My Two Cents

Movie Reviews

Good Bye Lenin

Good-Bye-LeninGood Bye Lenin (2003)

Alex’s mother, a Soviet party devotee, suffers a heart attack just before the Berlin Wall comes down and then remains in a coma for eight months. While she sleeps, Germany is reunified. When she awakes, East Berlin has transformed! The doctor warns that her condition is so fragile that any shock could result in a lethal second heart attack. Worried his mother won’t be able to handle the titanic changes that have transpired, Alex struggles to keep her in the dark about all that has happened until she is stronger. That ends up being a tall order since East Berlin is so quick to adopt western culture.

This is a touching story on many different levels with many different lines of tension providing entertainment. It is also a great romp through historical events circa 1989 from the viewpoint of people living in East Berlin. Be aware it is heavy on subtitles due a lot of voice-over. And be on the lookout for hidden references to many other famous films.

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DuplicityDuplicity (2009)

Two spies give up their government jobs to go into the more lucrative industry of corporate espionage. They collude to swindle their employers and then retire on the profits together. But as the story unfolds, more lines of duplicity are revealed. Who will pull the last string?

This is a refreshingly nonviolent caper with not a single bullet fired or blow struck. The way successive rounds of disclosures are unveiled is fun. The dance between the two lovebirds at the center hints at something elementally human.

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Lord of the Flies

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies (1990)

A dozen grade school aged, military academy boys are marooned on a tropical island when their plane goes down. As time goes by and no help arrives, the more aggressive begin to dominate the less aggressive and some of the worst human behaviors come to the fore.

This is a pretty light drama by today’s standards, but it is engaging and believable. Some of the boys offer good performances.

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Blood Diamond

Blood DiamondBlood Diamond (2006)

African mercenary helps displaced Sierra Leone villager find his family in exchange for recovering a valuable diamond. A journalist also pulls some strings in exchange for a story. TIA.

This is an interesting portrait of the civil war in Sierra Leone with some expert performances by DiCaprio and friends. But I think the director was too restrained and staid in his method of progression. The story just seemed to bump along a little too much for me. I was never really surprised by the action in the next scene.

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Repo Man

Repo ManRepo Man (1984)

A punk rocker is recruited to work for a repossession business in LA. He generally gets a kick out of the work and learns a lot from his new work buddies. When notice comes in of a $20,000 bounty for recovering an old Malibu, it looks suspicious. But no one guesses it’s because the trunk holds the decomposing bodies of aliens.

This cult classic was just as good on my second viewing. Every actor gives a compelling performance and all the quirky details came back and made me laugh again days later.

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Ryan’s Daughter

Ryan's DaughterRyan’s Daughter (1970)

Set in 1916, a young woman growing up in a small Irish village marries a middle aged school teacher, hoping to experience a larger life. The union is duller than she expected and her appetite for fulfillment leads to a tryst with an English officer. The affair is exposed and the community ostracizes her.

Director David Lean paid dearly to make this movie; he built a village from scratch on the Dingle Peninsula in which to film and then took nearly a year to shoot it, waiting on weather conditions that would lend drama to his segments.

This is a classic film with great performances, palpable drama and stunning scenery. Don’t sit too close to the screen – you just might get splashed with sea spray!

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Due Date

Due Date

Due Date (2010)

Reckless behavior on a plane gets two passengers thrown off and blacklisted 2,000 miles from their destination. The wife of one is due to give birth. They agree to drive cross country together. The road trip is an endless series of disasters.

I liked the two main characters and their performances were pretty convincing. I was surprised by the way events kept spinning out of control. But, all in all, this movie is pretty light entertainment and only barely kept me involved.

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Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the DeadShaun of the Dead (2004)

Watch up close the foibles of an average Londoner who seriously engages with his girlfriend only after she threatens to break up. This personal drama plays out against the general threat of a growing zombie infestation.

I got a kick out of this light entertainment movie. The characters were all interesting in their quirkiness. And some were even interesting after they turned into zombies. There were some fun plot twists. But mostly, they did a good job keeping it interesting even after the scope of the story was exposed.

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Midnight in Paris

Midnight in ParisMidnight in Paris (2011)

An aspiring American author on vacation in Paris with his fiancé discovers a wormhole in time that allows him to hang out with classic writers from former ages. He and his work benefit from the adventure.

This story is focused on the character played by Woodie Haroldson. He and his company are fairly obnoxious. But he grows more refined through the friends he meets after midnight. His conversations with the former great lights of Paris are a gas. The caricature of Hemmingway is particularly memorable. There are a few surprises but most of the entertainment comes by way of character development.

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