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James Quillinan, known primarily for his expertise in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, Trusts, Conservatorships and related Litigation is also an avid movie-goer.  His reviews started in the Law Office around 1998 when associates and clients began asking him about the movies he had seen.  He began sending his reviews by email to a list of friends and movie fans which now has grown to include world-wide distribution.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Cake Jennifer Anniston takes on a serious role as the bitter and at times comical Claire who sets a new standard for dysfunction. She is addicted to pain pills, booze and self pity. She has scars on her face and body and suffers from chronic pain. A young woman in Claire’s chronic pain support group has committed suicide in a peculiarly spectacular way. Claire becomes obsessed with the suicide and takes us on a journey to discover the details of the suicide. The film slowly, almost torturously reveals what happened to Claire that made her the miserable wreck she is. Claire finally rises above her personal tragedy and begins to reconnect with life.   The film aims high in conveying raw emotions but misses the mark as Claire comes across as an unlikeable sociopath for most of the film. Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality.  

A Most Violent Year It is 1981 in New York City. Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is trying to run a more or less honest fuel delivery service. His gorgeous wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), has mob connections but Abel wants to run his business - his way. Against a backdrop of gritty crime, Abel tries to expand his business and provide for his family. He has a lot of money on the line as he pursues a legit business opportunity, but the violence, rot and corruption that is New York City put Abel and his family in grave danger. Abel is a skilled negotiator and navigates the mean streets cleverly. But the film just drags along, as the story is not spectacular but cerebral. It is more about tone and color than a hard-hitting crime drama. Rated R for language and some violence.

Still Alice Julianne Moore gives an Oscar winning performance as Alice Howland, a linguistics professor at Columbia. Happily married with three children, she begins forgetting words, gets lost in familiar surroundings and looses track of familiar concepts.   She sees a neurologist and eventually gets a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.  Her type is a rare familial version that occurs at an earlier age, and may be passed on to her children.   Alice not only has to deal with her illness but the devastating effect it will have on her family. Alice’s affliction progresses at a fast pace. Acknowledging her ultimate fate, she makes plans for her future while she still can.  The family is deeply affected by Alice. They rally around to support her and keep her connected with the rhythms of family life even as Alice loses the ability to utter her all-important words.  When her confusion seems total, her daughter reads her a poem and Alice understands its meaning. This is an amazing film and a must see. It is a Peggy’ pick. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, and brief language including a sexual reference. 

Two Days, One Night.   A strange Belgian movie that attempts to set up a “Hobson’s Choice” but has such a strange premise that it seems its only point is to have the magnificent Marion Cotillard on the screen for 90 minutes. Cotillard plays Sandra, a young Belgian mother and wife who has a dilemma. She discovers that her co-workers have voted for a €1,000 bonus but at the cost of her being fired. Her boss decides on a re-vote and gives her one weekend to try to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job. She tracks them down and has all sorts of reactions, confrontations and personal upset as she seeks to keep her job. Seems that her time would have been better spent finding a new job. I also hope this is not a standard business practice in Belgium. Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic elements. In French with English subtitles. 

Blithe Spirit.  Angela Lansbury stars as Madame Arcati in the touring company of this marvelous 1941 Noel Coward farce.   It is at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco through February 1, 2015 and then touring the country. This is an absolute treat and something to seek out and see.   

Seeking background and jargon for a new book, author Charles Condomine and his second wife Ruth arrange for a local mystic Madame Arcati to have a séance.  Planned as a charade, the ill-starred result of the séance is that Charles' first wife Elvira returns from the dead as a mischievous ghost. Having two women let alone two wives under the same roof causes Charles untold misery.  The play is full of clever jibes and jokes as Madame Arcati seemingly at her wit's end comes across a clever charm to sort out all of the conflicts so everyone can live or die happily ever after. 

NOTE. Whiplash from last week’s reviews is a Peggy’ Pick.


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