Posted on February 22, 2014


No, I did not forget how to schedule blog posts. I just forgot to post this week’s column and schedule it. Either way, it’s my mistake. I just want to feel guilty about the mistake I actually made.

Sleep Dealer (2008)

In the near future, three lives intertwine. Memo lives and works in Mexico, plugging his mind and body into a machine that lets him remote control a construction drone in the United States. Luz is a blogger…kind of. She uploads her memories of stories for people to buy. Rudy is a naturalized American citizen who operates attack drones for border security.

This movie started slowly, but grew on me quickly. It’s really about how technology affects people and relationships. It’s very well done, and worth watching even if you don’t normally like subtitled films.

Bullhead (2011)

This is a movie about smuggling steroids in Belgium, both for human and bovine use. It moves back and forth in time, telling the story of one man from childhood. When he is a young boy, he is assaulted by some teenagers and must take steroids to recover from the assault and to develop into maturity.

This movie does several difficult things well. It makes the main character, a brute who is emotionally a child, sympathetic. Once I understood what happened to him in childhood, I could not forgive his violence in the present day but I could understand. It also moves back and forth through time easily. I was never confused about when the action took place.

If you like serious, intelligent, foreign movies, you might enjoy this one.

Coriolanus (2011)

This movie adapts Shakespeare’s eponymous play to a modern setting, with frankly chilling results. Directed and starring Ralph Fiennes, the movie also includes Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Fiennes plays Coriolanus, a rigid general who returns to Rome victorious and gets elected to the Senate. Unfortunately, he despises the common people and winds up getting thrown into exile. There he allies with a former enemy, played by Gerard Butler, and declares war on the homeland that banished him.

This movie makes Shakespeare accessible, while drawing chilling parallels with the way modern day interventions create enemies.

If you got enough Shakespeare in school, give this one a miss. We found it riveting.

Saving Private Perez (2011)

A drug boss in Mexico promises his mother that he will go to Iraq and rescue his brother, who has been captured by insurgents while serving in the United States Army.

Believe it or not, this is supposed to be a comedy. I say “supposed to be” because it’s not funny, and that’s sad.

This movie spends way too much time trying to be a goofy version of the Mexican Dirty Dozen, and not nearly enough time satirizing America’s heavy-handed treatment of immigration, drug smuggling, and foreign intervention.

Do not watch this.

Robot & Frank (2012)

Frank is a former cat burglar who has Alzheimer’s. His son brings him a robot caretaker. Frank doesn’t want the robot at first, but he finds that it makes his life better, freeing him up to woo the local librarian and take up his old trade.

Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Jeremy Sisto, and Peter Sarsgaard are fantastic in this movie. If you do not realize how wonderful Frank Langella is, this movie will convince you.

Robot & Frank has real heart. It’s about aging and relationships, both romantic and familial.

See this one.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Three magazine staff members set out in pursuit of whoever placed an ad asking for a companion for time traveling.

Right off the bat, you should recognize that this is a bit of a fantasy, because no print magazine can afford to send three staffers to cover any story.

This is a love story with some sci-fi trappings around it. The cast is terrific, the directing is very good, and the story is quirky and enjoyable.

My wife and I enjoyed this very much, and I recommend it.

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Posted in: Movies