Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Monday, July 19, 2010


Twilight: ECLIPSE--Directed by David Slade. With Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Gil Birmingham 1h:39m/ PG-13
(B) For starters, we decided to see this film with our eleven-year-old granddaughter, because she had been begging ANYONE in the family to be her chaperone. Her review, after viewing consisted of, “I loved it, but I liked the first one better.” I can halfway agree with her. I liked the first one better, but I didn’t really like either one of them. I didn’t like the first one enough to even see the second in the series. The problems are many. Most importantly, for me is that I was a BIG fan of the all-too-short-lived-television series, Moonlight with Alec O’Laughlin. This series combined action and an actual story with a love interest that had emotion. Eclipse had the passion and emotion of a dry turnip. Really, a love triangle with young people should not be so boring. The action with the special effects was the only redeeming factor. Sad to say, I give this one binocular and I am being generous.
(G) I have to say that I have been trying to give this saga a chance, because I know that many of my college-aged students, children and grandchildren seem to relate in some way to something, somewhere hidden, someplace in these films. I have always been a big fan of anything vampire, werewolf, or monstrous. This love goes all the way back to Lon Chaney Jr. days and reaches its pinnacle with Abbot and Costello Meets Frankenstein. Here’s what bothered me about Eclipse: You need substance to make a “saga.” Everything of interest was divulged in the first half of the first film. With Moonlight (mentioned above) we have the same basic conflict, but the story varies and new elements were added weekly. With HBO’s True Blood, we see witches, vampires and shape-shifters interacting from the unique perspective of awareness. In other words, they know each other exist and are merely trying to “get along.” With Twilight? It’s old hat, romanticism, and just not interestingly presented. Nothing ever really happens and the stylized direction makes every line spoken by the actors soporific—that means ,“tending to induce drowsiness” for those of you who want to improve your vocabulary. This one, at least had a final battle between shifters and vamps to look forward to, but it was not enough. I’ve seen all three of the Twilight films, so far and will likely see the fourth on my iPod, while walking on the elliptical machine to take my mind off of the fact that exercise hurts. If you use the films for the same purpose or are between the ages of eleven and eighteen, then there may be some redeeming value. 1 & ½ binoc.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—Director: Niels Arden Oplev/ (screenplay) Written by: Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg/starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace

(G) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based upon the award-winning crime novel by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It was originally titled (in Swedish) Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, which translates to mean, "Men Who Hate Women.” The accuracy of the original title becomes apparent when you watch this tightly woven suspense thriller with some of the most interesting film characters and sub-themes that I’ve seen in years.
With a well-deserved R rating (there are several horrific rape scenes which establish motivation for the Lisbeth character’s actions and behavior), this film can still be viewed at the occasional theater in an unfortunately trimmed 1:43 min version. I assume (again) that the theatrical version has removed these rape scenes. We watched the 2:30 minute film as an HD download from Amazon last night and I am glad that I saw the entire, uncut film. Barbara and I were still talking about the film long into the night and into the next morning. What we have is a rare foreign-film gem. Though you must currently be willing to read the English subtitles, there is talk about recasting the film with American/name actors. I hope that U.S. producers reconsider and keep as many of the original cast as possible, especially Noomi Rapace who captivates with her grandly subdued delivery. What we have in the current form is a classic, suspense thriller of the Chinatown variety which forces you to watch with interest, first to sort out the actual “case at hand” and second to rejoice in the fact that all a suspense thriller really needs is a good story, not a bunch of good looking Hollywood stars. I have to give this one all four binoculars!
(B) This film was of the type that I both love and hate. I loved it because it was a good, old-fashioned suspense thriller that reminded me of Diabolique in its intensity. I hated it because it’s the type of film that I can’t get out of my head and shouldn’t watch right before trying to go to sleep. I have been waiting for a film like this for a long time. I wanted to see a movie that doesn’t rely on hocus pocus special effects, but has solid substance to the story. I am so relieved that the actors were not “Barbie and Ken” perfects. The actors transported me directly into this film and engaged me in answering a slew of questions from the outset. I was compelled to solve the mystery along with the characters themselves. I loved it. This was easy. Four binoculars!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Love Ranch

The Love Ranch—Directed by Taylor Hackford
Starring Helen Mirren, Joe Pesci, Sergio Peris-Mencheta 1hr:57 min rated R

(B) I had a special interest in this film because Joe Pesci and I grew up in the same neighborhood and shared the same friends. Joe and I played pinnacle with my ex-husband in the old neighborhood, in fact. Although I am usually drawn to movies based on a true story, there is always something special about seeing a friend from my past on the big screen. Both Helen Mirren as the strong but vulnerable madam, and Jo Pesci as her selfish, manipulative husband gave convincing performances in this Taylor Hackford film. I think the screenplay could have been better. With stars like Mirren and Pesci, there could have been more meat to the story. Sergio Peris-Mencheta as the Argentine boxer handled his part well and was easy on the eyes.
I give this one three binoculars.

(G) I was most struck by Helen Mirren’s great choice of hard-to-place mid-western accent. Her ability to adapt to a role is nothing short of miraculous. Joe Pesci played himself, but it is a character that we all love, even though we also fear him for his potential explosiveness. The supporting cast was virtually perfect. However, I want to give honorable mentions to Gina Gershon, Rick Gomez and M.C. Gainey. As for the script, I think this is a good example of how the truth often gets in the way of good story telling. Just because something happened in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it will have the suspense, mystery and emotional impact to carry the audience for two hours or more. An attempt is made to wrap up all the inconsistencies and questions we might have with a last minute narrative by Mirren about “love.” I can’t say that I did not enjoy this film. I liked it. How can you not like Mirren or Pesci? I just felt that it had a chance to be great and did not quite make the mark. I always am a little suspicious of a film, when the trailer tells the whole story and gives away the plotline (watch the trailer below). I give this one 2 ½ binoculars. So, rounding up, this one gets a three from the Bifocals Reviewers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bifocals on Flamenco in Madrid

The links below all lead to online articles on the art of flamenco, its origins, history, development and even mystical meaning. To further investigate the beautiful arts, composed of the vocal, the dance and guitar/music read any one (or all) of the articles below, as a starting point for your enquiry. Each link contains suggestions to further, more specific links.