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Reviews for December 19th, 2012


Directed by Michael Haneke

      Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), a happily married husband and wife in their eighties, live together in a very nice apartment. Both of them are retired piano instructors and suffer from memory problems occasionally. When Anne suffers a stroke that paralyzes the right side of her body, she refuses to stay in the hospital and asks George to be her caretaker at home. He does everything his ability tend to her needs, both emotionally and physically, but soon daily chores become more and more of a hassle. It's no surprise then that he eventually hires nurses to take care of of Anne's physical needs, including washing her, and that the nurses don't treat Anne with respect and compassion. Georges and Anne's love for one another is truly put to the test as her condition gradually deteriorates.

      Writer/director Michael Haneke has created a profoundly moving romantic drama that's unflinchingly honest and tender. He focuses on the minute details of Georges and Anne's daily lives which may, at first, seem slight and even somewhat tedious, but the more immersed you are in their lives, the more you learn about them as human beings. To say that not much happens in Amour would be a very shallow critique because a lot happens beneath the surface. Haneke doesn't resort to flashbacks to explain Georges and Anne's background and how they met when they were younger. Their true love for one another is something that can be sensed through how they interact with each other and, most importantly, through Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva's brave, raw, heartfelt performances. It must have taken Trintignant and Riva a while to shake off their roles because they sink their teeth into their characters with so much emotional conviction and honesty. At times, it's emotionally draining to watch them as Amour sink deeper and deeper into tragedy.

      Amour could have easily been a two-character play given that it primarily takes place within the apartment of George and Anne. Their cold-as-ice daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert) and their former student, Alexandre (Alexandre Tharaud), a pianist, have ephemeral visits to their apartment. The film's staginess is barely felt because you're so emotionally captivated by what transpires to George and Anne; you feel as though you're there with them. Haneke also provokes you intellectually through the use of symbolisms, i.e. a pigeon that flying through the window not once, but twice. Anne's heart attack can represent any kind of physically traumatic experience that causes many changes within a marriage. One thing is for sure, though: George and Anne's love for one another never changed even through times of adversity. So, despite that Amour goes into dark, downbeat territory more often than not, as many great films do, it does offer a glimmer of hope about the everlasting power of true love through its vicissitudes.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Opens at the Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.

Monsters, Inc. 3D

Directed by Pete Docter and David Silverman

      Originally released on November 2nd, 2001 strictly in 2D, Monsters, Inc. officially returns to the big screen in 3D. For those of you who don't know the story, it follows two monsters, Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sully (voice of John Goodman), whose task as employees of Monsters, Inc. in the parallel universe of Monstropolis is to scare human children on Earth. When Boo (voice Mary Gibbs), a 3-year-old human, accidentally escapes into Monstropolis, it's up to Mike and Sully to bring her back home before Mr. Waternoose (voice James Coburn), the CEO of Monsters, Inc., captures her.

      A classic animated film should not only have great visuals and be worth watching more than once, but should also have an imaginative story, memorable characters and humor for both kids and adults. Monsters, Inc. at least has most of those qualities which, therefore, makes it almost a classic. What keeps it from becoming a classic? Its story loses a little bit of steam in terms of imagination along the way, and the same can be said for its humor which becomes more sporadic as the plot veers into action adventure territory. Most of the jokes and visual gags are still laugh-out-loud funny after repeat viewings; the others become merely amusing. Nonetheless, the visual effects still look spectacular, and the 3D provides even more eye candy for both young and old audiences. The actors chosen to do the voice-over acting, especially Billy Crystal and John Goodman, are a match made in heaven.

      If you've never seen Monsters, Inc. before or have only seen it on the small screen, now's your chance to see it on the big screen the way that it was meant to be seen. Please be sure to stay for hilarious scenes that play through the end credits.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Walt Disney Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

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