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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 7

This week’s picks won boatloads of Oscars and had nominations galore. They hail from France, and Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and one has no dialogue.

When I put together the list I was just choosing a favorite film a day with no overall agenda, but this week’s turn out to be heavy on male characters, from a movie star to a boxer, a mime to a brute, an angel to a hard boiled detective. And five of them are in black and white.

The films are:

The Artist; Raging Bull; Biutiful; Les Enfants Du Paradis; Chinatown; Wings of Desire; La Strada 

 

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Film Festival Download 2018

Another year at a fabulous festival! I wonder how long this little Virginia horse country festival can keep it up. It’s sure to burst its seams soon. This year’s slate was amazing, as usual. I was only able to fit in 10 of the 29 films offered in my three days of the festival and missed quite a few I really wanted to see. But what I saw was impressive. The big winner for me (it won the audience award, too) was Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, which will certainly be vying for the Oscar. But there really were quite a few standout films. Here’s my list with trailers and my preliminary impressions. Full reviews of select films will come later, so check back.

Review: mother!

This is without doubt the most divisive movie to come out in a long time. People either hate it or love it, with very few people on the fence about it. I make it a point not to read reviews before I go to see a film I’m planning to cover, but the headlines screaming about mother! (not to be confused with one of my favorite Korean films called Mother sans exclamation point) couldn’t be ignored. It got an F from viewer-polled Cinemascore, but earned raves from some well-known critics. The New York Times even posted an article titled, “Hating ‘Mother!’: Readers Speak Out.” And after finally seeing it for myself, I understand both sides of the argument, but come down on the WTF#?! side.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Argh. The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, like many of the characters featured in the flimsy plot, simply dead on arrival. It’s a boring retread that fails to engage or entertain – even in IMAX 3D. Some folks around me actually nodded off behind those 3D glasses, only to be jarred awake by the occasional boom of a cannon or the loud, sword-swinging, ship-to-shore combat involving pirates both dead and alive, including the drunken, buffoonish, eye-liner-wearing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Depp’s portrayal of the quirky Captain Sparrow used to be fun to watch, even when the films’ plots made very little sense. But now, the shtick is stale. He’s become a caricature of his caricature of a character. Fourteen years after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a Disney theme-park ride into a cinematic juggernaut, it’s time for Depp to retire the Captain and get back to the types of roles that showcase his versatility.

The Counselor

I almost didn’t bother writing this up at all. But then I felt an obligation to alert the Chickflix readers… that I really hated it. The fact that it features an A-list cast makes The Counselor all the more disappointing. I’d love to be able to encapsulate the plot, but I really don’t have a clue. All I know is that Michael Fassbender plays a lawyer who’s mixed up in some underworld drug dealings that begin to take a heavy toll on his personal and professional life. His girlfriend (Penelope Cruz) is blissfully unaware. His “friends” (Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt) don’t exactly have his best interests at heart. And I don’t know what Cameron Diaz is supposed to be playing. Whatever it is… it’s creepy, and gross. If you haven’t already heard about her display of ‘auto erotica’, count your blessings.

Skyfall

I’m not a huge Bond aficionado. I can probably count on one hand the number of 007 movies that I’ve actually seen in their entirety. But I can say this: Skyfall is thoroughly entertaining and Daniel Craig wears the suit extremely well. And when he’s not wearing the suit… well, even better! Okay, I’m being a tad shallow. Truth is, Skyfall is an action-packed, adrenaline-fueled adventure that embodies everything that our hero, the quintessential British spy James Bond, has to offer: suavity, dry wit, intellect, passion and virtual immortality. I mean, how many bullets can one guy take??

Biutiful

Javier, oh, Javier! Your new movie broke my heart. In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new film Biutiful, Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal, a father taking care of everyone, except himself. He has two young children, an unmedicated bipolar ex-wife, groups of African and Chinese illegal immigrants who are depending on him for work, and unbeknownst to all of them he is dying of cancer. He also has a talent for speaking with the dead, though not in an “I see dead people” sort of way. He’s just a working class José in Barcelona trying to make ends meet any way he can.

EAT PRAY LOVE

Okay, full disclosure. I didn’t read the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. So perhaps if I had, I might have enjoyed EAT PRAY LOVE more than I did. Unfortunately, despite some excellent performances, exotic locales, and inspirational messages, I found this movie to be quite boring.