Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cafe Society

Café Society—Written, Directed and Narrated by Woody Allen/starring Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Corey Stoll, Kristen Stewart, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Blake Lively/ 1hr 36mins/PG-13

Bifocal Reviews Written By Ageless1der Barbara Rich and The Other Guy

(BR): I basically enjoyed the fashion and set direction of this period piece, and I loved the music. I thought the storyline was weak and I probably would have cast most of the major roles differently. I’m not saying that those chosen did not do a good job, but I think different actors would have been better suited. There were a few funny lines, but not enough to keep me fully engaged. I was surprised when such a small part by Blake Lively was given so much hype in the pressroom. When I went into the film, I thought she was the main star. That was not the case. I’ve never been a big Steve Carell fan and thought he was the most notably miscast. Eisenberg did a suitable Woody Allen imitation in his delivery of lines, but still I left the movie feeling something was lacking. I give this film two out of five binoculars, mostly for music and nostalgia.

(OG): From the opening scene (which, by the way is in the international trailer we selected to accompany this review) you see that Woody Allen is an expert filmmaker. From start to closing credits, a keen eye for detail is evident. This was not my favorite Woody Allen film, by far. However, even though it is not his best, the 96 minute investment you will make when viewing Café Society, will only serve to reinforce the contention that Woody Allen’s average film is far better than 95% of what is out there right now. I came away with vivid memories of some scenes and lines, but cannot tell you the name of the last previous three movies I’ve seen before this one! Obviously the standard themes of west coast vs east coast, fluff vs. substance, male vs. female, life vs. death, all of which we’ve come to expect in an Allen film were here. One line that I know will stay with me came from the narrator, “Jews don’t believe in an afterlife. If we did, we’d probably get more customers.” On the other hand, I thought Eisenberg’s delivery was very spot-on Woody Allen, and therefore wondered why Woody felt compelled to (in his own voice, unrelated to anything on the screen) narrate the film over the acting in the first place. For the same reasons as Barbara and some memorable lines and direction, I give this film three binoculars.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Money Monster

Money Monster—Directed by Jodie Foster/Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Dominic West, Caltriona Balfe and Lenny Venito/Screenplay by Jim Kouf, Jamie Linden, Alan Di Fiore from a story by Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf/ 1hr 38 mins/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by “Ageless1der” Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): It’s obvious that monsters do not only dwell underneath the bed, around dark corners, and in creepy places, but as the title implies they are built into the fabric of American life, because when making money takes on a life of its own scary things happen. Trying to make money makes people do desperate things. This film shows how tangled up we all are in raising and spending money, money, money. The plot is focused around the famous question: Where did the money go? When we find out, no one is surprised that the rich are getting richer at everyone else’s expense. I found this movie interesting and entertaining. There were no real opportunities for stand out performances. Though, all the acting was good. I give this film three binoculars.

(GR): What I liked about this film was that it viewed the obsession we have with money in this country (now don’t get your back hairs up Wall Streeters) from a number of different perspectives. Many of the reviews of this film have even claimed that Money Monster demonizes the rich! I don’t think that is the case. What is demonized is the attitude that rules don’t have to be followed when it comes to money. Whatever you are doing, if you are hurting people for the sake of money…that is bad. It doesn’t make it any better or worse if the harm is caused by someone with little or lots in their bank account. After all, we generally are proud of the fact that we have a capitalist society in the U.S., yet capitalism is NOT a political party. In this movie, the guy who invests vast amounts of money from his investors is doing wrong…So is the everyday hero who holds George Clooney’s character hostage because George (a star of an economic television show) prompted him to lose all his saving by investing in the rich criminal’s business. George was just doing his job when he recommended the stock. It’s what he does to make money. The guy who lost his shirt was trying to make money and so was the Corporate Crook. Being upset about making a bad investment is not wrong. Taking people hostage is. Knowingly lying to people to take their money and then trying to influence a revolt in another country is also wrong. Being rich isn’t. I give Money Monster three binoculars also.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies—2hrs 21 mins/directed by Steven Spielberg/ screenplay written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen/starring Tom Hanks,Mark Rylance/Alan Alda/music Thomas Newman/ PG-13

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR):  This movie was intriguing. Any movie that is based on a true story always gets my attention. The generation where this takes place is without the technology that is familiar today. Bridge of Spies takes you back to a time when simple communication methods were used, which only made the movie more exciting and realistic. Things like not having a cell phone at your disposal, waiting for the phone to ring, running from and to phone booths and the sound of air raid sirens brought back waves of a strange nostalgia. Tom Hanks, playing the good guy was very convincing, as usual. Playing the real life James Donovan (his memoir is the basis for this film) he defended a real life enemy of the state, but the old fashioned “everyone deserves a fair trial” attitude that seems to have also gone by the wayside. In fact, James Donovan received a lot of opposition for his defense stance, but in the end his methods were not only kind, but successful in achieving the ultimate goal, which was the exchange. Donovan was eventually given the credit for being the hero that he deserved. I give this movie four out of five binoculars, and wished I had seen Bridge of Spies long before and in place of four or five other loudly touted films which did not live up to a Best Picture standard, but are also nominated.

(OG): I guess I should not be surprised that Steven Spielberg, with Thomas Newman music, a script co-written by the Coen brothers with Matt Charman and starring actors of Tom Hanks’ caliber would be an Oscar contender, but somehow this movie snuck up on me. I never saw this Best Picture contender coming. This was billed as a Soviet Cold War thriller that lacked any special effects or attempts to bombard the senses with chase scenes or mind numbing explosions. Hanks plays an insurance lawyer who is picked to first defend a communist spy in the midst of Soviet/Nuclear hysteria, then negotiate a very complicated prisoner exchange. He tries to convince everyone, including the audience that he is NOT the right man for either job. By the end of the film, however, you cannot see how anyone else but he could have accomplished either task. As for the script, I liked especially how doing the right thing took precedent over political-expediency and in the end, everyone wins. I give this film five binoculars out of five.

The Revenant

The Revenant—2 hrs 36 mins/Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu/starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy/
Screenplay by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith from a Story by: Michael Punke/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Finally, a movie I feel is totally deserving of a Best Picture Oscar! I feel that a movie, to get a best picture nomination (let alone award) should be a cut above the rest. Some of the other nominees were good, and some were downright mediocre. The Revenant checks off all categories as top notch. Leonardo DiCaprio gave a compelling performance and is also most worthy of the best actor Oscar. I loved everything about this film. One of the most engaging examples of human survival instinct, as Leo’s character, first survives a bear attack and then, while hanging onto life by a thread, under the most unsanitary conditions imaginable, was driven by blind rage to ignore his wounds and pursue his son’s killer. While Leo’s character has little dialogue his acting ability says more than any words could express. The other actors are also good, the scenery is spectacular, but this is definitely a DiCaprio showcase. I give this one five out of five binoculars.

(OG): I’m not sure what this award-year will bring, but I have to reiterate that without a movie like The Revenant, the Best Picture category would be pretty sparse for me. This film was interesting, and a joy to watch from beginning to end, from multiple directions. I was drawn into the film with the opening battle and subsequent fightscenes’ realism. The director, Iñárritu, slowed things down enough to show how, on a battlefield, chaos often reigns. Guns were discharging accidentally and combatants were shooting their own men. In hand-to-hand bouts, with heavy padded clothing, fighters often run out of energy before anyone really wins or loses. Then, there was the bear attack. That was brilliantly shot, acted and recreated. I could not see a single seam between live and computer generated action…assuming there were any. There was no wasted scenes. Everything was paced perfectly. This was the first time this year that a movie was this long and felt SHORTER than the actual running time for me. I give this one five binoculars.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Martian

The Martian—2 hrs 22 mins/ directed by Ridley Scott/ screenplay by Drew Goddard/ Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels/ rated PG-13

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): I don’t know what to say about The Martian. It’s not really my kind of movie. It kind of laid flat for me but even at that, it left me questioning humanity’s quirky behaviors. Why would the world ban together to save one astronaut’s life, even while risking the lives of many others? That premise of this film is what appears to be drawing enthusiastic fans to this movie (even the Other Guy in the review below, for example), but it just made me feel like there are so many deserving people on this planet, right now, who need and deserve our help, who we should be banding together to rescue from so many real and immediate problems…Why doesn’t that sense of human responsibility permeate into real problems and real lives? Is it the media, the big budget movie marketing that makes us all want to be heroes? Or, is this something that is built in? Maybe I’m not getting my point across. Human beings often work together to save others, from danger, armies, or the Earth itself (as with miners who have been trapped in a shaft). I just feel like the everyday friend, parent, stranger, who brings even one human being back from the edge of sadness or despair with a smile, a joke or a gesture that changes the course that one human life for the better…aren’t they really the heroes who we should be trying to emulate? Isn’t that worth making a movie about? I give the film itself only two binoculars.

(OG): I think I probably liked the idea of this film as much, or perhaps a little more than I liked watching the actual, whole thing. I don’t know what’s going on with filmmakers these days, but everything I’ve seen lately (with the exception of a very few, such as YOUTH) is simply too much bang for the buck. Cutting what I felt was an extra twenty-two minutes may have made a difference, but it’s hard to say. Anyway, what I liked was the premise that human beings care about one another so much, that if one person is left on Mars, we would all join forces to save them. I have faith in humanity and believe that this film caters to what is good in people, and highlights a positive core characteristic in a way that few other films have ever done. Then, of course, you have Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels in another Ridley Scott crafted visual. I give this film three and ½ binoculars. It’s well worth it.