Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Noah
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Divergent
Gloria
Bad Words
Veronica Mars
Non-Stop
The Past (Le Passé)
The Act of Killing
Winter’s Tale
The Monuments Men
The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)
The Square (Al Midan)
Ride Along
Lone Survivor
Her
August: Osage County
Mainstream Chick’s 2013 Year in Review
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
American Hustle
Nebraska

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Noah

I’m no biblical scholar, but I’ve heard the story of Noah and the flood a few times. I suspect there are not many who haven’t. In a nutshell: “The Creator” talks to Noah. He tells him to build an ark. He does and there is a flood. And there are a lot of animals involved. In the latest cinematic iteration of the story, there are not a lot of surprises. But there are some big time special effects and this one feels like Transformers meets A Beautiful Mind with a touch of Lord of the Rings and a heavy dose of your faith of choice. Noah is not a Cecil B. DeMille reverential telling, but a Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) psychological/environmentalist drama. It’s loud and messy and pretty entertaining.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

In his latest fabulously outrageous film The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson introduces us to Gustave H (Ralph Feinnes), the concierge to end all concierges who takes enterprising lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) under his wing. The movie is visually stunning and laugh out loud hilarious, and what totally sold me was its witty use of language and music to give another layer to its story set in a first class hotel in a fictional eastern European country in that elegant era between the wars. And the chemistry between the older, wiser hotelier and his young protégé is delicious! What begins as a mentoring relationship quickly turns to a zany buddy romp when one of the hotel’s wealthy guests (Tilda Swinton) is murdered and Gustave is thrown in jail. And only Zero can save him.

Gloria

Paulina García plays the title character in this unusual Chilean romdramedy. Gloria is a fifty-something divorcee. She frequents bars where people her age mingle and dance. And she frequently comes home alone only to find her crazy upstairs neighbor’s creepy hairless cat in her apartment. From outwards appearances, hers in a pretty mundane existence. But Gloria isn’t settling into old age. She’s still looking for the brass ring and though she may not grab it every time around, her exuberance for life is pretty endearing and ultimately inspiring.

The Past (Le Passé)

The Past is a compelling domestic drama from the director of the 2012 Oscar winning film A Separation. This time instead of setting it in Iran, the film takes place in France though the feeling of the storytelling is much the same. It is one of those peeling back the layers of an onion plots, which begins as Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns to France from Iran to sign divorce papers with his ex, Marie (Bérénice Bejo of The Artist). She has a new man in her life, Samir (Tahar Rahim of A Prophet), but her teenage daughter Lucie has some serious problems with the new relationship, and Marie is unable to figure out why.

The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar nominated The Act of Killing has got to be one of the most unsettling documentaries ever made. In it, men who murdered thousands (some estimates are 1 million) of Communists back in the mid-1960s in Indonesia are asked to reenact their crimes, and rather than show any remorse for the horror they inflicted, they act as if they were doing something great and fun, and they take pride in showing the filmmakers how and where they murdered their countrymen. It is surreal and bizarre and unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)

One of the five films nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, The Great Beauty is an amazingly wonderful dip into the pool of modern Roman decadence. The story is told from the perspective of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a journalist who turns 65 at the beginning of the film, and who despite being known for his great first novel decades earlier, is still searching for his inspiration for a second. The film owes a great debt to Fellini. You cannot help but think of La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, but Jep is much more world weary than Marcello, and the movie is much more than mere homage. It has some of the most striking imagery of any recent film. And if you love Rome, this is a must see!

The Square (Al Midan)

The Square is an extremely engaging documentary that puts you right in the middle of Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the first 2 years of the still unfolding Egyptian revolution. It follows a handful of young revolutionaries as they and their vast herd of comrades take over the square, oust their President, elect another and then get rid of him. Directed by Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (Control Room), the film centers on the experiences of 4 different people who were living through the upheaval and have very different perspectives on their country: Ahmed Hassan, a young working-class Egyptian and the film’s narrator; expat actor Khalid Abdalla who starred in The Kite Runner and whose good English and notoriety make him attractive to Western media; Muslim Brotherhood member Magdy Ashour, who was tortured by Mubarak’s thugs; and singer Ramy Essam, whose revolutionary songs stir the crowd.

Her

Her is really all about him, him being Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his personalized operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). If this sounds a bit weird, it is, but only for a bit. In this film set in the very near future, true love is as elusive as ever, and a new technology allows people to become intimately entwined with their computers’ operating systems. Lonely Theodore is still recovering from breaking up with his wife (Rooney Mara) and isn’t having a lot of success in the dating world, so when Samantha enters his life through an earpiece and a mic, her ability to see and appreciate him is incredibly attractive.

August: Osage County

In the battle of Meryl vs Julia, who will chew more scenery? August: Osage County pits them against each other as the drug addicted Mom versus the only person in her large extended family capable of taking her on. Based on a stage play of the same name, it is a star-studded dramedy about what must be the most dysfunctional family in the state of Oklahoma all coming together after a tragedy. None of them want to be there, and I started to feel the same way, but stuck with it because it’s one of those acting slugfests you just have to see through.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s latest film The Wolf of Wall Street is basically three hours of sex and drugs and pure unadulterated greed. It is another “based on a true story” flick, only this one is all about one truly despicable guy and his equally morally deficient friends and family. Sure, the “wolf” is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who does all he can to make the greedy jerk human, but at the end of the day, it is a relentlessly long slog through a lot of pretty unsexy sex fed by a veritable pharmacy full of Quaaludes, coke, and top shelf alcohol. It’s a pretty underdeveloped story of a bunch of late 20th century conmen who made a killing by lying though their teeth and their years of living the “high” life in every sense of the word.