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All three had potential but like champagne, left in the refrigerator too long,  lost its fizz,  leaving pleasant packaging, but little tangible substance, only flatness.

A margin call occurs ( from your broker) when securities bought with borrowed money, decline in value, beyond a certain point; time to “pay the piper” by selling assets or “coughing” up more cash to cover the depressed value, or your assets will be sold by the lender.  Motto, “neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend”, aka broker.

“Margin Call” (in the theatres and On Demand) is well- acted, pristinely filmed, but a subject of tedious familiarity, predictability; characters whose names have been changed to protect the “guilty”; we recognize anyway. Loosely based upon the 2008 implosion of a scion of Wall Street, Lehman Brothers. The film’s focus is twenty –four- hours from dizzying heights of voluminous, financial solvency, security,  plummeting in a nanosecond, with mindboggling recklessness,  into degradation, bankruptcy, insolvency. The characters portray their dismay, disbelief with alacrity and resignation; realizing there are always a few whose fortunes are made on the flaming pyres, suffered by the masses.

Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, and relative new comers Zachary Quinto and Penn Badgley hold their own and give credible interpretations; they are not bad people, just those whose world myopically operated solely on “getting and spending” and in the process “laid waste their powers”!

This is a good film that I could have waited a few more years to view; until the sting of 2008 had evaporated or I had lost my memoritave capacity.



MELANCHOLIA  (Also on “On Demand”)

This “darling” of so many worldwide film festivals including Chicago was a huge disappointment except for the ever- present, iconic score of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde Prelude”. Lars von Trier’s (whose major “Hitler” faux pau    at Cannes, won him the “idiocy” Oscar) apocalyptic saga about a dysfunctional family facing the end of civilization is  nothing but beautiful, plodding, inertia-inducing boredom; if only the characters were interesting we might have mourned their imminent demise instead of praying for its hasty finality. Kristen Dunst, as the mentally -disturbed bride “Justine”, Charlotte Gainsbourg as “Claire” her longsuffering  sister, and Kiefer Sutherland  “John” as her forbearing brother-in-law imbue their roles with a legitimacy hardly worthy of the portraiture.

I am not a fan, nor am I entertained by end of the world fantasies,  but for those who are, here is better fare: “On the Beach”. “Dr. Strangelove”, “12 Monkeys”, “The Day After’, “28 Days Later”, “The Road”.

My best advice if you are financially reimbursed or forced to see “Melancholia”,  shut your eyes, bask in the audio delights, “to sleep, perchance to dream”.




One young woman with two lives; not as disconnected as “Sybil” but minimally equipped to survive two years of emotional, psychological, physical indoctrination that would fell (and did) a lesser person. Elizabeth Olson is electrifying as the troubled girl trying to sort out any semblance of normalcy or balance between the life she escapes and the generic one she enters.  Her sister “Lucy” depicted with inimitable love and sincerity by Sarah Paulson and brother-in-law “Ted” (Hugh Dancy’s (“Evening”) fine talents have been short- changed in his recent films) are overwhelmed by the exotic, erotic behavior of Martha.

The crux of the story; one so realistically ubiquitous that many will be familiar with the victims and their false enchantment with the leader of the isolated “cult”, masquerading as an oasis for disenfranchised misfits, longing for a “family’s” cherishing, protective embrace. The demonic “Patrick”, pivotally and mesmerizing depicted by John Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone”)  is the guru, the destructive visionary whose charmed but forked- tongue transforms his disciples into whatever image he conjures for them; herein lies his Rasputin, apollonian mastery.

“Martha Marcy May Marlene” sinks with its redundancy; the audience understands the “moralizing message of manic mayhem”; we yearn for a healthful but unlikely solution; we exit without a cure or even an antibiotic.


For Now………..Peneflix

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  1. By the way, it is 3:l5 not 8:l5. Wonder why it has the wrong time.

  2. You are totally on with Martha May, Peneflix! Elizabeth Olson makes the character of Martha so incredibly real! And the end! We all sat waiting for some resolution, although we knew that there would not be a simple one!
    Great review!!!

  3. It is not often that I disagree with Peneflix, but, I thought MELANCHOLIA was an excellent film, beautifully acted and filmed.
    I am afraid too many reviewers ( I am not saying Peneflix, but many others) were biased by the film maker’s comments on Hitler in Cannes and judged him by that rather than his talent and the film itself.
    Kirsten Dunst as well as Charlotte Gainsbourg beautifully portrayed their characters, the last scene, seen in a movie theater large screen is amazing!
    The music, of course was absolutely beautiful!

    • Debate keeps the brain flexible! Yes, the actors did a passable job with the material, but as characters they were horrifically boring, dull, futile; the horses were more complex. Wagner’s Prelude to “Tristan und Isolde” earned the two stars “Melancholia” received from me. But you are with the majority of critics who loved it.
      I must confess I do not care for apocalyptic flicks; this one was beautiful. It was a good thing the world was ending; John was nearing bankruptcy after paying for that horrendous and senseless wedding.
      You are my most ardent commentator; please keep them coming! P.

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