• 2011

Year: 2011

My Top Ten Movies for 2011–Reviewed, Not Necessarily New

Happy New Year–the Year of the Dragon in 2012!  Most of all, I want to thank all of you for your comments and email! With 2011 coming to an end, I wanted to take a look back at the movie reviews I wrote this year.  I am an unabashed cinephile– 500 films (maximum allowed) in my Netflix queue with another 88 in my Instant Queue.  So, when I counted the reviews I have written this year (=26), I wanted to see what would be my top ten favorites.  It wasn’t easy! This list is not ranked –only my top ten for 2011, grouped by genre. INDIES: 1) Restrepo (January 24 review)—...

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“Becoming Santa”–Home for the Holidays

I saw this delectable morsel of an indie film at the Napa Valley Film Festival last month and had a chance to talk with Jeff Myers, the director, for a few moments afterwards.  The backstory is fascinating but the movie stands on its own. “Becoming Santa,” reveals a lot more about the human spirit and generosity towards the tiniest among us than any Christmas tale or Christmas carol out there. ‘Becoming Santa’ is the story of Jack Sanderson, whose father has just passed away, leaving him with no family members to celebrate Christmas.  He is a forty-four year old bachelor who...

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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers–The Most Famous Whistleblower of Our Time?

Nominated for a 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary, this past June marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, which was forced to stop publishing by a cease-and-desist order mandated by the Nixon administration. “The Most Dangerous Man in America” tells the inside story through the narration of Daniel Ellsberg himself, of this game-changing event that ended the Vietnam war and transformed our nation’s political discourse. This documentary is riveting because of the historic footage of Ellsberg, his colleagues, family and...

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“Margin Call”–Soulless Capitalism at Its Finest

An onslaught of “Occupy Wall Street” movies has been released in the last two years–think “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, “Too Big to Fail”, “Up in the Air”, The Company Men”–in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008.  “Margin Call” deserves to be among the classics,  which have focused on greed, power, and the vacuum resulting from gutting regulatory compliance. (My favorite among recent classics is “Glengarry Glen Ross”.) The brainchild of director and screenwriter, J.C. Chandor, “Margin...

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“The Descendants” –Decent But Not Great

  I recently saw “The Descendants” at the Napa Valley Film Festival. I had high expectations. What’s not to like about either George Clooney or Alexander Payne?  Both of them are very talented entertainment superstars.  However, neither George Clooney’s pretty face nor Alexander Payne’s mastery of comedy and pathos (“Election”, “About Schmidt”, and “Sideways”, to say nothing of the hit TV series “Hung”) are sufficient to render this movie anything but mildly entertaining.  It’s decent, but not great comedy...

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“J. Edgar”—Investigating the Investigator

  Based upon a script by “Milk” screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, and directed by Clint Eastwood, “J. Edgar” is a biopic of the controversial FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. In this spellbinding movie, Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Hoover, ages five decades, as he grows from an ambitious young law enforcer to the most powerful, controversial,  and intimidating FBI director the US has ever known.  Even presidents feared him. “J. Edgar” depicts Hoover’s early career (the 1930’s), including raids on Communist “radicals” and organized crime,...

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