Category Archives: Foreign Film

REVIEW: “Anaïs in Love” (2022) Magnolia Pictures

From the very moment we first see her on screen, it’s clear that Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier), doesn’t have her life together. It’s also clear that that is exactly how director Charlene Bourgeois-Tacquet wants her lead character to be. Anaïs is a whirlwind on the screen, as it is the films running joke throughout that Anaïs is a frenetic girl who is habitually late to everything. She is late to appointments, late to school, late to parties, late to family functions, yet she is never out of breath while being late riding her bike to all these events. To continually make it clear, she is late with the rent on her Paris apartment, late with her University dissertation, and yes, late with her period. She is also late in telling her live-in boyfriend Raoul (Christophe Montenez), that because she is late taking her birth control as she ‘just forgot’ that she is pregnant. But somehow everyone from her landlord to her professor, all look past her seemingly carefree approach to real life as she talks her way out of all of it because, you guessed it, she is late and running off to the next thing that she is late for.

This is all cute and whimsical enough until, suffice to say the one thing she on time for is when she has her abortion. The problem here is how nonchalantly this is all noted as if having the abortion is just another blip in her day. This is supposed to be comedy and there was nothing funny about the way this is handled in the story. Abortion, as we all know, is a serious right, a right for a woman to make a choice. It is not however to be shown so dispassionately and be treated as though it’s just another form of birth control. That something so critical and important of an issue and decision is taken here, by a female director of all people, should’ve been handled with more aplomb instead of being made to look easy to do and be played off as if she is cool as a cucumber doing it. The film lost its comical ‘pretense’ then and there.

So it’s really no surprise then to see as the film goes on that Anaïs takes an older, married man Daniel (Denys Podalydes), whom she met as she was late to a dinner party, as her lover, He then turns it around and ends the affair by stating he doesn’t want his life to change. Anaïs as per usual, just shrugs it off and turns her attention to Daniel’s wife, Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). Emilie is a famous author and Anaïs worms her way into Emilie’s life after reading her book, tracks her to Normandy, where she’s holding a symposium, even though she was hired and supposed to be helping at a completely different symposium in another town. Once again, she just abandons something dependable for something whimsical. In the midst of all this and without warning, the women begin a sexual relationship. It comes as a complete surprise as neither character had up until that point in the film, even the slightest bit any previous indications that this was even something that either of them was interested in. All the while this is going on, Anaïs is coming to terms with the return of her mother’s (Anne Canovas), liver cancer. While this isn’t an excuse for her bad behavior, it seems to be given as some sort of explanation for it all.

There is a lot lacking here in terms of it being a comedy at all and it lacks any sort of dramatic punch even with the side-story of her mothers cancer. Anaïs the character, is never concerned about what the outcome of her actions are, so neither are we. Anaïs Demoustier the actress, is beautiful and does well with what the character is supposed to be, it’s just not enough to make the film any better. This is essentially a movie about an thoughtless young woman, whose mother is dying of cancer, and who makes the lives of those around her unpleasant. And that just isn’t funny no matter which way you twist it.

Grade: D+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“ANAIS IN LOVE” IS NOW IN THEATERS April 29, 2022 and VOD May 6, 2022.

REVIEW: “A TASTE OF HUNGER” (2022) Magnolia Pictures

Heading into Danish director Christoffer Boe’s latest film “A TASTE OF HUNGER”, I had more of a picture in my head of the 1990’s film ‘Big Night’ where the focus of the film was basically making food and making the audience drool over it, while having an almost comedic backstory to boot. This film came close in some ways, but not quite in the same manner.

Here in a different take on a chef’s story, Carsten (Nikoaj Coster-Waldau) has been working for 10 years to build up his small restaurant Malus, in Copenhagen with the only goal being that of earning the oh-so-rare and coveted Michelin star. His wife, Maggi (Katrine Gries-Rosenthal), is his partner in life as well as in business. We see how committed to the cause they are, and while they appear to have a solid marriage and are decent parents, it’s clear the kids and the family are not the priority in that as the quest for that rare restaurant star is. Maggi is at the point of looking outside her marriage for affection with another chef from a competing restaurant, which her young daughter Chloe (Flora Augusta) completely notices and their son August (August Vinkel), has an episode where he randomly wanders off and goes missing due to lack of attention from his parents.

A Movie by Hr. Boe Zentropa

All this deflects from the true story at hand here, again, obtaining the Michelin star, and we watch as Carsten goes through some true Ludo Lefebvre type rages that is seemingly popular amongst chefs to do. But instead of following that trend, we get taken into some really delicious and delicate food porn scenery. It’s beautiful to see such flair given here in the details with each dish being shown in it’s carefully arranged and perfectly cooked manner. The acting portrays the deep desire that every chef has to create a dish that the customer would never forget, as one can almost smell all of the delicious food, as if the scent of sautéed oyster, cooked octopus, and fermented lemons are wafting through the screen right into you. It also conveys what it really means to achieve this prized star for your restaurant as a whole. In essence, their entire life rides on it and while some might think it’s just food, it’s clear to not just Carsten and Maggi, but to their friends who join them while waiting to hear – one in particular Torben (Nicolas Bro), shows how important it is even to him.

While the story isn’t perfect here, it is the opening scenes that are truly the most beautiful to set the tone of the movie with the sequence of beautifully presented food and the music create an enthralling introduction to the movie. Yes, the mish-mash of back and forth flashbacks of the family’s decline into unhappiness might not be all that one wants to watch, but it does let you know why things are happening. As with all families, not everything is what it seems on the outside, but it does take away some from the true point of this film.

So while the food portion of this film will definitely cleanse your palette, the story as a whole might lead you straight into dessert, even with all ending as it does. But it’s definitely worth a taste.

Grade: C+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“A TASTE OF HUNGER” hits theaters and on demand Friday, January 28, 2022

REVIEW: “I’M YOUR MAN” (2021) Bleeker Street

Not knowing much going into this film, little did I know what a lovely surprise I would be in for in director Maria Schrader’s quirky fun rom-com “I’M YOUR MAN”. Not usually being someone who is fond of the A.I. genre of films and having once been known to say “If I ever find that an A.I. is my my relationship – please slap me”, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this one even though I wasn’t ready for it to be almost entirely in German as well.

Thankfully though – this isn’t my story though as this one is not only better but it centers on esteemed archaeologist/researcher Alma (Maren Eggert), who accepts an offer to participate in an usual experiment in exchange for research funds. She agrees to “beta test’ on a three-week trial run, living with a humanoid named Tom (Dan Stevens), who has been programmed to be her exact ideal life partner. From there, she has to evaluate on the successes and/or failures of the AI prototype to help decide whether they should be introduced into society as potential life partners for well, everyone. During this three week time period, we find ourselves watching things that are essentially very human. Alma is anti-relationship as the film starts to reveal more about her we find she grieves over a miscarriage she suffered during a past relationship and her former partner Julian (Hans Low) is very much around. While Alma is single, she’s not alone – she has a younger sister, Cora (Annika Meier) and an elderly, deteriorating father (Wolfgang Hübsch), who require a lot of her attention in life as well.

Not to be overlooked is the fun CGI of a bar scene of playing itself well on the ‘who is/who isn’t’ a AI or hologram and of course the acting. Eggert is wonderful at playing off the strong, defensive woman she is supposed to be and slowly letting her wall down to open up to the idea of this AI actually being ‘the one’. While Stevens is quite good here as he absolutely crushes it by speaking surprisingly fluent German, that is when he’s not speaking Spanish, French, or Korean and most notably, not a single word of English. He also manages to somehow be a robot, yet convey small emotions such as being flirty, funny, sad and dare I say it – humanistic.

With some funny, snappy, smart dialogue and a well structured storyline “I’m Your Man” moves it all along in a realistic looking manner, while being hugely entertaining as well. There can be huge risk involved with films that tackle themes such as this one, and then be successful at it to boot, but this one was all handled so well and came across as down to earth while also making itself fun and thought-provoking.  

Grade: B+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

“I’M YOUR MAN” from Bleeker Street Films – is in limited theaters on Friday, September 24, 2021

Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “BRIGHTON 4TH”

Winner of the Best International Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival, “BRIGHTON 4TH” is noted as being a ‘Comedy/Drama’ which made me do a double take at that one. Drama – yes, in a big way, yet Comedy just didn’t seem to be it’s forte’ as what I watched from director Levan Koguashvili, truly left nothing comedic in it’s path.

It is however a long drawn out story of a former wrestling champion Kakhi (Levan Tediashvili – an actual former Olympic wrestler), who seemingly feels he needs to take on the responsibility for everyone around him and their problems. The story follows his long drawn out trek from his native Georgia to the well-known Russian enclave of Brighton Beach, where many of his fellow countrymen have immigrated to as well. His son Soso (Giorgi Tabidze), went to study medicine, but needs a green card and Khaki had given him $15,000 to do so and if necessary, pay Lena (Nadezhda Mikalkova) to marry him. Instead he is working as a mover and has gambled away the money plus an additional $14,000 he now owes to head of the gambling mob. Khaki finds him in a small room & board house ran by the wife of his best friend who also ended up gambling away his money. Now he seeks to find a solution to it all and while we go through a good hour plus of side stories that include: Kakhi taking a job helping out an elderly couple, and getting sexually propositioned by the wife; as well as a very lengthy deviation that involves Kahki in the midst of a plan to kidnap a man who’s been refusing to pay the Georgian women he hires as hotel maids. All these things relay nothing to the point of the film – what the main goal is – saving his son’s life from the mobsters he owes money to.

We finally get to the point in the final minutes of the film, as it has Khaki challenging the head mobster whom his son owes, to a wrestling match as even though Kakhi is in his 70’s and is at least 20 years older, he does it to take care of the debt his son owes. Oddly, it’s a surprisingly believable moment, even in it’s bleakness. While the acting here is mostly done by non-actors as well, they too are believable within reason. But it’s the length of time that it took to even get to the point here that made it too sluggish and weighed down, and while going through storylines that didn’t lead anywhere. Also, the fact of the oh-so-familiar mob-lines of Russian/Georgian immigrant community in Brighton Beach has a ‘been there – done that’ feel to it all. While the final moment is sweet in it’s own way, it’s the ‘getting there’ long windedness that just didn’t work as well for me as it clearly did for others.

‘C’

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’Brighton 4th” ~ courtesy of Susan Norget Film Promotion

“BRIGHTON 4TH” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL JUNE 2021

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “DO NOT HESITATE”

The Dutch military mission in Afghanistan which had started in 2006 is coming to an end, though a redeployment task force would stay on to oversee the return of vehicles, military hardware and equipment to the Netherlands. This is the lead into one of the better foreign films of the Tribeca, “DO NOT HESITATE”. It is the second feature film by the Dutchman (originally from Venezuela) Sharif Korver, and with it, we find almost a character study of the absolute tricks of mind-play that war can do to you.

Written by Jolein Laarman, ‘Do Not Hesitate’ focuses on a trio of Dutch soldiers Erik (Joes Brauers),Thomas (Tobias Kersloot), and Roy (Spencer Bogaert), whom are separated from their unit when during a reconnaissance mission, their armored vehicle breaks down and they are tasked with staying back and ‘protecting the equipment’ while waiting for help in getting the vehicle and it’s expensive gunnery moved.

The three young soldiers, are not just bored, but you can see written all over them, how nervous and inexperienced they are. Throw in ‘paranoia’ to the mix, as anything can be a potential attack on them and all this leads one of them to ‘hear and see’ something to which it turns out, one accidentally kills a goat, which they in turn bury. Now this goat, well it’s probably the prime source of milk for a whole family, and if killed, would feed that family for a good portion of time. This isn’t at the top of their minds when a young boy, the goat’s owner/herder Khalil (Omar Alwan) shows up looking for his goat and upset by the death of his animal and demands restitution. While Khalil waits for his payment, Erik tries to be polite while Thomas spews racist words at him in Dutch. They are all frustrated by Khalil’s just screaming at the top of his little lungs at them, and though he is a teenager and he’s little, he’s determined to get more than the fifty American dollars they offer as compensation for his dead goat. Erik is the only one of the three to try to make amends and de-escalate the situation.

These three main characters have little in common besides being deployed as it’s apparent not just in the different dialects of Dutch they speak, but we see brief glimpses into who they were before being put in this most precarious of positions. So much mentally happens and it leads into a step by step tense by tense moment after moment, with the music by Juho Nurmela and Ella van der Woude‘s creeping piano and continuing drums throughout, keeps it and you on edge, to the earth shattering final act right before being rescued that can only have ended as it did. The ending, while it might shock you, you also realize it was always going to be this way because these boys are really far too young, and inexperienced in their own right to even be put in this type of predicament. No one should ever be and it’s that story with the ending showing it never ever will not effect them, that makes you think truly ask if the price of war is really worth it.

‘B+’

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’DO NOT HESITATE’ ~ courtesy of MPRM Communications

“DO NOT HESITATE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL // TO BE RELEASED IN NETHERLANDS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2021

REVIEW: “RIDERS OF JUSTICE” (2021) Magnolia Pictures

It all starts with a stolen bicycle. Something taken from someone that usually might not have much merit to it, yet here in ‘RIDERS OF JUSTICE’, it has everything to do with what happens next in director Anders Thomas Jensen’s latest foray into a wonderful film that gives us drama, dark comedy, action and explores just how far someone can go to justify their anger and avoid facing their grief.

Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), is a soldier who is called back home due to his family’s being in a bizarre train accident. His wife Emma (Anne Birgitte Lind) tragically dies in it, but their teen daughter, Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), survives. While grieving, she seeks answers for what happened and why. She’s coping by questioning the universe and religion as well, but Markus tells her those are nothing but dead ends. There is nothing good that will come from trying to make sense of it. It was all just a tragic accident and coincidence — end of story. But then where would be the storyline in all this – because one crazy tale is about to be told.

Markus is a soldier, and he sees himself as a man’s man so to speak, so he does what most men do to process loss: he tries to drink and smoke his pain away. He knows no other way to process his grief. That is until one day a mathematics/statistician named Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), and his colleague Lennart (Lars Brygmann), show up to tell him the accident wasn’t a coincidence. Now both of these characters have just lost their job, and because of this, they have time, time to research the statistics of this train accident. And in fact, all ‘stats’ show it was a planned murder by a local gang called Riders of Justice, and they can prove it. And so it begins – Operation ‘Make the Riders pay’ for what they have perceived to have done, is underway.

The team Otto and Markus assemble almost seem like a nerdy group of Avengers, as it’s essentially both of them, along with Lennart – who must be an absolute burden to psychiatrists round the world, and yet he fashions himself one as well, and Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), a extremely sensitive I.T. genius. They look like they are highly intelligent and they are, but they are also physically and emotionally damaged men as well. Markus on the other hand, just doesn’t care. He’s fueled by the notion they have planted him with and will stop at nothing for revenge, he’s like a human torpedo determined to blow everything up — and by everything, I mean the guys he believes are involved in this plot. Markus is the muscle, the executioner, and the rest of the team is the brains behind the operation.

Jensen’s not interested here in making a plain, basic revenge movie. No, he wants to explore what’s beneath these men’s grief, shame, and humiliation. He pits Markus’ masculinity and the others vulnerability, using it against each other to see what happens as this group has only one common goal — destroy the gang — but seemingly not much else. Markus only knows how to solve a problem if it involves violence and guns, as ‘feelings’ and ‘words’ are useless to him. He only knows and believes that there is only one way to handle things, with action i.e., ‘actions speak louder than words’, a prevalent use of the motto for this film. He can’t find a way to connect with his daughter, who’s desperately in need of parental support and guidance, as she wants him to see a therapist. Instead he mocks the quasi-diagnosis his daughter and her boyfriend Sirius (Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt) make, even though he knows he will have to confront his feelings at some point. Markus refuses it because he realizes he couldn’t be in control of the situation, which is the only thing he has on the battlefield — and, ultimately, in life.

The rest of the characters are vastly different from Markus, but they all have their suppressed emotions to face as well and it’s kind of fascinating to see how the film lays them out in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes it almost seems far-fetched how Jensen makes the men connect, but he is once again, so good at creating unlikely bonds between the men, that it works out ridiculously well as the balance between very dark comedy, drama and action is perfectly handled. But makes no bones about it, there is a ton of shooting, killing, and bone-breaking in Riders of Justice, but ultimately, all that is a distraction. To be honest, the experience here is something like none other and is absolutely superb. It is comedy, it is war, it is death, sadness and violence – all wrapped up in one, but one in which in a portion of your mind, you are rooting for it in the weirdest way possible, and then you get slammed with a twist that in the darkest recesses of your mind, you never saw coming. Plus, the whole mathematical statistics of how they explain things is so very real, it makes you really take a moment to stop and think as well.

Honestly, Mikkelson is like a well balanced glass of wine here. One thing that is made clear after watching – not only does Mikkelson have the uncanny ability to be able to pick these projects, as well as have co-stars that just might be the most unlikely group to put together, yet are perfectly adept at enhancing his story and his performance every time. It also makes me so happy he continues to make quality films like this one, in his own language, as a translation to English, would just not be workable with a film like this one.

And it might also just be the best film of the year so far.

A

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR

“RIDERS OF JUSTICE” IS OUT IN SELECT THEATERS IN LA/NYC ON FRIDAY, MAY 14, 2021 // EVERYWHERE MAY 21, 2021

REVIEW: “THE TRUTH” (2020) IFC Films

If someone had ever told me I’d see a film one day with the brilliant and beautiful Catherine Deneuve and Ethan Hawke together, I probably would have made a very large wager that that would never happen. And yet here we find ourselves with just that film in Director Hirokazu Koreeda‘s “THE TRUTH” – where surprisingly enough this famed Japanese director takes on a French/English film. This film is not what one may expect as trailers leave one to think it’s purely a drama, but it’s mostly a dramedy with the leaning more towards comedy, but you have to be able to catch it and it’s inevitable that some just won’t.

The premise of the plot is that Catherine Deneuve’s character Fabienne Dangeville, wrote an autobiography where she not only disappoints her colleagues, but one is which she seems to embellish her past, specifically, her motherhood as well. Juliette Binoche’s character Lumir, her screenwriter daughter who came in from the U.S. to visit, soon finds about all this as she reads the book of what she feels appears to be a work of fiction. Mind you a work of fiction “based on a true story” according to her mother. She tries to talk Fabienne and seemingly never really gets the answer she’s looking for, but the film begs the question what is “the truth” really? Is it how we remember the past or is it unyielding and unbending?

On top of all this, Deneuve’s character has accepted a role in a movie solely to work with an emerging actress who resembles a now deceased friend of hers. This is a thought-provoking piece of work even if it’s not completely understood at all times. There isn’t much plot development but the character depth is wonderfully exposed. Who was loyal? Who was faithful? There are moments in it where you have a hard time distinguishing between it all. But the acting is as good as one would expect seeing the cast list. Particularly impressive is the bilingual dialogue, especially from Binoche who seems to speak both English and French as a native. Also outstanding is the child actress playing Binoche’s daughter Charlotte (Clementine Grenier).

A point of notice from me – the female characters receive most time and adulation in the movie and I found that wonderful as they are what brings this story to life. Not only Deneuve’s and Binoche’s, but also Manon Clavell’s character of Manon Lenior, the actress who Deneuve works with and has that mysterious allure of her long dead friend, the one we really never find out too much about though she is alluded to throughout the film. All have a central role in the story. Ethan Hawke’s husband character Hank, is the only one that truly feels tossed to the side and frankly irrelevant as he stumbles along with very few lines, and has to rely on a sometimes maybe too exaggerated set of gestures to come across.

With a few tweaks on the dialogue this film could have been a great heart warming comedy with some wonderful dramatic undertones had the time been taken to add the depth it needed – as is – it wanders just a bit to much even with the wonderful acting.

Grade: C+

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies and Instagram: peggyatthemovies

 

Review screening link ~ Courtesy of IFC Films

“THE TRUTH” IS NOW AT SELECT DRIVE-IN’S AND ON VOD

GOLDEN GLOBES 2017 (Part 2) ~ FILM/ACTING PICKS

Here we are with part two of my Golden Globes picks – this round is Film and Acting.
I’ve seen almost all the films presented this year, even the foreign ones – though yes, I’ve missed a few as there is only so much one human being can do! I also have a few categories where I just didn’t like any of the nominees enough to make a ‘MY PICK’. You might agree or even better, you might disagree ~ it’s all good.
So with that..I give you #peggyatthemovies 2016/17 Golden Globe picks! Cheers!

BEST PICTURE (DRAMA)

Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson is riding the come back high with this decently done war film. While it’s war scenes are done very well, it’s riddled with a lot of cheesy storyline in the first hour.

Hell or High Water
While it’s good to see a film be remembered from earlier in the year, it really never struck me as Award material when watching.

Lion
A sweet and rather powerful story of a child’s journey into being a man, and finding not only his true story, but his family’s also.

Manchester by the Sea
While I didn’t dislike this film, it was monotonous and so slow for long periods throughout. I found the last 1/2 hr. to be the best as we finally found out what was going on.

Moonlight – WINNER
While watching this film, I couldn’t help thinking I’ve seen this story before..and we have – except it was done much better on the ‘The Wire’.

I just really don’t have a pick in this category as I didn’t truly love any of these nominees, so I’m just going with what I think will win.

BEST PICTURE (COMEDY/MUSICAL)

20th Century Women
Remember how I mentioned I hadn’t seen all the movies – this is the one that my screening is actually this Tuesday.

Deadpool
Funny, fun, fast and R-rated sheer entertainment made this a favourite of mine.

Florence Foster Jenkins
Not sure how there is a nom for this one, but hey, I guess they gotta fill up the category somehow.

La La LandWINNER
With an opening scene that is just truly beautiful and so well done, you would think the rest of the film to be just as good. It’s not. Mind you it’s a good watch, just a little to far-fetched, cutsey perfect for me.

Sing StreetMY PICK
Now this movie, sadly got missed by so many and IT’S SO SO GOOD!! I would pick this as best film of all the choices given to us as Globe nominees film wise, drama or comedy, on this one. Sadly, it won’t win and it’s so deserving.

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
While Chazelle made one of my top fav. films ever with ‘Whiplash’, and again, he does a good job with the direction of this pic, it’s just not as gripping of a film.

Tom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Hands down my favourite film of the year. This film terrorized me in all the best ways possible. And it was made possible all by Mr. Ford.

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Again, he’s on the comeback-kid tour right now, and really did a spetacular job on the war scenes, but I don’t think he’s been forgiven enough to win his first time back.

Barry Jenkins, MoonlightWINNER
Gotta give it to Barry Jenkins for even getting this movie made. I know from being in a Q & A after the film, how hard they all worked. It just didn’t work that well for me. Many love it.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
While the film was aesthetically pleasing, again I just can’t call it a ‘fav’ for me. And while I’ve really liked some of his other work, this one isn’t my pick.

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA)

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the SeaWINNER
I liked Casey in the film, I did. And having an insightful & humourous Q & A with him afterwards helped make me like the film just a bit more than I did. I just didn’t see it as an Award winning performance.

Joel Edgerton, Loving
Didn’t do it for me. Honestly, when was the last time you heard Edgerton actually speak with his native accent..yeah I can’t remember either and him trying to do the backwoods southern didn’t work for me.

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Again, the accent thing bothered me here. Do I think the performance was bad, no. But it didn’t warrant an Award either.

Viggo Mortensen, Captain FantasticMY PICK
Mortensen has been pretty underappreciated in his career. I say we make that right here. Even though I know it won’t happen, it would be great to see.

Denzel Washington, Fences
Denzel..oh Denzel..how I adore you. You pretty much own every role you do.

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA)

Amy Adams, Arrival
While I really enjoyed this film, one of the best Sci-Fi I’ve seen, she really shoulda gotten this nom for Nocternal Animals because thats where she really shined.

Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
I think Jessica is wonderful, though I did not see this film yet.

Isabelle Huppert, ElleMY PICK
Huppert simply put – blew me away in this one. I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen a performance like it, and probably never will again. Sadly, I’m guessing she won’t win.

Ruth Negga, Loving
I liked this performance so much once she started speaking and really putting forth as the first 30+ min she just really never said anything.

Natalie Portman, JackieWINNER
Yes, we all know they are going to give the award to Natalie. And while she was good here, she doesn’t even come close to Huppert.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY

Colin Farrell, The LobsterMY PICK
Colin was so fantastic in this funny, bizarrely good film that he was hands down, best in category for me.

Ryan Gosling, La La LandWINNER
We all know Gosling was a Mouseketeer so yes, he can sing and dance etc.. And was really cutsey good here as well as the film was. Just not Award cutsey for me.

Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
While his performance was one of the better spots in this film, it’s so far from Award worthy.

Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Clearly they were desperatly trying to fill up this category here. Did anyone see this film besides me at a free screening months before it came out? Yeah I’m guessing not – there is a reason for that.

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
I truly did love Ryan in this film – but again, Award worthy..nah..

BEST ACTRESS, (COMEDY)

Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Dang on this one, my screening is Tues. night.

Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
I was out of the country when this one came out and by the time I got back, it was gone out of theatres.

Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Cute film, cute performance – I do think there will be awards sometime in her future.

Emma Stone, La La Land
Yeah – I like Emma and another cutsey performance. That’s really all there is to it.

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Okay again, do they just use Meryl every year as a filler for a supporting category. And while I think she is one of the greatest actresses of our time, it’s when she gets nominated year after year for this reason only that makes it tiresome.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
While I wasn’t the films biggest fan, if I had to pick a part that I liked, it was the first segment with this guy in it.

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High WaterWINNER
While I might not have seen awards coming for this movie, Bridges came through on this performance in a big way.

Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
This character was cute & funny..at first..then it just wore on you.

Dev Patel, Lion
I’m a big Dev Patel fan and while the child actor might have stolen the show, he did bring it all t

Aaron Taylor Johnson, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Some think he doesn’t deserve this. I think he TOTALLY does. Sure his roles leading up to this have been sub-par, but thats what makes this one so good – he did a complete 360 and brought the ‘terrifying’ to this role in a most fantastic way. Anytime someone can surprise me with a performance this good, yes they deserve a nom.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Fences
Viola has proved herself to be one of the most standout actresses in Hollywood. She most definitely deserves the nom here. Plus, if she wins, you know it will be one fun acceptance speech!! 🙂

Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Liked it – just didn’t love it. Definitely worthy of a nom tho.

Nicole Kidman, Lion
Same here with Nicole, liked it – just didn’t love it.

Octavia Spencer, Hidden FiguresMY PICK/WINNER
Now I called this when I saw the film back in November. The whole movie is good with really good performances, but she takes it here for me. She has been and is my only and clear choice.

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Really, a blink of seven minutes total on screen..though the last scene with her and Affleck is the one what finally made me like the film better, still.

BEST SCREENPLAY

Damien Chazelle, La La LandPOSSIBLE WINNER
I think I’ve said my take on this film enough and while I think Chazelle has a fantastic career ahead of him, I

Tom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Having done a Q & A with Ford after the film really brought the ‘how’s & why’s’ insight into my fav. film of the year.

Barry Jenkins, MoonlightWINNER
Again, I completely commend Jenkins for even getting this film made. And I think it’s between him & Chazelle for who is the critical darling of the year.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Respect to the writing, though I might have enjoyed the process of it better as a book.

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Well done for being remembered from earlier in the year. Worthwhile watch – not a win for me.

Best Animated Feature Film
While I saw all of these besides ‘Zucchini’ I just don’t have commentary for all of them. Just a pick.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing
ZootopiaMY PICK/WINNER

Best Foreign Language Film
Have seen all but ‘Divines’ and I only have one hands down pick and what will hopefully be the winner!

Divines
ElleMY PICK/WINNER
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Follow along to see what happens with my live tweets during the Awards at @pegsatthemovies

7 DAYS OF OSCARS: DAY ONE ~ “BEST FOREIGN FILM & BEST DOCUMENTARY”

Well, Well, Well.. here we are!! At that time of year once again where I give a countdown of my top Oscar categories, hence the title “7 Days of Oscars” – This year I’m starting off gently, and I’ve added in two categories ~ Best Foreign Language Film & Best Documentary Feature ~ and I’m starting off with those two. I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick – because they don’t always necessarily coincide with each other!! 😀

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Embrace of the Serpent
I did like this film as it was truly interesting to me. Not a pick though.

MustangMY PICK
Simply LOVED this film! By far, one of the best movies I saw this year period.

Son of SaulWINNER
People seem to love this movie. As someone who was told many camp stories as a child by family members who had been in them, it rang very false to me. Didn’t really like the film at all.

Theeb
While this movie told a good story, I just didn’t gravitate towards it as much as I did others.

A War
This is the only one I haven’t seen yet, though I plan to this week as it’s the last one on my list to do so.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Quick note – Documentaries are never easy watches.. They are hard and quite depressing, though mostly eye-opening, they can be difficult to watch – this years picks are no different.

AmyWINNER
Sad & Heartbreaking are just two of the words I would use to describe this doc on the life of Amy Winehouse. While showcasing how beautiful her voice was, it also shows how at times, some just can’t handle the trappings of fame that go along with a gift like this.

Cartel LandMY PICK
This would actually be my pick for best documentary and while it has a chance at winning, Amy will probably be the one. This story is simply put and very straight-forward showing that even behind the good, there is bad. And it shows us all, it will never end.

The Look of Silence
Possible one of the hardest watches of the whole movie season for me. It might sound silly, but I even had to put down my popcorn I was so disturbed and more than one person left the screening. The true evil of people never fails to boggle ones mind.

What Happened, Miss Simone?
Well done portrait of Nina Simon’s life. While I wasn’t completely familiar with all her music as it was quite before my time, I knew who she was. The accounting of her struggle with mental illness & being banished by promoters for her support of the race struggles at the time is shown in some great footage.

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
Also haven’t seen this one as I just couldn’t do three movies in a row on this day of screenings. It’s just too hard sometimes with the depressing nature of documentaries. I can only handle so much. I will see it this week tho.

REVIEW: “SAMBA” (2015) Q & A w/ Omar Sy – Broad Green Pictures

samba
As “Samba” – a Senegalese immigrant who has been illegally living in France for 10 years, is the wonderful French actor Omar Sy. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Sy had gotten his start as part of the French comedy duo of Omar & Fred and went on to films with his most prominent being “The Untouchables” for which he won the César Award – touted as the French Oscar – for Best Actor in 2011. In “Samba” he is on form here though possibly a bit more subdued and subtle, a likable guy who just wants to stay in the country (France) as he’s been employed and living with his “L’oncle (Uncle) Lamouna” (Youngar Fall) all that time.
samba 4
He strikes up a friendship with “Alice” (Charlotte Gainsbourg) a shy charity worker who is more or less volunteering at the immigration center and has some problems of her own which are quite hilariously explained during the film. She tries to help Samba with all his legal paperwork but he is still forced to adopt different names and work in different jobs under the radar of the authorities.
samba (1)
This film is by all means not done as a documentary or political statement. The picture it paints of the French immigration system isn’t too bleak or depressing with some of the other co-workers there offering some of the best comedic outtakes of the film. The characters all have an agreeable warmth to them and as we watch the story patiently play out, you can’t help but feel more charmed by their dilemmas rather than disturbed. Gainsbourg is lovely as the depressed executive who slowly opens up to Samba’s easygoing nature, while Sy invests the character with just the right amount of persuasive nonchalance. Both performers are amusingly supported by Izia Higelin as “Manu” Alice’s colleague and Tahar Rahim as “Wilson aka Walid” Samba’s co-worker and our favourite Arab/Brazilian – who steals a high-rise window-washing, Coca-Cola strip off scene like no other!!!
samba 3
With Sy being reunited here with the team of Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano from the 2011’s highly acclaimed The Untouchables who make an unappealing subject engaging and worthwhile that is what makes this completely worth the price of a ticket. One of the better films I’ve seen so far in 2015. Go out and support this film!!

Post Q & A with Omar Sy:
Sy charmingly engaged the audience entertaining us in both French and English – which he wants to learn better and gave far more than most do in these. Sy noted that even though he’s now been in a few big “Hollywood” films such as Jurassic World & X-Men Days of Future Past, he was attracted to the screenplay of this film and loved the way the story was told it being an interesting topic at this time not only in France but everywhere. With his family being from Senegal-though born in Paris himself-he met with a lot of immigrants in France who helped him shape his character here.
omar sy 1
Also something new to me at least is that Omar came from comedy background – talking about the excitement of dramatic challenges in addition to comedy.
Re: the challenges of learning English and working here vs France, he is still learning – he advises work hard and never get discouraged. On what he would like people to take away from seeing this film?
“It’s always difficult to say what people have to think, what people have to learn or what people have to see. The goal for us is to take a different look on these people. And if someone’s view is different after the movie, it’s a success.”

omar sy

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Screening Wednesday, July 22, 2015 courtesy of LAFTV & Broad Green Pictures. Q & A: Friday, July 24, 2015 at Landmark Theaters, Westside
In limited release in theaters now.