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Foreign Film Friday

Children of Heaven

Country: Iran

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Written and Directed by: Majid Majidi

Starring: Amir Farrokh Hashem & Bahara Seddiqi

Nothing to make you realize how trivial and inane your first world problems are after watching this subtle humble masterpiece. This sweet story of brother and sister secretly sharing one pair of shoes has just the right amount of heart, drama, laughs, and thrills. They could not have found better child actors to portray Ali and Zahra, and it’s one of the best representations of a brother sister relationship on film. Every time Ali’s big round eyes swelled up so did mine, never have I so easily rooted for a protagonist to get everything he wishes, and his wish was the simplest of all to get a pair of shoes for his sister. Soft stringed instrumentals play throughout adding even more character and charm to this modestly set film. Children of Heaven is definitely not a Hollywood production, but that is what makes it so remarkable, it’s 100% genuine in every regards.

10/10

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Way Way Throwback Thursday

A Streetcar Named Desire

Original Release: September 18th, 1951

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Directed by: Elia Kazan

Written by: Tennessee Williams

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Madden

Tennessee William knows how to create fascinating characters with hard hitting boundary-pushing dialogue, beautifully tragic A Streetcar Named Desire is no exception. The dark bluesy jazz with all its elongated horns sets the stage perfectly for the adaptation but the shadowy cinematography hides too much the actors’ range of expressions. The fact that Marlon Brando was the only one not to win an Oscar is an outrage, his portrayal of Stanley stands the test of time and gets better with every viewing. Even with Blanche being a very melodramatic character, Leigh’s performance pushes her even more over the top to a near caricature of a crazy person. The looks Kim Hunter gave Brando makes me believe she was married to him in real life, talk about your on-screen chemistry: it was hotter than the temperature in New Orleans. Though not my favorite adaptation by Tennessee Williams, Streetcar is still a thrillingly dramatic sadly romantic tale.

9.5/10

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Hector and the Search For Happiness

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Directed by:  Peter Chelsom

Written by: Maria Von Heland, Peter Chelsom, & Tinker Lindsay

Starring: Simon Pegg

An intriguing but flawed concept, Hector slaps you in the face repeatedly about what happiness is. The issue: happiness can be different things to different people at different times, and none of Hector’s findings are groundbreaking theories in what makes a person happy: money, food, love, family, etc. Simon Pegg is charming and lovable as Hector, but really only hits the comedic elements of the story. The script is perfectly paced and timed with plenty of laugh out loud moments. The score is superb, mixing in all the right cultural elements from the different countries he visited. The climatic scene was way too predictable and leaned on being very preachy, which soured my like of the movie overall, but still would recommend it to my friends.

8.5/10

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No Good Deed

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Directed by: Sam Miller

Written by: Aimee Lagos

Starring: Taraji P. Henson & Idris Elba

 

 

No Good Deed is a feel good “chick-flick” disguised as a psychological thriller, complete with neglected frumpy housewife, the single best friend, and mysterious sexy stranger. The beginning has a nice slow build till you get to the main action of the film. For once, the woman in danger actually makes smart decisions that fail only to continue to build the suspense, which is frustrating. Elba played the villain with threatening reserve perfectly fitting that of a psychopath while Henson and her horrible wig played the fighting back housewife with the her normal vigor. The camerawork and score try a bit too hard to prove how thrilling it is with suspenseful music and of course it’s pouring rain shots. The story hits all the right, albeit predicable, notes with a way too rushed happy ending, but still packs an enjoyable punch.

 

7/10

 

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The Skeleton Twins

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Directed by: Craig Johnson

Written by: Mark Heyman & Craig Johnson

Starring: Kristen Wiig & Bill Hader

My eyes were transfixed on the screen from start to finish, fearing I would miss a beat in this darkly funny film. No surprise, Wiig and Hader had perfect brother sister chemistry; the surprise was how they were both able to leave me utterly speechless at the subtle grandeur of their raw performances especially at the darkest parts of the film. The script was biting, rhythmic, relevant and refreshingly honest. I was left wondering how old Milo and Maggie were, a minor detail but it distracted me enough to take me out of the moment especially with Ty Burrell cast their former teacher. The musical score was subdued with the best lip-synched musical number since “Stepmom.” This movie is more than a great character study with two standout performances, it’s a near perfect masterpiece that’s a must-see.

9.5/10

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Foreign Film Friday

Finding Fanny

Country: India

Pre-note: I thought this movie was going to be a mix of Hindi and English with a majority of it being Hindi, but nope all in English but for some reason they still had English subtitles which annoyed me.

 

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Directed by: Homi Adajania

Written by: Homi Adajania, Kersi Khambatta

Starring: Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia

 Endearing and warm with perfect amount of funny and saucy mixed in made Finding Fanny a delight to watch. I immediately fell in love with old gentle soul, Ferdie and cheered him on in his quest for love. The story flowed nicely and threw in nice elements of humor and surprise while building up to the climax. The quintet of actors all played nicely off each other, but there was no standout or truly remarkable performance. The musical score was a lovely blend of bright plucky strings and tender deep melodies; I could have listened to it all day.   Whether it’s Bollywood or Hollywood, this tale of finding alost love gets my thumbs up.

8/10

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Throwback Thursday, yet again

Under The Tuscan Sun

Original Release: September 26th, 2003

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Written and Directed by: Audrey Wells

Starring: Diane Lane, Sandra Oh

“Under The Tuscan Sun” is your everyday run-of-mill romcom that follows the sad recently dumped girl who goes on a life changing trip plot conventions. The script is subpar filled with cheesy come-ons and things I hope an actual woman would never say or think. The beginning tries to force feed you all the reasons you should sympathize for Frances, but because of the rushed and lazy writing it feels to contrived thus creating an unsympathetic lead. It wasn’t for Diane Lane’s lack of effort; she gave a good life to the very bland uninteresting Frances. Sandra Oh plays the token-minority sidekick adding the perfect amount of generic advice but adding nothing of substance to the film. I don’t expect much from silly little romantic comedies, but still found “Under the Tuscan Sun” to be disappointing and unsatisfying.

5/10

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