Showing posts with label Emma Thompson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emma Thompson. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2019

Review: "Men in Black: International" is Poo Doo

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 9 (of 2019) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Men in Black: International (2019)
Running time:  114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
DIRECTOR:  F. Gary Gray
WRITERS:  Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (based on characters created by Lowell Cunningham)
PRODUCERS:  Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stuart Dryburgh    
EDITORS:  Zene Baker, Christian Wagner, and Matt Willard
COMPOSERS:  Chris Bacon and Danny Elfman    


Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Kayvan Novak and Kumail Nanjiani (voice)

Men in Black: International is 2019 science fiction-fantasy and action-comedy from director F. Gary Gray.  This is the fourth film in the Men in Black (MiB) film series, and the first in a new MiB series that is part reboot and part sequel.  Men in Black: International finds the organization that has always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe searching for a spy working within MiB.

Men in Black: International introduces Molly Wright (Tessa Thompson), an overachiever who, as a child, had an experience with an alien.  This encounter led to Molly discovering the existence of “The Men in Black.”  Molly, after years of searching, has finally found the Men in Black's New York City base.  That earns her a meeting with “Agent O” (Emma Thompson), the head of MiB's U.S. branch, who is impressed by Molly's tenacity.

Molly becomes a probationary MiB agent and is sent to London where she answers to the head of MiB's United Kingdom branch, “High T” (Liam Neeson).  Soon, Molly finds herself partnering with “Agent H” (Chris Hemsworth) on an assignment to protect an alien VIP, the Jababian party animal, Vungus the Ugly (Kayvan Novak).  Vungus' death will spark a hunt for the most destructive weapon ever made and also for a traitor hiding within the ranks of MiB London.

While visiting the IMDb page for Men in Black: International, I discovered a member review of the film that declared, “This movie is politically correct (You've been warned!).”  I don't know what the person who posted this means by “this movie is politically correct.”  Among those for whom “PC” has become a battle cry are malcontents who think fictional characters in popular entertainment must fit their personal tastes and ideals in physical appearance, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, to name a few.  Coincidentally or ironically, the aforementioned review is as unimaginative and as clueless as the movie, Men in Black: International, is.

I don't often hold screenwriters solely responsible for a bad movie, but, by my estimation, screenwriters  Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, are largely responsible for the fact that Men in Black: International is an all-time franchise low in the Men in Black film series.  Everything about the writing is weak:  the flimsy, clumsily convoluted plot; the dull, insipid characters; and the pointless settings.

Chris Hemsworth's Agent H is amiable and forgettable; he is a charming (alien) womanizer, whose charm is about effective as a pretty knick-knack.  When he isn't onscreen, he isn't worth a second thought.  H is like a tepid version of Kevin Beckman, the character Hemsworth played in the 2016 Ghostbusters film.  Tessa Thompson's Molly/Agent M is no better, and M may actually be worse.  It is as if Thompson is not sure if she should play M as a cool and reserved female agent or as a curious and determined investigator of the weird.  The screenplay gives neither Hemsworth nor Thompson enough material from which to fashion a character that is more than a type.  They could not do much more with two characters that barely register above a whisper.

Liam Neeson's face is so frozen that I thought he was healing from a face lift, and his character, High T, is not the kind of magnetic character Neeson normally plays.  An actor who usually brings passion to his performances was like stiff, wet underwear frozen on the clothesline by cold weather.

Men in Black: International does have a few characters that are engaging.  Rafe Spall makes the best of his “Agent C,” an excellent rivalry type character (to H and M) who is largely wasted.  Every time Emma Thompson is onscreen in Men in Black: International, one can only think of the wasted opportunities – great actress, not great material.  Kumail Nanjiani provides some much needed laughs in his voice role as the diminutive alien (and CG creation), “Pawny.”

Men in Black: International's plot, about a threat to MiB, is full of misdirection, that cannot hide an sterile and uninspired plot.  The film manages to make the settings, from New York to London to Marrakesh (why?) to Paris, appear indistinguishable from one another.

I can never forget the unique feelings of joy I felt the first time I saw the original Men in Black (1997), which I have seen in its entirety at least three times.  That film retains its freshness, inventiveness, and its endearing weirdness after repeated views.  The sequels have struggled to capture the original film's sense of something amazing and new.

Men in Black: International may be the start of a new series of MiB films, but it feels too tired and too worn out to be an ignition.  It is clumsy and contrived in its action scenes, which is why I blame the screenwriters.  If director F. Gary Gray is really good at anything, it is in directing action movies and thrillers, and even he can't generate excitement from the hapless blueprint that is this film's script.  Men in Black: International is a bore and a chore to watch.  Yes, there is an occasional good moment here or there, but I was embarrassed that I had convinced two friends to see it with me.

And that title, Men in Black: International, is clunky, too.  Start over... again, Sony.

3.5 of 10

Official "Men in Black: International" trailer is on YouTube.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint syndication rights and fees.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from February 17th to 23rd, 2019 - Update #27

Support Leroy on Patreon:

AWARDS - From TheWrap:  The winners were announced for the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards.  "If Beale Street Could Talk" wins "Best Feature," "Best Director" (Barry Jenkins), and "Best Supporting Female" (Regina King).

From THR:  During his acceptance speech for "Best Director" at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Barry Jenkins calls on Hollywood to champion more film directed by women.

SCANDAL - From teleSUR:  Grammy-winning R&B singer-songwriter, R. Kelly, has turned himself into Chicago police.  His charges include 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse, with three out of the four victims being underaged.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  John Krasinski will direct the sequel to his hit film, "A Quiet Place."  Emily Blunt is also returning for "A Quiet Place 2."

WHITE SUPREMACY - From YahooUSAToday:  USA Today reviews 900 college yearbooks from the 1970s and 1980s and finds (surprise!) shocking images of blatant racism.

STREAMING - From Buzzfeed:  CBS All Access debuts the first trailer for the rebooted "The Twilight Zone," with Jordan Peele standing in for Rod Serling.

WHITE SUPREMACY - From NPR:  No, the Jussie Smollet is not the most important story today. A 49-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher Paul Hasson, has been charged with stockpiling weapons and drugs and is being described as a "domestic terrorist" who was planning "to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country," according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland on Tuesday.

From CBS:  By the way, there is a Department of Homeland Security report on domestic terrorism that is a must-read.  Ten years ago, the GOP and conservative media successfully hamstrung its release.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Michael B. Jordan will star in Denzel Washington's next directorial effort, "Journal for Jordan" for Sony Pictures.

TELEVISION - From TheWrap:  The ratings for "The Walking Dead" are at an all-time low, and the series is still the #1 show on cable.

CELEBRITY - From YahooNews:  Jussie Smollet, a star of Fox's "Empire" TV series, has been arrested in Chicago, after turning himself in.  He faces charges and accusations that he filed a false police report in relation to an alleged attack against him three weeks ago.

MOVIES - From People:  Chris Hemsworth to play wrestler Hulk Hogan in a biopic of the WWE star.

MOVIES - From BleedingCool:  The third "Bill and Ted" movies, "Bill and Ted: Face the Music" reportedly will begin production this summer.

TELEVISION - From BleedingCool:  In The CW's "The Lost Reboot," the "Frog Brothers" will be replaced by the "Frog Sisters."

ANIMATION - From Variety:  Oscar-winner, Emma Thompson, has apparently left the Skydance Animation film, "Luck," over Skydance's hiring of former Pixar Animation Studio boss, John Lasseter.  Lasseter left Pixar over misconduct allegations.

MONEY - From TwoCents:  All the Ways You Can Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

TELEVISION - From Newsarama:  Neil Gaiman ("American Gods") has been hired to develop a new version of the late Jim Henson's 1980s anthology TV series, "Storyteller."

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Ryan Coogler, director of Marvel's "Black Panther," will produce the film, "Jesus Was My Homeboy," about murdered real-life Black Panther member, Fred Hampton, and the man who betrayed him to the pigs, William O'Neal.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 2/15 to 2/17/2019 (President's Day) weekend box office is "Alita: Battle Angel" with an estimated take of 27.8 million dollars.

STREAMING - From Variety:  Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke says Amazon is still in the movie game.

STREAMING - From Deadline:  Netflix cancels "Jessica Jones" and "The Punisher," which likely marks the end of its relationship with Marvel TV than began in 2013.

AWARDS - From Variety:  The 2019 Writers Guild Awards winners have been announced.  "Eighth Grade" (original screenplay) and "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" (adapted screenplay) lead the winners.

AWARDS - From teleSUR:  A white Mexican actor, Sergio Goyri, uses a racial slur to criticize Oscar-nominated actress, Yalitza Apaicio ("Roma"), the first Indigenous actress to be nominated for an Oscar.

SPORTS - From Slate:  How Colin Kaepernick beat the NFL. [Whoop that trick!]

BOND - From Deadline:  The release date for BOND 25 has been moved back to April 8, 2020.  Daniel Craig will return as James Bond-007.


From IndieWire:  Film and theater director, Stanley Donen, has died at the age of 94, Saturday, February 23, 2019.  Donen is considered to have re-invented the Hollywood movie musical with such films as "On the Town," Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and "Singin' in the Rain," considered by some to be the greatest movie musical of all time.

From ESPN:  Former Major League Baseball pitcher, Don Newcombe, has died at the age of 92, Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  A Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers legend, Newcombe was the first pitcher to win "Rookie of the Year," "Most Valuable Player," and the "Cy Young Award" during his career.  In fact, Newcombe was the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, as he won the award in its inaugural year, 1956.  Newcombe, the first African-American pitcher to win 20 games in the MLB, was also a bridge player between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

From THR:  Swiss actor, Bruno Ganz, has died at the age of 77, Friday, February 15, 2019.  Ganz was nominated for playing Adolf Hitler in the film, "Downfall" (2004).  He also appeared in the film "Wings of Desire" and "The Reader."

Friday, March 31, 2017

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from March 19th to 31st, 2017 - Update #42

Support Leroy on Patreon.

MOVIES - From YahooMovies:  Creepy trailer for "It" (based on the Stephen King novel) breaks viewing records.  The movie drops September 8, 2017.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Liam Neeson is looking to play classic literary private detective, "Philip Marlowe," created by Raymond Chandler.

STAR TREK - From Variety:  Rainn Wilson will play "Harry Mudd" in the new series, "Star Trek: Discovery."  Mudd is a character from the original "Star Trek."

DISNEY - From Variety:  Beyonce is director Jon Favreau's top choice to voice Nala in his live-action remake of "The Lion King."

COMICS-FILM - From Variety:  Joss Whedon is nearing a deal to write, direct, and produce a "Batgirl" movie.

MANGA-FILM - From IndieWire:  Jordan Peele, fresh off his smash hit, "Get Out," is being courted by Warner Bros. to direct is live-action version of the legendary manga and anime, "Akira."  Warners has considered so many directors for this long, long-in-development project that Peele is not event he first African-American director to be considered.

COMICS-FILM - From SlashFilm:  Aaron Sorkin has said that he is going to take meetings with both Marvel Studios and Warner Bros/DC Comics films about possibly making a film based on a Marvel or DC Comics property.

MUSIC - From YahooMusic:  Three months after his death, George Michael was laid to rest in a private funeral.

ANIMATION - From THR:  The name of the "Wreck-it Ralph" sequel is "Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2."  The film is due March 9, 2018.

OBITS - From Variety:  Darlene Cates, who played the mother in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," died at the age of 69, Sunday, March 26, 2017.

MOVIES - From TheWrap:  The sequel to "Terminator: Genisys" has been removed from Paramount Pictures' release schedule... to no one's surprise.

MOVIES - From Variety:  "Nasty Women," a female-driven remake of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," has a director.

GEORGE LUCAS - From YahooNews:  The George Lucas Family Foundation gives $10 million to the University of Southern California (Lucas' alma mater) to help the School of Cinematic Arts expand its student diversity.

TELEVISION - From TVLine:  Amazon Studios has greenlit a TV series from Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins ("Moonlight") about the "Underground Railroad."

MOVIES - From Variety:  Fox is developing a movie musical, "Atlantis," based on the life of Grammy-winning recording artist, Pharell Williams.

MOVIES - From Variety:  First look at the new Lara Croft/Tomb Raider.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" wins the 3/24 to 3/26/2017 weekend box office with an estimated take of $88.3 million dollars.

BLM - From TheRoot:  Cops still killing Black people in the age of President Pussy-Grabber.

LGBTQ - From ProPublica:  Trump appoints anti-transgender bigot to be in charge of protecting the civil rights of all patients.

MUSIC - From THR:  Snoop Dogg to induct the late Tupac Shukar into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the April 7th, 2017 ceremony in Brooklyn.

OBIT - From THR:  Film producer, Richard A. Roth, has died at the age of 76, Friday, March 17, 2017.  Roth is probably best known for producing the beloved 1971 film, "Summer of '42" (one of my all-time favorite movies). [There is another producer named Richard Roth, who produced "Julia" and "Blue Velvet," among others.]

OBIT - From THR:  Jean Rouverol, one of the Hollywood screenwriters blacklisted in the 1950s, has died at the age of 100, Friday, March 24, 2017.  She was also a novelist, television writer and actress.  For years, she lived with Cliff Carpenter, another performer who had been blacklisted.

POLITICS - From TheHill:  Michael Moore says that now is not the time to gloat over Trump and the GOP's failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

CELEBRITY - From YahooCelebrity:  The late Carrie Fisher and her mother, the late Debbie Reynolds, were honored at a public memorial.

From RollingStone:  The Fisher/Reynolds public memorial is available for viewing

LABOR - From Variety:  Negotiations between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Pictures & Television Producers are going badly.

CELEBRITY - From YahooCelebrity:  Amber Heard has said that she was told that coming out as "bisexual" would hurt her film and TV career.

OBIT - From Variety:  Among comic book fans, he earned the description "legendary."  Painter, illustrator, and comic book artist, Bernie "Berni" Wrightson, died at the age of 68, Sunday, March 19, 2017.  He was one of the co-creators of the character, "Swamp Thing."

CELEBRITY - YahooNews:  Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter, Emma Thompson, says that she once turned down an offer from Donald Trump to stay in Trump Towers.

MOVIES - From YahooMovies:  Jay-Z and Weinstein Company are planning a movie and documentary about Trayvon Martin.

OSCARS - From YahooMovies:  Ryan Gosling tells why he giggled over the Oscar snub when the film in which he starred, "La La Land," was revealed not to be the best picture Oscar winner because "Moonlight" was the true winner.

MOVIES - From YahooMovies:  Amy Schumer has dropped out of the "Barbie" movie.

COMICS-FILM - From Variety:  Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon is apparently in the lead to play the character "Cable" in "Deadpool."

MOVIES - From ThePlaylist:  Ivan Reitman still wants to do more "Ghostbusters" movies.  The below expected box office numbers of Paul Feig's all-female "Ghostbusters" from last year means that it won't have a sequel.

OBIT - From TheWrap:  Chuck Barris, the host of "The Gong Show," has died at the age of 87, Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

BLM - From TheRoot:  Everything we think we know about the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO may be wrong; even his killer admits that.

BREAKING NEWS - From YahooNews:  Man shot outside of the United Kingdom's Parliament building complex.

COMICS-FILM - From YahooTV:  Roy Thomas, who co-created the Marvel Comics character, Iron Fist," does not want to hear about whitewashing.  Marvel/Netflix has just released an "Iron Fist" TV series.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Emma Stone's Billie Jean King's biopic, "Battle of the Sexes," is due late September 2017 for the awards season.  Steve Carell will play King's "nemesis," Bobby Riggs.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 3/17 to 3/19/2017 weekend box office is Disney's live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast" with a gross of over $174 million, a record for a March opening weekend.

OBIT - From NYTimes:  Rock 'n' Roll icon, founder, godfather, and one of the music's most influential artists, Chuck Berry, died Saturday, March 18, 2017 at the age of 90.

From RollingStone:   Why Chuck Berry Is Even Greater Than You Think.

OBIT - From NYDailyNews:  Legendary New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin died Sunday, March 19, 2017 at the age of 88.


From FoxMovies:  A trailer for Fox/Blue Sky's animated "Ferdinand."

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Poster for "A Walk in the Woods" Debuts; Stars Robert Redford

Posted by Leroy on Patreon

A WALK IN THE WOODS starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson Trailer and Poster are now!

To watch the trailer exclusively on Moviefone:

In this new comedy adventure, celebrated travel writer, Bill Bryson (Academy Award winner Robert Redford), instead of retiring to enjoy his loving and beautiful wife (Academy Award winner Emma Thompson), and large and happy family, challenges himself to hike the Appalachian Trail - 2,200 miles of America’s most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine.  The peace and tranquility he hopes to find, though, is anything but, once he agrees to being accompanied by the only person he can find willing to join him on the trek - his long lost and former friend Katz (Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte), a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who, after a lifetime of relying on his charm and wits to keep one step ahead of the law – sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts and sneak into one last adventure before its too late. The trouble is, the two have a completely different definition of the word, “adventure”. Now they're about to find out that when you push yourself to the edge, the real fun begins.

Official site:

A WALK IN THE WOODS will be in theaters nationwide on September 2nd



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

British Independent Film Awards Name Beresford and Warchus' "Pride" Best Indie Film

In 1998, Raindance created the British Independent Film Awards to celebrate merit and achievement in independently funded British filmmaking.  The awards also honor new talent and promote British films and filmmaking to a wider public.

On Sunday, December 7, 2014, the winners for the 17th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards were announced at the Old Billingsgate in London.

The 2014/17th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards winners:

BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM -Sponsored by Moët & Chandon

BEST DIRECTOR - Sponsored by AllCity & Intermission
Yann Demange  – '71

Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days on Earth

BEST SCREENPLAY - Sponsored by BBC Films
Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan – Frank

BEST ACTRESS - Sponsored by M.A.C Cosmetics
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle

BEST ACTOR - Sponsored by Movado
Brendan Gleeson – Calvary

Imelda Staunton – Pride

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Sponsored by St Martins Lane
Andrew Scott – Pride

Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy

The Goob

Stephen Rennicks - Music – Frank

Next Goal Wins

The Kármán Line



THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British Film):
Emma Thompson

Benedict Cumberbatch

Announced at the Moët British Independent Film Awards on Sunday 7th December
John Boorman


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: Emma Thompson Saves "Saving Mr. Banks"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Running time:  125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images
DIRECTOR:  John Lee Hancock
WRITERS:  Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith
PRODUCERS:  Ian Collie, Alison Owen, and Philip Steuer
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  John Schwartzman (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Mark Livolsi
COMPOSER:  Thomas Newman
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/HISTORICAL with elements of a biopic and comedy

Starring:  Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Lily Bigham, Melanie Paxson, Ronan Vibert, Rachel Griffiths, and Kathy Baker

Saving Mr. Banks is a 2013 drama from director John Lee Hancock and is an American, British, and Australian co-production.  The film is a fictional account of author P.L. Travers’ trip to America, as she considers selling the film rights to her Mary Poppins books to Walt Disney.

Walt Disney is really a supporting character in Saving Mr. Banks, as the movie focuses on Travers as she reflects on her childhood and on her relationship with her troubled father.  The parts of the film that focus on Travers’ childhood are melancholy.  The parts of the film that take place in the film’s present (1961) are lively and colorful, and I wish all of the movie were set at Walt Disney Studios.

The film opens in the year 1961 in London, where it finds author, Pamela “P.L.” Travers (Emma Thompson), experiencing financial troubles.  Travers does have a way out of her money woes.  She can sell the film rights to her Mary Poppins books to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who has been pursuing Travers for the rights to the books for 20 years.  Travers travels to Los Angeles, where she is whisked to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.

In America, Travers meets a kind limo driver, Ralph (Paul Giamatti). She meets Mr. Disney.  She meets the creative team assigned to adapt Mary Poppins to the screen:  screenwriter, Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford); and musical composing brothers, Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak, respectively).  For two weeks, Travers plans on working with the team to get Mary right – at she sees it.

However, everything about her Mary Poppins book may be too personal for her to accept anyone else’s vision of Mary Poppins, especially Walt Disney’s version of Mary Poppins.  As she works on the film, Travers’ mind goes back to her life in Australia as a girl (Annie Rose Buckley) and she recollects her relationship with her troubled father (Colin Farrell).

I have to admit that I like Saving Mr. Banks because of its fanciful and real-life complication-free look at Walt Disney, his employees, and life at Walt Disney Studios.

I will grant that Emma Thompson gives a fantastic performance, one that is worthy of the Oscar nomination Thompson did not receive.  I will also grant that the story of Travers’ past is heartbreaking and fairly well-executed by director John Lee Hancock and his collaborators.  I will finally admit that I don’t think Hanks deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance as Walt Disney, especially not as a lead actor.  His Disney is clearly a supporting character in this story… and this is not close to being one of Hanks’ better or memorable performances.

Mostly, I think Saving Mr. Banks is a soapy television movie with big name actors trying to be a prestige motion picture.  I think the film sometimes portrays P.L. Travers as a contrary old kook and also glosses over her legitimate concerns about how her characters will be translated to film.  After all, she clearly knew that more people would see a Mary Poppins movie than would ever read her Mary Poppins books.  Because of that, many people would know Mary Poppins only through the film, so she had right to be concerned that the screen Mary Poppins be as close as possible to her Mary Poppins.

After all that granting, I am back to what I like about this movie. Saving Mr. Banks presents a… well… Disney-fied version of some of the events surrounding the production of the 1964 Mary Poppins film.  That is okay by me, but I realize that there is much more to the real story than is in Saving Mr. Banks.

6 of 10

Monday, May 05, 2014

2014 Academy Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score” (Thomas Newman)

2010 Golden Globe:  1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Emma Thompson)

2014 BAFTA Awards:  5 nominations:  “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, and Sue Smith), “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Thomas Newman), “Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer” (Kelly Marcel), “Best Leading Actress” (Emma Thompson), and “Best Costume Design” (Daniel Orlandi)

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"12 Years a Slave" Captures Las Vegas Film Critics Society

by Amos Semien

The Las Vegas Film Critics Society (LVFCS) awarded director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave as the "Best Picture" of 2013.  McQueen also earned the "Best Director" prize.  John Goodman received the William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award.

The LVFCS is a non-profit organization that describes itself as “progressive” and “dedicated to the advancement and preservation of film.”  The LVFCS membership is comprised of “select” print, television and internet film critics in the Las Vegas area. The LVFCS presents its "Sierra" awards each year for the best in film, including The William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award, which is named for the late Academy Award winning actor.

2013 Sierra Award winners:

Best Picture
“12 Years a Slave”

Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Actress
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”

Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Director
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Screenplay
Spike Jonze, “Her”

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, “Gravity”

Best Film Editing
Alfonso Cuaron & Mark Sanger, “Gravity”

Best Costume Design
Patricia Norris, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Art Direction
Andy Nicholson, “Gravity”

Best Visual Effects

Best Foreign Film
“Blue is the Warmest Color”

Best Documentary

Best Animated Film

Best Family Film
“Saving Mr. Banks”

Best Horror/Sci-Fi Film
“Pacific Rim”

Best Comedy Film
“This is the End”

Best Action Film
“Lone Survivor”

Best Score
Hans Zimmer, “12 Years a Slave”

Best Song
“Please Mr. Kennedy,” – “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Youth in Film
Tye Sheridan, “Mud”

Best DVD (Packaging, Design and Content):
“Breaking Bad – The Complete Series” (Blu-Ray)

LVFCS Top 10 Films of 2013
1.     12 Years a Slave
2.     Dallas Buyers Club
3.     Gravity
4.     The Wolf of Wall Street
5.     American Hustle
6.     Inside Llewyn Davis
7.     Saving Mr. Banks
8.     Nebraska
9.     Her
10.   Lone Survivor

William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award:  John Goodman


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

National Board of Review Names "Her" Best Film of 2013

by Amos Semien

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures named Spike Jonze's film, Her, the "Best Film" of 2013, with Jonze also receiving the "Best Director" award.  Fruitvale Station received more notices for Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler as breakthrough actor and for directorial debut respectively.

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, which is made up of film enthusiasts, academics, students, and filmmakers, historically launches the movie awards season.

The group named the winners for the year 2013, today Wednesday, December 4, 2013.  The NBR’s awards gala will be held Tuesday, January 7, 2014 and will be hosted by Lara Spencer.

Below is a full list of the awards given by the National Board of Review for 2013:

Best Film:  HER

Best Director: Spike Jonze, HER

Best Actor: Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA

Best Actress: Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS

Best Supporting Actor: Will Forte, NEBRASKA

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, FRUITVALE STATION

Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Best Animated Feature: THE WIND RISES

Breakthrough Performance: Michael B. Jordan, FRUITVALE STATION

Breakthrough Performance: Adèle Exarchopoulos, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR

Best Directorial Debut: Ryan Coogler, FRUITVALE STATION

Best Foreign Language Film:  THE PAST

Best Documentary: STORIES WE TELL

William K. Everson Film History Award: George Stevens, Jr.

Best Ensemble:  PRISONERS

Spotlight Award: Career Collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio

NBR Freedom of Expression Award: WADJDA

Creative Innovation in Filmmaking Award: GRAVITY

Top Films (in alphabetical order):

Top 5 Foreign Language Films: (In Alphabetical Order):

Top 5 Documentaries (In Alphabetical Order):

Top 10 Independent Films: (In Alphabetical Order):
IN A WORLD . . .


Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Pixar's "Brave" is Brave, But Not Bold

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 43 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Brave (2012)
Running time: 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some scary action and rude humor
DIRECTORS: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman with Steve Purcell
WRITERS: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi with Michael Arndt; from a story by Brenda Chapman
PRODUCER: Katherine Sarafian
EDITOR: Nicholas C. Smith
COMPOSER: Patrick Doyle
Academy Award winner


Starring: (voices) Kelly Mcdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghorn, Eilidh Fraser, Peigi Barker, Steven Cree, Steve Purcell, Callum O’Neill, Patrick Doyle, and John Ratzenberger

Brave is a 2012 computer-animated, fairy tale film from Pixar Animation Studios. Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, Brave won the Academy Award for “Best Animated Feature” (February 2013), making its co-director, Brenda Chapman, the first female director to win an Oscar in that category. The film was executive produced by three of Pixar’s biggest creative voices: John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Andrew Stanton.

Brave centers on a defiant princess who must fight a curse she brings upon her family. As Pixar films go, Brave is second-tier and not on the level of such films as Toy Story 2, Wall-E, or Up. It is a good movie, but nothing I would call great. In fact, I would not have voted Brave the best animated feature Oscar over a film like ParaNorman and Madgascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (which was not nominated).

In Scotland of old, Princess Merida (Kelly Mcdonald) is the 16-year-old daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) of the Clan Dun Broch (Dunbroch). Merida’s mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), wants what is best for both the kingdom and her daughter. Thus, the Queen clashes with the rebellious and free-spirited Merida who wants to make her own path in life. Skilled at horse-riding and with a bow, Merida does not want to be a lady.

One day, Elinor informs Merida that she must be betrothed to one of her father, King Fergus’ allied clans. Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), and Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane) arrive with their first-born sons. These sons will compete in the Highland Games for Merida’s hand in marriage. Merida balks, however, and runs away. Desperate to find her own fate, she makes a deal that unwittingly hurts her family. Now, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

The first half-hour of Brave is an awkward attempt to introduce characters, themes, plot, and setting, with wheezy music making that awkward even more annoying. The first half hour is the usual raucous, kid-friendly, action-comedy material, which is a Disney trait of turning every family in its films into a nuclear family-like unit. It sort of knocked me for a loop, because it seemed to me that in Brave, Pixar had made its first film that could be described as typical Disney animation product.

It is not until Merida’s second encounter with the will-o’-the-wisps and her meeting with The Witch (Julie Walters) that Brave becomes what it is supposed to be, a fairy tale. When it focuses on Merida’s quest, the magical elements, and the mother-daughter relationship, Brave is at its best. Merida’s younger brothers, the identical triplets: Hamish, Harris, and Hubert are excellent comic relief, but are woefully underutilized.

Everything else about this movie is not really special. The animation is good, although some of the characters bounce like Muppets when they walk or run. The animation’s colors are spectacular, especially Merida’s gloriously red hair and the rich greens of the forests and countryside.

You might be surprised at how deeply Brave digs into the mother-daughter relationship; that brought tears to my eyes. Still, the movie misses the mark of perfection. Brave is mostly a great fairy tale, but partly a Disney-movie-by-committee. That’s a shame, and that is not an Oscar winner (or shouldn’t be).

7 of 10

2013 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)

2013 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Animated Film” (Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)

2013 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Animated Film”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Richard LaGravenese's "Beautiful Creatures" Set for Valentine's Day

“Beautiful Creatures” is a Perfect Valentine

Release Date for the Supernatural Love Story Moved to February 14th

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures has moved the release date of Alcon Entertainment’s “Beautiful Creatures” back one day to Valentine’s Day, in keeping with the film’s intriguing blend of magic and romance. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Directed by Richard LaGravenese from his own screenplay, “Beautiful Creatures” is adapted from the hugely successful novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Sales of the book, which was already a runaway bestseller, have been exploding in anticipation of the film’s release. Fans of the novel have been eagerly awaiting the screen adaptation, which is also generating interest from those who have not yet even read the book.

“Beautiful Creatures” tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan, a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena, a mysterious new arrival. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. But as the tie between Ethan and Lena strengthens, they become tangled in a dangerous web of spells and secrets from which there may be no escape.

The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Academy Award® winner Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”), Oscar® nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”), Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann, and Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson (“Howard’s End,” “Sense and Sensibility”). Rounding out the cast are Eileen Atkins, Margo Martindale, Zoey Deutch, Tiffany Boone, Rachel Brosnahan, Kyle Gallner, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Sam Gilroy.

The film was produced by Erwin Stoff (“Water for Elephants”), Academy Award® nominees Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”), Molly Mickler Smith, and Oscar® nominee David Valdes (“The Green Mile”). Yolanda T. Cochran served as executive producer, with Steven P. Wegner co-producing.

Alcon Entertainment presents a 3 Arts Entertainment/Belle Pictures Production, “Beautiful Creatures,” to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company. “Beautiful Creatures” has been rated PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tom Hanks to Portray Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks"

“Saving Mr. Banks” Begins Production in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Disney began production today on “Saving Mr. Banks,” the account of Walt Disney’s twenty-year pursuit of the film rights to P.L. Travers’ popular novel, Mary Poppins, and the testy partnership the upbeat filmmaker develops with the uptight author during the project’s pre-production in 1961.

Two-time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) will essay the role of the legendary Disney (the first time the entrepreneur has ever been depicted in a dramatic film) alongside fellow double Oscar®-winner Emma Thompson (“Howard’s End,” “Sense and Sensibility”) in the role of the prickly novelist. Before actually signing away the book’s rights, Travers’ demands for contractual script and character control circumvent not only Disney’s vision for the film adaptation, but also those of the creative team of screenwriter Don DaGradi and sibling composers Richard and Robert Sherman, whose original score and song (Chim-Chim-Cher-ee) would go on to win Oscars® at the 1965 ceremonies (the film won five awards of its thirteen nominations).

When Travers travels from London to Hollywood in 1961 to finally discuss Disney’s desire to bring her beloved character to the motion picture screen (a quest he began in the 1940s as a promise to his two daughters), Disney meets a prim, uncompromising sexagenarian not only suspect of the impresario’s concept for the film, but a woman struggling with her own past. During her stay in California, Travers’ reflects back on her childhood in 1906 Australia, a trying time for her family which not only molded her aspirations to write, but one that also inspired the characters in her 1934 book.

None more so than the one person whom she loved and admired more than any other — her caring father, Travers Goff, a tormented banker who, before his untimely death that same year, instills the youngster with both affection and enlightenment (and would be the muse for the story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks, the sole character that the famous nanny comes to aid). While reluctant to grant Disney the film rights, Travers comes to realize that the acclaimed Hollywood storyteller has his own motives for wanting to make the film — which, like the author, hints at the relationship he shared with his own father in the early 20th Century Midwest.

Colin Farrell (“Minority Report,” “Total Recall”) co-stars as Travers’ doting dad, Goff, along with British actress Ruth Wilson (the forthcoming films “The Lone Ranger” and “Anna Karenina”) as his long-suffering wife, Margaret; Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Rachel Griffiths (“Six Feet Under,” “Hilary and Jackie,” “The Rookie”) as Margaret’s sister, Aunt Ellie (who inspired the title character of Travers’ novel); and a screen newcomer — 11-year-old Aussie native Annie Buckley as the young, blossoming writer, nicknamed “Ginty” in the flashback sequences.

The cast also includes Emmy® winner Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing,” “The Cabin in the Woods”) as screenwriter Don DaGradi; Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore,” “Moonrise Kingdom”) and B.J. Novak (“NBC’s “The Office,” “Inglourious Basterds”) as the songwriting Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert, respectively); Oscar® nominee and Emmy winner Paul Giamatti (“Sideways,” “Cinderella Man,” HBO’s “John Adams”) as Ralph, the kindly limousine driver who escorts Travers during her two-week stay in Hollywood; and multi-Emmy winner Kathy Baker (“Picket Fences,” “Edward Scissorhands”) as Tommie, one of Disney’s trusted studio associates.

“Saving Mr. Banks” will be directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side,” “The Rookie”) based on a screenplay by Kelly Marcel (creator of FOX-TV’s “Terra Nova”), from a story by Sue Smith (“Brides of Christ,” “Bastard Boys”) and Kelly Marcel. The film is being produced by Alison Owen of Ruby Films (the Oscar®-nominated “Elizabeth,” HBO’s Emmy®-winning “Temple Grandin”), Ian Collie of Essential Media (the Aussie TV documentary “The Shadow of Mary Poppins,” DirecTV’s “Rake”) and longtime Hancock collaborator Philip Steuer (“The Rookie,” “The Chronicles of Narnia” trilogy). The film’s executive producers are Ruby Films’ Paul Trijbits (“Lay the Favorite,” “Jane Eyre”), Hopscotch Features’ Andrew Mason (“The Matrix” trilogy, “Dark City”) and Troy Lum (“Mao’s Last Dancer,” “I, Frankenstein”) and BBC Films’ Christine Langan (Oscar® nominee for “The Queen,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin”).

Hancock’s filmmaking team includes a trio of artists with whom he worked on his 2009 Best Picture Oscar® nominee, “The Blind Side” — two-time Oscar® nominated production designer Michael Corenblith (“How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Apollo 13”), Emmy®-winning costume designer Daniel Orlandi (HBO’s “Game Change,” “Frost/Nixon”) and film editor Mark Livolsi, A.C.E. (“Wedding Crashers” “The Devil Wears Prada”). Hancock also reunites with Academy Award®-nominated cinematographer John Schwartzman (“Seabiscuit,” “Pearl Harbor”), with whom he first worked on his inspiring 2002 sports drama, “The Rookie.”

“Saving Mr. Banks” will film entirely in the Los Angeles area, with key locations to include Disneyland in Anaheim and the Disney Studios in Burbank. Filming will conclude around Thanksgiving, 2012, with no specific 2013 release date yet set.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Will Smith Carries Pleasant "Men in Black 3"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 43 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Men in Black 3 (2012)
Running time: 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
WRITER: Etan Cohen (based upon the comic book by Lowell Cunningham)
PRODUCERS: Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
EDITORS: Wayne Wahrman and Don Zimmerman
COMPOSER: Danny Elfman


Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mike Colter, Nicole Scherzinger, Michael Chernus, Bill Hader, Rick Baker, and Alice Eve

Men in Black 3 is a 2012 3D science fiction comedy. It is also the second sequel to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The Men in Black film series is based upon the comic book, The Men in Black, created by Lowell Cunningham. Steven Spielberg is one of the film’s executive producers, a title he held for the first two films. In this new film, the Men in Black agency (MiB) must use time travel to stop an alien from changing history.

Men in Black 3 kicks off with the alien criminal, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), making a daring prison break. Boris has a past with MiB Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), and he hatches a plot to both remove K and to make an alien invasion of Earth possible. K’s partner, Agent J (Will Smith), travels back in time to 1969, where he meets a young Agent K (Josh Brolin). Together, they race to stop Boris and to save themselves, MiB, and Earth.

The most accurate thing that I can say about Men in Black 3 is that it is pleasantly entertaining. Honestly, I really didn’t expect more than that. The story is sentimental, and seeks to make the connection between Agents J and K a more personal and deeper relationship than it was in the previous films. That’s nice, but the screenplay inadvertently creates loose ends that it ties up; thus, it essentially makes another film starring these characters unnecessary or at least forces a possible fourth film to approach J and K from a different point of view (hopefully, the latter).

There are a number of cameos (Will Arnett, Tim Burton, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, etc.) in this film that are nice, if you can catch them. Jemaine Clement is marvelous as Boris. Josh Brolin’s turn as the 29-year-old Agent K is both funny and poignant (and saves the time travel segment of this story). Conversely, Tommy Lee Jones looks like a tired, old man; never has the age difference between Will Smith and Jones been more pronounced than in this third MiB movie.

As is usual with these Men in Black movies, Will Smith dominates. Men in Black 3 needs his charm and boundless energy. I strenuously disagree with the reviews that describe this as the best Men in Black movie, because the first is still the best. Like Men in Black II, this third film has enough oddball sci-fi elements and twists to keep the entire thing Men in Black kosher. Men in Black 3 won’t make you believe that a fourth film is necessary, but I’ll take more, as long as Will Smith comes back.

6 of 10

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Beautiful Creatures" Begins Shooting in New Orleans

Filming Underway on Alcon Entertainment’s “Beautiful Creatures”

Richard LaGravenese directs his adaptation of the best-seller.

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography has begun on Alcon Entertainment’s “Beautiful Creatures,” based on the first novel in the best-selling series by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. Oscar® nominee Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King,” “P.S. I Love You”) directs the film from his screenplay adaptation.

The film stars Alden Ehrenreich (“Tetro”), newcomer Alice Englert, and Academy Award® winners Jeremy Irons (“Reversal of Fortune”) and Emma Thompson (“Howard’s End,” “Sense and Sensibility”); Oscar® nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”); and Emmy Rossum (TV’s “Shameless”).

A hauntingly intense, supernatural love story set in the South, “Beautiful Creatures” is about two star-crossed teenage lovers: Ethan (Ehrenreich), a local boy, and a mysterious new girl, Lena (Englert), who uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.

The film is being produced by Erwin Stoff (“Water for Elephants”), Academy Award® nominees Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”), Molly Smith (“Something Borrowed”) and Oscar® nominee David Valdes (“The Green Mile”).

The behind-the-scenes team includes Academy Award®-winning director of photography Philippe Rousselot (“A River Runs Through It”), production designer Richard Sherman (“Gods and Monsters”), editor David Moritz (“Jerry Maguire”) and Oscar®-nominated costume designer Jeffrey Kurland (“Bullets Over Broadway”).

Shooting in and around New Orleans, “Beautiful Creatures” is a presentation of Alcon Entertainment and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pixar Unveils the Story of "Brave"

Brave is Pixar Animation Studios' next film and is set to be released in June 2012.  The synopsis of the film has been making the rounds the last few weeks.

From Pixar Planet:

Synopsis: Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.

Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and the signature Pixar humor enjoyed by audiences of all ages. The film takes aim at theaters on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

A grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humor, “Brave” uncovers a new tale in the mysterious Highlands of Scotland where the impetuous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) defies an age-old custom and inadvertently unleashes chaos, forcing her to discover the meaning of true bravery before it’s too late.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: Kenneth Branagh Makes Much Magic in "Much Ado About Nothing"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 127 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Running time: 110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh
WRITER: Kenneth Branagh (adapted for the screen from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare)
PRODUCERS: Stephen Evan, David Parfitt, and Branagh
EDITOR: Andrew Marcus
BAFTA nominee

COMEDY/ROMANCE with elements of drama, music, and musical

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Michael Keaton, Robert Sean Leonard, Keanu Reeves, Emma Thompson, and Denzel Washington, Richard Briers, Kate Beckinsale, Brian Blessed, Imelda Staunton, Jimmy Yuill, Phyllida Law, Richard Clifford, and Gerard Horan

Kenneth Branagh earned two Oscar-nominations (acting and directing) for his 1989 film, Henry V, a screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s stage drama. Branagh brought the Bard back to the screen for a second time under his direction with the 1993 film, Much Ado About Nothing, which received a 1993 Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical (and an Independent Spirit Award nom for “Best Feature”).

A high-spirited tale of love, mistaken identity, and bawdy humor, Much Ado About Nothing is set in Messina (Sicily), where hot-bloodied youth, Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard), is engaged to marry a beautiful young woman named Hero (Kate Beckinsale). Claudio is so anxious to wed that his best friend, Don Pedro (Denzel Washington), devises some mischief to distract Claudio. Don Pedro concocts a romantic trap for Hero’s cousin, the sharp-tongued Beatrice (Emma Thompson, Independent Spirit Award nomination for “Best Female Lead”) and the man she most loves to hate, Benedick (Kenneth Branagh). However, amusement turns to horror, scandal, and tragedy by the hand of Don Pedro’s rakish brother, Don John (Keanu Reeves), who schemes to destroy the engagement and marriage of Claudio and Hero. Can the chance intervention of the local law, Dogberry (Michael Keaton), restore the love and laughter to this circle of friends?

It’s almost hard to believe, but Much Ado About Nothing manages to be ravishing entertainment, engaging brain food, and a finely crafted costume drama in only 102 minutes of screen time. It’s a sexy, joyous romp filmed with delightful rudeness, playful sexual innuendo, and the sun-drenched charm of its shooting location (Chianti, Toscana, Central Italy). It takes an attentive ear (and more patience than many moviegoers are willing to give) to hear every Shakespearean word and turn of a phrase, but the cast’s exuberant delivery of the Bard’s masterful language is… well, masterful.

If the good acting weren’t enough (Branagh and Emma Thompson actually outshine the rest of this talented cast of movie stars and fine character actors), this exuberant production is filled with lively songs, musical numbers, and a soaring life-giving score. If you like Shakespeare on the big screen, this is a gift for you. If you never believed that Shakespeare could be so funny and sexy, Branagh and his cohorts will convert you into a true believer.

8 of 10

1994 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Costume Design” (Phyllis Dalton)

1993 Cannes Film Festival: 1 nomination: “Palme d'Or” (Kenneth Branagh)

1994 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical”

1994 Razzie Award: 1 nomination: “Worst Supporting Actor” (Keanu Reeves)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: "Sense and Sensibility" is Still a Gem (Happy B'day, Emma Thompson)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 86 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Running time: 136 minutes (2 hour, 16 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild thematic elements
WRITER: Emma Thompson (based upon the novel by Jane Austen)
PRODUCER: Lindsay Doran
EDITOR: Tim Squyres
Academy Award winner


Starring: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Greg Wise, Elizabeth Spriggs, Emilie François, Robert Hardy, James Fleet, Harriet Walter, Ian Brimble, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton, Imogen Stubbs, and Tom Wilkinson

Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson) and her romantically inclined sister, Marianne (Kate Winslet), search for marriage amid 19th century etiquette, ethics, and class. Their troubles begin when their father, Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson), dies, but by law, their half-brother, John Dashwood (James Fleet), from Mr. Dashwood’s first marriage, inherits the country estate in which the sisters live with their mother, Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones), and younger sister, Margaret (Emilie François). Although he has a home in London, John wants the estate for him and his wife, Fanny (Harriet Walter). Shortly after John and Fanny arrive, they get a visit from Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant), Fanny’s older brother. Elinor strikes up a intimate friendship with the aspiring clergyman, but they must part when Elinor and her family have to vacate the estate to John.

The Dashwoods find a small cottage belonging to a distant relative, Sir John Middleton (Robert Hardy), who lives nearby with his mother-in-law, the very friendly, but prying Mrs. Jennings (Elizabeth Spriggs). It is at their new home where Marianne charms two suitors – the staid Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) and the lively and vigorous, John Willoughby (Greg Wise). Marianne prefers the dashing Willoughby over the older Col. Brandon. Meanwhile, Elinor braves the choppy straights of a circuitous courtship with Edward, whose heart has been promised many years prior to another young woman. However, the Dashwoods’ lack of a fortune affects Elinor and Marianne’s ability to find suitable husbands among their social set, so the sisters face heartbreak and triumphant as dark and old secrets are revealed.

Sense and Sensibility is an excellent and splendidly produced costume drama. It is better than most 19th century period dramas produced for film or television (British TV, in particular), although I wouldn’t put it up with the Merchant/Ivory production, Howard’s End. As usual, the technical aspects of the film are good, in particular the costumes and makeup. The sets and locations are a little more grounded in reality than is normal for a 19th century English period piece. This movie isn’t all pristine chambers and lavishly furnished estates. The characters deal with living in poorly heated homes, dirt and dust, and horse manure in the streets.

Critics and fans were shocked that a Chinese director, Ang Lee (up until that time not well known except to art house fans), could direct a British costume drama. However, he simply does, and brings fresh touches to the genre. The film is as natural and as passionate as it is refined and aloof. There is an emotional edge that makes the film engage the audience more than costume dramas normally do. The laughs are heartier; the snobbery is more savage and hurtful; the disappointment more bitter; and the romance more urgent – this is Ang’s touch. One can see that Elinor (expertly played by Emma Thompson, who won an Oscar for adapting Jane Austen’s novel) is as hearty and as resolute as she is reserved. The film’s best performance comes from Kate Winslet, who brings a raw insistence to her pursuit of her man; she’s like a real teenage girl.

The movie’s veracity is the cherry on top that makes Sense and Sensibility a memorable and exceptional costume drama.

9 of 10

1996 Academy Awards: 1 win” “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium” (Emma Thompson); 6 nominations: “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Emma Thompson), “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Kate Winslet), “Best Cinematography” (Michael Coulter), “Best Costume Design” (Jenny Beavan and John Bright), “Best Music, Original Dramatic Score” (Patrick Doyle), and “Best Picture” (Lindsay Doran)

1996 BAFTA Awards: 3 wins: “Best Film” (Lindsay Doran and Ang Lee), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Emma Thompson), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Kate Winslet); 9 nominations: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Patrick Doyle), “BAFTA Film Award Best Cinematography” (Michael Coulter), “Best Costume Design” (Jenny Beavan and John Bright), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Morag Ross and Jan Archibald), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Alan Rickman), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Elizabeth Spriggs), “Best Production Design” (Luciana Arrighi), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Emma Thompson), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Ang Lee)

1996 Golden Globes: 2 wins: “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Emma Thompson); 4 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Ang Lee), “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Patrick Doyle), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Emma Thompson), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Kate Winslet)

Friday, April 21, 2006


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix a Lean and Mean Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 108 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Running time: 138 minutes (2 hours, 18 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images
DIRECTOR: David Yates
WRITER: Michael Goldenberg (based upon the book by J.K. Rowling)
PRODUCERS: David Barron and David Heyman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Slawomir Idziak (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Mark Day
BAFTA Awards nominee


Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Imelda Staunton, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Lewis, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Bonnie Wright, Katie Leung, and George Harris

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) enters his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with something of a bad attitude. He’s spent another miserable summer with his sour and despicable relatives, the Dursleys, and none of his friends, especially Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), had the decency to contact him. Feeling hungry and edgy for news from the magic world, Harry discovers that his friends have been keeping secrets from him, and Harry’s anxious to know if there is any news about the activities of the recently revived Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

Returning to Hogwarts isn’t any relief. The new “Defense against the Dark Arts” instructor, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) is a notorious busybody intent on bending both faculty and staff to her iron will. She does her best to discourage spell-casting and any discussion of Voldemort, who is often referred to as “He who must not be named.” Harry, however, gathers a small, loyal group of classmates and trains them to be his secret army for when (not if) Voldemort strikes. Harry also meets the remnants of the Order of the Phoenix, an organization founded by Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to counter Voldemort. Still, most of the magic community is willfully blind to the signs that Voldemort is rebuilding his army, and Harry isn’t sure that his own small army will be up to the task of stopping the Dark Lord.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is darker than the other Potter films. It’s darker even than 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but Order of the Phoenix is much less expansive than Goblet of Fire or 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, both of which were large, elegant films with high production values and epic stories. Order of the Phoenix is leaner and meaner. David Yates directs some of this film as if it were a TV movie, but the Potter magic shines through Yates determination to make a terse drama. The costumes are darker, and the art direction and set decoration is mostly spare.

The film’s opening act is fast paced and edgy, and the last act is killer. In between are some truly exciting and thrilling moments, but most of the middle involves the tiresome subplot which sees Dolores Umbridge take on the status quo at Hogwarts. The Umbridge character as portrayed in the film is annoying, and not always in an entertaining manner. When Voldemort attacks in the last act, the appearance of the dark lord almost makes me forget the dour Hogwarts segment… almost.

6 of 10

Friday, July 27, 2007

2008 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Production Design” (Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan) and “Best Special Visual Effects” (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Emma Norton, and Chris Shaw)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: An Education

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

An Education (2009)
Running minutes: 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexual content, and for smoking
DIRECTOR: Lone Scherfig
WRITER: Nick Hornby (from the memoir by Lynn Barber)
PRODUCERS: Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John de Borman (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Barney Pilling
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Cara Seymour, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, Matthew Beard, and Emma Thompson

An Education is, at the very least, an exceptional coming-of-age film because it is exceptionally well-directed and well-written, and the actors give high-quality performances. However, it is Carey Mulligan’s star-making turn that anchors An Education.

Set in England in 1961, An Education focuses on Jenny Mellor (Carey Mulligan), a bright schoolgirl who is focused on taking and passing the A-levels, the exams that could help her get into Oxford. She meets David Goldman (Peter Sarsgaard), a charming, older Jewish man, and the two begin a relationship that steadily leads to romance. David even manages to charm Jenny’s protective parents, Jack played by Alfred Molina, giving his usually fine performance, and Marjorie (Cara Seymour).

David introduces Jenny to his fast lifestyle and to his friends, Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Danny’s girlfriend, Helen (Rosamund Pike, who is so radiantly beautiful that she steals practically every scene in which she appears). Jenny becomes torn between studying for a place at Oxford and enjoying the more exciting and fun alternative lifestyle that David offers, but then, she must also confront the darker side of David’s freewheeling lifestyle.

In creating Jenny Mellor, Carey Mulligan fashioned the kind of female character that carries a drama all the way to victory. Mulligan convincingly gives Jenny that cheeky arrogance which makes high school age teens believe they know how to live a much better life than any adult they know has ever lived. Jenny is a clever girl, and Mulligan makes sure her smarts shine through every time. This is a rich, multi-layered performance that absorbs everything that An Education is trying to convey to its audience and makes it crystal clear.

Mulligan’s wonderful turn almost eclipses the exceedingly fine performance by the underrated Peter Sarsgaard as David. Sarsgaard deftly keeps David’s secrets close to him, making David act as the perfect foil for Jenny’s haughty smarts, but Sarsgaard also gives David an edge that is somehow too sweet to resist. Sarsgaard’s wonderful contribution and Mulligan’s terrific performance make An Education a coming-of-age story that will work its magic through the ages.

8 of 10

2010 Academy Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Carey Mulligan), and “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” (Nick Hornby)

2010 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Leading Actress” (Carey Mulligan); 7 nominations: “Best Costume Design” (Odile Dicks-Mireaux), “Best Director” (Lone Scherfig), “Best Film” (Amanda Posey and Finola Dwyer), “Best Make Up & Hair” (Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Nick Hornby), “Best Supporting Actor” (Alfred Molina), and “Outstanding British Film” (Amanda Posey, Finola Dwyer, Lone Scherfig, and Nick Hornby)

2010 Golden Globes: 1 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Carey Mulligan)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: "Love Actually" is Christmas and "Valentine's Day"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 71 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Love Actually (2003)
Running time: 135 minutes
MPAA – R for sexuality, nudity, and language
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Duncan Kenworthy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Coulter (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Nick Moore

COMEDY/DRAMA with elements of romance

Starring: Bill Nighy, Gregory Fisher, Colin Firth, Sienna Guillory, Liam Neeson, Thomas Sangster, Emma Thompson, Kris Marshall, Heike Makatsch, Martin Freeman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Nina Sosanya, Martine McCutcheon, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Rodrigo Santoro, Declan Donnelly, Lúcia Moniz, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, and Colin Coull

A father deals with the recent death of his wife by focusing all his attention on his young stepson’s schoolboy crush on an American girl who may soon be leaving for home. A man is deeply smitten by his best friend’s new bride, so he deals with it by acting coldly towards her. An aging rock star attempts to briefly reclaim the spotlight by dueling with a popular boy “band” for the number one spot on the charts with a Christmas song, and he does it by being a vulgar buffoon, much to the chagrin of his manager. This is just a small taste of the delights in Richard Curtis’ Love Actually.

Who would think that the British could make a feel good film as sweet, life affirming, and romantic as anything a big Hollywood studio could? Who would think that that film, Love Actually, would end up being one of the five best films of 2003? This ensemble comedy/drama about eight couples and their love lives in the five weeks before Christmas is an absolute delight.

Although the multitude of movie stars and character actors would comprise a dream team for any ensemble film, the true star of the film is writer/director Richard Curtis. An accomplished writer of British TV (the “Blackadder” series) and film (Four Weddings and a Funeral and the adaptation of the novel for Bridget Jones), Curtis had a ready-made disaster on his hands, as Love Actually starts off a bit slow and there are so many subplots to follow. However, if the viewer is patient, he can watch as Curtis brilliantly and subtly weaves together a film of tremendous power. I was completely taken in by the poignancy, the comedy, and (what I describe as) light-hearted pathos of Love Actually.

Love Actually is so feel-good, but not too sentimental. It’s a love letter to love – love of lovers, spouses, friends, and family. And when it’s done this well, there’s nothing wrong with being sweet. Love Actually makes a bad day good and a good day really fun, and the soundtrack is slammin,’ too.

9 of 10


2004 BAFTA Awards: 1 win for “Best Performance for an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Bill Nighy) and 2 nominations for “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Richard Curtis, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Duncan Kenworthy) and best supporting actress (Emma Thompson)

2004 Golden Globes Awards: 2 nominations for best motion picture-musical or comedy and best screenplay-motion picture

Buy Love Actually (Widescreen Edition)