I always enjoy meeting friends of friends and relatives or the significant others of friends. There is this fascination I have regarding how different people form relationships. In regards to friends I do not expect that all of their friends have similar traits, but I actually look at what I think is their stronger attributes and how they fit in with our common friend; it is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. I had a friend who had a friend I felt was an irritating individual. Whenever we were together in a social setting we remained polite, but kept our face to face time down to a minimum amount to avoid getting on each other’s nerves. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a friend who introduced me to their best friend and we immediately bonded as friends. It was not too long before we felt we were each other’s best friend, we had so many similar traits. Our mutual friend actually became jealous of our relationship. Now have you ever noticed how two people in a relationship can be opposite of each other, where one is an introvert and the other an extrovert? This fits so well into my thinking the world is made up of pluses and minuses; sort of on the same lines as that theory about there is an opposing force for every force or something like that. I think that is one of the reasons why I found the main characters interesting in this comedy film. FINDING herself alone and in a new city; college freshman Tracy, played by Lola Kirke (Gone Girl, Reaching the Moon), decided to reach out to her future stepsister Brooke, played by Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, No Strings Attached). Starting in Times Square Brooke would take Tracy on a wild adventure through New York life. I have been a fan of Greta for some time and give her credit for her work on this film where she also co-wrote the script. There were some fun exchanges and great lines in the dialog. Unfortunately it took a long time for this movie to grab me; I found the first half slow and boring. Once Heather Lind (A Single Shot, The Weekend) as Mamie-Claire came onto the scene I found myself becoming more interested in the characters. The role of Brooke was a fascinating study for me; I enjoyed the idea of chasing one’s dreams and creating plans while not letting any setbacks pull you down attitude. The issue I had with this picture was trying to decide if it was purposefully trying to be shallow because I never felt totally invested in the characters. I still cannot tell. Like I said earlier it took a long time for me to get into this film and by the end I was left with a feeling of, “That is it?”
2 1/2 stars
The word separation is an interesting word because it has two polar opposite emotions associated with it. A person would be relieved and happy to be separated from someone who was toxic to them. I can understand the feeling that would come over someone after being in an abusive relationship; in this case separating oneself would be a healthy thing. After being harnessed to a yoke, dragging fear and despair with them everywhere, the feelings of leaving has to be monumental. When there are people you love such as family, friends, or soul mates; a separation from them can feel as if your breath never quite fills your lungs, taxing your heart’s beat. Being apart from them can be sad and painful, where you worry each memory filled tear running down your face will feel like loved ones slipping away from you. It seems to me the act of separation can have a powerful affect on an individual. In this film festival winning movie being separated from his 2 children was more than 40 year old Xavier Rousseau, played by Romain Duris (Heartbreaker, The Beat That My Heart Skipped), could bear. When Wendy, played by Kelly Reilly (Flight, Sherlock Holmes franchise), the mother of his 2 kids decided to leave France and move to New York City, Xavier decided to follow and settle down near them in the foreign land. He would soon discover it was not an easy thing to do. This dramatic comedy had a lot going for it. I did not know this film was the third in a series, the two previous being L’Auberge Espagnole and Russian Dolls. After viewing this romantic movie I wished I had seen the previous ones because I felt I was missing out on something. The cast had an easy flow going between each other and were all believable. Part of the cast also included Audrey Tautou (Coco Before Chanel, The Da Vinci Code) as Martine and Cecile De France (Hereafter, High Tension) as Isabelle. The story essentially had no major potholes in it, things were pretty much kept at an even keel and that would be my major complaint. I did not find much contrast between any of the scenes; there was a chuckle here, a touching moment there. As I said before maybe my reaction would have been different if I had more history with the characters, watching them in their previous films. Granted I had very little negative things to say about the movie; I just felt a little left out. There was English, French, Spanish and Chinese languages spoken with English subtitles when needed.
2 2/3 stars
Once one gets past the awkwardness of puberty and the teen years, is there any reason to be embarrassed for something you had no control over? I am not talking about your hair accidentally being dyed a color not found in nature or tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. Instead I am referring to things like your birthplace, parents or current residence. I find it perplexing when someone is embarrassed to have visitors over to their perceived small, or some other negative adjective, apartment, because the guests live in a swanky or trendy place. Another example would be being ashamed of a parent’s lack of education. Maybe some of these comparisons could be considered a form of envy which I find distasteful. I had the same type of feeling for this comedy film. Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live-TV) played aspiring playwright Imogene. Struggling to become successful in New York City, she found herself in a predicament that required her to move back in with her mother Zelda, played by Annette Bening (Ruby Sparks, Running With Scissors). Things would not be the same due to two strangers Lee and George, played by Darren Criss (Glee-TV) and Matt Dillon (Crash, Wild Things), living in her mother’s house now. I have to tell you right from the start; this movie was not a comedy, it was a tragedy. This is not a compliment. To create a balance of drama and comedy, it takes work with a little finesse. The story was atrocious; none of the characters were likable. For the duration of this film I found maybe two or three things that were slightly amusing. One of them had Darren Criss’s character singing. Outside of that I have to say this film was icky. In an instance such as this; it would be totally understandable if the actors were embarrassed about their finished product, I know I was for them.
1 1/2 stars
Residing in one of the rooms of my mind are colorful balloons, each one filled with a dream of mine. In my 20’s the room was nearly full with all types of balloons. Some had streamers of anticipation attached while others floated high above on the currents of hope. Through the years I would periodically enter this place to pick up the shriveled balloons of broken dreams, strewn across the floor. Replacing them with new dreams that would inflate fresh balloons, I would sit back to watch them gently rise to the others above me. The room is not as full as it used to be, but I still can recall my past dreams. Young, full of aspirations and dreams was the colorful Frances, played by Greta Gerwig (Greenberg, Lola Versus). In her late 20’s she still had hopes of being a dancer, having a fabulous place in New York City, finding real love and to always have Sophie; played by Mickey Sumner (Last Chance Harvey, Missed Connections), as her best friend. Despite the changes that took place in life, Frances continued to hold onto her optimism. Filmed in black and white, this dramatic comedy showed the perfect slice of Frances’ daily life. Directed by Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg) and written by him and Greta, they really conveyed the essence of life’s ups and downs. This was Greta’s best performance to date; I found her character to be honest and real. Besides her’s and Mickey’s endearing performances, Michael Esper (All Good Things, Loggerheads) as Dan, Adam Driver (Lincoln, J. Edgar) as Lev and Michael Zegen (The Box, Adventureland) as Benji also did justice to the smart script. There was a wonderful style and vibe to this movie; in a way, it had the flavor of a Woody Allen movie but for a younger generation. No matter what reality may bring, dreams are the fuel to propel us forward.
3 1/2 stars
At my elementary school, we were offered several dance lessons that were held during our lunch hour. We were taught only the basic steps such as the box step or cha-cha. Dancing was not thought of as a strong enough physical activity to warrant taking the place of scatterball or bombardment games. It wasn’t until I was of legal age that I realized dancing could be considered an aerobic activity. Many a night was spent at the clubs burning off calories to the steady beats of dance music. But my love of dance really came at a much younger age. When I was 2 years old my brothers would place me up on top of a table, place an oversized hat on my head, turn on the record player and I would dance along to the music. This documentary did a perfect job in displaying the power of dance. Seeing these New York City 5th graders being instilled with hope and confidence during the school system’s ballroom dance competition was inspirational for me. I especially admired the diversity of students, coming from various neighborhoods of the city. There are famous quotes about music being healing and soothing, but I think they could easily apply to dance. Look how popular the different reality dance shows are on television; people certainly love to dance. I am willing to bet that even the non-dancer would be hard pressed not to feel uplifted by these children as they learn more than just how to dance. If I had such confidence back then; who knows, maybe I would have gone through with my dream of becoming a go-go boy.
3 1/4 stars — DVD