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Last Chance Harvey Review


Grim
A film so mild-mannered it only occasionally registers a pulse, Joel Hopkins' Last Chance Harvey is best viewed as proof that not all filmed entertainment these days is nihilistic and grim. Occasionally there are still movies made about gentle, middle-aged people who have had a (mildly) hard time of things but still manage to find love in the gloaming of their years. The problem here being that mildness of heart does not translate into quality of art, or even entertainment.

The Hallmark-ready story begins with Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman), a borderline jerk of a guy who appears to have shut down on life by the time we find him. A jingle writer who once hoped for greater things musically, he's on his way to London where his daughter is marrying into a family that seems to have a greater affinity for his ex-wife's new husband than himself.

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Married Life Review


OK
Married Life, a new film from director Ira Sachs, feels very much like a film from a different era -- a fact that's mostly enjoyable, with a few minor exceptions. Set in the late 1940s, presumably in and around New York City, Married Life tells the story of Harry Allen (Chris Cooper), a wealthy businessman who one day confesses to his old friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan) that he intends to leave his wife and take up with his mistress. Complications arise when Harry decides the only way out of his marriage is to murder his wife, while at the same time his pal Richard goes behind his back and courts the affection of his mistress.

What's pleasurable about this film, and the way the story unfolds, is its elegant simplicity. No more than ten minutes into the movie, Sachs and his co-screenwriter Oren Moverman have skillfully limned each of the main characters' hopes and ambitions and set in motion the levers of conflict that drive the story forward. Harry wants to experience the type of romantic love that has long since vanished, if it ever existed, from his marriage with Pat (Patricia Clarkson), while she, for her part, longs for greater passion and the adolescent thrill of sex. Kay (Rachel McAdams), Harry's mistress, seeks true love for the second time after losing her husband in World War II, and Richard, a womanizing bachelor, hopes to discover the ability to form an emotional connection with a woman.

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Forty Shades of Blue Review


Excellent
"I think you hate women," a trusted colleague recently told me. She went on to say something along the lines of, "OK, maybe you don't hate women, but you certainly don't trust them." Weeks later, still considering those heavy words so lightly thrown, I thought of Ira Sachs's remarkable and challenging new film Forty Shades of Blue. The central character is the woman hanging onto the arm of her rich, older boyfriend. It's a woman's role usually subordinated while the hell-raising man gets all the laughs, glory, and screen time.

As played by Dina Korzun, I didn't understand this woman character at all. She's closed off, remote, seems not to use the mind that is her own, and puts up with all sorts of horseshit from her boorish man, Memphis music producer Alan James (Rip Torn, who tears up the screen with his raging bull persona). She looks like a fashion model, a slender little slip of a thing dressed in wonderful clothes. We learn that she is originally from Russia, and has a three-year-old child. She appears somewhat bored with her wealthy lifestyle and mansion, and -- here's the thing... she's either completely inaccessible or she doesn't use the brains in her head.

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