Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl—Directed by Tom Hooper/Story by David Ebershoff/Music Composed by Alexandre Desplat/starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander/2 hrs/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): My initial reaction to this film was that it was too long. After getting past the barbaric and primitive way that transgender people were viewed in this time period, it reminded me of Benedict Cumberbatch and his plight as depicted, as a homosexual in The Imitation Game. However, after a day or so I realized the real story was one of unconditional love. Both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander’s characters portrayed two very important sides of this tale. Their performances left me genuinely moved, as they evolved from a happily married heterosexual couple into a relationship that transcended sexuality. I was so impressed with their performances that I was shocked to see the credits of some of the others actors who were, apparently, in this film. They all complemented the lead performances, which were, naturally the meat of the story. The seasonings blended well, making for a memorable main course. I still think they could have cut, at least ten minutes from this film. I loved the setting and the panorama of the scenery. I give this film a solid four binoculars.

(OG): This film was too long and left me feeling unsatisfied…even though I came into the theater with nothing but high hopes and positive expectations. Vikander is a very skilled actress. I don’t believe she’s being given enough credit for the wachability (hey, I made up a new word!)…the watchability of The Danish Girl. Without her, I don’t think I could have tolerated this movie for the full two hours. To me, Eddie Redmayne seemed like he was acting the whole time. If he didn’t believe his own performance 100%, then how am I supposed to believe it? True, The Danish Girl shed light on a persistent, human character-flaw…that of prejudice and ignorance being allowed to perpetuate the repression of a segment of our sexual society that happens to not meet primitive and barbaric standards…but in a movie, intentions count for little. I don’t want to pay good money for a “nice try.” I did enjoy the scenery though, so I’ll go with two and one half binoculars out of five.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

YOUTH--the movie

Youth—Directed and screenplay by Paolo Sorrentino/starring Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda, Paul Dano/1hr58min/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): There are just not enough Oscars and other awards this year, when performances like Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are not even mentioned. They also have to contend with each other in the same movie. Then, there is the Jane Fonda performance. She was nominated for a Golden Globe, yet her part was essentially minimal, not that it wasn’t good, but certainly not better than either of the lead actors. In this film Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine are at their finest, knowing well they didn’t jump out of planes, or off of buildings, or blow up anything, or use heavy make-up or special effects of any kind. I hope this doesn’t make the competition more difficult for them, when in fact it’s the “acting” that should be the primary consideration for any of these awards. There are awards for special effects. The European flavor was very evident in this film, both in the way the director/writer took special care to frame every scene, and put memorable words in the mouths of his characters. I came away from this movie totally immersed in its content, reliving several scenes on the car ride home, even though, I felt it a bit slow at the outset. I give this film four binoculars out of five.

(OG): Honestly, I was almost lulled to sleep in the first 15 minutes of this film. It sneaks up on you. The presentation is so unusual for the U.S. market, very Italian in my opinion, that without the usual explosions, murders, or wild chases I was tricked into thinking that nothing was happening. By the time I realized that this was indeed my kind of movie (great scenery, detail to staging and incredible dialogue) I had missed some of what I used to love going to the movies to see. The director/writer steers his actors (I’m using the generic term here) exactly where he wants them to go. Every syllable is written and delivered with purpose. There is not an ounce of fat. I can still relive many of the scenes in my head, and already want to see this film again, so that I don’t miss anything in the opening scenes. It is a very beautiful film, reminiscent (in my mind) Francis Ford Coppola’s very underappreciated masterpiece, TEATRO, with of dash of Fellini. There was only one scene that seemed forced to me, and that was when a character explained the title, YOUTH. For that, I’ll deduct a monocle and give this film four-and-a-half binoculars.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs--Directed by Danny Boyle/ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels/written by Aaron Sorkin/121 min/rated R

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Technology is not my first choice for movie material. In spite of that, I was thoroughly drawn into this film because of the performances that expressed how important a human characteristic it is to have creative vision. For, as a story or as a biography, what we learn from Steve Jobs is it really wasn’t so much about the technology that made him a legend…It was that he took his visions—which were all about making products that people both needed and wanted--and made them realities. Fassbender’s performance was compelling. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and he was in almost every scene. All the other performances also complemented Fassbender’s. Kate Winslet was almost unrecognizable in the early part of the film, but her acting ability was unmistakable…as were all the costars. They were so good, in fact, that they actually enhanced Fassbender’s otherwise flawless performance. I’m hoping more people will see this movie, in spite of the fact that an earlier film about Steve Jobs is being confused with this release. This is a must see film, I believe, even though I too was not certain this film would be to my liking. I’m so glad I could enjoy this film without having to deal with floppy disks, bits, bytes or other jargon. I give Steve Jobs four and a half binoculars out of five.

(OG): Initially, I wasn’t sure why I loved this movie so much. First of all, the script violates the basic belief that “movies should move.”  Not that much really happens, as most of the “action” takes place backstage at various product launches. That is the genius, perhaps, of the Aaron Sorkin style of writing (A Few Good Men, West Wing, Newsroom for example). His dialogue is so compelling and the emotional energy so high (thanks to the great delivery of the actors) that while there are no car crashes, explosions or fist-fights, the action never seems to stop. Fassbender was absolutely PERFECT in his portrayal of Steve Jobs. If he ends up doing a one-man stage performance for the rest of his life (such as with Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain) audiences will likely have the same response. They will at some point start to identify the actor with the character he’s portraying. It was that good. I had some personal experience with the original Mac, when I was commissioned by Apple Corporation, in the early 80s to write a book “in the spirit of the new computer” which explained the new world of communications and especially word processing. That book, called Vision-Revision (www.vision-revision.pbwiki.com) has become a free, online education website which now is expanded to include many new tools (videos and other website links) which were not even available when the Mac was first conceived. So, what I guess I’m trying to say is, I may have been influenced by a nostalgic association to the subject matter…but the movie is genius, just like the subject matter. I’m giving this one a five.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Walk In The Woods (movie)

A Walk In The Woods—directed by Ken Kwapis/Starring Nick Nolte and Robert Redford (everyone else is nice fluff, including Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, and Kristen Schaal and /screenplay written by Rick Kerb Bill Holderman and two others/based on a novel by Bill Bryson /rated R/1hr 44min

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) This film was about a retired travel writer, played by 70 something Robert Redford, who wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. Even though he’s in reasonably good, Robert Redford shape, because of his advanced years, his wife, played by Emma Thompson thinks he is crazy and pleads with him to take someone along for the adventure. She doesn’t want him to go at all, but she REALLY doesn’t want him to go alone. None of his current or old friends want to join him. However, through the grapevine, an old (strained) college friend—played by Nick Nolte, who is actually not such a friend, since Redford and he had parted under less than positive circumstances--calls and invites himself to tag along. Out of shape Nick Nolte, the most unlikely partner is a walk on the wild side compared to logical, practical Robert Redford. This combination makes for the most entertaining and engaging scenes with constant brilliant banter scattered like pinecones along the trail. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. By the way, Redford had this project in mind for himself and his dear friend Paul Newman, who worked so well together in the Sting and Butch Cassidy. When Newman died, the project was put on the shelf. I can’t think of anyone who was more suited to the Nolte role. This was my kind of walk in the woods. I give this film four binoculars out of five, with a big chunk going to Nolte, and the scenery—beyond Robert Redford--wasn’t bad either.

(OG) Watching A Walk In The Woods, I laughed out loud, a lot, and so did pretty much everybody else in the completely packed theater. The R rating is probably for a couple of F-bombs, adult situations and perhaps a brief shot of Nick Nolte’s bare backside. Really though, this was pretty tame for today’s R rating. I loved the dialogue and the acting of two absolute pros. Dialogue enhanced no doubt by the delivery of the actors, but when we left the theater, Barbara and I were still laughing and already quoting both Redford and Nolte. I understand that the book itself is filled with quotable quips, many of which did not make it into the film, but the delivery of these two was so natural that I got the impression that it was two quick witty old buddies, not just characters that actors were playing, who were simply riffing off one another. It is to the director and writer’s credits that they just allowed the spontaneity to remain and were smart enough to simply take credit for the very enjoyable result. I so much more enjoyed this film than Academy pick with Witherspoon last year. I hope Nolte is nominated for something. On our scale of five binoculars--where I give credit for both good dialogue and pure enjoyment--I give this film four and a half.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E—Directed by Guy Ritchie/screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, David C. Wilson/Starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, with Eilzabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant/rated PG-13/1hr56min

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Let me just say as a women, hubba, hubba. Even if this film were terrible, which it is not, it would be worth looking at these two handsome gents. I kind of like the old world espionage, a good pace, not so crammed with unnecessary action, but just the right amount of excitement. Cavill and Hammer had a great chemistry, similar in some ways to other paired teams of old. I was not disappointed in any way. This film earns 3 ½ binoculars from me.

(OG): I liked it. It was fun, witty, charismatic, and most of all entertaining. Guy Ritchie knows how to take the seemingly overworked (such as Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.) and kick it up a notch, while remaining true to the character elements which draw us to the title characters in the first place. There are just so many nuclear-bomb-on-a-timer movies that an audience can take at one time. The writing helped make this 1970’s Cold War film seem plausible once more. Hammer and Vikander are no slouches either. This is a fresh, clever and appealing team based upon those originally brought to the small screen by Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Stefanie Powers. Those are some difficult acting shoes to fill, but I think that Cavill, Hammer and Vikander are more than up to the task. I especially like the fact that director Ritchie decided to beef up the Illya Kuryakin personae to create a role for Armie Hammer worthy of his skills. All in all, I give this movie a solid 3.5 binoculars. This is not Gone With the Wind, but it is not meant to be. Enjoy a night out at the movies like we used to do it in the olden days but better. Instead of staying home, in front of the television, sit in a darkened room with a bunch of like minded people, all in comfortable chairs, looking at a big screen for a brief moment, immersing yourself totally in the drama, just for fun…old school.