Oscar-nominated short films: Live action

The first, third, and fifth movies all were based on true stories and suggested the possibility of violence.

All the short films my wife and I saw at the Spectrum in February 2018 were quite good. Dekalb Elementary (USA – 20 minutes) involved a 2013 school shooting incident in Atlanta, GA. It was really intense, but the lead female’s role was remarkable.

The Silent Child (UK – 20 minutes) is about a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl, whose busy middle class family care for her. But she lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her how to communicate. The arc of this story was very touching, and a bit heartbreaking.

My Nephew Emmett (USA – 19 minutes) is set in 1955 and based on the true story of a Mississippi preacher who tries to protect his 14-year-old nephew. I knew almost immediately, though my wife did not, what this story was all about, which I suppose lessened the impact only slightly.

In The Eleven O’Clock (Australia – 13 minutes), the delusional patient of a psychiatrist believes he is actually the psychiatrist, and they end up analyzing each other. As the only comedy, and a cleverly funny one at that, it broke up the tension in the theater somewhat.

Watu Wote – All of Us (Germany/Kenya – 23 minutes). “For almost a decade Kenya has been targeted by terrorist attacks of the Al-Shabaab. An atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust between Muslims and Christians is growing. Until in December 2015, Muslim bus passengers showed that solidarity can prevail.”

The first, third, and fifth movies all were based on true stories and suggested the possibility of violence. DeKalb was probably my favorite among these, but I suspect Wote Watu will win the Oscar because it’s so timely.

As a teacher of English as a New Language, my wife really related to The Silent Child, knowing children often need advocates when they are “different.”

The one thing I hated in the presentation is that, during the closing credits, they had videos of the filmmakers hearing that they’ve been nominated for Academy Awards. It really ruined the mood, especially the stirring end music of Wote Watu. Now if they’d run the clips AFTER each the credits, it would have been better, serving as a brief respite before another heavy topic.

Nevertheless, a very good crop of films.

The 50 greatest films of the 21st Century

This is one of those well-regarded films that, for some reason, left me cold

Crouching-Tiger-Hidden-Dragon-2000-coverThe BBC surveyed 177 film critics “from every continent except Antarctica. “For the purposes of this poll we have decided that a list of the greatest films of the 21st Century should include the year 2000” because the year “was a landmark in global cinema.”

Though I started this blog in 2005, and reviewed many of the films I’ve seen over the years, I wasn’t as detailed in the beginning. Still my reviews will be the items that are hyperlinked. The movies I saw, the number will be italicized. A few movies I am not familiar with I’ve designated DK (don’t know).

I know that sometimes a movie doesn’t work for me – or you – for reasons not in the film. There are at least three films on this list that most people I know love, and they just didn’t work for me, in the theater, on that day. Very few films on this list did I see first on video; actually only one.

50. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015) -DK
49. Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014) – DK
48. Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015) Continue reading “The 50 greatest films of the 21st Century”

The 21st century’s 100 greatest films, part 1

Until I read my own review, I had forgotten how much I liked this film

Requiem for a DreamThe BBC surveyed 177 film critics “from every continent except Antarctica. “For the purposes of this poll we have decided that a list” of the 21st century’s 100 greatest films “should include the year 2000” because the year “was a landmark in global cinema.”

Though I started this blog in 2005, and reviewed many of the films I’ve seen over the years, I wasn’t as detailed in the beginning. Still my reviews will be the items that are hyperlinked. A few movies I am not familiar with I’ve designated DK (don’t know)

Yes there are three films at 100

100. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016) – DK
100. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) – saw this in a not-very-crowded theater; at least half of the audience had seen the before. It was astonishing, druggy psychological drama with Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly. I thought the star, Ellen Burstyn Continue reading “The 21st century’s 100 greatest films, part 1”

MOVIE REVIEW: Gravity

Kudos to director Alfonso Cuarón, who WILL deservedly win the Oscar for Best Director.

gravitySo much I hated about going to the movies that Sunday afternoon to see Gravity:

1) It was at Crossgates, a local mall I particularly loathe. Don’t believe I had seen a movie there since Presidents Day weekend 16 years ago, nearly to the day, when I saw L.A. Confidential and Mrs. Brown, both Oscar nominees. But it was the only place locally it was playing, Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Gravity”

MOVIE REVIEW: Philomena

Steve Coogan co-wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pope, based on Martin Sixsmith’s book, “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.”

Philomena_posterI was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart recently, and Steve Coogan was on talking about the movie Philomena. I must admit that I had no real idea who he was. When I was talking at work about the fact that The Wife and I gave the movie two thumbs up after we had seen it a couple weekends ago at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, one of my colleagues said, “But doesn’t it star Steve Coogan?” After I confirmed this, she indicated that he always plays a real jerk in movies, particularly in some comedies I had never seen.

As “world-weary political journalist” Martin Sixsmith, Coogan’s character is more than a little arrogant as he lowers himself to investigate “the story of a woman’s search for her son, Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Philomena”