(WOMENSENEWS)– “The 33” is director Patricia Riggen’s gripping and inspiring drama based on the true story of 33 miners trapped in a collapsed gold-and-copper mine in Chile for 69 days in 2010. Riggen builds tension by interweaving intimate moments of hope and desperation among the miners, the activism of their families and responses of mining moguls and government officials. Performances by Antonio Banderas as “Super Mario” (as the miner was dubbed by the press), Juliette Binoche as Maria Segovia (the activist sister of one of the trapped miners), Rodrigo Santoro (as Mining Minister Laurence Golborne) and the rest of the ensemble cast make it real, as do the special effects. The reality factor is enhanced by archival news coverage. In English; and in Spanish with English subtitles.
“By the Sea” is a stylistic and sadly self-indulgent dramatic affair written and directed by Angelina Jolie Pitt, who also co-stars with husband Brad Pitt. The Hollywood power couple plays an artsy couple who are languishing in their life of luxury at an exclusive and isolated seaside resort. They are bored, but find distracting drama in assaulting each other emotionally and physically. Then they become obsessed with a younger couple’s hot-and-heavy sexuality, which eventually leads them to rediscover their own passions. The film is beautifully designed and the people are pretty too. But, who cares?
“Love the Coopers” wants to be a pre-holiday comedy gala that simultaneously celebrates and spoofs family conventions. Diane Keaton and Olivia Wilde star, respectively, as the matriarch and her still-unmarried daughter. John Goodman plays papa. And, there’s a son who’s the single father of a pre-tween daughter who thinks it’s hilarious to declare “You’re such a dick,” and does so at set-up moments that are intended to be comedic highlights. The humor falls flat, the actors’ talents are wasted. Director Jessie Nelson’s third feature is an unfortunate follow up to her memorable “Corrina, Corrina” and “I Am Sam.” Save your time and money for better holiday fare.
“Mia Madre,” Italian director Nanni Moretti’s femme-centric drama, stars Margherita Buy as a film director who, while making a movie about striking factory workers, is anguishing over the impending death of her mother as well as her teenage daughter’s angst. Buy is brilliant in her portrayal of a complex and compelling character whose problems are those of everyday life on a larger-than-life scale. A must-see; in Italian with English subtitles.
“Shelter,” writer-director Paul Bettany’s first feature, stars Jennifer Connolly (who is married to the director) as Hannah, a homeless heroin addict with a profoundly problematic past that includes the war-related death of her doctor-soldier husband and the abandonment of her young son. She meets Tahir (Anthony Mackie), a homeless Nigerian immigrant, and the two gradually fall in love and try to rebuild their lives together. Shot in New York, the film has a gritty ambience that conveys the daily hardships of the city’s impoverished and disenfranchised street people. Connolly’s tour-de-force performance is stunningly bold and bravely honest. This is a terrific first outing for Bettany, who shows superb storytelling skills.
“James White,” writer-director Josh Mond’s first feature, is also about troubled souls who are trying to change their ways. Christopher Abbott plays James, a 21-year-old ne’er-do-well who, when faced by the overwhelming needs of his dying mother (Cynthia Nixon), must redirect his freewheeling psyche in order to be able to care for her. The story is explosive. The performances are heart wrenching. A must see for Nixon’s performance.
“Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words,” an intimate and captivating bio-doc about the famous actress, uses Bergman’s own diaries and personal memorabilia to reveal her private life, rather than follow her career and replay its known moments. Swedish filmmaker Stig Bjorkman, who made the film with the support of Bergman’s daughter, Isabella Rossellini, does a beautiful job of letting us know the soul of the woman behind the icon.
“Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans,” Gabriel Clark and John McKenna’s documentary about the iconic charmer who enthralled female fans, shows McQueen to be a shrewd businessman who was ruled by his personal obsessions with car racing, making the ultimate racing film and women. Pretty much in that order. The film is an interesting behind-the-scenes glimpse at not very pretty Hollywood.
Stay tuned for more November openers next week.
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