Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Which Ones Will YOU See, Or Have Seen?

OK, so let's go to the movies.
This is the day that Oscar nominations were announced so it seems as good a time as ever to tell you about some of the movies we've seen lately. Here they are:

Allied directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard with a screenplay by Steven Knight is the story of intelligence officer Max Vatan, who in 1942 North Africa encounters French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Reunited in London, their relationship is threatened by the extreme pressures of the war.
This movie is an old-fashioned romantic thriller, lushly filmed with a 1940s feel to it. It's a joy to watch Pitt and Cotillard together. They remind you of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Did they have an actual romance during the filming and is this what broke up Branjelina? We couldn't care less. This movie has a believable, compelling narrative and outstanding performances by a wonderful cast lead by two of the most beautiful people in the world. And so what if it takes its time to unfold? So much the better! You can probably stream Allied now through any one of a number of in-home services. Do it!

Jackie is director Pablo LarraĆ­n's searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. With a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim Jackie places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination. Natalie Portman gives an extraordinary performance as Jackie and has received a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar nomination for this outing. We can't praise her enough.
But Jackie is a tough film to watch, infused with weird and shrieking sounds to evoke terror and the bloody hues of a horrific event. People who lived through those days may not want to relive them and those who did not live through it all, sadly, may not even care. This is a psychological portrait of a woman on the brink -- a woman who, consciously or unconsciously created a captivating myth to help her and the country deal with an unspeakably violent act that marked the day the music died.

Paterson is about a young man named Paterson (Adam Driver) who lives in Paterson, New Jersey. Directed and written by Jim Jarmusch, this small, independent film depicts one week, beginning on Monday, in the life of a hardworking bus driver who follows the same routine every day. He observes the city and listens to fragments of conversations while picking up and dropping off his passengers. Paterson also writes heartfelt poems in a notebook, walks his dog and drinks one beer each night in a nearby bar. Waiting for him at home is Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), his beloved wife who champions his gift for writing.
Incredible as it may seem, this is simply a film about everyday life centering on two seemingly ordinary people, their daily existence and their human-scaled hopes and dreams. The film moves at its own uneventful pace, just like real life. And, thanks to the incredibly natural, seamless performance of Driver (one of our finest young actors) it has a zen-like quality. It's almost as if it's all told in real time. In the end, the film itself turns out to be a sort of poem.

The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc, the man who built the McDonald's fast food empire. Kroc, a salesman from Illinois, met Mac and Dick McDonald, who were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California. Kroc was impressed by the brothers' speedy system of making the food and saw franchise potential. He maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the company from the brothers and create a billion-dollar empire. Michael Keaton plays Kroc in this outing written by Robert D. Siegel and directed by John Lee Hancock. Kroc is a hard-nosed, hard driving, hard-drinking businessman and not a very nice person. He's intense, impatient and dismissive of anything or anyone who might get in his way and that includes the McDonald brothers and his first wife played by Laura Dern.
There's really not a lot of character development here so we're often left to wonder why the principal players in this drama act the way they do. A shrug here, a raised eyebrow there, and more than a few slammed phones tell us: You figure it out. And obviously, the whole thing is not very kindly disposed toward capitalism. Still, if you want to know the real story of how McDonald's came to be, here it is.

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