Entries Tagged 'Drama' ↓

amazon falls

Director Katrin Bowen on set
Director Katrin Bowen on set

This first feature by Vancouver, Canada director Katrin Bowen, follows April Telek as Jana, a struggling B-movie actress in Los Angelese. Jana is still waiting for that big break, and yet optimistic, cheerful and likeable as she deals with rejection, her ‘day’ job in a seedy cocktail lounge, and a gorgeous but unreliable boyfriend. At a Q&A after the Vancouver premiere, Telek told the audience that her agent described this as a make or break role and she delivers a note perfect performance as the former beauty queen and “Amazon” star on the days approaching her 40th birthday. However, like a Russian short story, this film does not arc, and continues its way to a depressing end. [canada, 2010]

i am love

If we weren’t already in awe of the shape-shifting Tilda Swinton, this performance puts it over the top. First off, who knew she was so beautiful. Second, she learned Italian and Russian for the role! And finally she was a co-collaborator on the script and film. Swinton stars as the matriarch of a prosperous and handsome Italian family. Plucked from the Soviet Union as a young girl by her now husband, she has suppressed this identity except with her youngest, and favorite son who speaks Russian with her. When she embarks on an affair with her son’s best friend and business partner, all of the sun-drenched afternoons in the Italian countryside can’t prevent the inevitable tragedy that impacts the family and position she held so dear. [italy, 2010]

the kids are all right

Julianne Moore and Annette Benning are pitch perfect as middle-aged couple Jules and Nic dealing with the stresses of long-term relationships, raising kids, careers, and daily life. All of this is thrown into sharp focus when their teenaged children meet birth father, earthy, boyish restaurateur, Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo who is so natural one suspects this might not be an acting stretch for him. To Paul, meeting offspring he didn’t know he had, from fund-raising sperm donations in his early 20′s becomes an opportunity to have an instant family. To Nic it’s a threat. To Jules it’s a way to wiggle out of Nic’s controlling tendencies. Tension and strong performances combine to make this an extremely watchable film. [us, 2010]

moscow does not believe in tears

Long before Sex & the City, three young women were drawn to the big onion to seek their fortunes. Set in Soviet Russia, this Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film (1980), follows the friends over the course of 20 years and asks the eternal question of whether a woman can have it all. Katerina, works in a factory, but dreams of becoming an engineer. Her best friend Lyudmilla has her sights set on bagging a prosperous husband and suggests they pose as daughters of a privileged professor to attract just the right sort of man. It works, but the men are not as they first appear, and Katya ends up alone and pregnant. Fast forward 20 years and Katya has not only survived but succeeded and is the Director of that same factory where she dreamed, but of course she is alone. A chance meeting on a train introduces her to Gosha who has become the gold standard for Russian men: tough but sensitive, a craftsman and an outdoorsman. Is there happily ever after in the Soviet Union? [russia, 1979]

the queen

Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth II with compassion, dignity, and absent of satire in the days following the death of “the people’s princess” former Princess of Wales, Diana Spencer in this docu-drama. The film is so realistic that Tony Blair quoted dialog from it in his own biography—erroneously of course! Mixing real footage with dramatized scenes, this fast paced little film is fun to watch even when you know the outcome. Helen Mirren had considerable influence on the scene where the Queen encounters a buck while hunting on her estate, and it’s a pivotal point in the film. [uk, 2006]

fear and trembling

Struggling with the type of identity crisis that happens to those freshly (or not so freshly) out of university, Amelie chooses to return to her childhood home of Japan. She gets a job at a Japanese conglomerate as a translator, but ends up, in this Office Space-ish dark comedy doing the most meaningless of tasks. Her only savior is her rich sense of duty, imagination, and need for belonging and friendship: however, these survival traits also become her undoing. At times tender, bizarre, moody, and funny, this film examination of cross cultural-shock in the working world is worth a look, especially if you think your job sucks. [france/japan, 2004]

sabah

This endearing little story, stars Arsinee Khanjian, as the title character, a 40-year old Iranian woman who begins an affair with a Canadian man. Sabah reclaims her body by sneaking away from her overbearing mother and brother to swim, something she hasn’t done since she was a child. At the pool she meets a handsome, sensitive, divorced carpenter and tentatively begins a secret relationship with him. This hopeful love story speaks to the power of tradition, family, and finding yourself. [canada, 2005]

the journey (sancharram)

This coming of age story set in rural southern India features three friends and a love triangle, and tackles the often forbidden topic of lesbianism. Kiran, Lila, and Rajan are childhood friends in a Catholic area of Kerla in southern India. As they mature, Rajan and Kiran both discover feelings for Lila. Rajan solicits Kiran, a budding writers help in wooing Lila. The resulting heart-felt letters help Kiran and eventually Lila discover the passionate love she holds for her best girlfriend. [us/india, 2004]

june bug

The premise is simple: big city art-dealer Madeline, goes to meet “down-home” family of new husband George. In a twist on the predictable, the main purpose of the trip is to meet a new artist for her gallery, and the family just happened to be nearby. This small independent film is a secure complex, often comic, story of relations, roots, and folk art, where prejudices on all sides are held up to light. Amy Adams was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Ashley, the hopelessly optimistic, and heavily pregnant sister-in-law who believes family is stronger than just about anything. This seemingly simple film grows on you, just as Ashley does. [usa, 2005]

water

Deepa Meetha’s tale of two young widows – an eight-year-old and a 20something woman (the luminous Lisa Ray in a serious role) is as heartbreaking as it is poetic and achingly gorgeous. Set in Varnasi circa 1930, the film takes cues from Romeo and Juliet and Bollywood to explore the cruel realities for widowed women forced into an ashram where they subsist until they are old enough to sell their bodies. With the Ganges as its central metaphor, the film is awash in water symbols: funeral pyres on the river banks, floating candles, morning ablutions, and the purifying monsoon rains. A tragedy at heart, the film is nonetheless full of energetic life-affirming scenes of dance, play and love. [canada, 2005]