2012 Movie Reviews

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An incredible film …
Zero Dark Thirty
We all know that Osama bin Laden was killed by the American Navy Seals during a very secret operation in Pakistan last year. But to see this movie based on that reality is another story – another experience. I wonder if any of us knew that the key figure in this operation was a young, female CIA agent called Maya, who was determined to find bin Laden at any cost. After a decade of hunting the leader of Al Qaeda, and the mastermind of so many terrorist attacks, and the loss of so many American lives, Maya would not settle for anything less than seeing Osama bin Laden dead. Every aspect of their mission was shrouded in secrecy. The central role of this team of brave Americans is brought to the screen in a brilliant way by the Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“Hurt Locker”). This film needed a female director to give life to two incredible female characters. Jessica Chastain is wonderful as Maya. Her torment and strength kept me breathless until the very end. Her explosive performance touches deep in your soul. Her determination and undeniable human strength to vindicate all of her lost friends and lost American lives is beyond belief. Chastain is brilliant in the role. And so is Jason Clarke, her partner in the mission. Co-star Jennifer Ehle shines in her role, as well. An Oscar-winning director and brilliant acting makes for an unforgettable experience. Every American should see this film and finally appreciate the part that President Barack Obama took in this secret mission – and thank the Navy Seals for their remarkable actions in protecting and fighting for the U.S.A.


Anna Karenina

I just saw the new version of “Anna Karenina” and I wondered what screenwriter Tom Stoppard thought of Tolstoy’s best novel. And how did he interpret it? The answer is: “western” people can hardly understand the soul and the passion of the Slavic and Russian people. It is not easy to explain Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in one big, beautifully shot film, directed by Joe Wright. It is very difficult to describe the agony of a young mother who has fallen madly in love with a younger man. Keira Knightley (as Anna) does a wonderful job, but there is a lot missing from the character because in this movie, she is only a married woman in love with a younger man – while in Tolstoy’s novel, her drama includes the torment of being a desperate mother who adores her son, and being in love with Vronsky, the younger man. She commits suicide not because of Vronsky, but because of the drama she is living – not having her children and being in love with a young man she doesn’t trust.

In this film, Anna the mother doesn’t exist. She has only her lover, and that is a pity, because we are not on her side as much as we want to be. Her husband, Karenin, is masterfully played by Jude Law, but he turned out to be such a wonderful character that you wonder why she would ever leave him. He was much too understanding, as opposed to the real Tolstoy character. And as for Vronsky, I am sorry to say, what woman would want to die for a man looking like Stoppard’s Vronsky, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson? He looked more like a heavily made-up man going on a masquerade than a gorgeous, restless young Russian nobleman. I was wondering during the whole film whose ideas were those? And couldn’t the director get to the depth of Tolstoy’s characters when he had such a wonderful cast? But I guess it all started with the screenplay, which failed to bring any of the novel’s depth to the screen.

Though the movie was shot and directed beautifully, I didn’t shed a tear, and for a sensitive person like me, that meant I didn’t come to care about anyone in the movie. But it’s still something beautiful to see.

 


Maybe you’ve seen the musical “Les Misérables,” but wait until you see the movie! You must see it in a movie theater on the “big screen.” It is incredible! Directed by British director Tom Hooper (Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech”), with an incredible cast, including Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe (Javert), Anne Hathaway (Fantine), Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) and Helena Bonham Carter (Madame Thenardier). This film is mesmerizing.

The opening scene with the enormous ship coming right at you can stop your heart. And the first scene between Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe sets the tone of the film. It is incredibly beautifully shot, with amazing acting and singing that totally takes your breath away, you feel you are in Paris during the French Revolution, rooting for the protagonists. At the screening I attended, after Anne Hathaway sings in her dying scene, the whole audience applauded – the first of many ovations at the end of a song. Because we were the first Los Angeles audience to see this film, the director and some of the lead actors were there for a Q&A. They talked about how all the singing was done live as they shot the film. They did not lip-synch to a playback orchestration. Tom Hooper wanted his actors to live and sing in the moment so they could be as vulnerable as the part called for. The result was incredible!

I salute these extraordinary actors who worked so hard to make an incredible, unforgettable portraits of their characters. No doubt the audience felt and applauded at every such great performance of a song. That each of these well-known actors had to audition for 15 days before getting their parts moves you to realize where the director was going. He wanted such brilliance from everyone, including himself, and he got it. Too beautiful and heartfelt to be missed!

Congratulations to the whole cast, director, producers and anyone involved with the movie. You don’t know where the time goes as you get absorbed in the beauty of this film.

As you can tell, I loved this film. I have loved the story since I was a little girl of 8 in Bulgaria, when I won an art contest for children for illustrating the story of Cosette.