Saturday, 17 November 2007

"The Orphanage" Trailer

This one is supposed to be wonderfully scary and ust plain brilliant. Also featuring an apparently brilliant central performance. We shall see how brilliant. This is the Spanish entry for Best Foreign Film.

"Teeth" Trailer

Oh my bloody buggery lord.. thank f*ck I am a big ole poof!

This look not only disturbing, but also very very well done. However not sure of the box office potential....I can see guys staying away. The last thing they will want in to have their wing wang bitten off by their girl friends tuppence.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Mini Review - "Eastern Promises"

I have never been a Cronenberg fan. I have never really been a fan of grotesque and violent movies like these. Human suffering is never pleasurable for me to watch, and I usually look away. Right now my loving partner is engrossed in “This is England” and I cannot really bring myself to watch it. I just know something bad is coming, and I do not want to see it. I know it exists, I read it everyday, but to watch people being humiliated or tortured/beaten does not entertain me in the slightest.

However “Eastern Promises” I did like, not love, but like. This was mainly for the three central performances of Armand Mueller-Stahl, Vincent Cassel and Viggo Mortensen and also for the overwhelming homoeroticism.

Many have said that Naomi Watts did little in the film, but this is simply not true. She did amazing amounts with what little she was given, but in the end this is a mans movie.

At Christmas Anna (Watts) meets a heavily pregnant and dying young Russian teenager who dies while giving birth. Anna resolves to try and trace the baby’s lineage by having her uncle translate the diary she finds in the girls purse.
This brings her into contact with the mysterious and charismatic Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin (Mortensen) is a driver for one of London's most notorious organized crime families of Eastern European origin. The family itself is part of the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood. Headed by Semyon (Stahl), whose courtly charm as the welcoming proprietor of the plush Trans-Siberian restaurant impeccably masks a cold and brutal core.
Semyon’s son Kirill (Cassel) is a disappointment. Constantly drunk and playing about, but never having sex with, young Russian prostitutes. Krill is the likely father of this child. The deeper Anna investigates the deeper she puts herself in danger.

While the story in rather basic and the violence is indeed bloody and brutal (I really hated the fact I had to look away during the bath house scene. When else will I get to see the luscious Viggo naked and steamy?) what makes this rise above other films in this genre is the performances.

Mortensen is amazing. Such a subtle and gifted actor, he can make simple gestures and facial movements convey volumes of his character, and he does all this with a perfect Russian accent. This is a performance that could have come off as two dimensional in a lesser actors hands, fortunately we got a great one. It may not win awards, but the best ones never do.
Armand Mueller-Stahl is all warm and cuddly as the proprietor of the family restaurant, but in an instant his eyes grow dark and face tightens into a stony scowl. His Seymon is terrifying. You know at any moment he can give the order to have someone killed, or simply do it himself. So wonderful to see older actors getting a chance with such juicy roles this year.

This lastly brings me to Cassel. All paranoia and panic, Cassel invests so much depth into Krill that at the end of the film, when you learn of why he s a disappointment to his father, you feel sorry for him. Yes he is a coward, but one by his fathers making, constantly trying to be what he thinks a real man should be, but drinking himself crazy because he just does not have it in him.
Cronenberg has made a film about how hard it is to not be accepted by your own family, and how you have to look to others for the love and acceptance you crave. B

Mini Review - "The Namesake"

Sometimes there are those films that, while watching them, do not resonate until long after you have ejected the DVD. “The Namesake” fits into this category.

While watching this , I was following the story of Gogol, and how he slowly began to understand and appreciate his Indian heritage after being brought up in America. Although his parents tried to distil his heritage into his upbringing, school and friends shape a lot of who you are as a teenager, and you begin to drift.
It is only until the pressures of adulthood set in that you begin to appreciate who your parents are.
This goes for almost everyone in the known world, but here it is the story of Gogol played well by Kal Penn, but this is not the story that captured my heart and emotions.

It was only until after a few days had passed that I thought about the story of Ashoke and Ashmina, and their struggle from an arranged marriage in India, to the move to New York, and the struggles in a foreign place while raising a family and getting to know your spouse. It was then that I finally appreciated this film.

Director Mira Nair does let down the story a little in her choice to focus on Gogol, but she has still crafted a wonderful movie about identity. We do not often get such detailed studies of Indian families living in the US. In the UK it is a little more popular, but still not as common as it should be.
Perhaps this is because the culture is so different to the western world. Although based in tradition, which is something most of the English speaking world hold dear, they are such strange traditions to the average Joe, so understanding and judging performance will always be so much more difficult.

That being said Irrfan Khan is wonderful as the patriarch of the family. He is able to display his weariness as he gets older, and his disappointment in his son with such amazing control, that it seems he has lived this exact life before. He is a kind man, who has tried to the best for him family, but never feels as though he knows them.

As Ashima, Indian Actress Tabu is stunning. She is able to portray a 25 year time span amazingly (and probably with little make up). Her quiet moments display such repressed emotional honesty (especially when she first moves to New York) that you are taken aback during her uncontrollable moments of despair. When she cries she cries for everything she has bottled up. All her fears, guilt and sorrow come pouring out in a powerful wail, like a demon being exorcized.
In her last scene, where she gives her speech, you believe in this woman, and you understand her, but more importantly Tabu make you want nothing but the best for her Ashmina. Such a shame it has gone unnoticed all year.

A strong film about returning to who you are. B +

Thursday, 15 November 2007

I'm Just Saying

From Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly in her A - review of "Margot at the Wedding"

"Which brings us back to Kidman, who really is sensational here. She's fearless about being ''ugly,'' fully in touch with her character's voracity, and transformed into Margot with a commitment we don't tend to see enough from the striking star, even as she works tirelessly to update her stardom. Kidman's commitment to working with adventurous filmmakers has always been one of her loveliest attributes, but something in this adventure has truly set her free. The result, for the Kidman curious, is exhilarating."

And for Leigh:

"For Jennifer Jason Leigh fans, meanwhile, the ease that the characteristically taut actress evidently feels working with Baumbach — her husband — is evident in her own notably unguarded performance, her buoyancy. There'd be no itchy, scratchy Margot without a Pauline to torment, and Leigh imbues the role — that of a woman who loves and hates her maddening, famous-author sister in equal, crazy-making measure — with soulfulness, and also with a spine. Some of the movie's sweetest, realest moments are those when the two siblings fall about on the couch laughing, their blood bond thickened by shared history."

Perhaps a resurgence for this film is what is needed, in a year of weak female roles, it would be a shame for two getting these type of reviews to be overlooked because they are unlikeable characters. All I am saying is it ain't over, till it is over.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The State of the (yawn) race.

You know what?
I am not excited about the race this year.
Sure that will all change in a few weeks, but I have my sisters wedding and Christmas coming up to tend with, so Oscars are not my main thought right now.

For a blogger (albeit a tiny one on the blog-o-spere) who mainly talks about movies, awards, and performances this could be deemed as sacrilege, but I do not really care. A this point in time we all know two very important things: Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress are the weakest category in ages, but the Actors are a different story.
The most probable reason for my apathy is that I love actresses so much, it’s like flames..on the side of my face..heaving breaths.
With no super strong contenders this years race is BLAH. If I were to say who would win in each category, right now, I would say this (and be SO wrong):

Best Picture: Atonement
Best Director: The Coen Brothers
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis ( the performance is probably strong enough to over come unlikeability)
Best Actress: Laura Linney
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Barden
Best Supporting Actress: Saoirse Ronan

But that is just me not really caring…..when I start to care (around the time the Globes announce) my heart will interfere and I will change these all for other films and performances.

In the mean time I wll look to next year when my Kate will win her long overdue trophy and the Actress categories will be over run with brilliance. I have also decided (to help me get back into the Oscar spirit) to do the Best Supporting Actresses in Pictures like I did for the leads….because it was fun!

Toodles….off to see “Eastern Promises”!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

"The Air I Breathe" trailer

I have heard interesting things about this movie, and it has taken a while for it to get released. It has floated on the festival circuit for a while (it even has a 9.5 out of 10 rating on IMDB) and I have heard very good things about Sarah Michelle Gellar in this.

The plot is based on an ancient Chinese proverb that breaks life down into four emotional cornerstones: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. A businessman (Forest Whitaker) bets his life on a horse race; a gangster (Brendan Fraser) sees the future; a pop star (Gellar) falls prey to a crime boss (Garcia); a doctor (Bacon) must save the love of his life.

I am a bit bored with interweaving story lines, but it is nice to see Buffy taking on more challenging roles. Go BUFFY!!!

Paddy's a hoot

Two actors who I wanted better things for have a chance to shine together in “Cry Of The Owl”, a thriller based on the Patricia Highsmith novel about a woman who falls in love with her stalker.
Julia Stiles has always hinted at being a great actress, and she has chosen some interesting role but to date has never seem to fully embody her character. Paddy Considine, on the other hand is a wonderful and dedicated actor who we expected bigger things from after “In America”, but that never seemed to happen for him.

Now they will both get a chance to strut their stuff for audiences. We all know Paddy is very good at playing strange men and dark men, so this should not provide too much of a challenge for him. In the book his character is a depressed but fundamentally decent man, liked to watch (Styles) through her kitchen window—a harmless palliative, as he saw it, to his lonely life and failed marriage. It will be interesting to see how he can balance the creepiness of the being a stalker, but still get the sympathy of the audience.

Scott Speedman turns up as the ex-boyfriend, and there is something about Paddy’s character being caught up in a series of deaths in which he is the innocent bystander, but is presumed guilty.

Could meander into serial killer action territory is it is not careful. I actually have not much else to say on this. It was mainly an excuse to post up pics of Paddy.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Five flims about Nanjing

“John Rabe”, has just started shooting in Shanghai, a story based around the horrific Nanking Massacre in 1937 when Japanese forces invaded and pillaged the Chinese city of Nanjing, leaving between 150,000 and 300,000 people dead.
What is wonderful to note about this film however is despite the serious, non American. premise, the film has attracted a rather impressive international cast.
Ulrich Tukur takes the title role of Rabe, a Nazi and Siemens executive who managed to create a safe zone in the city and to save the lives of 200,000 civilians.
Steve Buscemi plays American doctor Robert Wilson, who stayed in the city during the occupation to care for the sick and wounded. What I love about Buscemi is he goes for roles you wouldn’t think of him in, and (usually) pulls them off.

Daniel Bruehl has also been cast, as has French actress Anne Consigny who will turn heads in this years awards hopeful “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
Chinese stars Lu Huang and Zhang Jingchu lead the local contingent, with Akira Emoto and Teruyuki Kagawa representing the Japanese. German director and short film Oscar winner Florian Gallenberger, will be calling the shots.
What is wonderful is that this is not the only film about this subject currently in some form of production.
“Nanking Nanking” also started shooting earlier this month, from director Tian Zhuangzhuang, while Hong Kong's Stanley Tong and Yim Ho are both covering it, with “The Diary” and “Nanking Xmas 1937” respectively.

Over in England Simon West is also preparing his take in “Purple Mountain”.

This much overlooked event (I myself feel great shame that I am not very familiar with it) is finally getting the attention it deserves. As the world gets smaller we all begin to look outside of out cocoons and see that things happen in other world that we should care about.

The “John Rabe” is due in 2008 and I am hoping it is brilliant enough to make this, a thing of the past

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Enchanted - Happy Working Song

I am very excited about this movie looks so much fun, and how brilliant is Amy Adams in this?