Friday, July 27, 2012

The Queen of Versailles

Indiefest:  The Queen of Versailles (2012):  This film is a documentary about the Siegel’s, a billionaire couple who build the largest private house in the United States - a 90,000 square foot mansion inspired by Versailles. The economic downturn, however, and the banking crisis in 2008, may crush their dreams. This is a fascinating film that shows how out of touch the super-rich are with ordinary America and the film is full of great contrasts, such as when they go pick up McDonalds takeout in a stretch limo.  What really makes this an interesting film is that Jackie isn't your normal trophy wife.  She once worked as a computer engineer at IBM, so you begin to wonder what sort of life she would have had if she had stayed at IBM instead of pursuing a modeling career and later meeting her now husband at a beauty pageant.  This is one of those documentaries where you are constantly changing your opinion about the characters in the film.   My Rating:  Full Price   The Queen of Versailles Website
Indiefest:  Neil Young Journeys (2012): A documentary filmed on Neil Young’s solo tour to promote his album, Le Noise. The film follows Young as he explores his childhood hometown and is interspersed with concert footage from his performance at the historic Massey Hall in Toronto.  Young travels in an old four-door sedan, reminiscing about his early childhood, and the film footage is interspersed with songs from his hits of the late 60′s/70′s and music from his 2010 CD, Le Noise. Young did the concert solo and moved from electric guitar to piano to electric organ, singing in the classic Neil Young style. It wouldn’t be a Neil Young concert without a little message thrown in (since Young is a well-known activist), as the 1970 song Ohio is cut with footage and pictures of the four people killed in 1969 on the Kent State University campus during the height of the Vietnam War protests. I enjoyed the film which had a great sound track that perfectly captured the energy of Young’s performances and his music. I did get tired of the cute camera angles that Demme used to spice up the film, especially shots from the camera that was mounted on Young’s mic, which gave us an unwanted close-up of his nose hairs. Overall, the film presents Young's unique and intriguing story and what it's like to attend one of his concerts.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Neil Young Journeys Website

The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#16 Worst Film
Sextette  (1978)  84 year old Mae West came out of retirement to make this move based on a play that she had written about a woman trying to consummate her marriage (to a 32 year old soon to be James Bond, Timothy Dalton).  Mae West was an accomplished actress and a big star on both the Broadway stage and the  screen and wrote much of her own material.  Unfortunately, for this film, her talented writing occurred in the 1930s, not in the 70's.  When released, the film made about $50,000 in the theaters where most of the money was earned at the two premieres where West appeared.    Sextette Info

Forgotten Film:  Get Carter (1971):  Jack Carter (Michael Caine), a notorious gangster based out of London, travels to Newcastle, England, for his brother's funeral.  While there, he determines that his brother's death was not caused by accident but, he was murdered by the local mob.  Carter then sets out to find out who killed his brother and why.  Caine is remarkable as Carter, showing us that once he gets an idea in his head, in this case revenge, he is determined to carry it out till the end, even if it may cost him his own life.  This film is a gritty, violent film that was shot mostly on the streets of Newcastle, giving it a sense of realism that British films before it had never seen.  Watch it and see why many feel this is one of the best British films of all time.   My Rating:  Full Price   Get Carter Info 

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Jiro Dreams of Sushi  (2011)  Incredible documentary on an 85 year old sushi master, Jiro Ono, who has the only three star Michelin rated sushi restaurant in the world.  The restaurant is an 18 seat establishment that is in the hallway of a Tokyo rail station, has a 2 month waiting list and where  a meal that only lasts 15 minutes can cost $600.  This is a beautiful film and a fascinating subject, with one guarantee:  Even if you don't like Sushi, you will crave it after seeing this film.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Jiro Dreams of Sushi Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Sparkle  (2011)  This will be remembered as the late Whitney Houston's last film, but it sure looks like a Dreamgirls rip-off to me.   Sparkle Webiste

Weird Credit:  From the credits of Ted:  Duck Puppeteer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Robot & Frank (2012)  Set in the near future, Frank (Frank Langella), a retired burglar, is given a robot caretaker by his son.  At first, Frank can't stand the robot, but he then sees that he just might be able to use to the robot for one last heist.  I saw this film at the LA Film Fest and thoroughly enjoyed Frank Langella's performance in this funny and touching film.   Robot & Frank Website 

Until Next Time!


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