Category Archives: Drama

Moonrise Kingdom

Bill C’s review – 3.5 out of 5

Moonrise Kingdom is the latest from quirky director Wes Anderson.  Some of Anderson’s previous films include Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaum’s and the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Moonrise Kingdom is set in summer 1965 in a small laid back New England town and is about two young teenagers, Suzy (a member of a dysfunctional family) and Sam (an orphan who is spending the summer at boy scout camp).  They run away together and the town and scout troop search for them as a hurricane approaches.

Anderson has his own unique style and as in all of his films this is filled with interesting characters. They include Bruce Willis as the town police officer, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s parents, Edward Norton as Sam’s troop leader, Tilda Swinton as ‘Social Services’ and Jason Schwartzman as the strange Uncle Ben.   But most of these characters take a back seat to the fine performances of  newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman playing Suzy and Sam.

While this has it’s funny moments (especially involving the scouts) I didn’t think this was as consistently funny as some of Anderson’s other movies.  However I found the young love story of two trouble kids sweet and touching.

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Besides the forgettable title (I had to look again at my ticket receipt just now to remember it) I loved this film, had a smile on my face throughout. Wes Anderson’s truly unique style makes this a fantasy, children’s story metaphor that combines some realistic characters (mainly the grown-ups: Bill Murray’s burnout, neglectful husband and father, Bruce Willis’ decent, lonely, sheriff, Frances McDormand’s cynical, lazy, housewife/mother who relies on a megaphone to call her kids up the stairs to dinner) with some snappy dialogue spouted from 12 year-olds, including the two amazing leads. This puts Juno to shame in fashioning beyond-their-years youngsters who seem to have their acts together and appreciate life’s adventures better than their elders. I guess you should bring your kids to this, don’t think their’s anything outwardly R rated, and the sexual undertones are fairly discrete (an affair where you don’t even see the adults kissing) or so chaste (first french kiss, skinny dipping with their clothes on…well they dry off in their underwear afterwards). The plot gets a little crazy towards the end but you will like the realistic ending. Keep an eye out for Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman in small but great roles. I don’t think I can describe this very well, you just have to see it.

 

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

I saw this as an allegory about how much our culture values youth and beauty, to the extent that people will do anything to stop time’s damages. For example, how does Jane Fonda look better now at age 74 than she did 25 years ago? Is she sucking the life force out of young girls like Ravenna the evil Queen does in this movie? Actually, this film is very well done, with excellent acting (Charlize Theron gets an Oscar nomination for sure), cool storyline and wonderful special effects. Check out Ravenna’s special finger-fitted fork.  For me, this beats all of the Lord of the Rings movies. This ain’t no Disney fairy tale, so don’t bring the little kids!

 

The Kid with a Bike

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

First what this film is not: it’s not for those who want a Hollywood movie, with big action, romance, special effects, quick editing, leading men, cute kids, alien flying a bike, predictable story, heart on its sleeve, set up for a sequel or prequel, Anglelina Jolie or Sandra Bullock hero mom, people who want an “uplifting movie”, who don’t like sub-titles, or who need clear-cut good guys vs. bad guys. It’s in French, and an American remake will probably be schmaltzy, but as it is it’s pretty darn good. The 11 year-old boy whose father abandons him is determined to find both his dad and his bike, only one of which does him any good. He picks a foster mom based on proximity, and internalizes the unfairness of his life. Were Charles Dickens alive today he would have written this screenplay. Thomas Doret is amazing as Cyril (aka Pitbull), and Cecile de France is perfect as the good hearted but direct foster mom. It’s not depressing, rather realistic and with not a false “acting” character in sight, truly inspiring in its message of love and finding family where you can. Take off one evening, miss that episode of CSI or Two and a Half Men, and check this out.

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

This is a very good movie about kindness, resilience and hope. This movie avoids being overly sentimental about this kid who is headed toward juvenile delinquency after his father deserts him and sells his bike. That’s the right approach for this movie to take as you still get to care about the characters without it being, as Bill points out, schmaltzy. At points this movie is tough to watch as Cyril makes some bad decisions but it’s worth sticking with as Cyril deals with his anger and sense of abandonment. The kid gives an excellent performance and is an excellent bike rider 🙂 . While this film is in French and has subtitles, there is not a ton of dialogue so don’t skip it just because of that. The Kid with a Bike is definitely worth seeing.

P.S. Our recent entry on Jeff, Who Lives At Home talked about some of the best brothers that are directing/producing movies.  We missed the makers of this film,  Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.  They have been very successful movie makers from Belgium for over 30 years. This week was also the debut of The Three Stooges made by brothers we did discuss – The Farrelly Brothers – and of course Curly and Moe Howard were brothers. This movie got mixed reviews. Did anyone get to see it?

IMDB      Rotten Tomatoes

Thin Ice

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Thin Ice was very entertaining with lots of good plot twists and turns. Greg Kinnear plays an insurance agent living in frigid Wisconsin with financial and other problems. When he meets Alan Arkin’s character, he sees an opportunity to take advantage of Arkin and resolve his own problems. Things don’t go according to plan and that’s when the numerous plot twists start kicking in. You may anticipate some of them but you wouldn’t expect all of them.

Greg Kinnear is good as the unscrupulous insurance salesman but I enjoyed Alan Arkin’s performance more. Billy Crudup also provided some comic relief.

With a wintery setting in Wisconsin and some similar plot lines, this film is reminiscent of Fargo. Although not as good as Fargo, Thin Ice is definitely worth seeing.

IMDB – Thin Ice

Rotten Tomatoes – Thin Ice

A Separation

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

A Separation is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and deservedly so. It is set (and made) in Iran and deals with a family splitting up because the wife wants to leave Iran for a better life while the husband refuses so he can continue to care for his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Tough choices, both moral and otherwise, are faced as the couple separates and needs to deal with their new circumstances. Part of what makes this such a good movie is you are able to sympathize with all the characters. Forces beyond their control take them in conflicting directions and some of their decisions have disastrous effects..

Excellent performances all around, including the couple, the daughter and the woman who comes to help care for the father after the couple separates.

This movie is also interesting because of the insight we get about daily life, the judicial system and religion in Iran.

This film is highly recommended.

IMDB – A Separation

Rotten Tomatoes – A Separation

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Tilda Swinton gives a great performance as the mother of a boy who goes on a Columbine-like rampage. The movie tells the story from the mother’s perspective as she deals with her grief after the event, as well as her view of Kevin’s upbringing and what she had to deal with. This adds poignancy to an already sad subject. The story is told in a non-linear way which allows interesting contrasts to be brought out at different times.

In addition to the great performance by Swinton, the two boys who play Kevin at different points of his life are also excellent (the baby Kevin also did a great job of crying on cue but I do not attribute that to his acting skills).

A very good movie but sad movie…so don’t go see this after a tough day when you need to be cheered up.

IMDB – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Rotten Tomatoes – We Need to Talk About Kevin