Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
One of the best performances of Jack Black's career!
I saw the world premiere of "Bernie" last night at the Los Angeles Film Festival. I must confess, after Jack Black's run of "Year One", "Gulliver's Travels", and "Kung Fu Panda", I was starting to lose hope of ever seeing the "School of Rock" guy I fell in love with. When I heard Richard Linklater (School of Rock) and Jack Black were teaming up again, I felt a glimmer of hope. I am happy to report, I was not disappointed last night! Jack Black gives one of the best performances of his career in "Bernie." Shirley MacLaine was the icing on the cake and Matthew McConaughey was the cherry on top. I loved this movie! "Bernie" is based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, an assistant funeral director and general do-gooder, who confessed to killing Marjorie Nugent, a very rich and mean old lady. Bernie was a bit eccentric but beloved by his entire community of Carthage, Texas. Jack Black nails this performance. He really shows us what he is capable of as an actor. It was such a pleasure to watch him transform into Bernie Tiede. Great moments of physical comedy and also some twisted, dark moments of catching a glimpse into Bernie's spiraling psyche. Shirley MacLaine was Marjorie Nugent who was known as a mean, bitter lady with no friends and a family who tried to sue her for her money. You can't go wrong with Shirley MacLaine she's just brilliant. The chemistry between MacLaine and Black was fantastic. I truly enjoyed watching them on the screen together. Even at the world premiere last night they had great chemistry in person. It seems like they truly loved working together on this film. Matthew McConaughey was great as the D.A. Danny Buck Davidson, the character didn't seem to be a huge stretch for him, but who cares he was great! I'm not sure when it is due to be released, but I will be recommending it to my friends when it hits theatres.
Seven Pounds (2008)
Seven Pounds starring Will Smith
I caught an advance screening of the new Will Smith film Seven Pounds in Hollywood, CA. A Q&A featuring director Gabriele Muccino (pursuit of happiness) followed the screening.
"In seven days God created the world. In seven days I shattered mine." Ben Thomas, Seven Pounds
Seven Pounds follows the story of Ben Thomas, an IRS agent on a mission to redeem himself from a haunting secret. We follow him on his mission to seek out seven strangers in desperate need of help. Ben's plans are complicated when he meets and falls in love with Emily (Rosario Dawson), a young woman with a terminal heart condition. Italian director Gabriele Muccino brilliantly pieces together a tragic modern day Shakespearian love story, weaving between the present day and glimpses into the dark past. Seven Pounds is not a kick back and zone out film, you have to work as an audience member to put all the pieces together. The more you allow your mind to work in this film, the more you will get out of it.
I never considered Will Smith to be a dramatic actor; he was OK in Pursuit of Happiness but I didn't feel like he was digging deep to relate and portray that character. Seven Pounds is a whole new arena! There is absolutely nothing Will Smith has in common with his character Ben Thomas. Smith had to really flex his acting muscles with this role, and he delivered an outstanding dramatic performance. Gabriele Muccino mentioned during the Q&A session that he spent a lot of time with Will to figure out his character and really nail him down on screen. Trust between the director and actor was what found Ben Thomas lurking inside of Will Smith. Another interesting note; Muccino (director) did not speak a lick of English while directing Pursuit of Happiness, he only recently learned English right before filming Seven Pounds. That was amazing considering the performance he was able to pull out of Will Smith.
Ben Thomas was not a character I liked at the beginning of this movie, in fact, I hated him. Woody Harrelson appears in this film as a blind man named Ezra who is treated very poorly by Smith's character. Why Ben Thomas treats Ezra this way will become crystal clear at the end of the film. Why Ben Thomas keeps a fish in his hotel room becomes crystal clear at the end of this film. By the end of the film I both loved and hated Will's character.
I would have been disappointed if I paid $15.00 to see Pursuit of Happiness in the Theatre. I would not have been disappointed if I paid $15.00 to see Seven Pounds in the theatre.
SOME TIPS FOR WATCHING THIS MOVIE
DO: Drink plenty of water before you go see Seven Pounds, because you will leave dehydrated from tear shed if you don't.
DON'T: Leave for a popcorn refill during the movie or you will miss some key points.
DON'T: See this film if you have an attention span of a gnat.
DO: See this film if you want to try your brain at the Shakespearean love story told through brilliant film editing and flash back sequences.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Truth is usually in singular - Lies always come in plural.
I saw an advance screening of Revolutionary Road in Beverly Hills, CA this evening (December 14th). A Q&A session followed the screening with Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, and screenwriter Justin Haythe. Photos from the Q&A are attached to this report.
Revolutionary Road is a story that you won't be able to shake easily. The film will stick in your head and leave you to contemplate what has just happened on the screen before you. Richard Yates gives us the story of Frank and April Wheeler, the seemingly perfect suburbia couple. We soon find out their marriage is teetering on the edge of a collapse as they are overwhelmed by the fact that they have each made the wrong choices in their lives.
Once again Kate Winselt and Leonardo DiCaprio come together with great chemistry, pulling the best out of each other. This is a heavy film with emotionally complex characters, I'm not sure I could think of any two actors that could pull off the roles of Frank and April Wheeler like Leonardo and Kate did.
"Truth is usually in singular - Lies always come in plural." I'm not sure who said that, but it is a notion that sums up this film.
Michael Shannon shinned in his role as the clinically insane son of Kathy Bates character; John Givings. Bates and Shannon both deliver humorous scenes to this heavy storyline, although there are times when you see the sadness and desperation in their characters as well. Michael Shannon's character, John Givings, is the truth in this film. Although clinically insane, he can see through everyone's lies and does the unthinkable; he forces everyone face their own truth.
I guarantee you will not be singing "My Heart Will Go On" after seeing this film. But you won't be disappointed with this little film gem.
An Intellectual Boxing Match
Ron Howard successfully adapts Peter Morgan's play about the Frost/Nixon interviews to celluloid. This film does not fall flat, it keeps pace and keeps the audience enthralled in the story line. Frost/Nixon is not a rehashing of the Watergate scandal nor is it a history lesson given by Ron Howard. Frost/Nixon is an intellectual boxing match between two men where the stakes are high; the winner takes it all, the loser falls into anonymity.
Frank Langella had been living with Richard Nixon inside him for almost two years, he starred in the stage production of Frost/Nixon on Broadway and then went right into shooting the film with Ron Howard. What resulted was an intoxicating performance by Langella. Every eyebrow raise, every dart of the eyes, every gesture was as if Langella had created Nixon in himself and was intuitively reacting to every situation as Nixon would. What was so compelling about his performance was the emotion and humor we saw in Nixon. This certainly was never Nixon's public persona, to see the emotion gave me great compassion for the pain he held inside and his longing for acceptance.
The film's highlight, a midnight phone call between an intoxicated Nixon and exhausted Frost, is one of the most intriguing and darkest moments of Langella's impeccable portrayal of Nixon. This is the moment Nixon is opened up and we see all of his inner demons fly out. Frost/Nixon is a complex character study set in a distinct time in American History. I think Langella has a deep respect for Nixon the man, he understands that Nixon was a great human, but still, only a human.
A film worth watching.
The Mayor of Castro Street
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America, and before his assassination in 1978, an influential advocate of the human rights movement. The film opens with Milk talking into a tape recorder, as he fears he may be assassinated the next day. Gus Van Sant uses this as a narrative through out the entire film, taking the audience through Milk's adult years and the battles he faced to public office.
MILK is resurrected for 128 minutes and channeled through Sean Penn. Penn devours every nuance of Harvey Milk and delivers one of his best performances in 10 years. His performance alone is worth the price of admission and I expect a great award season to follow. James Franco, Josh Brolin and Allison Pill shine in their respective rolls.
Gus Van Sant delivers this story with his unique vision, artistic shots and impeccable storytelling. There is one reflection shot in the film that just blew my mind when I realized what I was seeing the scene through. It involves a whistle; I'll leave you to find it. MILK never loses pace; it's truly a beautiful marriage of artistic craft meets history. His blending of the film with live footage transports you back to the 1970's as if you were watching it all unfold again for the first time. Van Sant has given us a moving, powerful and important work. I have a feeling once this film is open up to the mainstream audience, it will spark many debates and hopefully open up dialogue in the Human Rights movement.
Watching MILK did not just make me think of the struggles and sacrifices of the human rights movement. MILK brought up the struggles of many hard fought battles and their leaders. John Adams in securing our freedom, Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation, Susan B. Anthony campaigning for women's right to vote, Martin Luther King leading the civil rights movement, there are many more who sacrificed so much for their people and nation, I believe Harvey Milk to be in those ranks.
There is a quote from John Adams that I remembered while watching MILK and I believe it sums up the essence of the man; "Oh, posterity. You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it. " - John Adams This film comes to us at a crucial point in the human rights campaign. MILK needs to be seen, it needs to be discussed, and Harvey Milk needs to be remembered. I hope you go see it!
The Wrestler (2008)
Honest to the core!
I caught an advanced screening of The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke last night in Hollywood, CA. Following the screening was a Q&A session with Mickey Rourke, Darren Aronofsky, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and film composer Clint Mansell.
Mickey Rourke delivers one of the most honest and heart breaking performances I've seen from an actor. Very rarely do you see an actor come back with such a role. He is truly extraordinary in The Wrestler. There are times in this film when I wonder just how much of this is Mickey in character as "The Ram" or Mickey reacting as Mickey to a situation similar to what he went through in his "lost years". The parallels are astounding. There is a scene when Randy "The Ram" is in the ring and he points to the audience "It is not over until you tell me it's over". Is it Mickey or Randy talking there? As a newly revived Mickey Rourke fan, I can tell you this audience member says it's just beginning Mickey!
Marissa Tomei delivers a stellar performance as an aging exotic dancer the parallel story to Mickey's character "The Ram". Evan Rachel Wood really brings it as "The Rams" angry, abandoned and emotionally exhausted daughter. The chemistry between Mickey and Evan is breath taking!
Darren Aronofsky delivers this story to us with honesty, realism and artistic skill. I think this young director will be around making fantastic films for some time to come. At least I hope he is!
You can't go wrong with this film. It is rock solid to the core!
Facts from the Q&A
Only the 3rd American Film to with the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
The film was made for $7 Million.
The filmscore is more atmospheric as the composer did not want to interfere with the documentary feel of the film.
Mickey Rourke trained for 6 months to get to the wrestling weight of 235 for the film. Weight training, wrestling training and eating 5,000 calories.
The scenes of Mickey Rourke and Evan Rachel Wood were as real as they could get. The actors put on music before the scene and just talked about their real life and Mickey's parallels to the film. When the director felt they were there he would yell action and they would work through the scene.
The scenes back stage with the wrestlers were all real as well. The crew would go to wrestling matches and film the wrestlers before/after matches. Mickey would walk in and introduce himself (in character) and the scene was improvised.
The film was about 20-30% improvisation from the actors.