Benning, Moore & War



Put Annette Bening and Julianne Moore at the top of this year's Best Actress race, they are the heart and soul of The Kids Are Alright. They play a married couple that go through the same issues any other hetero married couple would go through. Bening with her devious but honest smile is a tour de force as Nic, a woman that only wants the best for her children, even when she can sometimes come out looking harsh and honest. Julianne Moore, playing Jules, is her wife. Jules feels isolated and resorts to an affair with their kids' sperm donor Paul -magnificently played by Ruffalo (almost a sure thing for next year's Supporting Actor race). The scenes between Moore and Ruffalo are tremendous, sexy, touching and extremely honest.

Paul owns a restaurant but is haunted by the wasted potential of his life, meeting Jules and the kids makes him want a family to settle down with. Jules already has that and commits to the affair only for excitement and the isolation her partner has brought on. The hot sex they have brings much needed intimacy to Jules' sex life, If you don't believe me check it out for yourself it's ragingly hot. Ditto Moore, who's both sexy and terrific in her best role in years. Being the huge Julianne fan that I am, I cannot help but warmly welcome this comeback.

Much credit must be given to Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko, who infuses realism and indie spirit to the film. Cholodenko -36- hits a career peak with the film. While her first two features (High Art & Laurel Canyon) had the potential, The Kids Are Alright shows it wasn't just anything. Born and raised in California's San Fernando Valley, Cholodenko makes high art out of family manners. Her personal life -she also had a kid through sperm donation with her long time partner Wendy Melvoin- makes this a personal and rewarding independent effort, even when the film hits through melodramatic bumps in its last third. Judging by the critical acclaim this film has gotten, expect it to get some well deserved awards in the months ahead.

★★★



If there's one documentary that should be seen this summer it's this one. Restrepo -directed by the team of Tim Hetherington & Sebastian Junger- will likely be seen in the years to come as one of the finest documents of the war in Afghanistan. The stuff captured here is at times jaw dropping as a platoon of U.S Soldiers get deployed to Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, one of the most dangerous spots for violence in the region. As the days go by and the casualties grow Junger and Hetherington start to focus on the bonding these soldiers have to one another and the way they manage to stay clam in a walking hell such as this one. They name their outpost after one of their fallen friends, his ghost lingers throughout the movie as these soldiers cannot shake their fallen comrade.

This isn't for the weak of heart. Restrepo might be about war and mortality but it isn't an indictment or critique of war. It stands on its own ground and doesn't make any assumptions about how these soldiers got there and why. The braveness that I saw in their faces was overwhelming. One soldier is asked "why are you here in Afghanistan". His response? "for my country". Junger and Hetherington's film is a knowing tribute to those that are still out there fighting the fight. The footage they have captured here is tremendous, as they put their own lives on the line filming soldiers in combat and on the brink of losing it. The film's most gut wrenching moment comes when a soldier is killed in battle and the reaction that ensues. If watching documentary is your thing, check this one out.


★★★
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