Monday, February 10, 2014

Recent (and not so recent) films

American Hustle: I just saw this in January, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be my favorite movie this year. It was that good! Those of us of a certain age will remember the headlines in the news about this.

The Place Beyond the Pines: One thing I like about independent films is that they're unpredictable. This was filmed in nearby Schenectady, so there's a local connection. Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are pretty amazing in this film.

Broadway Idiot: I'm a big fan of documentaries, and this one about the creation of a musical based on the Green Day album American Idiot is interesting and funny. It includes a lot of the rehearsal performances, including some of Billie Joe Armstrong's sessions.

Enough Said: It was great seeing James Gandolfini playing a different kind of role; otherwise I would always have thought of him as the violent Tony Soprano, or the thug from True Romance. I enjoyed seeing Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a different kind of (still kooky) role. Good acting; nice story.

Captain Phillips: My main question throughout this film was why didn't they have any weapons on board? Was it illegal for them to carry weapons through international waters? This film brought up close issues that have been in the news for years: the danger for ships travelling around the horn of Africa. Good acting on the part of Tom Hanks and others, and lots of suspense, even though I knew how it ended.

The Sessions: I know, everyone else saw this two years ago. This was one I missed in 2012, but I'm glad that I finally saw. It shows the sad story of Mark O'Brien, paralyzed by polio at the age of six, and his desire not to die a virgin. The acting is amazing, and the story moving.

Gandhi: I missed this film when it came out in 1982, but I'm glad I finally saw it. I enjoyed the film but I had a hard time at first getting past Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. Kingsley is a great actor, but why didn't they find an Indian actor to play the part? Still: great movie, great acting. (I still think E.T. should have won best film that year, though!)

Dallas Buyers Club: I could barely recognize Matthew McConaughey in this film; he lost so much weight for it. This is the story of a man with AIDS in 1985 who was given 30 days to live when he was diagnosed. He lived another seven years, actively importing experimental drugs into the U.S., and fighting with the FDA to be allowed to do so. Jared Leto does an amazing job playing a transgender man with a female gender identity. McConaughey's acting is also stellar.

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