45 Years


Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are up next on Dancing With the Stars.

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are up next on Dancing With the Stars.

(2015) Drama (Sundance Selects) Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells, David Sibley, Sam Alexander, Richard Cunningham, Hannah Chalmers, Camille Ucan, Rufus Wright, Max Rudd, Kevin Matadeen, Paul Goldsmith, Peter Dean Jackson, Martin Atkinson, Alexandra Riddleston-Barrett, Rachel Banham, Michelle Finch. Directed by Andrew Haigh

There are things in a marriage, events of one’s past that our spouse isn’t aware of. Not because we want to keep it from them, but simply because it hasn’t come up. However, there are things we keep from our husband or wife intentionally, perhaps because we’re ashamed of it or because we want to keep that part of ourselves to ourselves. However, one thing is clear; without transparency, pain beckons.

Kate (Rampling) and Geoff (Courtenay) are getting ready to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary and they’re throwing a big party at a banquet hall in their native Norfolk. The misty grey mystery of that part of England makes for cozy cuddle weather and although the two are getting on in years, they haven’t lost the desire for one another. They don’t have any children but they do have plenty of close friends so all in all one has to say they lead a good life.

Then word comes of a discovery that directly involves Geoff’s past, before he’d even met Kate. The ripple effect is like a tsunami hitting their relationship; Kate discovers that her husband had kept things from her, things that have affected their relationship

As the days count down towards the big party, subtle changes begin to occur in their relationship. Geoff takes up smoking again, something he promised Kate he’d stopped forever. He becomes sullen, withdrawn and obsesses over the pictures he has found of an old girlfriend in the attic. She starts to snoop into his past and the hurt slowly changes her view as to how stable the relationship really is. As the party starts, Kate is beginning to wonder who the man she married truly is – and whether or not she wants to stay married to him at all.

Let me take the suspense out of this review – this movie is extraordinary and is truly a must-see for any lover of the cinematic arts. Rampling delivers a performance that is simply sensational. She does so much of her acting here with her facial expressions and her eyes and less with the dialogue. Sometimes a whole range of emotions plays over her expressive face in a matter of moments, expressing Kate’s thoughts far more effectively than dialogue. Her Oscar nomination was well deserved and while she didn’t win the statuette, she more than deserved to.

Courtenay is equally sensational. He spends much of the movie hunched over, drawn into himself and slowly he unwinds during the course of the film, becoming less hunched and more straight as if the revelation of his secret is slowly freeing his soul. In many ways, he’s reverting to a younger self in the movie with all the ridiculousness that implies. Geoff is not a bad man but he is a flawed man.

Haigh is a gifted director and really flowers here, the movie seemingly capturing a plethora of seasons during the course of the four days that the movie takes place over. He utilizes bad weather, a common occurrence in Norfolk, to great effect, the wind and the rain becoming part of the soundtrack. And speaking of the soundtrack, he peppers it with some wonderfully-chosen tunes from the 60s and 70s.

The movie, which is based on a short story by David Constantine, benefits from a beautifully written script. The dialogue is realistic; Kate and Geoff talk like a married couple that has been together for 45 years and their friends talk like real people as well. This feels like an unflinching look inside a real marriage. It’s occasionally uncomfortable – neither of the protagonists are perfect and neither one does the right thing all the time. But as the movie comes to an end, you sense a turning point has been reached and hard questions remain to be asked. What the answers will be are not necessarily the ones that either of the main characters – or those of us following them – wants to hear.

This is an amazing movie that I recommend highly for everyone. Yes, kids are not going to get the dynamics here and find the pacing slow and the grey landscape of Norfolk dreary. However those of us who love movies that give us insight into the human condition will find this to be an absolute jewel of a movie. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s real. And that makes for great cinema.

REASONS TO GO: Relationship of the leads is very realistic and natural. Emotional and raw in places. The dialogue sounds like real people talking to each other. Terrific soundtrack. Rampling and Courtenay do fantastic work, doing a lot of their acting with their faces.
REASONS TO STAY: May be too honest for some.
FAMILY VALUES: Some profanity, a scene of brief sexuality and adult themes.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Rampling and Courtenay last appeared together in The Mysteries of Lisbon.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/4/16: Rotten Tomatoes: 97% positive reviews. Metacritic: 94/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Late Bloomers
FINAL RATING; 10/10
NEXT: King Georges

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New Releases for the Week of March 4, 2016


ZootopiaZOOTOPIA

(Disney) Starring the voices of Jason Bateman, Ginnfer Goodwin, Idris Elba, Bonnie Hunt, J.K Simmons, Shakira, Alan Tudyk, Octavia Spencer. Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush

In a city populated by anthropomorphic mammals, a determined bunny means to prove herself on a police force of tougher, stronger animals. Her partner, a fast-talking scam artist who wants nothing more than to fly under the radar, is not amused by her ambitions. When she takes on a high-profile case, she drags her reluctant partner into the seedier side of Zootopia.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard, 3D
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG (for some thematic elements, rude humor and action)

45 Years

(Sundance Selects) Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells. An English couple planning a big celebration for their 45th wedding anniversary is devastated when a secret from the husband’s past resurfaces. The revelation opens up old wounds that have been festering over time and creates a new dynamic within the couple that threaten the harmony they’ve worked all their lives to build. Rampling was nominated for an Oscar for her performance here; read the review for this tomorrow.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: R (for language and brief sexuality)

The Boy and the Beast

(FUNimation) Starring the voices of Eric Vale, John Swasey, Monica Rial, Bryn Apprill. A young orphan discovers an entire world of sentient beasts whose world co-exists next to ours. He is discovered by the enigmatic and somewhat eccentric Kumatetsu, who takes the young human child on as an apprentice. The unlikely pair grow to respect each other, learn from each other and eventually become friends. However when an evil threatens both worlds, the two will have to fight side by side to save both of their worlds…or die side by side.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Anime
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex

Rating: PG-13 (for some violence and language)

Boy and the World

(GKIDS) Starring the voices of Vinicius Garcia, Felipe Zilse, Alé Abreu, Lu Horta. A young boy in rural Brazil finds his life shattered when his father leaves for the big city. Determined to find him and reunite his family, the boy sets out into a world much bigger than the one he’s known all his life. This Brazilian film was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs

Rating: PG (for thematic material and images)

London Has Fallen

(Focus) Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett. In London for the funeral of the Prime Minister, the leaders of the western world are ambushed by a well-coordinated, well-financed terrorist group which aims to bring the West to its knees, particularly the United States. However, they didn’t reckon on a Secret Service agent who knows how to protect the president when the odds are against them.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout)

The Mermaid

(Sony/Momentum) Chao Deng, Jelly Lin, Show Luo, Yuqi Zhang. When a developer’s project threatens to destroy the civilization of mermaids and incidentally all marine life, one of the mermaids is dispatched to kill him. In fine Chinese film fashion, she falls in love with him instead which exposes a secret organization dedicating to destroying all mermaids. The two lovers will have to unite to save the day. The latest from Stephen Chow broke all Chinese box office records last year.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Martial Arts Fantasy
Now Playing: Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal Waterford Lakes

Rating: R (for some violence)

The Other Side of the Door

(20th Century Fox) Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto, Sofia Rosinsky, Javier Botet. A grief-stricken young mother mourns the loss of her son in a tragic accident on an idyllic Greek island. However, when she learns of a temple which may be a place where life and the afterlife meet, she goes there and against the warnings of others opens the door, releasing things into our world which shouldn’t be here and threatening the balance between life and death.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for some bloody violence)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

(Paramount) Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina. Kim Barker is a woman trying to make it in journalism, which remains in many ways a man’s world. So when the opportunity to go to Afghanistan to cover the war comes up, she takes it despite being advised not to. This true story shows what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s world doing a job that most men would be terrified to do.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Biographical Dramedy
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use and violent war images)

Pick of the Litter – December 2015


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

(Disney/LucasFilm) Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher. For Star Wars fans, there is literally a new hope; after the prequel trilogy that pleased nobody, Disney bought LucasFilm and went on to set up an unprecedented and ambitious series of films, including a new trilogy and at least two stand-alone films. All of that begins right here with this film. Little is known about the plot of the newest episode, only that it takes place 30 years after the original trilogy in a universe where the Empire is as strong and as cruel as ever. New heroes will fight beside the old in what promises to be yet another license for Disney to print money. December 18

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Hitchcock Truffaut

Hitchcock/Truffaut

(Cohen Media Group) Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher. In 1966 French director Francois Truffaut conducted a series of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock which changed the public perception of not only the man but of the art of directing films in general. The two legendary directors discussed the art of making film, the planning and the thought that went into it, their frustrations when things didn’t work out the way they wanted and their joys when unexpected brilliance occurred. This documentary looks at how this watershed book has affected modern filmmakers as well as examines the author and his subject in depth. December 2

Life

Life

(Cinedigm) Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley. Photographer Dennis Stock is given the assignment in 1955 by Life Magazine to do a photo essay on an unknown actor named James Dean. What begins as an assignment turns into mutual respect and eventually into a lifelong friendship. The performances by the two lead actors have already received a good deal of acclaim on the festival circuit. Noted photographer Anton Corbijn directs. December 4

Macbeth

Macbeth

(Weinstein) Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis, Paddy Considine. I don’t mind saying that I’m a great admirer of William Shakespeare, and that my all-time favorite Shakespeare play is this one. It has it all – political intrigue, murder, an ambitious wife, the supernatural – everything anyone could possibly want. And this particular performance has the incomparable Marion Cotillard and the emerging superstar Michael Fassbender. What’s not to like? December 4

The Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor’s New Clothes

(Sundance Selects) Russell Brand. Comedian and activist Russell Brand takes on perhaps the most arrogant species on Earth – the British banker. As responsible for the world economic downturn as their American counterparts, to date in Britain no banking executive has had criminal charges leveled against them for the various malfeasances committed either with their direct knowledge or under their watch. Brand uses the confrontational tactics of Michael Moore coupled with his own unique brand of humor (see what I did there?) to bring attention to the British people that there is something they can do about it – and by extension, the American people as well. December 16

Bajirao Mastani

Bajirao Mastani

(Eros International) Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Aditya Pancholi. The Indian film industry has been thriving for decades, but in American terms has been coming into its own more than ever. This epic tale of a historic romance between the Indian general Baji Rao and his second wife Mastani has the kind of sweep and scope that American films have had and has of late been more the province of the Chinese film industry. Lush sets, massive battle sequences, and of course what would an Indian film be without a catchy pop song to hum on the way home from the theater? December 18

 He Never Died

He Never Died

(Vertical) Henry Rollins, Booboo Stewart, Steven Ogg, Jordan Todosey. Jack, a social outcast, lives in his apartment alone and content to be that way. Venturing out only to get supplies, to have a quiet drink and occasionally a rousing game of bingo, he keeps the world at arm’s length. However, there are those who don’t want him to remain that way and when he discovers that he has a daughter that he never knew about, she becomes a pawn in a deadly game – which leads Jack to reveal an ancient and terrifying secret. Henry Rollins, former lead singer of Black Flag and one of my favorite humans ever, stars. December 18

Son of Saul

Son of Saul

(Sony Classics) Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont. A concentration camp prisoner tasked with burning the bodies of the victims discovers the body of a young boy he takes to be his son in the waning days of the war. With the Germans desperately trying to liquidate evidence of their atrocities, he makes the decision to salvage the body of his son so that a rabbi might give him a proper burial, putting everything on the line for a boy he didn’t take care of in life. This is Hungary’s official submission for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar. December 18

45 Years

45 Years

(Sundance Selects) Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells. In the weeks leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary, a couple receives a letter which contains life-changing news. Attempting to recover while planning a gala celebration, the two must find a place where they can continue onwards – and rediscover the strength to love each other. This film was a huge hit at the Berlin Film Festival, winning Golden Bears for both Rampling and Courtenay. December 23