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FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (ANIMATION FOR ADULTS AND CHILDREN)

I do not care for animation; even as a child I found it boring and enervating. If any film could convert me to the genre it is “From Up On Poppy Hill”; it is an enchanting tale set in 1963, Yokohama, Japan. “Umi” our seventeen-year-old heroine runs a boarding house with an exquisite view of the sea, aided by her ... Read More »

EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN……… (SPANISH, ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

With the exception of director, Ana Piterbarg. Obscure, obtuse, buried in boredom: Viggo Mortensen characterizes twin brothers (“Agustin”/”Pedro”) plainly, diminished in the womb, they flounder in their professional and personal lives; empty vessels, blessed with substantial female companions. The film is set in Buenos Aires,  plus a depressed island in the Delta; Agustin cloaks himself in the guise of his ... Read More »

CINEMA PARADISO 25 YEARS LATER (ITALIAN, ENGLISH SUBTITLES) 1989, OSCAR, BEST FOREIGN FILM

It is a rarity when something or someone does not need a minimal amount of tweaking or tucking with the pillage of time; gusting technology slaughtering privacy, gluttonous craving for the “new”, voracious quest to conquer the vicissitudes of age, instead of celebrating them. “Cinema Paradiso” is an anomaly, because its perfection is as fine today, with the addition of ... Read More »

CAESAR MUST DIE (ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

A recent Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s remarkable production of “Julius Caesar” imbues, without altering a word, a contemporary interpretation; hawkers selling “Caesar” T-shirts, hotdogs and huge signs encouraging voters to go to www.juliuscaesar.com to register; proving Shakespeare’s power to habitually defy the archaic, lending ubiquitous credence to his  massive appeal throughout the ages. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, brothers whose efficacious, formidable ... Read More »

BEYOND THE HILLS (IN THEATRES AND ON DEMAND) ROMANIAN/ENGLISH SUBTITLES

A challenging, morose, metaphysical, metaphorical film by Christian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”); not for those looking for fluff or fantasy. Based on an historical event in Romania (2005);  atmospherically medieval, somber (much like “The Turin Horse”); a monastery (The New Hill) devoid of electricity, plumbing; water dredged from a well, technology has not brushed the “nuns”, ... Read More »

BARBARA (GERMAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

1980, East Berlin. “Barbara” a brilliant doctor is shunted to the “provinces’ because she applied for an exit visa; masterfully developed and directed, initially her reasons unknown; she is under constant surveillance, subjected to haphazard and degrading searches by the Communist German Democratic Republic, “Stasi”; Nina Hoss, as Barbara, is poetic, hypnotic; her pain, palatable, her dedication to medicine supersedes ... Read More »

NO (SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Recently, an erudite mentor posed a question to his twenty-year-old mentees (of mixed backgrounds), “what makes America great?” Watching this fine film about the sacking of Chile’s dictator, Augusto Pinochet in 1988; an election he felt compelled to initiate; I was pivotally reminded of our free election process; negative campaigning by all parties is simultaneously shunned and accepted; no one ... Read More »

THE GATEKEEPERS (HEBREW WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Highly controversial but massively intriguing is Israeli filmmaker, Dror Moreh’s documentary revolving around six former leaders of Shin Bet; Israeli Security Agency, whose motto is “unseen shield” or “Defenders that shall not be seen”. Watching and listening to the true tales of these conflicted men; men whose existence has been informed by war, strife, threatened perpetually by hatred and flaming ... Read More »

LOST IN THAILAND (MANDARIN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

The second highest grossing film in Chinese history (US $200 million), and I found it embarrassingly bland, ridiculous , sophomoric; unworthy of the viewing time. I watched with three Chinese Americans whose chuckles were tepid and vastly sporadic. “Lost in Thailand” will be “lost” on Western audiences; will not last a week in AMC theatres which were recently  purchased by ... Read More »

AMOUR (FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)

Every role, every life’s lesson prepared Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant to depict the tragic demise of “Anne” and “Georges”; a classically beautiful, harmonious marriage suffocated by horrific, debilitating circumstances. Director and screenwriter Michael Haneke (“The White Ribbon”) uses these two inimitable actors to paint a devastating portrait of the effects of a stroke on cultured, intellectual, “Anne”, her caregiver, ... Read More »

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