A very German tale of "Don't talk to strangers"
Reviewed by Juliska for The Reader at 2011-06-03 14:59:59
One reviewer criticized this film for being "too intellectual" and "too cold" when it needs to be the opposite. What that reviewer overlooks (or is naive about) is that this story is set among *Germans* in German culture. It was originally a novel written in German by a German. Unlike American culture, German culture *is* more intellectual, detached and unemotional...at least on the surface. This film captures that culture magnificently, esp. in casting then-unknown David Kross, a German, as the film's teenaged protagonist. He has more lines in the film than Fiennes & Winslet, but he's a newbie still paying his dues, so he got little credit for his wonderful portrayal of a sensitive young man who falls in love with someone whom he too late discovers is an emotional and moral neanderthal who cannot love him. She repeatedly breaks his heart, and he suffers a lifetime of pain because of it. She simply uses him for her own purposes, providing only sex in return. Today that's rightly called psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of a minor. The same previous reviewer writes: ?Oddly, issues of age rarely come into the story, where I feel like if the genders were reversed and a 15-year-old girl developed a sexual relationship with a man twice her age, audiences would talk about nothing else. Discuss the gender discrepancy amongst yourselves.? This film accurately shows the long-term damage and ambivalent and conflicted feelings of a teenager whom an adult has abused. A large part of what?s so difficult for a sexual abuse victim to recover from is that they often feel both tenderness and anger, love and hatred toward the abuser. And showing how such abuse can be just as damaging to a boy as a girl makes this film iconoclastic.
Lushly photographed by Roger Deakins, Andrew Dominik has directed a fine psychological Western meditation on criminal fame and legend. It features career-best performances from Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, as the outlaw Jesse James and his intended assassin Robert Ford. Long, yes, but well worth the time. Where Terence Malick's films are often maddeningly slow and sometimes without much purpose ("New World"), Dominik's film is always watchable and even compelling.
Watching this movie is like stepping into a fairy tale. The cinematography is stunning. Being an animal and wildlife lover, the scenes in the garden took my breath away. There is so much beauty..it's like the Garden of Eden. Kate Maberly was outstanding as Mary. She is just adorable. The story is very heartwarming and family friendly. I shed many tears at the end, but it was splendid!
Brilliantly acted and deeply moving
Reviewed by x495 for Doubt at 2009-08-15 15:52:02
Doubt is this year's most well-acted drama. The plot revolves around a small Catholic school in the city where a seemingly friendly priest named Father Flynn is accused of molesting a young African-American boy. Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) is on his case immediately while Sister James, (Amy Adams) another nun sides with the priest. The verdict is decided by the audience. All three actors deliver what they're best at: top notch acting. Also with an engaging, fascinating plot Doubt deserved its Oscar nominees one hundred percent
My favorite Coen Bros. Flick
Reviewed by KHL for Barton Fink at 2009-01-06 17:15:31
Turturro and Goodman are outstanding in this bizarre, mildy comic and ultimately dark tale about an inspired NY playwright turned Hollywood scriptwriting hack in the late 30s-early 40s. His idealism and ideas are pretty much gone to seed in this dry desert environment, and in his quest to make the ultimate play about 'the working man', he meets Charlie (Goodman), an honest-to-gosh working dude, or is he? Great art deco sets, perfect supporting performances by many (including Judy Davis as the wife of a deranged Fitzgerald-Faulkner type fellow hack and Steve Buscemi as the weird Bellhop 'Call me Chet!') make this film great to watch - not to mention the twists and turns of the story line that will leave you wanting to watch it again.
In Minnesota, A car salesman hires two thugs to kidnap his wife so that his father-in-law can pay off the ransom and then he can collect a portion of the money to pay off his debts. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned and people begin getting killed in horrible and unusual ways. A gory, intense, extreme, funny, and original thriller of a film. Francis McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi are all top-notch in this flawless saga of quirky characters, bland atmosphere, and spraying blood. An American classic. This is the Coen brothers at their best! Rated R: Contains strong bloody violence and gore, strong language, and some sex.
Great Work From the Coens
Reviewed by brendoman for Fargo at 2008-08-28 18:32:20
When I really sit down and think about it, this is probably my favorite from the Coens and probably my favorite black comedy. So many great performances. Minnesota and North Dakota are characters themselves. Beautifully shot, great music really sets the tone.
The notion that this film is some kind of serious meditation on capital punishment is hard to understand. The repeated flashbacks to the murder scene are not only gratuitous (how many times do we need to see a murder/rape to get the message?), they border on a macabre preoccupation with violence and death. The moody rhythm of the film, and the "crescendo" execution scene (another lingering scene that suggests fascination with death), are manipulative and ham-fisted. Give us a sharp, tragic look - like "I Want to Live" - at the death penalty; or a thoughtful meditation on murder and the murderer - there's a gap Hollywood has never filled. Don't give us Wagner.
They don't come much funnier. If you're a Baby Boomer, this is not to be missed. If you're not, you can laugh at their (our) expense. Jeff Bridges is great, but John Goodman's performance is out there in a category with the geniuses of modern off-beat comedy.
The Coens always get crap for their comedies not living up to Raising Arizona, but really what can? Ladykillers WAS lacking, but Intolerable Cruelty is really, really fun. Fantastic goofball turn by Clooney, sharp as a razor dialogue, and the death of Wheezy Joe is a cinematic classic. Great movie.
When you make lemons of your life . . . make sweetened lemonade. A friendship developed in prison is for life with Red (Morgan Freeman). Being in the federal Pen looked brutal. Robbins offers financial advice for most of 19 years. You'll like the ending.
If you're looking for a typical western with lots of action and quick plot development, this movie will disappoint. Andrew Dominik's script and style is like Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven, The New World), long, ponderous with lots of silences but stunning photography more than makes up for plodding plot. Veteran DP Roger Deakins mans the camera (first cinematographer in Oscar history to be nominated for two films in the same year). Based on an adaptation by the novel by Ron Hansen. Worth watching if you can stand the slow pace. Affleck
This was a movie I would have very much liked to love, but it is so very long and seems to lose its way in the middle. Rather than try to focus & sharpen the film, or try to keep audience's interest by interjecting some action or other distraction, it simply continues to pound away at the psychological drama - just doesn't pull it off. Good storyline, premise and acting, but overall it seems to be wasted potential.