Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Saturday, February 4, 2012


WARRIOR--Directed by Gavin O'Connor/Starring Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton/screenplay by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis & Cliff Dorfman from a story by O’Connor and Dorfman/139min/PG-13

Bifocal Reviews by Barbara and Gordon Rich

(G) I watched this whole film—some scenes more than once—and there is no question that Nick Nolte is a great actor. In fact, I would not be unhappy with any of the Best Supporting Actor category nominations winning the Oscar at this year’s event which includes Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill, Nick Nolte, Christopher Plummer and
Max von Sydow. The movie as a whole was kind of a Rocky-Meets-Rocky’s Brother—story for me, which is O.K. I did like the fact that, as with the Stallone films of the Rocky series, part of the drama turned on a true knowledge of the Full Contact Fight game. One brother was a brawler, the other a strangler (I’m simplifying here). In the artificial environment of a UFC, single-elimination tournament that was center stage for the big showdown, literally anyone could win. I also liked Jennifer Morrison (of television’s HOUSE fame) in her role as the conflicted wife of one of the brothers. I give it a 2 ½. I was never bored, but I don’t think the audience is broad enough to carry Nolte to an Oscar.

(B) I knew that Nick Nolte was nominated for an award based on his appearance in this film, so I reluctantly decided to at least view his scenes. It was just Nick doing a good job at roles he does best. He is more like a character actor. He does the drunk, who messes up, then tries to mend his ways. Very reminiscent of his early Rich man Poor man TV series. Having viewed just a few scenes, that is all I can comment on.
I give Nolte’s performance two binoculars.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Albert Nobbs

ALBERT NOBBS-- Directed by Rodrigo García/Starring Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska and Janet McTeer/screenplay written by Glenn Close & John Banville from a short story by George Moore/rated R/113 min

Bifocal Reviews written by Barbara & Gordon Rich

(B) I have a propensity toward this period in Europe. This film takes place in old Ireland within the Masterpiece Classic/Upstairs Downstairs genre. Therefore I was very comfortable with the whole ambience of this film. Glenn Close was convincing in her role, but even more perfectly cast was Janet McTeer, whose role was also that of a woman posing as a male. I left the theater wondering if this sort of thing actually occurred during that time, or if this film was based in any way on a true story. I think it will be a tooth-n-nail battle between Close and Streep for best actress, but this might leave the field open for Viola Davis to walk away with the statuette. I give this one two binoculars.

(G) The Academy—second only to their favoritism of Hollywood themed films—loves the British-connection, as well as those roles that require heavy make-up or gender-reversal. They also don’t appear to be able to make clear choices between big box office stars (which is why Clooney and Pitt might cancel each other out in the Best Actor category....but that’s another issue). In this case, I believe that Close and Streep will cancel each other out for best actress, opening the door for Viola Davis to win big for The Help. In this case, I will be happy to see the Oscar go to Ms. Davis, even though both Close and Streep were very classy in their portrayals. As for Albert Nobbs, the director’s handling of the subject matter, scriptwriting and actor’s portrayals were handled with class. Close also earned scriptwriting credits on this one, which I always like to see. There was one particular scene that stuck with me. That was when the two characters played by Glenn Close and Janet McTeer (women who had been posing as men for many years) decided to take a walkabout in dresses. Close’s exuberant run on the beach added a brilliantly decorated layer to the complex title character. You never knew if she was a completely unhappy woman pretending to be a man, or a man at the core, who had been trapped in a woman’s body for an unfortunate period of time…or a little of both. In any event, even though the film was less than two hours, it seemed longer. I hate to do it again, but I agree with Barbara…this one is worth seeing. I give it two binoculars.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Artist

THE ARTIST—Directed by Michel Hazanavicius/Starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo. 1hr40min/PG-13

Bifocal Reviews by Barbara and Gordon Rich

(B) I think it is wonderful for us to have developed movie making techniques over the past 100 years, only to now decide that if we eliminate some of the most important aspects of the progress we’ve made (good writing, a compelling story, clever dialogue, color, and sound, for examples) that we can come up with a product that is worthy of an Academy Award. I get the nostalgia, but multiple Oscar nominations? Come on! It’s like going outside to pump water from a well, when you have a perfectly good sink with a faucet on the inside of the house…and then giving a series of awards to the guy who thought that it’d be a nice idea to dig a hole out back and hang a bucket on it. I’ll get this movie one binocular, for the dog and the costumes.

(G) I admit that I was opposed to seeing this film from the moment that I heard about it. I could see, before I ever walked into the theater, that this was going to be a stinker and that I was going to have to stand, once again proclaiming why the Emperor has no clothes. Shades of Hurt Locker, once again! I hate it when I’m right, especially when I have to pay $11 and 2 ½ hour of my life for the privilege. This whole movie was nothing more than a conceit, a series of prat-falls, gags, bits, mugs the likes of which we find on every second rate sitcom that has ever been on television, sound or no sound. The Artist is completely empty of real depth, meaning or purpose. I know that Hollywood is looking at this and salivating because they are going to be able to promote their beloved town in an Academy Award winner, but I have to ask, as always…is that enough? What do the Oscars really mean when the movie industry is the only entity that believes this film is worthwhile? When we went into the theater, there were maybe 12 people. I could not stand it after the first 30 minutes and left the theater to try and find another film on the Best Picture list. That was fruitless, but took about 20 minutes of my time. I reluctantly returned to my seat, where Barbara instantly told me, “You haven’t missed anything.” We stuck with it to the end, because…well, that’s kind of our job.
They keep promoting the dog as some incredibly clever filmmaking genius, but the dog is not even nominated for anything! This movie also asserts that silence is somehow more powerful than words. I’m going to give this film what it is dishing out to the public and say that my evaluation (my binoculars), the trailer and all of my most enlightened review lines are the ones that are NOT appearing below…

Iron Lady

IRON LADY--Directed by Phyllida Lloyd/ Starring Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent/screenplay by Abi Morgan/1hr45min/PG-13

Bifocal Review by Barbara and Gordon Rich

(B) I know a lot of us are sick of hearing the name Meryl Streep announced as the recipient at these award shows, but the truth of the matter is that she is a magnificent actress. She did not disappoint in her latest performance as Margaret Thatcher, in Iron Lady. Jim Broadbent was also great and is very underrated in my opinion. I preferred their portrayals of the Thatcher’s personal life in this film over the political aspects. However, the film lacks something. It was too bland. It needed a shot of something, adrenaline to keep it moving. Great make-up on Streep, but I give this one only two binoculars. One binocular for each of the stars performances.

(G) I guess I’m one of those who Barbara is talking about when she said, “sick of hearing the name Meryl Streep.” She does get a lot of awards, but I don’t think she is as great as everyone says. It’s not that she is a bad actress, by any means. Unfortunately, most of the time I get the sense that she is forcing the character, trying too hard. In other words, I always feel like she is acting, rather than immersing herself in the portrayal. I have given her credit when I feel she’s adopted the character’s persona and hidden the fact the actress Meryl Streep is under the mask. For instance, in Julia & Julia I thought her performance was nearly perfect and said as much. Apparently, however she also liked playing Julia Child, so, much so in fact that the voice of Margaret Thatcher sounds comically similar in many scenes. That aside, I was also completely bored with the first twenty minutes of this movie. The whole thing really dragged for me. As for the script, nothing ever was resolved, when conflicts were presented. As for the make-up, I found it inconsistent. Sometimes you felt like you were looking at the Prime Minister. The next, it was obviously Meryl. I must say that Ms. Streep did a wonderful job enunciating with those fake teeth in her mouth. That was not the case when it came to the actress who played her daughter though. I’ll give this one a two, so that Barbara will speak to me later on. We certainly don’t see things the same on this one, but that’s the nature of a Bifocal Review.