Tag Archives: movie

Blue Highway (2013)

When thinking how to describe this movie one word popped into my head immediately – namely: ‘gentle’ since Blue Highway is truly a gentle, delicate and honest story of two  young people wandering across America in a car.

Kerry & Dillon (Kerry Bishé and Dillon Porter) are a couple and very good friends who travel to visit some places that once were film sets for particular scenes in movies they love.

The travel they undertake is meant to be an unforgettable adventure they would hopefully evoke many years later. However, what the couple planned this escapade would be, turns out a little different. It brings out some untold issues both of them must face and respond to. It is a time of sweetness, joy, excitement but also of some sadness, regret and bitterness that lie under the skin.

Kerry and Dillon realize their dream going on this long journey from North Carolina to Los Angeles but they also realize that their relationship and their lives are much more complicated then they thought at the beginning. What I appreciate in the film most is that Kerry and Dillon do not quarrel much, they avoid drama and maintain a mature, quite collected attitude – they seem to understand and be reconciled with the fact that life is not always what we want it to be. They try to keep this journey memorable because they know another one may never happen.

In Blue Highway the writer and director Kyle Smith was able to create characters who seem ordinary – just a couple next door – but under the surface of it there is depth, sensitivity, humor, and many felicitous and insightful observations.

I had a chance to see this film at the screening during the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland and I am happy I did. The film is pleasant to watch and I wish it was a bit longer. It is quite rare to see a movie about young Americans who love life and carry on gracefully despite being disillusioned. American dream has perished but what’s left is a human being on his or her search for some personal meaning and happiness.

Blue Highway trailer


I Love You to Death (1990)

I love it when TV surprises me nicely as it has done lately. Lawrence Casdan’s dark comedy I Love You To Death made me laugh again – and I was as amused as always when watching this hilarious movie. It’s a simple story based on real events: a wife betrayed and hurting tries to kill her philandering husband, a local charmer who never misses a chance for romance.

Tracey Ullman plays this miserable, quiet wife Rosalie who, right after she shares her worries with her mother – played by amazing Joan Plowright, surprisingly quickly finds strength to punish her carefree husband. The mother, a disillusioned and uncompromising woman arranges a plan to eliminate her unfortunate son-in-law and this is where an avalanche of comic situations kicks off.

The scheme does not go as planned though, three other characters get involved here as well. Two of them, some clumsy and ill-witted drug heads, hired by the ladies as hitmen – cannot really figure out what is happening around them, let alone realizing what the ladies in fact want them to do.

The third character character who joins the ladies in their bold and vindictive endeavours –  is Devo, a young man played by ever memorable River Phoenix. Devo is very much fond of Rosalie and very much eager to release her from the marital bonds.

Humour in this film, in large part, stems from the disparity between the seriousness of the matter and the attitudes the main characters apply. They all seem to enjoy and fear the whole murderous idea at the same time and are lost in their contradicting desires.

One can easily imagine what may happen when such an ‘impossible’ group of seemingly ordinary characters teams up to cooperate. Well developed contrasts between the characters and their intentions create the comical tension in the story; little gestures, the characters’ faces expressions and – what I personally enjoyed most – quite amazing ways of reasoning of the two junkie would-be murderers played by Keanu Reeves and William Hurt.

Specially William Hurt together with his hair gives quite a ravishing performance here. I cannot stop laughing each time he appears on the screen. Tracey Ullman is so delightful and so lost between love and hatred while Kevin Kline and Joan Plowright are truly extraordinary comedians what they prove here beyond any doubt.

I Love You to Death – IMDb film website

I Love You to Death – film trailer

Computer Chess (2013)

So far, the only time I had a chance to watch Computer Chess – Andrew Bujalski’s latest film, was at the New Horizons International Film Festival in Wrocław. This festival is a magical, magnetic event that attracts people from all over the country and Europe once a year in July. Young and old cinema lovers gather in Wrocław to celebrate what’s new and inventive, astonishing and difficult in film, music and arts. It is film though that is most praised, discussed, and anticipated – and then respectively loathed or adored, dismissed or accepted.

Computer Chess was one of those highly anticipated works I chose to watch – and with this one I decided not to read any reviews in advance – I was willing to immerse myself in this cinematic novelty without any prejudices or expectations.

The result was quite astounding. Computer Chess caught me off guard completely. I got myself into believing that I was watching a real period piece of 1980s, a hilarious record of one computer geeks’ competition somewhere in the USA. It did not matter that the director himself was too young to be able to make this movie in the early 1980s. The specific, analog look of the film, with grey and a little grainy picture gave an impression of a real period piece; the actors were actually really good amateurs who seemed to be filmed ‘live’ – this impression was even more intensified by the period haircuts, clothes, interior decorations, equipment and the enormous, heavy computers.

What is more the challenging use of the original Sony analog tube cameras not only brought some sense of reality to the story – it also allowed the director and the cinematographer Matthias Grunsky to create a specific, studio-like atmosphere. A specific climate that we know from the old television programmes of 1970s. This atmosphere, achieved by handling old cameras and the whole set of original accessories, intensified the relations between the characters and made it even more believable. Such attention to detail brought the viewer thirty years back in the most entertaining and convincing manner.

As Matthias Grunsky argues in his blog:   ‘All these artifacts combined add a transcendental character to the image and help express the sometimes unexplainable things that happen between man and computer in our story.’

And this is I think a key to understand the idea behind this film. It is a lightheartedly presented story of a specific group of people and their different concepts, visions and philosophies revolving around technological advancements.

Lost in the story I joyously followed the eccentric characters preoccupied with computer programming; characters who are brilliant with coding and decoding, who engage themselves with a great focus into developing computer language, discovering its abilities and predicting how powerful the machines would become one day – a day when they start to think and reason like humans. The contest is a place where those who invented the computer which can play chess best, win and thus make another leap forward in a barely crawling digital world of programming.

Computer nerds, although technologically smart, they seem also a bit shut down and withdrawn from a real world of human interactions. They exist as if on a different planet away from our daily routines and earthly matters.

Involved into computer related activities, the characters exchange ideas, investigate new, possible solutions for their computers, compete, win and fail – but in the midst of all that they express most awkward abilities to communicate their deeper feelings, or their real self – which is not all so bad – the characters seem happy and safe within their geeky, computer oriented worlds full of intellectual challenges and purpose oriented mathematical reasoning.

The computer contest takes place in a remote hotel where another group of purpose oriented people has their meeting, too. They are some New Age enthusiasts who enjoy rediscovering their humanity by immersing their hands in bread or performing their birth as a group exercise – led by a ceremony master they accompany the computer nerds and together they express two very funny, exaggerated, and somehow extreme approaches to life. They all seem to have difficulties in understanding their own humanity – so they search, either through a weird group of quasi spiritual New Age practitioners, or through the never-ending quest for perfection in the technological inventions that aspire to be a reflection of a human mind.

To sum things up – Computer Chess is an amusing, original and engaging picture. It is also a characteristic piece of work that no one but Andrew Bujalski would have made – an author of a very personal, unique vision and talent to create convincing, a little alienated characters who on many levels represent our lost in technological evolution human race.

Computer Chess movie – official website

Matthias Grunsky’s blog

No Film School article on Matthias Grunsky’s work on Computer Chess (2013)

Why I Like Adam Sandler Movies – part 2 – 50 First Dates

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are currently filming their third feature movie to be premiered next year – this is why I decided to write a little review on their previous memorable film titled 50 First Dates (2004). It’s been almost ten years since we saw them collaborate, so I’m anxiously awaiting their current project (titled Blended) to come to life.

50 First Dates is one of those films my mum calls: beautiful, and I would say exactly the same. And my mum’s opinion is of a great significance to me – this amazing woman instilled in me the love for films. When my sister and I were kids we used to accompany our parents visiting their friends (who also had kids). Quite often in the mids of play and fun that us kids enjoyed a lot, my mum would enter the room saying it was time to go home – and we didn’t really want to stop playing, we would just whine and beg to stay a bit longer – but suddenly my mum would say: Kids but there’s a lovely film on TV tonight – you’re gonna love it.

It was enough to get us ready to go home within seconds! And this is how I could quite early learn to enjoy movies such as The Magnificent Seven (1960) – (which I loved from the first moment I saw it!), Rio Bravo (1959), or The Birds (1963). I was simply enchanted be the film choices my mum used to make for us.

So when my mum says 50 First Dates is a beautiful movie there is no way I would not agree with her – and of course I absolutely adore this film and still enjoy watching it – the film always makes my day brighter and leaves me more optimistic about life in general. I found online an old Rolling Stone review of 50 First Dates by Peter Travers who describes the film as follows: another farce high on silliness, sentiment, dick jokes, vomit (a walrus blows lunch) and a crazylove for grossouts that is too sincere to be faked – and to be honest all those ‘components’ one finds in this movie – however they are not as bad as Mr. Travers suggests, this story is about a lot more than that – I personally haven’t met a single woman yet, who wouldn’t like this film (and none of them is a grossout).

The film, directed by Peter Segal is funny, light, touching and romantic in a surprisingly wise way – after all what we have here is a beautiful kind of love and at the same time a very difficult kind of love – something many of us dream about but would we really be ready for all the sacrifice that comes with it? In the film the main character, a man who seemingly is not ready for love and commitment and doesn’t seem to even want it – suddenly discovers that soulmates do come along and when they finally appear they bring so much joy and freedom that only a fool would let them pass by.

Henry Roth played by Adam Sandler is not a fool – he knows what he wants and despite the enormous obstacle – a ‘disorder’ – Lucy (played by Drew Barrymore) suffers from after a car accident – Henry doesn’t give up, and with help of Lucy’s father and brother, he becomes greater then life – a truly loving man who treasures what he’s got, and what he has to fight for.

The characters in the movie are the sweetest guys ever. Lucy is a darling and a very strong and witty woman herself, her father is a tough fisherman, her brother a funny, goofy but strangely ambitious guy obsessed with his muscles who loves his sister to bits. The vomiting walrus is actually a real star and a truly clever, cute guy – and together with his animal water friends they form quite an entertaining and lovely company to watch. I also enjoyed Rob Schneider and Lusia Strus a lot! Their performances are crazy brilliant (or crazy silly as Mr. Travers would say), hilarious and totally unforgettable.

There is a lot of magic in this film – everybody seems happy to be there. There’s certain chemistry among the actors and animals, and the story is very warm, engaging and simply human so to speak – there are very few films I enjoy as much as I do 50 First Dates – it’s so fresh and touching despite the appearances and the scene when Henry Roth tries to get Lucy’s attention in the restaurant is so hilarious that I laugh each time I watch it.

So whatever the Rolling Stone reviewer or any other would say – don’t read it – do yourself a favor and watch 50 First Dates – it will make your day, promise.

To be cont.

50 First Dates website