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Reviews for November 6th, 2015


Directed by John Crowley

      Set during the 1950s, Brooklyn follows Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) as she immigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn, New York where to finds a job at a department store. She falls in love with Tony (Emory Cohen), but upon returning to Ireland, she romances Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson).

      Tender, sweet and heartfelt, Brooklyn is a sweeping romance that will win your heart over without making your eyes roll. Saoirse Ronan gives the best performance of her career which will surely get her at least an Oscar nomination. The screenplay by Nick Hornby has just the right balance of romance, drama and comic relief. Each of the actors generates a sense of warmth onscreen, although Ronan radiates the most charisma. She's absolutely captivating in every sense of the word, and she makes you truly care about whether or not the character she playsh will end up romantically happy. She and Emory Cohen have palpable chemistry. Kudos to Crowley for trusting the audience's patience because this isn't one of those fast-paced films for the ADD crowd nor does it overdo its stylish cinematography (the costume, set designs and warm color palette deserve a mention, though). It's also among the few awards-worthy films to not overstay its welcome at a running time of 111 minutes. Prepare to be enchanted and engrossed by this beautiful story.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Opens in select theaters.

Ex-Files 2: The Back Up Strikes Back

Directed by Tian Yusheng

      Yi Ze (Amber Kuo Cai-jie) works as an assistant director for company that makes TV commercials. She's romantically interested in one of the actors in one of the commercials, namely, Yu Fei (Ryan Zheng Kai), but, after a one-night stand with him, she fails to woo him over. Cue Master Tian (Eric Wang Chuan-jun), a noodle shop owner who tells fortunes and also happens to be a dating guru, so Yi Ze seeks his expertise to win Yu Fei's attention via a variety of ways including a make-over.

      Ex-Files 2 coasts by on its charismatic actors and witty screenplay based on the Korean film How to Use Guys with Secret Tips. It's more amusing than laugh-out-loud funny, though, and some scenes feel a bit silly, but at least director Tian Yusheng allows the film to maintain its high energy in a way that's fun, peppy and diverting. Each member of the cast appears to be enjoying their time onscreen, and there's also some tongue-in-cheek humor and cultural references which might be lost in translation for those who don't understand Mandarin. There aren't any surprises when it comes to the plot, but as the late, great Roger Ebert once stated, it's more important how a film goes about its plot than what it's about. To be fair, Ex-Files 2 does feel a tad too long at a running time of 114 minutes although that's a minor issue that's forgivable because the characters remain lively to watch, and the film at least manages to be pleasant, harmless and entertaining for the most part.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Asia Releasing.
Opens at AMC Empire 25.

Friends and Romans

Directed by Christopher Kublan


Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Paladin.
Opens in select theaters.

Sand Dollars

Directed by Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán

      Anne (Geraldine Chaplin), a wealthy French septuagenarian vacationing at the seaside town of Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic, romances a much younger Dominican woman, Noeli (Yanet Mojica), who works as a prostitute. Yeremi (Ricardo Ariel Toribio), Noeli's boyfriend, trades the gifts that Noeli receives from Anne for cash at a local pawn shop. Despite that Noeli lets other foreigners besides Anne pamper her with money and gifts in exchange for a relationship, Anne nonetheless feels a strong connection with her and falls in love.

      Co-writers/directors Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán trust the audience's patience because the quietly moving Sand Dollars takes its time to hook and reel you in with its lean and deceptively simple plot. You gradually learn more and more about Anne and Noeli as the film progresses. Anne is a clearly lonely, sad and emotionally needy, and her love of Noeli is unrequited. It's interesting to observe how their relationship as well as Noeli and her boyfriend's relationship evolve. To be fair, though, more character development and backstory would have enriched the film with depth. What compensates for that, though, are the raw, emotionally convincing performances by Geraldine Chaplin, one of the best actresses of our time (better than Meryl Streep, even---there, I said it!), and Yanet Mojica. Kudos to the co-directors for capturing the serenity and picturesque quality of Las Terrenas' landscape while avoiding the use of narration, flashbacks and including a somber, haunting and un-Hollywood ending that trusts the audience's intelligence and provides some realistic closure via the lyrics of a beautifully melancholic song.

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Breaking Glass Pictures.
Opens at Cinema Village.


Directed by Sam Mendes


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Columbia Pictures.
Opens nationwide.


Directed by Tom McCarthy


Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Open Road Films.
Opens in select theaters.
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