Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I've been watching:

Another Year
I like director Mike Leigh’s films because he always offers a no-holds-barred truthful examination of his characters lives. This film shows a happily married couple and their interactions with friends who are not so happy.

Company Men
This is the story of what happens to upper middle class executives when they get laid off. Ben Affleck plays the exec who is in total denial until forced into working a construction job for his brother-in-law. The movie has great performances by all involved but it takes place in a white man’s world—there is only 1 woman who is not a nurse, secretary or homemaker and only 1 black person in the whole movie. A little clichéd but worth watching.

This is a Peruvian gay film. A fisherman with a pregnant wife is in love with an artist visiting his seaside town. What is most fascinating about this film is that it asks the question: what does it mean to be a man? I found the film to be sweet, sympathetic and thoughtful.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New to the library:

Uxbal is a man on the wrong side of the law who struggles to provide for his children on the dangerous streets of Barcelona. As fate encircles him, Uxbal learns to accept the realities of life, whether bright, bad, or biutiful.

Drive Angry
An undead criminal escapes from hell to avenge his daughter's murder and rescue her kidnapped baby from a cult.

I Am Number Four
Three are dead. Who is number four? John Smith is an extraordinary teen masking his true identity to elude a deadly enemy sent to destroy him. Living with his guardian in the small town he now calls home John encounters unexpected life-changing events, his first love, powerful new abilities, and a secret connection to the others who share his incredible destiny.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New to the library:

Battle: Los Angeles
For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world. But in 2011, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces. As people everywhere watch the world's great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. It's up to a Marine staff sergeant and his new platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they've ever encountered before.

The Concert (French)
Thirty years ago, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov, conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians. Now a cleaning man at the Bolshoi, he hears the Chatelet Theater in Paris has invited the Bolshoi orchestra to play there. He gathers together his former musicians and a young solo violin virtuoso to perform in Paris in the place of the current Bolshoi orchestra. If they all overcome the hardships ahead this very special concert will be a triumph.

Hall Pass
Rick and Fred are best friends who have a lot in common, including the fact that they have each been married for many years. But when the two men begin to show signs of restlessness at home, their wives take a bold approach to revitalizing their individual marriages: granting them a 'hall pass,' one week of freedom to do whatever they want, no questions asked.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New this week: 6/8/11

Another Year
A married couple that has managed to remain blissfully happy into their autumn years are surrounded over the course of the four seasons of one average year by friends, colleagues, and family who all seem to suffer some degree of unhappiness.

Any Human Heart
Every life is ordinary and extraordinary. Logan Mountstuart's is a rich tapestry of both. The viewer experiences Logan at different points in his life in this provocative glimpse at one man's quest for glory and bliss. Any Human Heart is the story of a full life, lived with passion; expansive, rich, unsentimental, comic, and profoundly moving.

Company Men
Bobby Walker is living the proverbial American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-workers Phil Woodward and Gene McClary jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers. Bobby soon finds himself enduring enthusiastic life coaching, a job building houses for his brother-in-law that does not play to his executive skill set, and finding that perhaps there is more to life.

George Gently
Stubborn, incorruptible old cop George Gently partners with a young, ambitious protégé to tackle cases in the North East of England during the turbulent 1960s.

Just Go with It
A plastic surgeon who is romancing a much younger schoolteacher enlists his loyal assistant to pretend to be his soon-to-be ex-wife in order to cover up a careless lie. When more lies backfire, the assistant's kids become involved, and everyone heads off for a weekend in Hawaii that will change all their lives.

Marriage Italian Style (1964)
Domenico first meets 17-year-old prostitute Filumena in a Neapolitan brothel in the 2nd World War. After the war they become lovers on and off for 22 years. Domenico eventually rents an apartment for Filumena and even lets her run his shop but is always chasing other women. Finally Filumena asks Domenico to marry her on her deathbed, just before he had planned to marry his young cashier, and admits she had his legitimate child. Dominico uses different subterfuges trying to find which teenager might be his son.

Sunflower (1970)
The story of a married Italian couple who are separated by World War II and then meet again years later in Russia only to realize that they cannot recapture the past.

True Grit
Mattie Ross is determined to avenge her father's blood by capturing Tom Chaney, the man who shot and killed him for two pieces of gold. Just fourteen, she enlists the help of Rooster Cogburn, a one-eyed, trigger-happy U.S. Marshal with an affinity for drinking, and hardened Texas Ranger LaBoeuf to track the fleeing Chaney. Despite their differences, their ruthless determination leads them on a perilous adventure that can only have one outcome: retribution.

Miguel, a respected Peruvian fisherman, is expecting his first child with his beautiful wife, Mariela. However, their peaceful existence is threatened by Miguel's love for Santiago, a visiting artist whose presence is viewed as a threat by the villagers. When a fatal accident befalls the community, Miguel is faced with hiding his true feelings or coming to terms with who he is and risk losing everything, including those he loves.

Upstairs Downstairs: the complete series
This is the saga of the aristocratic Bellamy family and their loyal and lively servants. Real-life events from 1903-1930 are incorporated into the stories of the Bellamy household.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963)
Three tales of women who use sex to get what they want out of the self-centered men in their lives.

Friday, June 10, 2011

New to the library

Arthur Bishop is an assassin with a unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets. It's a job that requires professional perfection and he is the best in the business. But when Harry, his mentor and friend is murdered, Bishop wants those responsible dead. After Harry's son approaches him with the same vengeful goal, Bishop takes the impulsive student deep into his world and a deadly partnership is born. However, deceptions will surface, and those hired to fix problems soon become the problem.

Other Woman
Emilia, a law school graduate, falls in love with her married boss, Jack. After they marry, her happiness turns unexpectedly to grief following the death of her infant daughter. Devastated, Emilia nonetheless carries on, attempting to forge a connection with her stepson William and to resist the interference of Jack's jealous ex-wife.

Inspired by true events, this supernatural thriller follows a seminary student sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Only when sent to apprentice with legendary Father Lucas, who has performed thousand of exorcisms, does his armor of skepticism begin to fall. Drawn into a troubling case that transcends even Father Lucas's skill, the young seminarian glimpses a phenomenon science can't explain or control.

South Riding
When Sarah Burton returns to her hometown as headmistress, she is full of ambition, determined to create a great school and to inspire her girls to take all they can from life. But in the aftermath of the First World War, the country is in depression and ideals are hard won. Lydia Holly, the scholarship girl from the shacks, is the most brilliant student Sarah has ever taught, but when her mother's health fails, her education must be sacrificed - there is nobody else to care for the children.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New to the library:

I've gotten way behind in my blogging. Too many vacations. These titles were added to our collection during the week of May 11.

Blue Valentine
This film is an honest, moving and uninhibited love story. It is an uncompromising portrait of Dean and Cindy, a young married couple who have grown apart, taking one night away from their daughter to try to save their relationship. Highlighted by provocative scenes alternately intimate and intense, the film captured audiences and critics alike.

Cherry Blossoms
Only Trudi knows that her husband Rudi is suffering from a terminal illness. She decides not to tell him and convinces him to visit their family in Berlin. When Trudi dies suddenly, Rudi vows to make up for her lost life and takes his last journey to Tokyo in the midst of the cherry blossom festival.

Client 9: the Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer
When he was NY's Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer prosecuted crimes by America's largest financial institutions and some of the most powerful executives in the country. After his election as governor, with the largest margin in the state's history, many believed Spitzer was on his way to becoming the nation's first Jewish president. Then, shockingly, Spitzer's meteoric rise turned into a precipitous fall when the New York Times revealed that Spitzer had been caught seeing prostitutes.

A darkly surreal look at three teenagers confined to an isolated country estate and kept under strict rule and regimen by their parents - an alternately hilarious and nightmarish experiment of manipulation and oppression.

A French illusionist finds himself out of work and travels to Scotland. While performing in a village pub, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.

Last Train Home
Every spring, China's cities are plunged into chaos as an astonishing 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year's holiday. This mass exodus is the largest human migration on the planet, an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past and industrial future. Working over several years in classic verite, Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan travels with one couple who have embarked on this annual trek for almost two decades.

No Strings Attached
Emma and Adam are life-long friends who almost ruin everything by having sex one morning. To protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly 'no strings attached.' That means no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, and no baby voices. They can do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, as long as they don't fall in love. The question becomes: who's going to fall first? And can their friendship survive?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two in the Wave

The film Two in the Wave is about the relationship between French film directors François Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard, both of whom were largely responsible for the New Wave movement in French films of the 60’s. Their films reflect the social and political turmoil of the times and demonstrate experimentation with visual and narrative styles of storytelling. If you are a fan of film history like I am you’ll be interested in this film, and, after watching, you’ll want to watch films by both directors. Voorheesville library owns Jules and Jim one of Truffaut’s most important films plus Day for Night, a fun film about making a movie. Although we don’t own any Godard films you can request them from other libraries. Some titles you might want to get are Breathless, Pierrot le Fou, or Band of Outsiders. Just for fun, you can also catch Truffaut as an actor in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What I've been watching:

I have taken a lot of vacation days this month so have missed many blog posts. Sorry. I'll try to catch up next week. Even though I was on vacation I didn't watch too many films. Here are the two I did watch:

This film is based on a true story about the fall of the Soviet bloc. A Russian KGB agent passed on important documents regarding the Russians’ knowledge of American CIA activities to the French, who then passed it on to the Americans. Reagan declared it “one of the most important espionage cases of the twentieth century.” The two men involved, an ordinary French engineer (whose boss had ties to military intelligence) & the KGB agent who wanted a better life for his son, were both sympathetically portrayed & the story, as it followed them, was fascinating. As things began to fall apart for the Soviets, the plot got a little confusing. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating spy story because of the two individuals involved.

Jason Bateman, who is always appealing, and Jennifer Aniston play best friends. She decides to have a baby by herself and through a comedy of errors ends up having a baby whose biological father is her best friend. The relationship between the child and Bateman was especially endearing. I was expecting a romantic comedy but what I got was a sweet story so I was definitely not disappointed.