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Thursday, September 25, 2014

GONE GIRL


By D.E.Levine

Having loved the best-selling novel from which this screenplay was adapted, I didn't know what to expect in the film but Gone Girl is a tense and absorbing melodrama.

Gillian Flynn, the novelist, was actually hired to write the screenplay and she did a good job in boiling the large, twisty bestseller into a tight film.  It never lags and that's partially due to the excellent directing by David Fincher as well as the brilliant casting.

Told from the point of view of both Amy Elliott Dunne's (Rosamund Pike) the disappearing wife's diary and the husband's, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) commentary, the story is basically about two successful New York writers who,  because of financial setbacks and Nick father's illness, relocate to a small Missouri town.

Bored and irritated, living a life they don't want in a non-personality home, the two soon get on each other's nerves and the marriage becomes grating and loveless, according to Amy's diary.

Nick arrives home on their fifth anniversary to find signs of a struggle and his wife missing.  Initially a sympathetic figure, and supported by his in-laws, his sister and the police assigned to the case.

However, the public opinion of Nick changes, as does that of his in-laws and others, as Amy's diary reveals that she was increasingly frightened of Nick and fearful of what he might do to her.  With the public turning against him, egged on by a sensationalist TV host, Nick is soon under suspicion for murdering his wife.

Pike and Affleck both give solid and believable performances, supported by other characters played by Missy Pyle, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and others.

Time passes quickly the film progresses and even if you've read the novel, the film is so absorbing that it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Definitely worth seeing and probably an award contender, Gone Girl is a real entertainment.




Friday, September 19, 2014

THE IMITATION GAME


By D.E.Levine

When Alan Turing died in 1954 he was only 41.  Because he had been convicted of a crime in the United Kingdom and imprisoned, his story really wasn't told to many who would have been and currently are astonished by his thoughts and accomplishments.

Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) was very simply a genius in mathematics and other areas.  As far back as the 1930s he was developing ideas and writing about a "universal machine" capable of doing things faster and in larger quantity than man could accomplish them.  He played a pivotal role in cracking the encryption code of the Enigma machine that the Nazis used for their messages, and in doing so help the Allies win World War II.  Without his efforts and those of his co-workers, we might not be enjoying the democratic freedoms for which America and the United Kingdom are noted.

Although he kept his homosexuality a secret, he was arrested in 1952 on charges of indecency, imprisoned and, in order to gain release, chemically castrated.

Unable to discuss his wartime work because of the British Secrecy Act, Turing was investigated because the police thought he was a Soviet spy, and when they saw he was a gay man they were committed to arresting and imprisoning him under the antiquated and homophobic judicial system.

Ironically, today we give knighthoods to gay men of significant achievement.  Turing, who died in 1952, wasn't pardoned until 2009.  While his initial machines were large and cumbersome, every time we use a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, we are utilizing ideas that were originally put forth by Alan Turing.




Thursday, September 18, 2014

THE SALT OF THE EARTH


By D.E.Levine

Sebastiao Salgado has long been recognized as one of the great photographer/visual artists in the world.  A master with light and form using the camera for black and white photos, Salgado has for decades chosen empathetic themes that result in stirring images about the human condition.

This is a documentary that is co-directed by famed director Wim Wenders and the Salgrado's son, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado.

As Sebastiao Salgado discusses his work, the directors project images of that work behind the photographer.

Born in a Brazilian mining area, with an education in economics, Salgado went into exile in France in 1969, after a coup in his own country, and worked for the World Bank.  He and his wife Lelia invested in camera equipment and he left her behind when he went to Niger in 1973 to start on his photographic career.

Over the years Salgado has produced a series of images, each dedicated to a particular theme, and they have been turned into books.  Embittered by what he's seen in the world, Salgado eventually returns to his family farm which is now dry land and unable to be farmed.  He and his wife embark
upon am ambitious project of replanting the land.  Their experimental technique proved successful and the farm is now the Instituto Terra, whose techniques have been used to replant other parts of Brazil.

During his years of travel, Lelia was his partner and a vital force in organizing his professional projects as well as his home life and that of his children.  She is portrayed as an equal partner and still remains so in the running of Instituto Terra.

Visually, this is a stunning documentary, both in black and white and color scenes.  The description of the motivation behind the photographic projects and the results is also fascinating and adds depth to the understanding of the artist and his work.




Monday, September 15, 2014

TWO NIGHT STAND


By D.E.Levine

A very cute movie that is also a commentary on modern society and dating. Megan (Analeigh Tipton), who has already been hurt in love, takes to the Web and soon is chatting with Alec (Miles Teller).  Neither of these young people wants commitment or strings so they agree  to meet.

Megan goes from the East Village to Alec's apartment in Brooklyn and they spend the night together. The next morning they find that they are snowed in after a massive snowstorm has hit the city and immobolized everybody and everything.

Unfortunately, even though they are snowed in together, they cannot stand each other.  While initially a light-hearted comedy, later in the day these two young people open up to one another, discussing their psychological bruises and leaving the door open for love.

Two Night Stand is a sweet movie which makes some interesting comments about our society.  One of the truest and most touching lines is when Alec says that Internet dating amounts to a "bunch of people sitting around texting in the dark.