56 Up

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Time marches on!  56 Up is the latest installment in the documentary series that has visited the same people every seven years to see how their lives have evolved. The series started with when they were seven years old. This airs as a TV special in the UK, but is released here as a movie. The series started out to look at class differences in England, but has evolved to show how people evolve, with the many twists and turns that life takes.  The first installment had 14 participants; of those, 13 are still participating. Some have been successful and others not so successful. Many have had ups and downs, with divorces, physical and mental health issues, etc.

Michael Apted directs and he does a fine job of including clips from previous films and different ages. It is not important to have seen previous movies. This is the type of movie that makes you reflect on your own life (especially for those like me, roughly the age of the participants—if the initial show had been in N.Y. it could have been little Billy and Billy being followed and giving our views on movies all these years!). The folks in the movie have definitely started to age and they are now at a time in their lives where they look back on their successes and failures,  the choices they could have made, and how their view of the world has changed over the years. Many reflected on how their kids are doing and the job they did raising them.

It takes a few minutes to adjust to the British accents, and the movie could have been a little shorter than 2.5 hours, but I’d definitely recommend seeing 56 Up if you get the chance.

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Side Effects

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5 

Side Effects is a crime thriller with a lot of plot twists, a good director, and a very good cast.  I  expected to like it a lot. Despite all of that, the plot just seemed unrealistic to me, and despite the fun of trying to follow the twists and turns, I was disappointed. If there’s a lawyer is reading this entry who saw this movie, I’d love your view on whether some of the plot is realistic or if there are legal checks and balances that make this unrealistic.

The cast included Rooney Mara (from the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. Tatum’s role is very small, so don’t go see this film just because you are a big fan. Rooney Mara was excellent. Most reviews seem to like Jude Law’s performance, but I thought he was a little over the top.

I seem to be in the minority on this review, so while I didn’t really like this movie, you shouldn’t let my cynicism about the plot stop you from seeing it.

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Identity Thief

Bill C’s Review – 2 out of 5

I had originally intended to skip this movie based on the poor reviews it received from critics.  But based on the audience reception on Rotten Tomatoes and since there’s not a lot that’s really good out there right now I decided to give it a shot.  Unfortunately I agree with the critics.  Melissa McCarthy is excellent and provides the laughs but they are too few and far between and this movie violates Bill I’s prime rule of movie previews – don’t show all the best laughs if the movie is a comedy.

This movie seemed to me like a weak clone of the John Candy/Steve  Martin classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles with  two strangers driving each other crazy on a disastrous road trip together before coming together at the end.  Unless you really like Melissa McCarthy I would rent that  instead.  Another option if you’re a fan of the director Seth Gordon is to rent one of my favorite and very funny documentary, The King of Kong, the story of good vs. evil in the quest to be the record holder in ‘Donkey Kong’.

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Amour

Bill C’s review – 4 out of 5

Amour is one of the best movies that most people will want to avoid seeing. It’s a very well-acted and honest portrayal of a couple in their eighties dealing with the declining health of the wife due to a series of strokes. The husband lovingly takes care of her despite the hardships to keep his vow not to let her die in a hospital or nursing home. This movie doesn’t pull any punches in telling the story of slow decline of the wife.

This movie has deservedly received several Academy Award nominations. Emmanuelle Riva plays the wife and is nominated for Best Actress. This is a challenging role physically as she goes from healthy through various stages of post-stroke to near-death. Amour is also nominated for Best Picture and Michael Haneke is nominated for Best Director.  Haneke directed Cache a few years  ago—a movie that Bill I. recommended, but that I never got around to seeing. Jean-Louis Trintignant does a great job as the husband, and one of my all-time favorite French actresses, Isabelle Huppert, plays the daughter.

So this is another film that I like a lot, but but it is sad and depressing and not for everyone AND it’s French so it has subtitles.

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