One of the toughest, grittiest, crime films in recent years. For almost two hours you will be breathless, clutching your seat, shutting your eyes; the tension, supreme anxiety and tightly wrought writing and directing will stay with you long after you have exited the theatre. This Australian movie written and directed by David Michod won the world cinema jury prize at Sundance; not a false or insincere moment, the reality so brutal it invades and scares the psyche.
The story is told from the perspective of Joshua, “J.” (James Frencheville), a 17-year-old whose mother has just died of a drug overdose. He is taken by his grandmother into a ‘den of iniquity”, living with hardened criminals, his uncles. This coming of age film suffers no illusions as to the outcome of this teenager.
At times the dialogue is challenging but you will be introduced to one the most creative and complex characters in the archives of film history. Jacki Weaver, as J.’s grandmother, Janice, combines the cunning of Lady Macbeth, cruelty of Mommie Dearest; she is as dark as Satan on the inside but outside exudes the syrupy sweetness of a saint, converting all she encounters to her cult. Her role and how she possesses and portrays it is the quintessential example of the intrinsic essence of acting.
THREE &1/2 STARS!!!
MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT (PART 1)
PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1 (PART 2)
If you love French films RUN to view four hours of the most satisfying action and acting, based on the autobiography of French gangster, Jacques Mesrine, seen since “Scarface” or “Bonnie & Clyde”. It is violent but not sensational, it does not embellish the carnage, just records it.
Vincent Cassel, as Jacques, is riveting, mesmerizing, hypnotic and captivating as the “bad guy” who is impossible to resist. His dark, lethal, smoldering gaze leaves no female heart unscathed. Jacques capitalizes on his criminality; craves the television notoritity, focusing especially on his Houdini-like jailbreaks, outrageous bank robberies, and an audacious kidnapping.
The polished and brilliant directing by Jean-Francois Ricket eliminates the supercilious, concentrates almost entirely on the “close up”; every emotion flows from the actors faces to the viewer. The audience is totally engaged and sucked into the escalating pace of the story; feeling the exhilaration of the chase, escapes; titillation of the passion, pain; satisfaction and pleasure in reveling in a true tale, well told, beautifully portrayed and casted.
In today’s vernacular many are referred to as “foodies”; questing after the newest restaurants (have friends who flew to Madrid, Spain for a night just to savor the the delicacies of the hottest restaurant); celebrity chefs have mega status and world wide fans.
As much as eating and the anticipation of swallowing gastronomical sensations, it is the preparation of cuisine that sings to my soul: oh, the bliss of giving birth to the perfect soufflé, brioche, reduction; the scent of a turkey, brisket or even stuffed cabbage adds character, ethnicity, and personality to a home: sterility screams with the scent of Lysol or Pine- Sol!
One of my least favorite words is “moderation”: mundane, boring, bland, implying restraint. Whereas, “indulge”, giving in, luxuriating, wallowing, satiating, gratifying, implying endless pleasures; here is a word that resonates possibilities! Indulging and placating the desires of the taste buds is one of my ten commandments! Also I crave any film revolving around food and its preparation ranging from junk food (“Diner”) to the ultimate in haute cuisine (“Babette’s Feast”) !
“Soul Kitchen” a film made by Faith Akin’s a German born Turkish filmmaker is a ridiculous, hilarious, romp of a farce that spills upon the audience 99 minutes of joyous laughter and escape from tedium; you do not have to think, just feel. Soul Kitchen, owned by Zinos, ( devastatingly portrayed by Adam Bousdoukos) specializes in fare a notch above a diner, food that the locals adore, basic and comforting; but like all the characters goes through a monumental metamorphosis. The audience, a willing ingredient in the recipe.
The plot jumps from one scenario to another, the successful transitions extremely appetizing. Akin’s creates a roux that entwines family relationships, love and its disenchantments, music and food, at times secondary to life’s lessons, but the “soul” of the movie.
“Soul Kitchen” rests comfortably with my favorite food films: “Mostly Martha”, “Julie & Julia”, “Chocolat”, “Big Night”, “Ratatouille”, “Dinner Rush”, “Tortilla Soup”, “Like Water for Chocolate”, “Eat Drink Man Woman”. Off to the “kitchen”…….but in my wake leave….
FOUR SCRUMPTIOUS STARS !!!!
WE ARE FAMILY
A Hindi/Bollywood remake of “Stepmom” , the 1998 Hollywood film starring Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts and Ed Harris. This is a better version starring Kajol (Maya) “the flawless mother”; Kareena Kapoor as Shreya, the somewhat imperfect, talented, gorgeous girlfriend; and my favorite Bollywood male star, Arjun Rampal, Aman, the beleaguered ex -husband torn between two extremes, family and present amorous obligations.
The plot is redundant and needs no explanation. All the actors are superb in their depictions of love, frustrations, pyrrhic battles, with no lauded victor.
It is a lovely, tearful romantic comedy, very predictable but worth watching three stars at the pinnacle of their performing prowess. And three young actors (the children) at the commencement of their careers.
The platinum scene in the film is a song and dance number; Elvis Presley’s, “Jailhouse Rock”; Elvis, the King, could never have envisioned the enchantment, levitating emotion and motion, giddiness his music could still inspire so many years after his death. Magic.