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.

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

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…

 

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

Haywire

In this 2011 thriller, a member of a black ops mission is set up and she’s on a quest to seek revenge on those responsible for setting her up. She has to use all her skills to stay alive. It took me awhile to figure out who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.

After a covert operation in Barcelona, Mallory Kane is sent on another mission to Ireland where she is earmarked for elimination. Realizing she has been double crossed, she embarks on a mission to uncover the culprits. There’s a lot of intrigue in this movie with good performances by Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, and Bill Paxton among others.

 

Another Earth

A 2011 independent film tells a story of a young teenager, Rhoda Williams, on her way to MIT to explore the galaxies of other worlds. She’s bright, talented, and has exceptional qualities. John Burroughs on the other hand is married with a child and another on the way, is on the top of his profession as a composer. He’s bright, talented, and has exceptional qualities.

However, on the eve of discovering another earth just outside of the moon’s shadow an accident happens killing Burroughs’ wife and family while young Rhoda goes to jail for the crime. Once out and on probation, Rhoda lands a cleaning job as a janitor at the local high school.

Compelled to say she’s sorry to John for the accident, Rhoda couldn’t find it in her to tell him the truth. So, she becomes his house cleaner and the two engage into an unlikely affair she knows is wrong but is helpless to stop. The affair is too much for Rhoda to bear so she tells him the story. John almost chokes her to death.

Meanwhile, during the affair Rhoda enters a contest to win a ticket to travel to Another Earth and she wins and decides to offer John the ticket. Rhoda’s theory is that John’s family is alive and well on the new earth – oh, did I forget to mention when the new earth was discovered its inhabitants were duplicates of what we have on this earth. Okay, now that the cat’s out of the bag, there’s a surprise ending.

 

Lunopolis

I first put this movie into my instant queue as I thought it was a Sci-fi movie. However, when I started watching it I thought I was watching a documentary. So, I almost turned it off as I was in the mood for a Sci-fi flick, not a documentary.

I realized the movie was about two documentary filmmakers discovering a conspiracy with the government – enter the Sci-fi movie.

It appears that moon people (humans really but they live on the moon) are involved in time travel through the Church of Lunopolis (ohhh, sound familiar, Bollywood fans?) as this discreet organization protects the moon people.

There were some really neat parts of this movie that amazed you and you could almost believe this is a Sci-fi documentary and people do exist on the moon deciding our fate. A bit tongue & cheek at times but enjoyable nonetheless.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School

I was perusing the 90+ movies in my instant queue (I need to think about retirement so I can watch more movies) and decided to watch this as the availability was going to expire soon. This independent, romantic 2005 film stars Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg and Mary Steenburgen.

Even when the (and I know I’m getting ahead of myself here) movie was over I watched the credits slowly move from the bottom of my TV screen to the top. The reason for this was quite simple – the music. To say the least it was quite enticing.

On to the story, Steve Mills (John Goodman), an ex-con on his way to Marylin Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School to meet Lisa, a young girl he accidentally hit when they were kids. He promises to meet her at the dance school on the fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year of the new millennium. However, he crashes into a barrier on the highway en-route to the “charm school”.  Bread maker, Frank Keane (Robert Carlyle) is delivering his bread and comes along Steve after his crash and tries to keep his distance from the crashed vehicle.

On the way to the hospital, Steve tells the story of why he’s going there and after a spell realizes he won’t make his promise so he lures Frank into going for him and Frank promises to go to the dance to find Lisa.

Here’s the predictable part, he doesn’t find Lisa but meets Meredith Morrison (Marisa Tomei). Enter love and destiny and I’ll leave it at that. Frank does have to overcome his own demons as well as an over-protective step brother (Donnie Wahlberg).

I think the acting was pretty good but too much sentimental overtones clouded what could have been a real nice story. The best part of the movie was the musical score which I enjoyed immensely.

The Statement (2003)

Based on the events of a true story in 1944 where Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine), a Milice officer rounds up seven Jews and has a hand in executing them for their religious beliefs.

Now in the early 1990s, Broussard is on the run from the authorities and a group of underground assassins out to right the wrong done in the past.

Anne Marie Livi (Tilda Swinton), a French prosecutor known for her tenacity for solving crimes is teamed up with Colonel Rioux (Jeremy Northam) in their attempt to break through the church monks and Vichy sympathizers who have been protecting him all these years, before the ruthless underground hired guns get to him.

But who really wants Pierre Brossard dead? Ahh, you’ll have to watch this one to find out?

I’m a huge Michael Caine fan but prefer to see him in the “good guy” role but that’s just me, he’s still a great actor! By all means, have popcorn with butter on it for this movie.

Hollywoodland (2006)

Diane Lane does a great job portraying Toni Mannix who helps the career of George Reeves (Ben Affleck). Seemingly unhappy in his role as Superman and the image he has to keep up, George looks for other roles while having an affair with Toni. Sounds like the tabloids of Hollywood.

A detective that is down on his luck, gets an inside scoop from the police that certain details of the apparent suicide don’t seem to add up and it’s nothing the law wants to uncover. Luis Simo (Adrien Brody) tries to find clues that the Adventures of Superman star’s death was other than suicide. One of his biggest theories is that Reeve’s new girlfriend, Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) accidentally shot him. Or was it someone else that had him murdered?