Category Archives: Film Listings/Ratings

A Most Wanted Man (Anton Corbijn – 2014) A

I like movies and TV shows (Rubicon anyone?) that portray the drudgery and balancing act of spy work. I loved the other recent film based on a Le Carre  novel and this one did not disappoint. Pillip Seymour Hoffman delivers a very good performance in one of his last roles. He plays the gruff German intelligence officer Günther Bachmann. He is masterminding a high wire act with a small crew to slowly flush out a terrorism network revolving around a Chechen man who was imprisoned and tortured in Russia before making it to Hamburg. The problem is that quick results and high profile arrests are more attractive in this world. Günther meticulously builds alliances, informants and collaborators while at the same time trying to buy time from his superiors as well as the CIA. A Most Wanted Man is a slow film but it is smart, intense and very well crafted and acted (loved Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams as well here) from the the first minute to the heart-breaking conclusion.

Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve – 2013) B-

The film really looks great even though it is set in suburbia. It has a strong cast, some are used better than others but most are very good. It has some excellent intense moments as well. The problem is that all these pieces do not come together to make this the excellent film it could’ve been. What we get instead is a procedural that is trying very hard to be meaningful and important. It neglects to be…smart or to make sense at times. Characters behave in nonsensical ways for no reason. It also goes on for far too long. Prisoners is not bad, it is just a painfully long missed opportunity.

The Trip to Italy (Michael Winterbottom – 2014) A-

Funny impersonations, witty conversation, lovely food and a wonderful locale. Very much like The Trip of course and I like that a lot. Coogan and Brydon play versions of themselves and this time it’s Brydon who seems to be getting more of the acclaim and success while Coogan is connecting with his son. All that really is just another frame or excuse for the basic premise of this film…funny impersonations, witty conversation, lovely food and a wonderful locale.

Stand by Me (Rob Reiner – 1986) A+

I love it and love watching it every time. Nathan, my 11 year old, was very surprised that this film was “that old”. It really has a certain timelessness to it even though it is almost 30 years old. It captures the beauty of friendship, the perceptiveness of children and portrays those relationships that we forge early on in life that can just never be duplicated. It’s a perfect little gem this one.

The One I Love (Charlie McDowell – 2014) A-

A couple are having troubles in their marriage. After trying multiple avenues to fix their relationship, their counselor advises them to go to a particular retreat. From that point on, the movie goes places that I completely was blindsided by in the best possible way. It’s a movie that is tough to categorize. The closest that comes to mind is maybe the feel of a Twilight Zone episode. It is much more than that though, it tackles long term relationships from a very interesting angle and poses some challenging ideas. What would one really do if they can fix up their mate and make them perfect? Is that something we should strive for or just love the imperfections that we get as part of the deal? There are only two characters in the film played by Elizabeth Moss and Mark Duplass and they do tremendous work here in demanding roles. This is one of those small films that might not be perfect but is made with a lot of care and skill. I can spend a long time thinking about why it would not work but I really do not care and would rather just appreciate it for what it does so well.