Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine--Directed and written by Woody Allen/starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K., Annie McNamara/98 mins/ PG-13

Bifocal Review written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(B) This film is about a sophisticated socialite, played by Cate Blanchett, who has lost her fortune (ala the Bernie Maddoff scandal). She is forced to move in with her sister (a step down socially). Watching Blanchett unravel, is electrifying as she tries desperately to cope with her new lifestyle while trying to recreate herself. This is the first Woody Allen movie where so much emotion was involved. It could be because he’s older, but I thoroughly appreciated this side of his complex mind. The co-stars are cast well, but Blanchett’s tour-de-force really drove the movie for me. As a woman, I related, even though I’ve never come close to that world of wealth. Somehow, I totally understood her crises, and the story certainly proves that money isn’t everything. The characters who are most happy are the ones who have values that are not measured in dollars and cents. I give this film three and a half binoculars and say, in advance, Cate Blanchette’s performance (and Woody Allen’s brilliant writing) deserve nods in the coming awards season.

(OG) This is one of the finest, most taut Woody Allen scripts that I’ve ever seen, and I love the Woodsman. There is nothing wasted here. Every character, every line, every cinematic direction, every camera angle is finely drawn to create an image with a corresponding feeling. Is the movie about images? Is it about family? Is it about creating oneself? Is it about relationships, love, sex, desire, fulfillment of human needs as opposed to making money, or the importance of telling the truth and about trust? Is this a primer for storytelling in the modern age, or a vehicle for great actors and actresses to show their chops? The answer in all cases is “Yes.” The more I think about this movie, the better I like it, because I realize how nicely the whole package fits together. Barbara said it all above about Ms. Blanchett, and I agree. This is another four binocular film and an indication of the makings of another rip-roaring awards season.

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The Butler

The Butler—Produced and directed by Lee Daniels/ starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda (and a host of others)/ written by Danny Strong from an article “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” written by Wil Haygood/2hrs 12 mins/ rated PG-13

Bifocal Review written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) This is based on a true story (and character) about a butler who served 30 years in the White House, starting with the Eisenhower administration through the Reagan years with a star-studded cast supporting some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Academy Award winners, Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey are surrounded by other Oscar winners and nominees, telling the tale of Cecil Gaines, the butler in question (played by Whitaker) and his wife (Gloria) played by Oprah Winfrey. Cecil struggles with the fact that he has a pride in his position of service, while at the same time the black community is struggling for civil rights and basic equality.  I hate to repeat myself, but I feel the same way about this movie as I did about Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. The supporting actors, indeed did their jobs in support of Forest Whitaker, but make no mistake he is the central driving force of this film, in more than the title implies. His diverse skill as an actor (after portraying dictator Idi Amin, for instance) surely makes him a candidate for an already crowded award season. I give this film three and a half binoculars.

(OG) I was born in the early fifties, when The Butler’s main character first started to work for the White House, so maybe that’s why I felt a deep connection to this film and was very moved by it, almost to tears at points. I felt this was the most honest depiction of the Civil Rights struggles this country has faced that has ever been portrayed in film. It pulls no punches and comes from the perspective of those Americans who have been mostly affected by prejudice, discrimination, inequality, and ignorance: the African American community who were not considered human by a large segment of our white population, even after the Civil War had long since, supposedly settled the question. The film presents a broad and balanced view of Black America, as every human is complex and beautiful, and doesn’t try to disguise this complexity by “white washing” it. The complexity, the struggles, the pain and the triumphs are all from the perspective of those who have been so long oppressed, and to such a degree that many literally cannot understand. I give this film four binoculars. Why not? I know I won’t have to compare this movie to any other.

See more Bifocal Reviews and share your views about this film at L&L Magazine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

25th Anniversary of the Classic Martial Arts Film, Bloodsport

Bloodsport-- Directed by Newt Arnold/starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Norman Burton/screenplay written by Sheldon Lettich, Christopher Cosby and Mel Friedman, from a story by Sheldon Lettich—based on the true life story of martial artist, Frank Dux/ rated R/92 mins.

Bifocal Review
by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(B) This type of action film is not my usual cup of tea. I honestly have not ever watched the entire film, from beginning to end, though I have viewed most of it, in pieces. However, I love a great “against all odds” story and am aware of and appreciate certain important elements in this movie, and the impact that it has had on the martial arts genre. This is basically a Rocky or Karate Kid story, with an important difference. While we all appreciate a story of hard work overcoming obstacles to accomplish great feats, this story is slightly different because I know the real Frank Dux, and I think that reality element has made all the difference in how people view this movie. I also saw, by comparison that this film did not rely much on special effects--like the two movies I mentioned above and unlike most other martial arts films. My favorite scenes are not in the fights themselves, but are those that show interaction between the young boy and his teacher, or the concern of the fighters for one another. We don’t often grade an older film by today’s standards, but since this is the 25th anniversary of the release of this film, I’m going to give it two binoculars.

(OG) Naturally, I have a personal love of this film because I know and have worked closely with Frank Dux. That is not usually the case for me when reviewing a film. Frank Dux is a great person, ahead of his time in many ways. Even this story (which takes some liberties as it strayed from the facts in several aspects) was ahead of its time in a sense, because it melded reality and fiction into an inspirational film that was the catalyst for many young boys and girls to get involved in martial arts. Since I know from first hand experience how being involved in martial arts can often change the lives of individuals from all walks of life for the better, I am glad that I was there to see the positive effect this film has had on many. People everywhere I go, know the name Frank Dux and the film Bloodsport, even though 25 years have passed. He has inspired many to try new things and achieve at a high level, so for that I thank the filmmakers. I give the film three binoculars and put it in the same category as Enter The Dragon, Karate Kid, and Billy Jack, they are not great, but they are memorable.

To read the entire transcript of Barbara’s Bifocal Reviews Podcast of Frank Dux, the namesake of the Jean-Claude Van Damme character in the classic martial arts film, Bloodsport, and to hear, in his own words why the Variety story about a remake will not be happening without his input,