Friday, November 26, 2010

Germinal (1993)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 6 out of 10
Director: Claude Berri
Starring: Renaud, Judith Henry, Gérard Depardieu, Miou-Miou
Genre: Drama, Romance, Foreign (French)
Run Time: 160 Minutes
Language: French with English subtitles

Germinal is a story of struggle, pain, romance, and desperation.  Its incredibly heavy to watch, but well worth  the time.  Its a good movie for a slow, rainy day when you're really not interested in going out or doing anything, because it can make you a little depressed to watch it.  Still, it is a powerful story based off the novel by Emile Zola.

Germinal takes place in France in the 1800s.  Étienne Lantier (Renaud) comes to a small mining community in search of work.  He is taken under the wing of the large, personable miner Toussaint Maheu (Depardieu) and is brought to live with him and his family.  Étienne soon falls in love with Maheu's daughter Catherine (Henry) and she falls in love with him.

Soon, however, troubles flare on the horizon as the mine owner continues to lower the pay of his workers, eventually forcing them to strike.  Étienne and Maheu lead the rebellion, but when things become too difficult, Catherine runs off to live with her lover, the slimy drunk Chaval, who works for a neighboring mine.

Germinal shows us all a glimpse into the heart of the human spirit.  When the pressure becomes too great, when families are starving because their wages are not enough to feed them all, when the very place that gives you money to keep you alive is also killing you, what do you do?  It's a powerful movie, incredibly sad, but incredibly beautiful and intense.  If you enjoy foreign dramas this is the film for you.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 10 out of 10
Director: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glen
Rated: R
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Crime
Run Time:118 minutes
Prequel: Manhunter (1986), Red Dragon (2002), Hannibal Rising (2007)
Sequel: Hannibal (2001)

The Silence of the Lambs has been sitting somewhere at the bottom of my movie list for a very long time.  I'm usually not the best with horror films, so this was one that I staunchly decided that I would never actually watch, seeing as I had no one to watch it with (ah, excuses, excuses!)  And, up until this point, I didn't even really know what the movie was about!  All I had to go off of was the iconic image of Anthony Hopkins in a straight jacket and bite mask, but since I was unfamiliar with the plot, this meant nothing to me.

So, I finally saw the film thanks to my wonderful roommate's comments of quid pro quo, and attempts to freak me out by telling me about Silence.  I finally decided that it would just be a good idea to see the movie.  I LOVED IT!  It was one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time!  Graphic?  Yes (perhaps too much for me).  Suspenseful?  Yes.  Thrilling?  Yes.  If you're a fan of crime drama or suspense, have a strong stomach, and don't faint at the sight of blood (or Anthony Hopkins), then this is the film for you!

A brief summary is in order: Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is a young FBI trainee who is trying to track down serial killer "Buffalo Bill," (Ted Levine) who kills his victims and then skins them.  To do so, she must enlist the help of captured serial killer and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).  In return, however, Dr. Lecter requests a quid pro quo: the right to "pick her mind," uncovering painful memories from her childhood.  The question hanging in the air during almost the entire movie: Does Hannibal Lecter know the identity of Buffalo Bill?  And if he does, will he give up the information before yet another victim dies?

I can't recommend this film enough, although I want to warn you that its not for the faint of heart.  There are some pretty nasty scenes in here, but I'd say its worth it to see an amazing performance by Hopkins, Foster, and Levine.  Hopkins was especially memorable as the sophisticated sociopath.  And I'd love to see more of his movies specifically because of this one!

All in all, 10 out of 10 for this film.  And hopefully, the other movies in this series will soon be popping up on this blog, since I had requests from one of my film buff friends that he would like to see the others, too.  (And of course, its always nicer to watch a movie with someone else, even if they do laugh at all the scary scenes and scare you during the suspenseful ones....)

**This movie has 3 bonus features!**

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Godspell (1973)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 8 out of 10
Director: David Greene
Starring: Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, and Katie Hanley
Rated: G
Genre: Musical, Religious
Run Time: 103 minutes

Godspell is a modern interpretation of the life of Jesus Christ based off the Gospel according to Matthew.  A group of New Yorkers are approached by John the Baptist (David Haskell) who encourages them to come and follow the words of Jesus.  Soon, the group of eclectic misfits, dressed like hippies in bright colors with painted faces begin to retell the Gospel of Matthew through stories, songs, and performances that they put on for Jesus and for each other.  A fun, feel-good movie, with unforgettable songs such as "Day By Day" and "Turn Back, O Man".

In all honesty, I found this movie to be a bit strange.  I'm a Catholic, and so I was a bit perturbed about some of the representations of Jesus (like why is he wearing pompoms on his shoes, face paint, and a superman shirt with suspenders?  He looks like a clown).  But, I think the reason that it was done this way was to show through the hippie movement that Jesus was counter cultural.  He was not like everyone else; he went against the grain.  Also, I felt that the film portrays Jesus as gentle, caring, and fun.  He seems like someone you'd want to hang out with and who would be happy to just spend time with you and be silly. This Jesus is not too serious, which I kind of liked.

All in all, I thought this was an incredible movie with great music and a great cast.  Sometimes, however, I will say that I thought it was a bit over-the-top in how silly they made it, but still, I would happily recommend it. 

Mickey Blue Eyes (1999)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Director: Kelly Makin
Starring: Hugh Grant, James Caan, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Crime
Run Time:102 minutes

Michael Felgate (Grant), an English auctioneer, decides that after three months, he is ready to marry the love of his life, Gina (Tripplehorn), daughter of Mafia leader Frank Vitale (Caan).  Despite his better judgement, Michael allows himself to "help" his soon to be father-in-law with a few small "favors".  And soon, "Mickey Blue Eyes" is in over his head.

This was the first time I've seen a movie that Hugh Grant starred in (although I have seen him in Sense and Sensibility). And I can just say that I'm totally hooked.  I can't believe how sweet, adorable, and FUNNY Hugh Grant was in this film!  He had me laughing until I cried; until my face hurt...and he's so cute, too!

This movie was absolutely hilarious!  Especially once Hugh starts trying to act like a gangster and talk with a "New Yawk" accent. Haha.  A must see for anyone who loves Hugh Grant, Romantic Comedies, or gangster films. :)

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