Year: 2013

‘Enough Said’ implores us to follow our hearts

‘Enough Said’ implores us to follow our hearts

“Enough Said” (2013). Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Tracey Fairaway, Tavi Gevinson, Amy Landecker, Eve Hewson, Toby Huss, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Kathleen Rose Perkins. Director: Nicole Holofcener. Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener. Web site. Trailer. Even under the best of circumstances, getting a romance to turn out as hoped for can be a tricky proposition. But, when a clear, heartfelt path to happiness is revealed to us, we’d be foolish to ignore it, no matter how unconventional it might seem, what our past tells us or what others may think. Such is the challenge put to the lovelorn protagonists of the delightful new romantic comedy, “Enough Said.” Life’s transitional periods can be challenging – and full of surprises. Just ask Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The divorced, forty-something masseuse diligently strives to build her client base, and she sincerely loves her craft (even if she isn’t crazy about some of her regulars or their annoying quirks). To seek solace from her career challenges, she immerses herself in her role as the doting mother of a teenage daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway). But, as a hard-working divorcee whose only child is about to leave for college, Eva doesn’t have a lot ...
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‘Wadjda’ inspires us to claim our power

‘Wadjda’ inspires us to claim our power

“Wadjda” (2012 production, 2013 release). Cast: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Sultan Al Assaf, Ahd, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Nouf Saad, Sara Aljabar, Dana Abdullilah, Rehab Ahmed, Rafa Al Sanea, Alanoud Sajini, Mohammed Zahir, Mohammed Alkhozain. Director: Haifaa Al Mansour. Screenplay: Haifaa Al Mansour. Web site. Trailer. It’s easy to allow ourselves to feel disempowered, especially under conditions where we feel as though our will has been sucked out from underneath us. That can be particularly daunting to those who operate under circumstances that are oppressive and seemingly unrelenting. Claiming our rightful power in those instances can be challenging, but it is possible, as long as we believe in the idea, a notion explored in the heartwarming new release, “Wadjda.” Buying a new bike shouldn’t be a big deal, but, if you’re a young girl in Saudi Arabia, it’s a lot easier said than done. The prevailing wisdom maintains that youthful members of the so-called fairer sex shouldn’t engage in an activity as risky as riding a bicycle for fears that “it might compromise their virtue.” In fact, it’s just one of many everyday activities considered taboo that Westerners take for granted. Going against such cultural prohibitions is something most Saudi women ...
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Discernment championed in ‘Austenland’

Discernment championed in ‘Austenland’

“Austenland” (2013). Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, Georgia King, James Callis, Jane Seymour, Ricky Whittle, Rupert Vansittart. Director: Jerusha Hess. Screenplay: Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale. Book: Shannon Hale, Austenland. Web site. Trailer. What’s real and what isn’t? From a conscious creation perspective, anything we perceive is technically “real,” so a better question would probably be, what’s genuine and what isn’t? Making that distinction is where the power of discernment comes into play, a theme that permeates the story line of the charming new romantic comedy, “Austenland.” No matter what she does, Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) just can’t seem to find love. It’s not for a lack of trying, but nothing ever seems to work out. Some would say – including some potential suitors – that it’s because she has unrealistic expectations about relationships, thanks to her consuming preoccupation with the classic romances of English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817). Like a prototypical Austen-esque heroine, Jane is looking to be swept her off her feet by an amorous aristocratic hero a la Mr. Darcy from the author’s classic opus, Pride and Prejudice. But, in this day and age, what man realistically can live up to such a ...
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‘The Butler’ charts the birth of a movement

‘The Butler’ charts the birth of a movement

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013). Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., David Oyelowo, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Clarence Williams III, Nelsan Ellis, Colman Domingo, Jim Gleason, Elijah Kelley, Alex Pettyfer, Adriane Lenox, David Banner, Yaya Alafia, Michael Rainey, Jr., Aml Ameen, Isaac White, Chloe Barach. Director: Lee Daniels. Screenplay: Danny Strong. Source Material: Wil Haygood, A Butler Well Served by This Election, The Washington Post, November 7, 2008. Web site. Trailer. When a popular new idea takes root, it can quickly grow wild, encompassing all in its path and overcoming whatever obstacles that get in its way. That’s true for the notions underlying everything from new consumer products to Internet web sites to social movements. One of those crusades that got off to a rough start but blossomed once its viability gained broad support was the American civil rights movement, a cause profiled in the new historical drama, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Loosely based on a Washington Post article about long-time White House butler Eugene Allen, the film presents a fictional tale modeled on the subject’s life story, told through ...
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‘In a World’ gives voice to one’s power

‘In a World’ gives voice to one’s power

“In a World…” (2013). Cast: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Ken Marino, Geena Davis, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Alexandra Holden, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Stephanie Allynne, Talulah Riley, Eva Longoria, Jeff Garlin, Don LaFontaine (archival footage). Director: Lake Bell. Screenplay: Lake Bell. Web site. Trailer. When we seek to realize a dream, we start by envisioning the idea in our consciousness, forming beliefs to support it and then taking actions that, we hope, will bring it into being. But, to truly make that prospect a reality, we must also infuse the process with the personal power that drives its materialization. And the more we give voice to that notion, the more likely we are to see it manifest, a theme explored with loads of laughs in the uproarious new independent comedy, “In a World….” For years, Don LaFontaine was the voice of the movie industry. In a career spanning four decades, he did voiceovers for more than 5,000 motion picture trailers. His velvety, booming intonation became virtually synonymous with film previews, especially those introduced with his signature catchphrase, “In a world….” In fact, LaFontaine’s services were in such high demand, and his industry presence was so ubiquitous, that it ...
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‘Elysium’ shows how we reap what we sow

‘Elysium’ shows how we reap what we sow

“Elysium” (2013). Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, William Fichtner, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, Faran Tahir, Brandon Auret, Josh Blacker, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Adrian Holmes, Emma Tremblay, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Valentina Giron, Yolanda Abbud L. Director: Neill Blomkamp. Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp. Web site. Trailer. Envisioning the fulfillment of our dreams is something many of us hope to achieve in our lives. But the manifestation process can be a dual-edged sword, depending on what we do with it in birthing the reality we ultimately experience. Such is the lot faced by the characters from two very different worlds in this summer’s latest big-budget, sci-fi blockbuster, “Elysium.” If you think life is hard now, consider what it’s like in 2154 (at least as depicted in this film). The Earth has become seriously overpopulated and environmentally devastated, overridden with disease, crime, pollution, corruption and cynicism. Control of a perpetually unruly population is managed by brutal robotic droids, highly intrusive surveillance drones and freely dispensed tranquilizers. Even the slightest transgressions, like using sarcasm in addressing authority figures, is treated harshly. It’s such an unimaginably horrible existence that one can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to hang around. Elysium, a ...
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