Brooklyn

Brooklyn_1Sheet_Mech_7R1.inddFox Searchlight Pict. (2015) 111 min. PG-13

Director: John Crowley

Screenplay: Nick Hornby; based on novel by Colm Tóibín

Cinematography: Yves Bélanger; Editing: Jake Roberts; Production Design: François Séguin; Set Decoration: Suzanne Cloutier, Jenny Oman & Louise Tremblay; Costumes: Odile Dicks-Mireaux; Score: Michael Brook

Stars: Saoirse Ronan (Eilis Lacey), Emory Cohen (Tony Fiorello), Jim Broadbent (Father Flood), Julie Walters (Mrs. Kehoe), Fiona Glascott (Rose Lacey), Domhnall Gleeson (Jim Farrell), Jane Brennan (Mrs. Lacey), Eileen O’Higgins (Nancy), Eva Birthistle (Georgina), Brid Brennan (Mrs. Kelly), Jessica Paré (Miss Fortini), James DiGiacomo (Frankie)

Despite its title Brooklyn is not a Spike Lee joint but rather a twee little piece of loveliness adapted from Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel of the same name about a wistful Irish immigrant from Enniscorthy, Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), who feels bereft of home and loved ones in 1952 New York until meeting and marrying Tony (Emory Cohen), an Italian-American. Returning home for a time following her sister Rose’s (Fiona Glascott) passing, Eilis’ faded love for all she’s been missing in her homeland is reawakened, threatening to severe the ties she’s established for a new life in America.

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Silver Linings Playbook

SLP posterThe Weinstein Co. (2012) 122 min. R

Director: David O. Russell

Screenplay: David O. Russell; based on The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi; Editing: Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers

Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

Costumes: Mark Bridges

Score: Danny Elfman

Stars: Bradley Cooper (Pat Solitano), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany Maxwell), Robert De Niro (Pat Sr.), Jacki Weaver (Dolores), Chris Tucker (Danny), John Ortiz (Ronnie), Julia Stiles (Veronica), Anupam Kher (Dr. Patel), Brea Bee (Nikki)

If laughter is the best medicine, then Silver Linings Playbook is the panacea for what’s been ailing kitschy romantic comedy of late. A first for him as far as I‘m aware, director David O. Russell’s foray into untried turf actually returns him to the darker, more acerbic edge of such earlier comedies as I Heart Huckabees and Spanking the Monkey. Likewise populated by existential oddballs and emotionally troubled outsiders, Russell, who usually writes his own scenarios, has translated Matthew Quick’s novel into a non-conformist romantic comedy about non-conformity. By which I mean it marches to its own drummer rather than trying to fit itself into the pat conventions of the genre. This movie is  a square peg in a round hole. Continue reading

Brokeback Mountain

Focus Features (2005) 134 min. R

Director: Ang Lee

Screenplay: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana; based on Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto; Editing: Geraldine Peroni & Dylan Tichenor

Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Patricia Cuccia & Catherine Davis

Costumes: Marit Allen; Score: Gustavo Santaolalla

Stars: Heath Ledger (Ennis Del Mar), Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist), Anne Hathaway (Lureen Newsome), Michelle Williams (Alma), Randy Quaid (Joe Aguirrre), Linda Cardellini (Cassie), Kate Mara (Alma Jr., age 19), Roberta Maxwell (Jack’s Mother), Graham Beckel (L.D. Newsome)

With its topicality, self-congratulatory ballsiness and down home setting, Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s plaintive ode to repressed passions and frustrated longings, has officially placed the filmmaker in Hollywood’s pantheon of great directors (he picked up an Oscar for it), and that’s apt. For this movie presents a complete crystallization of the dominant theme woven throughout his entire body of work, that of romance thwarted and love aborted by people’s unwillingness or inability to express their true feelings. The story concerns the decades long secret affair between Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), two cowboys who are unable to reconcile their love for one another. Brokeback Mountain is just as pained and tinged with angst as everything that’s gone before it.

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The New World

New Line Cinema (2005) 135 min. PG-13

Director: Terrence Malick

Screenplay: Terrence Malick

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Editing: Richard Chew,  Hank Corwin, Saar Klein, Mark Yoshikawa

Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Costumes: Jacqueline West; Score: James Horner

Stars: Colin Farrell (John Smith), Q’orianka Kilcher (Pocahontas), Christian Bale (John Rolfe), Christopher Plummer (Captain Newport), August Schellenberg (Chief Powhatan), Wes Studi (Opechancanough), David Thewlis (Wingfield), Jonathan Pryce (King George)

The New World is a cornucopia spilling over with such visual richness that it reminds me of that celebrated line Howard Carter uttered upon uncovering King Tut’s tomb. The first to enter and gaze on magnificent sights buried for nearly 3,300 years, when asked by his anxious benefactor if he saw anything, his awestruck response was “Yes, wonderful things.” Watching this Terrence Malick movie is like that – a bedazzling aesthetic experience that just leaves one enraptured. Painstakingly pieced together, it’s a finished masterpiece of found footage that retains its director’s intuitive appreciation for the unexpected, the accidental, the chance discovery. The New World is permeated by Malick’s own sense of wonder. Continue reading