Category Archives: Reel Short Takes (movie reviews)

Quick and dirty movie reviews by Heloise

Game Change: The Sarah Palin movie

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in Dover, NH.

Looking good

I still have HBO because I wanted to see Game Change.  I thought it was damn good.   Yes Moore nails Palin to the political wall. Julianne Moore will probably win a bunch of awards for her portrayal of Sarah Palin. I thought it was pitch perfect.

Were there ugly things about Palin that surfaced you betcha.  I was going to read the book Game Change but I found it a bit boring. The movie was not boring and it wass not over the top critical of Palin either.

She looked beautiful, defiant and a pure rouge.  I loved the movie and watched and recorded it. The critics wonder why the whole film focussed on Palin that is a good question.  They should have called it The Palin Plan.

However, it was well done.  You usually have to duck when two Jewish men go after your life story and worry will it be about revisionism.  I think the movie was better than the book at least about Sarah.

The funniest part was Sarah watching clips of SNL with Tina Fey on an airplane and everybody laughing at it. They showed three clips of SNL parroting her.

Reel short take: A Better Life

Palm trees lining streets in San Jose, California

Image via Wikipedia

Now that the star of A Better Life Mexican actor Demian Bichir has been given the Oscar nod for best actor people want to know who he is.  All because they probably did not see the film in the first place.  I just rented it from Netflix last week. 

It is about a man and his son, the dad is illegal and the son is an anchor baby.  It opens with Demian going to work in a truck with his Mexican boss who works for the rich gringos in California trimming their large palm trees.   Demian’s boss keeps pushing him to buy the truck and start his own business and to make a better life for himself.  Demian resists because he does not have a legal license and fears he will be caught and jailed because of it. 

He was right about that.  He asks his sister for the 10K that his boss wants for the truck and all the tools as well.  Sounds like a good deal.  So with the money he buys the truck and goes to a local spot where he once stood to pick up a Mexican illegal to work for him now.

He choses an older man who looks trustworthy.  But when Demian goes up the tree and leaves his keys on the ground you know what that old man did? Santiago grabs the keys and runs for the truck and drives off just as Demian manages to get down from the tree to catch him.

The rest of the film is about him and his son tracking down Santiago and the truck.  I won’t spoil the ending for you if you have not seen it.  It’s well acted and poignant.  I guess  the Hollywood libs want us to bleed for the poor illegals yet again. 

DVD Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

English: Ryan Gosling at the 2010 Toronto Inte...

Ryan Gosling

I know this movie has been out for a while on DVD but I have just now seen it.  I am glad I took the time to watch it.  Film was full of twists and turns that made it funny and interesting.  Steve Carrell is good and I love Ryan Gosling he is so cute and was so macho in this film.  Probably one of his best performances.  The men in this film were the show stealers.  The women were kind of an afterthought and even used by the two co stars of this film.

But that’s okay because everyone comes to their senses in the end and it has a happy ending.   I won’t give this one away because it would really be a spoiler.  Rent it and enjoy it.  It is one of the best comedies of the year and a decent romance but mostly a  comedy or a romcom if you will.

I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would.  No black people in it, no take that back one black woman that Ryan hits on has a brief role.

Movie Review: Tree of Life

Brad PittTree of Life starring Brad Pitt has made top ten lists and best films of the year list.  I think it was an audience fav or won at the Cannes.

The beginning of the movie was really strange.  It was just music and a slideshow taking us all over the world visually that is.  That was the prelude to the movie which started at the end of a family tragedy that we never really get inside of.  But the film is set in 1950s Waco, Texas.  I have a friend who grew up there and it is white bread city.

You do get a feel for life in the USA at that time.  And I think this played well in foreign audiences because it is a rare glimpse into a slice of life here.  But I did not like the beginning it was over the top visually and also in terms of audio.  I am going through some hearing problems now and movies with that much music and sound effects and stuff really does not help my brain and my psyche.  But it probably won’t affect normal people at all.

It was pretty.  The film was really beautiful and wonderfully shot.  The acting was first rate and Brad will get another nomination probably two and he will go up against himself this year one can easily predict.  Moneyball was a real winner and Brad’s performance in Tree of Life is also a winner.

Sean Penn has a small role as the grown son of the family who also becomes an architect.  There are some trying moments and times for the family as dad played by Brad is often abusive towards his kids.  Everything turns out well.

The film ends the way it began with lots of footage that was pretty to look at with some plaintive music in the background that bothered my ears but like I said normal people won’t have a problem with the music, the setting, the photography and the story line…when they finally get to it.

Movie Review: Sarah’s Key

The reel short take is about Sarah’s Key.  I read the book and listened to the audiobook and now I’ve seen the movie.  Heloise wrote a book review if you want to check it out. The movie could have easily been on HBO or a special on TV because it was just not that special.

This film won’t make any best of the year or end of the year movies to see but it was what I expected.  The book and the movie are sympathetic to the Jews in the story, no surprise there.  There are not many Germans in the film because it was the French who sent the jews to Vel d’Hiv and on to the death camps.

I think the problem with the movie is that it is so simple that it underwhelms.  To say plays it safe would not describe what this movie does.  It mostly moves from one scene to the other and back and forth between present and past. Finally we get back to the present where we find Kristin Thomas finding the son who did not know he was Jewish. In the book they get married or something but in the movie they do form a  bond.  There is nothing really emotionally about the progress of the film.

Sarah’s Key is just a basic movie that follows the book along pretty closely but does not move the audience IMO.  I give it two out of five stars.  It’s watchable.

Sarah's Key

Kristin Thomas

Reel Short Take: The Descendants

English: George Clooney at the 2009 Venice Fil...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a short review of a long movie.  The Descendants stars George Clooney.  And he deserves every accolade because he plays a real guy in a bad situation and he runs in the movie to try to solve the problem. That’s part of the trailer I saw when he gets struck by something shocking.

The problem is his wife who lays in a coma the whole movie because she is reckless and got into some kind of ski accident on the water in Hawaii where they live.  Where Clooney is a descendant of a Hawaiian prince and owns lots of land that the family has to decide what to do with.  That’s where the descendants part comes in at.

But where does the love part between he and his wife come in at? We don’t see that we have to only take it on faith that he loved her and they were happy. But I don’t buy it and it makes buying his anger at the affair more difficult too.  It was still well told how a stranger changed his life by sleeping with his wife.

But back to the problem is that he finds his wife was having an affair and he wants to find out who the man was.  He finds him and tracks him and his wife down and does not back down.

Everybody sells real estate in the movie because it’s Hawaii I guess and white people know they can make a lot of money selling real estate there, so they do.

It has a lot of light and funny moments and good dialogue and lots of minutes.  We thought it was a little too long, but it did not try to do too much.  I can give it a solid B. And I can see Clooney getting a nod for best actor.  Can’t see the film getting a nod for best film though.

However I think the laughs and the acting will help.  Despite its sad premise you don’t feel sorry for the family or their loss or anything.  I didn’t see that come across.  It was not sad mostly funny and mostly long.

Movie Review: Like Crazy

I saw this movie “Like Crazy” with the new Jewish idol who plays the boyfriend turned husband at the Modern film fest.  It was okay.  I liked it a lot.  It’s another movie with a strange ending and you don’t know what happened.  But the two in the film get busy. She’s from London and he’s from Santa Monica.  They get busy but it is not in your face.  They do it in LA and in London and think they can’t live without each other until they do and until they get married to each other.

He cheats like a big greasy dog on her and she cheats on his with her neighbor and they even get engaged.  What is the use of saying you love someone and then fucking someone else’s brains out?  That’s what this movie is about in a few words but only they keep the explicit sex off the screen.  The music was absolutely fabulous though.

Movie Review: (Real Short Take) Higher Ground

I saw “Higher Ground” at our local art house theater. It was based on a memoir of the same name. It was well directed and starred the director who was also in “Up in the Air” Vera Feragima (sp). I loved the film and since I have so many family that are BACs (born again Christians) I could relate to everything said. I think it is pretty popular around these parts because we are in the Bible belt.

I enjoyed it and the way that she finally saw the light about her religion and her own unmet desires will resonate with every woman. It is a film worth seeing especially if you have family who are BAC and you don’t understand where they are coming from. Higher Ground is spot on my take.

Reel Short Takes: Carmen and Geoffrey

Alvin Ailey and Carmen de Lavallade in 1954.

Image via Wikipedia

I just watched “Carmen and Geoffrey” dancers from back in the day and today.   What a treat.  I love dancing because I was a dancer in France in a past life and it still haunts my dreams.  These two geniuses, dancers, choreographers, costume designers, directors, musical creators are a real joy to watch.  They both knew Alvin Ailey and Josephine Baker and worked with both and danced all over the world.  Geoffrey Holder and Carmen his wife are national treasures.

Filmmaker Linda Atkinson profiles an uncommon husband-and-wife team in this biographical portrait of dancer-choreographer Carmen De Lavallade and her husband, Geoffrey Holder, a choreographer, painter and set and costume designer. Highlights include candid interviews and performance footage that capture dance greats such as Judith Jamison, Gus Solomons Jr., Dudley Williams, Ulysses Dove and Alvin Ailey in action. from Netflix streaming  see it!

Reel Short Takes: Army of Crime

Affiche rouge

Image via Wikipedia

C’est le vrai Inglorius Basterds this Army of Crime French film.  Dammit if you want to see a real movie just find a French film, noir or otherwise.  Army recounts the story of the French resistance during WWII wherein immigrant Jews blasted a whole bunch of German basterds with guns and grenades.  They were caught and executed in the end naturally because the Germans were so incensed that they set out to find them.  Just your luck it happens to be streaming on Netflix you don’t even have to get the CD.  I watched it twice already.

It has scenes of sex and violence and torture but not too much really.  I give it that rare 5/5 stars.