Posts published under “Rebecca’s Favorites”
Here’s a quick rundown of 2012′s Best from your friends at Serious Movie Lover:
1-3. We’re going with a 3-way tie for first place.
Saw this movie three times in the theater and loved it every time. Special recognition to Alexandre Desplat for the music.
The Master– Mesmerizing cinematography and acting. A shame that it will not be rewarded in a major way this awards season.
Life of Pi–Amazing in every respect. Kudos to Ang Lee.
4. Bernie–Hilarious! Finally a good feature for Jack Black. Loved the locals featured in this fun flick.
5. Argo-–Nothing over the top here, just solid filmmaking from Ben Affleck.
Lincoln–Too stage-y for us but a tour de force for Daniel Day Lewis.
Pending / Still waiting to see…..
Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Amour, On the Road
What are your favorites? Be sure to tell us in our comments section.
Thanks and see you in the New Year!
LIFE OF PI (2012/IN THEATERS) Wow! That’s what you’ll be saying as you leave the theater after viewing this fabulous movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to catch it on the big screen and do pony up for 3D. It’s a mind-blowing masterwork from director Ang Lee, whose track record includes such wildly differing films as Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, and Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon. Based on the best selling novel by Canadian Yann Martel (which was published in 2001 and won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2002), Life of Pi centers on Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel who lives with his family in India where they run a zoo which is part of the city garden in Pondicherry. True to the book, we are introduced to Pi first as an adult in Canada (played by the always wonderful Irrfan Khan) as he is being interviewed by a writer (Rafe Spall) who has been told that Pi’s story “will make you believe in God.” We next meet school-age Pi, a curious young man who is fascinated by faith and religion—he believes in all the Hindu gods and is also a practicing Buddhist, Christian and Muslin—even while his father and mother teach him a scientific approach to life. When the family sets out for Canada on a Japanese transport ship with many of their zoo animals below deck, Pi’s faith will indeed find the ultimate test. The ship sinks in a spectacular storm (and believe me, you will feel the horror of it on screen) and Pi is left in a lifeboat as the sole human survivor along with an injured Zebra, an Orangutan named Orange Juice, an aggressive Hyena and—scariest of all— Richard Parker, a Bengal Tiger. Here the film really kicks into gear, charting the day-to-day life of Pi as he sustains himself and his ultimate companion Richard Parker against the odds. The young man–Suraj Sharma–who plays Pi in all these scenes is a total newcomer to the screen; in fact, he was not an actor at all and now says he would like to direct. He delivers an extraordinary performance. And the cinematography of these ocean shots is beyond description—beautiful, fantastical and completely absorbing. Since Pi is being interviewed as an adult, we know the story will end well but stay tuned for a fascinating twist that presents itself at the end. The final credits roll for what seems like a good 15 minutes and ultimately say that 14,000 individuals contributed to the work, logging over 600,000 hours. The effort shows—the visuals are amazing and the CG realizations of the various animals as well as the shipwreck will leave you stunned. Here’s hoping this movie gives The Hobbit a run for its money for all the technical awards at this year’s Oscars. And finally, a big thank you to Ang Lee—as someone who read and loved the book, I confess I was nervous about the movie. But it is brilliant in every way and true to Yann Martel’s work.
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (2012/IN THEATERS) Ha! This funny and crazy film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh who also brought us the little masterpiece In Bruges (2008), one of my personal all-time favorites. Seven Psychopaths has already won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto this year—but in the Midnight Madness category, mind you. Fitting. Though not nearly as tight or well-written as In Bruges, my friends and I found ourselves laughing out loud frequently at this one–which centers on an Irish screenwriter named Marty (Colin Farrell) who has a title for his next work but that’s about all. The title? Seven Psychopaths, of course. Enter Marty’s buddy Billy (a fabulous Sam Rockwell) who places an ad seeking psychopaths in LA to come to his house and tell their tales to Marty. Only one comes—Zachariah (played by Tom Waits) but he has quite a story to tell. And really, Billy and his friend Hans (the ever fabulous Christopher Walken) already have enough storyline for any screenwriter. Hans makes a living by kidnapping pets and then returning them for handsome ransoms. Billy is his right-hand man who unfortunately kidnaps Bonny—the favorite little Shih Tzu belonging to gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Soon the blood begins to flow as Charlie’s gang discovers Bonny’s whereabouts. Actually, I should say that the blood started to flow from the very opening minutes of this film, in a definite ode to Pulp Fiction. Indeed, you’ll be thinking about Tarentino while watching this movie. It’s fun and the plot, such as it is, turns back on itself in an admirable and more than amusing way. My advice: if you enjoyed In Bruges and Pulp Fiction, this movie’s for you. Catch it soon and have a great time!
IN BRUGES (2008/DVD) I’m of the opinion that Colin Farrell is a seriously talented actor — in addition to being a hunk! But I think he shows more of that talent in his small films. Give me “Ondine” over “Alexander” or “A Home At the End of the World” over “Miami Vice.” In keeping with that spirit, I highly recommend “In Bruges” as the antidote to the recent remake of “Total Recall.” Not that Farrell isn’t solid in his latest effort– he’s just not as brilliant as he is in this one that won him the 2009 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Already a cult classic, the movie was written and directed by Martin McDonagh, who was nominated for an Oscar for his debut film—not bad! A dark comedy (make that very dark) and hard to categorize really, think of the movie as a sort of British version of “Pulp Fiction,”–funny as hell and riveting in the style of a B+ mobster flick. It’s set in the medieval town of Bruges (Belgium) and uses that setting as one of the main characters of the story. The film centers on Farrell (as Raymond), a newbie gunman who has screwed up. His partner is Ken (Brendan Gleeson wonderful as always); the two hit men have been sent from London to this quiet city at Christmastime to await instructions from their crazy boss Harry (a brilliant Ralph Fiennes). While waiting, they run into a remarkable array of characters, including a dwarf actor (Jordan Prentice) in town to film a “Euro trash movie,” as well as a beautiful drug dealing Belgian woman (Clémence Poésy) who takes a shine to Raymond, There are loads of other small roles, all played to perfection in the film. The dialogue is sharp and funny, and the accents are positively thick! On top of all that, the movie’s soundtrack is haunting and perfect. I hesitate to say anything more for fear of spoiling your fun when you see it—just take my word for it and don’t miss this one! Rent it at your next opportunity and see what Colin Farrell can really do.
JACKIE BROWN (1997) / SPECIAL SHOWING (Denver Film Society, August 9, 2012) To kick off this year’s Denver SummerFest–a weekend of events organized by The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force–our local film society offered Quentin Tarantino’s kick-ass cinematic love letter to Pam Grier, complete with an appearance by Grier herself! Wow…this was clearly a not-to-be-missed event and it even included tributes to Grier from three sexy “show-girls,” at least one of whom sported a gorgeous afro. Perfect. Grier spent her high school days in Denver and is a graduate of East High, one of Denver’s leading public high schools. Of note, another famous East High grad is Don Cheadle.
In the Q&A leading up to the film, Grier talked about her tough up-bringing, featured in her 2010 book entitled ”Foxy: My Life in Three Acts” which is about to become a feature film (some scenes are to be shot locally and Pam encouraged all of us in the audience to turn out for bit parts!). Grier became famous in the early 1970s, starring in a string of moderately successful women’s prison and blaxploitation films including the infamous 1974 Foxy Brown. Tarantino sought her out specifically for the title role in Jackie Brown; he developed the screenplay from Elmore Leonard‘s Rum Punch to fit Grier (the character was a blond in the book). The movie was Tarantino’s eagerly-awaited follow-up to Pulp Fiction (1974). He cast Samuel L. Jackson again, this time as Ordell Robbie, the bad ass gun runner in the piece alongside Robert Forster as Max Cherry, a bail bondsman; Robert DeNiro as the dim-witted Louis Gara, just out of the joint and hanging with Ordell; Bridget Fonda as Melanie, Ordell’s blonde chick; and Michael Keaton in his first performance of FBI/DEA agent Ray Nicolette. BTW: Keaton as Nicolette can also be seen in Steven Soderbergh‘s Out of Sight (George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez) which is also based on an Elmore Leonard novel. Jackie Brown was relatively well received when it came out, with both Grier and Jackson nominated for a Golden Globe. Grier was also nominated for a SAG award as well as a Satellite Award for her performance in the film. I’ve always loved the film–the storyline and dialog are fabulous– and despite a relatively low-quality print at last night’s showing, the movie still delivered. Tarantino once called Grier the “first female action star.” How true. Keep it up, Pam!
Kudos to the Denver Film Society and all concerned.
Grade for Jackie Brown and Pam Grier: Big-ass A
MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012/IN SELECT THEATERS) If you are a fan (like me) of Wes Anderson and all his films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox), you are in for a big treat with his latest, semi-autobiographical movie about young love, rebellion and adventure. Written by Anderson and Roman Coppola and set on the fictional East Coast island of New Penzance during the summer of 1965, the story centers around two 12-year old misfits, Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky (played by fabulous newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman). Sam and Suzy plot their escape from their respective lives through a series of “pen pal” style letters. Sam, “resigning” from Camp Ivanhoe, is a well-trained Khaki Scout, pursued by his earnest Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton) as well as by the Island’s laid-back Police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). Suzy is the “troubled child” of eccentric married battling lawyers Walt and Laura Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand—both perfect of course), whose family also includes three younger triplets (boys). Making appearances in smaller roles are no less than Harvey Keitel as the Scout Commander, Tilda Swinton as “Social Services,” Jason Schwartzman as “Cousin Ben,” and Bob Balaban as the Weatherman/Narrator. Add to this fabulous ensemble Sam’s fellow Khaki Scouts (with wonderful names like “Lazy Eye”), picture perfect settings and incredible music, and you have a wild and crazy movie that is something of a cross between Peter Pan and the Royal Tenenbaums. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to run out to see it again. Don’t miss this one!
BTW: Both books and music play a big part in the film. Be sure to stay for the end credits to hear an “Introduction to the Orchestra” interpretation of Alexandre Desplat’s score. And watch for artwork credit behind the fictional books read by Suzy in the film.
LONESOME DOVE (1989/TV MINI-SERIES) You know it’s a good week when you stumble onto one of the all-time great TV mini-series! Though I already own Lonesome Dove (on VHS–yuck!) I couldn’t resist watching the first two two-hour parts (of four, each two hours in length) which aired this week on Reelz Channel. Of course, now I’m hooked and am DVRing the rest–can’t wait to watch ‘em. If you never saw this series, or if it’s been years since you did, be sure to check out the multiple showings which Reelz is running all this week. What an all-star cast!—with unforgettable performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, Angelica Huston, Diane Lane (so young!), Robert Urich, Chris Cooper, Danny Glover, Ricky Schroder and even Steve Buscemi. This is one mini-series that really does the book credit–and that’s saying alot since this book is in a league by itself. Check out your Reelz Channel listings, get your DVR set and get ready for an 8 hour treat that’s worth every minute.
MARLEY (2012) It’s no coincidence that this fabulous documentary on the life and music of Bob Marley was released on “Smoke Out” day—last Friday, April 20. Marley has been memorialized in a haze of marijuana smoke, with his dreadlocks and big smile. Whether you’re a devoted fan or just a casual listener to Marley’s music, I predict you’ll be completely swept away by this documentary which presents the complete story of his short but full life—he died on May 11, 1981 at only 36 from cancer. The film almost didn’t get made—Martin Scorsese was on board to give Marley the same treatment he had given to Bob Dylan in “No Direction Home” (and later to George Harrison in HBO’s “Living in the Material World”) but had to leave the project in 2008 for other commitments. Jonathan Demme was tapped next but according to reports left amid disagreements with various people leaving the whole documentary dead in the water as of August 2009. Finally, and with rights to the music heading toward expiration, Marley’s son Ziggy turned to director Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void) who took over and was given a free hand to blend together the videos and photographs amassed by Marley’s family over many years. Macdonald has combined these with loads of interviews, lots of visuals and plenty of Bob Marley’s fabulous music in the background to create a moving and detailed portrayal of this legendary singer/philosopher. Marley, as we learn, grew up very poor, born to a white father who was 60 and a young Jamaican mother who was only 16. His father certainly never acknowledged him and he was treated as an outcast as a youth because he was bi-racial. Nonetheless, he turned to music early on and was determined to be somebody. The documentary shows us the early formation of the Wailers and their move to create their own label, their rise to fame, the eventual fallout with Peter Tosh and others, and the enormous success they achieved. Also in the film, we learn more about the Rastafarian faith that Marley embraced as a young man and which shaped his music–his spiritual outlook on life and the world. He wanted to make a difference and wow, what a difference he has made. We also learn of his personal life–rich and free wheeling – he had 11 children with 7 different women, all of whom are still loyal to him. I especially loved the closing shots which feature “One Love” and “Stand Up” being sung today all over the world. Fantastic. Don’t miss this one.
BTW: The film is in limited release, but is also available on iTunes and Facebook.
I was unsure about “Hugo” when I first saw the previews–what on earth was Martin Scorsese doing making a children’s movie, in 3D no less! And while the critics have been almost universally in love with the picture (it just won the National Board of Review Best Picture for 2011), some online users have complained that it is slow and boring and not worth the extra 3D cost. Well, I’m here to say….it is completely absorbing, utterly charming and will sweep you up and keep you to the end. My advice is simple: head right out to the best 3D theater in your area, bring along your older kids (the ones who are not impatient and can sit still), and pay the money for those glasses—you are in for a BIG TREAT. Set in 1931 and based on the Caldecott-winning children’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (cousin of David O. Selznick), the story revolves around young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield, known best for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). Hugo is the orphaned son of a talented master clockmaker (Jude Law, in a brief but effective appearance) who lives in the back rooms and stairways of a Paris train station where he continues the work of his father and uncle by keeping all the clocks in the station working. Despite constant fear of capture by the station’s guard (Sasha Baron Cohen) and his ferocious Doberman, Hugo survives by stealing food from the various vendors inside the station. He also steals toys and mechanical parts from a small toy stand owned by none other than Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), an old man who seems rather cranky. Hugo’s most precious possession is an antique automaton which he and his father were repairing at the time of his father’s death and which needs a heart-shaped key to operate. Caught stealing by Méliès early in the film, Hugh loses the book of notes that his father had made concerning the automaton and seeks out the help of Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), the young adopted daughter of “Papa Georges,” to get it back. The two young characters set out on a series of adventures which lead to a wonderful re-discovery of just who “Papa Georges” is and a history lesson for all of us on the earliest days of the movies, including the amazing works of the real-life Georges Méliès. The film also gives us a pitch for one of Scorsese’s personal passions—film preservation. Many critics have called this film a “love letter” from Scorsese to the movies. The sets and art direction are spectacular; the attention to detail—particularly all the mechanical parts of the clocks and the automaton—are worthy of awards; and even the use of 3D is remarkable, not because it causes the screen to jump out at you (though it does at times), but rather because it is so quietly utilized. I suspect the movie will be just fine in 2D also. Either way, be sure to catch it on the big screen. It’s definitely one to see.
BOWFINGER (1999/DVD) It wasn’t the greatest time ever for Eddie Murphy last week, what with Tower Heist coming up short at the box office and his Oscar gig disappearing right out from under him (courtesy of producer Brett Ratner’s down right stupid behavior). So I’m starting a SeriousMovieLover “Favorite Eddie Murphy Movie” campaign to remind everyone of just how great he was and is. For myself, I’m naming “Bowfinger” as my all-time favorite. Written by and starring Steve Martin, along with Eddie Murphy in a hilarious dual-role, the movie is a brilliant and light-hearted send-up of Hollywood, movie making, and even the Church of Scientology. Frank Oz of Muppet fame directed Steve Martin who is spot-on as Bobbie Bowfinger, a down on his luck filmmaker operating out of his classic LA bungalow and desperate to produce his accountant’s sci-fi screenplay entitled “Chubby Rain.” Working all the angles, Bobbie decides to use his life savings (roughly $2,000!) to “go for it,” shooting his picture around one of Hollywood’s hottest stars—Kit Ramsay—played to perfection by Murphy. And of course, this is part of the hilarity of the movie because Bobbie and crew are truly “shooting around” the star who just happens to be paranoid and obsessed by thoughts of aliens—a great concept that allows Martin as the writer to introduce us to “Mind Head,” a slick cult of high rollers run by Terence Stamp and other suits who are helping Ramsay to “keep it together.” Murphy’s second brilliant slot in the film is as Kit’s brother Jiff (his polar opposite) who joins the film as a stand-in for various shots and gives us one of the film’s signature hilarious scenes when he’s forced to cross the 101 in traffic. Add to this Christine Baranski as Bowfinger’s lead actress, Heather Graham as Daisy—just in from Ohio –and sleeping her way to the “top,” and the rest of Bowfinger’s crew, and you have one funny movie. If you don’t remember it (or even if you do), pull it out of your DVD collection or rent it on Netflix, put on some popcorn and have a great time.