Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.
Posted on February 19, 2014
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.
Posted on February 19, 2014
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.
Posted on February 3, 2014
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!
Posted on January 27, 2014
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.
Posted on January 12, 2014
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.
Posted on January 6, 2014
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.
Posted on December 30, 2013
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.
Posted on December 27, 2013
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is based very loosely on a James Thurber short story. As a lover of old films, I fondly remember the Danny Kaye version from the 40s, which was also kind of loosely based on said short story. What the two movies have in common is that they focus on a mild-mannered man who lives his life of adventure through his own very imaginative daydreams. From there they diverge quite a bit. The new version directed by and starring Ben Stiller is not content with Walter’s fantasies remaining in the realm of the imagination. It turns the story into a very 21st century personal growth, action hero flick. Walter starts off as the same milk toast kind of nice guy, but inspired by his unrequited love for a co-worker, he becomes the man of his dreams.
Posted on December 23, 2013
I have been appreciative of Alexander Payne’s quirky films (Sideways, The Descendants) since he began with Citizen Ruth, and Nebraska does not disappoint. This time we have a delusional father (Bruce Dern) and his big-hearted son (Will Forte of SNL) on a road trip. The father, Woody, thinks a letter he received in the mail announcing that he won a million dollars is real. His son David knows it is a scam, but after trying and failing to talk Dad out of walking to Nebraska to claim his winnings, he decides to take a long weekend and drive him there to prove it is fake. And of course things do not go as easily as one would hope.
Posted on December 23, 2013
La Vie d’Adèle—Chapitres 1 et 2 aka Blue is the Warmest Color was the hit of this year’s Cannes Film Festival winning top honors and scoring its young stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos the first ever shared acting Palme d’Or. It also stirred up some controversy for its very graphic depiction of lesbian sex and the intensity of the film shoot for its two young actresses. But beyond the stories about the film, it is a beautiful movie exploring first love and longing, that watches a young woman come into her own.