Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Boyhood movie review

Boyhood--written and directed by Richard Linklater/starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater/rated R/2hr46min

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) Boyhood took a little too long to get into, and by the time I got to know this family
I was restless in my seat. It was too long. It seemed like I was binge watching a modern day series of The Waltons. I appreciate the original and unique concept of the 12 year production, but I don’t think the story was in the same league as the other nominated films. I was especially impressed with the performance of Ellar Coltrane throughout his growth in this movie. One aspect of this film that was a relief was the lack of torture and extreme violence that is present in most of the nominated movies this year. However, beyond the uniqueness, there is no compelling story. Three binoculars are all I could spare for what I consider to be an average film.

 (OG) At almost three hours, this film grew on me like a tiny snowball rolling down a hill to become an avalanche. In other words, I liked it more and more as we went along, but then it crashed and self-destructed. Unfortunately, getting to the end became a goal. By two hours, I had to look at the clock to see how much more I would have to endure. There were four definite stages of viewing for me. First, I was unimpressed and wondering what all the hoopla was all about. Second, I played the Has-Another-Year-Gone-By-Yet? Game. Then, I was engaged and impressed at the determination of the actors and director-writer to fulfill this vision. Finally, I realized—actually Barbara suggested this to me immediately after the film ended and while the credits were rolling-- that this was just a series of short vignettes filmed with the same actors over a long period of time. There was a certain amount of continuity, but every reference and historical time stamp had to have been added during the period that the filming was done for that segment. In the end, Boyhood never matures. I’m glad I saw it, but it’s not the best movie this year, by a long shot. My rating? Two and a half binoculars.

Monday, January 19, 2015

American Sniper

American Sniper--directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall from a book by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen & James DeFelice/ starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller/rated R/ 2hr 14mins

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Of most of the films I’ve ever seen, this was one of the hardest to watch. It is not the physical torture or blood and guts that bothered me the most. Though this is not my kind of movie to begin with. It was the mental anguish that was portrayed when soldiers have to make such difficult choices when all options are bad. I don’t know how any soldier can come away from war without being seriously affected by the acts he is forced to perform. There aren’t enough medals to bestow upon our service people. However, this movie was very well constructed. I can’t find any fault with the production or the direction of this movie. The performances were very real to me, because I became such a part of a world that I don’t often think about. This year will be a very difficult choice for Oscars in all categories, and my picks. American Sniper will be among those graced with awards, no doubt and gets a well-deserved five binoculars from this humble reviewer.

(OG): Let me begin by saying, American Sniper is getting four-and-half binoculars from me, and I certainly don’t consider any action that any member of any branch of the military who is following the orders of his superiors to be anything but heroic. This was an excellent movie that depicted a character who should be the envy of every soldier or civilian alike, though the movie was perhaps a little bit too long. However, I am saddened by the concept of war. From what little I have gleaned from my association with actual warriors—and I use that term to mean only those who have served their countries, or established, well-defined causes, in a declared war--it was probably the most realistic portrayal of Iraq to date. It certainly far surpassed the highly overrated Hurt Locker. I also have to point out that there wasn’t anyone who left the theater early. In fact, the film got a rousing ovation from the audience, more so than anything I’ve ever seen before. People sat reverently in silence through the credits and did not applaud until every person involved was given credit for their participation. So, how did I like watching this film? Honestly, it made me a little uncomfortable. I don’t think I would have felt this way if the movie had been about any other war, but in this case I couldn’t help but think that the “wolf-sheepdog-sheep” triangle of cultural patriotism that is suggested as heroic here, would have been better served by being focused on another war…say Viet Nam for instance. Unfortunately, this movie was about a marksman who was asked to do a specific job that he was good at performing. He didn’t hide behind the job to keep from harm’s way, but rather used his skill to protect those he’d been instructed to protect, under the conditions his country asked him to... his flock…Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle protected his flock. That’s my opinion, for what’s it’s worth.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game--Directed by Morten Tyldum/Screenplay by Graham Moore adapted from the book about Alan Turing written by Andrew Hodges/starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, & Rory Kinnear/113 mins/rated PG-13

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) Well, it’s about time! This is a story that is long overdue. After seeing The Imitation Game, I feel like I’ve been deprived from knowing about the tremendous part that Alan Turing played in history. Such genius, brilliance, and suffering through the life of Alan Turing deepened my admiration for anyone who’s had to keep secrets, whether it be personal or for espionage. I wish that I could reach into the afterlife and pull him back from the grave so that he could appreciate some of the many freedoms he was prevented from enjoying in his lifetime. As for this film, Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was worthy of his Globe nomination. It was a perfect portrayal. We should also mention Keira Knightly’s pairing with Cumberbatch was so sincere and convincing. The two seemed very comfortable in the historical relationship that transcended the sexual. The ensemble cast and production crew, including writer, director and musical score completed this perfect movie going experience. In addition, Alan Turing should be acknowledged and heralded in the forefront of history (not the background) for the accomplishment of creating the modern computer. Without his unique perspective who knows where technology would be today? If he had lived longer and had the freedoms we have today, what other problems might he have solved? I give this film five binoculars.

(OG) The word, ENIGMA comes from the Greek word, meaning riddle (or most often an unanswerable riddle), and is found in literature in the story of the Sphinx who is said to have asked travellers to solve a riddle before allowing them to pass. If they could not answer, the Sphinx killed the traveller. During WWII the German army had invented a machine that was known as the Enigma because (they believed) it created an unbreakable code. The code was broken (as is depicted in this film) by perhaps the only person who could have done it, a man who had to live more than one lie throughout his life…Alan Turing. This film was, in a way an enigma unto itself, as the themes of homosexuality, truth vs. lies, the responsibility of having someone’s fate in your hands, adult autism, sexual equality, and types of love are woven into a standard spy thriller, based upon the true story of Alan Turing, the person who is given credit for developing concepts which led to the first computers. I liked the presentation, as even the most insignificant fact was later given importance as the story developed (Turing called his computer Christopher and his first love also had that name), or even after the movie was over and further research was completed. For instance, at the outset of the movie Alan Turing is found picking up cyanide off the floor by a police officer. At the end of the film and when I got home, I found that cyanide plays an important role at the end of Turing’s life, though the action in the film does not explain the poison. I liked this film enough to give it four and a half binoculars right now. Maybe tomorrow it will seem worthy of a five.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wild (the movie)

Wild—directed by Jean- Marc VallĂ©e/starring Reese Witherspoon with Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann, Michiel Huisman/written by Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed/run time/115 min/rated R

Bifocal Reviews by Barbara Rich and The Other Guy

(BR) Let me say this: I would have to have a gun to my head before I would ever entertain the thought of trekking up any wilderness trail, sleeping on the ground, grubbing for food, or going without a shower or a toilet for more than a day. That’s why this movie impressed me. To voluntarily decide to take this challenge is an alien concept for me. I’d rather jump out of a plane, and I’m not doing that either. Anyone who’s read my reviews knows I’m drawn to true-life stories. Hence, Wild was a must see for me. This certainly was one of Reese Witherspoon’s finest performances. I reserve my opinion about an Oscar nod, because I have yet to view the other potential nominees. Cheryl Strayed’s motivation for taking the 1000 mile journey was a personal one, because of her beloved mother’s tragic death, giving this film an extra emotional content that drew me in. Most of the dialogue though is in the head of the Strayed character, as she walks alone on this trail, including the memories of her childhood or conversations with her mother played by Laura Dern. I therefore calmly give Wild three binoculars.

(OG)  It was either a wise old woman, or a motorcycle company that once said, “It’s not the destination, but the journey.” This movie puts a blunt point on that statement, and get’s rid of the motorcycle. If you don’t know it by now, Cheryl Strayed walked the Pacific Crest Trail—it’s a fantastic wilderness trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada) and she lived to tell about it. In fact, she wrote a book about it and now it’s a movie which relives the trek for us and gets us into the mind of the woman who felt the need to do something to remember her mother by. I am glad she walked and that it influenced her life for the better. I’m really happy for her. Walking is great, and experiencing nature is also great. Great things happen to people when they test themselves and spend time alone or with Nature. There’s no question about it, but hundreds of thousands of people walk this trail every year. Each one of them has a story, just as interesting as the one in this movie. I’ve personally met hundreds of them.  Wild seemed realistic and I loved the scenery and the acting by Witherspoon. However, maybe because of the familiarity of the script, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Barbara. I give this one 3 binoculars, mostly for the acting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything-- directed by James Marsh/written by Anthony McCarten/ based upon the book by Jane Hawking/starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones/rated PG-13/2hr 23min

(B) I had been waiting anxiously to see this film. There is no single word that adequately describes Stephen Hawking. Terms and phrases like genius, or brilliant or one of kind fall short, and that would be WITHOUT the handicap! Combining this mental genius and his physical limitations only intensifies the effect of The Theory of Everything. Realizing what a challenge this role would be for an actor, made me dubious. I must say, I was not disappointed with Eddie Redmayne’s paralyzing performance (pardon the pun). He demonstrated that he was more than up to the challenge. He was, in short, flawless.  The actress who portrayed his first wife also delivered a riveting performance (she played the wife who was also the real life author of the book, from which this screenplay was written). Fear not if you think you can’t grasp the genius of Stephen Hawking. This is really a love story about someone who happens to be physically challenged but also considered the smartest man on the planet. This love story orchestrates how two unique and special individual instruments can combine to make an even more beautiful melody. I’m always drawn to biographies because I can’t wait to come home from the theater and look up the facts of the real person’s life. Without reservation I give generously 5 binoculars to this truly magnificent movie.

(OG) First, I loved The Theory of Everything. I remember reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and feeling like someone had reached into my brain and squeezed, though not in a bad way necessarily. At the time, even though I couldn’t understand much of what was written, I did grasp the special quality of the intellect, which conceived the concepts contained there. I was a very stubborn, self-righteous English major who was a little bit jealous of those who spoke the language of mathematics. There are those who respond negatively to Stephen Hawking’s message, because, honestly they have either a fear of intellect or an aversion to anyone in a wheelchair, but you don’t need to fear here. This is a movie about human emotions, those that are deep inside us and exactly the ones, which are most important, and that is what a movie is supposed to be. Near the end of The Theory of Everything, the now—decades into a life that was not supposed to last more than two years--famous Professor Hawking is asked to summarize, in a sound bite the importance of finding God. I believe that he answered the question (as always) perfectly, and you’ll have to see the movie and/or read some of Professor Hawking’s books, or watch some of his television specials to find out for yourself. Here I will tell you that what he said in this film was the message I carried away with me when I left the theater…Where there is life, there’s hope. I too give this one five binoculars. Go see it and learn about love and life from great models of human beings, one in a wheelchair who cheats death for decades, and everyone else who comes into contact with him. If you let the positive message of love touch your heart, I guarantee you won’t feel like your brain is being pulled from your skull.