Won the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award.… MoreWon the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award. Disappointing that writer-director-producer Jon Stewart didn't get more recognition for his first feature film effort. It is well done and I will surely follow his post-Daily Show career, particularly if he continues to tell true stories like this. Bernal's portrayal of Maziar Bahari is just right as the focus of the story. Aghdashloo as his mother shows great strength. The way Bahari describes his sister and his father and their involvement in Iranian political protests as the source of his will to survive was powerful. There is symbolism about the use of rosewater in religious rituals, but, since I haven't read Bahari's memoir, I did not realize that the lead prison interrogator's nickname is Rosewater until I looked at the IMDb cast list. Danish Kim Bodnia plays the intimidating prison strong arm who seems to want out of this career of torture and paranoia. I'm curious to know more about this character. So, the title and how the opening montage connects to the interrogator could have been more clear. Overall, the international cast and immediacy of the events make for an extraordinary drama.
A bureaucrat faces the drudgery of his existence when he learns he… MoreA bureaucrat faces the drudgery of his existence when he learns he will die of cancer. His son and daughter-in-law argue constantly over how to use the life insurance money and wish to avoid any scandal to their family name. Watanabe (Shimura) tries living the high life for once. He belatedly sows wild oats at various post-war clubs with a new "friend," an alcoholic beat poet type guy. Watanabe has a chaste May-December romance with a young lady from his government office. She admits that everyone at the office has nicknamed him "The Mummy." Miki Odagiri plays the girl, Toyo. She is a unique creation of post-war Japan, a modern woman. Watanabe has trouble expressing himself after years of suppressing his emotions. It was sad to think that not every man engages in this kind of soul searching, like my father, who passed about three years before I watched this. Or, at least, my father never expressed this sort of inner struggle. This is the first non-samurai picture by Kurosawa that I've seen. Watanabe eventually vows to cut through the red tape of his profession and do some public good, which baffles most of his family and colleagues. This film is slowly paced, especially at Watanabe's memorial service where the attendees can't quite understand the self-reflective man's late-life decision To Live.
Take a trip around the Warner Brothers backlot and studio facilities.… MoreTake a trip around the Warner Brothers backlot and studio facilities. The tour guides share a little history. Department heads show off the paints, props, and costume warehouses. Current celebrity filmmakers such as Clint Eastwood and Christopher Nolan talk about their experiences.
James Franco follows the making of an SNL episode in 2008. He and his… MoreJames Franco follows the making of an SNL episode in 2008. He and his crew observe when John Malkovich hosted for the third time. This doc covers the whole week from writing to rehearsing to the live taping. Quite frankly Franco is self-serving in joking around with Bill Hader and doesn't delve very deep into what truly makes the show. It feels like a student film. It takes you behind the scenes, but does not look to the history of Saturday Night Live.
Director Herk Harvey's only feature film. Star Candace Hilligoss's… MoreDirector Herk Harvey's only feature film. Star Candace Hilligoss's first horror feature in her short film career. Like Romero's original Night of the Living Dead from '68 the ultra-low budget of this original Carnival of Souls benefits the production. It felt like an extended Twilight Zone episode. It is quite slow to get moving in the beginning and it keeps the audience off balance since it is unclear where the narrative thread is going or exactly where it has been in the past. This confusion only adds to the eerie feeling and suspense. We see some real horror in a creepy guy with unsavory intentions for Mary (Hilligoss) at the cheap apartment building where she seeks a room. There are several well constructed shocks as Mary loses touch with reality. The abandoned carnival where ghouls like to party is a one-of-a-kind setting and great fun.
I enjoyed the costuming and production design especially for the early… MoreI enjoyed the costuming and production design especially for the early 1700s and 1800s scenes. An interesting look at the lives of vampires through the centuries. Anne Rice adapted her own novel, which was even more rare for an author to do in the mid-90s. The romantic, soft-glow, pasty-white, angsty mood throughout with sudden bouts of manic bloodshed did nothing for me. I couldn't latch onto any of the characters, not Slater's out-of-his-element journalist, not Dunst's not-so-innocent child bride, not Banderas's or Rea's European entertainer-amoralist blood-suckers, not Pitt's pouty-whiny-upstanding victim, nor Cruise's pretty-boy, self-serving, corrupting influence.
This heartfelt doc is available on Netflix. This is the story of a… MoreThis heartfelt doc is available on Netflix. This is the story of a real life Mr. Holland's Opus. With lots of archival footage and recordings and present day interviews this film illustrates the impact one music teacher had over 35 years. "Prof" turned a high school jazz band in the mid to late 70s into an award winning, touring, album making funk band. Great music throughout! Now, alumni from the band reunite to honor "Prof" at a Kashmere High School tribute concert. You probably lack a soul if you don't shed at least a few tears.