Movie Review – Conspiracy

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Oct 212014

Conspiracy Movie PosterThe historical recreation of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, in which Nazi and SS leaders gathered in a Berlin suburb to discuss the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”. Lead by SS-General Reinhard Heydrich, this group of high ranking German officials came to the historic and far reaching decision that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated in what would come to be known as the Holocaust.

Rating: 7.9/10 (10,326 votes)
Director: Frank Pierson
Writer: Loring Mandel
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Clare Bullus, Stanley Tucci, Simon Markey
Runtime: 96 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, History, War
Released: 19 May 2001

We watched this movie via Amazon Prime Saturday night. We were just surfing, and gave it a try, and it turned out to be a pretty decent movie, and well worth a thoughtful watching.

This movie could have been entitled, “how to chair a board meeting” or “how not to chair a board meeting” – given that the outcome of the meeting was the “final solution”. Gen. Heidrich with consummate skill and care manipulated the gathered Nazi hierarchy to the pre-arranged and pre-destined solution to the Jewish question. Continue reading »

Julie and Julia – A Movie Review

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Feb 222010

Click here to watch the trailer for this movie at Yahoo Movies.Based on two true stories, “Julie & Julia” intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

Genres: Comedy and Adaptation; Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min.; Release Date: August 7th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sensuality.

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Jane Lynch

Directed by: Nora Ephron

I watched this as an Amazon On-Demand movie one evening last week while Lay was at work. He was not interested in seeing this movie, but I was. And I found myself enjoying the experience.

Nora Ephron likes to observe how two people meet and bond with each other, ultimately forming a relationship that we hope will transcend time, and like in her previous films, she manages to nuance both characters seamlessly and bind them in our eyes to a point where we can’t care for one without wondering what will happen to the other. It is a rare accomplishment.

The film is based on two true stories. First there’s the story of the world-renowned Julia Child, who wrote the American classic “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” It is the story of Julia’s arrival on France in 1949, how she learned to cook, and how she went about co-writing the book with two of her friends. The other story happens in 2002. It follows Julie Powell, a government worker who lives atop a Pizzeria with her husband, and who decides that to find some meaning in life she’ll cook all of Julia Child’s recipes in a maximum of one year, and write about the experience in a blog. The film seamlessly interweaves these two stories, with Julia’s life experiences going into her cookbook, and those experiences wafting through the years to Julie’s kitchen.

The film may seem, at first, unimpressive…and it is, to a point. It’s a biopic, and we must admit that lives are seldom as impressive as Hollywood makes them out to be, so don’t be expecting ingenious plot twists or the characters coming full circle at the end. The film portrays the life of America’s most beloved cook and of a woman following in her footsteps. Just that. But it is amazing how the lives of these completely different women are similar, even though they live in different centuries and countries. They’re both: happily married, they both experience an important move at the beginning of the film, both take up cooking to fill up an emptiness in their life and both harvest so much passion and art from what they cook; both are writers, but find almost the same hardships when looking for publishers, both have similar marital problems, and at the end they both understand how life works for them.

Ephron knows how to relate two characters. These two women have never met, but they’re so similar and share so much that we wonder whether they may be family. And notice how Julie adores and reveres Julia, even though she’s never met her, and how Julia is the motivation and spark behind Julie’s life even if she’s not aware of her existence. Meryl Streep as Julia Child takes over what could be an uninteresting story and injects it with glee and joy with a powerful and entrancing performance, an Oscar-worthy one. Amy Adams as Julie Powell is very good too, depicting a typical struggling American woman and bearing her heart for the audience. Her story is a bit uninvolving too, but her performance does wonders for what could otherwise be a stale film.

“Julie & Julia” has two seamlessly intertwined story lines and two superb leading ladies. The cinematography and editing are very well done, but not spectacular. The production design is very good, actually, especially on the Julia storyline, recreating bourgeois France in 1949 and seeping us into the charming and infectiously fun lifestyle she led.

It’s not the movie of the year, but Streep and Adams and outstanding, and all the supporting characters are excellent. The screen play is very interesting, and the two stories are woven together nicely. This is is a movie well worth watching.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 7.00 out of 10)

Lovely Bones, The – A Movie Review

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Feb 152010

Movie Poster for The Lovely BonesSusie Salmon, a young girl who has been murdered, watches over her family — and her killer — from heaven. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal. Based on the best selling book by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is the story of a 14-year-old girl from suburban Pennsylvania who is murdered by her neighbor. She tells the story from Heaven, showing the lives of the people around her and how they have changed all while attempting to get someone to find her lost body.

Genres: Drama, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller and Adaptation; Running Time: 2 hrs. 19 min.; Release Date: December 11th, 2009 (limited); January 15th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language.

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Lay and I watched this movie a couple of weekends ago. Obviously I have not been posting much lately due to work demands, but hopefully I’ll be back to a more regular schedule.

This is an extremely dark story from a well written book. It had the potential to be an excellent movie, but managed to fail pretty significantly. The characters did a very good job with the parts they were given. Mark Wahlberg was excellent, showing great depth of character and subelty. Stanley Tuccia, a great actor managed to play his part very well. He maintained some great tension, but was just a little bit over the top with the creepiness.

We see a lot of the little girl in this “in-between place” she inhabits as she works to help the family move beyond the situation. Most of that did not make a lot of sense. Those parts of the movie, combined with narration by this character just didn’t add a lot to move the story along in a meaningful way.

I thought this movie came across as a college class assignment in cinema. It’s like the students had access to some cool CGI software, so they decided to try every tool in the palate during the scenes from the “in-between place.” There was a symbol (I won’t give it away), that seemed to be there for no reason other than an instructor might have said that some thematic convention was needed throughout the movie. There was even a love scene al la “Ghost.”

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

What Just Happened – A Movie Review

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Nov 102008

What Just Happened Movie PosterTwo nail-biting, back-stabbing, roller-coaster weeks in the world of a middle-aged Hollywood producer as he tries to juggle an actual life with an outrageous series of crises in his day job. Ben is besieged by people who want him all to be sorts of things — a money maker, an ego buster, a bad news breaker, an artistic champion, a loyal husband, an all-knowing father, not to mention sexy, youthful and tuned-in — everything except for the one thing he and all the preposterously behaved people he’s surrounded by really are: bumbling human beings just trying to survive by any means necessary.

Genres: Comedy and Adaptation; Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.; Release Date: October 17th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for language, some violent images, sexual content and some drug material.

Starring: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro

Directed by: Barry Levinson

Lay and I went to see this movie Saturday night. The reviews are definitely not outstanding, but it was hardly a terrible movie. It certainly moved slowly in places, and a few parts were over-played. De Niro did a great job as the lead character. They did use a technique of doing fast forwards in the film. I think I know why the did it, but it really didn’t add anything, as was overdone to the point of becoming a little annoying. All-in-all though, I’d say the film is worth watching, but probably not until its out on DVD.

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