Archive for category DVD

Women’s History Month: Biopics About Women Writers

black butterflies

Black Butterflies [2011]
Director: Paula van der Oest
Starring: Carice van Houten, Liam Cunningham, Rutger Hauer
–about the volatile life of South African poet Ingrid Jonker

sylvia

Sylvia [2003]
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig
Director: Christine Jeffs
–focuses on relationship between poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

IRIS

Iris [2001]
Starring: Judi Densch, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet
Director: Richard Eyre
–lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley from their days as students through her battle with Alzheimer’s disease

becoming jane

Becoming Jane [2007]
Starring: Anne Hathaway
Director: Julian Jarrold
–pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman

miss potter

Miss Potter [2006]
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson
Director: Chris Noonan
–Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children’s book, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”

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The Children of the Century [1999]
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Magimel
Director: Diane Kurys
–love affair between novelist George Sand and author Alfred de Musset

mrs parker

Mrs. Parker and the Viscous Circle [1994]
Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cambell Scott, Peter Gallagher
Director: Alan Rudolph
–Dorothy Parker and her heyday with the Algonquin Round Table circle of friends

impromtu

Impromptu [1991]
Starring: Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinkin
Director: James Lapine
–writer George Sand pursues pianist/composer Frederic Chopin in 1830s France

angel at my table

An Angel at My Table [1990]
Starring: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson
Director: Jane Campion
–Janet Frame grows up with lots of brothers and sisters in a poor family in 1920s and 1930s New Zealand. She always feels different from others. After getting education as a teacher, she’s sent to a mental institution for eight years. She gains success when she begins writing novels.

[reprinted from March 2013]

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Women’s History Month: Documentaries about Women

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Bhutto [2010]
–riveting, inspirational and moving documentary of the recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto who fought for democracy in Pakistan.

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The Business of Being Born [2008]
–Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein investigate maternity care in the United States. fascinating whether you have children or not or plan to have children or not.

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Venus and Serena [2012]
–engrossing documentary about top two tennis players in the world

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What I Want My Words to Do to You [2003]
–A look at playwright Eve Ensler’s writing workshop inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. intense. emotional.

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Shut up and Sing [2006]
–the aftermath for the Dixie Chicks after Natalie Maines’ anti-George W. Bush statement at a 2003 concert.

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Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer [2013]
–the story of the trial of the three Russian feminist punk singers/ performance artists on trial for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral.

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Very Young Girls [2007]
–disturbing and hopeful film about Rachel Lloyd, a former sexually exploited youth-turned-activist, who started the New York City organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services) to help victimized young women escape their pimps and find another way of life.

lioness

Lioness [2008]
–The untold story of the first women in U.S. history to be sent into direct ground combat.

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Searching for Debra Winger [2002]
–Rosanna Arquette directs this honest and important film about Hollywood sexism and ageism and why there aren’t very many good roles for women over the age of 35.

punk singer

The Punk Singer [2013]
–look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the “riot grrrl” movement of the 1990s.

ballerina

Ballerina [2006]
–follows dancers at all levels of their careers through practice and performances.

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Ranking Wes Anderson Films

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1. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)–A
–sweet, lovely and a bit magical

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2. Rushmore (1998)–A
–unexpected and SO funny

bottle rocket

3. Bottle Rocket (1996)–A-
–there’s something endearing about these bumbling guys in Anderson’s first film

royal-tenenbaums

4. The Royal Tennenbaums (2001)–A-
–bizarre family. each character’s in pain. brilliant dark comedy.

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5. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)–A-
–these foxes outfox everyone and it’s a blast to watch.

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6. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)– B+
–three brothers bond on a train trip across India.

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7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)–B-
–strange aquatic voyage to seek revenge on a mythical shark.

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8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)–C+
–underwhelmed by this caper.

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Choice Quotes: Wadjda

wadjda

“Here. I made you a mix tape since we’re friends now. But don’t sell my bike.”

“Interested in your fathers glorious family tree? You aren’t included, it only includes men’s names.”

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on DVD: films directed by/ written by women

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Wadjda

Written and directed by: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Abdullrahman Al Gohani

–a smart, spunky, brave Saudi girl signs on for her school’s Koran recitation competition to earn the remaining funds she needs in order to buy the green bicycle that she really wants even though it’s frowned upon for girls to ride bikes in Saudi Arabia.

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

–A young Pakistani man chasing corporate success on Wall Street finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family’s homeland.

Directed by: Mira Nair
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson

–riveting, intense film that questions intentions, good vs. evil, nationality, identity and prejudice with Nair’s gorgeous, thoughtful, heartbreaking direction.

Touchy Feely

Touchy Feely

–A massage therapist is unable to do her job when stricken with a mysterious and sudden aversion to bodily contact. Meanwhile, her uptight brother’s floundering dental practice receives new life when clients seek out his healing touch.

Written and directed by: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Allison Janney

–quirky, charming, sweet

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Adore

–two best friends fall in love with each other’s teenage sons
Written and directed by: Anne Fontaine
Starring: Robin Wright, Naomi Watts

–unsettling topic but with Wright and Watts it’s beautifully acted and as much about friendship as about these affairs with the young men. plus gorgeous, idyllic scenery.

afternoon delight

Afternoon Delight

–Rachel, a savvy stay-at-home mom finds herself stuck in a rut of volunteering at preschool auctions, a lackluster sex life and long-gone career. When she visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and meets McKenna, she ends up adopting her as the family nanny.

Written and directed by: Jill Soloway
Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor

–smart, astute script. unique film.

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The Lifeguard

–29-year-old woman questioning her life’s direction, quits her reporter job in New York and moves home to Connecticut. she takes a job as a lifeguard and falls into a friendship with a teenager.

Written and directed by: Liz W. Garcia
Starring: Kristen Bell, Mamie Gumer, Martin Starr

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RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman [1967-2014]

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–born in the Rochester, New York on July 23, 1967
–attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, graduating with a B.F.A. degree in Drama in 1989.
–died of suspected heroin overdose on February 2, 2014.

My Favorite Hoffman Films:

the savages

The Savages [2007]
written and directed by: Tamara Jenkins
also starring: Laura Linney, Philip Bosco
–siblings (Laura Linney plays his sister) must deal with their father’s rapid demise and thus face their own lives– their presents, their futures, their lost potential.

before the devil knows

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead [2007]
written by: Kelly Masterson
directed by: Sidney Lumet
also starring: Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney
–two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry and the job goes horribly wrong.

A-Late-Quartet

A Late Quartet [2012]
written by: Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman
directed by:Yaron Zilberman
also starring: Catherine Keenar, Chistopher Walken
–members of a world-renowned string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and lust.

capote

Capote [2005]
written by: Dan Futterman
directed by: Bennett Miller
also starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Catherine Keener
–while researching his book In Cold Blood, an account of the murder of a Kansas family, Truman Capote develops a close relationship with Perry Smith, one of the killers.

the master

The Master [2012]
written and directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
also starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams
–a Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future – until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.

doubt

Doubt [2008]
written and directed by: John Patrick Shanley
also starring: Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams
—a Catholic school principal questions a priest’s ambiguous relationship with a troubled young student.

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if you’re missing Enlightened with Mike White and Laura Dern, watch YEAR OF THE DOG

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Year of the Dog [2007]
Starring: Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Peter Saarsgard, John C. Reilly
Written and directed by: Mike White

now available on Netflix instant

In this touching and surprisingly sensitive film, an emotionally distant woman who has been living her life in a paint-by-numbers manner, suddenly, through a tragic event, begins to learn to let go and live by her own choices and for her own happiness. She has been one of those satisfied people all along. You know the type: okay job, decent car, a few friends, dinner and television at night, a beloved pet for company. An adequate, predictable, ordinary existence.

For years Peggy has held in her true feelings (theatrically-trained Molly Shannon shows enormous depth and range in this role) and suddenly explodes when her dog dies from poison. She looks the other way at work when her boss is inappropriate; she takes it from her uptight sister-in-law (a wonderfully over-the-top neurotic, yuppie Dern) and generally never makes waves.

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Now Peggy exhibits all signs of the classic late bloomer. It is not too late for her to lead the life she’s always wanted to lead. She attacks her gun-toting neighbor (John C. Reilly), espouses the benefits of vegetarianism to her niece and adopts every dog in the pound. She also develops a friendship with a dog trainer (Saarsgard) and finds there’s more to her life than going to work every day. White has written an illuminating film about loneliness, desperation and the need to belong. It is a lovely, rewarding little treasure.

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Choice Quote: film

Love-is-all-you-need

“The mere fact that we met in the first place is something to be happy about. at least I am and I will be for as long as I have the pleasure of your company. Whether it’s 10 minutes, two years or 30 years.”

Love is All You Need

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FILM: what to watch– indie, instant, documentary, foreign

On Thursday, a friend and I plan to see Gravity on a long-planned movie date. In the past week, I’ve seen several wonderful films that I must recommend.

indie in theaters:

enough said

ENOUGH SAID

–writer/ director Nicole Holofcener [Lovely and Amazing, Friends with Money] creates wonderfully complicated characters. A masseuse [Julia Louis-Dreyfus] begins dating a guy [James Gandolfini] who turns out to be the ex-husband of a new friend. Julia Louis-Dreyfus exudes warmth and charm, James Gandolfini plays insecure and the film is sweet and smart.

on Netflix instant:

war witch

WAR WITCH

— intense, amazing film about a girl kidnapped and forced to be a rebel soldier in sub-Saharan Africa. when she develops intuition to where the enemy is she’s deemed a witch and works alongside the leader. that is until one day she meets an unusual boy who might provide her a way out from this terrible existence. brutal and beautiful. this 12-year-old girl’s survival story.

documentary on DVD:

levees broke

WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE

–Spike Lee’s four-part compelling, heartbreaking, eye-opening documentary about Hurricane Katrina. He digs deeps for answers and interviews a wide patch of people. It’s remarkable and must-see viewing.

foreign on DVD:

love is all you need

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED

— A surprising and delightful film by Susanne Bier. A young couple intends to marry during a weekend in Naples, Italy they begin to question their relationship and their respective families start to unravel with their own problems. The bride’s mother, Ida, a hairdresser [Trine Dyrholm] who lost all her hair to cancer found her husband cheating on her with a younger woman. She traveled solo to Naples, Italy for the wedding. The groom’s father, Philip, [Pierce Brosnan] misses his wife who died in an accident many years ago and Italy brings back memories. Although Ida and Philip don’t get along at first they soon find themselves quite attracted to each other while their children seem less likely to get married as the weekend progresses.

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IN THE REALM: SCHOOL-THEMED FILMS

perks of being a wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
–two seniors (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) welcome an introverted freshman (Logan Lerman) into their group in this touching, brilliant film

oct sky

October Sky (1999)
–true story of a coal miner’s son Homer Hickman (Jake Gyllenhaal )–a coal miner’s son inspired by the first Sputnik launch and his high school science teacher (Laura Dern) to take up rocketry. His strict father (Chris Cooper) disapproves. He later works for NASA.

freedom writers

Freedom Writers (2007)
–in her first teaching job, an English teacher (Hilary Swank) inspires her at-risk students to express themselves by keeping journals

precious

Precious (2009)
–in Harlem in the late 80s, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen (Gabourey Sidibe), pregnant with her second child, is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

dangerous minds

Dangerous Minds (1995)
–an ex-Marine (Michelle Pfeiffer) takes a teaching job and struggles to connect with her students at an inner-city school

Easy A

Easy A
–after telling a white lie to her best friend about having sex with a college freshman, high school student Olive Penderghast (sparkling Emma Stone) decides its best to use her school’s rumor mill to her advantage in this smart comedy.

dead poets society

Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
–prep school. Poetry. Robert Sean Leonard. Ethan Hawke. Robin Williams. Seize the day.

breakfast club

The Breakfast Club (1985)
–“To the outside world they were simply a Brain, an Athlete, a Basket Case, a Princess, and a Criminal, but to each other, they would always be the Breakfast Club.”

school of rock

The School of Rock (2003)
–substitute teacher (Jack Black) attempts to turn his prep school class into a rock band

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