition as Egerton does. A third person who gives an explosive performance is Richard Madden as a self-serving manager and lover who betrays John in many ways.

Playing his mother Bryce Dallas Howard comes over as too stereotyped in some of the scenes and Steven Macintosh as the cold father who doesn’t love his son coveys that cold man while Gemma Jones as his grandmother comes across as the only adult who loves and believes in this child.

There are several supporting actors who deliver the goods but it is Targon Egerton the whole movie revolves around and whose performance makes the “Rocketman” an outstanding movie. While there may be one too many fantasy song and dance numbers slowing the movie down the very effective ending will touch you just as it touched many in the audience today to applaud the movie. Be sure to stay for the ending credits for the happily ever after ending even Hollywood couldn’t improve on!

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjWokqBxODs

synopsis

ROCKETMAN is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. This inspirational story – set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton – tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture. ROCKETMAN also stars Jamie Bell as Elton’s longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as Elton’s first manager, John Reid, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother Sheila Farebrother.

“Booksmart”–movie review   1 comment

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Every time I walk into a movie I have high expectations and every time I see a boring, stupid ‘comedy’ and don’t even laugh once, the first thing I ask myself is “Why didn’t I walk out?” and the second thing I do is tell myself “At least I won’t see anything worse the rest of the year!”
 
Sadly I didn’t walk out of “Booksmart” and I hope it is the worst movie I will see this year! I really have nothing positive to say about the cast except to ask if today’s teens are really this vulgar, this dumb or is it the screenplay by 4 writers and the director showing them to be this way?
 
The worst part–and that is saying a lot–is the cringe-worthy performance and lines by Lisa Kudrow as a parent. We won’t even talk about the ‘father’!
 

Trying to be positive–and not understanding why–Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97% rating by professional critics and 74% by the audience while Meta Critic had a 84% rating by critics and 5.6 out of 10 by the audience.

 
Please, please if you see it let me know what YOU think of “Booksmart” though you would be smart not to go!
 

synopsis

The story follows Dever and Feldstein’s characters, two academic superstars and best friends who, on the eve of their high school graduation, suddenly realize that they should have worked less and played more. Determined never to fall short of their peers, the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night.

 

Movietrailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhd3lo_IWJc

synopsis

The story follows Dever and Feldstein’s characters, two academic superstars and best friends who, on the eve of their high school graduation, suddenly realize that they should have worked less and played more. Determined never to fall short of their peers, the girls set out on a mission to cram four years of fun into one night.

 

Movietrailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhd3lo_IWJc


 
 
 

“All Is True”–movie review   Leave a comment

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As it seems only the British can do, there are 2 scenes in “All Is True” that are master classes in acting which would be expected from Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen but a much younger actress, Kathryn Wilder, gives no quarter in being their equal in one of the most important scenes of the movie.
 
In the particular scene I am referring to William Shakespeare (Branagh), his wife Anne (Dench) and one their daughters Judith (Wilder) are exposing family truths as the screenwriter Ben Elton imagines they would speak yet bringing it in to today’s world. When I had time to think about it later I could just imagine a theatre audience seeing it on stage in a play written today and stunning them.
 
The other scene, between Shakespeare and Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, (McKellen) looks into the supposedly love affair between them when both were young men and Shakespeare wrote his sonnets. At one point, without changing a thing, Shakespeare starts talking by reciting one of his sonnets and the Earl recites it back to him. It is as if the two men, not acting, are having a conversation expressing their feelings. Neither sex nor nudity is involved yet you believe you are seeing and hearing both!
 
While very little is known of Shakespeare’s home life, such as the death of his son, Elton presents a plausible story of what may have taken place for the 3 years that Shakespeare returned home to family life after spending most of his life alone in  London at the Globe Theatre which had burned down in 1613.
 
The only fault, which made it slow moving for only a 100 minute film, is the director’s holding on to many unnecessary and lingering nature scenes with the director being Kenneth Branagh.
 
“All Is True” might not all be true but it is certainly worth seeing for the acting alone, which shouldn’t be but will probably be forgotten at award time.

Movie trailer

https://youtu.be/1I5cKmiONDI

 

 synopsis

The year is 1613, Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.

“The Sun Is Also A Star”—movie review   1 comment

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“The Sun Is Also A Star” has everything going for it so why does it just miss being an exciting love story? The leads, Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton, are an attractive couple who meet ‘cute’–he saves her from being run over–and the premise is an interesting one. He believes in love, she doesn’t and, via the screenplay, he has 24 hours to prove it to her. DUH! Guess what happens?
 
His parents are immigrants from South Korea who own a successful black hair care product store in Harlem and she has been living in New York for 9 years with her Jamaican parents who are about to be deported.
 
A lot of successful love stories have been filmed in New York City and “The Sun Is Also A Star” takes advantage of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs with aerial shots, walks through the city parks and streets and even a tram ride from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and many glorious shots of the Statue of Liberty.
 
The soundtrack, except for a karaoke scene, adds a lot but….
 
There isn’t a reason this movie shouldn’t involve the audience’s emotions but it doesn’t. Maybe if more had been looked into regarding the immigrant aspect it would have rounded out the story of the lovers more.
 
John Leguizamo should have been brought more into the story because the scenes with him would have given more meaning to the fact versus fate argument that motivates the love story.  (Besides they never explain the accident he was in which was distracting!)
 
“The Sun Is Also A Star” has a lot going for it but just not enough, none of the ‘magic’ that makes ‘happily ever after”.
 
PS Don’t leave when the screen goes dark or you will the ending.
 

Synopsis

Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. She is not the type of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when her family is twelve hours away from being deported. Falling in love with him will not be her story. Daniel has always been the good son, the good student, living up to his parents’ high expectations. Never a poet. Or a dreamer. But when he sees her, he forgets all that. Something about Natasha makes him think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store – for both of them. Every moment has brought them to this single moment. A million futures lie before them. Which one will come true?


 
 
 
 

“Long Shot”–movie review   1 comment

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1) Many years ago I was taught to leave logic at the door when I go to the movies.
2) Have you ever seen a couple that made you question how/why they ever got together?
3) Is there another woman, besides Julia Roberts, as beautiful to look at in print and film as Charlize Theron?
4) In 2003 I said that if Theron didn’t win the Oscar for “Monster” I was never going to the movies again–WHEW! She did!
 
Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let’s talk about “Long Shot”. Take away the ‘F’ word, a ‘fluid’ shot and a not quite nude sex scene and you have one of those delightful, romantic comedies of the past. Though there doesn’t seem to be any chemistry between the leads Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen, his beard doesn’t help, nor the fact that at the age of 16 she baby sat him at 13, they are both excellent players and Theron adding another genre in her performance here as a comediane.
 
The comedy lines work better than the romantic scenes but together it makes for a pleasing, charming movie. Supporting performances like those of Seth Rogan’s best friend O’Shea Jackson Jr., or Theron’s assistants Claude O’Doherty and Ravi Patel with Bob Odenkirk as the President of the United States all work well and know their way with the zingers supplied by screenwriters Dan Sterling and Paul Scheer. The direction by Jonathan Levine but could have cut the movie sharper to move it a little faster.
 
The only one I question in the movie is Alexander Skarsgard who in normal circumstances would have been Theorn’s romantic interest but in this is just charmless, by design(?) or 100% miscast.
 
“Long Shot” isn’t a classic but it is a lot of fun and you get to look at, admire and, maybe, be jealous of Charlize Theron for 2 hours! :O)

synopsis

When Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) reunites with his first crush, one of the most influential women in the world, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), he charms her with his self-deprecating humor and his memories of her youthful idealism. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter. A fish out of water on Charlotte’s elite team, Fred is unprepared for her glamourous lifestyle in the limelight. Sparks fly as their unmistakable chemistry leads to a round-the-world romance and a series of unexpected and dangerous incidents. 

 

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKsc2I4Tgsk

“The White Crow”–movie review   1 comment

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Since I saw the preview I had been wondering what the title was about and it opens with the definition:  Someone who is an outsider, unusual, extraordinary, unlike others.   There is no denying Rudolf Nureyev was just that from his dancing and his personality. The former captured the world while the latter turned off and betrayed all those around him. Basically, he was not a nice man.
 
The film centers around the time Nureyev who at the height of the cold war in 1961 was dancing in Paris and made the decision to defect from Russia. This was before facebook, Instagram, twitter and all the media coverage something like that would draw 24/7 but it did with what was available. Along with the defection he partnered with Margot Foynton– though she has another name in the movie–older than he was, and already a major star in the English ballet, to both their advantages.
 
Ralph Fiennes directed the movie and stars as Nureyev’s first major teacher. The dance scenes are excellent as is first-time actor Oleg Ivenko doing them and conveying Nureyev’s look but is not quite up to the line readings though the screenwriter, David Hare, doesn’t really help him with some pretty lame lines.
 
The biggest mistake Fiennes makes is not telling the story in a linear matter but jumps back and forth between the 1940s, 50s and 60s going from Leningrad to Paris back to Leningrad and though Nureyev was 22 when he defected we see him at many different ages which really doesn’t add to the movie. The last 20 minutes, the defection scene is edge of the seat filmmaking even though the ending is well known
 
The movie is rated R for frontal nudity and for a change it is not female but male full nudity!
 
“The White Crow” is much better than I expected with an excellent cast, better dancing, and shows an artist gives everything on stage leaving nothing for relations off stage.
 

Synopsis

Ralph Fiennes’ THE WHITE CROW was inspired by the book Rudolf Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanaugh. The drama charts the iconic dancer’s famed defection from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961, despite KGB efforts to stop him.

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BklqjGWxNMs


 
 
 
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