Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You--Directed by Shawn Levy/screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, based upon his novel/starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, and Jane Fonda/ rated R/ 103 minutes.

Bifocal Review by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): This comedy, is about a dysfunctional family. And, whose family isn’t, in some way? The family reunites for the death of their father, who requests a shiva, even though he was not Jewish, just as a means to keep the family together for seven days (shiva, apparently means seven in Hebrew). That is Where I Leave You, gives you a peek at the individual children’s odd situations. Jason Bateman is one of the most underrated actors. I hope this film convinces the right people of his unique talent. Someone else to look at is the sibling played by Adam Driver. He is kind of a Jeff Goldblum character, only hotter. All the acting was spot on, but these two really stood out for me, and that is saying something since the rest of the troop consisted of actors like Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Timothy Olyphant, etc. Rose Byrne is well-known to me from one of my favorite series, Damages.  I love to laugh, and this comedy provided ample opportunities. I think the ending provided a twist, of sorts, that was unnecessary, but maybe this was based upon some true family story. If this is not your family, you certainly know of one just like this. This film merits four healthy binoculars.

(OG): Let me begin by saying that this movie was a winner for me. I’ve already recommended it to people whose personal tastes in film was not a concern for me. My recommendation is based purely on a personal gut feeling. This Is Where I Leave You, struck home for many. I’m from a family of five children, the second to the youngest overall and the youngest boy of two. This is not the exact same mix of siblings as in the movie, but the release comes at a similar time for my family as the one, which is portrayed (perfectly I might add) by Bateman, Fey, Driver, Hahn, and Stoll. In the movie, the father of this brood has just died—in the midst of the usual personal problems for the children—and Jane Fonda is the mother. My mother passed away last year at the end of September, one week before her 93rd birthday. My father especially (he’ll be 95 in December) and all the kids are still in the midst of mourning—all of us in our own weird ways, and with our own baggage, as in the film. Even though we are not living close by, we all still love one another and had a special relationship with our parents…not unlike EVERY family and every set of siblings, from every culture in the world. I’m not sure how much of Tropper’s story is fact-based, but he got so much of the relationships right that I hope for his sake that this is his family. Another reason the story seemed real is because it had a couple of left turns that were unnecessary for me. However, there is no question that This is Where I Leave You will stay with me (and you) for a long time. I give this one Four and ½ binoculars out of five.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Judge

Judge--directed by David Dobkin/starring Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, with Billy Bob Thornton, Ken Howard, and Dax Shepard/screenplay by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque from a story by David Dobkin and Nick Schenk/rated R/running time:2hr21min

Bifocal Reviews Written By “Ageless1der” Barbara Rich and The Other Guy

(BR): This courtroom drama opens with the death of Hank Palmer’s mother. Hank is a Chicago attorney who does not get on well with his cantankerous father, a judge in a small town, played by Robert Duvall. Hank Palmer, played by Robert Downey Jr., must return to Indiana for his mother’s funeral. The father-son relationship that is revealed during the course of this movie, is the real fuel that drives this intriguing tale. Duvall and Downey are so compelling on screen. There is a veritable fountain of emotions that spill between the two. The co-stars that support this drama are all very well cast and add just the right amount of icing on this tasty piece of film work. There was too much unnecessary family background, which inflated the length of this movie. I think 20 minutes could have been cut. That is my only minus in critique. I loved the film and it easily deserves four and a half binoculars.

(OG): I have been a fan of Robert Duvall’s since he first peeked our from behind the porch door as Boo Radley in the classic film-based-on-my-favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Then, think about the plethora of roles that are forever better because he was the actor who played the part. I’m talking about everything from True Grit, Bullit, Mash and The Godfather trilogy all the way to Apocalypse Now, The Great Santini, The Natural, Phenomenon and Jack Reacher. For every film I named there are at least 10 more that we all love and we think of as a classic Duvall role. Now, put into the mix Robert Downey Jr. (who I think is the absolute epitome of the perfect character actor), mix it up with Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton and the rest of the cast and you can see why this was a very enjoyable 2 hours and 21 minutes for me. I cannot help but think, however that Downey Jr. and Duvall’s skills helped raise the game for everyone else who were a part of this one. I think I would have liked it even if the story was not interesting and compelling. I will be surprised if there are not several awards contenders in this stable of consummate actors. To quote Barbara Rich…Kudos, and as close to five binoculars as possible—still leaving me some wiggle room for a few more films I intend to see this season. Finally, I have to say something about the title. Everyone I talk to, and many critics keeps calling this film The Judge, but from what I can see and what I read on the screen when I saw this film...there is NO "The."




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gone Girl

Gone GirlDirected by David Fincher/starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, with Emily Ratajkowski, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry/novel and screenplay written by Gillian Flynn/rated R/ 2hrs 30min

Bifocal Reviews by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR) This film’s take on the gripping novel by Gillian Flynn translates as just as engaging--with all the twists and turns of the original--to keep the audience guessing throughout the movie. Kudos to Rosamund Pike who is very convincing in her role as the missing wife of Ben Affleck. Clue cards are conveniently left, and these, in addition to a handwritten diary help to solve the mystery at the core of the story, but this film is more about a marriage than anything else. Both leading roles are constantly changing because of their mood swings. Getting into the heads of these two main characters is a challenge. Carrie Coon is impressive as the twin sister who stays loyal, in spite of the odds, in supporting her brother, Ben Affleck’s claim of innocence. The other supporting roles were adequate. This is one movie that the story is greater than the performers, which has not been the case with most of the films this year, where the actors outshined the stories. I will not be accused of popping spoilers to ruin this movie, for you if you haven’t seen it yet or haven’t read the book…so I will quit here.  The movie is a little long and the ending, I understand, is different from the book, but definitely worth viewing. For me, this one is worth 3 ½ binoculars.

 (OG) It’s not a new thing to try and posit a completely preposterous scenario in a novel then stick to your storytelling guns come Hell or high water. I’ve been accused of jumping on the “too many twists” bandwagon, myself from time to time; this tends to make a story a little hard to follow, though. Not the case here, as the story is easy to follow: Two people get married and live together for seven years, but they just don’t know anything about themselves or each other…and one of them is a psychotic killer who has exhibited no signs or anti social behavior in these seven years. I’ll leave it at this…3 binoculars out of 5…and not


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Barbara Interviews LEE SILVER, legendary record producer

Often, when we think of our favorite times, or even our favorite movies, tv shows or other events the first thing that comes to mind is a song. Our most recently recorded BIFOCALS, for Channel 6 and L&L Magazine, covered a lot of territory, but also featured the legendary record producer Lee Silver, AKA Buddy Stuart. Lee sat down for a one-on-one with Barbara on the set prior to the show's taping. Here is the first half of that show,which can also be seen in its entirety on L&L Magazine and on our YouTube channel (grichiusa):



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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Drop

The Drop--Directed by Michaƫl R. Roskam/Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, Bob Saginowski/ written by Dennis Lehane, based on his short story/rated R/107 min

Bifocal Reviews by “Ageless1der” Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR):I just wanted to get a break from the intense heat and cool down in
the theater.  I was pleasantly surprised. Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace
are well cast in this film. Tom Hardy, especially impressed me with his quiet yet powerful delivery, very reminiscent of Steve McQueen, who said so much with so little dialog. I also realized how much I am missing James
Gandolfini. He was just perfect in is final role as Cousin Marv who owned a bar where money drops were made to keep the dirty cash moving.  As with most of the films this year, the stories are lacking. The cast of actors and their performances raised the bar.  Last year had much more clout in its storylines.  Nevertheless, I was entertained and comfortably cool.


(OG): Other than the fact that this was James Gandolfini’s final performance, I knew nothing about the movie. For that reason, there were several elements that were pleasant surprises, Tom Hardy being one of them. He was perfectly cast and basically dominated the screen, even when it was obvious that his character was trying to look inconspicuous. Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini are the epitome of professionalism. They always act at the exact level as everyone else in the scene. That was perfect for this film, because the story, if examined closely, might have been a little thin. The great acting helped me to suspend disbelief and accept the basic premises of the movie. In the end, that’s all one can ever ask for. I give The Drop a three as well, so the average (with Barbara’s score) is Three Binoculars.