Tag Archives: movie review

SIX CHARACTERISTICS TO APPLAUD: THE MOCKINGJAY- PART II

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Directed By: Frances Lawrence
Written By: Danny Strong, Suzanne Collins, Peter Craig
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Julianne Moore
Runtime: 137 minutes

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1. Costume Design
2. Special Effects
3. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing in her leading role.
4. The romance between Peeta and Katniss continues and the triangle with Gale is resolved.
5. A Satisfying conclusion to the tale with a beautiful epilogue.
6. Strong themes that resonate in current culture.

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This final movie in the series (books and films) is an important wrap-up to what is arguably the defining series of our time. The story delivers a heft and a cohesiveness that is unusual in the action/adventure genre. All actors give strong performances. Jennifer Lawrence is, if possible, even better here than before. It is not surprise that she gravitates to other strong women. It is most exciting to see the actress Patina Miller speak to masses of people of every gender and color with power and persuasion.

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The images and the artistry as well as the characters will live on in the viewers’ memories in a good way for a long time. This movie seems to set the standard for excellence in a series.

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MOVIE SEASON: AWARDS, REVIEWS, POPCORN, WHICH ONE TO SEE NEXT

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Unbroken
Director: Angelina Jolie
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson
Actors: Jack O’Connell, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund
Director of Photography: Roger Deakins
Film Editor: William Goldenberg, Tim Squyres
Awards to date: Critics Choice Award Nominee for Best Picture, Critics Choice Award Nominee for Best Director, Critics Choice Award Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay, Critics Choice Award Nominee for Best Cinematography,

The opening scenes show airmen flying a bomber over Germany in World War II. These scenes are extraordinary, certainly some of the best of this kind ever filmed. They are riveting in their clarity. One reviewer likened them to the work of Clint Eastwood. As a movie-goer of some experience, I’ve never seen such scenes better executed.

The photography throughout this film is excellent. Every frame is beautiful. Through much of the movie, this viewer was enthralled by the beauty of the shooting and could think of little else.

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The movie is based on the gripping account of the life of Louis Zamperini as told by Laura Hillenbrand in her best-selling non-fiction Unbroken. Louis was a troubled teen who became an Olympic runner and then a bombardier during World War II. Shot down over the Pacific he endured 47 days adrift at sea and later internment in Japanese prison camps.

For moviegoers who have read the book, they know the emotional content of the story. For those viewers who have not read the book, the telling on screen may well seem sterile, uninteresting, cold. There is a certain ho-hum, let’s go through the events, quality to the telling of the story, though the events are horrific. Where is the drama and heightened feeling among the three men trapped on a raft for 47 days after their plane is shot down? What of the relationship between Louis and his older brother, who sees his athletic potential. What of the difficulties of his teen years? What about the grit he showed as he developed as a runner? The deep feelings and emotions of some facets of his story seem to be missing.

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There is more drama to the horrors of the conflict between Zamperini and his tormentor the prison official known as The Bird. Both actors are at their at their best with this conflict. Details of torture are not sugar-coated. And yet, the source of Zamperini’s strength, the underlying fears he must have known seem strangely absent.

The writers and the director must take responsibility for the coldness of the movie. It seems overlong in places, even uninteresting. The emotional drive of the narrative is lacking. This will be felt more keenly by those who do not know Zamperini’s story as told by Ms. Hillenbrand. Others may like the objectivity, and not miss a strong dramatic edge to the narrative.

Many will see this movie. The book is very popular. News of the movie has been everywhere. Angelina Jolie is a director to watch. It will be interesting what part word-of-mouth may play in its box office success, and how it may or may not be effected by the awards ceremonies on the horizon.

Join the conversation. Let us know what you think of this movie.

AN UNCONVENTIONAL MOVIE REVIEW

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Why Not A Movie Like This One?

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, and Charlotte Le Bon
Written by Steven Knight
Directed by Lassee Hallstrom
Based on the book The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Audiences love this movie about a young Indian chef and his family forced to leave their home country, who arrive in France and open a restaurant in the countryside a mere 100 feet across the street from a Michelin starred establishment owned by the character Helen Mirren plays. We loved it too, my friend and I. The critics did not.

What follows is my two cents worth directed to potential movie-goers, the movie industry and the print and online movie critics.

Why not a movie about a smart family displaced from their home country and making their way successfully in a new home country?

Why not a story about creating food, even if every detail is not perfect?

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Why not a cheerful upbeat tale with a happy ending?

Why not excellent writing: clear storyline, crisp dialogue, brief scenes filled with information to move the story forward?

Why not excellent acting? The newcomers held their own in scenes with pros like Mirren and Puri. Director Hallstrom gets the most from his actors.

Why not a movie with gorgeous scenery and beautifully composed frames? Viewers see the characters at the market, in the countryside, cooking, fishing, loving and arguing, solving problems, and examining their feelings. If the lighting was distracting (as one critic complained), I did not notice.

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Why not a movie in which the characters solve problems by taking a hard look at their actions and goals? There was no time for useless handwringing, nor were impulsive actions used to drive plot.

Critics complained (among other things): no heat between characters, forgettable story, contrived and melodramatic. NO!

The movie was a feast for the eyes and the heart, great fun and left my friend and I ready to try Indian food.

Perhaps local readers of this blog will have recommendations for good Indian food. Please send them along.

My final words: Go and see this movie.

All comments are welcome. Did you agree with the critics? Are you a fan of Indian food?