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October Movie Reviews
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Things We Lost in the Fire
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Halle Berry, David Duchovny, Alexis Llewellyn, Micah Berry
Directed By: Susanne Bier
Run Time: 1 hr 58 mins

Things We Lost in the Fire is about the relationship a widow forms with her deceased husband's childhood friend. While her husband was alive, Audrey (played by Berry) hated Jerry (played by Del Toro). Jerry is a jobless drug addict and Audrey does not understand why her successful, sweet husband is still friends with Jerry. After her husband's death, Audrey comes to realize that they both need help to survive life without Brian (played by Duchovny).

The interesting thing about this movie is that it does not start off with Brian's death and go from there. Brian is already dead when the movie starts, although the viewer must only assume that's what has happened. Brian's relationship with his wife, family, and Jerry are told in flashbacks... although they don't really seem like flashbacks. The movie constantly flips between present time and memories of the past, but that flipping seems natural and seamless. It was an interesting way to let the story unfold.

It's been a few weeks from the time I actually watched this movie until the time I found to write my review so the details of the movie are a bit hazy. Will say that I really liked this movie. Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro were wonderful in their roles. I think this sort of movie can lean towards overacting but with the exception of just one "I'm going for the Oscar" scene for Berry, both actors played through their grief and struggles very smoothly.

I found it interesting that Audrey's struggle to deal with her grief and get over the loss of her husband was very similar to the struggle of a drug addict to get clean.

This is a very touching movie. I did have a lump in my throat a couple of times. But it's not a must-see movie. It was good. It was sweet. It was not fantastic. But I liked it.

Michael Clayton
Starring: George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Sydney Pollack
Directed By: Tony Gilroy
Run Time: 2 hrs

Michael Clayton is about Michael Clayton (played by Clooney), a man who fixes problem cases/clients for the law firm he works for. The stress of always having to deal with problems is taking its toll on Clayton, not to mention the stress his personal life is causing. He's divorced, he has a gambling addiction, he's in debt (to what appears to be the mob), his restaurant closed, and he hates his job. And now he has to tackle the toughest cleanup job of his career. The senior litigating attorney (played by Wilkinson) at the firm stripped naked during a deposition and chased the plaintiffs naked in a snow storm through a parking lot.

Don't ask me to explain much about this movie. I had a hard time understanding what was going on, other than the high level plot. I decided after seeing this movie that it's probably best I stick to comedies. I understand those... mostly. I understood that it was Clayton's job to clean up messes. I'm not exactly sure how he was expected to do that (because he doesn't clean up anything during the movie). I understand that the company that hired Clayton's law firm had killed tons of people with their product but didn't want to own up to it. I don't understand what Wilkinson's character was doing with the plaintiffs. Isn't that a breech of ethics? I didn't understand Clayton's definitive moment with the company his firm was representing. Again, wasn't that a breech of ethics? But I did like the movie, despite my lack of legal knowledge.

There's a lot more going on in this movie other than law stuff (which was good for my brain). All characters seemed to be struggling with their emotions, their sanity, and how those tied together with their job. Clayton and Karen (played by Swinton) both seemed to be drowning. And both could be in Arthur's (Wilkinson's character) mental predicament very soon.

Clooney did a wonderful job playing the broken Clayton. Did anyone else find it a bit funny that his character had a gambling addiction (in light of the Ocean's movies)? Wilkinson was great as "Sheva, God of Death." I wish they dove further into his dementia. He did a great job of acting crazy. Swinton was great as a woman struggling with her conscience over trying to do her job.

This is a good movie. Not great, but good. I didn't like the flashback middle. I did like how it all came together. Performances were all very good.

Feast of Love
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell
Directed By: Robert Benton
Run Time: 1 hr 42 minutes

Feast of Love follows the love life of three main characters. Bradley (played by Kinnear) is unlucky in love. His first wife leaves him for another woman. His second wife leaves him for a married man, a man she had been having an affair with years before she even met Bradley (and who probably thought getting engaged to another man might force her married lover into finally leaving his wife for her). Chloe and Oscar fall in love immediately. A fortune teller informs Chloe that her time with Oscar is short. The young couple has no parental guidance and long to be parents themselves. Harry (played by Freeman) is the advice giving professor who teaches the young about love, despite his own troubles. His adult son died over a year ago but he can't quite forgive himself for his son's death. He's a man that many people come to for advice; he can see trouble before others do and yet he never saw his own son's drug addiction.

This is not a movie to change the world. But it is enjoyable. It was sweet. It was funny. Morgan Freeman's character was incredibly sad and yet charming. I liked this one.