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Diane Carson

Friday, 31 October 2014 00:00

'Before I Go to Sleep' profiles a nightmare

Efficiently working through the mystery/murder genre's obligatory twists and turns, "Before I Go to Sleep" proves the importance of solid acting to engage the audience. And engage they do when the actors are Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. Equally up to the challenge of adapting S.J. Watson's novel is screenwriter/director Rowan Joffe.

Relationships in "The Blue Room" are complicated, in this case, more than usual. Julien and Esther, married but not to each other, carry on a passionate affair that soon results in two deaths. The question of who murdered whom and how drives the narrative, jumping forward and back in time with relevant events inferred rather than explicitly delineated.

Representing, respectively, Palestinian and Israeli interests, Mosab Hassan Yousef and his Shin Bet handler, Gonen Ben, Yitzhak recount in detail their conflicting roles in "The Green Prince." Yousef is a prized informant because his father Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a well-known leader and Hamas founder, was imprisoned on several occasions by Israel.

Sunday, 05 October 2014 18:46

'Birdman' soars

At their best, innovative, experimental films offer thoroughly astonishing cinematic experiences. And director Alejandro González Iñárritu provides exactly that in "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)." Following middle-aged Riggan Thompson trying to jump-start and salvage his acting career with a Broadway play, Iñárritu unspools a tour-de-force of technical distinction and spectacular performances.

The mystery of a wife's disappearance is the catalyst for "Gone Girl," but that unknown doesn't drive director David Fincher's film. There are no spoilers here since early in the film the woman in question--Amy Elliot Dunne--begins to narrate her point of view. An intriguing back and forth follows, more ingenious than a whodunit.

"The Good Lie" tells the deeply moving story of four Sudanese refugees. Three brothers and their sister count among the thousands of so-called Lost Boys and Girls driven by South Sudan's civil war in the '80s to the U.N.'s Kakuma camp in Kenya, walking over a thousand miles through dangerous terrain to get there.

Thursday, 02 October 2014 16:33

'Pride' proudly depicts social activism

As the cliché says, politics makes strange bedfellows, and surely one of the most unexpected connections occurred in 1984 Great Britain. Following the June 30 Gay Pride Parade, a group calling themselves Lesbians and Gays Supporting Miners reached out to striking coal miners in Wales. The gay community realized that they had less police harassment, the miners faced more.

Friday, 03 October 2014 00:00

'The Notebook' details war's ripple effects

August 14, 1944, at a farm on the Hungarian border, a mother deposits her twin 12-year-old boys with their maternal grandmother, a relative they've never met and whom the daughter has avoided for 20 years. The grandmother's reputation as a witch, rumors that she poisoned her husband, and her lack of any human warmth make clear the reason.

Grief over a child's death cuts deeper than words can communicate. This unbearable tragedy is the engine that drives "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby." Conor and Eleanor's baby boy died, throwing their relationship and every aspect of their lives into crisis. Eleanor moves back with her parents, Conor with his father, as both struggle with some semblance of constructive coping.

Director Terry Gilliam expresses his fertile visual imagination in his latest film, "The Zero Theorem." In it Christoph Waltz as Qohen Leth inhabits a futuristic world where he's plagued by THE eternal question: What is the meaning of life? What is the point? Qohen's pursuit of the answer gives Gilliam the opportunity to showcase his provocative inventiveness.

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