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Friday, July 4, 2014

Beyond Silence; Dr. Strangelove; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; and You Kill Me

Beyond Silence (Jenseits der Stille)  1996  104 minutes   When the film opens, Lara is a third grader and maybe the most attractive young girl any of us will ever see.  Both of her parents are totally deaf and rely on her heavily for communicating with teachers and others.  Lara takes advantage of their inability to hear to bend things her way.  Lara is not doing very well in school, but after her aunt gives her a clarinet, things improve.  We move to when Lara is 18, living in Berlin, writing her own music and, at the urging of her aunt, is preparing for the examination to get into a conservatory.  A second story line is Lara’s relationship wither her father, who has trouble with personal relations.  They are devoted to each other but Lara resents the fact that he can’t hear and appreciate her music and that in general she doesn’t get the signs of approval from him that her friends get from their hearing parents.  A few days before the exam, she gets word that her mother has been killed in a bicycle accident.  She goes home for the funeral and afterwards has a row with her father before she returns to Berlin.  Her father shows up for her exam and they reconcile.  We see her play and we see the faces of the judges.  There is no announcement of the result before the screen goes black, but it’s clear she passed.  A beautiful film.
Dr. Strangelove   1964   95 minutes   I hadn’t seen this since 1964 and had forgotten almost everything except Slim Pickens riding the H bomb and Sterling Hayden, the crazy general, worrying about pollution of his precious bodily fluids.  The real fun is Peter Sellers playing three roles:  a British officer seconded to Hayden, the US President and Dr. Strangelove, a mad former Nazi scientist employed as an advisor at DOD.  The cast includes everyone you ever heard of plus someone named Glenn Beck.  It can’t be the same one, but if it were he could have done the mad Nazi scientist role.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug   2013   161 minutes  This is the second installment of Bilbo Baggin’s adventures in Middle Earth, which looks a lot like New Zealand.  There’s plenty of fantasy, including the elves and some giant spiders, but it would be worth seeing the film just for the scenery.  Smaug is one formidable dragon and there is as battle royal as Bilbo and 11 of the 13 dwarfs try kill him with molten metal.  The film ends with Smaug flying off to burn the town from which the dwarfs staged their raid into his cave.  Martin Freeman AKA Dr. Watson plays Bilbo and I think Benedict Cumberpatch was the head elf and the voice of the dragon.  I wonder if the Brits could make a movie without Cumberpatch.
You Kill Me   2007  92 minutes  I watched this on Netflix Instant View because it had Ben Kingsley.  He plays an alcoholic hit man for a Polish gang in Buffalo.  When he blows an assignment because he’s drunk and falls asleep, the boss sends him to San Francisco to dry out.  He goes to his AA meetings and does his job at a funeral home.  While preparing a corpse for a viewing, he meets a woman played most capably by Tea Leone.  They seem to need each other, and she doesn’t seem to mind that he kills people for a living.  When his boss is gunned down by a rival gang, Tea helps him even the score and then they return to San Francisco to live happily ever after

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