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Monday, November 18, 2013


I went to two movies this weekend.  I don't review zombie (okay, I didn't know that Brad Pitt would be confronted by them in World War Z), vampire (I might still watch a Bela Lugosi re-run, or, maybe George Hamilton again in Love at First Bite), animated or comic-book (even though I knew Thor would prevail again this week) films.  I did go to All is Lost (#13 for the weekend) and Blue is the Warmest Color (#20).

Robert Redford had the performance of his life as the only human in All is Lost.  However, even though Rotten Tomatoes reviewers bestowed a sterling 94% rating, and 71% of the audience liked it, box office revenues were embarrassing.  I wonder why?  Redford has had at least ten films grossing more than $100 million, but AIL, now out for more than a month, has only earned a grand total of $4.28 million, with less than a million this past weekend.  Captain Phillips, another sea adventure, with a longer run, just this weekend sold tickets worth $4.5 million, and should pass $100 million by the end of this week.

AIL is about a rich American solitary sailor on an expensive yacht in the Indian Ocean suddenly beset by a series of maritime disasters.  Nothing is explained about his life or why he is here.  I thought the title was misleading.  It should have been called HOPE.  While sometimes boring (I fell asleep a couple of times), the low level intensity spiced with moments of agony and despair was sufficient to gain higher viewership.  

Redford, identified in the credits as Our Man, was brilliantly anticipatory of impending events, technologically enterprising and indomitable.  Is there a Hollywood ending?  I urge you to go see AIL to find out, for there is a small (if only it sold more tickets, this would have been "sure") chance that he could still be nominated as Best Actor this coming year.

Director and writer J.C. Chandor's first feature was Margin Call, a film at the polar opposite of AIL, with a lot of talk during the financial crisis of 2008.  An excellent film.  He took a chance on AIL, and, I guess, failed.

Blue is the Warmest Color was a shock, but, with perfect timing, for Hawaii just passed into law gay marriage.  Rotten Tomatoes loved it, for the film gained 89% (reviewers) and 87% (audience) ratings.  Your local newspapers probably gave it a 4 star rating.  This why I went, although I had no idea about to expect, but mostly because it played just after AIL ended.

The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Film Festival, becoming the first to be awarded the prize to both director (Abdellatif Kechiche) and lead actresses (Adele Exarchopoulos, left, and Lea Seydoux, right).  It's a French film with subtitles rated NR-17.  Three hours long, this is the longest I've sat without going to the bathroom in decades.

Why was I shocked?  I had an uncomfortable feeling that I was sitting in a porno movie, with the most graphic lesbian sex in the history of "real" movies.  The rating should have been XXX.  Maybe this is just the French style, but I also got lost in the transitions, for Adele begins as a high school junior, and is suddenly in a next scene now a practicing teacher.  Further there is no link with her past and her high school friends, who dominated the early part of the story.  I also did not quite get the reason for the title, even though that is the color blue in the movie poster.  Do I recommend this film?  I wouldn't to my late wife, but absolutely for the more venturesome seeking safe but wicked experiences.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed over 16,000 for the first time ever, but slipped below that level, ending up 14 to 15,976, another all-time record.
The death count from Super Typhoon Haiyan is now up to 4,000, with 1,600 missing.  More than 10 million were impacted in 10,365 villages.  Half a million homes were destroyed or seriously damaged.  More than a third of a million are staying in 1,550 evacuation centers.


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