"American Hustle", "Blue Is The Warmest Color", "Gravity", "Philomena", "The Great Beauty", "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee", Abdel Kechiche, Adele Exarchoppoulos, Judi Dench, Lea Seydoux, Steve Coogan
Philomena **** 1/2
I think I tend to rate films with good/terrific stories and good/terrific acting as four and a half or five stars. I’m not ‘schooled’ in films in the way many reviewers are, and while I can appreciate good film making, good photography, and some of the other aspects that make movies outstanding, for me it’s most often the story and the acting.
Thus I put Philomena near the top for this year. Know that the story is both depressing and uplifting at the same time. And Judi Dench is simply at her best, which is quite a compliment. Steve Coogan’s performance, tho not in the category of Dench’s, is also good.
The story is taken from a book, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, by a British writer, Martin Sixsmith, and is about a mother’s attempt to find the child she was ‘forced’ to give up to adoption in the 1950s in Ireland.
I won’t add any spoilers, tho the film did send me to the recently re-released book (now retitled Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search). I do also recommend the book and will write about in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, if you have the time, check out the film before it disappears.
Blue Is the Warmest Color ****
This film also fits into the category defined above. This one is a good story with terrific acting.
I almost hate to use the phrase ‘coming of age’ to describe this love story, but that’s what it is. It’s the story of a young girl (about 16? when the film opens) and of her falling in love with a slightly older woman (mid 20s?).
Again, I will not include spoilers and so will focus more on the acting. Adele Exarchoppoulos and Lea Seydoux, as the two leading actresses, both give powerful performances. Adele’s is the one that is most gripping and absorbing.
For me, the extended ‘lovemaking’ was too much, too graphic and made me uncomfortable. It is a long film, a bit over three hours, but it never felt long (save for the two most erotic scenes).
Apparently there is a controversy both about the film itself and about the making of the film and Abdel Kechiche’s direction. Blue Is the Warmest Color was the 2013 Palme d’Or winner (highest prize at Cannes). It is rated NC-17.
* * * * * *
Also saw several other films, but none of them reach the four star cut off I generally use for writing my mini-reviews. Some of the recent ‘non-reviewable’ films include American Hustle, The Great Beauty, Gravity (only the first few minutes seemed worthy to me), and Oh Boy. I suspect The Wolf of Wall Street will fit into this category too, when I see it.
Finally, as soon as I get sufficient time (within the next week), I will list in one post all of the films I rated four, four and half, and five stars this year, along with links to my mini-reviews. No top ten or that kind of stuff, just a list of what I particularly enjoyed this year.