Pepe's View:

I love the work of Isabelle Huppert and in this film I saw another level of her talent.  She plays a "hippyesque" charater full of fun, whimsy, irresponsibility and yet still a lovely caring sensitive person who just does not seem to fit any mould our society has provided.  Director Marc Fitoussi has delicately prevented us from seeing "Babou" as a sterotype or parody but allowed us to understand, empathise with and care for the character.
Her daughter Esmerelda played by Huppert's real life daughter Lolita Chammah is the "sensible" one of the family who wants nothing more than to settle down maturely and live happily ever after.  She sees her mother as an embarrassment and, after an early tempestuous scene where she idicates she does not  want her mother to come to her wedding, Babou decides to attempt to live up to her daughter's expectations and take on a full time job.  This leads to a job with a timeshare company at the Belgian seaside and, although she is incredibly successful immediately earning a promotion, her social conscience and trust in other human beings leads her to trouble when the homeless couple she befriends and allows to spend each night in one of the finished timeshare units are found out and Babou loses her job.
This is not before we realise that her influence over her daughter is stronger than she thinks and in a strange twist of fate, we find Babou coaching her future son in law how to reassure Esmeralda and rescue the couple's stumbling relationship.
The Copacabana of the title refers to Babou's obsession with Argentina and her constant dream of visiting this exotic country.  It is also symbolic of Babou's dream to live a life less shackled by society's rules  - neither dream seems to be possible for her until she befriends a troupe of Argentinian dancers and finds a way, at least temporarily, for her to satisfy both her dreams.
A lovely, slow paced movie that is held together by the central performance of Huppert.  A light hearted romp with an underlying serious examination of what constitutes success in our world.

My Score:  8/10

Ma's View:

Not much too add to this summation - great movie, great actress, great script and so much to say about the shallowness and inhumanity of our consumer society.  Funny to realise that hippies were a global phenomenon (as opposed to only English speaking!) and lovely to watch the talented Isabelle Huppert portray a mature age hippie who has remained true to her ideals only to find her own daughter moving over into the mainstream of conservative conformism.  What a dilemma - lose your daughter or compromise your principles?  The character of Babou manages to tread this fine line in a heart-warming and funny exposé of the capitalist concept of time-share apartments.  Although impractical and capricious, the free-spirited Babou is full of  humanity, generosity and love of life and it is these gifts that she imparts to her daughter at the wedding, symbolised in the wonderful dance presentation of her latest venture - her own dance troupe from Argentina.
PS  The daughter is played superbly by Huppert's own daughter, Lolita Chammah - someone to watch for in future!  Like mother like daughter!

My score:  9/10


Ma's View: 

Just saw this movie last week and can't get it out of my head - such a heart-rendingly frank exposé of a relationship disintegrating.  And no-one really to blame - just two people who fell in love and married for the wrong reasons then found themselves to be quite incompatible in the day-to-day rigour of married life, parenthood and the demands of earning a living.  And to make it more poignant, we have the flashbacks to the exquisitely delightful love story of their courtship.  Sad, sad, sad.  More so when you think about how many relationships are embarked upon with the same sense of optimism and good will only to flounder on the same reefs.

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as the young couple give comsummate performances - both as their younger romantic selves and their older jaded versions trying to retrieve some of the romance in the relationship.  The raw honesty of their performances is gut-wrenching and the beauty of it is that we do not lose sympathy with either; there is no villain here, just 2 people who were not made for each other as they at first thought.

The cinematography is a bit heavy-handed in places especially in the motel where they go for a night of passion (his idea to mend the relationship!) that turns sour.  They end up in the "future room" which is blue-toned and depressing, airless and claustrophobic as their relationship has become.  I'm guessing the intention of director Derek Cianfrance was to impact the audience with this feeling/atmosphere and it works.  I couldn't wait to get out of there so I'm not surprised at what ensued!

Don't go to this movie if you want a lift in spririts!  But do go if you want to see an unflinching examination of what can go wrong when we let our hearts rule our heads!

My score:  7.5/10

Pepe's View:

This movie was too long by far - about 20 min by my reckoning and if there was one more scene filmed in "blue" tones I was going to scream!  This was obvious, sledgehammer filmmaking at its worst which was a shame as the movie actually explores a worthwhile and interesting theme - that of relationships which start out all roses and optimistic and then deteriorate over time.  Ma is right - the scriptwriter should be commended for his ability to portray the relationship between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams both as it developed and as it deteroriated without forcing the audience to take sides - it was no one's fault they just fell out of love.  This scenario is repeated over and over in real life.
The director (Derek Cianfrance) did not grab me as a viewer and make me either care enough about or feel for the two leads and so it seems to me that a great opportunity to really make a film that assisted in our understanding of relationships and why some are successful and some are not, was lost.
For me a very disappointing movie experience.

My Score:  6/10


Pepe's View:

Based on a true story of Lionel Logue, (played superbly by Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist with no formal training in the field and how he successfully assisted the King of England, George VI , (played superbly again by Colin Firth) overcome a speech impairment so that he could successfully speak to the population by radio as war with Germany was declared.  The movie is full of humour as Logue deals with a very sceptical George VI and eventually becomes his friend and confidant.  It was Logue's belief that stammering, especially when there is no physical problem evident, is the direct result of the stammerers upbringing.  The fact that "Bertie" was terrified of his bullying father and in the constant shadow of his elder brother Edward becomes very evident as the film progresses and I wondered how factual this aspect was.
The minor characters are all wonderfully portrayed and developed and along with some excellent cinematography and editing this film is a delight.  It is interesting, humorous, clever and above all based on fact.  It deserves to do well in the awards but being British, with no big name Hollywood actor present, I know it will miss out.

My Score:  8.5/10

Ma's View:

It was with great anticipation that we set out to see this movie on Boxing Day – not a good choice of day as everyone else was at the movies too! Two of my favourite actors, Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth together in the one movie were the cause of my anticipation and it was warranted, even though the movie turned out to be a little on the long side.

Based on historical events, the movie depicts the anguish of the stuttering Prince Albert (Bertie), at the unexpected prospect of becoming king upon his brother’s abdication and being faced with the necessity of making public speeches. Complicating his dilemma is the advent of radio and the requirement to provide leadership and encouragement to his people in wartime. Colin Firth is able to capture all the pain, frustration and embarrassment of a man who has much of import to say and the will to say it but not the means.  His guide and mentor and in this was the irreverant Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue, (Rush) who has no official qualifications and whose methods are original to say the least.  The development of the friendship between these two men from such different levels of society is central to the film's success and there are many ups and downs and wry humour along the way.

Director Tom Hooper has perfectly captured the historical context aided by such greats as Michael Gambon (George V), Derek Jacobi (Archbishop), while Guy Pearce is perfect as the bored, affected playboy Edward and Helena Bonham-Carter is delightful as the future Queen Mother.

No wonder it is up for Oscar contention!

My score:  8.5/10


Pepe's View:

We saw this movie on 16 Dec 2010.  It is a long time since we posted even though we have seen a dozen movies since our last post - it seems we never have time (or the discipline) to sit down and write.

Here goes for the latest movie and we will work backwards from there!

"Another Year" was written and directed by Mike Leigh and is once again a wonderful study of ordinary lives that Mike Leigh is so famous for.  This film really resonated for me as the couple at the centre are "a little older" and see life through similar lenses to mine.  Tom and Gerry (love the names) are happily married - she is a counsellor and he is a geologist/engineer - who live a simple, happy, contented life enjoying each other's company and their family.  The movie follows the 4 seasons of the year and as a background the couple love to grow vegetables in their community garden and in every season we see them working contentedly together sowing ,weeding or harvesting their produce.
Revolving around their lives are numerous friends leading less contented and in most cases very sad and tragic lives.
The acting, as is usual for a Mike Leigh film, is first class with the honours going to Lesley Manville as the friend, Mary, who is perhaps the most tragic character of all.  Tom, played beautifully by Jim Broadbent is a delight as is Gerry, played with so much sensitivity by Ruth Sheen.  Tom's boyhood friend, Ken, is another tragic character and perhaps the saddest and the one I felt most sorry for was Tom's brother, Ronnie, who has just lost his wife and is destined to live the rest of his life alone.
Tom and Gerry's son, Joe, played by Oliver Maltman, brings his girlfriend into their lives and her joy of living and "ordinariness" gives the impression that "Another Year" will be carried on into the next generation.
The film succeeds on all levels - the characters are so real and "ordinary" that I came away from the theatre feeling totally satisfied and sobered with the realisation of how fortunate I am to have a similarly contented happy life and led me to contemplate why some lives are so fortunate and others spend their whole life trying to find some sort of meaning.

Rating:  8/10

Ma's View:

Yes, this film is a delight. We are lucky enough to share the same joy as the central characters in this film - of getting "down and dirty" in the garden.  Truly we humans are simple creatures at heart and it is our tragedy that we often forget this and seek gratification in transient pleasures - getting drunk, partying, trying to impress others, casual relationships.  This couple reveals to us the simple solution of being kind, being true, being busy and fulfilled in your daily life.   Hence, they do not fear growing old as do several of their friends, instead they embrace the grey hair and enhanced wisdom that comes with it. 

As Pepe said, all the acting is excellent with characters so finely drawn you think you know them - indeed I am keen to see the "next year" so involved you become in their lives! But even among these superb performances, the acting honours go to Lesley Manville - probably because hers is the most challenging role.  She portrays Mary, a friend of Gerry's, who perceives and desires the contentment the couple share but doesn't comprehend it.  She is desperately trying to re-capture her youth and looks, has never had a successful relationship and regularly drowns her sorrows in too much wine.  Her constant state of anxiety and stress from a mismanaged life put her in sharp contrast to the tranquility of her friends.  Another friend, Ken, clearly an alcoholic, complains that "all the bars a full of noisy, young people these days", failing to realise that he once was one of them and that's really the only life he understands.

At the heart of the film is the message that we are part of the ongoing cycle of life - just as the seasons come and go and Gerry and Tom tend their garden, so will we have a period of fruitfulness upon this earth and be replaced.  Hence the film examines such events as death and birth;  we share the celebration upon the arrival of a friend's new baby and later on, Tom and Gerry's joy and anticipation when the son brings home his chosen partner in life.   In contrast, their friends grasp desperately at their receding youth and wonder why they are not happy in the present.

All in all, a lovely heart-warming film which instils such affection for the central characters that you can't help hoping for the sequel.

My Score:  8.5/10