For starters all three of these films receive FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)! This should pique your interest.
“WELCOME TO THE RILEYS” is a jewel of a movie starring James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo. It centers around irreparable loss, the myriad ways to heal, and love.
Doug (Gandolfini) is a nice man, searching for affection in the most unlikely places; he finds a runaway teenager, Mallory (Stewart) while at a convention in New Orleans; thus his mission commences.
This is a deeply quiet, pensive, disturbing and enlightening film because the characters are not ordinary but far from extraordinary. We recognize their flaws and relate to them; coping with a devastating live-altering event; we meet them eight years into their suffering and their self diagnosed coping methods.
Lois (Leo) Doug’s wife is an agoraphobic; she is perfectly coiffed and clothed throughout every meaningless day; she protects her psyche by imprisoning her body in a spotless, sterile environment; the world is at bay and she is in control. This role is masterfully depicted by Leo.
Mallory, the runaway, is the catalyst for conversion. Stewart is an actor of such depth at twenty that her career should stun audiences long into the future. She is the star of the “Vampire” movies which I have not seen but is the most likely American candidate to play Lisbeth Salander in the Stieg Larsson’s “Girl” trilogy. She is tough, vulnerable, blessed with innately impeccable timing. A method actor to the core.
You recognize this family, you mourn for them, grieve with them and celebrate the rejuvenating and medicinal elixir of love.
“INSIDE JOB” 2008. Derivatives. CDO (collateralized debt obligation). Regulation. Deregulation. Reagan. Bush. Clinton. Bush. Obama. Banks. Insurance companies. Mortgage companies. Hedge Funds. Investment firms. Ivy League schools. Charles Ferguson has created the finest and most salient documentary of 2010; he gives a fair and relatively unbiased analysis of the global financial Armageddon, 2008 and the institutions, people and circumstances leading to this catastrophic event.
Greed. Culpability. Conflict of interest. Regulatory incompetence. All factors lending to the rape and destruction of the economic world we once knew. There is little or no accountability; those in the “know” are still reaping the benefits of companies no longer in existence; still advising the President, instructing our youth, garnishing bonus of embarrassing magnitude. Why the astounding lack of prosecution? Indictments? Fiduciary responsibility? Why did the Presidents of the Ivy League Schools refuse to be interviewed? Could this disaster happen again? With no one “at fault” it is a terrifying possibility.
Ferguson’s “Inside Job” (narrated by Matt Damon) is polished and beautifully filmed; archival footage, graphs and charts, enlighten the neophyte; mansions in the Hamptons, tent cities portray the dichotomy between the haves and have-not’s; a psychiatrist and a D.C. Madame give their disparate views on the type of character starring, headlining, and perpetrating sins of monumental proportions.
Aptly named, “The Inside Job” was a heist, a robbery, the largest financial bubble in history, fostered by those who knew better; but used the system to enhance their unquenched thirst, gluttonous craving for more of the pie; they imbibed until they burst, taking the rest of the world with them.
“KINGS OF PASTRY” is a magnificent documentary based on a three day competition held every four years in France; Meilleurs de France; kings, master craftsmen of heavenly desserts! The prize is the “Collar”; red, white and blue, and only a few own this gem. Made by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus it lionizes and exalts the pastry chef; he is an artist, sculptor, wizard, an alchemist of such genius, that sugar is spun into thousands of colors and forms; tantalizing to the eye and taste.
We follow three chefs in their trials, tests and terrors of failing the competition. Jacquy Pfeiffer a Alsace-born, Chicago based chef is the prime focus; his powerful and efficacious forays into unchartered, unimagined designs; he is Merlin and sugar is his wand; flowers, animals, chimeras, landscapes of hypnotic beauty flow from his supernatural fingers; he conjures up savory delights; flour, cream, lemons are transformed like Cinderella into empirical, ethereal, ephemeral objects of whimsy and mouth-watering desire.
Watching this film, seeing the agonies of breakage after hours of intense back- breaking, sleep- deprived days; moments of the sweetest glory, dissipated by one leaf, improperly placed; you admire not only the skill of the chef but his tenacity, his love of beauty and splendor; above all the joy, the bliss of living, oozes from his pastry bag along with his heart and spirit; he gifts that love and enchantment to all who savor and destroy with one bite his confection; is there a more unselfish love?
I adore cooking, especially desserts; maybe because it is the finale, served as the day darkens, conversation wanes or gains, contentment reigns; it the concluding memory of an evening well-spent, even if one dines alone. It must be beautiful, but primarily it should shower the taste buds with heavenly sweetness; a sigh, and a blessing for man’s ingenuity, inventiveness with God’s abundant, incredulous ingredient, glucose.
FOUR DELECTABLE STARS!!!!