The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Rosy the Reviewer says...finally, a movie for grownups. No aliens, no serial killers, no teenage angst, just fabulous actors of a certain age, all having a jolly good time. And you will too.
The film version of the true life tragic relationship between two brothers who were Olympic Gold Medal wrestlers and the billionaire John E. DuPont.
NOTE: If you don't know this true story, possible spoilers (though knowing the story will not ruin your enjoyment of the film).
Dupont was a spoiled rich kid with visions of grandeur who wanted desperately to be an athlete, but he wasn't good at anything. Even all of the money in the world can't make you an Olympian if you don't have the gifts. He took a turn as a Biathlete, but eventurally settled on coaching wrestling. He was also mentally ill and in that case, money did help him with that. Lots of money can be a great cover-up. But why wrestling? Never explained. Likewise, the tragic ending.
DuPont seized on Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), an Olympic Gold Medal winner in wrestling, who was floundering after his Olympic win. Mark is depicted as being alone, antisocial, detached and uncommunicative. So he was poised to be recruited by DuPont who offered him a place to train for the World Championships and then gave him a team to coach. But that wasn't enough. DuPont wanted Mark's older brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), who was also an Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler to get him to the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Where Mark was closed up, withdrawn and alone, Dave was gregarious and married with children. Dave also had his own ideas about how things should go and when DuPont demoted Mark and gave the team over to Dave, Mark couldn't handle it.
Did the shooting happen because DuPont was in love with Mark and blamed Dave for Mark leaving? We will never know. Dupont died in prison with the ignominious title of being the richest man ever to go to prison.
Steve Carell did an amazing job of not being Steve Carell. His fake nose notwithstanding, none of his comedic mannerisms were in evidence here. Carell did a wonderful job portraying the eccentric DuPont, with awkward stares and long pauses so it's no wonder he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. One wonders, though, why Tatum was not acknowledged. Tatum embraced the role of Mark and Mark's closed off world. His and Carrell's performances were the highlights of this film. On the other hand, not sure why Mark Ruffalo got a Best Supporting Actor nod. Vanessa Redgrave played DuPont's disapproving mother in a small, but regal role.
Directed by Bennett Miller, who directed the fabulous "Moneyball" and the wonderful character study "Capote," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and with a script script by Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, the film captures the eerie quality of this strange, strange story and the acting is superb, but the film drags at times. It would have been tighter at 90 minutes.
I see why this film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Makeup and Hair: Steve Carell and Channing Tatum were almost unrecognizable.
One can't help but compare this film with the book by Mark Schultz which I reviewed in January. The book explained things a bit better, especially the relationship between Mark and Dave. But as for why the story ended as it did, Mark didn't really understand what happened either.
Rosy the Reviewer says...an ultimately unsatisfying story with wonderfully satisfying performances.
My Old Lady (2014)
Matthias Gold (Kevin Kline) has inherited a Paris apartment from his father only to discover it's not the windfall he had expected.
Matthias is almost 60 and when his father dies, he leaves Matthias an apartment in Paris and a watch. Matthias hasn't done much with his life so this seems like a good thing. He sells what little he has and moves to Paris only to discover that his apartment is a viager which is similar to our reverse mortgage in the U.S. except in France, it's a private contract where the buyer agrees to pay a monthly sum to the seller for as long as the seller lives with the idea that if the seller dies soon, it's a great deal. But the low price reflects what a gamble it is if the person lives too long.
So Matthias arrives at the aforementioned apartment only to discover he has not only inherited the apartment, he has inherited the viager AND Madame Girard (Maggie Smith) who as per the contract can live there until she dies. HE owes HER 2400 euros per month until that happens. The good news is Madame Girard is 90; the bad news is her daughter, Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas) also lives there and she will be damned if she is going to go quietly, even when her mother dies. Fortunately for Matthias, Madame Girard lets him stay in the apartment. She has her reasons which you can probably figure out as Matthias slowly pieces together his father's double life. Chloe and Matthias hate each other on sight so, if you know much about movie clichés, you can probably figure out how that's going to turn out as well.
This was originally a play written by Israel Horovitz who has adapted it for the screen and directed. You can tell it was originally a play because this film is very talkie. However, I give it props for its story of mature adults.
Maggie Smith is great as usual - it's her movie - and she manages to avoid her Dowager mannerisms from "Downton Abbey." Kristin Scott Thomas is also good but one wonders why she doesn't use a French accent here. Her screen mother was born in England but she was supposedly born in France so why doesn't she have a French accent especially since we know she is fluent in French in real life? Then there is Kevin Kline. I am usually a fan but he was over-acting like mad here.
So I have good news and bad news.
The good news: Paris exteriors, Maggie Smith and an interesting idea that caters to the older crowd - Think "Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (see review above)."
The Bad news: Everything else.
Rosy the Reviewer says...how do you say "predictable" in French? But if you are a Maggie Smith fan, it's worth a look.
The Longest Week (2014)
Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) is almost 40. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and lives a rich, though slightly dissolute life. But when his parents decide to divorce, neither one wants to fund his lifestyle and he finds himself broke and out on the street.
While Conrad is riding the subway (horrors!) he sees a beautiful girl and she gives him her phone number. He is instantly smitten. Later, as in 13 minutes into this film, Conrad's best friend, Dylan (Billy Crudup) tells him about a girl named Beatrice (Olivia Wilde) who he likes -- guess what happens next? I'm certainly not giving anything away by saying the rest of the film is all about who will get the girl. Hopeless romantic vs. romantically hopeless. Let's just say Conrad's and Dylan's friendship is tested.
Written and directed by Peter Glanz, this film seems to want to be a Woody Allen film, right down to the New York setting, the jazz score and the feckless leading man, but it doesn't have the sharp Woody Allen dialogue and the Woody Allen laughs. But if Woody Allen made a French film, this might be it and that's not necessarily a compliment.
Jason Bateman has made an adult career out of playing crabby jaded types ("Bad Words)." Billy Crudup, who plays Dylan, has starred in some big movies, is a good actor and is a very handsome guy so one wonders why he has not hit the stratosphere of stardom like Tom Cruise or Bradley Cooper. Olivia Wilde is a very appealing actress and actually seems like a Woody Allen muse. However, it bugged me that she wore fake eyelashes for the entire film even when she went to bed. Jenny Slate who made her mark in "Obvious Child," is toned down here as Beatrice's sidekick.
I like Jason Bateman, I like Billy Crudup, I like Olivia Wilde and I like Jenny Slate, so why didn't I like this film?
Rosy the Reviewer says...the movie is less than 90 minutes long but it felt like the longest week.
***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***
The Conformist (1970)
Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) embraces Mussolini's Fascist government. When he joins the secret police he is tapped to go abroad to kill his old college professor who is now a leader in the antifascist movement.
Directed by famed director Bernardo Bertolucci who later brought us "Last Tango in Paris," "1900," "The Sheltering Sky" and "The Last Emperor," among other stellar films, here is an early film of extraordinary style and depth. I couldn't help but think of "The Godfather" films watching this one and, indeed, Francis Ford Coppola as well as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg have cited this film as a major influence and watching it, I could definitely see the influences.
Why it's a Must See: "Bertolucci's film couldn't be more conspicuously immodest in its audacious use of style...Even more impressive is Vittorio Storaro's astounding cinematography...This is eye candy of the highest order, as undercover assassins and political intrigue have never looked so stylish...[This film] is... a damning indictment of Fascist collaborators."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Rosy the Reviewer says...Seminal and mesmerizing. If you liked "The Godfather" films, you need to see where they came from.
(In Italian with English subtitles)
Crane's son, who wants to be called Robert Crane, not Bob Crane Jr. weaves his own story into his father's. The younger Crane began writing for "Oui Magazine" and moved on to interviewing celebrities for "Playboy." He became the personal assistant for actor John Candy. When his father was murdered he was in his twenties and was called to identify the body. He has been haunted by that scene and by the mystery of what really happened. Though the investigation over the years focused on a rather creepy super fan friend of Crane's and Crane's soon-to-be ex-wife the mystery remains unsolved.
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