• 2013

Year: 2013

“American Hustle”:—Everyone Hustles To Survive

With its ensemble cast, this film has received almost unanimous accolades for the universally stunning performances, under the direction of David O. Russell. Still at the top of his game (after “I Heart Huckabees”, “The Fighter”, and “Silver Linings Playbook”).   All of Russell’s movies, intentionally or not, are the embodiment of a certain malaise, the sense that we have lost our community spirit, and everyone is on his or her own.  It is a war of all against all, or at least a cold indifference of all to all. “American Hustle” is about the ultimate con game, of which there have been many in...

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The Hunger Games Revisited: Part 2– “Catching Fire”

In what has to be the biggest blockbuster franchise since Twilight and Harry Potter, in this sequel to the first Hunger Games film (see my April 8, 2012 review–“The Hunger Games”–Our “Harry Potter”), the post-apocalyptic Panem is still a hell on earth.   Former victors are forced to participate in a Quarter Quell, marking the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games. Survival through fake social relationships which the victors all know will end in death is still the tense spine of the narrative.  In “Catching Fire” the means to survival grows darker...

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“Time of Death”—Not for the Faint-Hearted

Not since Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s “On Death and Dying” with its study of the five stages of grief or Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death”, has there been such a tour-de-force depiction of the process of dying and the way that death impacts  those who are left behind.  This groundbreaking documentary series reminds me that many of us still have forgotten how to say goodbye and how to die. But some of us have figured out how.  “Time of Death”, a six-part miniseries produced by Showtime,   follows three  men and five women ranging in age from nineteen to seventy-seven years.  In six emotionally...

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Engrenages (“Spiral”)–A Vortex of Thrills

Internet streaming and cable/satellite TV have opened the door to some superb international films and television series formerly nearly unknown to the average American viewer.  Think “Borgen”.  It’s not just Denmark, however.  “Spiral” (the English translation of the  French crime series) has been a blockbuster hit not only in France but also throughout Europe (resulting in BBC co-producing for the international market.) As of last month “Spiral” has now found a devout American following through distribution by Netflix, which offers all forty episodes in four seasons (starting production date...

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Facebook and the Internet–Let’s Face It

A lot of online social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter in particular, rest on the human need for connection. For letting people into your life, no matter how insignificant the post may be.  Still,   regardless of how inane the post may be, it’s still not the same as being there.  There is no intimacy or sensory experience involved.  Only reading.  There is FaceTime,  a more intimate connection than the  phone time. And why is that? FaceTime provides hearing and visual pleasure at the same time. It is because, since we were babes in arms, the face and the  sensory experiences of...

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“Ruby Sparks”– A Spark of Creativity”

If you could create the partner of your dreams, would you be happy with him or her?  Would that relationship be all about you, completely one-sided, and therefore unsatisfying? What makes “Ruby Sparks” so funny, but also harsh and uncomfortable, are answers to those questions given throughout this quirky film. Written by and starring Zoe Kazan as well as the exceptional Paul Dano (also in “Prisoners”, see last week’s movie review), “Ruby Sparks” is directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (of “Little Miss Sunshine” fame). Calvin (Paul...

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