Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies—2hrs 21 mins/directed by Steven Spielberg/ screenplay written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen/starring Tom Hanks,Mark Rylance/Alan Alda/music Thomas Newman/ PG-13

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR):  This movie was intriguing. Any movie that is based on a true story always gets my attention. The generation where this takes place is without the technology that is familiar today. Bridge of Spies takes you back to a time when simple communication methods were used, which only made the movie more exciting and realistic. Things like not having a cell phone at your disposal, waiting for the phone to ring, running from and to phone booths and the sound of air raid sirens brought back waves of a strange nostalgia. Tom Hanks, playing the good guy was very convincing, as usual. Playing the real life James Donovan (his memoir is the basis for this film) he defended a real life enemy of the state, but the old fashioned “everyone deserves a fair trial” attitude that seems to have also gone by the wayside. In fact, James Donovan received a lot of opposition for his defense stance, but in the end his methods were not only kind, but successful in achieving the ultimate goal, which was the exchange. Donovan was eventually given the credit for being the hero that he deserved. I give this movie four out of five binoculars, and wished I had seen Bridge of Spies long before and in place of four or five other loudly touted films which did not live up to a Best Picture standard, but are also nominated.

(OG): I guess I should not be surprised that Steven Spielberg, with Thomas Newman music, a script co-written by the Coen brothers with Matt Charman and starring actors of Tom Hanks’ caliber would be an Oscar contender, but somehow this movie snuck up on me. I never saw this Best Picture contender coming. This was billed as a Soviet Cold War thriller that lacked any special effects or attempts to bombard the senses with chase scenes or mind numbing explosions. Hanks plays an insurance lawyer who is picked to first defend a communist spy in the midst of Soviet/Nuclear hysteria, then negotiate a very complicated prisoner exchange. He tries to convince everyone, including the audience that he is NOT the right man for either job. By the end of the film, however, you cannot see how anyone else but he could have accomplished either task. As for the script, I liked especially how doing the right thing took precedent over political-expediency and in the end, everyone wins. I give this film five binoculars out of five.

The Revenant

The Revenant—2 hrs 36 mins/Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu/starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy/
Screenplay by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith from a Story by: Michael Punke/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): Finally, a movie I feel is totally deserving of a Best Picture Oscar! I feel that a movie, to get a best picture nomination (let alone award) should be a cut above the rest. Some of the other nominees were good, and some were downright mediocre. The Revenant checks off all categories as top notch. Leonardo DiCaprio gave a compelling performance and is also most worthy of the best actor Oscar. I loved everything about this film. One of the most engaging examples of human survival instinct, as Leo’s character, first survives a bear attack and then, while hanging onto life by a thread, under the most unsanitary conditions imaginable, was driven by blind rage to ignore his wounds and pursue his son’s killer. While Leo’s character has little dialogue his acting ability says more than any words could express. The other actors are also good, the scenery is spectacular, but this is definitely a DiCaprio showcase. I give this one five out of five binoculars.

(OG): I’m not sure what this award-year will bring, but I have to reiterate that without a movie like The Revenant, the Best Picture category would be pretty sparse for me. This film was interesting, and a joy to watch from beginning to end, from multiple directions. I was drawn into the film with the opening battle and subsequent fightscenes’ realism. The director, Iñárritu, slowed things down enough to show how, on a battlefield, chaos often reigns. Guns were discharging accidentally and combatants were shooting their own men. In hand-to-hand bouts, with heavy padded clothing, fighters often run out of energy before anyone really wins or loses. Then, there was the bear attack. That was brilliantly shot, acted and recreated. I could not see a single seam between live and computer generated action…assuming there were any. There was no wasted scenes. Everything was paced perfectly. This was the first time this year that a movie was this long and felt SHORTER than the actual running time for me. I give this one five binoculars.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Martian

The Martian—2 hrs 22 mins/ directed by Ridley Scott/ screenplay by Drew Goddard/ Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels/ rated PG-13

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): I don’t know what to say about The Martian. It’s not really my kind of movie. It kind of laid flat for me but even at that, it left me questioning humanity’s quirky behaviors. Why would the world ban together to save one astronaut’s life, even while risking the lives of many others? That premise of this film is what appears to be drawing enthusiastic fans to this movie (even the Other Guy in the review below, for example), but it just made me feel like there are so many deserving people on this planet, right now, who need and deserve our help, who we should be banding together to rescue from so many real and immediate problems…Why doesn’t that sense of human responsibility permeate into real problems and real lives? Is it the media, the big budget movie marketing that makes us all want to be heroes? Or, is this something that is built in? Maybe I’m not getting my point across. Human beings often work together to save others, from danger, armies, or the Earth itself (as with miners who have been trapped in a shaft). I just feel like the everyday friend, parent, stranger, who brings even one human being back from the edge of sadness or despair with a smile, a joke or a gesture that changes the course that one human life for the better…aren’t they really the heroes who we should be trying to emulate? Isn’t that worth making a movie about? I give the film itself only two binoculars.

(OG): I think I probably liked the idea of this film as much, or perhaps a little more than I liked watching the actual, whole thing. I don’t know what’s going on with filmmakers these days, but everything I’ve seen lately (with the exception of a very few, such as YOUTH) is simply too much bang for the buck. Cutting what I felt was an extra twenty-two minutes may have made a difference, but it’s hard to say. Anyway, what I liked was the premise that human beings care about one another so much, that if one person is left on Mars, we would all join forces to save them. I have faith in humanity and believe that this film caters to what is good in people, and highlights a positive core characteristic in a way that few other films have ever done. Then, of course, you have Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels in another Ridley Scott crafted visual. I give this film three and ½ binoculars. It’s well worth it.

Brooklyn--the movie

Brooklyn—1 hr 52 mins/ rated PG-13/Director: John Crowley/ written by Nick Hornby, based on Colm Tóibín's novel of the same name/starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): How refreshing! This is a movie that we can all go and see without it being an animated cartoon. I guess, because of my age and generation, I’ve heard many similar stories about my own ancestors and relatives of family and friends coming to America. As a New Jersey born, second-generation Italian-American, I heard many tales about people coming through New York on their way to a new life…specifically, Ellis Island. That type of nostalgia is very appealing to me. How brave a person must be to leave their loved ones, their native country and venture into a whole new realm, overflowing with opportunities and newness. Just for a moment, picture yourself leaving whatever you possess, right now, that is familiar, comfortable and loved, to strike out into the unknown. This kind of cultural adventure is simply staggering to me. Yet, people did this all the time, in even greater numbers than they do today, perhaps. With that as the backstory, BROOKLYN had some very convincing performances. I loved seeing the innocence of that time portrayed with pitch-perfect emotion. A seemingly simple scene turned poignant, was when, for example the main character has to buy a bathing suit, and then reveal herself on the beach for the first time. It may not seem like much here, but it was the kind of detail that made the movie enjoyable for me. I give this film three-and-a-half binoculars.

(OG): This was a sweet little story. There were no car crashes, no fight scenes, no deaths of unusual circumstance, and most of all no male character overshadowing the women in the film or hogging screen time. This was not a suspense thriller and the main character didn’t resort to unsavory methods of survival. This was a slice of life, the good old-fashion life that everyone keeps harping about these days, a slice of immigration life, the kind that built our country into the great nation that it is. Another interesting thing for me, when you strip away all the violence, fluff and rancor that has become so commonplace in today’s storytelling--that many now believe that blood or sex equals a plot or storyline-- you have a sweet little story about an Irish girl—a Catholic girl who meets a nice Italian boy, neither of which wants to jump into bed at their first meeting--who comes to America on a boat (like so many of our ancestors) and finds not only love, but self worth. I like that; I give Brooklyn four binoculars, one for the story and three for a wonderfully reserved acting job by Ronan.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Trainwreck—2 hrs 5 mins/directed by Judd Apatow, written by and starring Amy Schumer/ also starring Bill Hader, with Marisa Tomei, Tilda Swinton/rated R

Bifocal Reviews written by Ageless1der Barbara Rich & The Other Guy

(BR): I found this film funny. However, it was too crude, too raw for my tastes. Amy is funny to me, has a great, quick delivery without always having to go to the same well for every punch line. I love the fact that she’s comfortable in her own skin, and I think she is a positive role model, in this regard for all women. Whatever anyone can do to help others become comfortable with themselves’, is great by me. It’s not that she makes every joke about sex…she doesn’t, but when she does the lewdness overshadows. After two hours of this, I’ve had more than my share and I’m not left wanting more. I can enjoy Amy Schumer in small doses…an HBO Special perhaps, that I can pause and return to over the course of a week or a month, but a movie? Not so much. That’s just one lens on this Bifocal Review, just my opinion. I give this one two binoculars.

(OG): Here’s what I think: Amy Schumer is Mae West for the millennial generation. Now that I think of it, she even looks like Ms. West! I was not disappointed with this film, because I didn’t go into it expecting any more than what I got. It’s a good way to pass two hours of time, and then, when people ask (and this seems to be inevitable these days) “Did you see Trainwreck? Isn’t Amy funny?” I can answer, “Yes,” to cover both questions and then move quickly on to another topic. I will be slightly more generous than Barbara on this one and give TRAINWRECK 2 and 1/2 binoculars. Men, see this movie to get a glimpse on how modern women, probably really think.