Love Is All You Need (Den Skaldede Frisør) 

Last night I was in the mood for a romantic comedy that mainly takes in Italy. I found the Danish movie Love Is All You Need as one of the top movies on Amazon Prime. I was also interested in seeing Pierce Brosnan in a non-James Bond movie. Besides Brosnan, it also stars Trine Dyrholm, and Molly Blixt Egelind. I classify Love Is All You Need as a fun movie to watch. So what is it about?

Ida (Dyrholm) is a hairdresser in midst of battling cancer, unable to process a potentially bleak future, while discovering husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) is cheating on her with a younger woman. It’s also time to celebrate the wedding of daughter Astrid (Blixt Egelind) to Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), son of demanding fruit exporter Philip (Brosnan). Traveling to Italy for the big weekend, Ida literally crashes into Philip during the journey, with the two kicking off an uneasy but warming relationship, learning about the businessman’s history as a widower, fending off the desperate advances of his sister-in-law, Benedikte (Paprika Steen). Laboring to get the festivities rolling, the extended family comes together, only to watch dysfunction spill everywhere, leading to animosities and confusion, with Patrick beginning to question his sexuality on the eve of his wedding vows. As chaos sweeps over the party, Ida and Philip grow closer.

You can probably predict what then happens. I do recommend Love is All You Need if you are looking for something that is light and fun to watch in the beautiful settings of southern Italy.


Much Ado About Nothing

Last night I watched the very well reviewed modern version of Shakespeare's playMuch Ado About Nothing. The story takes place in a beautiful, modern house and grounds. This movie is  a retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words. It stars Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Alexis Denisof, and Amy Acker.

The opening scene shows Don Pedro and Claudio (Diamond and Kranz) returning from abroad, complete with security detail and a motorcade of gleaming cars. They bring with them Benedick (Denisof), Don John (Maher), and Don John's cunning sidekick Conrade. They stop off at the beautiful home of Leonato (Clark Gregg), to celebrate with relatives and friends, all of whom have nothing else to do besides hang out in the house, drink wine, gossip, and make mischief with one another's love lives. Claudio confesses to Don Pedro that he has fallen in instant-love with Leonato's beautiful young daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese). Don Pedro immediately begins scheming on a way to bring the romance to fruition. A masked ball thrown that night gives him the opportunity he is looking for.

The story continues following this classic play; thus, you may know what will happen. I will not rehash the story, but I will tell you that this is a funny, well-done movie that I highly recommend.



Maybe, aka Rabbit & Lizard (Tokkiwa Rijeodeu)

Last night was a Korean movie night, and I decided to watch Maybe for no other reason that it was available on Amazon Prime and I have enjoyed Korean movies in the past. What I saw was a slow-moving drama that focus on two tormented individuals. Maybe stars Seong Yoo-ri and Jang Hyeok.

May (Seong Yoo-ri) has been put up for adoption when she was four years old. Now, 23 years later, she returns to Korea in order to find her parents and uncover the source of her lizard-shaped scar on her back. However, the only person she finds his her aunt who tells her that her parents aren't alive anymore. Being a stranger and lost she wanders through the streets of Seoul and by chance runs into taxi driver Eun-seol (Jang Hyeok) for the second time, a man who suffers from a heart disease that makes his organ stop pumping blood for several seconds every now and then. Eun-seol has already met May at the airport and it seems as if he is following the girl. He tells her that he wants to give her a little city tour, but May actually doesn't want him to be near her. Eventually, he proposes to help her find her relatives, without knowing about her parents' fate, if she in return helps him find a red rabbit. Since his childhood days Eun-seol has nightmares and hopes to resolve the mystery surrounding them by finding the red rabbit. Despite her being unwilling to do so May spends some time with the taxi driver and the two realize that they are in fact connected by some kind of bond whose source they slowly start to uncover. 

I can tell you that this is not a movie that is uplifting because, as I see it, Maybe is a film about the loneliness of the two main characters. I do not recommend this film because it is such a downer.



The Company You Keep

I did not know of The Company You Keep, a movie released in 2013. This is amazing because the cast alone is worthy of watching this movie. The cast includes four actors (Robert RedfordSusan SarandonChris Cooper and Julie Christie) who have won Academy Awards and five others (Anna KendrickRichard JenkinsNick NolteTerrence Howard and Stanley Tucci) who have been nominated for Academy Awards. Besides this I was in the mood to be taken back to the turbulent years of the protests against the war in Vietnam and society in general. I was at ground zero attending the University of Maryland, College Park, a short drive to the National Mall where many protests occurred.

What, then, is the theme of this really good movie. When revolutionary ideals surrender to the realities of adult life, how does a former activist live with the consequences of their youthful decisions? Small-town lawyer Jim Grant (Redford) is faced with this reality when he hears the news that Susan Solarz (Sarandon), a long-ago member of the Weather Underground who has lived incognito as a quiet housewife and mother, had been arrested and charged with murder for her radical activities in the ’70s. For Jim, the question is not academic. Under his real name, Nick Sloan, he had been one of Solarz’s comrades in the bombings of government buildings at exactly that period when political idealism died and transformed into lethal criminality.

The story follows Ben, an eager reporter who tries to impress his prickly editor (Tucci) regarding the story of the capture of Solarz. Ben exploits his access to Diana (Anna Kendrick), a college hookup now working for the FBI. Despite warnings from her boss Cornelius (Howard) to back off, Ben persists, digging for insights. His legwork reveals that while Jim has long been a respected community member, raising his 11-year-old daughter Isabel (Jacqueline Evancho) alone since the death of his wife in an accident a year earlier, no record of him exists before 1979. Putting two and two together, Ben discovers, just ahead of the Feds, that Jim is Nick Sloan, another Weatherman.

That's all I will say other than this is an excellent movie that I think anyone would enjoy watching.


Extraterrestrial (Extraterrestre)

Again I selected a movie from HBO Go that I thought had promise. Last night I saw the Spanish movie Extraterrestial, knowing that it was not going to be a Hollywood blockbuster-style alien invasion flick. Actually it turned out as expected, much more like a dramatic play than a movie. Extraterrestial stars  Julián VillagránMichelle Jenner, and Carlos Arece.

Waking up after what appears to have been a one-night stand with Julia (Jenner), Julio (Villagran) is disoriented, unsure what happened after he passed out the night before. Discovering most lines of electronic communication had been shut off, the pair noticed an enormous alien mothership floating up in the sky above Madrid. Freaking out, the duo decided to just stay in her apartment.  Julio, utilizing his engineer training, calculated the scale of the mothership. Panic then resulted when Julia’s boyfriend, Carlos (Raul Cimas), returns to the apartment, oblivious to his longtime love’s night of cheating. Figuring out how to inch closer to Julia as the days pass, Julio finds his adventure of secret seduction thwarted by Angel (Areces), a nosy, jealous neighbor who the trio suspects may be a visiting alien. Subsequently they turn on the petty man, and force him out of the apartment.  With supplies running out, Carlos starts to show signs of obsessive behavior, while Julio and Julia work to build a relationship as the world falls apart around them.

While this is just an average movie, I found it entertaining. I would recommend seeing Extraterrestial.



Raja, a film in French, has been on my watchlist for a long time. It looked good plus it had won awards at two different film festivals. Well, I was wrong. This is terrible and pathetic film that I did not enjoy. So what is the story?

A rich middle-aged Frenchman pursues an unattractive, poor Moroccan girl. Raja plays out as an unsettling love story. Initially, 19-year-old Raja (Najat Benssallem) seems immodest and Fred (Rohmer vet Pascal Greggory), who employs her to work in his garden, appears bizarrely familiar with the help. The object of Fred's desire is, it's often pointed out, no great beauty. His housekeeper warns him that the girl is no good. This is true because the orphaned Raja has a boyfriend who is her pimp. Mind games and misunderstandings proliferate, thanks to the mutual inability of Raja and Fred to understand each other's language (French and Arabic). However in no way does this curtail the would-be seducer's constant philosophizing.

I do not recommend this terrible movie. It is not worth your time.


Now You See Me

Last night I was looking for a fun movie to watch. I was not in the mood for something that was heavy or serious. Thus, I selected Now You See Me and I enjoyed it immensely. How could I not enjoy a movie that stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse EisenbergMark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, and Mélanie Lauren? Now You Can See Me sucks you in almost immediately when you are presented with the following question: 1. Can four magicians successfully rob a bank in front of a paying audience? 2. Is it really magic or is it all just a bit of razzle-dazzle, designed to distract the audience from the real trick? 

J. Daniel Atlas (Eisenberg), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Jack Wilder (Franco), and Merritt McKinney (Harrelson) are four street/stage magicians with varying degrees of magical talent. They are bought together by an unknown benefactor, who invites them to a dingy New York apartment by the way of an invitation printed on Tarot cards. The story then jumps a year, and we discover that the group have become celebrity magicians, known as ‘The Four Horseman’. We join them during a Las Vegas show, as they deceive and delight with their on stage antics, particularly with their outrageous final trick. They appear to rob a Parisian bank by transporting a man into the bank’s vault and sucking the money out of the vault and into the audience. Surely this just an illusion? Perhaps, but the exact same bank was robbed, and the money is really gone.

FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) is given the case, and an unwelcome partnership with French Interpol agent, Alma Dray (Laurent). The Four Horseman claim it was magic and if they were to be arrested, it would be akin to the government admitting that magic is real. So how did they do it? And what is coming next? These four have talent, but they are only following instructions from their benefactor. What is said benefactor’s end goal? Is there a point to the madness or is it just a grand illusion?

So you see that Now You See Me is a movie that answers some questions while creating more questions. I highly recommend this film.


Purple Violets

Again I was perusing the new releases on HBO Go, and I came across Purple Violets, an Edward Burn's film. I really like Ed Burns and his movies; thus, I selected Purple Violets. Being an actor, writer, and director shows up over and over again in the work he produces.  What I saw was an interesting but average movie. I guess that is good sometimes because you cannot watch great videos every time. Purple Violets stars Annette ArnoldSelma Blair, and James Biberi.

Patti Petalson (Blair) was a successful writer during her college days, but now she works as a realtor for a condescending boss.  Patti is in a loveless marriage with a chef, and hasn't written a word in forever. Then one night, while having dinner with her girlfriend Kate (Debra Messing), Patti has a chance encounter with Brian Callahan (Patrick Wilson). He was her old boyfriend that she dumped back in college. Brian went on to become a famous crime novelist and had just published his first attempt at serious literature to horrible reviews. Brian hangs out with his old-college friend Michael Murphy (Edward Burns), who is now his lawyer. Murph dated Kate in college until he broke her heart. Brian also has a not-so-bright druggy girlfriend. It does not take great intellect to see where this movie is going. I will not spoil it for you.

Purple Hearts is entertaining but not a great movie. I hesitantly recommend this movie.


Eat Pray Love

To begin my assignment, I watched Eat Pray Love. I was surprised that I could not rent this 2010 movie. I had to purchase it. I wonder why? Of course, I knew it was a chick flick, but I am open-minded and have enjoyed such movies in the past. I was especially looking forward to the segment of the movie that takes place in Rome, one of my favorite cities in the world. Eat Pray Love stars Julia RobertsJavier Bardem, and Richard Jenkins.

The story starts as journalist Liz (Roberts) is having something of a spiritual crisis. She is married to a directionless man-child (Billy Crudup) and feels unfulfilled by the house she so meticulously decorated for them. On an assignment in Bali, she meets with a medicine man (Hadi Subiyanto) who tells her that she will remarry, lose all of her money (but get it all back), and find spiritual balance. It’s enough to set her on a journey of self-discovery—first, by leaving the husband and jumping straight into the arms of an actor played by James Franco then, by venturing on a yearlong trip around the world where she visits Italy, India, and Bali.

In Italy (“Eat” section), she feasts on amazing spaghetti carbonara and proscuitto with fresh figs and Neapolitan pizza, makes good friends, and wanders ancient ruins, contemplating her existence. In India (“Pray”), she goes to an ashram and meets a recovering alcoholic (Jenkins), who has been there long enough to give Liz advice on finding her inner voice. Finally, in Bali (“Love”), she meets back up with the medicine man and falls for a sexy Brazilian (Bardem), who, like her, has been hurt and is reluctant to take the leap.

From my male eyes Eat Pray Love is an average movie because my male brain does not see the world in the same way as a lady. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the travel component of this film and that it did not portray us males as devious and bad. I hesitantly recommend Eat Pray Love.


The East

I was in for a treat last night when I decided to watch The East. I was in the mood for a film with social consciousness, and that is what I saw. It stars Brit MarlingAlexander Skarsgård, and Ellen Page. Brit Marling, the star in Another Earth, cowrote the the screen play with Zal Batmanglij, the film's director.  

Marling plays Sarah, a former FBI agent. She is now working undercover for a private intelligence firm with Patricia Clarkson (Sarah) is her handler. This organization aims to infiltrate would-be terrorist cells and dismantle them from within. The initial trick is to find the group you wish to infiltrate and the early scenes show Sarah's attempts to attract the attentions of a shadowy eco-terrorist cell known only as The East. Once accepted into their organization, she finds herself unsettled by their bonding mechanisms, designed to both test the loyalty of and strip back members' sense of self in favor of the collective. Sarah becomes involved in their actions know as 'jams.' Each of The East' jams attempts to make the world aware of corporate misdeeds such as unethical big pharmaceutical companies that produce deadly drugs to freely polluting petrochemical firms. As expected, Sarah also discovers that she is increasingly attracted to The East's charismatic leader Benji (Alexander Skarsgård) and his cause. I will say no more, but you probably have an idea of how this movie progresses.

I highly recommend this film because I found that the story, acting, and cinematography were all excellent plus it shows that the actions of some large corporations have a profound effect on our lives.