The History Book Club discussion

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Bea, here is your thread to post some info about the movies you watch in the coming year (2012):

This is the format we use: (not optional and there are no links to any personal reviews)

We put in the Month and then we number all of the movies consecutively: - we try to add the cover, Finish Date:, Rating:, then do a short review. I have included a sample.


1. Secretariat

Secretariat The Making of a Champion by William Nack by William Nack OR IMAGE FROM MOVIE TRAILER

Rating: A

Finished: January 2011


Loved this film.

Penny Chenery Tweedy and colleagues guide her long-shot but precocious stallion to set, in 1973, the unbeaten record for winning the Triple Crown.

message 2: by Bea (last edited Jan 26, 2012 03:50PM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments JANUARY

1. Vredens Dag (AKA: "Day of Wrath")

(1943, dir. Carl Theo Dreyer)

Rating: A

Finished: January 26, 2012

Review: Beautiful film about witchhunting, longing, and betrayal in 17th Century Denmark. The power of suggestion is a mighty force.

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 26, 2012 02:24PM) (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Bea unfortunately we do not do links that way. You may capture another image or delete the imdb link altogether. They really are not that useful anyway.

Everything else is fine.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Jill, I was just frowning on the imdb links. (lol)

message 5: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments I was wondering about the link. Will remove.

message 6: by Jill (last edited Jan 26, 2012 03:35PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Let me try that again.....:0)

Bea....have you seen his film La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc with Maria Falconetti? Extremely powerful. It was rumored that it exhausted the actress so completely that she never made another film. I haven't researched it to ascertain if that is true.

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
Perfect Jill and Bea you were correct in your "wondering" - smile.

I find the imdb links a waste of time without any meaningful info most of the time - clutter.

message 8: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments I've seen it and have heard the same story. I've also heard that Falconetti was a stage actress that specialized in comedies! Quite a switch... It's a beautiful film but hard to watch.

If you haven't seen Dreyer's Ordet, that one is also powerful and beautiful. If you ever do and want to talk about it, we could do that. It's one of those movies that has a lot to discuss.

message 9: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I have not seen Ordet it available on DVD? I'm interested in viewing it as his films cause one to concentrate on the meaning of his images.
Another film that I have seen, at least in part, is another of his classics: Vampyre...not your typical vampire film and certainly not like the current trend of "undead" movies. Again, it is a mood film, very slow, but oh so intriguing.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
You see how these images are so much better than the clutter of the vacuous imdb links (smile).

message 11: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments Yes, it's on DVD, in a very nice print from the Criterion Collection.. It's available for rent from Netflix. It's available for streaming if you happen to be a member of Hulu Plus.

message 12: by Jill (last edited Jan 26, 2012 04:16PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Thanks Bea.....I will look for it from Criterion....I like to collect classic films and got very good copies of Fritz Lang's masterpieces M and Metropolis from them.

message 13: by Bea (last edited Jan 30, 2012 01:11PM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 2. The Artist (2011, dir. Hazanavicius)

My nephew took me to see this the first time. I took my husband the second. I loved it the first time and got even more out of it the second. This is a gorgeous movie, every minute undiluted joy or heartache. Overcome any reluctance to see a black and white, "silent" (deserves to get the best score award) movie, and I can almost guarantee you will come out smiling and recommending it to your friends.

Rating: A

Finished: 1/29/2012


message 14: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 3. Breaker Morant (1980, dir. Beresford)

Rating: B+

Finished: 1/29/2012

Review: Powerful drama featuring the court martial of Australian soldiers for alleged war crimes during the Boer War. Based on a true story.


Here's an update on the true life case:

message 15: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I love that movie, Bea. So tragic. I especially liked Jack Thompson as the defense lawyer.

message 16: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments I've watched three or four times and loved it every time. I agree with you. Everybody always talks about Edward Woodward, but to me Thompson was the standout. I watched it with my brother at home and he loved it too.

message 17: by Bea (last edited Feb 17, 2012 09:13AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 4. If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011, dir. Curry & Cullman)

Rating: B

Finished: 2/16/2012

Review: The story focuses on one idealistic young man who got caught up in the Earth Liberation Front, which used arson and other property destruction as a means to protest cutting of old-growth forests and other corporate activities. It took the feds years to catch up with the perpetrators, by which time the movement had disbanded. The movie makes you think. The protagonist is a likable guy who was working with a domestic abuse clinic when he was arrested. His big mistake was not cooperating with the investigation and naming names. One of the ring-leaders who did cooperate got no prison time. On the other hand, he did commit serious crimes.

With the Academy Awards coming up, I thought I'd try to catch some of the nominees. This film has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature. It is available on Netflix streaming.


message 18: by Bea (last edited Feb 17, 2012 09:14AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 5. Hell and Back Again (2011, dir. Dennis)

Rating: C

Finished: 2/16/2012

Reviews: This documentary tells the story of a Marine who is seriously wounded (mangled leg) in Afghanistan. It segues between his screwed up home life (he's hopped up on pain meds, verbally abuses his wife, and gets a kick from playing with guns) and scenes on the field in Afghanistan. It's hard to feel really sorry for the Marine, who joined up so he could "kill people."

The Afghanistan battle scenes are confusingly inserted in the movie. I didn't know whether they were supposed to be flashbacks or just interspersed at random. The one part I found compelling was the Marines trying to interact with Afghan villagers. It was amazing how they were talking past each other. The Afghans just wanted to be able to take their children back to their homes and start farming again. The Marines were going to stay and fight with the Taliban until it was destroyed.

This film was also nominated for Best Documentary Feature and is available on Netflix streaming.


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message 19: by Bea (last edited Feb 27, 2012 05:25PM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 6. Moneyball (2011, dir. Miller)

Rating: B+

Finished: 2/18/2012

Review: This is the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who is frustrated by lack of money to hire top players. He is inspired by a very young Yale economics grad to adopt a novel strategy for putting together a winning team.

This sounds like it would be a very dry sports movie. I don't care a whit about baseball and enjoyed it a lot. I think that's because the movie is actually about a person who has the courage of his convictions and sticks with a program despite the opposition of virtually every other person in his organization. It is helped along by a smart screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin.

This film has been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Achievement in Film Editing, and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing. It is available to view at home through various video on demand services.


message 20: by Bea (last edited Apr 18, 2012 10:51AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 7. Beginners (2011, dir. Mills)

Rating: C+

Finished: 2/19/2012

Review: This movie was not what I expected. Christopher Plummer plays a 75-year-old man who tells his son he is gay after his wife dies and lives each minute to the fullest thereafter. Christopher Plummer is outstanding as the father and the screen positively lights up every time he appears. I was expecting this. The writing for this part of the film is fine.

The main story is about Plummer's heterosexual son (Ewan McGregor) and his deep sadness and difficulty making romantic commitments. He may have met his dream girl. Will it work out this time? I don't know. But I don't believe that any couple ever had the stamina to talk to each other in such cryptic mannered dialogue as these two for longer than about ten minutes.

You can't win 'em all. Christopher Plummer received a well-deserved Oscar nomination in the Supporting Actor category. The movie is available on video-on-demand services.


message 21: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I adore Christopher Plummer, so this film is a good bet if only for his performance.

message 22: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments Bearing in mind that I've only seen one of the other actors nominated, I'll be pulling for Plummer. If he (or Max von Sydow) wins, he would be the oldest person to win an acting Oscar ever.

message 23: by Bea (last edited Feb 20, 2012 07:28PM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 8. Midnight in Paris (2011, dir. Allen)

Rating: B+

Finished: 2/20/2012

Review: I have never seen Paris look so beautiful. Between the stunning camerawork and the 20's music, this film practically doesn't need a plot. All this scrumptiousness is hung on the story of a young screenwriter with literary ambitions. He is vacationing with his philistine fiancee and her parents but is spirited away every midnight to hobnob with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein et al in the era of his dreams.

The film has been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Art Direction. I think the cinematography was also Oscar standard.


message 24: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) There is nothing more beautiful than Paris after dark!!!

message 25: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments I loved both Midnight in Paris and Beginners! My favorite part of Beginners, other than the wonderful performance of Christopher Plummer, was the dog and his subtitles!

message 26: by Bea (last edited Mar 20, 2012 11:46AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments This has been a good year for Jack Russell Terriers!

9. The Help (2011, dir. Taylor)

Rating: A-

Finished: 2/21/2012

Review: This movie made me cry in a good way, which automatically gives it at least a B rating. I thought it was inspirational, funny, well-written, and brilliantly acted, so it gets an A-. I don't know why my expectations weren't very high going in, but it vastly exceeded them. I have not read the novel.

This film has received Best Motion Picture, Best Actress (Viola Davis) and two Best Supporting Actress nominations (Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer). In my opinion, the academy could easily have filled all five Supporting Actress slots with actresses from this movie. I might have added Sissy Spacek and Allison Janney.


message 27: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
This was a great movie - I saw it myself this year and thought it was an A rating. Terrific acting and cast.

message 28: by Bea (last edited Apr 18, 2012 10:52AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 10. Margin Call (2011, dir. Chandor)

Rating: C

Finished: 2/21/2012

Review: This is a thinly fictionalized account of the implosion of a Wall Street investment bank at the beginning of the latest financial meltdown. It has a fantastic cast including Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, and Stanley Tucci, all of whom acquit themselves well.

The story had promise but it felt flat to me. This was a surprise since the film has been Oscar-nominated for Best Writing (Original Screenplay). There were bits of clever dialog but a large part of the conversation consists of repetition of the "f" word in various intonations of amazement or despair.


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message 29: by Bea (last edited Apr 18, 2012 10:53AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 11. A Separation (2011, dir. Farhadi)

Rating: A

Finished: 2/26/2012

My husband and I fit in one last Oscar-nominated film at the theater this morning. This Iranian film is a powerful domestic drama about a couple who split up when the wife wants to emigrate and the husband wants to stay in Iran to care for his father, who has Altzheimer's. When the wife goes home to mom, the husband hires a devout Muslim woman to care for grandfather while the husband is at work. Things get very complicated quickly. The performances and writing are so spot-on that it could almost have been a documentary. I felt totally immersed in the story in the first few minutes. I found the experience emotionally harrowing but it is truly one of the best films I have seen in a couple of years. Highly recommended.

This film has been nominated for Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Writing (Original Screenplay)


message 30: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I heard on tv today that The Artist is a favorite for multiple Oscars. Well deserved.

message 31: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments I will be rooting for it!

message 32: by Bea (last edited Apr 18, 2012 10:54AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments MARCH

12. Gigante (AKA "Giant")(2009, dir. Biniez)

Rating: C-

Finished: 3/1/2012

Review: Uruguayan film about a supermarket security guard who becomes obsessed with one of the cleaning ladies he watches via the surveillance camera. This may have been the longest one hour and 29 minutes I have ever spent watching a movie. It's not exactly "bad", and has even won some awards but I could not wait for it to end. Nothing happens. Ah well.


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44126 comments Mod
It sounds like a supermarket version of Waiting for Godot yet the person of interest is in view.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett by Samuel Beckett Samuel Beckett

message 34: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 13. Der Untergang (AKA "Downfall") (2004, dir. Hirschbiegel)
Rating: A-
Finished: 3/17/2012
Review: The fabulous Bruno Ganz portrays Adolf Hitler to perfection. The film is told from the point of view of Hitler's young female secretary and covers the 12-day period in the bunker and the ultimate surrender to the Russians. We see the alternative reality underground contrasted with the chaos and calamity suffered by by the civilians above. It's a rather long film but so engrossing that the time went by fast.


message 35: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Did you see Ganz in Wings of Desire? He is such a good actor but not well known in the US.

message 36: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments Yes. He was also fantastic in The American Friend (1976) and Knife in the Head (1979).

message 37: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 14. Mikey and Nicky (1976, dir. May)
Rating: B+
Finished: 3/21/2012
Review: Somehow Elaine May, who wrote and directed this film, channeled John Cassavetes directorial style in a remarkable way. It is totally unlike any of her other films I have seen. The performances by some of the best character actors of their generation - John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ned Beatty - are something to cherish. This is a dark, intense film and I'm very glad I watched it.


message 38: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments I found this while looking up the Mikey and Nicky trailer and it is just too funny to resist posting.

Elaine May saluting Mike Nichols at the celebration of his American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement award.

message 39: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 15. Summer Hours (AKA "L'heure d'eté") (2008, dir. Asseyas)
Rating: B
Finished: 3/22/2012
Review: A mother dies, leaving her far-flung children to decide how to dispose of their childhood home and the family's valuable art collection. This left me with a lot to think about. How do we pass down memories and tradition in a modern age?


message 40: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 16. The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006, dir. Albert and David Maysles)
Rating C+
Finished 3/24/2012
Review: The folks that put together this film took unused footage taken for the documentary "Grey Gardens" (1975) and edited it to make a new documentary. The original filmmakers obviously had the complete trust of the two Edith Bouvier Bealeses ("Big" and "Little Edie") who display their highly eccentric lives in a big decaying mansion for all to see. The Bealeses were related to and no doubt embarrassed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and her family. "Little Edie" Beales is one of the the most unique true or fictional characters ever.

I loved the 1975 documentary but thought this version fell short. However, fans of the original film should give this a look if nothing else for the stunning last 10 minutes - a montage of all the fashions worn by "Little Edie" during the filming.


message 41: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 17. Muriel's Wedding (1994, dir. Hogan)
Rating: A-
Finished: 3/28/2012
Review: When I need to cheer up, I watch this movie. This is one of the great coming of age movies for women and a hell of a lot of fun to boot. Muriel Hesslop vainly attempts to escape her dreary existence and dreadful family in Porpoise Spit, Queensland by listening to ABBA music and dreaming of matrimony. There are plenty of laughs along the way but Muriel's ultimate victory never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths turn in fantastic performances here.


message 42: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments I love this movie! "Waterloo" is my favorite ABBA song and I love how they use it in the film. :)

message 43: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments Well, how about a reprise?

message 44: by Bea (last edited Mar 30, 2012 08:00PM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 18. Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance Episodes 1-4 (2004, PBS Home Video)
Rating: C
Finished: 3/27/2012
Review: This follows the history of the Medici family which is, not coincidentally, the history of Florentine Renaissance art and science. The Medicis used architecture, art, and learning to boost their prestige and power throughout their 200 year reign, patronizing and sometimes persecuting greats from Brunelleschi through Michelangelo and Galileo. The documentary also details the cutthroat politics and battles of the period.

The subject matter is fascinating and deserves a better documentary. The problem for me was the sensationalist narration, which I would rate a D and the overblown music. The main narrator is positively breathless in his many comparisons of the Medici to the mafia. Each episode ends with a ponderous semi-cliffhanger. On the other hand, I couldn't stop watching because I kept learning new tidbits and being treated to all that glorious art.


message 45: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments This one came up on Netflix and I was wondering about it - thanks for the info. And thanks for the "Waterloo" clip - always makes me smile! Gotta do that one at karaoke soon!

message 46: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments APRIL

19. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011, dir. Gelb)
Rating: B+
Finished: 4/3/2012

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary about the oldest chef to ever win three Michelin stars. That he has done this in a restaurant that seats only 10 people and serves only sushi is amazing. I thought the movie was more about the nature of an artist than the food. Jiro spent 75 years of his life totally dedicated to improving his craft a bit every single day. The film is also quite beautiful to look at (unless you have a problem with raw fish, in which case stay away) and the score is an awesome combination of classical music and Philip Glass.


message 47: by Bea (last edited Apr 30, 2012 07:19AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 20. The Third Man (1949, dir. Reed)
Rating: A
Finished: 4/28/2012
Review: I can't think of one thing I would change about this classic. It is one of the most rewatchable movies I know. Some people don't like the zither music, but I adore that as well. One thing I love about this movie is that I catch something different each time. This time it was the number of times different characters get other characters' names wrong.

The trailer is unimaginably hokey and really belongs with quite a different film so I'm substituting this beautiful clip. It's the very final scene but doesn't really contain any spoilers.

message 48: by Bea (last edited Apr 30, 2012 11:09AM) (new)

Bea | 1830 comments 21. Ghost Bird (2009, dir. Crocker)
Rating: A-
Finished: 4/30/2012
Review: This is a fascinating documentary about the controversy surrounding the reported sighting of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, long thought to have been extinct, in the Arkansas woods. This film is for you if you have any interest in birds, the politics of habitat conservation, the disappearance of small-town life in rural America, or man-made extinction of species.

I was surprised to find that the sighting was confirmed by both the Department of Interior and the prestigious Cornell Laboratory of Ornothology, neither of which would let its employees be interviewed for the documentary. The film presents the opinions of both sceptics and believers and maintains a relatively agnostic stance. It was also entertaining to be reminded of Rumsfeld's "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" rhetoric.

I watched the film on Netflix streaming.


message 49: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Bea wrote: "20. The Third Man (1949, dir. Reed)
Rating: A
Finished: 4/28/2012
Review: I can't think of one thing I would change about this classic. It is one of the most rewatchable movies I know. Some peop..."

I think you were watching TCM!!!! One of my favorite scenes in the film is when we first get a glimpse of Welles (Harry Lime) standing in that dark doorway....beautifully lit, as is all the film, and very fine. This film is in my top 10.

message 50: by Bea (new)

Bea | 1830 comments Now Goodreads has started eating my replies!

Actually, I tried to watch it on TCM but had technical difficulties so ended up with Netflix streaming as a fallback.

I love that scene with Orson Welles too. It was fun looking for an image to post. So many of the stills could be framed and hung in a museum. There were more dramatic images but I chose to use a mysterious one. (bal-loon? bal-loon?)

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