Saturday, July 31, 2010

Somers Town (2008)

Two teens in London strike up a friendship and bond over a crush on the same waitress. Marek (Piotr Jagiello) lives with his father Mariusz (Ireneusz Czop), who works in construction. The two have recently relocated from Poland. Marek spends his free time taking pictures. His father works long days and drinks with his buddies at night. The two are close and spend their quality times together during meals. Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) has just landed in London’s Somers Town from Leeds with a few bags sans a place to stay.

The friendship between Marek and Somers Town’s new arrival Tomo  gets off to a rough start before developing. The two court French waitress Jane (Kate Dickie). This is a story about friendship and coming of age in a city where cultures meld The boysand clash. The story is simple; the details are rich and memorable. The leads are possess more than enough charm to keep you engaged. Graham (Perry Benson), a secondary character, is the surprise element. Each of his scenes are unique and entertaining. (Graham should get his own movie.) Excellent acting from all cast. Shot in black and white until the final scene which erupts in deep saturated colors that pop.

Somers Town is another excellent offering from Film Movement. Don’t know who they are? You should.

“Film Movement is a full-service North American distributor of critically acclaimed award-winning independent and foreign films. Film Movement has released films from 25 countries and six continents, including top prize winners from Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, Tribeca and many other prestigious film festivals. Through partnerships with theaters, TV networks, wholesalers, retailers, institutions, and a first of its kind subscription service, Film Movement is able to get the films it distributes the audience they deserve.”

Writer/Director: Shane Meadows

Country: UK

Genre: Drama

Run time: 72 minutes

Scale: 4

Gigante (Giant) (2009)

Loner Jara (Horacio Camandule) lives with his sister and her son. He spends his graveyard shifts monitoring the CCTV screen at the supermarket where he’s employed as a security guard. Not much changes day to day until Julia (Leonor Svarcas), the “girl from the country,” joins the store janitorial crew and jolts Jara awake.

Jara He watches her during his shifts—views her foibles as cute, notices with whom she interacts and tries to get to know her—from afar. Jara begins working out to his metal music and following her after their shifts end. The two share commonalities, but he doesn’t dare approach her. There’s a scene where Jara follows her and ends up at the same restaurant while she is on a date.

It’s a fine line between obsession and stalking, but Gigante walks that line without crossing it. Jara is likeable and doesn’t intimidate despite his enormous height and frame. You do wonder, will he ever make his move?

Writer/Director: Adrián Biniez

Country: Uruguay

Genre: Drama

Run time: 84 minutes

Scale: 4

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dennis (2007)

Making up with MamaThis short film manages to tell a robust three-dimensional story in less than 20 minutes.

Soft-spoken Dennis (Kim Kold) is a bodybuilder with an inverted pyramid of an inked torso equipped with bulging muscles. Movie opens with him phoning a woman and asking her out to dinner. She doesn’t recognize him but agrees to meet him that night. He must lie to his mother that he’s meeting a male friend. She’s disappointed and gives him the silent treatment when she learns they won’t be sharing pot roast and playing cards.

The date is quiet but goes well enough that she invites Dennis to join her to meet a few friends. The girls are intrigued by his muscles and urge Dennis to take off his shirt and show off his muscles. They all start dancing and are full-on objectifying Dennis when two of their male friends arrive and Dennis makes a hasty retreat. He’s upset at the girl (did she invite him to give her friends something to laugh at?) and goes home. When he arrives, his mother is still sore. She remarks that his shirt is on inside out. The final scene ends as a distraught Dennis asks his mother if he can sleep with her.

THIS MOVIE IS A MUST SEE! It’s a short story come to life.

Co-writer/Director: Mads Matthiesen

Country: Denmark

Genre: Dramatic Short

Run time: 18 minutes

Scale: 5

Weeds (Season 5, 13 Episodes) (2009)

Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) can extricate herself out of any situation with creative flair. She surprises viewers by raising and re-setting the bar of how screwed up things have to get to save her. Claiming she is pregnant just as she is about to be brown bread, her Mexican mayor/cartel head boyfriend Esteban Reyes (Demián Bichir)doesn’t trust nor believe her (not after he has photo evidence she’s been talking to the Feds).

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

This season has Andy (Justin Kirk) realizing and declaring his love for his sister-in-law. There may be a glimmer of reciprocity, but Nancy prefers Esteban’s power, his money and also the life—after five seasons, she’s hooked on drama, crime, murder and mayhem. Rejected Andy rebounds with Nancy’s obGyn, Dr. Audra Kitson (Alanis Morissette), but is it love or revenge?

Celia (Elizabeth Perkins) is up to her usual does she get away with it? A constant thorn in Nancy, Doug (Kevin Nealon) and Dean (Andy Milder), she has the tenacity to work her way from the bowels of life to sit pretty for a while until the next bad thing happens. Doug and Dean are consistent—immature and perpetually stoned—working to figure out how to maintain their favorite state of consciousness. A crowded houseSilas (Hunter Parrish) persists in his entrepreneurial quest; he’s the hopeful one in this insane bunch who has a chance to make it. His calm disposition and head for business will help him succeed, if he can stay out of the clink. Shane is the biggest surprise—the boy who’s grown up flanked by violence and drug-dealing sheds his moral compass. Is he on his way to becoming a thug? We find out when season six premieres August 16.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Män som hatar kvinnor (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) (2009)

Dyno duo Based on the novel by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, the movie opens as journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) has been sentenced to prison for libel. But, before he starts serving his six-month sentence, he’s hired to investigate a 40-year-old cold case involving a missing teenager.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

Prior to the client hiring Blomkvist, he has him thoroughly vetted to make sure his nose is clean. Enter Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a hacker tasked with the “research.” She determines Blomkvist may have been framed. Despite her job being complete, Lisbeth continues her cyberspace snooping until she is no longer satisfied being a voyeur and enters Blomkvist’s life.

The cold case has substance that yanks you into the convoluted details but the unlikely duo of the tattooed goth and the calm journalist ignites the storyline. Both characters are cool; Lisbeth is tough, smart and trusts no one. Blomkvist is gentle, smart and tenacious. I liked this movie for reasons that surprised me…the story is decent (we could have learned a bit more about the characters) but watching the two characters interact and try to make sense of what draws them to one another is magic. I cannot wait for the next installment: The Girl Who Played with Fire. (Be warned: Movie contains two extremely violent sexual assault scenes.)

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Country: Sweden

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 152 minutes

Scale: 4.5