Words and Pictures (2013)

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche portray two teachers at a high school where they strike up a rivalry of their respective passions – art & literature. Owens plays a one-time lit phenom, Jack Marcus, but hasn’t published in a long time. This, along with his alcoholism, may just be his demise and get him fired from the prep school.

Dina Delsanto (Binoche) is an abstract artist debilitated by rheumatoid arthritis and is the new teacher on campus. Jack quickly starts the flirting game by challenging Delsanto to a word game by increasing the number of syllables of words. The flirting then leads to romance but is soon dissolved by Jack’s alcoholic blunder.

Although it appears bleak that Jack and Dina will repair their relationship, the students are engaged in a competition as to whether words are more important than pictures. Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

While watching the movie I enjoyed a red blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Sirah produced by Bota Box called RedVolution.

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I know, I know it’s a box wine but for some reason I really enjoyed this with the movie along with some chips & pretzels. I found aromas of plum, blackberry and black cherry. This wine was quite jammy with similar tastes that I found on the nose. And for $19.99 for a 3 Liter box it’s pretty easy on the budget so it gets 7 1/2 wine glasses.

 

 

 

L’Immortel

Foreign movie – French (2012).

L’Immortel (22 Bullets is the English title) begins with Charly Mattei (Jean Reno) with one of his children and after letting his son off to view a street vendor, Charly, a former French crime boss enters the underground garage. It is here that his childhood friend, Tony Zakia, has ordered a hit on him.

After taking 22 bullets, Charly is on the mend and has revenge on his mind for those that started this. The movie is entertaining in it’s own right but the reason I chose this was because I’m a fan of Jean Reno. Although it is not his best performance, it is good nonetheless. This does have a pretty good supporting cast and the actors play their respective roles well.

I realized after three-fourths of the way through that I had seen this before. Even with this I still enjoyed the movie – need I say more? Go ahead and have butter on the popcorn…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Late Quartet (2012)

Christopher Walken plays Peter Mitchell, who has recently been diagnosed with a medical condition that will end his tenure as the Fugue String Quartet’s cellist and leader for the past twenty-five years. The ensuing story is one that sees Peter as a paternalistic figure struggling with emotions about his own life as well as the quartet’s. Robert Gelbart (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the second violin, much to his chagrin but he stays the course for the sake of the group. His wife, Juliette (Catherine Keener) is the viola player. Daniel Lerner (Mark Ivanir) is the first violin and most conceited of the quartet, who has an affair with Alexandra (Imogen Poots) who just happens to be Robert & Juliette’s daughter.

From the beginning of the movie, competing egos, undisciplined passions, up/down emotions and friendships are tested from the opening scene to the last fade out. I won’t give away all the specifics. I chose this movie because I am a Christopher Walken fan but not one of Hoffman’s. Not only was I surprised with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance I was knocked over by Walken’s, as I did not expect to see this side of him. You’ll have to see this for your own benefit. Oh, and don’t forget to add butter to the popcorn. And go ahead – get some Goober’s, Sno-Caps, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, Jucy Fruits, Dots, Jujubes and the Raisinets. Oh, what the heck, get the Good & Plenty too. Go all out…

 

 

 

Chicken With Plums

Foreign film – French (2011).

Poulet aux prunes is about an established violinist, Nassir Ali Khan, set in 1950’s Tehran. However, there are a few turns in the story. It’s filled with flashbacks after his wife breaks his beloved violin in a fit of frustration. He is unable to find a replacement for his broken violin, thus he has become broken. As a result of this, he decides that the only outcome is to end his life.

The film is whimsical in nature as we are taken down a rabbit hole of scenarios, flashbacks, and surreal frames of Nassir’s hallucinations. We find that Nassir does not love his wife, even though she thoroughly adores him. Nassir’s true love was lost to him due to his profession as a musician. This scenario takes us on a journey that is all too familiar in most films.

Amidst his flashbacks, Nassir has a few comical moments when he speaks with the Angel of Death, then back to reality while speaking with his brother, then back in the rabbit hole again seeing his true love as she feigns not to know who he is when they happen by chance to encounter each other years later. It’s the classic romance, albeit more like a Shakespearean ending than a true love story. Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with the movie but was mesmerized by each individual scenario. So for me the parts of the movie were better than the picture as a whole.

BTW, his favorite meal is chicken with plums…

Columbus Circle (2012)

Abigail Clayton (Selma Blair) is a very, very lonely person. She is also very, very rich. This movie is full of twists and turns as we enter the daily life she leads. Abigail suffers from agoraphobia in which she is fearful of wide open spaces and situations where she may come in contact with others in malls, train stations, airports, etc. and she is being treated by the good doctor, Dr. Ray Fontaine played by Beau Bridges.

As the story unfolds I found myself on the edge of my seat in places and wasn’t ready for some of the twists this movie had to offer. It starts with Abigail’s neighbor being murdered and the suspense begins when a detective has some concerns over the circumstances of the murder. Then new neighbors move in even though Abigail has offered a lot of money for the apartment.

Abigail finds out the new couple have marital problems and befriends the new wife by comforting her after she is beaten by her husband. And this is where is really gets interesting. I can’t tell you what happens next, as this would really spoil the ending for you. You’ll have to rent it to see the ending…

 

The Women on the 6th Floor

Foreign film – French (2010).

Set in 1960s Paris, Jean-Louis and his socialite wife find their maid of twenty-three years has up and quit as their housekeeper. As the dishes and laundry pile up, Jean-Louis’ wife Suzanne is convinced by her social circle of friends to get a younger maid and they recommend she employ a Spanish maid over the traditional French maid.

Enter vivacious and pretty Maria and Jean-Louis takes a fancy to her. Maria enlists the help of the other maids and with all the chores this was no easy task. Marveled with her skills, Jean-Louis and Suzanne immediately hire her. With his attention to Maria, Jean-Louis becomes enthralled with her and befriends the women on the 6th floor. This light hearted romantic comedy is worth the cost of admission with a buttered popcorn.

The Bang Bang Club

Based on a true story of a group of combat photojournalists as they capture images of the final days of apartheid in South Africa from the period 1990-1994. This Canadian-South African 2010 drama/documentary style film grips you from the very beginning in many edge of your seat clips as well as graphic scenes of the violence.

From the opening frame to the last portrays the frustrations of four photographers and their friends as they snap photos of the inhumanity of civil strife as it tears apart a country. Although the violence is upsetting it is a film worth watching. The Bang-Bang Club members star Ryan Phillipe as Greg Marinovich,  Taylor Kitsch as Kevin Carter, Neels Van Jaarsveld as João Silva and Frank Rautenbach as Ken Oosterbroek as a tightly knit group to get the story of country caught in turmoil through the lens of a camera.

Grab the popcorn, put some butter on it and pick out another snack that suits your fancy although I will warn you that watching the compelling scenes you may just forget you have any snacks at all.

No One Killed Jessica

Foreign film- Hindi (2011).

Based on the true story of Jessica Lall who was murdered in 1999.

Jessica, an aspiring model, refuses to serve her eventual killer a drink after hours in a local nightclub. Manish, the son of a intimidating, prominent, and wealthy politician succeeds in buying off the witnesses with his father’s help believes he has beaten the charges in the senseless, deadly crime.

After several years of attempting to prevail in justice, Jessica’s sister Sabrina finally gives up as all seems to favor the politician’s son even though all believe Manish is guilty.

Enter stage right, Meera, a well-known reporter takes on the challenge of righting the wrong for Jessica. Utilizing unorthodox means, Meera sets in motion the will of power of the people. What transpires is a national protest against those individuals who believe they are above the law.

A very compelling film, skip the wine for this one but do butter the popcorn.

Away We Go

Independent film – 2009.

A couple, Burt Farlander and Veroma De Tessant are very much in love, however Verona is not a believer in marriage yet she wants her unborn child to be near family. Lo and behold, one night at dinner, they learn Burt’s parents drop a bomb on them revealing they have decided to move to Belgium one month before the baby is due. So much for close grandparents.

Burt and Verona decide to visit other places both in the U.S. and Canada where they know friends to see if they can find the best place to raise a child. The zany scenarios they encounter becomes surreal until the last, and least likely, place they’ll ever dream of raising their child. But once there…

This is a cute rainy Saturday afternoon charmer to have with a grilled cheese or any other delectable sandwich of your choice. oh, and by all means put bitter on the popcorn.

Illusion

In this 2004 film, an iconic movie director, Donald Baines is in the twilight of his life where he ponders the whereabouts of his son and what has become of him.

Enter stage right, Stan, his assistant (not of this world as he’s dead) brings a silver lining to the silver screen showing Christopher’s (the movie director’s son) life in three separate scenarios. It’s sort of like A Christmas Carol and the three ghosts as it tells what was, what is, and what will be.

The ailing director regrets his past by ignoring his son but redeems himself in the end by arranging a scene written for Christopher and Isabelle to meet – you have to watch this as I’m not going to give the ending away, come on, you should know be by now 🙂

Michael A. Goorjian does a great job both as actor and director, but I believe Kirk Douglas did a remarkable job of portraying a dying soul