Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Duchess (2008, PG-13)

Submitted by David

This is a story of sexual and emotional collisions amidst English politics of the late 18th century. The experiences could fit in the 20th century, or even the 21st, current gender politics and sexuality notwithstanding. While sexual desire and intimation is evident everywhere (the clothes are titillating enough), sex is not generously given or gratefully accepted. What a shame.

Georgiana, soon to be Duchess of Devonshire (Keira knightly) is but 17 when betrothed to the older Duke (Ralph Fiennes – fittingly Voldemort in Harry Potter films.) Other than arranging marriage, he hardly woos her, nor makes love, in any of their couplings. She is the vessel to produce a son. He is inclined toward other sexual exploits.

Lady Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell) is one such object. Bess and Georgiana become friends after Bess rebuffs the Duke’s advances at a social gathering. In time, and with grace and affection, Bess brings Georgiana to orgasm. Bess also reawakens Georgiana’s affection toward a male friend of her youth (Charles Grey, played by Dominic Cooper) who is emerging as a politician. But the Duke eventually has his way with Bess.

Georgiana finally produces a son, after a string of daughters and still-born boys.
She then obtains an interlude away from the household and becomes a lover, at last, with Charles, but much else worsens and overtakes. Years go by and Duke and Duchess find and reinforce a trace of affection, probably based on difficulties shared, material necessity, and political expedience.

The film invites reflection on the life of Diana of Wales, ended by a 1997 auto crash. Leaving that there, the sets, clothes, musical scores, supporting cast, and a host of extras, make The Duchess well worth viewing for 110 minutes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Complicated (2009)- R

Is it cheating to have sex with your ex-husband, who is married to a woman that sleep with your ex when he wasn’t your ex? This is one of the many complicated questions raised by Meryl Streep playing Jane and Alec Baldwin playing Jake in this funny romantic comedy. This is a very entertaining, at times hilarious, film about the complexities of divorce, re-marriage, blended families and sex. A more complicated question is how can healing of a fractured marriage happen without doing more damage to current relationships? Regardless, we are all happy that Jane’s sexual fire is again ignited and with it comes all the energy to again enjoy life. For over 30 years Meryl Streep has delivered and delivered. We almost think of her as part of our family. 6/25/10

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Notebook (2004)- PG13

Reprinted in part from Netflex review

There are things in "The Notebook" that you'll figure out within 5 minutes of the movie actually starting, but that doesn't ruin the movie. You'll also be able to figure out to some degree why he's reading the notebook but you won't know until near the end of the movie how the notebook came about and the motivation behind reading it out loud. There are only about 10 minutes dealing with the "war story" part of the movie and it's necessary to explain some things. The last half hour brings everything together and it's highly emotional. The actual ending is just what it should be and altogether fitting. All in all, the movie runs you through every emotion in the human spectrum and, in my opinion, it's the best "love story" I've ever seen or read. The storyline of this movie is exceptional, and James Garner, Gena Rowlands & the supporting cast brought this saga to life in a most extraordinary manner. The movie is terrific, and one I won’t forget for a long, long time – maybe never.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Man in the Moon (1991)- PG13

reprinted in-part from Netflix review

This is an excellent coming-of-age/first romance movie, masterfully directed by Robert Mulligan who brought us "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Fear Strikes Out" and "Summer of 42", among others. This was his last directorial effort and he picked a fine film in which to close out his career. The stars of this movie are the kids, Dani, played by Reese Witherspoon in her film debut, Maureen, played by Emily Warfield and Court, played by Jason London. Warfield and London have since had moderate theatrical success, but Witherspoon has been the one to achieve box office stardom...and the reason for that disparity is pretty evident in this movie as Witherspoon (who was only 15 in 1991) already comes across as an accomplished actor. The story of the two sisters (Witherspoon and Warfield) falling in love with the same boy (London) is a familiar one, but never portrayed better than here. Combine that with a near-tragedy that strikes the pregnant mother (Tess Harper) and a real tragedy that strikes as the heart of the teen romance and you've got the makings of a real tear jerker. Mulligan's intelligent direction though keeps this from becoming too cliched and maudlin and the lessons learned after tragedy (and near tragedy) strikes helps to reunite the sisters and the family.

This excellent film should be seen because of the brilliant performance of Reese Witherspoon. However, it should also be seen because of the outstanding examples of parenting, played by Sam Waterston and Tess Harper. The film demonstrates how parents can affirm the first sexual and love feelings of a 14 year old. The parents don’t panic despite pain and tragedy. They model strength and acceptance without melodrama. I highly recommend this film.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Lover (1992) – NR

The photography in this film is outstanding. From the opening close-up of a young 15 year-old French girl in Saigon to the panoramic street and country scenes of Colonial Vietnam in 1929, the film’s cinematography is beautiful. The details in the shots are refined to a degree that the audience can nearly smell and taste the food cooking from street vendors. The director Jean-Jacques Annaud takes this highly refined gift of cinematography into the bedroom to capture the beauty and the sweat of lovemaking. The NR version of The Lover has highly erotic and explicit sexual scenes of the young French girl, played by Jane March and the lover, played by Tony Leung Ka Fai. Though steamy, the film is a romance centered on forbidden love. The film was nominated for the 1993 Oscar for Best Cinematography.

The film opens as a young French girl from a dysfunctional family that has fallen on hard times is returning to boarding school. An older wealthy Chinese gentleman offers her a ride into town. She accepts. Their hands touch and his passion grows. That she notices his passion is obvious. We follow the couple as they secretly meet for their lovemaking. She gives her innocence then her passion and her body. The erotic scenes are filmed from a small first floor hotel room, with the clatter and smells of the city right outside their door.

The Lover is about so much more than forbidden love. It is about race, class, wealth, privilege, family violence, traditions and religion. The story of this affair as seen in the context of these two families is as complex a tapestry as the crowded streets of Saigon. This is a powerful drama not to be missed.

Sea of Love (1989) – R

Ellen Barkin is very hot in the movie, Sea of Love. Her body and the love scenes are hot but her character is steaming with hot energy. She plays a strong woman who knows what she wants and is going to get it, both in and out of bed. The movie brings Al Pacino together with Ellen Barkin in a story of multiple murders. The story is a “who done it” plot that keeps you watching.