Crooks, Cheaters, Killers, & Lovers

Prior to meeting Ray almost four years ago, the late great Miss ABBA and I spent much of our free time during the winter on walks in the cold and ample Midwestern snows.  We also spent a lot of time curled up on the couch watching movies.  While we haven’t had much snow this winter (officially, 5.3″ in the Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois), I’ve been watching plenty of movies lately and I want to recommend some to you.  This past Saturday, Ray and I had a marathon movie day watching five movies!

“ARBITRAGE”

Richard Gere is already a Golden Globe nominee this year for his role as multi-billionaire Robert Miller in “Arbitrage”.  While Gere has won a Golden Globe for his performance as Billy Flynn in “Chicago” and he was also nominated for “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Pretty Woman”, the 63-year-old actor has never been nominated for an Oscar.  I think it’s time for that to change.

While it’s almost a given that Daniel Day-Lewis will likely take home the gold statue this year, Gere deserves his first Academy Award nomination.

As Miller, a hedge fund manager, he’s not only being shady with his company’s assets, he’s also cheating on his wife, played by Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”).  While trying to keep his French mistress happy, something unfortunate happens and Miller not only has to work to secure a make-it-or-break-it deal to keep his company afloat, but also to stay out of jail.

The movie does have plenty of business talk diaogue to comprehend, but there’s enough drama and suspense to make it a must see.

Gere is as striking to me today as he was in “Pretty Woman” two decades ago.  As Robert Miller, he was phenomenal.  While she wasn’t given a part that is worthy of Oscar’s attention, Sarandon looks amazing.  I sure hope Hollywood keeps Gere and Sarandon busy in the years to come.

GRADE:  A

“ABSENT” (“AUSENTE”)

This Spanish-language film by Argentinean director Marco Berger won the “Best Feature Film” Teddy Award, which is part of the Berlin International Film Festival, last year.

This psychological drama follows 16-year-old Martin (stunning Javier De Pietro) as he spins a web of lies to seduce his sports coach Sebastian (Carlos Eschevarria).  The movie is told from the perspective of the coach and it leaves you with many unanswered questions:  did something really happen between the two and if so, is the adult still at fault even if he was the “victim”?

Berger (“Plan B”) is a great director and I look forward to more movies from him.

The only problem I had with the movie is that if it’s left up to the viewer to decide what really happened, we should have had one more scene to show what may or may not have happened that night.  The kiss goodbye at the end of the movie implies that something did happen, but since we didn’t see that, it was just confusing.

GRADE:  B

“ELLIOT LOVES”

This comedy-drama follows the life of Elliot, a Dominican-American, first as a 9-year-old trying to bond with his mother, and then as a 21-year-old trying to find love in New York City.

Elliot and his mother have one thing in common — looking for love in all the wrong people.

The movie is a perfect combination of feel good laughs and a few scenes that will tug at your heart and push you almost to tears.  Like his mother, Elliot will do anything to be loved.  As in real life, you find love when you’re least expecting it.

GRADE:  A-

“GAYBY”

This is easily one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in some time.

Matt and Jenn have been friends since college and now that her biological clock is ticking, she wants to have a baby (oh yeah, there’s a trust that requires a baby).  So, she asks Matt, her gay BFF, to be the father of the baby and after thinking about it, he agrees.  When she tells him that she wants to do it the old-fashioned way, many awkwardly funny scenes ensue.

GRADE:  A

‘THE HUNGER GAMES”

Since I’m one of the last people in the world to see this movie, my review will be short.  Just see it, it’s amazing.

It’s about 24 poor kids (12 boys and 12 girls) called “tributes” that have to fight to the death in a futuristic reality show.

There’s a girl, Katniss, who’s fierce with a bow and arrow and she has a fiery dress.  There’s a boy, Peeta, who bakes bread and believe it or not, that comes in handy in the “hunger games”.  And, there’s a hottie back home, Gale, that has to watch a scene in a cave that has nothing to with cuddly bears or Osama bin Laden.

Did I mention that they fight to the death and only person survives?  Or, do they?  Keep in mind that the movie has made $686 million dollars and there are three sequels coming.  I don’t want to spoil it, but who do you think might survive?  Oh, Jennifer Lawrence, the star, may be nominated for an Oscar this year for “Silver Linings Playbook”.

GRADE:  A

“KILLER JOE”

This Southern white trash film was pretty much ignored at movie theaters.  It’s made only $3.7 million.  And, that’s a shame because the movie stars some of Hollywood’s best:  Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Thomas Hayden Church, and Juno Temple.  It’s also directed by William Friedkin, the mastermind behind “The Exorcist”.

One reason this movie might have been skipped over was its NC-17 rating.  Other reasons might be the violence and a provocative, controversial sex scene between McConaughey and Gershon.  All I can say is that I’ll never look at KFC the same way again.

The acting is spectacular, the subject matter is violent, and the pivotal scenes are truly disturbing.

GRADE:  A

“THE FALLS”

After seeing “Latter Days”, one of my favorite movies of all time, any future coming-of-age or coming out Mormon love story would have big shoes to fill.  While mildly entertaining and the actors showed promise, this was not that movie.

GRADE:  C

Anthony

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