Hitting the Big Screen Nov 29 – Dec 5

Courtesy of Sundance Selects

Courtesy of Sundance Selects

Blue is the Warmest Color

Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche

Rating: 4 out of 5

Release date: Nov 29, 2013

The French sensation Blue is the Warmest Color opens up this weekend at Landmark’s fabulous Mayan Theater. It is the must-see film over this holiday weekend. Simply put, this is a story of a young girl named Adele who falls in and out of love as she grows up from awkward high-school self to an adult with all of the joys and sorrows that entails. Adele is played by Adèle Exarchopoulos who pours her damn heart out in this film with an unflinchingly honest, heart-wrenching performance.  The amazing Léa Seydoux plays Emma, an older artist, whom Adele falls madly in love with as the two of the embark on a passionate love affair. The film won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes back in May and the two actress were also feted with a duel-award for their acting. A cursory Google of the film turns up all kinds of press about the difficulties the two lead actresses had with the director, Abdellatif Kechiche and the infamous sex scenes in the film.

Yes, they will seem infamous and shocking to many, yet they play a vital role in Adele’s story. The film grapples with other topics, all filtered through Adele’s experiences. From her first sexual encounter with a high school boy to her passionate affair with Emma, the film is about Adele’s journey. She goes quickly from being a teen joking with her classmates at school to trying to fit into Emma’s world of artist parties filled with philosophical discussions. The film looks at the class distinctions from Adele’s more middle-class background to the upper-class artistes but not through sex but food. Yes, if anything this film could be accused of food porn as there are many, many scenes of cooking. Take a break from all of the excessive shopping this weekend to go spend a few hours in France with young Adele. You will be drawn deep into her story which is filled with a range of emotions. Long after Blue is over, you will be left wondering about Adele and her life. This is a thought-provoking film without easy answers that comes very highly recommended by this reviewer. Times and tickets HERE.

Courtesy of Polsky Films

Courtesy of Polsky Films

The Motel Life

Directed by: Alan & Gabe Polsky

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Release date: Nov 29, 2013

Chicago-based filmmakers Alan & Gabe Polsky did a marvelous job (with the help of several screenwriters to0) in bringing Willy Vlautin’s acclaimed novel The Motel Life the big screen. Vlautin’s update on Of Mice and Men features Frank and Jerry Lee, the Flanagan Brothers, who live in motels in Reno, Nevada. The two are hard-drinkers who if they didn’t have crap luck then they would have no luck at all. Frank Flanagan (Emile Hirsch) has been looking after his older brother Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) since their mother died when they young teens. Jerry Lee is a screw-up and he knows it yet Frank could never leave him. One night Jerry Lee is involved in a hit-and-run accident that kills a boy and sends the brothers on the run. Frank steers them from Reno to Elko, NV where his ex-girlfriend Annie (Dakota Fanning) lives.

This melancholic film is jam-packed with heart and humor, a fall cry from the usual miserable look at down-on-their-luck working class people like the Flanagans.  The heart comes mainly from Jerry Lee, who just about the time you want Frank to ditch him always he manages to say something poetic & beautiful. Dorff’s performance is top-notch, another fine surprise from this career character actor similar to his starring role in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere a few years ago. Kris Kristofferson has a small, powerful role in the film as a car dealer who gave young Frank a job & fatherly advice he missed out on. The film has several animated interludes that focus on the stories that Frank makes up for Jerry Lee & Annie to help distract them from the troubles in their lives. The Motel Life is truly one of the year’s most surprising films, full of wonderfully understated performances and a great script. I really enjoyed it’s period setting of February 1990 as a large plot point in the film centers around gambling on the Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas heavyweight fight. The life of Buster Douglas serves as a fitting analogy to the Flanagan Brothers too.

The film play at the SIE Film Center, check out times and tickets HERE.


Don’t forget that recent SDFF36 gem The Great Beauty, directed by Italain filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (also honored at SDFF36) opens up at the Chez Artiste. This is, without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous films of the year as you will get to see Rome in all of it’s decadent glory. Toni Servillo stars as Jep Gambardella, a dapper 65-yr old journalist who takes stock of the life he has lived and the loves he has lost. The film serves as an interesting riff on modern-day Italy, deeply mired in economic and spiritual malaise. Truly a film to behold up on the big screen.

THE GREAT BEAUTY Courtesy of Janus Films

Courtesy of Janus Films

Starting with next’s week’s column we are going to do a spotlight on Video On Demand (V.O.D.) titles. All of December we will focus on all of the cinematic treats that are available right in the comforts of your own home. We will focus on all of the new and exciting stuff from our friends at IFC Films.


Be kind to each other, stay safe and enjoy movies this holiday weekend.