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Night Catches Us

A beautiful film about America's painful past
Watching this film was a deeply moving experience for me. So many times we think we know something about a certain period in history and time, but we don't have a real grasp of the impact the events had on real people, how deep it cut, and how people had to struggle to survive.

In 1976 Philly the remnants of Black Panther movement is transforming itself, and we get to watch how different people choose their directions in life. It was eye-opening to understand how these choices will play out in today's Philly, today's America, 35 years later. The tragic events of the early 70's are bleeding into the love triangle that evolves, and the pain is palpable, thanks to beautiful, thoughtful performances by Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie and an overall very strong cast.

The director's approach to film-making is essentially European in storytelling style, she employs different visual media modes from documentary to animation without a cheesy effect, and the main characters are complex and believable.

The movie is easy to watch, you root for the people you meet in it, and it allows you to explore simple, yet important questions - how would you act under pressure, who would you choose above all, what sacrifices you would make in life and how do you live with the aftermath of your decisions. Leaving a movie theater and still pondering over these questions a few days later - now, that's a rare occurrence these days.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Most enjoyable summer PG flick
I watched this with my 5 and 8 years old kids, and my 28 years old cynical-New-Yorker baby sister. I'm in my mid 30's and normally prefer Fellini over Scorsese.All 4 of us enjoyed this movie on completely different levels. I was especially melted by my kids' reactions - that's an additional show that every parent will enjoy.

Don't look for the artsy motives - just enjoy the robust fun and laughter, beautiful special effects and a quick romp through world history. My kids are now quoting a few one-liners and throwing around names of historic figures, which gave me an opportunity to explain about a few of them in off-the-cuff kind of way. My sis and I, on the other hand, are quoting swanky lines from Amy Adams character, who just finalized her pigeon hole for the rest of her career.


Lost Islands

A drama of Shakespearean intensity and proportion
It's amazing how far Israeli cinematography had come since the 80's "bourekas" movies. This is a new cinematic culture, akin to the best European schools of artistic thought - realistic, brutally honest, simple in its execution and powerful in its message. Goes well with "Nina's tragedies" and "Shlomi's Stars".

No need to re-tell it, just rent it and watch it. Allow yourself to feel the pain, enjoy the humor people see in their lives, and appreciate the heroic decisions of very trivial people.

Thank you for this movie, Reshef Levy. You made all of us very proud. And very very nostalgic :o))

Sex and the City

Relax and enjoy yourself
Just like with sex, you can enjoy this movie if you don't over-analyze it and don't make it to be more than there is to it. It's a fun brain candy, not a Kafkian masterpiece, and one has to be really full of oneself to expect more than that. The most important lesson there - women, wrapped up in our sense of righteousness and victimhood, don't listen to what men are saying, frequently ignoring a clear message of distress, and that was a realization that the two lead characters, Miranda and Carrie, had to develop. And they did. Samantha, true to her character, remains loyal to herself and refuses to become secondary to any male, while most people would expect her to be grateful to have any man at the age of 50. Charlote is the cute comic relief, nothing more, really.

Kudos to writers for being loyal to the show fans, unapologetically honest, and sometimes crass, and for not forgetting to add on some of that fabulous Park Avenue/Vogue magazine fluff.

I managed to get together 10 married working moms and we all had a blast. Some of it was completely realistic, some dreamy, and that's the combination you want on a hot summer night when hubbies stayed home to babysit. Better that Hulks and Strangers and all that violent crap.

Private Practice

Doesn't have what it takes
It looks like the brilliant team of Shonda Rhimes outsourced the writing of this one somewhere offshore, maybe to the MediocreLand? "PP" reminds me any one of the many tedious, promising at first but predictable within 1 season David Kelly flicks (Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, and now Boston Legal). The crazy cases they get are so outlandish, they barely evoke sympathy or sadness. And that's what actually makes good medical dramas tick - dramatic situations you are afraid of, "This could be me" sentiment. They are not funny either.

The actors are quite good, but the plot lines are dead and cannot be brought back to live. I'm a therapist, and let me tell you - Amy Brennan plays the most unbelievably incompetent, unethical, untrained therapist. Whoever writes her stuff flunked the ethics and the transference/counter-transference courses in Stanford. Somebody should give them a Code of Ethics to read (the episode with the nose-bleeding wife and the therapist's involvement in it). No therapists are that bad.

Women yearning for men who have moved on - had been done to death, we've all graduated "Sex and the City". Addison in her youthful aggression towards the guy she likes - very age-inappropriate, looks so unnatural on a woman over 40, and this otherwise talented actress doesn't believe it herself and doesn't deliver it very well. The only successful/palatable developments are Addison struggling with her decision to move to LA, and the "Voodoo Dr" and his coping with widowhood.

This concept might work with a whole new writing team.

Something's Gotta Give

Goes great with NyQuil
a perfect movie for a lazy Friday night, when you're too exhausted to go out, feel that a cold is coming up and get high on NyQuil and tea with honey and lemon. At times charming and even funny, this is a testament to the sad state of affairs the feminist movement is in. While women have won all the rights and accolades they fought for, they still cannot reconcile their inner strength and outward success with femininity in a masculine world. Apparently, being in touch with your "inner woman/real self", you have to be a mumbling, incoherent, yelping mess(worse acting imaginable by an Oscar-winning actress...). To be successful in life, a woman has to be neurotically cold and walled-in. Or a ditsy feminist with a strong hippie-lesbian vibe ("skillfully" portrayed by another brilliant actress through wearing her hair in age-inappropriate pony-tails). I'm tired just from recalling this build-up of clichés.

And it just gets worse. The final scene made me laugh, although it was actually sad that in America talented actors would agree to play a part in a movie with such ending. Or maybe this is the true testament to the perils of aging in a professional world - you'll fetch when they ask you to, even though it might be a really bad stick...

Watch it lying down, under a cozy blanket. Don't forget to wear wool socks. Good night...

Match Point

Bad Woody Allen, Bad!
I'm a WA fan. I must say that even Bullets Above Broadway is one of my favorite movies. I also saw Mighty Aphrodites and Everybody Says I love You, and that should have warned me that post-Mia Farrow Woody is a sorry juggler of banalities and clichés, but this pitiful attempt at making a meaningful statement about life was truly painful to watch.

No matter how hard they try, American filmmakers just can't make a good "European" movie. Not even if they film it in Europe and pile in it a group of first class European actors in secondary roles as the "odd yet lovable characters" - which these true professionals easily chew and spit out. This film is trivial, slow-paced, boring and unimaginative. Every step is predictable and borrowed from old European movies, especially French ones with a strong Alan Delon feel to them and some British "perfect crime" movies. But none of this was developed well enough to make a statement, to surprise viewers, or at least to delight them.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers has striking good looks, but they wore off as his unambitious performance of a supposedly charismatic and charming character made me want to hurl my soda at him (several times). The typically "European" hints and connections that were supposed to tie this concoction together could not be any less subtle. As if Woody Allen was trying to scream at you - Look, look how cleverly I brought all of this together! Remember that scene at the beginning? This is where it all should become clear to you, people!!! Yippi Yey!!

The only dynamic and imaginative thing in this pathetic and unremarkable cinematographic event was the view of London and of different living conditions you can find there for very different prices. Apparently WA is working for the Home and Garden channel now. The before and after of Chris Wilton looked like an episode on "Saved by Design". This was also the only aspect of the movie that had significant range, unlike the leading man's acting ability.

Honestly, go see The Matador or anything else with Pierce Brosnan - him and Renee Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair were what Scarlet Johansson and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers should want to be when they grow up.

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