9 September 2009
Gran Torino (15)
Eastwood plays an ageing cranky bigot who stands up for his neighbourhood when the local gangstas get out of hand. This comedy drama is a wise exploration of family and friendship, violence and vengeance, and at times very funny.
Dir: Clint Eastwood, USA 2008. 116mins
Member rating 86% (A-19, B-16, C-1, D-1); Member comments:
Fantastic start to the season, absolutely riveting. What a great film to start the season - Clint Eastwood, true to his reputation. Violent but some great moments. Ever the iconoclast, Eastwood delivers another stunning directorial performance. Outstanding. So good, just so true of gangs etc. just now. Lively and heart-warming. Very powerful. Moving, funny, great film. Well executed, intercultural story - clever ending. Touching, funny, sad, well observed, well acted and well made. A film that I would not have heard of if I had not joined the club - worth the year's sub! It had everything from anger, sadness, remorse, comedy and humour. Very moving and clever humour. Good old Clint Eastwood, he got it right at the end. Great performance by Clint Eastwood, thought provoking film. Excellent portrayal of relationships - plot rather like an old fashioned parable. A traditional Eastwood but none the worse for it - a really worthwhile film, I am glad I saw it. Clint Eastwood is a remarkable actor - the cowboy comes out strongly.
Conversations with my Gardener (12a)
This finely observed movie depicts the poignant friendship between a respected painter who has returned to his childhood home and and the gardener he decides to employ. Funny and warm, ‘a blissful tale beautifully told'.
Dir: Jean Becker, France 2007. 109 min (subtitles)
Member rating 90% (A-24, B-11, C-2); Member comments:
Funny, sensitive and thoughtful - a wonderful slice of life and what it means. Brilliantly crafted with a wonderful story. Beautifully done, utterly convincing. Very good description of relations; gardener is not an intimate relationship but close, perhaps revealing, and helpful. Lovely, simple story but with a fast pace. I cold sit through it again right now. What a wonderful film - French again, brilliant. I am French, I enjoyed the fim very much, the language was very important. A very interesting film and dialogue produced in a way only the French can produce. It is good to see a film dealing with terminal illness in such a sensitive way - the last taboo unmasked. Lovely picture of how the casual relationship of 'boss' and workman can become a close intimate relationship. What a joyful relationship - how I'd like to go. Beautiful story of friendship and our reason to live. Two brilliant actors - what a combination. Very real conversations made this a very real and touching film. If only all films were as good as this. Delightful, ultra sensitive, unsentimental - I could go on. Everything in the garden was lovely. Enjoyable throughout - a 'feel good' film. A pleasure to watch the story unfold. Beautiful, more of same please.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (12a)
Woody Allen's latest is a sunny, escapist Spanish delight. Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem generate fireworks, and the supporting cast thrive in this highly entertaining Almodovar-style romantic comedy.
Dir: Woody Allen, Spain/USA 2008. 96 min
Member rating 77% (A-10, B-16, C-6, D-1); Member comments:
So lively and enjoyable. Good story and well acted. What a muddle of emotions, I'm still working it out! Amazing how sex can ruin a good holiday. Great music, good acting, tiresome plot. Very Woody Allen dialogue but also very enjoyable. Great narration, felt part of it with the way the characters were played. Absolutely bonkers, loved it. Juan Antonio, great character, he could charm any Chiquita!!! Woody tops again, both immensely complex and heavily involved. Outrageous, immoral, immensely amusing. Quirky but fun, a very different view of Barcelona. The best Woody Allen film so far, it gives a new meaning to action painting. On the face of it entertaining but actually rather sad. Fun but too knowing for its own good. A touching film. Obviously reflects Woody's muddled life style. A wonderful send up, interesting in the way it progressed with good acting all round. Beautiful scenery and direction but was left feeling very sad. They should have stuck with Gaudi. Woody Allen is a genius, great too Barcelona. Disappointing, Woody Allen tries too hard perhaps. Good acting but of little substance. Hmm, Mr Allen still obsessed with sex I see. Light, absurd, gentle on the eye and frivolous, but a work of art nonetheless.
Blue Eyelids (Párpados azules) (12a)
Directed with maturity and delicacy, this lonely-hearts' charmer outlines the coming together of two awkward Mexico City singles when Marina wins a dream holiday for two and has nobody to go with. Touching and funny.
Dir: Ernesto Contreros, Mexico 2007. 98min (subtitles)
Member rating 46% (B-6, C-13, D-8, E-1); Member comments:
Undecided - social conventions seemed strange; perhaps I'm in the wrong cultural tradition. Missed proper ending. Quiet but slow; let this be a warning to you - when the socks come off you miss out on a free holiday! Slow, so slow - it would have been OK if it had moved along faster! kept waiting for it to happen. Very tedious; they needed winding up. Incredibly dreary and long winded to make a simple point. They didn't connect - neither did I! Plodding and fairly obvious. I can't believe they lived happily ever after - I expect it was dull for them. Very touching and sad. Sad but some amusing moments. Did not care for one of the scenes; different. I think it was appropriate that the film finished with a stalled engine! Very sad lovely film. Very delicately produced. Not very exciting. Atmospheric; a wonderful portrait of loneliness. Riveting and almost painful to watch the interaction between the two characters. So many missed opportunities; may need to see again to get the point. What is the Spanish for "too many longeurs"? Touching, well acted, photography suited the mood, but did Lulita need a good shaking? A bleak tale of desperation and unfulfilment - not a film I would rush to see again. Arty camera work and direction but not a film I could warm to; maybe one I will remember though. Intriguing, slightly uncomfortable. Different - made me want to see what would happen next. Found the sound production amateur and unsubtle.
Starring James Nesbitt and set on the the Isle of Skye. A beautifully shot, bitter-sweet story of love and redemption. A small gem with a big heart - a powerful piece of drama.
Dir: Mark Aldridge, UK 2008. 95min
Member rating 74% (A-9, B-16, C-4, D-3); Member comments:
A very nice story beautifully told. Beautiful film, full of emotion. This film ticked all the boxes, a delight. Moving film - money isn't everything. Cleverly crafted, utterly uplifting. I thought it was going to end horribly - so glad it didn't. No shouting, no bad language, no violence, no sex, absolutely lovely. A lovely story beautifully told and acted with haunting background music. Charming and delightful film, what more can I say? Loved it and I was nearly in tears at one point. Delightful, beautifully crafted - a joy to watch. Wonderfully heart warming. A beautiful fairy story. Extremely touching. Very well done - the relationship of Peter with the girl and acting overall was very good. Felt one was left dangling at the end - a slight anticlimax. Don't know what to think - impressively interesting, but could not take seriously - absorbed, however, much of the time. Touching and entertaining - how did she do the tricks? An incredible but thoroughly likeable story that developed into something more than an average fantasy about half way through. A lovely tale with stunning scenery. Soppy but enjoyable. Deeply moving film which avoided sentimentality - beautifully acted and directed. Over sentimental and predictable - made Blue Eyelids look dramatic. Wonderful scenery, plot was very good, inspired hope. Beautiful - music a bit overpowering. Very annoying and completely unbelievable. Slight - overlong, but not unpleasant. Nice story, good child actor but unrealistic. Was it brilliant or just so much better than the last film. Stunning simplicity around heartbreaking story and a happy ever after was always good enough for fairy tales.
Cherry Blossoms (Kirschblüten - Hanami) (15)
Partially shot in Japan, a moving drama which pays homage to Ozu's ‘Tokyo Story'. An elderly Bavarian couple set out to visit their three neglectful children. A celebration of beauty, new beginnings and the impermanence of life.
Dir: Doris Dörrie, Germany 2008. 127min (subtitles)
Member rating 63% (A-7, B-16, C-9, D-9); Member comments:
[Note that The Elgiva received a DVD version they could not show at full brightness which is the reason for a number of the comments] Love and callousness entwined. Slightly too long to sustain concentration but beautifully realised. It grew on you and at the end I thought what a beautiful film. Interesting, different but too long. For an unadventurous man Rudi did very well! Beautiful profound film; great Japanese dancing. For a while I found it difficult to enjoy the film because of the relatively poor quality but in the end I really enjoyed it. Pity the film was so dark - it made viewing difficult; a very sad story. Rather slow. A beautiful and wise film. Beautiful touching film. The earlier scenes were not very clear; slow to start but developed as the film progressed. An inky black darkness swept over this film leaving me emotionally drained; a wonderful reflection on life in the end. Quite a depressing start, surprisingly enjoyed it. A moving depiction of grief and loss. A love story in more ways than one, told with great sensitivity. Was it just me - but I found the images rather dark and out of focus; however it was a fantastic film. Poor quality of film. Excellent and so original. Very strange, very fuzzy but fascinating. Could this film be the answer to the last taboo in the West - death? Too odd for me. Too long; dark picture, very poor quality image spoiled the atmosphere; was the aspect ratio wrong? A bit of a marathon and not a particularly feel-good film; glad it had a happy ending. Most unusual but a little bit protracted; poor visibility and focus not very helpful; father's acting and portrayal was excellent; family's attitude to German parent rather distressing. Quite fascinating but a trifle too long. Much too long, unsympathetic family; not a feel-good film at all, but a redeeming end. Was this film a pirate copy? in spite of terrible picture it must have been good. Deeply depressing; unsuitable for fathers over 60. Very slow and weird to begin with but improved greatly in Tokyo scenes; I'm glad I saw the film. Would love to have seen the original film (ie not DVD) but would not have missed it - thanks. A slow start but a very moving film. Was it a Fuji film? - it was an interesting story with some beautiful moments. The dislocation betweeen the generations was frightening, the film ultimately too sad despite cherry blossom. Japanese burial rituals were a real shock to the system.
6 January 2010
Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos) (15)
Almadovar's latest is a sensuous film within a film. The story centres on a four-way tale of dangerous love which moves between the present and 1994. Cruz rises to the occasion combining elegance with exuberance.
Dir: Pedro Almodovar, Spain 2009. 127min (subtitles)
Member rating 81% (A-5, B-2, C-1, D-1); Member comments:
[Note that attendance was very low due to snow conditions]
Penelope Cruz as good as always, enjoyable film. Subtle and complex - an excellent piece of film making. Very interesting. Excellently acted. Wonderful story telling, the best writing since Cato! good acting and excellent atmospheric soundtrack. Well worth braving the snow! I wouldn't have missed for worlds, Penelope Cruz was stunning. I place Almadova up there among the great directors.
Wendy and Lucy (15)
When driving to Alaska seeking work, Wendy (Michelle Williams) breaks down in a small Oregon town. She is stranded with her dog Lucy and no money. This treatment of severe economic difficulties is absolutely riveting.
Dir: Kelly Reichardt, USA 2008. 80min
Member rating 55% (A-5, B-8, C-17, D-5, E-5);
Member comments: Heartbreaking stuff. Acutely observed and sad, but never sentimental. Slow as a wet week, but interesting. If only she'd paid for the dog food it could all have been over. A short doggie TV film, not really a cinema film; kept waiting for something to happen; poor. Deceptive story of naivety; excellent storyline and great to see goodness portrayed. Very well acted. Lovely filming in some parts; awful filming in some parts; unseeable. Too slow! A marvellous portrait of the difficulties facing a young homeless person. A beautiful portrayal of a very sad life; Michelle excellent as Wendy. Not a lot to write about it; the dog deserves an Oscar. Maybe its because I am not a dog lover but I failed to engage. "Wendy without Lucy" would have been an appropriate title! very poor plot. The film had the courage not to produce a happy ending but the correct one. Sad story; well portrayed and acted. Wendy's bad decisions bothered me and I lost interest in the film - sorry to score a film so low. Beautifully acted; very sad. Good but slow. Low-key, low budget? atmospheric. Nice film; I felt Wendy's pain every step of the way; slightly stunned at the abrupt ending. Well acted by Michelle Williams. Too too sad. Plaintive. I'm more of a cat person myself. Better as a short novella, not a film. Sad reflections of life when things go wrong. Very well realised; albeit rather downbeat for comfort. A moving film, life can be so cruel. Rarely seen anything so depressing. Perhaps it was too real or perhaps it played the sentimental chord too loudly by the constant threat to the animal.
In The City Of Sylvia (En la ciudad de Sylvia) (15)
A man returns to Strasbourg to search for Sylvia, a woman he had become acquainted with six years earlier. A lovely film paying homage to painting, love, and women - and watching people passing by.
Dir: José Luis Guerín, Spain 2007. 84min (subtitles)
Member rating 40% (A-1, B-5, C-14, D-6, E-20);
Member comments: The programme described the plot accurately but the film wasn't as "utterly transfixing" as promised! Very beautiful portraits but rather silent. Too slow! Utterly tedious and pointless; the highlight was the end credits! Rubbish. Good - interesting people watching. Fascinating to see how a car-free area functions and how pleasant an environment, especially for walking; very dependent on a strong central character. One of the worst films I've ever seen at film club. Too long. A good film for multi-tasking - I could think about other things while taking it all in. Deeply uninteresting - sparkling dialogue (not). Compelling but ultimately frustrating. About as interesting as watching paint dry. Made Wendy and Lucy look like Indiana Jones. 8 out of 10. I enjoyed Strasbourg. I was not sure if it was all a hoax; never have I spent 84 minutes doing so little. Utterly absorbing. Asks way too much of its audience; very poor. No, too slight a plot - didn't really engage with the audience. An interesting study of people with good photography but too slow. Dare I say another questionable choice of film from the CFS; too far left field for my liking; please give us a break from "worthy" and depressing films!!! Interesting, different, worthwhile; but a little more plot would have helped quite disproportionately! We almost went to Strasbourg for our holiday - I'm glad we didn't - couldn't have stood all that walking! This year's films have been a very poor choice; I do hope they liven up over the next couple of months? Interesting cinematography; visually intriguing but some scenes just seemed a little long, over-exaggerating an impression that had already been achieved. Can't comment - I fell asleep! Nice "people watching" but rather like watching paint dry. Two successive films without a plot - do change the programme!! Absorbing - everyone's looked for a Sylvia - and we all enjoy café watching - we could have done with more of the fiddlers. 3 nights was more than enough; the main character needs to get a life! Excellent people watching and authentic background insight into Strasbourg. I had the feeling reading the synopsis that this was going to be a VERY SLOW FILM - and by God it was. Different! Good for people watching. What a tedious film - no scenery, no conversation, no story! Beautiful girls but so frustrating; wonderful photography. I'm speechless. Could have been a good film about the observation of human relations but it concentrated too much on imagery and lost its appeal - too contrived. Boring, tedious, pointless. Soft colours soft storyline and oh so gentle observation. A very preRaphaelite hero with Pre-Raphaelite fixations- and I couldn't help admiring the sleek high-tech Strasbourg trams. Nothing took a very long time. I wish I had brought my sketch book - some lovely portrait studies. Photography and production of the film very good.
Following the funeral of a young mother tragically killed in a road accident, her husband (Colin Firth) and children move to Italy: a new country, a new city, a fresh start. It's a moving story of love and displacement with a dash of magic realism.
Dir: Michael Winterbottom, UK 2008. 94min
Member rating 55% (A-1, B-11, C-10, D-5, E-2);
Member comments: Beautifully shot with a feasible plot and an essay on the way a death affects different people. Beautiful description of grief and life going on, "Mary" was particularly good. Quite an emotional film very well acted against a brilliantly filmed background. Well made and moving film - painfully true. Very well portrayed but worrying. Very touching film about grief, the city was beautiful but menacing. Very enjoyable, good study of relationships, showed harm of traffic dominated streets and value of car-free or pedestrian usable areas. Very good acting but a rather inconsequential exercise. A pleasant film after the last two. Nice film, great acting - more questions than answers in the end. Unlike "Looking for Sylvia" this one worked. Another mood piece but they carried it off. Good story, very atmospheric. Great acting from the two girls. Well acted and moving but perhaps lacking in any clear development or progress in any of the characters coming to terms with their grief. Beautiful setting, but not much has happened. Good photography and scenery, a fitting backdrop for the poignancy of the story. Moments that were very moving, but as a whole disjointed and felt unresolved at end. Another film with no plot. Somewhat disappointing at times, fast moving, repetitive, and only a hint of resolve at the end. Disappointing film, too little plot development - nothing happened slowly. Reasonable promotional video for some Italian beaches. Most enjoyable, the depiction of life in Italy was excellent. Very tense. As a manifestation of grief it tried hard, but ultimately failed to touch the soul. Very tense, constantly waiting for something dreadful; excellent acting especially by the little girl.
Lemon Tree (Etz Limon) (PG)
A lemon grove belonging to a Palestinian widow becomes a security risk when the Israeli Minister of Defence moves nearby. Inspired by a real-life incident this captivating movie gives a thought-provoking vision of West Bank troubles.
Dir: Eran Riklis, Israel/France 2008. 106min (subtitles)
Member rating 90% (A-22, B-6, C-2, D-1); Member comments: Very moving; leaves one sad and angry. Leaves me with a lot to think about. Very moving story highlighting the tragedy of conflict to both sides in personal terms. I wish life were fairer in the Middle East, then this story would be a fiction, not representative of grim reality. Very good; beautiful film. Beautifully constructed film. A very good film; gives insight to the seemingly insoluble problems - Might against Right. Wonderfully shot and played; showing the hypocrisy of Israel - and lawyers! Sad, leaving you with the feeling that there is no hope in the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Beautifully acted, very sad film. A very powerful and fair portrayal of the Israeli/Arab situation. Interesting but could not get absorbed as could not believe legality or that a Palestinian widow's needs could be taken seriously - could not see Mrs Navan as real. A very moving story; beautiful acting. Very good film; sad story. For once we get a fair reflection of the Palestinian side. What a wonderful allegory of a 3000 year old conflict - as usual, no one wins! Unlike "Genova" a lot happened in a small, quiet film; a gem. A truly excellent film. Shows us in the West what the Palestine/Israeli situation in reality. Teaches us what a futile conflict it all is. The struggle for ordinary people to be heard but unfortunately not always winning. A great women's film, poignant and beautifully filmed. Moving film with sad outcome, will things never change? Reminiscent of our Irish situation. Good theme spoiled by poor plot, why was security not considered before the Minister moved in? [Two people also commented that the sub-titles were very clear.]
The Grocer's Son (Le fils de l'épicier) (12a)
Antoine, the rudderless son of a rural grocer is forced to return home to run the business, when his father becomes ill, and rediscovers his love of the countryside. "A well rounded film which achieves its goals with aplomb" - Time Out.Dir: Eric Guirado, France 2007. 96min (subtitles)
Member rating: 82% (A-11, B-25, C-1);
Member comments: Enjoyable and heart-warming. Delightful. Beautifully made and crafted without being sentimental; a treat. Amusing, cute, pretty, soap-opera like. As usual, a quirky French film; totally absorbing; what a beautiful part of France. A charming "feel good" film! Fascinating low key family drama; only the French can manage these great, sensitive films; marvellous scenery; Monet countryside? (2nd viewing). A nice slice of French life, well done. Thoroughly enjoyable. After a curmudgeonly start all came good! Terrific, beautiful film and scenery. Brilliant! A charming feel-good film set against a stunning backdrop; the CFS is back on track - 2 great films on the bounce! It left you with a feel good feeling; beautiful country too. Enjoyable and an underlying expose of dysfunctional families. Amusing, nice ending. So, local boy did make good! A lovely gentle film - good to have some happiness: excellent photography. A lovely film; good scenery. An interesting cameo, well presented with beautiful photography. A gentle, warm film lovingly observed. An interesting, undemanding film which I found very enjoyable. Charming. Grew on me as his character improved. Very enjoyable easy to watch film, it took you with it; lovely scenery. The film grew on me and I'm glad he stayed. I'd like to know what was in the peas. Beautiful scenery. Wonderful film - so sure-footed in pace, tone and emotion, the battle between the generations etched with tenderness. Humour in unexpected doses. Beautifully filmed and the villages and people are so true to life. Lovely film.
Bright Star (NC)
An exquisite piece of film-making - Campion's best since ‘The Piano' in 1998. Set in the 19th century, Bright Star tells of a doomed romance between poet John Keats and his neighbour Fanny Brawn. A film finely-crafted, well-performed and subtly told.Dir: Jane Campion, UK 2009. 120min
Member rating: 75% (A-5, B-13, C-5, D-0, E-0)
Member comments: Beautifully filmed and acted but it felt like 3 hours and not two. Lovely film, pleasant to have a period drama for a change. A gripping romance told in a way which had you gasping for breath yourself, well written screen play. Complex, confusing, beautifully acted. Very well made and impressive, but I wondered quite often what characters were really like. Wonderful photography. A wonderful production, but so sad. Although I was glad when it finished, I still would have liked to hear the poems at the end. Good but slow. Evocative and caring but the two children and the cat won the Oscars.
N.B. Several comments about auditorium lights at the end coming up too quickly causing half the audience to leave immediately and making the poetry spoken over the titles inaudible.
Quiet Chaos (Caos calmo) (15)
A serene drama of the moving tale of a widower forced to re-evaluate his whole life following his wife's death, and reinvent his relationship with his daughter. It's a bitter sweet parable, and Moretti's stunning performance carries this film to the end.Dir: Antonio Luigi Grimaldi, Italy 2008. 105min (subtitles)
Member rating 80% (A-15, b-15, C-4, D-2, E-0)
Member comments: A complex study of suppressed grief. Pietro was like a spider weaving a web of people around him. Lovely film. Very Italian and full of spirit, Good story line, colour, photography and acting; a convincing performance by Nanni Moretti, loved his "office" throughout the seasons. Very enjoyable and uplifting, I want to be in the square. A new slant on bereavement and problem-solving for everyone, brilliant! Impressive insight/commentary on confusing (realistic?) human character. So this is the background to mergers one reads about! An unusual slant on coping with grief - beautifully portrayed. Just as well he left the square in wintry weather! A charming film and good to see Roman Polanski. Beautifully modulated performance by Moretti, even the daughter did "cute" nicely. A slight story so well told that it became enjoyably significant. Not sure the graphic sex scene added much. A really wonderful gentle film. Whatever happened to the girl and her dog? A bit taken aback by really sexy bit - pointless. A moving and entertaining film. Nice film, kept me engrossed to the end. The affluent bourgeois background was well shot, but ultimately it was too Polanski and bizarre. Lots of unfinished stories - enjoyable but confusing. A film in parts -some good some not so. Not at all what I expected. Very sad and emotional and a very real feeling of loss. Very interesting to compare with the Colin Firth film bringing up 2 girls in Genova. What will happen next, an intriguing question. Very sensitively made.
Annual General Meeting at 7pm (all members welcome)
followed at 8pm by:
On Grafton Street Dublin a careworn busker falls for the naïve charm of a sparky Czech immigrant. With simple narrative, easy non-acting, and haunting songs, the film has a rare innocence and fresh approach to film making that makes this a charming love story.Dir John Carney, Ireland 2006. 97min
Member rating 69% (A-8, B-14, C-8, D-3, E-1)
Comments: Great music and acting - sad and happy. Very naturally acted - a touching, moving story. Why do not these film makers put the story together coherently? - it was enjoyable but most confusing.Pleasant but too slight for a feature-length film.Appalling "music" and dreadful photography.Really beautiful - definitely one to get on DVD. Good choice.Enjoyed the music.Maybe Once would have been enough, lovely relationship developed. Thanks for the soundtrack but where was the film?Lovely film, felt I was there.Bit blurry (maybe me) but a very enjoyable and natural film. Very slow; music not too bad. One of my most favourite films; it's worth reading the background to the making of it.*Once was enough. What an end to a great season! - simple story, fantastic music. Well acted; brilliant film, very natural.Developed slowly but turned into an interesting story in a musical manner - good performing by both actors but particularly the girl.Certainly a musical, almost too light to be noticeable. Beautiful film and music. Excellent sound track helping a slight story but none the worse for that. Good songs - story kept one engaged. Best film of the season. Sweet story, well played. Nice couple, pleasant music but does this make a film? Heartwarming and touching with great music too. Most unusual. Good to end the season on a high. Delightful, touching and so well acted; really loved the music. [* See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_(film) and http://www.foxsearchlight.com/once/]