Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
'Cloud Atlas' is a film that some people, like myself, will find absolutely brilliant, while others, like John (the other half of 'Two Jews On Film') will feel just the opposite.
Some critics have already called it prententious as well as an indulgent mess. All these varying opinions simply prove one thing...When it comes to movies, art, music, culture...it's all so subjective.. Therefore, my suggestion, is...go see this film and judge for yourself.
'Cloud Atlas' directed and written by Lana Wachowski and her brother Andy of the 'Matrix' fame along with Tom Tykwe ('Run Lola Run') is based on David Mitchell's best selling novel of the same name.
The film spans five centuries and explores how the actions and consequences of individuals impact one another through the past, present and future. Characters meet and reunite...Are born and reborn. And...everything and everyone is connected.
One soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. 'Cloud Atlas begins in 2346, and in 1849, 1936, 2012, 2144 and back to 2346.
The film is part action, mystery, romance, scifi, fantasy and even at times, a comedy. There are six stories and the actors including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, James D' Arcy, Hugh Grant, David Gyasi, Hugo Weaving, Ben Winshaw and the memorizing Doona Baein, play six different characters and they are all extraordinary, transcending genders in some cases.
When the film begins we meet Tom Hanks, a one eyed goat herder living in post apocalyptic Hawaii and then in 1849 as an evil ship's doctor. In 2012, he's a balding skinhead who becomes a pop star after he throws a critic off the roof.
Two of Halle's characters are a crusading San Francisco journalist in 1973 and the last survivor of a lost civilization in 2345..
One of my favorite character that Jim Sturgess plays is a a robot warrior from the future living in New Seoul. He falls in love with a sexy, socially outlawed genetically cloned slave,Sonmi-451 (Doona Baein) who spends her brief existence as a compliant restaurant server.
With the help of Sturgess, she starts gains enlightenment and starts a revolution.
I could write pages about this complex, intriguing, fascinating film, but then why would you go see it...And see it, you must.
"Cloud Atlas' opens in theatres, Friday October 26, 2012 and I gave it 4 1/2 bagels out of 5. Check out our video to see what John thought of this film and what I thought about his critique.and bagel rating.
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October 18, 2012 | 4:34 pm
Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
Every so often a film comes along that lifts your spirits...That makes you feel like anything and everything is possible.
'The Sessions' starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt is just such a film.
This is the true story of a man named Mark O'Brien, who lived in Berkely CA in the 1980's.
Mark is different from most people. He contacted polio as a child and is confined to an Iron Lung. The only part of his body that isn't paralyzed, is his head, which he can move slightly to the side. He is also dependent on a breathing tube and a caregiver.
But this isn't the tale of a disabled dude that lies around feeling sorry for himself.
On the contrary, Mark is a man who defeated the odds and not only graduated college, but went on to become a journalist and a poet.
The story begins in 1988 and as soon as you meet Mark, you can't help but like him. He's an intelligent, insightful guy, with a killer sense of humor....Oh and at the age of 38, he's still a virgin. And Mark wants to do something about that..
You see even though Mark's body is frail his penis works just fine.
Mark, a devout catholic, confesses to his priest (the wonderful William Macy) that he wants to know a woman in the biblical way.and asks him if this is wrong. After giving it some thought, the Father says GO FOR IT.
So with the Priest's blessing, Mark sets out to lose his virginity. He finds a sex surrogate, Cheryl (Helen Hunt) who has sexual intercourse with her clients and Mark's life will never be the same.
There are many reasons why I loved this film, but the two main ones are...John Hawkes and Helen Hunt who are absolutely amazing. Come Oscar time, they will be on everyone's list.
'The Sessions' written and directed by Ben Lewin is a film that will touch your heart. It will make you laugh, cry and definitely...inspire you. It's one of those movies that stays with you way after the credits roll and the lights come on.
And it's a film that John and I actually agreed on. That's right. We both gave it 4 1/2 bagels out of 5.
Check out our video to find out what else we thought about 'The Sessions' which opens in theatres Friday, October 19th, 2012.
October 10, 2012 | 7:07 pm
Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
Ten years ago, Scott Voss (Kevin James) was an excellent high school biology teacher. He was even voted 'Teacher Of The Year'. But ten years is a long time.
FLASH forward to the present...Scott couldn't care less about teaching. He works only to bring home a paycheck and is completely disillusioned with a school system that treats students like 'cattle'...who's only interested in moving them in and out, as quickly and as cheaply as possible..
For some reason, this wakes up the apathetic Scott and he tries to rally the other teachers and the staff to help him raise the $48,000 needed to keep the department going. Unfortunately, the only person interested in helping is Bella, (Salma Hayek) the school nurse, who Scott has been trying to date for over an year, only to get shot down by her over and over again.
Scott even takes a night job, teaching citizenship, to immigrants, for some extra money. It's here, that he meets ex Mix Martial Arts fighter, Nikko (Bas Rutten). Nikko needs some extra help in learning the finer points of our governemnt, so Scott agrees to tutor him.
When he goes over Nikko's house for their first lesson, he finds the fighter and several of his friends watching the UFC fight from Vegas on the t.v. . To his amazement, Voss discovers that a fighter can make up to $10,000 just for competing in one of these fights, and that's if he...loses.
Right then and there Scott, who just happens to be an ex college wrestling champ, realizes that this is the answer to school's money problems. Scott will become a MMA fighter and win the money. Oh and Nikko will become his trainer.
Piece of cake right?
Not exactly and that's what makes 'Here Comes The Boom' directed by Frank Coraci and written by Kevin James, Allan Loeb and Rock Reuben, a funny and yes, heartwarming film about how, it's.never to late to go after your dream, even if everyone around you thinks your nuts.
Yes, this film may be a little corny, predicitable and yes...we've seen it before with 'Rocky', 'Remember The Titans' and countless other films. It's the classic story of the underdog beating the odds. But so what?
The formula still works and in this crazy world, I believe that there's always room for one more 'feel good' movie and for that reason... I gave 'Here Comes The Boom' which opens in theatres, Friday, October 12, 2012...4 bagels out of 5.
Check out our video to a) Here John sing and b) see what he thought of the film.
October 8, 2012 | 11:01 am
Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
What does one little Shih Tzu named BONNY, Seven Psychopaths and one screenwriter suffering from writer's block have in common? Everything...At least in my favorite film of 2012 so far...
Screenwriter, Marty Faranan (Colin Farrel) is way past his deadline on his latest screenplay. If that's not enough to cause the poor dude major stress, his passive-aggressive girlfriend, Kaya (Abbie Cornish) is about to walk out on him.
Lucky for Marty, his BFF sometime actor/full time dognapper, Billy (Sam Rockwell, in a tour de force performance) is sticking by him...Actually a little too much. In fact, it's Billy's well-intentioned attempts to help his friend get over his writer's block, that sends Marty's life spiraling out of control.
You see, Billy is completely NUTS. He's one of the 7 Psychos. When he's not pursuing acting jobs, he along with his partner, Hans (the brilliant Christopher Walken in a part tailored made for him) are dognappers.
That's right folks...The pair steal dogs, keep them for a day or two and then return them to the distraught owners for a hefty reward. Things are going smoothly for Hans and Billy until...THEY STEAL THE WRONG DOG.
The dog is a Shih Tzu and his name is BONNY. The little guy belongs to an off the wall crazy gangster, aka psychopath, named Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson at his best) Charlie loves Bonny to the point of obsession. You can't really blame him. The little four legged guy is adorable.
The scene between him and his dog sitter, Sharice (Gabourey Sidibe) who he blames for the kidnapping is absolutely priceless.
Anyway Charlie vows to kill whoever took his dog and he sets out to find those responsible. Suddenly, Billy, Marty and Hans find themselves going on one of the wildest rides of their life and that's just one of the elements that makes... 'Seven Psychopaths freaking brilliant.
The acting, the dialogue, the twists, the turns, the originality of the story, makes this the MUST SEE film of the year. It was written and directed by the super talented, academy award winner, Martin McDonagh ('In Bruges') who is also an award winning playwright as well.
The cast also includes Tom Waits, as the rabbit loving psychopath, Zachariah and Olga Kurylenko a psychopath groupie who is far from normal as they come.
I gave 'Seven Psychopaths' opens in theatres, Friday October 12, 2012 5 BIG bagels with the works. I absolutely loved everything about it and I bet you will too. John came in pretty close with his rating...which is something, considering how critical we all know he is.
Check out our video to see what Mango, our Pek has to say and more of our thoughts as well.
October 4, 2012 | 4:39 pm
Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
'Taken 2', a sequel to the very highly successful 2008 film, 'Taken' which made 230 million dollars, once again stars the very tall, very talented, Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, ex CIA agent extraordinaire.
The film has great action, edge of your seats thrills and many...unintentional, funny moments, that had me LMAO.
For example...(don't worry this isn't a SPOILER)...During one very intense scene in the film, Bryan is on the phone with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) who's hiding from the bad guys in their hotel room. He tells her to...'Grab a couple of grenades, a couple of guns but as you walk through the lobby...LOOK CASUAL'.
Hey, I always look casual when carrying a submachine gun...Don't you? Okay so, 'Taken 2' written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (writers of the first one) has some over the top dialogue and several implausible scenes...including...
One where Kim, who's failed her driving test several times, because she cannot parallel park, drives a taxi, as if she's Mario Andretti on SPEED, through the streets of Istanbul, evading bullets and bad guys...while her daddy, who's in the passenger seat, shoots at their evil Albanian pursuers, as he screams...'Go faster Kim...Go faster...faster'.
Get the picture? Anyway if you're wondering why all this is happening, you have to FLASHBACK to the scene in the first 'Taken' when, Bryan tied the sleezy dude who kidnapped Kim, to a chair and proceeded to electrocute him, over and over again.
Turns out, sleezy dude's daddy, Albanian gangsta, Murad (Rade Sherbedgia) wants big time revenge against Bryan. Can't really blame him...He was the cutest of his four sons.
So when he finds out that Bryan and his wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and daughter Kim are in Istanbul, Murad and his band of not so merry men, head for Turkey, to kidnap them and do what angry, hate-filled Abanian bad guys do best.
'Taken 2' directed by Olivier Megaton ('Transporter 3) has car chases, gun battles, and close up hand to hand combat by the very charismatic, Liam Neeson.
Yes, you can spot what's going to happen a mile away, but it's still fun...Just don't think about it too much. For that reason I gave 'Taken 2' which opens in theaters Friday October 6, 2012, 3 1/2 bagels out of 5.
John was not so bagel generous. Check out our video to see what he thought and to see some of my excellent karate moves.
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