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Rave Review weighs in on Angelika’s latest offerings
Rave Review, Five Chicks and a Flick
Catch ‘Up in the Air” before the awards show
Consider it another winner for Director Jason Reitman – “Up in the Air” is a quirky, humorous film with a message. No wonder there have been multiple wins and multiple nominations for both movie and actors – finally, a different story that hasn’t been told before.
George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, middle manager at a company that contracts out its workers to do the difficult job of firing employees. One can assume that letting an employee go after several years of service would be difficult because a professional relationship would have been built and the process of ending that relationship would be a personal and emotional one. It makes sense that an outside firm could do the job without the emotional side effects, so the industry is booming.
There are so many wonderful elements to this story. Reitman deserves enormous accolades for really digging into the subject of human connection as it exists in today’s highly technological culture. As Bingham travels the country for his job, he does so with an almost effortless attention to detachment from anything human. He has mastered the art of airport security screening, he has amassed huge quantities of travel rewards – including nearing his ten millionth mile with American Airlines. On the flip side, he has no relationship with his family, has no friends, and can’t sustain a romantic relationship.
When an invitation to his sister’s wedding arrives, Bingham is forced to make a choice to enter the world of human contact or not. His journey is a thoughtful, and humorous look into today’s culture. There is a lot to examine on screen that reflects our own lives and for this, it is a very thought provoking film.
The Rave Review loved the story, though it was surprisingly serious underneath the witty dialogue. Anna Kendrick plays Cornell graduate Natalie Keener who brings another strange layer of human connection to the story as she introduces the firm to the concept of video dismissal as a means of detaching even further from the emotional side of dismissing an employee.
‘The Last Station’ a captivating success
Run, don’t walk to the nearest theater showing “The Last Station!” This week’s film was one of the most enjoyable we have seen in a long time. It is based on the novel by Jay Parini and directed by Michael Hoffman.
We were captivated right from the beginning – I’m not even sure where to start with all of the praise this movie is due. Most of us know of Leo Tolstoy as the author of War and Peace and Ana Karenina. None of us knew there was a story behind this man that was worthy of the big screen. Hoffman is masterful in his presentation of the tortured Tolstoy as he struggled in later life with his fame, his wealth, and his faith. Christopher Plummer is Leo Tolstoy and suffice it to say – he is Leo Tolstoy. His look, his voice, his gait and even his breathing were riveting elements of a man that lived over a century ago. He has been nominated for an Academy Award and my personal favorite to win.
Helen Mirren plays the Countess Sofya – his wife of almost 50 years. Their love has a depth that goes beyond our imaginations and by the time we meet them, it has already spanned half a century. Mirren’s portrayal of the heartbroken wife of a man who has all but left her for his faith, is astounding. She is an actress that brings an emotional depth to Sofya that has us all thoroughly convinced. Mirren and Plummer almost seem to dance on screen with their chemisty. They had a passionate and volatile romance that struggled to survive Tolstoy’s final years as he embraced a life of celibacy with his newly developed faith and ideals known as the Tolstoyan movement. Even he was challenged by their history and could not ever fully escape their love’s grasp on him.
His friend and confidante was Vladimir Chertkov who was played brilliantly by Paul Giamatti. The intense conflict that exists between he and Sofya for Tolstoy’s attention is palpable.
James McAvoy plays Valentin Bulgakov who joins the estate to be Tolstoy’s assistant. He hopes to learn from the master the fundamentals of the movement that he has already been practicing. He too will discover his own love that will threaten his faith and in the end allow him to be the teacher to the great one.
A must see movie – before the awards show. We rated it 5 out of 5.