Showing posts with label Jim Broadbent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Broadbent. Show all posts

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Review: "INDIANA JONES and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a Nice Coda

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 27 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Running time:  126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for adventure violence and scary images
DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg
WRITERS:  David Koepp; from a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson
PRODUCER:  Frank Marshall
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Janusz Kaminski (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Michael Kahn, A.C.E.
COMPOSER:  John Williams


Starring:  Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, and Shia LaBeouf

There is that old saying, “you can’t go home again,” but you can.  It is simply that the present does not have the cherished golden glow of cherished memories of an idealized past.  With that in mind, in 2008, we saw the return of Indiana Jones to the big screen for the first time in 19 years.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an action-adventure film from director Steven Spielberg.  It is the fourth entry in the “Indiana Jones” film franchise that began with the 1981 film, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds Indiana Jones fighting a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the “Crystal Skulls.”

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins in the desert Southwest in 1957 at the height of the Cold War.  There, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick, George “Mac” McHale (Ray Winstone), encounter the icy cold Soviet beauty, Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), and her elite military unit on a remote airfield.  The Soviets want something from Indy, but in the end, he barely escapes the nefarious Soviets.

Afterwards, Indy returns to Marshall College, where he is known as “Professor Jones,” and finds that things have gone from bad to worse.  The government is suspicious of Indy’s recent activities and forced Jones’ close friend and dean of the college, Dean Charles Stanforth (Jim Broadbent), to fire him.  On his way out of town, Indy meets the rebellious young biker, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who asks Indy for his help in a deeply personal mission.  If he helps Mutt, Indy could very well make one of the most spectacular archaeological finds in history – the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary object of fascination and superstition.

As Indy and Mutt comb the most remote corners of Peru, Spalko and the Soviet agents are also hot on the trail of the Crystal Skull, which they believe can help the Soviets dominate the world, if they can unlock its secrets.  Peru, however, is not only the home of the Crystal Skull, it is also the place where Indiana Jones makes a surprise reunion and learns an even more shocking secret, as he and his friends desperately battle to protect the powerful Crystal Skull.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lacks the old school, B-movie serial charm of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It doesn’t have the gleefully and deliberately gruesome spirit of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), nor the comic charm of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

What Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does have is entertainment value by the truckload.  This pleasing popcorn movie has a mix of action, adventure, and nostalgia that turns it into the perfect summer romp for an afternoon at the movie theater.

Why keep pretending!?  Karen Allen, as the original Indiana Jones heroine, Marion Ravenwood, is back, and that makes this somewhat inferior Indiana Jones sequel even more enjoyable.  Throw in another secret, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a must-see for Indy fans.  Obviously many fans had questions and concerns coming into this new film.  Chief among them would be the use of CGI.  Between the time that The Last Crusade appeared and now, CGI has, for the most part, replaced practical and physical special effects in mainstream Hollywood films.

No, the use of CGI (which the filmmakers claimed was only used on 30% of the film) to create lush jungles, impossible fight scenes (like the sword duel between Mutt and Irina, most of it on top of moving vehicles), and exotic locales doesn’t ruin Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, although this flick lacks the grit and tough guy spirit of the other films.  But let’s face it; Harrison Ford is no longer a spring chicken, so this film needs CGI slickness to give the action a manic video game feel to it.  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a modern action movie, and all the quiet, dramatic moments are used to merely prepare us for the next death-defying chase, whereas they existed for themselves in the early films.  Still, the modern touches work.

Set in 1957, the film drops many 1950’s cultural and pop culture tropes: Elvin Presley, B-movie sci-fi, aliens, Communism, bikers, etc.  The fear of being turned into the other or being forced into a like or hive mind is prevalent, as is Steven Spielberg’s familiar motif that knowledge only robs reality of its sense of wonder (OK…).  However, the age of their star Harrison Ford required the driving force behind Indiana Jones, Spielberg and George Lucas, to accept that it’s sometimes okay to grow up.

That’s why Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is ultimately less a sequel than it is a coda or epilogue to Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, which is likely the reason that Karen Allen/Marion Ravenwood, the most beloved woman in Indy’s life, is back.  It’s time to grow up and movie on, and what a silly and fun send off this is.  Flaws and all, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a good old American summer movie blockbuster.  As the credits rolled on the film’s happy finale, I realized that Indy and I were going our separate ways, but with wonderful memories as parting gifts.

6 of 10
★★★ out of 4 stars

2009 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Special Visual Effects” (Pablo Helman, Marshall Richard Krasserm and Steve Rawlins)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Edited:  Saturday, November 5, 2022

You can purchase the "INDIANA JONES 4-Movie Collection" Blu-ray or DVD here at AMAZON.

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site or blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Sony Pictures Classics Announces Roger Mitchell's "The Duke"

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires The Duke

NEW YORK – Sony Pictures Classics announced that they have acquired all rights in the U.S., Latin America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe (Ex. Poland, the Czech Republic and the former Yugoslavia), Russia/CIS, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, South Africa, South East Asia (Ex. Japan and China) and India to THE DUKE, following its critically acclaimed World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill) from a script by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, the dramedy stars Oscar winners Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren.

THE DUKE is set in 1961 when Kempton Bunton, a 60-year old taxi driver, stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.  It was the first (and remains the only) theft in the Gallery’s history. Kempton sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government agreed to provide television for free to the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend.  Only 50 years later did the full story emerge – a startling revelation of how a good man set out to change the world and in so doing saved his son and his marriage.

A Pathé, Ingenious Media and Screen Yorkshire presentation of a Neon Films Production, THE DUKE is produced by Nicky Bentham and executive produced by Cameron McCracken and Jenny Borgars for Pathé, Andrea Scarso for Ingenious Media, Hugo Heppell for Screen Yorkshire, Peter Scarf and Christopher Bunton.

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard serve as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics—an autonomous division of Sony Pictures Entertainment they founded with Marcie Bloom in January 1992—which distributes, produces, and acquires independent films from around the world.  Barker and Bernard have released prestigious films that have won 39 Academy Awards® (35 of those at Sony Pictures Classics) and have garnered 175 Academy Award® nominations (149 at Sony Pictures Classics) including Best Picture nominations for CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, WHIPLASH, AMOUR, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, AN EDUCATION, CAPOTE, HOWARDS END, AND CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.  

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 142 countries.  For additional information, go to


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from December 10th to 16th, 2017- Update #22

Support Leroy on Patreon.

SCANDAL - From RSN:  Salma Hayek talks about how both Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump retaliated against her.

TELEVISION - From TheWrap:  ABC's "Roseanne" revival/reboot to debut March 2018 with an hour-long episode.

BUSINESS - From Variety:  Disney to buy 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 all-stock merger.

From BleedingCool:  More on the Disney-Fox deal.

From TheWrap:  Hollywood celebrities have fun with Marvel-Fox merger.

From BleedingCool:  Disney CEO Bob Iger is not against an R-rated Marvel movie, as Fox has done.

MOVIES - From YahooHuffPost:  Even Will Smith is commenting on dopey Roy Moore's election loss in Alabama on Tuesday, Dec. 12th.

MUSIC - From YahooMusic:  Supremely rare vinyl copies of Prince's "Black Album" have been find.

MOVIES - From THR:  Hotter-than-hot Tiffany Haddish and John Cho join Ike Barinholtz in the satirical thriller, "The Oath."

MOVIE-TV-AWARDS - From Variety:  A full list of 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

TELEVISION - From Variety:  PBS suspends late-night talk show host, Tavis Smiley over sexual misconduct allegations.  [Sigh. - Leroy]

MOVIES - From Variety:  Jennifer Lawrence joins the film, "Burial Rites," from director Luca Guadagnino, who is out off his film "Call Me By Your Name."

COMICS-FILM - From THR:  Woody Harrelson joins Tom Hardy in Spider-Man spinoff film, "Venom."

TELEVISION - From ShadowandAct:  Michael Che and Colin Jost have been named co-head writers for venerable variety show, "Saturday Night Live."  Che is the first person of color to hold that title on the show.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Jim Broadbent to join Robert Downey, Jr. in "Voyage of Doctor Doolittle."

COMICS-STREAMING - From TheWrap:  Marvel-Netflix's "The Punisher" gets a second season.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Guillermo del Toro has set up at Fox Searchlight to write and direct a remake of 20th Century Fox's 1947 Tyrone Power flick, "Nightmare Alley."

CULTURE - From HuffPost:  " Inside The Voucher Schools That Teach L. Ron Hubbard, But Say They’re Not Scientologist"

MOVIES - From ThePlaylist:  Seth Rogen to play Walter Cronkite in David Gordon Green's film, "Newsflash."

MOVIES - From Collider:  Steven Caple, Jr. will direct "Creed 2" instead of Sylvester Stallone.  Stallone will return for the sequel along with stars Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson.

MOVIE AWARDS - From TheWrap:  The 2018 Golden Globe nominations are in...

COMICS-FILM - From BleedingCool:  Even if the Disney-Fox merger happens, it may be too late for us to see Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in a Marvel Studios movie.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 12/8 to 12/10/2017 weekend box office is Pixar's "Coco" with an estimated take of $18.6 million.

From Variety:  "Coco"wins weekend box office while "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" waits in the wings for next weekend.

MOVIES AWARDS - From Variety:  "God's Own Country" wins big at 2017 British Independent Film Awards.

POLITICS - From RSN:  Late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, speaks on Alabama U.S. Senate candidate, Roy Moore, and his "Christian values."


From USAToday:  The first trailer for the animated film, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," featuring the Miles Morales Spider-Man, once known as the "Ultimate Spider-Man."


From ESPN:  Tommy Nobis, NFL and college football great, has died at the age of 74, Thursday, December 14, 2017.  Playing for the University of Texas Longhorns, Nobis appeared on the covers of "Sports Illustrated" and "Life."  He was the first player drafted by the then expansion NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, in the 1966 NFL draft.  After professional football, Nobis co-founded the Tommy Nobis Center to help people with disabilities gets job training.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Warner Bros to Release "Paddington 2" in North America January 2018

Warner Bros. Pictures to Distribute “Paddington 2” in North America

- Sequel to the worldwide hit “Paddington,” directed by Paul King, opens January 12, 2018 -

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures will usher in the new year with the big-screen return of one of the world’s most beloved characters in a delightful new adventure. Following its overwhelmingly successful UK opening in November and #1 reign at the UK box office, “Paddington 2”—fully financed by STUDIOCANAL and produced by multi award-winning producer David Heyman (the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” films, “Paddington,” “Gravity”)—is set to debut in theatres across North America on January 12, 2018. The Studio has acquired distribution rights for the film in the U.S. and Canada from STUDIOCANAL and TWC/Dimension Films, it was jointly announced today by STUDIOCANAL, Sue Kroll, President of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

“Paddington 2” continues the story of the enduringly popular little bear in the trademark blue coat and red hat that touched audiences worldwide. It opened November 10th in the UK to enthusiastic audiences and universally positive reviews, outpacing its predecessor’s opening weekend numbers by over 60%.

Based on the best-selling and internationally adored series of children’s stories by Michael Bond, the film is once again directed by BAFTA nominee Paul King, from a script by King and Simon Farnaby.

Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Hugh Grant and three-time Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson join the all-star returning cast of Golden Globe nominee Hugh Bonneville, Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins, Oscar nominee Julie Walters, Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, Oscar winner Peter Capaldi, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin, with BAFTA winner Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington and Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton as the voice of Aunt Lucy.

The new story finds Paddington happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s hundredth birthday, Paddington spots a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it’s up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Hozier Creates Song, Better Love," for "The Legend of Tarzan"

The Legend of Tarzan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Features New Original Song “Better Love” Created for Film by Acclaimed Singer Songwriter Hozier

The Soundtrack and the “Better Love” Single Available Now alongside Accompanying Video for the Song

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The WaterTower Music soundtrack for Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ “The Legend of Tarzan” will feature the original song “Better Love,” created especially for the film by Grammy-nominated, award-winning, multi-platinum singer/songwriter Hozier (Andrew Hozier-Byrne), to be released as a single by Columbia Records along with the accompanying video. It is the first time the Irish-born Hozier has composed a song specifically for a major motion picture. The soundtrack also showcases the film’s compelling score, composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams.

    “It was vital that we felt the emotional pull of Africa for Tarzan”

The Legend of Tarzan: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is now available on iTunes at: iTunes. “Better Love” is also available today for purchase at: iTunes; Apple Music; and Spotify; Amazon; and Google Play The video for the passionate song can be viewed at: or “The Legend of Tarzan” opens in theatres nationwide on July 1st, 2016.

While Hozier was in Los Angeles taking a well-earned break after promoting his charity single, “Cherry Wine”—as well as an extensive two-year sold-out world tour in support of his debut self-titled album Hozier—he was invited to attend a screening of “The Legend of Tarzan” with a view toward writing a song for the upcoming movie. “I was excited about the opportunity and the challenge of writing for this film project. After viewing an early edit, I was struck by the theme of endurance, and endurance of love through such a hostile environment. I wanted the song to be an intimate reassurance as spoken from one lover to another—one that might be issued in hardship or doubt.’'

After the screening, Hozier got to work, and what started on just a piano grew into a sound that brought him to Abbey Road studios in London to add orchestra into the track. The result is the captivating song “Better Love,” written and performed by Hozier, produced by Hozier and Rob Kirwan.

Gregson-Williams’ music highlights all the elements on screen of action and the beauty and danger of the jungle and the complexity of surviving in it. “It was vital that we felt the emotional pull of Africa for Tarzan,” the composer states. “Tarzan has a theme, both brave and emotional, and I also composed a love theme for Tarzan and Jane. It connects them across the jungle.”

About “The Legend of Tarzan”:
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures comes the action adventure “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Alexander Skarsgård as the legendary character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The film also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, and Djimon Hounsou, with Jim Broadbent and Christoph Waltz.

It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Skarsgård) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Robbie), at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the King of Belgium’s envoy, Leon Rom (Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.

David Yates directed “The Legend of Tarzan” from a screenplay by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, story by Brewer and Cozad based on the Tarzan stories created by Burroughs. Legendary producer Jerry Weintraub produced the film, together with David Barron, Alan Riche and Tony Ludwig. Susan Ekins, Nikolas Korda, Keith Goldberg, Steve Mnuchin, David Yates, Mike Richardson and Bruce Berman served as executive producers.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, in association with RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a Jerry Weintraub Production, a Riche/Ludwig Production, a Beaglepug Production, a David Yates Film, “The Legend of Tarzan.”

Opening on July 1, 2016, the film will be distributed in 2D and 3D in theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. This film has been rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and brief rude dialogue.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Review: "Topsy-Turvy" Goes Behind the Scenes (Happy B'day, Jim Broadbent)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 224 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Topsy-Turvy (1999)
Running time:  160 minutes (2 hours, 40 minutes)
MPAA – R for a scene of risqué nudity
PRODUCER:  Simon Channing-Williams
EDITOR:  Robin Sales
Academy Award winner


Starring:  Allan Corduner, Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Wendy Nottingham, Dexter Fletcher, Sukie Smith, Roger Heathcott, Timothy Spall, Adam Searle, Martin Savage, Kate Doherty, Kenneth Hadley, Ron Cook, Eleanor David, Sam Kelly, and Andy Serkis

The subject of this movie review is Topsy-Turvy, a 1999 musical drama and comedy film from writer-director, Mike Leigh.  The film is a fictional account of the relationship between Gilbert and Sullivan, following a failed opera and leading to the creation of the duo’s masterpiece, The Mikado.

Topsy-Turvy is writer/director Mike Leigh’s fictional account of the comic opera team of Gilbert & Sullivan during a particular period in their partnership.  After the lukewarm critical reception of the comic opera, Princess Ida, in 1884, English composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner) has grown weary of his 13-year partnership with playwright and comic librettist William Schwenck “Willie” Gilbert (Jim Broadbent) and of Gilbert’s topsy-turvy scenarios.

Sullivan embarks on a tour of Europe and when he returns he begins to work on what he calls serious musical compositions.  However, the musical partners have a contract to fulfill with their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte (Ron Cook) for the Savoy Theatre (which had been built to house Gilbert & Sullivan’s operas).

After much disagreement among Sullivan, Gilbert, and Carte, Gilbert writes the scenario for The Mikado, a story inspired by Gilbert’s experiences from his visits to an exposition of Japanese culture, history, and art held in London in 1885.  Topsy-Turvy (a term used to describe the kind of fictional scenarios that involved ordinary humans encountered magic and sorcery) follows the creation, development, and staging of The Mikado.  Leigh’s fictional account shows Sir Arthur Sullivan working on the music and Willie Gilbert struggling with the actors to get the staging, acting, and singing just right.  His attention to detail also brings him into conflict with actors over costumes and the assignment of roles.

The film should be a treat to fans of Gilbert & Sullivan, and Topsy-Turvy is an excellent look at both the creative process and all the work that goes into staging an opera, everything from conducting the music and designing the sets to staging the cast and preparing for opening night.  There are a lot of very good performances in this film, but nothing from the leads (Broadbent and Corduner) stand out other than from the fact that they are the leads.  Andy Serkis (Gollum and Smeagol of The Lord of the Rings trilogy) makes a nice turn as the opera’s choreographer.

Leigh gives a look at the behind-the-scenes struggles and politics of raising a staged work that is quite interesting and almost academic in its details.  The film, however, does come off as a bit cool, and Leigh does too much teasing about the private lives of Gilbert & Sullivan, without revealing anything but tidbits.  Still, Leigh manages to make a unique and exceptional film that shines in spite of a few flaws.

7 of 10

2000 Academy Awards, USA:  2 wins: “Best Costume Design” (Lindy Hemming) and “Best Makeup” (Christine Blundell and Trefor Proud); 2 nominees:  “Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen” (Mike Leigh) and “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Eve Stewart-art director and John Bush-set decorator)

2000 BAFTA Awards:  1 win: “Best Make Up/Hair” (Christine Blundell); 4 nominations: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Simon Channing Williams and Mike Leigh), “Best Screenplay – Original” (Mike Leigh), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Jim Broadbent), and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Timothy Spall)

Updated:  Saturday, May 24, 2014

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 British Independent Film Award Nominations Are Announced

Prison drama "Starred Up" leads with 8 nominations.

by Amos Semien

[I must admit that I am unfamiliar with all of those nominees - editor's note]

The British Independent Film Awards were created in 1998.  This film award celebrates merit and achievement in independently funded British filmmaking, honors new film talent, and promotes British films and filmmaking to a wider public.  The awards are currently sponsored by Moët & Chandon Champagne.

The winners will be announced at the 16th awards ceremony on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at the impressive Old Billingsgate in London.

The 16th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards nominations:

Metro Manila
The Selfish Giant
Starred Up
Le Week-end

Jon S Baird – Filth
Clio Barnard – The Selfish Giant
Sean Ellis – Metro Manila
Jonathan Glazer – Under the Skin
David Mackenzie – Starred Up

Charlie Cattrall – Titus
Tina Gharavi – I Am Nasrine
Jeremy Lovering – In Fear
Omid Nooshin – Last Passenger
Paul Wright – For Those in Peril

Jonathan Asser – Starred Up
Clio Barnard – The Selfish Giant
Steven Knight – Locke
Hanif Kureishi – Le Week-end
Jeff Pope, Steve Coogan – Philomena

Judi Dench – Philomena
Lindsay Duncan – Le Week-end
Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
Felicity Jones – The Invisible Woman
Saoirse Ronan – How I Live Now

Jim Broadbent – Le Week-end
Steve Coogan – Philomena
Tom Hardy – Locke
Jack O'Connell – Starred Up
James McAvoy – Filth

Siobhan Finneran – The Selfish Giant
Shirley Henderson – Filth
Imogen Poots – The Look Of Love
Kristin Scott Thomas – The Invisible Woman
Mia Wasikowska – The Double

John Arcilla – Metro Manila
Rupert Friend – Starred Up
Jeff Goldblum – Le Week-end
Eddie Marsan – Filth
Ben Mendelsohn – Starred Up

Harley Bird – How I Live Now
Conner Chapman / Shaun Thomas – The Selfish Giant
Caity Lotz – The Machine
Jake Macapagal – Metro Manila
Chloe Pirrie – Shell

Sponsored by Company3
A Field in England
Metro Manila
The Selfish Giant
Starred Up

Shaheen Baig – Casting – Starred Up
Johnnie Burn – Sound Design – Under the Skin
Amy Hubbard – Casting – The Selfish Giant
Mica Levi – Music – Under the Skin
Justine Wright – Editing – Locke

Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer
The Great Hip Hop Hoax
The Moo Man
The Spirit of '45
The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

Dr Easy
Dylan's Room

Blue is the Warmest Colour
Blue Jasmine
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty

Everyone’s Going to Die
The Machine
The Patrol
Sleeping Dogs

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: "Art School Confidential" Has an Artful Cast (Happy B'day, John Malkovich)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 216 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Art School Confidential (2006)
Running time: 102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – R for language including sexual references, nudity, and a scene of violence
DIRECTOR: Terry Zwigoff
WRITER: Daniel Clowes (based on the comic by Daniel Clowes)
PRODUCERS: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jamie Anderson, A.S.C. (director of photography)
EDITOR: Robert Hoffman
COMPOSER: David Kitay

COMEDY/DRAMA with elements of romance

Starring: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar, Ethan Suplee, Joel David Moore, Nick Swardson, Anjelica Huston, Adam Scott, Jack Ong, Michael Lerner, and Ezra Buzzington

The subject of this movie review is Art School Confidential, a 2006 comedy-drama from director Terry Zwigoff. The film is based on a four-page comic book short story written and drawn by Daniel Clowes and published in Clowes’ comic book series, Eightball #7 (Fantagraphics Books). Clowes wrote the screenplay for Art School Confidential, the second film collaboration between him and Zwigoff. Zwigoff directed and Clowes wrote the screenplay for Ghost World, a film based on a Clowes graphic novel.

In Art School Confidential, an ambitious art school student tries desperately to get the girl of his dreams, but she’s attracted to a dumb jock type whose simplistic pop art paintings have taken the art class by storm. This the second film from the team of Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes that gave us the Oscar-nominated, Ghost World. Clowes is a comic book artist, and Art School Confidential, like Ghost World, is adapted from his comics.

Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) wants to be the greatest artist of the 21st Century, and to that end he escapes his suburban home and terrible high school to a tiny East Coast art school, the Strathmore Institute. However, the beauty and craft of his portraiture does not win him any friends among his fellow students in the anything-goes art class. He finds this new world filled with a collection of offbeat characters: his worldly, but obnoxious classmate, Bardo (Joel David Moore); a roommate exploding with the desire to make a cinematic masterpiece of blood and violence, Vince (Ethan Suplee); his self-involved art teacher, Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich); and a failed artist and Strathmore grad who is drowning in alcohol and self-pity, Jimmy (Jim Broadbent).

Jerome does find his eye drawn to the girl of his dreams, Audrey Baumgarten (Sophia Myles), an artist’s model (who models nude for Jerome’s class) and daughter of an acclaimed artist. Audrey is initially attracted to Jerome, whose attitude is refreshing and not like the affectations of the local art crowd. However, a fellow art student and jock-type named Jonah (Matt Keeslar) becomes the toast of the art school with his pop art paintings. When Audrey turns her attentions to Jonah, Jerome concocts various plans to win back her affections, which all fail, but his next one will put Jerome’s future at stake, as well as the lives of those in and around Strathmore.

While Art School Confidential comes across as a satire of art schools, the faculty, and students, it is also a love story and youth relationship drama. It works well as all three. As a work of satire, Clowes’ script is matter-of-fact about art school politics. All his characters exist more in their own worlds than they do in the larger world in which they also co-exist, whether or not they believe they do. It seems as if they tolerate people and desire others attentions mostly so others should validate their art, agendas, and careers.

As for the romance and drama: Max Minghella certainly makes Jerome Platz a likeable underdog for whom we root. He may a bit aloof and may be naïve in terms of his expectations, but he’s honest and his ignorance and rudeness are endearing. We want him to get the girl, and we love the girl, too. Sophia Myles plays Audrey, the object of desire, quite well – mainly because she’s an “It” girl with that kind of classic look that works so well in film.

Still, the question that’s on everyone’s mind, “Is Art School Confidential funny?” I thought it uproariously funny, although it goes dry at the beginning of the last act. Clowes views humanity with a sanguine eye, even when his work seems cynical. His comics are matter-of-fact about humanity – warts and all. He may privately pass judgment, but in his comics, he lets the reader make up his own mind. His movie writing is like that, and Zwigoff is adept at picking up both the subtle nuances and broad strokes of his screenwriting collaborators. That allows Zwigoff to spend his time letting his talented cast have fun with the script and story. The result is fun, even exceptionally good flicks like Art School Confidential.

8 of 10

Friday, October 20, 2006

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Cloud Atlas" Soundtrack CD Due November 6 2012

Cloud Atlas Soundtrack Due October 23rd From WaterTower Music

Featuring Original Music by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WaterTower Music will release the Cloud Atlas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack at all digital retailers on October 23, with a physical CD release to follow on November 6. The original music was composed by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil. Tykwer also shares screenwriting and directing credits with filmmakers Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski, in bringing David Mitchell’s best-selling novel to the big screen in the October 26th release Cloud Atlas.

Music is a central part of the Cloud Atlas story, particularly in one sequence of the film’s narrative involving a young composer who struggles to complete his life’s work, entitled The Cloud Atlas Sextet. This musical theme then recurs throughout the film and helps to connect multiple threads of action together as a single story moving through time.

“It’s an ever-present melody from a simple string line to a riff in a 1970s rock piece, to a jazz sextet playing in the background at the Cavendish party. We needed something beautiful and malleable enough to take us through five centuries,” said Tykwer. “There are lots of subjective voices in the story, and we were searching for one voice that could encompass them all, to form a beautiful choir.”

Because of this the three composers began working on the music before a single frame of film was shot.

“He prefers this to using temporary music by other composers,” Heil explained. “It allows him to use the temp score without worrying about what will take its place. As the film takes shape in post-production, we see what’s missing or needs changing and re-record the final.”

In the powerful and inspiring epic Cloud Atlas, drama, mystery, action and enduring love thread through a single story that unfolds in multiple timelines over the span of 500 years. Characters meet and reunite from one life to the next. Born and reborn. As the consequences of their actions and choices impact one another through the past, the present and the distant future, one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Everything is connected.

Academy Award® winners Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) and Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) lead a stellar international cast that also includes Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent (Iris), Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, Keith David and David Gyasi, with Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) and Hugh Grant. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the story moves through time. Cloud Atlas is produced by Grant Hill, Stefan Arndt, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski, with executive producers Philip Lee, Uwe Schott and Wilson Qui.

The Cloud Atlas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on WaterTower Music will be available digitally on October 23, and as a physical CD November 6, 2012.

Tom Tykwer is one of Germany’s most exciting filmmakers and a triple threat (writer, director, composer). In 1999, he made his international breakthrough with the adrenaline-fueled Run Lola Run, which, as well as directing, he also wrote and co-composed with Klimek and Heil. The film was both a commercial and critical success, going on to become the most successful German film of that year. He followed this with The Princess and the Warrior, and then with his first English-language film, Heaven. In 2006, Tykwer co-wrote and directed Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. His next film was the sleek thriller The International. Most recently he completed the German language film 3 (Drei).

Reinhold Heil was born in a small town in West Germany and trained to become a classical pianist. While studying at the Berlin Music Academy, Heil became Nina Hagen’s keyboardist, co-writer, and co-producer and for the next few years honed his craft in what became the legendary Nina Hagen Band. After Hagen left the group, the remaining band members formed Spliff, one of Germany’s most successful rock bands of the 1980s.

Born in Australia, Johnny Klimek paid his dues in a series of gritty pub bands before migrating to Berlin to form the ’80s pop ensemble “The Other Ones” with his siblings. He segued into the club music scene on his own in the ’90s, and, out of the latter emerged his creative marriages to both Heil and Tykwer.

Among Klimek and Heil’s credits are Killer Elite, the TV series Awake, One Hour Photo, the acclaimed TV series Deadwood, and the theme song for Without a Trace. Up next for the duo is I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart, slated for release in February.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Cloud Atlas" Set for October 2012 with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry

Warner Bros. Pictures Sets October 26, 2012 for Domestic Release of “Cloud Atlas”

Studio Also Acquires Distribution Rights for Major International Markets

Oscar® Winners Tom Hanks and Halle Berry Lead an International All-Star Cast

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures has officially slated the epic “Cloud Atlas,” from acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski, for domestic release on October 26, 2012. In addition, the Studio has acquired rights for the film in the major markets of the UK, France, Spain, Australia, and Japan, with plans to release it in those territories in early 2013. The joint announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Fellman stated, “Audiences who have seen an early screening of ‘Cloud Atlas’ have been elated by its powerful and inspiring story, as well as its breathtaking visuals. An October release in North America is the perfect window to showcase this epic film.”

Kwan Vandenberg said, “We are proud to be distributing this remarkable motion picture in a number of key markets. We look forward to working with these visionary filmmakers and the other international distribution partners to bring ‘Cloud Atlas’ to moviegoers around the world.”

Academy Award® winners Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump”) and Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) lead a stellar international cast that includes Oscar® winner Jim Broadbent (“Iris”), Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun and Keith David, with Oscar® winner Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”) and Hugh Grant. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the stories move through time.

“Cloud Atlas” explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future.

The film is written for the screen and directed by Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski. The Wachowskis previously teamed as writers/directors of the groundbreaking “Matrix” trilogy, which earned more than $1.6 billion, combined, at the worldwide box office. Tom Tykwer won an Independent Spirit Award and earned a BAFTA Award nomination as the director/writer of “Run Lola Run,” and more recently directed the award-winning thriller “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.”

Based on the celebrated best-selling novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” is produced by two-time Oscar® nominee Grant Hill (“The Thin Red Line,” “The Tree of Life”), three-time BAFTA Award nominee Stefan Arndt (“The White Ribbon,” “Goodbye Lenin!,” “Run Lola Run”), Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski. Philip Lee, Uwe Schott and Wilson Qiu serve as executive producers, with Peter Lam, Tony Teo and Alexander van Duelmen co-producing, and Gigi Oeri as associate producer.

“Cloud Atlas” will be released in Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland by X-Filme-Verleih; in China by Dreams of the Dragon Pictures; in Hong Kong by Media Asia Group; in Singapore and Malaysia by Ascension Pictures; in Korea by Bloomage Company; in Taiwan by Long Shong Group; in Russia and Eastern Europe by A Company; and in other territories through Focus Features International.

Monday, May 21, 2012

"The Iron Lady" is Rusty and Crusty

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 40 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Iron Lady (2011)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some violent images and brief nudity
DIRECTOR: Phyllida Lloyd
WRITER: Abi Morgan
PRODUCER: Damian Jones
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Elliot Davis (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Justine Wright
COMPOSER: Thomas Newman
Academy Award winner


Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Susan Browne, Alexandra Roach, Henry Lloyd, Anthony Head, and Nicholas Farrell

The Iron Lady is a 2011 British drama starring Meryl Streep. The film dramatizes pivotal moments in the life of Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Thatcher was also the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century.

The film opens in late 2008 and finds former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), struggling with dementia. Over the course of a few days, Thatcher looks back on the defining moments of her personal and professional life, while she also reminisces with her late husband, Denis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent). Meanwhile, her daughter, Carol (Olivia Colman), worries about her mother’s seeming inability to distinguish between the past and the present and also to let go of Denis’ possessions. Carol doesn’t know that her mother’s hallucinations involve conversations with her dead husband.

The Iron Lady won two Oscars, including a best actress win by Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Thatcher. Streep is good, but this movie is a disaster. It’s like some kind of Kabuki puppet theatre version of a British movie. Frankly, the movie is so stiff and weird, and for that reason alone, I think someone else should have won the best actress Oscar (Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs or Viola Davis for The Help). As for the best makeup Oscar: if making actors look like prune-faced goblins is Oscar-worthy, then, this film’s makeup guys, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, should also get a genius grant.

I was not a fan of Thatcher growing up, but I remember her tremendous stature in the world, especially in Europe and in the United States. Thus, this movie is too small for such a monumental figure, although there are a few moments when Streep brings out Thatcher’s unbending will in way that aroused me and even made me hetero for a few moments (Hee hee).

However, The Iron Lady is ultimately a poor highlight reel about a powerful woman who broke down barriers. This isn’t really a movie about Margaret Thatcher; it’s a movie about an old lady with dementia. Even a non-fan of Thatcher, like myself, thinks she deserves better.

3 of 10

2012 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Meryl Streep) and “Best Achievement in Makeup” (Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland)

2012 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Leading Actress” (Meryl Streep) and “Best Make Up & Hair” (Mark Coulier, Marese Langan, and J. Roy Helland); 2 nominations: “Best Original Screenplay” (Abi Morgan) and “Best Supporting Actor” (Jim Broadbent)

2012 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Meryl Streep)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: "Iris" Blooms Through Powerful Performances (Happy B'day, Jim Broadbent)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 27 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

Iris (2001)
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Richard Eyre
WRITERS: Charles Wood and Richard Eyre (based upon John Bayley’s books: Iris: A Memoir and Elegy for Iris)
PRODUCERS: Robert Fox and Scott Rudin
EDITOR: Martin Walsh
COMPOSER: James Horner
Academy Award winner


Starring: Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville, and Penelope Wilton

Iris is the story of the real lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley. The romance begins in their school days when Bayley was a professor at Oxford and Ms. Murdoch was young academic teaching philosophy, and the story ends when Ms. Murdoch succumbs to Alzheimer’s disease.

Directed by Richard Eyre, a veteran of British television movies, Iris unveils the story of Ms. Murdoch and Bayley’s love in snippets of time through the eyes of both characters, but in particular Bayley’s. Iris is an actor’s movie, and Eyre shows great skill in preparing the way for his cast. He lingers on the faces when appropriate, especially the eyes of such a talented cast, eye that say speak volumes. In some moments, he allows body movements and body language to communicate the story. And that is what Eyre is, a natural storyteller, allowing his players all the space they need on the stage to perform.

His cast is exquisite. Kate Winslet (Titanic), who earned an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actress in the role of the young Iris, transforms herself into the young philosopher who has so much interest in words and in life. Although already a star, Ms. Winslet is so convincing that it is difficult to see her as the “star;” we see her instead as her character.

Academy Award winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) also earned a Best Actress nomination for playing the elder Ms. Murdoch, beset by Alzheimer’s. She magically and tragically transforms from national famous novelist to lost soul with subtlety and grace. The key moments of her losing battle with the disease are played out so carefully, you could almost miss them if not paying attention. It is not a flashy performance, but rather one that calls for talent and the skill with which to wield that talent. Ms. Dench mentally and physically decays before our eyes, so we share and understand the sad loss of Ms. Murdoch’s brilliant mind.

Not to dismiss Ms. Winslet and Ms. Dench, the most amazing work are the performances of Hugh Bonneville as the young Bayley and Jim Broadbent (Topsy-Turvy) as the elder Bayley; Broadbent won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role as John Bayley. Both men have an uncanny connection with the other that makes one’s performance a mirror of the other. Bonneville’s Bayley is perfectly awkward next to Ms. Winslet’s Ms. Murdoch, who is so spirited. The story of their unlikely romance is written on Bonneville’s face. He dominates his scenes, but allows Ms. Winslet to develop and to reveal her character, upon which Bonneville plays his. Not acclaimed like his colleagues, his performance is a treasure. Broadbent must make his Bayley from the doddering old man who let his wife take care of everything to the pillar of strength in the relationship. Like Ms. Dench’s, Broadbent’s transformation is equally subtle; when he has to support her, his performance radiates power. Like Ms. Murdoch, the audience must lean on Bayley so that the story remains coherent. Through Broadbent, the unlikely love gains legitimacy.

Iris is the art of acting and stage drama brought to the screen by four powerful talents and a director who has the sense to let the talent soar. In words, Ms. Murdoch became famous, and through words from the mouths of these true actors, we get to taste some of Iris Murdoch and John Bayley’s story.

8 of 10

2002 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Jim Broadbent); 2 nominations: “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Judi Dench) and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Kate Winslet)

2002 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Judi Dench); 5 nominations: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Robert Fox, Scott Rudin, and Richard Eyre), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Jim Broadbent), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Hugh Bonneville), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Kate Winslet), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Richard Eyre and Charles Wood)

2002 Golden Globes: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Jim Broadbent); 2 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Judi Dench) and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Kate Winslet)


Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" is Better Than the Original (Happy B'day, Renee Zellweger)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 237 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)
Running time: 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
MPAA – R for some language and some sexual content
DIRECTOR: Beeban Kidron
WRITERS: Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis, Adam Brooks, and Helen Fielding (based upon the novel of the same title by Helen Fielding)
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish, and Eric Fellner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adrian Biddle and Doug Propp
EDITOR: Greg Hayden
Golden Globe nominee

COMEDY/ROMANCE with elements of drama

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, and Jacinda Barrett

Bridget Jones’s Diary was a comic romance – a romantic film with a huge helping of humor. The 2004 sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is a romantic comedy – a thoroughly comic film that deals with romance. Taking place several weeks after the end of the original film, The Edge of Reason should find Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) happy, right?

She found her Mr. Right in Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) by the end of Diary, but as Edge begins Bridget discovers that the couple has huge cultural, social, and personality conflicts. Mark is a conservative who has poor people-hating, rich Tory friends. Bridget is full of insecurities, although Mark is supportive and (almost) tolerant of Bridget’s tiny jealousies. However, the trouble comes to a head when Bridget meets Mark’s leggy new intern, Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett). Rebecca is thin, oh-so-young, drop-dead gorgeous, and she always says the right thing at the right time. Fed up with what she perceives as Mark’s cold lack of concern about their future together she dumps him. Just in time, her old flame, old boss, and eternal cad, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), sweeps in and to become Bridget’s new co-worker. Their television partnership eventually takes them to Thailand in what becomes the worst vacation Bridget ever had. Will Mark come to her rescue… and rescue of their relationship?

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is one of the funniest movies of the year, the funniest movie Ms. Zellweger has done to date, and funnier (though not as romantic) than the original. Ms. Zellweger gives one of the finest comic performances in recent years; it’s part slapstick and part physical comedy (lots of pratfalls). Not only did she have to give near perfect timing on the delivery of her dialogue, but also her facial ticks and mannerisms had to perfectly fit the moment, which they always do in this film.

Colin Firth didn’t bring anything new to the second film, but he didn’t need to change what he did in the original film. His film persona is endearing (even when he plays the bad guy, as he did in Shakespeare in Love); Firth makes Mark Darcy as he must be – perfectly so to explain Bridget’s craziness about their relationship. Hugh Grant is cut from the classic mold of old Hollywood. He’s a star known for “playing himself.” He is however, vastly underrated, because of his skill in slightly modifying the same character (he plays every time) to flawlessly fit each new film in which the character appears. Virtually every classic Hollywood film star from Humphrey Bogart to James Stewart did this, and Grant’s spin on his film persona is another reason Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is not only better than the original, but also a standout comedy.

8 of 10

2005 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Renée Zellweger)


"Bridget Jones's Diary" Has Fun with Words

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 236 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Running time: 97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – R for language and some strong sexuality
DIRECTOR: Sharon Maguire
WRITERS: Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, and Richard Curtis (based upon the novel by Helen Fielding)
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish, and Eric Fellner
EDITOR: Martin Walsh
Academy Award nominee

COMEDY/ROMANCE with elements of drama

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Celia Imrie, James Faulkner, Jim Broadbent, Felicity Montagu, Shirley Henderson, Sally Phillips, and James Callis, Salman Rushdie, Embeth Davidtz, and Honor Blackman with Julian Barnes

Renée Zellweger earned an Oscar® nomination in the category of “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for her performance in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Bridget Jones (Ms. Zellweger) is a 30-something, single British girl who decides to improve herself (i.e. lose weight) while seeking to find Mr. Right before she becomes an old maid (if she isn’t already that in her own estimation), so Bridget decides to keep a diary of her progress and her trials and travails. Her romantic endeavors eventually focuses on two men

There’s her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), at a publishing firm, and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who was childhood neighbor. Cleaver is a cad who lays ‘em and leaves ‘em, and Darcy is a sharp-tongue, embittered divorcee, who claims to have bad memories of Bridget as a child. Who will finish the film as Bridget’s beau, and will she make an ass of herself before she finds her man?

Although the film story doesn’t amount to much, Bridget Jones’s Diary’s script is witty and bawdy enough to cause blushing. Ms. Zellweger expertly plays the fumbling Bridget Jones, who has a penchant for running off at the mouth and saying the worst things at the worst times. Like her co-stars (especially Grant and Firth), she makes the most of the film’s dialogue; ultimately, it’s what the actors say that defines their characters. If they’d delivered their lines badly, they would have ruined the film; luckily the cast verbally dances around each other like Olympic fencers.

7 of 10

2002 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Renée Zellweger)

2002 BAFTA Awards: 4 nominations: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Jonathan Cavendish), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Colin Firth), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Renée Zellweger), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, and Richard Curtis)

2002 Golden Globes: 2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Renée Zellweger)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!" is Half Brilliant, Half Ridiculous

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 19 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Running time: 127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual content
DIRECTOR: Baz Luhrmann
WRITERS: Craig Pearce and Baz Luhrmann
PRODUCERS: Fred Baron, Martin Brown, and Baz Luhrmann
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Donald M. McAlpine (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jill Bilcock
Academy Award winner


Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, Garry McDonald, Jacek Koman, Matthew Whittet, and Kerry Walker

Christian (Ewan McGregor), an impoverished young poet from Scotland, arrives in Montmarte, France and falls in with a group of Bohemians led by Henri Ramone de Toulouse-Lautrec (John Leguizamo), against the wishes of his father. Like the young poet, the Bohemians believe in freedom, truth, beauty, and most of all love, and they want to stage a show in the legendary Moulin Rouge, the home of the Paris’s colorful and diverse underworld where the wealthy rub shoulders with the working class, artists, bohemians, actresses, and courtesans.

Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent, Iris), the impresario of the Moulin Rouge, wants a backer so that he could turn his haven of sex and drugs into a proper theatre. His wealthy quarry is The Duke of Monroth (Richard Roxburgh) who is willing to give the money for the renovation, but, in return, he wants for his possession the Moulin Rouge’s most popular attraction, the beautiful courtesan and the stuff of which dreams are made, Satine (Nicole Kidman). The stop in Zidler’s plans and in the Duke's desires comes in the form of Christian. He becomes the playwright of the show that would transform the Moulin Rouge, and he falls hopelessly in love with Satine, much the chagrin of the vindictive Duke.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann (William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet), Moulin Rouge! is an extravaganza of modern popular music, flashing lights, sumptuous sets, colorful costumes, and dazzling production numbers. Like the title of the Bohemians’ play that Christian composes, Moulin Rouge! is a “spectacular spectacular.” As beautiful and as breathtaking as everything is, Moulin is more about visual noise than it is about visual storytelling.

At some moments, the cacophony of music and songs intertwined like drunken snakes is quite nice, at other moments, it is a melding of pretension, misfires, and nonsense. However, even in those moments excess, Moulin Rouge! remains engaging and beautiful. Even when you’re bored, you can’t take your eyes away from the gorgeous sights, nor can your ear not seek out the secrets of the sonic mélange. The cinematography (Donald McAlpine who also worked on Luhrmann’s Romeo) captures the rich palette with the flare of a romantic classical painter. Production design (Catherine Martin), art direction (Ann-Marie Beauchamp), and set decoration (Brigitte Broch) are not only some of the best of the year, but some of the best ever.

Kudos to the actors for maintaining their crafts amidst the energy of Luhrmann’s film. Ms. Kidman has never been more beautiful (and she is always beautiful), her face a luminous globe in Moulin Rouge!’s dance of colors. She is a swooning siren, an intoxicating temptress, and gorgeous martyr. Ewan McGregor is the young poet eager to teach the world his overriding belief in truth, beauty, freedom, and love, but he is able to turn jealous and angry at a moment’s notice. It is in his face that we can see the overwhelming optimism of “love conquerors all: that seems to be a theme of this film. Even in sadness, there remains in young Christian’s face, the strength of love.

Moulin Rouge! is in its execution meant to be a cinematic experience like no other. That it is. It seeks to overwhelm the viewer with sound and images, though the images and sounds are often static and junk. It looks so good on the screen, and the movie moves madly about the screen. It loses the story amidst the sound and the spectacle, so sometimes it seems nonsensical. Moulin Rouge! tries the patience of the viewer, and the film hints that it could have been something more. Better luck next time.

6 of 10

2002 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Catherine Martin-art director and Brigitte Broch-set decorator) and “Best Costume Design” (Catherine Martin, Angus Strathie); 6 nominations: “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Nicole Kidman), “Best Cinematography” (Donald McAlpine), “Best Editing” (Jill Bilcock), “Best Makeup” (Maurizio Silvi and Aldo Signoretti” “Best Picture” (Fred Baron, Martin Brown, and Baz Luhrmann), “Best Sound” (Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Roger Savage, and Guntis Sics)

2002 BAFTA Awards: 3 wins: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Craig Armstrong and Marius De Vries), “BAFTA Film Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Jim Broadbent), and “Best Sound” (Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer, Roger Savage, Guntis Sics, Gareth Vanderhope, and Antony Gray); 9 nominations: “Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects” (Chris Godfrey, Andy Brown, Nathan McGuinness, and Brian Cox), “Best Cinematography” (Donald McAlpine), “Best Costume Design” (Catherine Martin and Angus Strathie), “Best Editing” (Jill Bilcock), “Best Film” (Martin Brown, Baz Luhrmann, and Fred Baron), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Maurizio Silvi and Aldo Signoretti), “Best Production Design” (Catherine Martin), “Best Screenplay – Original” (Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce) and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Baz Luhrmann)

2002 Golden Globes: 3 wins: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,” “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Craig Armstrong), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Nicole Kidman); 3 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Baz Luhrmann) and “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (David Baerwald for the song "Come What May") and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Ewan McGregor)


Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: "Vanity Fair" is a Good Old Fashioned Costume Melodrama (Happy B'day, Mira Nair)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 28 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Vanity Fair (2004)
Running time: 137 minutes (2 hours, 17 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some sensuality/partial nudity and a brief violent image
WRITERS: Matthew Faulk and Mark Skeet and Julian Fellowes (based upon the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray)
PRODUCERS: Janette Day, Lydia Dean Pilcher, and Donna Gigliotti
EDITOR: Allyson C. Johnson

DRAMA with elements of romance

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, James Purefoy, Romola Garai, Tony Maudsley, Rhys Ifans, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Bob Hoskins, Douglas Hodge, Meg Wynn Owen, Natasha Little, Eileen Atkins, Jim Broadbent, Robert Pattinson, and Gabriel Byrne

Born into the lower class, Rebecca “Becky” Sharp (Reese Witherspoon) becomes a relentless social climber in London society, circa 1820. She ascends the social ladder with her friend, Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai), who is from a noble, but broke family. Becky begins as a governess before marrying a financially challenged nobleman, Rawdon Crawley (James Purefoy), who is also a gambler. She eventually discovers herself to be as vain and as foolish as anyone born of noble blood.

I love costume dramas, especially English films of this type, so I was bound to be a sucker for director Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair, the film adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s massive 19-century novel. I’ve never read the novel, but I could still see that something was amiss. Reese Witherspoon seems ill cast as Thackeray’s cunning anti-heroine. Her accent is shoddy, her acting range is limited, and she’s just playing her Legally Blonde character in an English costume drama. Luckily, the camera loves her, and she has a charming film personality, even when she’s wrong for a part.

Vanity Fair also swings back and forth between being riveting and tepid, although Ms. Nair injects some exotic charm in it via Indian culture in the form of music, dance, costume, and bit players. What turns the film to its better half is that Ms. Nair and her primary screenwriter, Oscar winner, Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), are able to wring poignancy out of the British stiff upper lip by emphasizing the disastrous consequences of human vanity and pride, mostly resulting from class prejudice. The theme seems to be that the personal cost of pride to the characters in terms of lost love and lost loved ones who departed (either through death or personal exile) before reconciliation is too high. In this the film rings true.

Vanity Fair is also a gorgeous period film filled with lavish sets and sumptuous costumes. Even the examples of poverty in the film and the portrayal of the filthy London streets seem authentic. The film’s visual flair more than makes up for its shaky moments, and while Vanity Fair isn’t as good as classic Merchant Ivory films like A Room with a View and Howard’s End, this classic of British literature, adapted with a hint of Indian spice, will sate the appetite for good old costume drama.

7 of 10


Friday, August 13, 2010

Edgar Wright Did Action in Comic "Hot Fuzz"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 132 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Hot Fuzz (2007)
Running time: 121 minutes (2 hours, 1 minutes)
MPAA - R for violent content including some graphic images, and language
DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright
WRITERS: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
PRODUCERS: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner
EDITOR: Chris Dickens


Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Timothy Dalton, Martin Freeman, Paul Freeman, Bill Nighy, Lucy Punch, Anne Reid, Bill Whitelaw, Stuart Wilson, and Edward Woodward

The director/co-writer (Edgar Wright), co-writer/star (Simon Pegg), and co-star/sidekick (Nick Frost) of Shaun of the Dead return in Hot Fuzz, a send up of America cop movies, with a British twist.

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), the finest police officer in London, has an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. Because that makes everyone else look bad, Angel's superiors transfer him to the sleepy, seemingly crime-free village of Sandford. There, he is partnered with the well-meaning but overeager police officer PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who is also the son of Sandford’s amiable police chief, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent).

Danny is a huge action movie fan and craves the kind of action he sees in his beloved American action movies – two of his favorites being Bad Boys II and Point Break. Danny is hoping that his new big-city partner might just be a real-life “bad boy,” and that Nick Angel will help him experience the life of gunfights and car chases for which he's longed. While Nick is dismissing Danny's childish fantasies, a series of grisly accidents rocks the village, convincing Nick that Sandford is not the peaceful paradise it at first seems. As the mystery deepens, Nick may be able to make Danny's dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gun-fighting, all-out action a reality, but it may come at a high cost for both men.

As comedies go, Hot Fuzz is a pretty special movie, primarily because, outside of comic horror movies, this is one of the few instances that a film uses graphic violence and gore in a way that is so clever and hilarious. In fact, Hot Fuzz is a beautiful send up of the American high octane action flick, and the film is so disarming. It’s not just disarmingly funny, but the entire thing is beguiling in the way droll British humor and dry wit can be. Yet, Hot Fuzz is as relentless funny and subtly manic as any joke-a-minute American gross-out comedy.

Simon Pegg is terrific as the tightly wound professional police service officer, and Nick Frost is brilliant as the sweetly naïve Butterman. They are, however, just the tip of the iceberg in a film made of superb and witty supporting performances constructed from a good script and directing that, for the most part, hits the right notes. The film falters here and there and has several noticeable extended dry stretches, but at its heart, Hot Fuzz is delicious lunacy and outrageousness in the service of a good cause – comedy.

7 of 10

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: "Gangs of New York" Was the First Scorsese-DiCaprio Joint

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Gangs of New York (2002)
Running time: 167 minutes (2 hours, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R for intense strong violence, sexuality/nudity and language
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
WRITERS: Jay Cocks, Steven Zallian, and Kenneth Lonergan; from a story by Jay Cocks
PRODUCERS: Alberto Grimaldi and Harvey Weinstein
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Ballhaus (director of photography)
EDITOR: Thelma Schoonmaker
COMPOSER: Howard Shore
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Lewis, Stephen Graham, Eddie Marsan, and Larry Gilliard, Jr.

Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited Gangs of New York begins in 1846 with a bloody battle between rival New York gangs that Scorsese films with enough majestic splendor and power to rival an epic battle in one of The Lord of the Rings films. This is an auspicious opening to a wonderful film that just happens to run on a little too long.

Young Amsterdam Vallon watches his father Priest (Liam Neeson, K-19: The Widowmaker), leader of the Irish Dead Rabbits, fall under the knife of William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis, The Crucible), leader of the Nativists. The Nativists, whose parents and grandparents were Americans and who are white Anglo Saxon New Yorkers, look upon the new immigrants, especially the Irish, as foreign invaders, garbage whom must they must subjugate. Truthfully, they’re all poor folks living in the slums in filth and hunger.

In 1863, the adult Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic) emerges from a juvenile home ready to avenge his father’s death. He finds that many of his late father’s colleagues have joined ranks with Cutting’s gang and that Cutting now reveres Priest Vallon as the last great man. Amsterdam hides his identity and joins Cutting’s crew, where he becomes like a son to him, until Amsterdam’s identity is revealed and he has his first bloody confrontation with Cutting.

For most of Gangs, one can’t help but be taken in by the breathtaking and dazzling filmmaking, possible Scorsese’s most invigorating work since Goodfellas. Superb camerawork by Michael Ballhaus and excellent film editing by Thelma Schoonmaker (both long time Scorsese cohorts) combine their talents with the master’s brilliant sense of design, pacing, and storytelling to form a perfect film. Then, it suddenly goes on past the point where it should have ended – the first confrontation between Amsterdam and Bill the Butcher. Their continued rivalry isn’t boring, but some of other subplots that went with it seem extraneous.

The script, by former Scorsese collaborator Jay Cocks, the talented Steven Zallian (Academy Award winner for Schindler’s List), and Kenneth Lonergan (writer/director of the beautiful You Can Count on Me) is Shakespearean in its approach to character, plot, and dramatization. The story, however, tries to cover all the important national issues of 1863: The War Between the States, immigration, conscription, class conflict, ethnic conflict, racism, slavery, political corruption, police corruption, violence, hunger and poverty, religious conflict, and loyalty and how all these issues intermingle into further conflict. Sometimes, it all seems like so much crap thrown against the wall to see what sticks. All these subplots require a longer film, and Gangs is already two hours and 48 minutes long. This obese screen story is the blemish on what could have been a great film.

Still Scorsese tackles this beast of a script and turns it into a wonderful movie, in part because he draws some great performances from his cast. Day-Lewis is always a pleasure to watch, and he turns Cutting into a complex man worthy of everything between outright loathing and sincere admiration. DiCaprio is the youthful and seething hero and proves, once again, that the screen loves him; you can’t take your eyes off him. He’s the perfect movie star: dazzling, boyish beauty and talent to burn, but envy will deny him the accolades that Day-Lewis will get for this film. Other stellar performances include Cameron Diaz (stop hatin,’ she can really act), the chameleonic Jim Broadbent (always on his game), and Henry Thomas (all grown up since E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial). Gangs of New York is not to be missed; the only regret one can have is how close they all came to getting making perfect.

7 of 10

2003 Academy Awards: 10 nominations: “Best Picture” (Alberto Grimaldi and Harvey Weinstein), “Best Director” (Martin Scorsese), “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Daniel Day-Lewis), “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Dante Ferretti-art director and Francesca Lo Schiavo-set decorator), “Best Cinematography” (Michael Ballhaus), “Best Costume Design” (Sandy Powell), “Best Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker), “Best Music, Original Song” (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. for the song "The Hands That Built America"), “Best Sound” (Tom Fleischman, Eugene Gearty, and Ivan Sharrock), “Best Writing, Original Screenplay” (Jay Cocks-screenplay/story, Steven Zaillian-screenplay, and Kenneth Lonergan-screenplay)

2003 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Daniel Day-Lewis); 11 nominations: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Howard Shore), “Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects” (R. Bruce Steinheimer, Michael Owens, Edward Hirsh, and Jon Alexander), “Best Cinematography” (Michael Ballhaus), “Best Costume Design” (Sandy Powell), “Best Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker), “Best Film” (Alberto Grimaldi and Harvey Weinstein), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Manlio Rocchetti and Aldo Signoretti), “Best Production Design” (Dante Ferretti), “Best Screenplay – Original” (Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan), “Best Sound” (Tom Fleischman, Ivan Sharrock, Eugene Gearty, and Philip Stockton), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Martin Scorsese)

2003 Golden Globes: 2 wins: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Martin Scorsese) and “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. for the song "The Hands That Built America"); 3 nominations “Best Motion Picture – Drama” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Daniel Day-Lewis), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Cameron Diaz)