Reader is a Holocaust story that examines German war guilt from the
post-World War II perspective. Based on Bernhard Schlink’s award
winning 1995 novel, Der
Vorleser, it stars David Kross (as the young Michael Berg, the reader
the title refers to), ‘I’ve-been-in-every-movie-in-2008’,
Kate Winslet (as Hanna Schmitz, the illiterate trolley car attendant
with some dark secrets), and a somber Ralph Fiennes as Michael’s
older, lonelier, lawyer self. After a sudden illness, the 15
year-old Michael ends up helped by the older Hanna and the two embark
on an affair that’s one trolley stop short of pedophilia. Amid sex and
fights and a cycling trip to the countryside, comes the reading: with
Michael spending hours reading out loud to Hanna from many of the
Western world’s greatest novels. Then, suddenly, one day she
vanishes and Michael, devastated, moves on with his quiet life. A
chance visit to a German court while studying for his law degree has
him confronting his past when he realizes Hanna is in fact one of the
prisoners under trial as a Nazi guard who helped dispatch women –
young and old – to their deaths at Auschwitz. Directed by Stephen
Daldry, The Reader pays off best in its early going when Hanna and
Michael live out their love affair. The filming is gorgeous in a
Merchant and Ivory sort of way and both Kross and Winslet’s shine
amid the sparse words and great score. Despite the movie’s fine
climatic moment when Hanna fires the judge’s own key question back
at him as if asking all Germans, “What would you have done?” The
is all too made-for-TV. My rating 7 out of 10.
Gus Van Sant directs this bio-op of the life, and death, of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk. The film traces Milk’s life from his 40th birthday to his assassination, along with San Francisco’s Mayor, George Moscone, by fellow City Supervisor Dan White in 1978. Sean Penn stars as an eerie reincarnation of Milk and both he and Josh Brolin (as Dan White) deserve nods for their outstanding acting in this film. A shout-out must go too to James Franco (as Harvey’s lover, Scott Smith). The acting here is all fine, fine however the film falters for this reviewer on several fronts. The gay movement portrayed seems far too radical, which was not the case. Worse, the ending with its, frankly, ridiculous juxtaposition of Milk’s dying moments married to him gazing onto San Francisco Opera Center, with Tosca (but of course Tosca) billboards all a-glory just makes the whole movie, well, silly. The movie could also do with some editing to remove some of the ‘filler’ and take a more balanced view of Milk’s brilliance and flaws. Milk is a good documentary that champions an important chapter in the history of the gay movement but should be re-titled “Saint Milk” as in the end it’s all about the canonization of a gay icon. My rating 7 out of 10.
Based on the novel “Q &A” by Vikas Swarup Slumdog
Millionaire takes a quintessentially western phenomenon, the television show “Who
Wants to Be a Millionaire” and uses it with brilliant effect as the base
for exploring a young boy’s life in Mumbai’s Daravi slum. When
18-year-old orphan Jamal Malik (played by Dev Patal and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) finds
himself on the show, he is miraculously asked questions that relate to his life
in the slum. The film then shifts from present to past to reveal the love, joy,
challenges and cruelty of life in the slum. Gorgeously filmed (thanks to cinematographer
Anthony Dod Mantle), scored (thanks to A.R. Rahman) and directed with a
relentless pace that mirrors life in India (thanks to director Danny Boyle) it
is hands down one of the best films of the year. In two hours Slumdog
Millionaire gives us a complete vision of India in all her tumultuous trouble
and awe and leaves you humbled by the simple fact that love and hope and simple
honesty can conquer all. My rating 10 out of 10.
So many movies and so few weekends.
I would like the catch the first two movies. But “‘Slumdog Millionare’ appears to be on a roll, sweeping up all those awards! I enjoyed that movie.
I vote for Slumdog!!!!
Slumdog Millionnaire was a good movie! but the book was a lot better.. it was so tense when she was about to be raped!