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Sunday, June 21, 2015

While we're young (Noah Baumbach)


A middle-aged couple's career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.


Starring Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Maria Dizzia, Adam Horovitz, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried


My thoughts on this film: The movie does indeed have a good start - Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play their roles well and make lots of good points regarding how we can sometimes be unhappy with our past decisions and our lives. It also captures the present changes between people who live for their kids and those who do not have any, and how they see one another.
However, 'While We're Young' left me a little disappointed in the end, since something seems to be missing. To put it bluntly, the trailer looked better than the exact film.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Mistress (James Patterson & David Ellis)

As Ben Casper watches his best friend plummet from her sixth-floor apartment balcony, he realises his life is about to change. Diana had no reason to kill herself, she had to have been pushed.
Diana worked for the CIA, so the investigation into her death is kept tightly under wraps. But Ben is a political journalist and can feel that something is not right.
Casper starts investigating for himself and soon discovers that Diana was leading a double life he knew nothing about. But when more people involved die in questionable circumstances it becomes clear that someone does not want the truth to be uncovered.

Quote: "I mean, in The Firm, one of the henchmen, the one who killed Gary Busey and the lawyers in the Caymans, and who tried to kill Tom Cruise - that guy was an albino. If you were going to pick someone to anonymously carry out your wet work, would you choose an albino? Anybody, but anybody, could identify him: Well, let's see... don't remember much, 'cept, oh, yeah, he had white hair and red eyes and was completely pale."

My thoughts on this book: I normally enjoy James Patterson books. I find them to be easy, quick reads, filled with suspense. But this one was awful. The characters were under developed, silly, and annoying. The constant thoughts running through the main character's mind became distracting and irritating, and the events were so far fetched they bordered on laughable. I could not wait to finish it. Not at all worth reading.
Maybe it is just me, but I find that he has made a turn for the worst in his recent books. Perhaps Mr. Patterson should consider publishing fewer quality books per year rather than a lot of bad ones.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Woman in Gold (Directed by Simon Curtis; Written by Alexi Kaye Campbell, E. Randol Schoenberg, and Maria Altmann)

Maria Altmann sought to regain a world famous painting of her aunt plundered by the Nazi during World War II. She did so not just to regain what was rightfully hers, but also to obtain some measure of justice for the death, destruction, and massive art theft perpetrated by the Nazi.

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Antje Traue, Elizabeth McGovern, Frances Fisher, Moritz Bleibtreu, Tom Schilling, Allan Corduner, Henry Goodman, Nina Kunzendorf

Why I loved this film: The responsibility of the film-maker when the project is 'based on a true story' is elevated when that same story has significant historical relevance and blends such elements as art, identity, justice and international law. Add to those the quest of a remarkable woman whose family was ripped apart by the Nazi, and more than a history lesson, it becomes a poignant personal story.
Helen Mirren portrays Maria Altmann, the woman who emigrated to the United States by fleeing her Austrian homeland during World War II and leaving behind her beloved family, as well as all possessions. After the death of her sister, Mrs. Altmann becomes aware of the family artwork stolen by the Nazi during the invasion. This is not just any artwork, but multiple pieces from famed Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, including the 'Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer'. See, Adele was Maria's aunt, and the stunning piece (with gold leaf accents) has become 'the Mona Lisa of Austria' while hanging for decades in the state gallery.
The story revolves around Maria partnering with family friend and upstart attorney Randol Schoenberg to take on the nation of Austria and reclaim the extremely valuable artwork that was seized illegally so many years ago. They are aided in their mission by an Austrian journalist who is fighting his own demons. The seven-year legal saga is condensed for the big screen and we follow Maria and Randol as they meet with the Austrian art reclamation committee, a federal judge, the U.S. Supreme Court, and finally a mediation committee back in Austria. But this is not really a courtroom drama, it is a personal quest for justice and search for identity. The role that family roots and history play in turning us into who we are today as seen through the eyes of a woman who has survived what most of us can only imagine.
Director Simon Curtis uses startling flashbacks to provide glimpses of Maria's childhood, her marriage and subsequent escape. We get to know her family and realise the impact of the Nazi takeover in their lives.
Helen Mirren delivers yet another exceptional performance and manages to pull off the snappy lines while also capturing the emotional turmoil Mrs. Altmann endures.
I must also warn the more sensitive souls to bring your tissues as you may be weeping in the end.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Tomorrowland (Brad Bird)

Bound by a shared destiny, a bright teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space they know as Tomorrowland.

Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Robinson, Pierce Gagnon, Judy Greer

My thoughts on this film: Maybe expectations were too high due to the trailer. Maybe it was more aimed at children than I expected or wanted it to be. However, this does not excuse the fact that the pacing was incredibly slow and the unbelievably idiotic moral of the story. Yes, the world is going to hell, but I am sure there are better ways to get the point across. Acting was good, though, and it was great to see Hugh Laurie back. Filming was also good, but I must confess that I was bored most of the time.