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Recent Movies: Enough Said; Gravity; The Broken Circle Breakdown; Old Movies: Dead Ringers

November 23, 2013

Recent Movies

Enough Said

In southern California, two middle-aged divorcees (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini) hook up.  They both have daughters that are about to leave home for university.

The beginning of the film is charming and enjoyable but it loses traction when it falls into a goofy, mediocre sitcom plot where the Louis-Dreyfuss character has to keep a secret from various people.  A dramatic twist makes the last fifteen minutes or so more heartfelt giving the actors a chance to show more depth.  But this is not enough to redeem the movie overall.

Rating (out of four stars):   * * 1/2

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Gravity

Astronauts in a U.S space mission (two of whom are played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) face grave danger when a space mission of another country causes havoc in outer space.

The film’s basic elements (story, directing, and acting) are all fine though perhaps not equal to the extremely high acclaim this film has received.  What truly deserves the acclaim, though, are the brilliant special effects and other technical aspects (photography, sound, etc.) which are exceptional.  Seeing the film in IMAX and 3-D adds to the enjoyment.  Viewers can almost feel the same experience as those in the film.  It is frightening and thrilling at the same time.

The benchmark of space films remains “2001:  A Space Odyssey”.  But “Gravity” is still a fine competitor.

Rating:   * * *

Award-Worthy Achievements:   Special Effects and other Technical Aspects

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The Broken Circle Breakdown

This film centres around a couple living in rural Belgium who are part of a group that sings American bluegrass music.  Their lives are significantly changed once a major difficulty affects a loved one.  The film is in the Flemish language.

This film is much like “Black Swan” in its effect.  Both films have moments of brilliance but also some major flaws while averaging out to a respectable rating.

There are many jumps among time periods within this movie.  In the first half, it is tolerable though occasionally confusing.  In the second half, it is irritable.  There are also major family events where the woman’s family is absent and not even mentioned.  Some scenes involving atheistic, anti-religious rants go way over the top despite being well performed.

This brings us to the film’s greatest graces:  the lead performances of Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh.  In all the stages of the highs and lows of their relationship and life itself, these performers are courageous and intense.  Their performances contribute highly to the overall emotion of a climactic scene in the middle of the film – a scene which can be credited for creating genuine tears.

Rating:   * * *

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Great Old Movies Seen Again

Dead Ringers  (1988 – Canada)

In Toronto, the lives of twin gynecologists (both played by Jeremy Irons) go bad after each has been involved with an actress (Geneviève Bujold) who is in the city to film a mini-series.

This dark, moody film continues to have the great power it did a quarter century ago.  A lot of credit can go to the directing of David Cronenberg but the bulk of it must go to Irons who is brilliant in not just one, but two performances of twins with opposite personalities.  When only one twin is onscreen and not referred to by name, it doesn’t take long to guess which twin it is due to the distinct acting style.  This is a magnificent feat.

This is also a film about addiction – not just drug addiction but love addiction and co-dependance as well.  The last third of the film seems to accelerate too quickly at times.  Also, it seems the outside world of medical licensing is in rare appearance considering the bizarre behaviour of the doctors.  But with the brilliant work of Irons and a superbly orchestrated ending by Cronenberg, this film was well worth viewing a second time.

Rating:   * * * 1/2

Award-Worthy Achievement:   performance by Jeremy Irons

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