Sunday, December 20, 2009


Movie name: Avatar
Year of release: 2009
Director: James Cameron
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Laz Alonso, Dileep Rao, Matt Gerald
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis:"Avatar" marks the return of James Cameron to the director's chair, following his previous documentaries "Ghosts of the Abyss" and "Aliens of the Deep" and since his last feature, the hugely successful "Titanic". The film, as has been widely reported, took years of development and implied the creation of new technology for the shooting itself to be effectively done. The film follows the story of Jake Sully, a marine who is taken to the planet Pandora, since his twin passed away and his shared genes are needed for him to inhabit an Avatar. Pandora is a planet rich in resources, some of which are worth millions for a company who wants to drill it to it's core. The planet is however inhabited by a race named Na'vi, who live in communion with the forest and it's creatures. The Avatars developed by Grace Augustine, allow for humans to take possession of alien bodies and explore the planet freely. Jake is assigned the mission to research the natives and try to get an angle for the military who are in the planet to assure that the drilling is done. Jake however falls in love with Neytiri, the young princess of the clan and has to choose which side to stay with as the tension between the parties escalate. James Cameron has a reputation for being a pioneer in terms of special effects and technology development and "Avatar" is no exception. The film blends live action and 3D in a perfect way, creating an entirely new dimension to the action taking place. The film takes it's time to introduce us to the main characters and to the conflict taking place. Once the action takes off, that's where Cameron's credentials as an action director come to the fore. The film is relentless and with beautiful set pieces. The most faltering piece of this film is at points it's new-agey tone, however as everything that James Cameron has done, his expertise as a filmmaker and storyteller surpass that. Sam Worthington proves to be an excellent choice for the part: his character is filled with sorrow, joy, love and excitement for the new world and new life he finds. Sigourney Weaver is as usual fantastic. A trip worth taking.


Movie name: Brothers
Year of release: 2009
Director: Jim Sheridan
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Bailee Madison, Taylor Geare, Carey Mulligan, Patrick Flueger, Clifton Collins Jr., Ethan Suplee
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:Jim Sheridan is a filmmaker whose career started in 1989 with the Academy Award winning film "My Left Foot" and that also includes other award worthy films as "In the Name of the Father" and "In America". His films usually deal with his Irish legacy and cultural heritage and how that defines people, but in his latest offering, "Brothers", the director ventures into remake territory. The film is an adaptation of Susanne Bier's film "Brodre". "Brothers" follows the story of Sam Cahill and Tommy Cahill both young men, whose lives have decidedly taken different turns. Sam, the older, is an army captain, married to his beautiful high school sweetheart, with two lovely daughters. Tommy the youngest one, has just been released of jail and seems to be a trouble magnet. When Sam gets sent back to Afghanistan, Tommy decides to help around Sam's house and becomes a much needed diversion for all, particularly when Sam is reported dead. Tommy and Grace grow closer, something that is aborted when Sam is returned back, upon being rescued from the captivity he had been enclosed. This is a film that lives from the dynamics of a family that has a history of conflict. The father who has a drinking problem and who has damaged his family life, particularly that of his sons. And then Sam, who due to the horrors of war can't come to term with his actions. The film doesn't anchor it's dynamics on the sibling rivalry, but more on the disintegration of a person's sanity due to the weight of guilt. The actors do a great job with special focus on Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and the young Bailee Madison. A film worth seeing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Movie name: Paris
Year of release: 2008
Director: Cedric Klapisch
Stars: Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Francois Cluzet, Melanie Laurent, Albert Dupontel, Karin Viard, Gilles Lellouche, Julie Ferrier, Olivia Bonamy, Annelise Hesme
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Synopsis:Cedric Klapisch has carved his reputation with the hits that were "Un Air de Famille", "L'Auberge Espagnole" and "Les Poupees Russes". "Paris" again uses his trademark of following the lives of different people who end up intertwining and affecting each other (very much in the tradition of Robert Altman's mosaic films). "Paris" introduces us to Pierre a young dancer who discovers he has a possible fatal heart disease. He decides to pass that information to his sister, Elise, a single mother of three who works as a social worker. Elise decides to try to help Pierre as much as possible, namely trying to find him a date with a young woman who lives in the opposite building. This young woman is actually dating two men simultaneously: an older college professor and a young man. The college professor, Roland, has a brother whose wife is expecting a baby. All these people's lives are connected through Pierre and his passing days observing others. "Paris" succeeds on many levels, particularly in the close relationship shared between Elise and Pierre - and much credit goes to the fantastic actors that are Juliette Binoche and Romain Duris. Their complicity makes their sibling relationship touching and believable. Some of the characters feel a bit underplayed, but this is a film that tries to showcase the mosaic of relationships that can exist within a small universe and naturally some get downplayed. Still it's an interesting slice of life with a very good group of actors bringing everything to life. A film worth seeing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bright Star

Movie name: Bright Star
Year of release: 2009
Director: Jane Campion
Stars: Abbie Cornish, Ben Wishaw, Paul Schneider, Kerry Fox, Edie Martin, Thomas Sangster, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Gerard Monaco
Genre: Drama, Biography
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

Synopsis:Jane Campion's new film, following "In the Cut", traces the life of poet John Keats, focusing however more in the woman that inspired his work and fulfilled his heart, Fanny Brawne. The film introduces us to Fanny, a young woman filled with spirit and with a strong personality, who designs and creates her own clothes and costumes. She's outspoken, strong willed and not shy to voice her opinions. She meets the quiet John Keats, who is living with Charles Brown, another writer, whom with Franny clashes constantly. However the relationship with Keats progresses and they slowly fall in love. Keats' shy and quiet personality bounces off Fanny's more effervescent and strong one, however he has no income and is deemed unsuitable to propose. When his illness appears, his friends decided to send him to Italy in the hopes the sunny weather will make him feel better. Jane Campion as usual in her films, follows the life of a woman to whom conventions are largely disregarded. Her Fanny Brawne comes in the tradition of her previous films and "heroines", namely Janet Frame from "An Angel at My Table", Ada from "The Piano" and Isabel from "The Portrait of a Lady". Fanny follows her heart, against conventions, against constant opponents. She's resilient and yet frail in her approach towards love. Jane Campion manages to create a beautiful film that is an ode to poetry and first love, taking the time to create a sense of proximity and closeness with the central pair. The acting is also fantastic, with Abbie Cornish doing a fantastic job as Franny, Ben Wishaw as John Keats and Paul Schneider as Charles Brown. A fantastic film waiting to be discovered.