David De Keyser

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The Designated Mourner Review


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Is Wallace Shawn a genius? I won't try to deny it. The diminuitive actor and prolific writer has some amazing insight on life, and in this film, an adaptation of his stage play, three characters sit at a table and talk to the camera (and, rarely, to one another) about those insights. Think Spalding Gray, times three, but without the humor. A lack of humor is what gets this Mourner into trouble early on. While the commentary is biting, the setting (a futuristic totalitarian state out of The Handmaid's Tale) feels unfinished and false, and much of the chit-chat revolves around the death of individuality due to the new regime, not due to any real character development. As a result, Mourner is a tough nut to crack and requires your utmost attention to the smallest nuances of speech. Nichols is astounding. The other players are less so. The film on the whole feels overwhelmingly pretentious, but it certainly has its moments.

Sunshine Review


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"Sunshine" is a complex, cross-generational saga about the social, romantic and soul-searching struggles of a proud Jewish family in early 20th Century Hungary. It's a three-hour epic that spans several decades, and while that's a long time to sit still for what is essentially dramatized genealogy, the movie's only unequivocal fault is that it is -- believe it or not -- far too short.

A labor of love from director Istvan Szabo ("Mephisto") -- who co-wrote the film with playwright Israel Horovitz and based it, in part, on episodes in his family history -- this is an intense and personal film with beauty and scope to spare. But with nearly a century of territory to cover and more than a dozen primary characters to enfold, even at 180 minutes, it feels rushed -- like the cinematic equivalent of Cliffs Notes for a great novel.

To give the audience something constant to hang on to throughout the picture, Szabo cast Ralph Fiennes to play three generations of men in the Sonnenschein family, a clan whose fortune comes from an heirloom recipe for tasty, healing herbal tonic known as A Taste of Sunshine -- turned into a popular drink in the late 19th Century by the Sonnenschein patriarch.

Continue reading: Sunshine Review

David De Keyser

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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.

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Sunshine Movie Review

Sunshine Movie Review

"Sunshine" is a complex, cross-generational saga about the social, romantic and soul-searching struggles of a...

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