(fr) wrote: "The line between ambition and obsession can be much thinner than one might imagine."At Middleton is one of those films that are hard to review because the dialogue is so cheesy and over the top while the performances are charming and engaging. It's not a good film, but one that works for a certain audience that can appreciate the two lead performances despite the flaws. It's a film about two unlikely people making a connection and if you buy in to that connection you will enjoy this film. The problem is that I never believed these two characters would connect in the way they did and everything felt false despite the sparks of charm and sweetness that the film evokes. It's hard not to enjoy a film starring a funny Andy Garcia (getting away from the dramatic roles we've seen him in) and a lovable Vera Farmiga. Both actors are stunning and enjoyable despite the weak material they had to work with. Several moments felt forced, but the chemistry between the two actors make this film tolerable. At Middleton is Adam Rogers first feature film and he co-wrote the script with Glenn German. It tries to be a mature romantic film about marriage and preparing for the empty nest, but it ended up feeling like a movie you'd catch on Lifetime or the Hallmark channel.The film takes place during the course of one day as two families are heading to a college tour at Middleton. On the one hand there is Edith (Vera Farmiga) a married businesswoman driving her teenage daughter, Audrey (Taissa Farmiga) to the tour. Audrey is excited about Middleton because she wants the best linguistic professor in the country, Dr. Emerson (Tom Skerrit) to be her advisor. Then we are introduced to George Hartman (Andy Garcia), a heart surgeon who is almost forcing his son Conrad (Spencer Lofranco) to get excited about the tour at Middleton. Once both families arrive at the campus their paths cross during the tour and eventually Edith and George get separated from the rest of the group and spend the rest of the day getting to know each other while they decide to take their own private tour of the college. Despite not liking each other at first, they quickly make a connection and as the day goes on they begin falling for each other.Halfway through the film I already knew where we were going to end up. It ended as I predicted, but I still enjoyed some of the moments in the film. The chemistry between both actors is charming and sweet despite the fact that most of the film felt forced. The two kids in this film did a decent job as well. Taissa Farmiga plays Vera's daughter although in real life the two are sisters. She does a decent job, but the truth of the matter is that Vera and Andy Garcia are the heart and soul of this film. They make this a watchable film although I wouldn't recommend it. There are some nice sparks that make the film feel pleasant at times and it looks good, but it was just a bit too cheesy for my liking. At Middleton is a bittersweet meh movie; nothing more to add here.
(fr) wrote: As a kind of cultural globalization takes over world cinema, one should be grateful for directors such as the Hungarian Bla Tarr, the Romanian Cristian Mungiu, the Iranians Abbas Kiarostami and Bahman Ghobadi and the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan who keep alive a personal, regional and stylistically individual form of film-making. Their work is never likely to become widely popular at home or abroad, but they're beacons of hope for the future of a troubled art. A photographer by profession, Ceylan turned to film-making in the mid-90s and works largely with non-professional actors and small budgets. He belongs in the tradition of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Antonioni, Angelopoulos and other masters that seemed in the 60s and 70s to be on the point of becoming a new or, at least, parallel mainstream but has now been marginalised. His new film, The Three Monkeys, like its two predecessors, won a major award at Cannes, in this case the prize for best director, and it begins with that familiar dramatic device for the creation of tension, guilt and dangerous consequences - the hit-and-run accident. Here, a man kills a pedestrian at night on a country road. It transpires that he is a politician, Servet, and in order for the event not to affect a forthcoming election he bribes his driver Eyp, who wasn't with him on this occasion, to take the rap. He'll go on getting paid during his nine-month sentence and at the end will receive a decent pay-off. The title is a reference to the Sino-Japanese image of the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, suggesting this film is a moral fable about the consequences of evasion, corruption and suppression. Servet thinks he's doing what's best for his party and the country: he's a supporter of Prime Minister Erdogan and the occasion is the 2007 general election that ended in a landslide victory. Eyp believes he's acting like a good servant, but, more important, he's getting the money that will get a better home for his handsome wife Hacer and provide for the education of his teenage son Ismail. Nothing good comes of these actions. One way and another, everyone's life is affected, indeed in some measure destroyed, but like much else in the film the judgments are left to the viewer. Are we dealing with national problems of widespread social corruption, with the weaknesses of a set of individuals or the operation of a malignant fate of a kind that stalks us all? From the start, Ceylan draws us into the very narrative fabric. In the opening scene, using silence, long takes, available light and dramatic compositions, he makes us ask questions about what we are seeing. Who is this man? What has he done? How will he react? There are long gaps in time between individual sequences and seemingly important facts are never made plain. Ismail comes home with a badly cut hand and a bruised face, but he never reveals to his mother, or to us, whether these wounds came from brawling or from political demonstrations. They have the effect, however, of persuading her to visit the politician and seek an advance on the bribe to buy a car for the boy. This in turn leads to an affair, which is only discovered when Ismail returns home early to find his mother making love to Servet. When Eyp emerges from jail, he's furious about the car and his suspicions over his wife's infidelity seem confirmed by a message on her cell phone. For most of the film, the images are desaturated, but during the scene of reunion, Hacer is wearing a red slip, which both excites her husband and drives him to violence. In the family's background is the death of another son, some 15 years earlier, and his father and surviving brother are haunted by visions of this loss. In the future lies a repetition of the incident that launches the film, only here the conspiracy is initiated by Eyp. Though perhaps not quite as good as Climates, Ceylan's last picture, this is a film of formidable power that sticks in the mind. Two sequences in particular stand out. In one, the politician rejects the obsessed Hacer with great brutality, but the camera is placed nearly 50 yards away across a field. In the other, the film's closing long shot, the husband stands on the balcony of their ramshackle apartment block to the south of Istanbul, his back to the camera, looking out over the Sea of Marmara as an electric storm begins to stir. Two stars with a plus, out of four.
(fr) wrote: A nice look at the Golden Age of comic books, and at the underground "Comix" movement, but much of the film covers the same material as the interesting "Tales From the Crypt" documentary of a few years back, and the excellent (and horrifyingly disturbing) "Crumb." Robert Crumb is a strange and disgusting human being, and we can actually feel this movie shift in tone once he is introduced, and the focus moves from the entire comic book industry of the '50s and '60s...to the demented world of a pervert and acid-freak..."Comic Book Confidential," I think, suffers from its overwhelming focus on the drug-sex-themed "Comix," ignoring other work of the '70s and '80s, though--to be fair--this was likely the director's main interest as he pursued the subject, and all discussion of the '30s and '40s comic books simply served him as historical background in order to more fully explore "Comix."