And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: The Lost Daughter

In her directorial debut Maggie Gyllenhaal demonstrates that she’s as talented behind the camera as in front. Oscar winner Olivia Coleman (The Favourite) stars in this psychological drama adapted from a novel by Elena Ferrante (“My Brilliant Friend”).  She’s Leda, a college professor on a working holiday in Greece who encounters a young mother named Nina (Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades,The Peanut Butter Falcon) and her unsettling family on the beach and becomes fascinated by her and  lost in the memories of her own fraught relationship with marriage and childrearing. It’s a strangely suspenseful film blessed with fabulous performances.

The Magnificent Seven

A remake of a remake has a lot to live up to. The original was the Japanese film Seven Samurai, shot in 1954, considered one of director Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces starring the legendary Toshiro Mifune. Fast forward six years and Hollywood makes a version substituting cowboys for Samurai, starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn. Now we have another one with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard. All three films follow the same essential plot. A village is being preyed upon by outsiders, so they hire Samurai/Cowboys to defend them and mayhem ensues. So is the new one magnificent?

Blue Jasmine

What if Bernie Madoff was a younger, better looking man who left behind a beautiful yet clueless wife to fend for herself? That’s the basic premise of Woody Allen’s latest, Blue Jasmine. In this case the wife, Jasmine French, late of Park Avenue, is brilliantly played by Cate Blanchett who brings an amazing range of emotional states to the role as Jasmine throws herself on the mercy of her working class sister in San Francisco. She’s lost everything, but can’t seem to grasp the situation she is in or give up the lifestyle and pretense she’s grown so accustomed to, because it is who she is. A modern day Blanche DuBois (a role Blanchett played to stellar reviews off-Broadway not so long ago), Jasmine is ill-equipped for the life she’s been suddenly thrust into and has already begun to lose her grip on reality.

An Education

I will admit that as a bored high school student I would sometimes sit in class staring out the window fantasizing about a handsome man pulling up in a fancy sports car and whisking me away to a more exciting life. So I can completely understand how 16-year old Jenny is seduced by an older, seemingly sophisticated man in An Education.