Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

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.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Mr Holmes

Mr. Holmes—Directed by Bill Condon/ from a novel by Mitch Cullin/Starring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hattie Morahan/rated PG/ 1hr 44 min

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Yet another layer of the notorious Sherlock Holmes character. In this story, we see Sherlock in his latter years of life, as he endeavors to compile the evidence of his final case. This film ping pongs back and forth between Mr. Holmes’ recollections (which are becoming more and more difficult to recall, as age has started to take its toll on the once sharp mind of the protagonist) and his current living situation. Ian McKellen can do no wrong in my book. He takes every role and becomes the character he is portraying. This film moved too slowly for me, making it seem longer than it really was. I needed more action and, I think the final case that is engaging the character’s every moment, was just not that interesting to me. There was nothing really wrong with the other performances, or the story itself, but as a major motion picture, this falls short. I give Mr. Holmes just two binoculars out of five, even though McKellen on his own deserves five.

(OG): My perception of the film is much different than Barbara’s, and it just goes to show you how different two views of the same movie can be. I found the story extremely interesting, as Mr. Holmes turns his powers of deduction to sorting the evidence of his own forgotten life, while keeping a keen Holmsian-eye on his current affairs. In a way, it is the ONLY Sherlock Holmes case, which could do the elderly and newly forgetful detective justice. He had to unravel the particulars of his own forgotten life while trying to establish relationships in the new, real world. That, in my opinion was a brilliant twist to the character. In addition, I enjoyed Laura Linney’s performance. Also, the young man who inspires Sherlock to follow the evidence of his past while teaching the boy scientific secrets in the present, reminded me greatly of Phillip Alford, Jem in the Gregory Peck version of To Kill A Mockingbird. I’ve always been a Conan Doyle fan. Now I can be a Mitch Cullin fan…while still enjoying one of my favorite characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes. I give this one four binoculars.

Friday, June 5, 2015

I'll See You In My Dreams--movie

I’ll See You In My Dreams—directed by Brett Haley, starring Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place, screenplay written by Brett Haley, Marc Basch, 1hr35min, rated PG-13

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) This film particularly appealed to me because—I can’t believe I’m saying this—I am a senior. I will draw from this, some of the many gems that make the senior years golden, keeping current, having friends, letting go of the past, and treasuring life to the utmost. The spirits ran high for all these great characters, especially the women, supplied in this film. They were up for almost anything. As said so many times before: It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years that matter. Kudos to all the cast for a great job, and a high five to Brett Haley for both directing and writing this keen insight into senior living. The added bonus, Sam Elliot is still such a hunk-of-hubba-hubba. If I had to pick one special scene, however, it was all the women walking home from the market with a cart full of munchies, after imbibing in some “California Gold” of their own…otherwise known as medical marijuana. This was too funny. I give it three and one half binoculars out of five. It’s not a blockbuster, but totally entertaining.

(OG) What an incredible cast! You really get to see how casting is often the difference between failure and success in filmmaking. Whoever convinced all these wonderful elder actors to appear in the same, clever, senior-tale really struck it rich. Besides Danner and Starr (not a senior, but perfect for his role), each character had at least one memorable line that was expertly delivered. This was a smart, and funny, and sad, and poignant look at how living in the present is vitally important at any age.
This film earns four out of five binoculars from me, but I won’t be surprised if the awards season is sprinkled with a patina of silver-grey hair.