Trisha’s Take: Midnight in Paris review

Midnight in Paris

Directed (and written) by Woody Allen
Starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Rachel McAdams, and more
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking

When I revealed earlier in the evening that I’d never seen an entire Woody Allen film, no less than five different people from all across the country (and Puerto Rico) and spanning in ages from younger than me to older than me were in shock. How is it that I, as a transplanted New Yorker, have never seen Annie Hall? Or Hannah and Her Sisters? Or even Mighty Aphrodite or Deconstructing Harry?

Believe me, I’ve wanted to. Back when I first moved to the East Coast, I rented Annie Hall on Netflix, and couldn’t finish it. My reaction at the time was this:

How am I supposed to cheer for Alvy Singer, a neurotic man who constantly puts down his lovers? He’s upset with his second wife for being so into intellectuals, and yet tries to get Annie to take college courses to become one.

However, I am not one to let one bad impression of a movie that came out the same year I was born keep me from seeing what writer/director Woody Allen brought with him to this year’s Cannes Film Festival. And unlike L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan (whose review I accessed yesterday but is dated with today’s date) who deliberately was coy with the details of the plot, I’m afraid I have to let loose with a ton of spoilers. Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: Midnight in Paris review”

Trisha’s Take: Arthur review


Directed by Jason Winer
Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner
Rating: Rated PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references

For someone who started her blogging career on a movie site, there are quite a few gaps in my mental movie database.

Take almost any movie from the early 1980s, for example. As a kid, we didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on such things, and besides, would you really expect conservative parents to okay a movie night that didn’t include a Disney film? As a result, I never saw the original Arthur with British actor Dudley Moore and could go into the screening of the remake starring Russell Brand without any preconceptions. [Editor’s note: Massive spoilers, ahoy!] Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: Arthur review”

Trisha’s Take: Mao’s Last Dancer review

Mao’s Last Dancer

Directed by Bruce Berensford
Starring Chi Cao, Bruce Greenwood, Amanda Schull, Joan Chen and more
Rated PG for a brief violent image, some sensuality, language and incidental smoking

There’s an art involved in adapting a book into a movie. Stray too much from the source material and you run the risk of alienating the audience who already knows the story. At the same time, if you stick too closely to the book’s conventions you may not attract enough of an audience who wouldn’t normally be interested in the original work.

And if the book is based on true events, and is an autobiography to boot? All bets are off.

The plot of Mao’s Last Dancer is based on the autobiography by Chinese-born ballet dancer Li Cunxin, who following in the footsteps of such artists as Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, defected to the U.S. in 1981. However, the story of the movie begins in medias res, with a 20-year old Li stepping foot onto American soil at the beginning of a student exchange program which places him deep in the heart of Texas, with the Houston Ballet. Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: Mao’s Last Dancer review”

Trisha’s Take: Cyrus review


Directed by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
Starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill
Rated R for language and some sexual material

Back when I had a Netflix account, I went on an indie movie-watching spree, and that’s where I encountered the concept behind “actor’s workshop” films for the first time.

For the people who aren’t acting or film geeks, I’ll explain. An actor’s workshop film is one where a bunch of actor who are taking classes together take what they’ve learned and make a movie out of it. The coolest thing, though, is that some of the best actors are always taking classes and workshops to hone their craft even further. Another thing I learned about was the mumblecore movement, wherein production is very low-budget, conversations are improvised, and the focus is on characterization over complicated plots.

Multi-hyphenate brothers Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, who helped form the latter, seem to have taken the best of what’s cool about an actor’s workshop film, given it a mumblecore feel, and turned it loose into the world.

The plot to Cyrus is pretty simple. John C. Reilly stars as John, a divorcé who never really got out of the depressive funk that drove his now-ex-wife (Catherine Keener) away seven years ago. Strangely enough, they’re still friends—and may possibly also work together—and after she tells him that she’s getting married again, she tries to get him out of his rut by forcing him to go to a party. There he meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) who sees something charming in his sad sack and “drunk on Red Bull and vodka” exterior and follows him back to his place.

However, she doesn’t stick around in the morning, but instead leaves him a note. Intrigued but not scared off, John invites her over for a proper first date which is as romantic as it is charming… only to catch her sneaking out of his room at night. Her vague explanation doesn’t satisfy him, so John follows her back to her house where he meets the source of her secrecy: her antagonistic live-at-home 21-year old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill). Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: Cyrus review”

Trisha’s Take: Micmacs à tire-larigot review

Micmacs à tire-larigot (aka Non-stop madness)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Starring Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Nicolas Marié, Julie Ferrier, and more
Rated R for some sexuality and brief violence

When I was in the eighth grade, I was given the chance to either take a first year of Spanish at my school or to take a first year in French at the high school across the street from where I lived and where I’d eventually attend.

Impractical youngster that I was in Southern California, I chose French and for five years I was one of the more fluent speakers in my class, going as far as to win the silver medal my senior year of high school at French camp. Those classes were where I first saw or heard of classic French films like Jean de Florette, Le retour de Martin Guerre, and Au revoir les enfants (which apparently was an inspiration for Reservoir Dogs), and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Yes, even Les compères.

Alas, my ear for the language has diminished, but that still doesn’t mean that I’m not about to turn down the chance to see a movie by perhaps one of France’s great directors of the modern era. Continue reading “Trisha’s Take: Micmacs à tire-larigot review”