Category Archives: Academy Award Winner

Remember

Remember_3D_BD_OcardThis is a gem of a movie directed by Oscar nominee Aton Egoyan and written for the screen by Benjamin August, stars two very talented, Oscar-winning actors Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.

I must digress and tell you I saw Plummer perform his one-man play about the late John Barrymore. I was fortunate to meet the playwright of Barrymore as well. I am compelled to praise Plummer’s performance and the play.

Remember is a story about very dark truths, lying just under the skin is the truth that comes to light when you least expect it. The movie is an intense thriller, and I was fortunate to see it on Blu-ray. We follow Zev, played brilliantly by Plummer, who has dementia and is recently widowed. He is a Holocaust survivor and will stop at nothing to get justice for his family. Being an Auschwitz survivor and with the aid of a friend, played by Landau, they discover that the Nazi guard who murdered both their families some seventy years ago is living in America under an assumed identity. Zev sets out on a gripping journey that tests both his will and his fading memory as it brings him closer to the retribution he seeks.

The movie has several memorable scenes. One is with the State Troop, son of a Nazi, with a German Shepard that Zev visits looking for the Nazi guard. Dean Norris plays the State Troop with such a gripping edge. I was so afraid for Zev. I was literally on the edge of my couch telling my husband, “This is such a good movie…”

The supporting cast is priceless including two talented child actors, Peter DaCunha, and Sofia Wells, offering the innocence of people unsuspecting the horrors of Holocaust.

The ending is so good and meaningful, which makes me wonder. For some perhaps, dementia or forgetting is just a way to protect those from transgressions who care not to reveal to themselves and others.

I applaud Egoyan, Plummer and Landau, great story and great performances.

The Blu-ray features an Audio Commentary with Director Atom Egoyan, Producer Robert Lantos & Writer Benjamin August. It also includes “Performances to Remember” Featurette and “A Tapestry of Evil: Remembering the Past” Featurette.

Room

RoomDirected by Lenny Abrahamson, Room is a hard film to watch, but worth watching because the story is told so well. Brie Larson won an Oscar for her portrayal of a kidnapped survivor. Since she is from my home time, I am very excited for her achievement.

The story arrives where Joy Newsome, played by Larson, is 7 years into her disappearance when she was a teenager in Ohio. She and her son, Jack, played brilliantly by Jacob Tremblay, celebrate his 5th birthday imprisoned in a 15′ by 15′ shed. “Old Nick,” played by Sean Bridgers, captured Joy, who is Ma to Jack, and regularly rapes her. Thus, they produce Jack. Abrahamson keeps the rape scenes off camera, which helped me get through the movie.

Because she cooperates with Nick, he feeds and provides shelter for her and Jack. Yet, they are still prisoners and never leave the shed with a skylight as their only view of the outside world.

Now that Jack is a big boy, Ma teaches him about the outside world. One scene, which I really like, is where Ma teaches Jack about walls. That there are two sides to a wall. Each side had different things. This builds to the point where Jack escapes, and they both become free.

Once freed, Jack is shy and limited on how to survive in the real world.  Still, he is a kid and learns how to adapt quickly. Nancy, played wonderfully by Joan Allen, is Joy’s mother. Nancy and new husband, Doug, played by Tom McCamus, try to help them both as best as they can.

Jack starts to do better, and we see Joy’s mental condition worsen.  Larson is brilliant as Joy changes from a loving, protective mother to a woman struggling with mental anguish. Anguish she has tamped down for 7 years while in captivity with Jack. Larson is so believable and remarkable in these moments that I can see why she won the Oscar.

The movie is based on Emma Donoghue’s novel, which she adapted for the screen.  Like I said, I usually shy from topics like this because it is so sad, but in the end, I smiled.  I recommend this movie.

Simon Wiesenthal Film Collection

simonwiesenthalSimon Wiesenthal passed away in 2005. He was a Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor and became well-known for his unrelenting work as a Nazi hunter.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films collection of documentaries, which features narrations by Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock and others, is now available as a DVD set worth owning.

The collection includes two Academy Award winning documentaries: The Long Way Home, featuring Freeman’s narration; and Genocide, the 1982 best documentary Oscar winner narrated by Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles.

The Long Way Home takes an in-depth look at post-WWII and the survivors of the Holocaust. It also includes the voices of Edward Asner, Sean Astin, Martin Landau, Miriam Margolyes, David Paymer, Nina Siemaszko, Helen Slater, and Michael York. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1998.

The story focuses on the contemptible state of affairs for Jewish refugees in Europe after the war. Antisemitism was still predominant and destitution was common. The movie indicates how emigration to the British Mandate of Palestine developed into a goal for many. Yet, the British immigration rules often concluded with them being in custody in camps on the island of Cyprus. The eventual formation of the State of Israel results based on the debates at the White House between Palestinian Jews, President Harry S. Truman, and the United Nations.

Genocide follows the courage and torture of the Jewish people before and during World War II. Elizabeth Taylor’s simple voice reads letters from fatalities of the Nazis. The letters are heart wrenching hearing the farewells to friends and other loved ones.  First-hand accounts of horrifying images.  On one particular read is about someone who observed a massacre. I was shocked and disheartened, which is the aim of the movie.

Other narrators in the collection include Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Douglas, Sir Ben Kingsley and Christoph Waltz.

The documentaries are available in DVD case with Simon Wiesenthal on the cover. Susan Margolin, president of Docurama, streaming service for documentary movies, called the collection “historically rich and profoundly important.”