Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
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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.

5 Flights Up--movie

5 Flights Up—Directed by Richard Loncraine, screenplay written by Charlie Peters, starring starring Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, with Cynthia Nixon, rated PG-13, 1hr 32mins

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) Morgan Freeman has always been one of my favorite actors, but I don’t think that is the only reason I enjoyed this movie. And, in this film, Morgan does not disappoint because he is coupled with Diane Keaton…also a legend. As the title indicates, a married couple in their 70s, were climbing five flights of stairs, in a Manhattan apartment that they have owned together for forty years. There is no elevator. So, they decide to sell their home and find another place to live with an elevator. Their decision to sell their property presents a lot of poignant moments and reminiscing of their early years in this apartment. Cynthia Nixon plays a real estate agent who is aggressive about selling this now valuable piece of property. This situation provides fuel for the coming and going of prospective clients (characters all) who shine various lights upon the main plotlines and conflicts. I don’t want to give the whole story away, because I do recommend that you see this with an open mind. However, if you are NOT a New Yorker and not familiar with the New York (especially Manhattan) real estate market, you might be in for sticker-shock, as I was …and I lived in New Jersey for the first 27 years of my life. I give this film 3 ½ binoculars.

(OG) Let’s face it. You cannot go wrong with Morgan Freeman OR Diane Keaton. Either one of these great actors (and character voices) could carry, even the reading of the phone book (as the saying goes). It just so happens that the story has glimmers of thoughtfulness and humor beyond just getting these two on camera together. Oh, and by the way, this is the second movie in a row (I’ll See You In My Dreams, was the other) where dog lovers will be drawn into the tale in a separate, but equal way. I enjoyed myself and give 5 Flights 4 out of 5 Binoculars.

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.