Showing posts from November, 2010

Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

Charlie St. Cloud (♦♦♦♦)

Charlie St. Cloud, the titled character, ably interpreted by Zac Efron, is unable to let go of his dead little brother, even five years after the accident that took him away. In that accident, Charlie was brought from the dead by a paramedic who refused to let him go. Five years later, Charlie has pretty much given up on life, except for meeting his brother at sunset for baseball practice. When a young woman with similar life experiences starts getting too close, Charlie must decide whether to look ahead or stay in the past.
To be honest, this movie took me by surprise. I was expecting a so-so performance by Zac Efron considering his very pretty face, but with this film he proves he has acting chops. The movie delivered painful blows to my heart in more than one occasion, such as when the fatal accident took place. This is more than a love story or a ghost story; it is about facing life head-on and accepting that sometimes second chances are given for a reason. Lovely movie!

Eat Pray Love (♦♦♦♦)

Eat Pray Love (♦♦♦♦) is a thought provoking motion picture that despite causing a few chuckles does not try to be funny. It is a philosophical piece without being preachy. It makes you understand that life is meant to be lived simply and profoundly. In this film, writer Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) realizes that her life is unfulfilling and decides to get a divorce and travel to Italy, India and Bali in search for happiness. Along the way she meets people who help her become a more rounded person. Worth seen!

Favorite Foreign Movies – Part III

Curse of the Golden Flower (♦♦♦♦♦), Chinese
You know a big conspiracy is cooking when a woman is embroidering thousands of handkerchiefs to be sent out to the four corners of the kingdom.

Volver (♦♦♦♦♦), Spanish
Penelope Cruz shines as Raimunda in this Pedro Almodovar’s production. She sings and delivers an astounding performance that seems effortless. It is refreshing to see that the talent that made her set her eyes on Hollywood was there, even after incoherent movies such as Sahara. This film may also be grouped under the category “Endings that I Never Saw Coming”.

Indochine (♦♦♦♦)
This motion picture won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1993. This is a sweeping epic delivering unforgettable performances by Catherine Deneuve (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and Vincent Perez (Queen Margot). Set in French Indochine, it follows the story of a wealthy landowner (Deneuve) and her relationship with her adopted daughter. Jean Baptiste (Perez) is an officer in the French Navy, with…

Flawless (♦♦♦♦)

A British janitor (Michael Caine) of London Diamond Corp convinces an American female executive (Demi Moore) to carry out a heist in the very company where they both work. He is a disgruntled employee upset because the company refused to cover his wife’s medical expenses. She is one of the few female executives in 1960 Britain, passed over several times for promotion. Both of them seem to start up the heist with the same idea: to rob as many diamonds as can fit in a thermos; the robbery ends up being quite a surprise for the American when she discovers that all the diamonds the company had in store, have been stolen.
Great performances delivered by both Michael Caine and Demi Moore.

Ocean’s Eleven, 2001 (♦♦♦♦♦)

When Danny Ocean (George Clooney) went to jail the time before last, his wife Tess (Julia Roberts) left him and went to work as a gallery curator for Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the owner of three of Vegas’ most famous casinos. Once out of jail, Danny assembles a team with the best and brightest of the thievery world and, on a boxing fight night, carries out a flawless heist on the Bellagio’s vault, which contains the riches of that and two other major casinos. Never mind that those casinos are controlled by no other than Terry Benedict, the man who is currently dating his wife, but maybe getting even makes the theft even more satisfying.

I loved the stylish heist in this movie, even more so because they didn’t have to kill anyone to get the money. The entire cast was charismatic and lovable. I dare to say they felt they were playing rather than working, reason why they went on to film two other motion pictures in the franchise. I didn’t like Ocean’s Twelve or Ocean’s Thirteen as m…

The Thomas Crown Affair, 1999 (♦♦♦♦♦)

Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) seemingly has it all: he is a powerful businessman, he is filthy rich, sexy, lives life to its fullest, but he lacks something…A little Monet painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, valued in hundreds of millions of dollars. So he sets his sight on getting the thing he covets the most, by stealing it, of course! After the heist, the local police detectives involved in the investigation get unwanted help from a female insurance bounty hunter (Rene Russo) who is Thomas Crown’s match in every way, which turns the case into a very exciting cat and mouse game.
This is easily one of my favorite movies; Brosnan is amazing as Thomas Crown, the sexy billionaire who orchestrates heists on the side. The heist is elegant, smooth even, and Rene Russo is spot on as his sexy lover/nemesis. Oh, if only more movies were as slick as this one!

Favorite Foreign Movies – Part II

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (♦♦♦♦), French
Beautiful umbrella store clerk Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) falls in love with Guy, an auto mechanic, and plans to wed as soon as possible, but their young love is cut short when he is drafted into the army and her mother forces Genevieve to marry a wealthy man.
Beautiful music by Michel Legrand and poignant storyline make this movie a classic! The ending is so emotional!

Yesterday (♦♦♦♦), Africa
Yesterday has been feeling ill for a while but has to cover a great distance on foot to visit a doctor in the nearest village. After incredible sacrifices, she finally sees a doctor who diagnoses her with AIDS. When she goes to the city to tell her husband—where he is working--that he is possibly infected as well, he beats her up monstrously believing she has been unfaithful. Months after, her husband comes back home when he starts feeling very ill with AIDS and he knows his end is near. Yesterday takes care of her dying husband, all the while tryin…

A Star is Born (♦♦♦♦)

Bad boy rocker John Norman falls in love with club singer Esther Hoffman, and decides to promote her talent, which makes her become a mega-singing sensation. They get married and go to live in isolation in the middle of nowhere, but their relationship soon becomes rocky when her success and his constant troubles threaten to break them apart.

The chemistry between Barbra Streissand and Kris Kristofferson is undeniable. It seems as if they had been having a real life affair at the time. It is always delightful to enjoy Barbra Streissand’s megatalent, though I had the sensation that I was watching Funny Girl all over again. This movie’s ending, as well as the way in which the couple’s relationship spirals downwards is slightly different than in Funny Girl, but the underlying plot is still the same. Good movie, though. I enjoyed it very much!

Sex and the City 2 (♦♦♦)

In this second installment, Carrie and the girls go to the “new” Middle East for a much needed vacation. This time they are juggling motherhood, marriage, aging and some of the stuff they never left behind, namely insecurities. Carrie is so insecure in the direction that her marriage with Mr. Big is taking, that she feels inclined to kiss Adrian! She never loved Adrian in first place! What’s that about?! Charlotte has a nanny, better looking and younger than she is, and who wears no bra! When does that happen in real life? Samantha stays true to her original self, except now she is a control freak with aging issues. Miranda and Steve seem more mismatched than ever. If they ever had any chemistry, it is gone by now.
I loved the series and the first movie, but I could have been OK if I hadn’t seen this one.

Movie: The Girl Who Played with Fire, Swedish, 2009 (♦♦♦♦)

A sex trade scandal involving prominent Swedish characters is the focus of the investigation of a female Ph D. candidate and her aspiring journalist male friend. Millennium Magazine decides to publish the story, but in the process of confronting some of the key players, Mikael Blomkvist finds the aspiring journalist and his friend murdered. The parallel murder of Lisbeth’s legal guardian with the same pistol, which is imprinted with Lisbeth’s fingerprints, leads the police to pinpoint Lisbeth as the main suspect for the triple murder. Mikael Blomkvist believes in Lisbeth’s innocence and won’t rest until he proves it. In the process, Lisbeth will face more violence coming from men wanting to kill her and will have to come to terms with events and people she had thought were gone for good.

This movie is also graphic, but less so than part one. The story is engaging and the acting is as convincing as it was in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In this second installment, some of the ke…