Film & TV News: November 23

News

  • Stephen Colbert and J.J. Abrams turned out in force (get it?) this past Saturday for the Montclair Film Festival kickoff fundraiser and buddy-buddy interview. Highlights included an audience prizewinner bluntly inquiring as to how many Ewoks J.J. could take in a fight, Colbert springing J.J.’s acting reel from Six Degrees of Separation on him, and the pair peering up into the fourth tier where I was seated and making remarks like “you’re in low orbit” and “my neck hurts”.
  • Kenneth Branagh will be directing and starring in the long-in-the-works Murder on the Orient Express remake, which hopefully will be so many zillion times better than Shadow Recruit.
  • Ready to feel old? Toy Story turned 20 years old yesterday. Yep. Thankfully, if you want to feel young again, you can just rewatch Toy Story.

Continue reading Film & TV News: November 23

Advertisements

Mistress America (2015)

The good part about studying abroad in Palma de Mallorca, Spain is the warm weather, the beaches, the paella, and so on. The bad part is that pretty much all of the movies are dubbed in Spanish (tough trade off, huh?); as tempting as it has been to see, say, The Martian or Spectre in dubbed Spanish, I have decided to pass.

However, this past weekend, I had the unique opportunity of actually seeing a movie in English at the ever-prestigious Evolution International Film Festival in Mallorca (slowly becoming the new Cannes). With my busy schedule of doing Spanish things, I only could go to the final movie: Mistress America.

Continue reading Mistress America (2015)

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, and Kevin Spacey all in one movie, each with significant time in front of the camera. Who steals the show? If you guessed none of the above, you either were too afraid to guess or you’ve seen Glengarry Glen Ross. GGR does have all of these actors for the entire movie; it also has Alec Baldwin for one scene.

In the end, three minutes of Baldwin overshadow an hour and a half of some of the greatest actors of more than one generation. His brief, but memorable performance can be likened to that of Matthew McConaughey’s in The Wolf of Wall Street. In both cases, they achieve the goal of all actors/characters — to be memorable in just one scene.

Continue reading Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Meet Joe Black (1998)

I don’t exactly have strong feelings one way or the other about Meet Joe Black. Some despise it for being overly long and uneventful, some enjoy it as a meditation on death and love and living a fulfilling life. I’m neutral. Consistently so, in fact: pretty much every single facet of Black lands in a sort of middle ground. The premise? Interesting enough. The writing? Passable. The great Anthony Hopkins? Yes, he’s certainly Anthony Hopkins. The direction is fine, too, from the reliably careful Martin Brest, though this is him turning in his final film before the reliably careless Gigli; shame that every time you think hey, that’s a nice shot the little homunculus in your head whispers don’t forget Gigli. Anyway, I’m aggressively neutral on Meet Joe Black.

Do you want to talk about something else? Have you seen the commercial with the little baby and the car and the thing? Did you know that Rogaine is fatal to cats? Oh, you really came for Meet Joe Black? On purpose? And you haven’t even seen it? Abridged version: everything is starting to die (Anthony Hopkins) or starting to live (Claire Forlani) or Brad Pitt’s hair (Brad Pitt’s hair).

Continue reading Meet Joe Black (1998)

The Leftovers 2.5 – “No Room at the Inn”

Ah, Matt Jamison. He’s not the main character of The Leftovers. He’s not the one most directly affected by the Sudden Departure, nor is he the one who’s lived most nobly in its wake, nor is he a handsome shining studly hero with a constant grimace (see: Kevin Garvey; John Murphy). But anyone who’s seen last season’s “Two Boats and a Helicopter” knows that Matt Jamison was the most passionate character in the whole of the show, the most tragic, and now that we’ve had another Matt-centric episode in “No Room at the Inn” it’s safe to say that those characteristics carry over into the second season.

We’ll talk about the cyclical writing involved in Matt’s stories, but first: Christopher Eccleston. There’s a lot of strong acting in The Leftovers, with Kevin Carroll’s John Murphy being the particular standout in season two. Eccleston is the veteran to Carroll’s newcomer, but the scenes between the two of them in “No Room” absolutely crackle. And for the duration of the episode Eccleston exudes an easy sense of identification with his character; he’s so natural as Matt that if more people watched The Leftovers Eccleston might stop being “the guy from Doctor Who” and start being “the guy from The Leftovers“.

Continue reading The Leftovers 2.5 – “No Room at the Inn”

Warrior (2011)

Fun fact: Nick Nolte, of all people, was nominated for an Academy Award for this film.

Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior, starring Nolte, Tom Hardy, and Joel Edgerton, is an emotional tale detailing the effects of an alcoholic father on a pair of brothers and how they ultimately overcome the damage done. One aspect of the film I particularly enjoy is the use of mixed martial arts simply as a frame for the telling of the story, rather than as the true focus of the film. Warrior is about family and pain and forgiveness and regret and utilizes the intensity of physical battle to make these themes come across all the more powerfully.  How could one feel Tommy’s (Hardy) mix of confusion and fear more effectively than by watching him punch another man in the face?

Tommy is the most interesting character in Warrior because he, quite clearly, is the most emotionally sensitive; his resentment of his father is immense, the pain he has felt at the death of his mother and his brother-in-arms is excruciating, his confusion about what he should do and where he should go, and the fear caused by this confusion all translate into his ferociousness in the cage. O’Connor’s decision, as screenwrter, to turn in a quiet character in Tommy is brilliant — Tommy desperately wants to be the “tough guy,” despite being deeply affected by the events of his life. He holds his emotions inside, they bubble, and are frighteningly released in the ring. Had Hardy spent the film blabbering, that interesting character would have collapsed completely. Tommy really would be perceived as the “tough guy,” had he not been so introspective and obviously distressed.

Continue reading Warrior (2011)