May 8, 2010

My Month in Movies: April 2010

AMERICAN VIOLET (2008)

Inspired by true events, this penetrating drama centers on Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a 24-year-old mother of four who's forced to take on a corrupt district attorney (Michael O'Keefe) when she's unjustly prosecuted in a large-scale drug case. Directed by Tim Disney, the inspiring tale also stars Alfre Woodard as Dee's mother, Alma, Tim Blake Nelson as ACLU attorney David Cohen and Will Patton as retired narcotics officer Sam Conroy. MY RATING: **** (Very good acting, especially by Alfre Woodard and Nicole Beharie. Moving and inspiring story.)


BORN INTO BROTHELS (2004)

British filmmaker Zana Briski's Oscar-winning documentary is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in Calcutta's red-light district, where their mothers work as prostitutes to ensure their survival. Spurred by the kids' fascination with her camera, Briski decides to teach them photography. As they begin to look at and record their world through new eyes, the kids awaken to their own talents and sense of worth. MY RATING: **** (This is a re-watch because it is such an excellent movie. I highly, highly recommend watching it at least once.)


PRICELESS (2006)

Irène (Audrey Tautou), who makes a fortune sweet-talking rich men, puts the moves on klutzy Jean (Gad Elmaleh), unaware that he's just a hotel bartender. But by the time Irène realizes her mistake, Jean is hopelessly smitten with her. Letting men down easy has never been Irène's strong suit, but she finds a way to mend Jean's broken heart that ensures he'll never have to mix cocktails again. Vernon Dobtcheff co-stars in this wacky French farce. MY RATING: **** (I heart Audrey Tautou.)


HOLLYWOODLAND (2006)

When George Reeves (Ben Affleck), the actor who famously played the Man of Steel in TV's "Adventures of Superman," turns up dead in Beverly Hills, a dogged private eye (Adrien Brody) investigates and unearths a string of strange secrets. Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins also star in director Allen Coulter's feature film debut, a gritty noir-style drama based on the true story of one of Hollywood's most infamous mysteries. MY RATING: ** (This felt like it could have been so much more than it was.)


CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER WOMEN (2006)

Sparks fly at a wedding reception when a man (Aaron Eckhart) and woman (Helena Bonham Carter) with an ambiguous connection are reunited in this stylish romantic drama. As the layers of their past relationship gradually peel back, they rekindle a smoldering flame. Unable to contain their desire, they soon slip away to her hotel room -- but will passion give way to regret after the champagne wears off? MY RATING: *** (Aaron Eckhart in a movie pretty much means me watching it. I love the camera angles and tricks throughout this movie. It is disconcerting at first but once I got used to it it made it so interesting.)


JULIE & JULIA (2009)

Amy Adams stars in this truth-inspired tale as Julie Powell, who decides to enliven her uneventful life by cooking all 524 recipes outlined in Julia Child's culinary classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Based on Powell's book Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, director Nora Ephron's heartwarming dramedy also stars Meryl Streep as legendary chef Child, for which she won a Golden Globe. MY RATING: *** (I thought the acting was spectacular but I wish it had ended a little differently.)


A FAREWELL TO ARMS (1957)

Adapted from Ernest Hemingway's World War I novel, this drama centers on American soldier Lt. Frederick Henry (Rock Hudson). While serving in the Italian Army, Henry has an affair with nurse Catherine Barkley (Jennifer Jones), and she becomes pregnant. The two lose touch, and Catherine is certain Henry's moved on to greener pastures. But he manages to track her down in Switzerland and arrives at her hospital bedside to find her clinging to life. MY RATING: ** (Okay, Jennifer Jones is so not good in this film. This is the first film I've watched with her but she was unbelievably fake. Made it hard to enjoy the story.)


LATIN DIVAS OF COMEDY (2007)

Funnyman Alex Reymundo hosts this stand-up comedy extravaganza that showcases the talents of four Latina comics as they riff on minority life in America, including Sandra Valls, who speaks to her experience as a Mexican lesbian living in Texas. Other featured comic divas include Monique Marvez, Marilyn Martinez and Sara Contreras, who shares her insights into the absurdities of being a Puerto Rican-born single mom raising her kids in New Jersey. MY RATING: **** (Warning: This is a Mature Audience Only comedy show. But if you don't mind taboo subjects or a little bit of cursing, you will find these women are hilarious. Especially Monique Marvez.)


SUNSHINE CLEANING (2008)

Financially on shaky ground yet determined to send her son to a top private school, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) teams up with her unreliable sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), to start a new company that specializes in biohazard removal and crime scene cleanup. Tired of doing all of the work for other people, whether in her job cleaning homes or in her failed relationships, Rose is finally ready to use her entrepreneurial spirit to tidy up her own life. MY RATING: *** (I like Amy Adams and Emily Blunt so I had to watch this indie film. It is a dramedy and gritty and awesome. Blunt was so good in it.)


40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS (2002)

When easy-on-the-eyes Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) is dumped by his girlfriend, he swears off all sex for Lent, which lasts 40 days and 40 nights. But his abstinence is tested when he meets beautiful and sexy Erica Sutton (Shannyn Sossamon). Feeling like he's doomed if he doesn't stick to his plan, he struggles to resist the girl of his dreams. MY RATING: *** (Cute, lighthearted flick. A definite chick-flick.)


THE MAN WHO CRIED (2000)

Christina Ricci stars as Suzie, a Russian Jew adrift in the world after her father leaves the family to make a fresh start in America in 1927. After emigrating to England, Suzie flowers into a no-nonsense showgirl who eventually ends up in Paris. There, she becomes involved with Cesar (Johnny Depp), the head of a band of gypsies, but their happiness -- and Suzie's quest to track down her father -- is challenged by the rising Nazi influence in Europe. MY RATING: *** (You are connected with Ricci's character from when she was a little child in the first ten minutes of the film. Depp's character was a little bizarre, but still hot. :)


MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY (2008)

When her gruff demeanor costs her yet another nanny position, desperate Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) wangles a job as the assistant of an aspiring American actress (Amy Adams) and soon gets swept up in a dizzying world of glamour and high society. Ciarán Hinds, Lee Pace, Shirley Henderson and Mark Strong also star in this charming 1930s-era comedy based on Winifred Watson's best-selling novel. MY RATING: **** (Frances McDormand is amazing in this movie. Just amazing. And it is such a cute movie.)


CAMILLE (1936)

In this late-1930s adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas novel, Greta Garbo plays the titular role of Camille, a dying courtesan who falls in love with a young nobleman (Robert Taylor) and heroically sacrifices her happiness to prove her love. George Cukor directed this definitive version of the story, which has seen many film adaptations. Includes strong supporting performances from Lionel Barrymore and a villainous Henry Daniell. MY RATING: **** (I loved the story. Unlike some old movies, this one just went bang right into the story instead of having it drag along for 30 minutes. I really liked that.)


APPALOOSA (2008)

When a malicious, land-hungry rancher (Jeremy Irons) has the marshal and deputy of Appaloosa killed, two gunmen (Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris) blow into town to restore law and order. But the stakes are raised even higher when a beautiful widow (Renée Zellweger) of uncertain convictions enters the picture. Harris also directs this gritty Western -- his first time at the helm since Pollock -- based on the novel by Robert B. Parker. MY RATING: **** (This was an interesting and gritty movie. I didn't like Zellweger's character but she played it well. I love Viggo Mortensen. He is hot!)


ATONEMENT (2007)

When 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) discovers a lustful letter and witnesses a sexual encounter between her older sister (Keira Knightley) and a servant's son (James McAvoy), her confusion prompts her to finger the young man for a violent crime. Her half-truth changes their lives forever in this Oscar-nominated drama based on the critically acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan. MY RATING: ** (I was unsuccessful in reading this book so I tried the movie. I finished it but didn't care for it.)


CORALINE (2008)

In this stop-motion animation Oscar nominee, curious young Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) unlocks a door in her family's home and is transported to a universe that strangely resembles her own -- only better. But when her Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) doesn't want Coraline to return to reality, our heroine must summon an amazing amount of courage to go home and save her family. MY RATING: ** (Some parts were interesting and clever and some parts were just too quirky for me. The Other Mother was pretty creepy, though.)


So what movies have you watched recently? Any recommendations?

Note: All movie descriptions came from Netflix.com.

9 comments:

  1. Oh so much to say....

    First off, Yay for Born into Brothels! What a heartwrenching film. Sunshine Cleaning was more than I expected it to be. 40 Days and 40 Nights was a bit too cutesy for me, but still was funny. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day made me fall in love with Frances McDormand all over again.

    I didn't like the book Atonement; actually I didn't even finish reading it so I stayed away from the film. Glad I did! I really loved the color in Coraline. Have you read the book? If not, you should.

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh I've watched Born into Brothels, almost forgot about that. Definitely heartbreaking!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't seen any really good movies lately, but I did enjoy a few of those you mentioned in the past!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like Sunshine Cleaning and Miss Pettigrew too. I disagree with you about Atonement. I thought it was excellent, though thoroughly depressing. I was impressed with the quality of the acting and the story is hard to forget. And Audrey Tautou! I want to see Priceless.

    http://laughingstars.net

    ReplyDelete
  5. I always love to see what you think about your movies for the month!! I'm going to be looking for a couple of these at the library tomorrow!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You've seen some good ones and a few I haven't seen which I will add to my Netflix cue.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, lots of movies! I had a similar experience with Atonement. The book was a DNF for me, and I went to the movie hoping I would like it, but more or less didn't!

    We saw 2 movies this month I can remember (!) and like them both: Howard's End, and Strictly Ballroom.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love happening upon your blog when it's Movie Night! From your reviews, I am listing Brothels, Pettigrew and Sunshine. Still have Traitor and It Could Happen to You listed from my last visit and haven't managed to find them yet.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I felt the same way about both Coraline and Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day. And I loved Ciaran Hinds in MPLFAD! He is so great.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting! Leave a comment and share your thoughts with me!