Reviews: Six Movies I’ve Seen Recently

Gia (1998)

Starring Angelina Jolie (before she was the prettier half of Brangelina), Gia tells the story of Gia Marie Carangi, America’s first supermodel. Jolie is riveting as Carangi, the fashion it-girl of the 1970’s who would fall into a world of drugs, sex, depression, and eventually die of AIDs at the age of 26. With this role, Jolie proved she was an actress, receiving a Golden Glove and a SAG for her performance.

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Set in Brooklyn during the 1980’s, writer/director Noah Baumbach touching story is of two brothers (Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline) dealing with their parents’ divorce. The somewhat childish (Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney), blame eachother for the collapse of the marriage. The ultimate moral… divorce is tough. A poignant film that can make laugh just as easily as it will make you cry. Overlooked during the award show season and that’s a shame.

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

Laura Henderson (Dame Judi Dench) already has a reputation as an eccentric member of London’s upper class when she decides to renovate an abandoned theater. Clueless, she enlists the help of Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to manage her productions. In desperate need of a hit, Mrs. Henderson comes up with a plan to place nude girls on the stage. What emerges is not only a controversy, but a delightful tale of the only London theater to remain open during the Blitz. It is a lovely picture and Dench gives a touching performance.

Ball of Fire (1941)

This hilarious picture written by Billy Wilder and directed by Howard Hawks is a unique take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Prof. Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) and his 7 colleagues are writing a slang dictionary. Katherine O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck) is a night club singer engaged to a gangster. When she needs to hide from the police, she takes a place a the Professors’ home and tricks Potts into marrying her. Only trouble can result from this madcap adventure. Stanwyck receieved an Oscar nomination for her role in a perfect romantic-comedy.

Shopgirl (2005)

Based on Steve Martin’s best-selling novella. Claire Danes delivers with a highly underrated performance as Mirabelle Buttersfield, a lonely salesgirl, who embarks on a relationship with an older man (Steve Martin) that will change her life. He leads her into a world of wealth and lavish gifts, only to increase her vulnerability. Jason Schwartzman is also on board as the aimless young man vying for Mirabelle’s attention. Claire Danes is better than this so-so movie.

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s latest feature is another masterpiece. Like any other Miyazaki film, Howl’s Moving Castle is the story of magic, wizards, and love. Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer), an unconfident young woman is turned into an old woman by the spiteful Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall). To break the spell she must depend on Howl (Christian Bale), an talented but equally insecure wizard,and the characters who live in his giant wooden legged castle. A visual masterpiece and it is sure to be a classic.

3 thoughts on “Reviews: Six Movies I’ve Seen Recently”

  1. I saw Shopgirl and while I was impressed with Danes, she was about the only redeeming value in the movie. I’d grown to like Martin as an actor, especially in Planes, Trains & Automobiles, but to me this was a step backwards for him.

    I loved Gia. I saw it about 4 years ago and Jolie was brilliant.

  2. Wow, Ball of Fire, eh? I saw that when I was maybe 10 years-old, right around the time, maybe three years later at most, that VCRs came out. S.Z. “Cuddles” Zakal is still, imho, the cutest thing to have ever graced the silver screen. It was also ’cause of that film that I have a tendency to pre-judge Dana Andrews as a bad guy.
    Man, I love shmoozing about old movies!

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