Little Children
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Little Children 2006

The lives of two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages, a registered sex offender, and a disgraced ex-police officer intersect as they struggle to resist their vulnerabilities and temptations in suburban Connecticut...

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6

Imdb rating: 7.6

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I skipped this last week when it was at the New York Film Festival, so I ended up paying $0.75 more and I missed out on seeing the tiny outlines of Ms. Winslet, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Field from way up in the nosebleed section. This film is showing in only five movie theaters, including the one in Greenwich Village that I patronized. Five. In the entire country. I heart NY.
Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) is a bored suburban mother of a 3-year-old girl, Lucy. She has a Masters degree in literature and a wealthy husband who prefers internet porn to his pretty young wife. Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) is a stay-at-home dad to 3-year old Aaron. He went to law school but never passed the bar exam and his wife (Jennifer Connelly) is a knockout as well as a passionate documentary filmmaker. Larry (Noah Emmerich) is an ex-cop who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after a shooting accident several years ago. Ronald is a registered sex offender who has just been released from prison and has moved back in with his mother. Sarah and Brad meet, become acquainted, start an affair. Brad joins a football team with Larry to give Brad an excuse to be out late at night and a sense of self-validation. Larry makes it his personal crusade to make Ronald's life as miserable as possible. And the mentally ill Ronald is, as is so often the case, more of a harm to himself than to any of these shallow suburbanites and their little children.
That's just the set-up: the plot is much more involved but not all that exciting. The film is good, but somewhat disorienting. The timing of the film just feels off. It's got a long running length (130 min.), but even beyond that, the story seems so extended, but the action only takes place over a month or two. Then there is this omniscient voice from heaven in the form of a narrator that comes in at random times. Sometimes the voice says silly, trite things, and sometimes he says positively brilliant things that change the course of your viewing.
The acting is good, which is helped by my generally positive regard for both Ms. Winslet and Mr. Wilson, and by their fabulous chemistry together. The story was good, though uninspiring and predictable. The characters and emotion of the film were good. I left the film wanting to analyze the characters, to understand their thoughts and actions.
Overall, a little too pretentious, a little too long, but an interesting, well-written, well-acted film nonetheless.

This is the best American movie I've seen since American Beauty. Run, don't walk to the nearest theater to see it. It is memorable and haunting and the performances are outstanding. Kate Winslet deserves an Oscar for her role.
Half Nelson (2006)
Director: Ryan Fleck
Starring: The wonderful Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie

3.5 stars out of 4

No other film has ever left me with the feelings that I had after experiencing Half Nelson. As I exited the theater, paranoia washed over me. Every movement, every lick of my lips, every quick dart of my eyes, I felt was being scrutinized by anyone who crossed my path. As I stood in the bathroom, merely washing my hands, I felt conspicuous. I felt like a drug addict. Now, I have no idea what that genuinely feels like, and I hope that I never do; however, after coupling myself for 106 minutes with such a painstaking and hyper-realistic character study, my perception of myself and the world around me were bizarrely and unexpectedly altered.

Half Nelson is the story of Dan Dunne, a history teacher at an inner-city middle school, coach of the girl's basketball team, and an inspiration and friend to the children in his class. Half Nelson is also the story of Dan Dunne, a cocaine and crack abuser. Eventually, and with absolute poetic precision, the barrier separating the two realms of his life begins to weaken, causing them to shift and merge in interesting and harrowing ways.

As the film began, I feared that it would become heavy-handed and preachy, chock-full of greeting card-worthy motivational one-liners and clich
So how is Todd Field's long awaited follow-up to his masterful In The Bedroom? Well, it's equally fascinating, absorbing, misguided, and uneven. Little Children might be the film to give Kate Winslet her long over-due Oscar for. Even when this excellent movie stumbles, it still establishes Field as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. Don't miss it.

Grade: B+

Deliver Us From Evil is one of the best documentaries to come along since Murderball or Grizzly Man. This is powerful filmmaking that exposes the ugliness of the Catholic church's willingness to cover up the sexual abuse of children. Oliver O'Grady was an affable Catholic priest welcomed into the homes of everyone in his several congregations over the years. This gave him a launching pad to engage in sexual conduct ranging from fondling, kissing, and rape (of a five-year old). If you thought that the main purpose of the Church was to protect innocent children, you're right, but as this searing documentary that is one of the year's best argues: you're also wrong. They're protecting themselves.

Grade: A-

Sofia Coppola, director of the 4-star Lost in Translation returns with a film that is a perplexing and very disappointing concoction of a motion picture. Marie Antoinette is a bad film by a very promising director. A shame. Now following up a masterpiece is not a task that I envy, but some can do it well. Todd Field with Little Children for example. But this shallow, superificial, cutesy, and unengaging film fails on virtually every level. In all my years going to the movies, I have never heard anyone at the end of a movie yell at the screen, "What?! That was the stupidest movie ever!" Congratulations Sofia. But bad though the film may be, I don't think it ranks as far down the scale to be one of the year's absolute worst. To those who do think that, I say "Let them eat Manderlay!"

Grade: C-




This is a complex and often difficult to watch film that has something most movies like this don't: It is actually entertaining. There are many scenes that are funny yet there are many that do challenge the viewer. It was actually jarring to me as usually i expect to have to suffer through a difficult movie just so some director can impose he or she's "message" on me (ie lost in translation). The movie stars Kate Winslet as a woman trapped in a failed marrage living in a desperate housewives-like neighborhood. She meets Patrick Wilson's character, the prom king as the three woman at the park describe him at the park where her little girl goes to play. As a dare to freak the three women out, the two embrace in a kiss. This sets up the rest of the movie as the topic of adultry is dealt with.

But that is only one of the aspects. This movie tries to show that everyone in the nieghbor hood is engaged in less than apetizing behaviors, perhaps even going so bodly to say that adultry is on the same level with indecent exposure to a child. We are supposed to sympathize with the sex offender yet it is not possible for me. I sympathized with his mother
(this actress, played by Phyllis Somerville who attended my screening and gave a Q and A afterwards a great and heartbreaking performance) , but never him.

Overall this movie is an interesting look at suburbia. The movie is not perfect; it is definitely too long and the elements of comedy do not always mesh well with the elements of dramal. Often I felt like I was watching two movies combined together. Finally, the narration seems random and provides insight that the audience should have been able to figure out on their own. However there are scenes of power crafted together and I believe that with a better script this could have been one of the best films of the year. As it stands it is a movie with great acting, and cinematography. Oscor nominations should go to Winslet. This might be a better watch on dvd than in the theater.

EDIT i think i was a little too nice to this film. As it was, it didn't work for me quite as well as i thought so i would probably say it was closer to a six.
Little Children (2006)

One of my favs of the year



Don't waste your time on this crap. The whole film is people partying and shopping, and laughing about nothing in particular. The plot is flimsy and you have no connection to the characters. Just when the film gets somewhat interesting it ends! Also Jason Schwartzman is wasted and he has about 10 lines in the whole film. The only awards this film will get is costume related.
The only movie I've given a 10/10 to so far this year. Todd Field is two for two.
...(or girl) and go see this movie right away!! The best drama I've seen this year, by far. Gripping, touching and powerful!!


An original twist to the story we've heard 8 thousand times. Wife (Kate Winslet) feels neglected by husband. Husband (Patrick Wilson) is bored with family life. Kate meets Patrick at the playground. Passionate rebellion ensues! The unlikely pairing and vastly different circumstances pushing them into infidelity make for a unique and intriguing affair. This alone is substantive enough to encompass the entire movie. For some very unfortunate reason (possibly the fact that the movie was directed by the author of the book containing this very plightful plot), half of the movie follows the tribulations of a child sex offender. ICK. I didn't come to see another rendition of The Woodsman. I came to see a rendition of Unfaithful! If only Little Children would have focused instead on the victims of the affair-the kids-the unassuming (or in some cases VERY assuming) "other halfs." Bottom line: not much left to the imagination; if you're looking for a movie that forces you into your thinking cap, look elsewhere. Do see it, however, for some great acting (Kate) and a spin on the affair scenario we've become all to familiar with.
The initially middling grade I gave Little Children probably sprung for my intense desire to want to like it, to admire it, to say that the acting here covers up the horrendous mess of the script and direction. Kate Winslet is undoubtably my favourite modern actress, and maybe it just wounds me too much to say that even she can't make up for the deficencies here. There's nothing particularly wrong with her performance here; indeed, it's probably as good as it could have been, save perhaps for the scene where, ironically, she shows the most emotion. (The moment feels so odd, fitting in I suppose with the histrionics the script constantly visits; but in the context of repressed surburban housewife, it's jarring.) There's little, indeed, wrong with most of the performances here: Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Phyllis Somerville, Jane Adams, and particularly Jennifer Connelly (able, as always, to mine so much out of an underwritten and marginalized role) are all fine, often excellent- only Noah Emmerich is bad, a garish performance which suits the film around him better than do the other actors- but they're all slaving away in service of a confused, puzzling mess of a film which thinks it knows so much when it knows so little.

It throws you off right from the beginning, the stale, sage narration of some always-unknown quantity striking up at irregular intervals and never, really, serving a purpose apart from highlighting things the audience should be left to understand on their own. But what's worst about Little Children is it's smugness- Todd Field and Tom Perrotta's script (adapted from Perrotta's well-recieved novel) sits there, laden with a strange bitterness and pessimism that is never explained, winding it's way through a serious of rather unexciting events concerning- and how ironic this is- adults acting like "little children", selfish and irresponsible, all wanting to feel needed and loved, trying to make their lives worthwhile. Even before it reaches it's bizarre and conflicted climax, Little Children navigates various levels of over-egged histrionics and self-involved events, abandoning all sense of balance to the talented cast to try and sort out- it's not their fault, I cry, vainly trying to convince myself that it deserves attention; but really, there are better performances out there that warrant attention, and Kate the Great will have to wait a few more years for that thin golden statuette.

Full review to come.