Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of The Steal

April 12.

This is tough. I agree with the Friends of the Barnes Foundation, the city of Philadelphia stole the Barnes Collection by creating loopholes in Barnes’ will, however, I want to be able to see the greatest collection of art in the United States, so maybe I’m OK with that.

The Art of the Steal chronicles Albert C. Barnes’ life from a poor Philly boy to rich, successful pharmaceutical businessman who starts buying art by Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and other great artists before museums were vying for their work. He created the Barnes Foundation as a school for artists and the students are the only people welcome to view the $25 billion art collection. He didn’t want this to be a museum, but a study of art, and he didn’t want the art displayed on empty white walls, like it would have been in a gallery. He was so adamant about the experience viewers had with the art that he put a will together stating the art could never be moved or sold.

After he died in 1951 the story gets interesting. Everyone wants this collection, some, like the Friends of the Barnes Foundation, want the building and art preserved as Barnes wanted it, and others want the works to be accessible to more people.

The movie is completely one sided. Although they do say that most of the people who worked to get the art moved to Philadelphia turned down invitations to be interviewed for the movie. But I can’t help feel like I’ve met the Friends of the Barnes Foundation during my years of covering city council for a small town. Community activists can be … tiring.

So here’s the dilemma – I agree, Barnes bought this art, it was his to do with what he wanted. And what the city did is wrong. What if tomorrow they decide my car needs to be in a museum, can they take it? So, of course, they shouldn’t be able to just do what they want with it, especially since he was very specific about what he wanted. And you have to watch the movie to really understand why he wanted the art to stay in the suburbs. He has compelling reasons. But this isn’t one painting, or five. This is $25 billion of art. So, even though I think it’s wrong, I will go see the collection once it moves to Philadelphia in 2012.

Sorry Mr. Barnes. 

Rating: Like


April 12.

I can’t imagine a world where if I was a poor woman scraping money together to pay for a one bedroom apartment in Queens where I lived with my sick father and a billionaire offered me a million dollars as a sorry I lied to you I wouldn’t take it. I know we’re all supposed to pretend we are above money and that integrity is more important, but come on.

This wasn’t the only false part of the Russell Brand reboot of Arthur, but I have to admit, I didn’t hate it like I thought I was going to. It is too sad to really be a comedy and too silly to really be a drama but I found Brand and his nanny, played by Helen Mirren, to be a great team and enjoyed his antics and seeing some beautiful New York scenery.

I saw the original Dudley Moore version but I was a kid and don’t really remember it, actually maybe I only saw part two. Either way, I did think a few times that Brand was trying to imitate Moore, but then I found out that they are from the same area of England. So maybe they just sound the same when they are pretending to be drunk.

Rating: Like

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trois Couleurs: Bleu (Three Colors Blue)

April 9.

Trois Couleurs is one of those trilogies that has been recommended to me over and over and has been in my Netflix queue for years. I wanted to see it, three great French movies that everyone loves, but I never found the motivation. So when my friend mentioned he had ordered the trilogy last year and finally got it, I guess Amazon didn’t have the motivation to send it, I said OK, let me borrow it. I’m sure he wasn’t going to charge me late fees, but I didn’t feel it was right to hold onto it for months, so finally this weekend I watched part one: Bleu.

So after all this time it’s nice to be able to say Bleu, starring Juliette Binoche as the widow of a famous composer, really lived up to the hype. It was amazing and beautiful and disturbing and sad.

Bleu starts with the car accident that kills Binoche’s husband and daughter and follows her as she tries to live after the tragedy. Bleu is a bit mysterious with unanswered questions and a linear storyline but it seems to be more about the emotion.

I’ve already returned Bleu and have parts two and three. I am excited to see where this trilogy, which is general in theme, (trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns), goes.

Rating: Love

Monday, April 11, 2011

Source Code

April 9.

Source Code is Groundhog Day meets Inception meets Avatar ... kind of.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a disoriented soldier who gets to take over the body of a man who is on a train outside of Chicago that is about to blow up. He has eight minutes until the bomb explodes and everyone on board dies. Eight minutes. Over and over again until he can figure out where the bomb is and who planted it. He’s not supposed to be trying to save the people, only learn about the bomber to stop a future attack. This isn’t, as they say, time travel.

There’s a lot of to figure out in the movie – like where is Jake once he’s off the train and in his own body, who are the people who are instructing him in his mission, who’s the bomber, etc., etc.

Source Code is well made and acted and pulled me in from the start. There’s a question I have about Jake and then end, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. So let me know when you’ve seen it and we discuss the ending.

Rating: Like


April 5.

Hop is cute. It does a great job of creating Easter folklore for the Easter Bunny like so many Christmas movies have done for Santa. But some of the charm of the great Christmas movies was just missing. I’m not exactly sure why.

Easter Island is as detailed as the North Pole. The chicks working in the candy shop are maybe even cuter than elves, and everything is fun and colorful. Maybe an Easter movie can never be like a Christmas movie because Christmas has a special feeling or because I heard stories about Santa my whole life and those movies just brought it to life rather than trying to create something new. Or maybe Hop just wasn’t a great movie.

The movie starts out good as it introduces the Easter Bunny and his son, E.B., who is supposed to become the Easter Bunny on his next birthday. E.B. isn’t interested in dedicating his life to hiding eggs and wants to become a famous drummer. So he sets off for Hollywood and the home of the Bunny’s – the Playboy Mansion. After getting turned away by Hef he hooks up with freeloader, Fred. There’s the whole part about Fred thinking he’s crazy and E.B. discovering how much fun it is and then how dangerous it is to be among the humans, etc.

The end is where Hop really falls apart though. It crams what should have taken half the movie into about 10 minutes and doesn’t really put an end to everything. And without ruining the ending, some humans seem to accept things a little too easily.

Rating: Ehh

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Certified Copy

March 26.

I had really high expectations for Certified Copy. The French movie set in Tuscany starring Juliette Binoche got rave reviews everywhere I looked. So as the main characters - Binoche, an apparent single mother running an antique shop in small town Italy and William Shimell an art historian and author - have an uncomfortable meeting, full of strange bickering, I wasn't sure what I thought of it.

And then, when the pair started acted as a married couple, but not in a cute, fun way - in a strange sad way, I was actually less uncomfortable but still confused. This couple seemed to truly be married ... I think.

So in the end I wasn't sure what I thought. The conversation was interesting, the scenery and camera angles were gorgeous and interesting. But the story. What had happened? Were they married? Were they strangers? I don't know.

A few days later, I was talking to a coworker about the film and we had similar reactions. But as we talked about it, we both began to appreciate what we saw more and more. There are so many questions. About what happened, sure, but also about the way people speak to each other and why. And there's no denying that the storytelling was like nothing I've ever seen before. So, now I feel like I need to watch this movie again, and that it could be a movie I love, but for now ...

Rating: Like

Sunday, March 20, 2011


March 19.

Limitless is stylish and sexy with sweeping, gorgeous views of New York City and Bradley Cooper. Sure the story of a disheveled man with a serious case of writer's block who takes a miracle pill that lets him unlock his full potential has a few holes, but it's fun to watch anyway.

The actors, Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert DeNiro were all really good, even if DeNiro wasn't used enough. There's never a slow or dull moment in Limitless, but this is not the Inception of 2011. The story tries to throw in some twists, but I wasn't shocked and could kind of guess what was coming up.

Still, sometimes fun is all a movie needs to be.

Although, Limitless did make me think a little. If given the power of no limitations would I, or would any of us, do more than Cooper's character Eddie did, which was pretty much impress people with his intelligence like a parlor trick, get girls, and make money? Is Limitless trying to point out the sad state of our society? Or maybe this is just a movie trying to tell an amusing story and not a lesson in morals.

While watching the movie it seemed that the writer, Alan Glynn, of the book, The Dark Fields, which the film was based, was trying to make a statement about illegal drugs. You take them to get you through, feel invincible, can't live with out them, then can't live with them. But I can't find anything to back that up. So I should probably stop trying to read so much into this and focus on what really matters: Bradley Cooper's hot.

Rating: Like