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I am seeking to create a space where I can write brief and longer film Reviews and essays on various film topics. My hope that some will find this thread useful in spotting films they are interested in, but I am also seeking to write these entries to help gather my own thoughts about a film. I am also hoping for feedback and discussion about the topics and films that are raised through these entries I do not plan to write about the most current movies, there seems to be plenty of places for that. I do not intend to go out of my way to review my favorite or least favorite films. I'll stick with what I am watching at a particular time.
All reviews present an opinion on any given film, but I do want o identify some criteria I will use in reviewing these films. I am going to modify Halliwell's rating system from four stars to five. Thus 0= a film that never should have been produced for lack of any redeeming qualities; a 1= a film that may have one redeeming quality such as entertainment for a narrow audience; a 2= a film that exhibits a good level of competence as well as entertaining a wider audience; a 3- a solid film, exercising command of some of the major film elements while presenting an entertaining film to a wide audience; 4- a very high level of competence and entertainment.; 5= a film that helps define it's genre and is outstanding in many ways including master of the various film elements as well as maintaining a solid level of entertainment. The film elements that I will evaluate have been identified in Louis Gianetti's book entitled Understanding Movies. These elements are identified as: Photography, Misc en scene (the world within the frame), Movement, Editing, Sound, Acting, Dramatization, Story, Writing, Ideology, and Critique. I am presenting this as a thread because I am looking for feedback so comment away. I will pay attention to comments and discuss anything that someone wants to comment on, but I will not argue (I've already stated I have much to learn, but I also assume we are all in that boat to some degree)

1) The Perks of Being a Wallflower.(An Essay)






The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Two Distinct Manifestations of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
I. Summary
Charlie is about to start high school, and he needs to turn his life around. At the beginning of the story, Charlie tells us that he has recently been hospitalized because of some psychiatric or emotional problems. We find out later that these problems were probably brought on by the suicide of his best friend, Michael. We learn through the story’s progression that Charlie has repressed memories of being molested by his Aunt Helen, whom he trusted, admired, and respected. He is very nervous about starting high school, and he lets us know early on that he believes making friends will help him cope with his problems. Charlie meets Patrick and Sam at a football game, and they in turn introduce Charlie to Bob, Mary Elizabeth, and Alice, who become Charlie’s circle of friends. Sam confides in Charlie that she was molested, seduced, or otherwise sexually involved with her father’s boss when she was eleven. We know very little about Sam except that she was promiscuous and drank too much when she was a freshman in high school and that she has problems with bulimia. Sam also tells Charlie that she used to date guys who treated her “like ****.” Sam’s current boyfriend has been cheating on her since before the story begins, and she does not know it until the end of the film.
II. Charlie: Sexual Abuse and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? According to B. Christopher Fruch it is an anxiety disorder brought on by “exposure to an extremely traumatic event or events.” The traumatic event(s) experienced or witnessed must involve “actual or threatened death or serious injury” or “a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.” A response of fear, helplessness, or horror at the time of the events must also be involved. Sexual abuse victims often exhibit the symptoms of PTSD (Fruch 249).
Fruch identifies three primary symptom classes used to diagnose PTSD. The first class involves the victim re-experiencing the traumatic event(s). It is common for the victim to experience intrusive or disruptive memories of the trauma as well as frightening dreams or nightmares, with some victims experiencing flashbacks in which the traumatic event is relived. “Exposure to environmental stimuli that resemble an aspect of the traumatic event often evokes intense psychological distress, and/or psychological reactivity” (Fruch 249).This is what happens to Charlie when Sam touches him in a way that brings back memories of how Aunt Helen touched him when he was a child (1:26:46; 1:27:33).[1]
The second symptom class that Fruch identifies with PTSD is persistent avoidance. When an individual re-experiences a trauma, it often leads to avoidance of cues (stimuli that serve to guide behavior) associated with the traumatic event. This includes the subject seeking to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations about the trauma, as well as efforts to avoid activities or situations that arouse recollections of the trauma. On rare occasions avoidance may include amnesia of significant aspects of the trauma (Fruch 248). This appears to be what is happening when it becomes evident that Charlie does not seem to be consciously aware of the fact that Aunt Helen sexually abused him.[2]
The third symptom class is increased arousal or anxiety that was not present before the trauma. These symptoms include difficulty in falling asleep, irritability or outburst of anger, difficulty concentrating, hyper-vigilance, and an exaggerated startle response (Fruch 249). These symptoms also cause disruption in the lives of those with PTSD.
We know that Charlie has problems with anger. We see Charlie lose control in the cafeteria when he takes on three football players who are beating Patrick (1:12:00). It seems significant that he blacks out during this event. He tells us that this event is a negative turning point in terms of his self-control (1:19:55). After Sam leaves for Penn State, Charlie remembers what Aunt Helen did to him, which causes him to experience extreme anxiety and agitation. This leads to the breakdown that puts him back in the hospital (1:27:35). When Charlie reaches the hospital, his doctor persuades him to let her help him work through his issues (1:32:50). By the end of the film, Charlie is working on his problems and attempting to start his life anew. (1:38:00) This is more than we can say for Sam.
III. Sam: Sexual Abuse and a Female Gender-Specific Response to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Some may doubt that Charlie and Sam are experiencing the same psychological problem, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sam at least gives the impression that she has her life together. She seems to be very outgoing, with good friends and a steady boyfriend, and she performs in the Rocky Horror Picture Show every week (31:15:00). Our first impression is that Charlie has more problems than Sam, but is this a true picture of what is going on with Sam? I think not.
When Sam was a freshman she practically fell apart. She drank too much and let guys use her for sex (45:20). She had done this enough that even Charlie’s sister, Candace, knew that Sam had a reputation (30:50). Yet even as a senior, it does not appear that Sam has dealt with her PTSD. Sam tells Charlie about her problems with bulimia (14:30), and she still seems to be getting involved with guys who use her (1:22:30). It is also clear that Sam’s circle of friends is involved with hash and LSD.[3] Sam may have learned to use coping mechanisms to her advantage better than Charlie has, but she is still exhibiting signs of PTSD.
According to Maria Root, “persistent, disordered eating may disguise a post-trauma response to sexual assault in adolescent girls and women, and as such, can be a gender specific symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (Root 100). “The ability to diet successfully has been held as a key to power, acceptance, and control—a triad that is shattered by physical or sexual assault. Child sexual abuse represents the ultimate violation of physical, psychological, and spiritual space “(Root 100).
Disordered eating occurs more frequently with females for physiological and socially conditioned emotional reasons. Right or wrong, social judgments regarding a woman’s psychological well-being and essential goodness are largely determined by how she looks. “This socialization increases the chance that a woman will attempt to resolve a physical boundary violation by attempting to control her body” (Root 100). “Additionally, the psychological and physiological stress created by overvaluation of norms of thinness creates a context for restrictive dieting, fasting, compulsive exercise, and even purging “(Root 100). Both clients and therapists are distracted by the symptomatology[4] associated with disordered eating and may attempt to behaviorally or cognitively treat it out of context (i.e., treat the eating disorder without identifying its relationship to sexual abuse or other source of PTSD). If this happens the symptoms can only get worse (Root 101). In Sam’s case, she is aware that she has been abused, and she is aware that she has a problem with bulimia. She also seems to see the connection between her abuse and these other problems. We do not know if Sam is getting professional help with these problems or not. I would guess that she is not getting help because from what we know about her she has become very adept at avoidance.
The addictiveness of the behaviors that comprise disordered eating occurs through a process of negative reinforcement. Through second-order conditioning,[5] disordered eating can become a generalized response to “negative internal affective states.”[6] “Additionally, these symptoms are reinforced through a woman’s ability to organize her immediate distress around a symptomatology that is normative to some degree among adolescent girls and young women rather than around the distress associated with having been sexually assaulted.”(Root 101) “Because of the various functions that binge eating, compulsive eating, vomiting, can serve giving up these behaviors because a cessation of these symptoms is invariably marked by a return of traumatic memories and a marked inability to properly function on a daily basis” (Root 101). This is what Sam will have to cope with if she is to deal with her issues so that she can overcome her PTSD symptoms.
IV. Conclusion
What have we learned from watching this film? (1) There is more than one manifestation of PTSD that results from sexual abuse. (2) Some of these manifestations may not be as obvious to an uninformed observer as other forms. (3) Individuals cannot avoid some of the more unpleasant aspects of PTSD if they hope to get better; they must go through the process of discovery and rehabilitation before they can get better. (4) Some women have a gender-specific experience of PTSD. (5) As serious as PTSD is, there is hope for recovery if one finds help.
Stephen Chbosky confronts some pretty heavy-hitting themes in this movie, considering that it has a PG-13 rating. It is my hope that there are some young people, and perhaps some adults, that can find help if they are facing or have faced the problems described in this movie.
Works Cited
American Psychological Association. APA Concise Dictionary of Psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2009.
Fruch, B. Christopher. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Encyclopedia of Psychology. Ed. Alan E. Kazdin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 249-51.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Dir. Stephen Chbosky. Lionsgate, 2012. DVD
Root, Maria P. “Persistent, Disordered Eating as a Gender-specific, Post-traumatic Stress Response to Sexual Assault.” Psychotherapy. 1991: 96-102.


[1] All notes that are in the format 00:00:00 refer to the time stamp from the DVD The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

[2] As late as midway through the film Charlie is speaking of Aunt Helen as his most favorite person in the world (46:00:00)—a stark contrast to how he describes Aunt Helen to his doctor at the end of the film (1:33:00).

[3]Although we never see Sam do drugs, we know they are present among Charlie’s circle of friends, which includes Sam.

[4] Symptomatology is “the combined signs, markers, or indicators of a disease or disorder.

[5] A form of learning in which a stimulus is first made meaningful or consequential for an organism through an initial step of learning, and then that stimulus is used as a basis for learning about some new stimulus.

[6] Negative internal affective states refers to the internal feeling that occurs when one has failed to achieve a goal or to avoid a threat or when one is not satisfied with their current state of affairs.








2) The Godfather





The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Based on Mario Puzo’s novel with the same title.
Genre: Modern Gangster
Featured cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Talia Shire, Abe Vigoda, and Diane Keaton.
1972


Plot:
An ageing patriarch of a major New York crime syndicate attempts to maintain his prominent position among the other New York families while seeking to transfer control to his sons.

Review:
One of the two defining films of the modern gangster genre (the other being Goodfellas); The Godfather is outstanding on several fronts. To begin with, it is based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel of the same title. It was nominated for eleven Oscars and was the winner of three (Best Picture, Best Screenplay Based on a Novel, and Best Actor for Marlon Brando). It had a very talented cast including performances by some relative unknowns at the time (see featured cast, Richard Castellano (Clamenza), and John Cazale (Fredo). The film was masterfully directed by a young Francis Ford Coppola who managed to keep the audience engaged with a movie that ran for nearly three hours. It achieved excellence in almost everything it attempted. Besides its wins listed above, it was noted for its music (receiving a Grammy for best original score for a motion picture), and its costume design. It was a tour de force excelling in almost every aspect. The film has more than stood up to the test of time. Forty years after its release it continues to be acknowledged as one of the all-time greats. It is one of those rare films that can be viewed countless times. It is one of the few examples of a film that is acknowledged for both its critical reception as well as its entertainment value. While its appeal is not universal, it reaches far beyond the reach of its genre. This movie is recommended for most mature viewing audiences, although it is infamous for its graphic violence.



The Godfather Part II
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Modern Gangster
Featured Cast: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Robert Deniro, John Cazale, Lee Strasberg, Michael Gazzo, and G. D. Spradlin.
1974


Plot: Michael leaves the “Olive Oil Business” in New York City, in the hands of Clemenza who passes it on to Frank Pantangeli; and expands the Coreone’s family empire to Nevada. All is not well as an attempt is made on Michael’s life, which forces him to flush out a traitor in his family.

Review: In some ways this film shows us what a sequel should look like. It has the same production value as it provides its audience with both a prequel and a sequel. It also topped the original film by earning six Oscars compared to the three Oscars the original film earned. It won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Robert Deniro), Best Screenplay Adapted from a Novel, Best Art Direction, and Best Musical Score. The extra running time, 202 minutes vs. 178 minutes, does not allow the screenplay to give the space needed to fully develop both the prequel and sequel, thus accounting for the lower rating. The plot allows the viewer to see how the mafia had evolved from the turn of the century through the 1950’s, however I believe this is better illustrated in the Epic version of the movie, where the movie is combined with the first movie and shown to us chronologically. This movie is recommended to mature audiences because of its presentation of graphic violence




The Godfather Part III
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Modern Gangster
Featured Cast: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Walach, Joe Montegna, George Hamilton, and Sophia Coppola.
1990

How the mighty have fallen. When this movie came out, it was one of the most anticipated sequels in history. What we got was a big disappointment. There were several factors that contributed to this reception. The one that stands out to most people is the performance of Sofia Coppola. The actress who was to play Mary, Michael’s daughter, backed out at the last minute, and Francis Ford Coppola filled this key role with his daughter Sofie. To be fair, Sofie was in way over her head
from the beginning and if there is anybody to blame it would be Francis Ford Coppola for throwing her into the deep end of the pool. Sofie earned two Razzie awards for her part in the Godfather part II, Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star. Thank goodness Sofie found her place behind the camera where she has achieved some notable success with Lost in Translation, The Bling Ring, and The Virgin Suicides among other films. .
Another big problem of the film was the screenplay. It seemed like the script was merely an annotation of the first two films with someone shouting out the major plot lines. Now they will Fear You!, etc..
As stated above, this film could have been one of the best sequels ever if it had not been made because the director needed cash in a hurry. If it had been made at Coppola’s leisure it might have achieved the same level of success as the first two films. What we ended up with was probably one of the worst series ending sequels that has permanently scarred the Godfather franchise.





Goodfellas
Director: Martin Scorcese
Source: Nicholas Pileggi Wise Guys
Genre: Modern Gangster
Featured Cast: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino,
1990

Plot:
The story of Henry Hill, a real life member of one of the prominent New York City organized crime organizations, the Lucchese family. We see the film through the eyes of Henry Hill and his wife, who take turns narrating various episodes from life within the mob.



Review:
While we see the Godfather, a rival for top gangster film, through the eyes of the mob boss; we see Goodfellas from the perspective of a foot soldier. (In terms of the Godfather Henry Hill would have been under Clemenza or Tessio.) It has been said that one of the two movies is closer to real life in the mob. It seems, however, that this kind of comparison cannot really be made since each film tells the story from different perspectives.
In 1990, it was Goodfellas that excelled in almost every aspect of the film. It gave us top-notch acting, editing, screenplay,directing, soundtrack, etc. It seemed that Goodfellas had achieved everything the first Godfather movie had when it was named best picture and gained the privilege of being the best modern gangster drama up to that point. On top of that Scorcese communicated a raw energy that the Godfather lacked. It lost best film to Dances With Wolves that year at the Oscars. Goodfellas went on to win best film in BAFTA, and best director in several film festivals. This movie is highly recommended for mature audiences.(Language and violence)




Hannah and Her Sisters
Director: Woody Allen
Screenplay Woody Allen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Featured Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Lloyd Nolan, Max Von Sydow, and Carrie Fisher.
1986



Plot: The movie spans two years in the lives of its large cast of characters - New Yorkers who labor in Manhattan's two sexiest industries, art and money. It begins and ends at family Thanksgiving dinners, with the dinner in the middle of the film acting as a turning point for several lives.


Review:
When considering the question, “Which film turned you into a film buff” this was it. I was living in New York City at the time and I remember the tremendous blend of comedy and dramatic tension the movie created. I was hooked. The acting was great. Despite the fact that Woody was actually in the film, Michael Caine has probably broke the mold for the perfect Woody stand –in. Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Max Von Sydow, and Mia Farrow all had outstanding performances in this film.
Not to demean his earlier films, or his films since; Hannah and Her Sisters represents Woody at the pinnacle of his career up to this point. Who knows, with his recent string of films it seems he is on the rebound and perhaps could surpass “Hannah”. The film won Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest), and Best Screenplay written for the Screen (Woody Allen).
There is a key scene where the three sisters are eating lunch, and as the camera rotates around the table showing each women’s face Woody demonstrates that he is more than just a comedian, he is a master at creating dramatic tension as well. This movie is rated PG-13 and is enthusiastically recommended for that audience.




Purple Rose of Cairo


Director: Woody Allen
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Drama
Featured Cast: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Irving Metzman, Stephanie Farrow, Dianne Wieste.
1985



Plot: A New Jersey wife who is trapped in a loveless marriage is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime from the most unlikely of sources, if she could only bring herself to make the right choice.

Review:
This will be a difficult review to write without spoiling the movie. I would put this film on the top of the list as one of Woody’s most creative movies. Some of the others I would name are: Play it Again Sam, Mighty Aphrodite, and Midnight in Parris. In place of discussing the various aspects of the movie, I will just say, “Watch the Movie”. I will say that if one of the reason you do not like Woody’s movies is Woody himself; Woody does not appear as an actor in this film. Another great feature of this movie is that it is one of Woody’s best movies that illustrate “existential philosophy” by showing us the significance of “choice” and “risk”. Woody also chose to alternate between “black and white” and “color” film to illustrate his point. This is an all-around good film. If you are looking for that one Woody Allen movie you can like, this may very well be it. “Watch the Movie”.




Blade Runner
Director: Ridley Scott
Featured Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Brion James, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, William Sanderson, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy.
Screenplay: Hampton Frascher and David Peoples.
Loosely based on the novel entitled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick.
1982, 2007


Plot: Deckard, a retired bladerunner (a policemen who’s sole purpose is to detect and “retire” deadly androids known as replicants) is forced out of retirement to handle the latest crisis. The problem is will he accidently kill a human by mistake?

Review: This science fiction movie may not have the best visual effects like Star Wars or some sci-fi films made since then, but it is very strong in its story. (you can see the wires used for special effects in some scenes) I have seen a Sociological interpretation, a Religious interpretation, a Philosophical interpretation, and even an Environmental interpretation of this film. This is to say the film is loaded and if you are to understand it on its various levels it will require several viewings. This is not a weakness in my opinion. It takes some guts to make a film that require several viewings to understand all that the film has to offer.
It has been a great influence on the Science Fiction genre since its release in 1982, including: Dark City, Total Recall, Brazil, and Twelve Monkeys to name a few.The film has undergone several changes since it was initially released in 1982. In the initial release the studio exercised a heavy hand in the editing room. David Peoples came in to tighten the story, they required Ridley Scott to add a Phillip Marlow like voice over to the entire movie, and they tacked on a happy ending (the original ending was more ambiguous then a sad ending). I believe the final cut makes vast improvements by removing the voice-over, changing the ending, and adding some information that virtually changes the whole meaning of the story.
For those who watch the movie and enjoy it, you should check out the book by Paul M. Sammon entitled, Future Noir: The Making of Bade Runner. 978-0061053146. The book makes some great observations about the original release and its subsequent re-releases. This might be a good time to watch it if you have not already seen it. Ridley Scott is working on a sequel that is supposed to come out in 2017. The final cut is recommended for those over 18 years of age.




Cinema Paradiso


Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Featured Cast: Phillippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili, Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi, Jacques Perrin, Agnese Agno, Brigette Fosse.
Screen Play: Giuseppi Tornatore and Vanna Paoli
2002


Plot: A famous Italian Film director recalls his childhood when he learns that a man whom he revered as a father figure has died.

Review:
This review is of the 2002 version of the film which adds 51 minutes to the 1988 version which ran 123 Minutes. The added scenes fleshes out what happened between Salvatore and Elena, as well as scenes that describe his meeting Elena as an adult, long after he had left his village to go into films. If you don’t like “long” movies you should at least watch the 2002 version once if only to discover what happened to Elena after Salvatore left. It should be said that the added scenes result in a different film from the 1998 version, with different results especially as far as Alfredo’s relationship with Salvatore is concerned.
The movie won Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards in 1998. I really don’t think it reflects well on American audiences that we did not see the film in its original form until the shorter version had achieved some commercial success. How many fantastic movies will we miss if the mentality continues to be that anything over two hours is not “entertaining”. Let me get down from my soapbox. Alfredo’s final gift to Salvatore has to be one of my personal favorite scenes in any movie.
If you have never watched a foreign film, or if you would like to give them another shot, this would be the film to watch.







Paris Texas
Director: Wim Wenders
Screenplay: L. M. Kit Carson and Sam Shepard
Featured Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Aurore Clement, Hunter Carson, and Nastassia Kinski.
Genre: Drama
Plot: A man walks out of the desert after an absence of four years and seeks to rebuild his life.
1984


Review:
This film won the Fepresci prize, the Palme d’Or, and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes festival in 1984. It is Wenders at his absolute best. The writing by Carson and Shepard is nothing short of wonderful. There are a couple of scenes in a private booth in a sex club that is simply electrifying. These scenes have minimum action or gimmicks, they depend almost entirely on dialog and the reactions on the characters faces. These scenes alone make the film a must see for those who enjoy serious drama.
Roger Ebert states that the theme of “saving a woman from perceived sexual bondage” runs through several films including The Searchers (A man wanders into the desert to rescue a woman who has been captured by Indians) , Taxi Driver (a mentally disturbed Vietnam vet seeks to rescue a woman from her pimp), and this film (where Travis believes his wife has turned to prostitution to survive). In this movie this perception may not entirely be true to the facts. This is a sad, but beautiful story that delivers the goods. This movie is recommended for most adult audiences.




Jean de Florette
Director: Claude Berri
Screenplay: Claude Berri and Gerard Brach
Based on the Novel by Marcel Pagnol entitled Manon de Sources.
Cinematography: Bruno Nuytten
Featured Cast: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Elizabeth Depardieu, Ernestine Mazurowna.
1986


Plot: Two Provincial farmers seek to destroy the hopes of a seemingly naive tax collector from the city who wants to live a simple country life.

Review: This film did well at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards in 1988. It won Best Film, Best Screenplay- adapted (Claude Berri and Gerard Brach), Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Auteuil), and Best Cinematography (Bruno Nuytten). It is the first movie of a pair based on Marcel Pagnol’s Manon de Sources. This movie tells the first half of the story. One of the major themes of the movie is, “What is justifiable in the name of family pride?” or even “What constitutes a family in the first place?”You will be cheating yourself of the full impact of both films if you watch them out of order; or worse still would be to watch the first half without seeing what happens in the second half. The story is great and don’t be surprised if you are blindsided by the conclusion of the second movie. The cinematography is wonderful and takes advantage of the wonderful colors that are available due to the twelve thousand carnations and twelve olive trees that were transplanted for the making of this film. It is a slow paced drama that takes the needed time for character and plot development. If these are important to you, you will be rewarded at the end of the second film.


.






Director: Claude Berri
Screenplay: Claude Berri, Gerard Brach.
Based on the Novel Manon de Sources by Marcel Pagnol.
Cinematography: Bruno Nuytten
Featured Cast: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Beart, and Elizabeth Depardieu.

Plot: Manon, the daughter of Jean Cadoret or Florette, seeks revenge for her father’s death by blocking the town’s major water source. Unbeknownst to her, the one most responsible for her father’s death has unwittingly created a punishment for himself that is far greater than any she has imagined.

Review: In this film we have all the great elements that made Jean de Florette a great movie: The cinematography, the script, the direction, and the strong acting. In addition we now have how the story plays out. The second half of the story focuses on how Manon unwittingly comes upon the means for her revenge, not only on those she believes are responsible for her father’s death, but those who enabled them by keeping silent. If you believe that this will deliver the typical “the bad guys get their comeuppance ending”, you will be surprised. The two movies are only complete when you see the last scene of the second movie. Recommended for audiences that enjoy great plot and character development.



Crimes and Misdemeanors
Director: Woody Allen
Screenplay Woody Allen
Featured Cast: Alan Alda, Woody Allen, Claire Bloom, Mia Farrow, Joanna Gleason, Angelica Huston, Martin Landau, Jerry Nichols, Jerry Orbach, and Sam Waterston.
1989


Review
A respected ophthalmologist must re-examine his moral values when his mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife. This is the first film out of at least four in which Woody examines the themes of freedom and guilt as presented in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. (The others are Cassandra’s Dream, Match Point, and, Irrational Man).
While I enjoyed all of the above films, it seems to me that Crimes and Misdemeanors was the most successful. It had an excellent balance of humor and message, a good script, good acting, along with the production value of some of his best films. It was also a novel idea when he presented it for the first time in 1989. Woody is a very talented director and I believe he can write and direct serious drama as well as comedy; however he has shown in this film and Hannah and Her Sisters that his use of comedy in his dramatic pictures aids the films without subtracting from its message. This film is recommended for those who enjoy drama with a touch of dark humor.




Magic in the Moonlight
Director: Woody Allen:
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Featured Cast: Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins, Simon BcBurney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Hamish Linklater.

It is no secret that Woody Allen’s reputation, both personal and artistic, has taken a severe beating since 1987, when he released September and the revelations that he was romantically involved with his step-daughter, Soon Yi. From 1987 to 2005 Woody produced a string of films that had critics skeptical whether he would ever regain his status as a top film director.
In the last ten years Woody has seemed to regain some of his status as a director; and while he has not regained the reputation he enjoyed in the late seventies and early eighties, it seems evident that Woody still has something to contribute to America’s film culture. Thus we come to Magic in the Moonlight.
In this film we have Stanley, a successful illusionist who is famous for exposing fraudulent prognosticators of his time. He is a staunch believer in science and common sense. We are surprised, however, to hear Stanley say that he would love to be convinced that there is something more to life than meets the eye. Then he meets Sophie, a young psychic who convinces Stanley that she is the genuine article. While the film might be somewhat predictable it is worth watching how Woody brings this film together.
This film is not among Woody’s best, but that is not to say that the film is bad. As usual Woody has a talented cast, a good production team, a decent script with a meaningful message. I have read at least one reviewer voice the opinion that perhaps Woody, who is now in his late seventies, might benefit from not feeling obligated to deliver a film every year. I do agree that while Woody has not regained his top form, that a modest film by his peak standards is still better than most of the movies that are being produced today. This movie is recommended for audiences that enjoy romantic comedies.