Pour an iced tea, pick up your remote, and order up some of these.

An Alternative to the Hollywood Summer

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            Just when we have long summer evenings, Hollywood offers us, yet again, a multiplex marquee full of gross-out comedies, animations, and blockbusters that will hang on until fall. The studios are still trying to understand why last summer's box office receipts were dismal. Ask any of us: it's content. Here's an alternative: curl up at home and test out one of the new platforms for movie viewing. Comcast, Amazon, and Netflix, among others, are all launching quick release platforms for delivery of new movies. Pour an iced tea, master On Demand with your remote, and order up some of these:
IN A BETTER WORLD - Two families caught in a maze of moral choices force us to address the question of what it means to be a moral human being. Look for flawless acting and provocative questions. The central performance by Mikael Persbrandt gives us a towering example of a belief in non-violence. Academy award for best foreign film, 2010.
INCENDIES - This one shakes us up by demanding that we examine our feelings about war, religion, violence, and humanity. The screen is filled with loss in a Middle Eastern land where hatred has been taught from birth. The story comes in a flood of family revelations against a landscape of destruction. An extraordinarily authentic cast barely lets us breathe. Nominated for best foreign film of 2010.
ALL GOOD THINGS - A touching, bizarre, and thoroughly absorbing story with strong performances by Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, and Frank Langella. It's the tale, based in truth, of a New York City developer's expectations of a son who defies the family plan in favor of a simpler life. It's a strange story delivered to us by terrific actors.
GET LOW - Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, and Lucas Black never once break the wistful mood of this story of a town hermit who comes forth to plan his own funeral party with the townspeople as guests. We are drawn in at the outset and not dropped back to our seats until the final frame. This is story telling at its best.
And if you want to laugh:
CITY ISLAND - Julianna Margulies is a hot tempered howl in this warm-hearted, relentlessly funny comedy about a family built on a structure of secrets and lies but without any cruelty in the deceptions. Miscommunication, not disloyalty, is the family language. Every single person has a decent set of values that remain, in some wonderfully funny way, unviolated.. If you don't laugh, I give up.
            If you missed any of the five nominated Oscar films, order up any of them; they're all good. The King's Speech, The Social Network, Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right.
            If you still crave the darkened theater, and you should, find Woody Allen's sublime Midnight in Paris and see it twice. It's a wonderfully realized vision of the master's own fantasies. What's summer without good movies?


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