Archive for July, 2011

Manuale D’amore 3 (2011) (Manual of Love)

Manuale D’amore” is an Italian film directed by Giovanni Veronesi starring Robert De Niro and Monica Belucci. It is a sequel of Manuale D’amore (2005) and Manuale D’amore 2 – Capitoli successivi (2007). Though I did not watch first two films, I enjoyed watching this one.

The film consists of three parts each following a different couple and describing three times of love: youth (Giovinezza), maturity (Maturita) and beyond (Oltre). Young Cupid, who sometimes has too much make-up on his face, narrates the stories. All characters and stories in the film are related.

First couple –handsome Roberto (Riccardo Scamarcio) and beautiful Sara are deeply in love with each other. Roberto is a young lawyer, who is sent to seaside town in the province of Tuscany, Italy to convince a family to sell their house. There, among adorable simple Italian people he makes new friends and finds a new love. But, soon enough he understands that this love was not meant to be.

Fabio and Eliana are second, mature couple. Fabio has a loving wife and daughter. He meets an obsessive woman Eliana, who pretends to be a psychiatrist. He gives way to her manipulation and to their relationship. As a result, Fabio loses his family and job.

Third couple – Adrian (Robert De Niro) and Viola (Monica Belucci) are introduced to each other by Viola’s father, who is Adrian’s friend. Her father finds out that Viola worked as a stripper and has a huge dept. Here Adrian comes to a help.

The film and characters are quite ordinary and lively. Veronesi has done a great job by making film to reflect real life with its simple and at the same time complicated love stories. The story is romantic and relaxing. You can feel enjoyable Italian culture and passion throughout the film.

If you are tired of Hollywood-ish films, then “Manuale D’amore” is for you. It is a good watch with your other half. Enjoy!

Reviewer’s rating: 6.5 out of 10

Despicable Me (2010)

This is an animation film from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment directed by French director Pierre Coffin and American Chris Renaud. The film features actor Steve Carell’s voice, who is well-known for playing Michael Scott on “The Office”.

“Despicable me” is a funny and heart-warming film. Its main character aging Mr. Gru (Steve Carell) is evil-doer (similarity with Megamind) who possesses a weird house and ugly “dog”. He has a partner Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and big number of small and sweet minions in underground hideaway. At this place they plan evil deeds.

A young villain Vector steals the Great Pyramid of Giza and to outdo this evil deed Gru needs to do something bigger: to steal the Moon. He visits the Bank of Evil to get a new loan for his plan. He is refused, but offered to steal the shrink ray from East Asia facility in order to receive a loan.

Right after Gru gets shrink ray, it is stolen by nerdy Vector. Unable to enter Vector’s house, Gru watches three orphan girls getting inside to sell him cookies. He decides to adopt Margo, Edith and Agnes for the implementation of his evil plan.

Agnes reminded me of Boo from “Monsters, Inc.”. She is a cute and sweet creature much like Boo and they also have physical similarities. The orphan girls and minions bring warmness and cuteness to the film by balancing its evil and good.

“Despicable me” is a fun family film, which I highly recommend for children. You will surely enjoy not only the film, but also the soundtracks, especially the song “Despicable me”.

Reviewer’s rating: 7.5 out of 10

The King’s Speech (2010)

This is a British drama film directed by Tom Hooper starring Colin Firth. It is based on the real-life story of British monarch King George VI, father of Her Majesty the Queen. The King was played by Colin Firth, who as usual impeccably and beautifully delivered his role.

I love Colin Firth since his playing in “Pride and Prejudice” (1995, best ever filmed-version of Jane Austen’s same name novel) as Mr. Darcy. The role of King perfectly matches Firth’s handsome and noble face features and his charisma gives the story colour and beauty. This masterful performance is probably the role of his life. But, I hope Firth will gladden me with more powerful and flawless performances in future.

“The King’s Speech” received 12 Oscar nominations and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). The film won many other awards. I agree that performances, directing and screenplay – three things, that I believe make a good film, were excellent; still, in my opinion, accolades received by film are quite exaggerated.

In terms of film’s story, I liked television film “Bertie and Elizabeth” (2002) more than “The King’s Speech”. Besides, once you know the story, film does not seem as interesting as it could be. And of course I knew the story.

For those, who still did not watch “The King’s Speech”, I will tell a little about the plot. The young stammering Prince Albert is unable to deliver speech in front of a big audience in Wembley stadium. His wife, Elizabeth persuades him to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), Australian speech therapist in London. Gradually, they become friends. Prince Albert becomes the king after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII and makes an important speech without stammer.

This is a dramatic story of a man with speech difficulty and huge responsibility, who struggles in order to take up his duty of making speeches and decisions for the people of his country. The film is a good watch in the company of friends. Enjoy!

Reviewer’s rating: 7.5 out of 10

True Grit (2010)

True Grit” is an American Western film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen brothers. It is based on Charles Portis’ same name novel written in 1968. The story was previously filmed in 1969 by director Henry Hathaway (1898-1985). Unfortunately, I cannot compare this film to previous version as I have not seen it. But, since the story is good, this version of film is good as well.

The story is narrated by an elderly woman Mattie Ross. When she was 14 years old, her father was murdered by his hired worker Tom Chaney. He ran away to Indian territories with Mattie’s father’s horse and two California gold pieces. Young Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld) is the main character of film. She is quite intelligent and confident for her age. Using her wit, Mattie easily manipulates adults around her to get what she wants.

Seeking for revenge, teenager hires U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to find Chaney and bring him for hanging. Rooster is known as having “true grit”. Another person, who wants to catch Chaney, is Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who claims that Chaney killed the senator in Texas. Though Mattie, Rooster and LaBoeuf start this adventure together, they twice split up and take different routes.

Despite Hailee Steinfeld’s young age and the fact that this was her first role, in my opinion she perfectly delivered her role. Bridges makes film better by excellently performing his strong and ignorant character. Damon’s performance is also flawless. His character is not that likeable and moustache makes him somewhat different from his usual roles.

The film leaves positive impression in spite of numerous gunshot and dying-people scenes. Once more Coen brothers have done a good job. Though, I have to say, they could film a better ending.

“True Grit” is a great watch in the company of friends especially if they like Western films. Enjoy!

Reviewer’s rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Social Network (2010)

The film is about founding of Facebook and related lawsuits. It was directed by David Fincher. Jesse Eisenberg starred as the world’s youngest billionaire and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. As it is obvious from their surnames, both Zuckerberg and Eisenberg are Jewish and both guys are redheads. In my opinion, Eisenberg is much more handsome than Zuckerberg.

I hesitated to watch “The Social Network” and believed that it will be another boring film about the guy who made loads of money. But film nicely surprised me and I think Eisenberg’s charisma played a huge role in it. Also, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Fincher both have done a marvelous job and made the story more interesting with two timelines connected through back and forth flashbacks.

In the past, in 2003, Mark gets dumped by his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) and returns to his Harvard dorm room drunk where he blogs that she is a bitch. He thinks of a new project with his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) in order to get Erica off of his mind. Mark creates a website “Facemash” using pictures of female students hacked from various databases of Harvard, where users rate girls’ attractiveness.

Because of Facemash’s popularity, traffic hits the highest point crashing parts of Harvard’s network. He receives a six-month academic probation. This fame attracts attention of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, brothers who offer Mark a job of programmer for their future website – Harvard Connection. Mark accepts the offer and we move in time. We return to “present” – to three years later and witness lawsuits against Zuckerberg by brothers for intellectual property theft and by his best friend for ownership of Facebook.

I think Eisenberg is very talented and his performance in this film is great. All actors, including Justin Timberlake play their roles quite well. The film is highly entertaining and enjoyable. It is a great watch in the company of friends.

Reviewer’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

127 Hours (2010)

This is an adventure film directed and produced by Danny Boyle starring James Franco. The film is based on a true story that happened to mountain climber Aron Ralston in 2003 in Utah, USA.

Though, “127 hours” is a quite simple film, I like films based on true stories and enjoyed this one as well. If you want to watch it, you should not do any research about Aron Ralston or the story; otherwise film will not be interesting.

I will tell you a little about the film. In April, 2003, Aron Ralston goes for canyoneering in Utah and meets on his way two young women, Kristi and Megan. He shows them a better route for hiking and hikers invite him to the party for next night. He continues alone to his route and while descending from one of the rocks with his MP3 player turned on, a boulder falls after him. It pins his right arm against the wall of rock and traps him.

Ralston realizes that nobody will come for help as he did not inform anybody about his whereabouts. The hikers will assume that he just did not show up for party. He videos himself and rations his food and water. When Ralston is out of water, he drinks his own urine. He becomes desperate realizing that soon he will die.

Real Ralston’s courage is incredible as much as his frivolity to hike with turned-on MP3 player. Franco’s acting is superb and hilarious and his charisma is grasping. With his terrific performance viewers practically share Ralston’s torments and joy of survival.

I experienced Boyle’s outstanding directorial skills with “Slumdog Millionaire” and surely he has a lot to say in film-directing. You will certainly enjoy this film in the company of friends. Be prepared for gut-wrenching scenes!

Reviewer’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

One word comes to my mind when I want to describe this film: boring. Yes, this is a boring drama film about a lesbian family with two children. It was directed by Lisa Cholodenko (who is a lesbian) starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening.

The film does not grip from the beginning and you wait hoping to reach the exciting part of story, but it never comes. Though the performances generally are good, the story itself lacks twists and turns.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a lesbian couple living in California with their two children Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska). They each gave birth to a child using the sperm of same donor. This way, children have one father and two mothers. Laser wants to find the sperm donor, and asks his 18-year-old sister Joni to do so.

Laser inadvertently gives out information about their meeting with sperm donor to his mothers. Lesbians decide to invite the “father” Paul (Mark Ruffalo) into their lives and this is where family becomes fragile.

I did not believe Annette Bening’s character even for a second; neither did I believe in their lesbian relationship or acting in bed. The film seems to be oriented to certain unconventional-family-audience.  As very little happens in the film, it does not look like a drama nor is it a comedy. The ending is as boring as the beginning.

I do not understand how this film won awards. Did it win because the film is about lesbian family?  Does this mean any “horrible” film might win awards if it is about gay or lesbian family?

Well, this is not a family watch, nor a watch in the company of friends.

Reviewer’s rating: 5.0 out of 10