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Everybody Wants to be Us

Graduate Student at Loyola University Chicago. Check out the blog for what I'm currently obsessed with in film and culture. Michael Fassbender, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, Christian Bale, Jesse Eisenberg, David Lynch, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and Daniel Radcliffe are regulars here.

#emily blunt

Day 50: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

Intro: You should never see a thriller with science fiction elements with a Jesuit studying philosophy.

Plot: We meet David Norris (Matt Damon) flying high on the campaign trial to be the youngest US Senator for New York.  He has the people pleasing drive that wins support and media attention until an unfortunate photo sinks his bid for Senate.  A chance encounter with Elise (Emily Blunt) as he prepares his concession speech reinvigorates him to grab the political spotlight on his own terms. 

After another fortuitous meeting with Elise, David discovers their first meeting and whether they will be together is out of his hands.  The Adjustment Bureau- a league of fashionable men with dapper hats and magic powers- have another plan for David and are determined to keep him from Elise. 

Likes: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU doesn’t have the MATRIX or INCEPTION level twists and mythology, but uses a clever and digestible mythology to service a more rewarding love story between David and Elise.  Damon and Blunt have an incredible chemistry that makes you forget the bells and whistles of the plot when they are onscreen together.  Damon is instantly likable as the silver tongued politician with a sympathetic past.  Like David, I was captivated by Blunt’s combination of sensuality and sweetness.  I also loved the cast of Adjusters including MAD MEN'S John Slattery, THE HURT LOCKER'S Anthony Mackie, and Terrance Stamp. 

I will be watching for director George Nolfi’s handwork for now on.  He keeps the film moving, but does not lose the core romance or the audience in the layering of the plot points.

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU would make a great date night film.  I personally could connect and follow the machinations of the world, but the relationship between Damon and Blunt and their performances make this film pleasing. 

Cinema Style: Emily Blunt in “Wild Target”

We all know the best dressed film character of all time is Grace Kelly’s Lisa in “Rear Window.” Each outfit Kelly wears in the suspenseful classic is sublime and contributes to the story.  Since re-watching that film recently, I’ve become more aware of costumes and celebrating the storytelling capacity of elegant and thoughtful costume design.  

I recently caught up with “Wild Target,” a quirky and entertaining British comedy starring Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy, and Rupert Grint. Bill Nighy plays an assassin who starts to re-evaluate his life after failing to kill (and falling for) one of his marks. The lady in question is Rose (Blunt), a free spirited occasional con artist upsets the wrong gang.  Nighy, Blunt, and Grint end up on the run from gangsters and another professional hit man.  The trio form a makeshift family and everything turns out well in the end.  

One constant delight throughout the film besides the witty dialogue and slapstick encounters was Emily Blunt’s bright, flirty, and fun wardrobe pieces. We meet Rose coasting precariously on her bike through central London in this beautiful red coat.  Blunt’s Rose always spikes her outfits with color and matches them with lovely accessories. In another scene Nighy follows Blunt through a crowded market. Blunt wears a black dress with a flowing skirt decorated with bold colored flowers.  Nighy tracks Blunt following the whips and wisps of her colorful skirt through the bustle of people. 

Through the midsection of the film, Blunt dons a bright yellow skirt- almost a ballet costume- and dresses it up with a leather jacket.   She adds fun color to the scene and continually draws your attention with her costume.

In the scene where Nighy and Blunt come together as a couple, Rose is wearing an elegant, yet fun white gown.  It has an iridescent look with a glittery texture. Blunt pairs the ivory dress with deep red tights and white heels. It’s a wonderful ensemble symbolising her eagerness to settle down (perhaps marry), while retaining her quirky identity. 

"Wild Target" is great fun throughout and the costumes contributed much to the story as well as my enjoyment of the film.  It is available on Netflix Streaming now!

Enchanted In A Metaphor: “Salmon Fishing In The Yemen”

I like to think of myself as more of a movie matchmaker rather than a critic.  Almost every film I see awakens in me some sort of awe and reverence.  It seems sort of silly for me to judge the creativity and craft on display in most movies (not “The Ugly Truth” though).  Yet, I do think I have a knack for matching people with the right movie.  I tried my hand with a particularly tricky case: a nun at my school who had not seen a film in the theater in years.  

Besides not visiting the cineplex, she reported the last film experience she had was watching “The Nativity Story” over Christmas.  Upon hearing this I was determined to get my colleague to the theater and thought Lasse Hallström’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” would be perfect. Knowing she loved his 2000 fable “Chocolat” and sensing this film’s religious overtones and majestic landscapes; I proposed we go see it.  

Describing films like “Chocolat” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” either seems like you are making too much or too little of the narratives. On one side, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” could sound precariously literal.  It’s about Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt transporting UK salmon to Yemen so a mystical, millionaire Sheik (Amr Waked) can fish.  On the other, touting the film as a deep meditation of faith, community, and finding your purpose seems too heavy for such a pleasurable film.  Somewhere in between, “Salmon Fishing In the Yemen” probes the bigger questions while delivering a sweet, contained story with likeable characters. That balance won me over completely.  

Adapted by “Slumdog Millionaire” screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” offers viewers to enjoy the film at their own depth.  For those looking for political allegories, the relationship between McGregor’s Dr. Fred Jones and Sheikh Muhammed offers some interesting insights on overcoming differences of belief and background.  Sheikh Muhammed speaks convincingly of his belief in the act of fishing to bring greater peace and understanding with the west.  To him, fly fishing is all about patience, listening, hope and faith. Small acts can break down great barriers.  

On the matter of faith, the film gently probes deeper questions of religion without alienating viewers who may not be interested. In one particularly memorable sequence, the Sheik, Fred, and Harriet (Blunt) survey the grand dam that will make their project of introducing salmon to the area possible.  Looking over the hills and lush man-made canals the Sheik muses “I built this to glorify God, but I wonder if it glorifies man instead.”  A small nugget that agitates those who need to hear it. 

Lastly, but not least “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a love story. Blunt and McGregor play opposites thrown together in an almost comic project.  Blunt as Harriet remains cheery and upbeat while Fred berates the project and her enthusiasm.  As Fred’s belief in the project grows, his desire for a less mechanical life transforms into affection for Harriet. Not to spoil anything, the romance is thankfully more complex than my description. I should also add, the film has many hilarious bits, jabbing fun at political bureaucrats through the chimeric Minister of Communication Patricia Maxwell playing brilliantly by Kristin Scott Thomas.  Scott Thomas is having great fun dressing down feckless MP’s in her zeal to orchestrate the perfect photo-op.  

In all, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is an enchanting film that rises above its metaphor laced plot, while being thoroughly entertaining. Now for the big question. Did my gamble work?  Was recommendation pleasing to my colleague?  Reader I am proud to boast: Mission Accomplished! She loved the scenery, music, and characters. Not only did she enjoy the film, but spent about 30 minutes unpacking the various religious themes she spied.  

Well done me!

Best of the Year… So Far

Hello Darlings, 

It’s June and time for a mid-year countdown of the best movies of 2012.  This is a pre-“Prometheus” list.  With the release calendar favoring provocative blockbusters and prestige dramas towards the latter half of the year, it’s important to champion great films that kept us going January through May.  

I salute you.

1) “The Hunger Games”

This movie left me with the kind of profound dread and soaring excitement I only thought existed in films directed by Christopher Nolan. Gary Ross broadens and deepens the world of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novels, keeping Katniss’ journey central, but amplifying the sinister, deadly, and disturbingly familiar world around her.  Little things like Caesar Flickerman’s Cheshire grin, the riot in District 11, and Haymitch’s disgust with the Capitol sink us into the doom and can be just as haunting as what happens in the arena.

Jennifer Lawrence excels as Katniss Everdeen, playing not only her steadfast strength, but also her growing awareness of her own power and feelings. Lawrence adds these shades of doubt, confidence, care, and resentment to each action in the arena, making her fantastic to watch.  I would love to see her up for Best Actress again for Katniss.  

2) “Friends With Kids”

Jennifer Westfeldt directs, writes, and stars in this hilarious comedy about the stages of relationships that come to define us.  Jules and Jason (Adam Scott) are best friends who decide because of their single status and long history that they can and should have a baby together. At first things are wonderfully simple and happy, but as both enter relationships, while growing closer raising their son, complications threaten their friendship. I think “Friends With Kids” is the smartest comedy I’ve seen all year with so many laugh out loud moments, as well as a unique plot and vivid characters. 

3) “21 Jump Street”

Yes, “21 Jump Street” is a complete gem. I’ve never been so entertained by the complete recitation of the Miranda Rights. Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as incompetent cops sent undercover at a high school, “21 Jump Street” makes you laugh, but also makes you think about who you would be if given the chance to go back to high school. In moments hilarious and quite sad, Tatum and Hill exchange high school roles where the bully becomes the outcast and vice versa.  Friendship, loyalty, and trying to forge an identity are great nuggets in this wonderful comedy. 

4) “The Woman In Black”

This movie definitely scared me with the various horrors tormenting Daniel Radcliffe’s Arthur Kipps in the creepy haunted mansion.  The film uses silence to its advantage, luring Kipps into danger room by room, path by path.  Sent to settle a straightforward estate deal, Kipps discovers his presence has opened a wound in the town, stirring a vengeful ghost that claims the lives of children. His own grief and fascination with the afterlife attracts him to the darkness and gives him a unique empathy with the female specter. After the final seat clawing scene of the film, you’re left thinking about how grief can live and act in its own interest: driving the people left behind to madness. 

5) “Beyond”

A Swedish film I highly recommend checking out. Starring “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo“‘s Noomi Rapace as a woman forced to deal with an abusive childhood when her mother re-emerges into her life. Rapace lets her character’s pain slowly simmer and seethe, making room for the audience to imagine the pain, anger, and sadness swimming in her wide eyes. Before her mother reappearance, Rapace’s character has built a great family with her husband and two bright girls. Thinking about her drunken father, the screaming and physical fights between her parents, and how she - as a small child- tried to hold this dysfunction together for her brother makes her unsteady and frightened. As if whatever made her parents destructive may come out and conquer her after all these years. “Beyond” explores how we may be able to move past the traumas of childhood, but the scars still live beneath our skin, never fully letting us go.  

6) “The Deep Blue Sea”

This is like “The End of the Affair” meets “Blue Valentine.” Starring Rachel Weisz as Hester, a aristocratic housewife who finds long sought passion in reckless, hot-tempered Freddie, played by Tom Hiddleston. Freddie and Hester are capable of such tenderness, as they dance in an empty bar to Jo Stafford’s “You Belong to Me.” Yet, they also devour and destroy each other with Freddie’s volatile outbursts and Hester’s dreams of self-annihilation. I’ve never seen two people scream at each with such animosity and hatred as Weisz and Hiddleston do in their most desperate times. It’s a beautiful film, but a tough watch. 

7) “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is a simple parable made lovely and lasting by great performances by Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt. I loved the majestic landscapes, the score, and sometimes poignant message of this film directed by Lasse Hallstrom. McGregor plays a straight laced scientist charged to bring fresh water fishing to the deserts of Yemen by a hopeful millionaire. McGregor skillfully plays his doubt and wonder, making his journey believable and enthralling.  Emily Blunt brings a charm and leveled optimism, while Kristin Scott Thomas has a snappy wit and brassiness that grounds the film in the present.  All around, a steady, entertaining film accessible to any viewer.  

Photo Shoot Wars: Kristen Stewart Vs. Emily Blunt
Kristen Stewart covers this month’s Vanity Fair 
Emily Blunt in Vanity Fair in 2009
I say Blunt, but what do you think?

Photo Shoot Wars: Kristen Stewart Vs. Emily Blunt

  • Kristen Stewart covers this month’s Vanity Fair 
  • Emily Blunt in Vanity Fair in 2009

I say Blunt, but what do you think?

Movies for the 4th!

It’s an embarrassment of riches at the cineplex for July 4th weekends. With agonizing temparatures ahead, why not spend it in the blissfull air conditioning of the theater.  I still need to see “Brave” and possibly “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,” but I will be seeing most of these films in the next week and a half. Since the holiday is in the middle of the week, you have two weekends of movies to enjoy. 

This Weekend 

"Your Sister’s Sister"

Love this film starring Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie Dewitt.  It’s funny with unexpected twists that both wrench and warm your heart.

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" 

Charming, hilarious, and quite devastating at the end, “Seeking” showcases Steve Carell wonderful range (like in “Dan in Real Life) and also let Keira Knightly shine sans corset-period dress.  The soundtrack is also lovely. 

"Moonrise Kingdom"

A must see of the year.  Following two troubled kids on a journey to discover what they could be with someone who loves them. Music, performances, costumes, everything is beautiful. 

"Magic Mike"

Seeing this TONIGHT.  So excited.  It’s getting decent reviews as well.  In Soderbergh I trust. 

"The Invisible War"

A new documentary about sexual assault in the military.  The DOD figures that over 22,000 service women and men were raped last year.  The film as already had an effect, making it possible for survivors to report rape to superior officers.  Director Kirby Dick also made “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” and “Outrage”- two excellent films that dig into institutional secrecy, corruption, and hypocrisy.  

"To Rome With Love"

When I was in Rome with my fellow Ignatian Educators, I knew that Woody Allen would be there soon after to film his latest starring  Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, and Ellen Page.  It will be fun to go back to Rome with Woody Allen.

"Ted"

This film is like the really raunchy version of “The Velveteen Rabbit” and I can’t help wanting to check it out.  Also, Mark Walberg and Mila Kunis are two actors I enjoy.

July 6

"Beasts of Southern Wild"

Everyone is loving this film so I’m going to see if I love it too. 

"The Amazing Spider-Man"

Even though I wish this movie DID NOT EXIST, I may still see it. I’m a fan of almost every person in it and I adore the “Spider-Man” universe.  But I miss Raimi and Maguire intensely.  

"Savages"

Yeah. Oliver Stone.  Drug trade. Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek going sinister.  Totally seeing this. 

"Take This Waltz"

Directed by Sarah Polley and starring Michelle Williams, I have been very excited to see this drama about a woman struggling in her happy marriage with feelings for another man.  I think it’s available on VOD, but will be playing in Chicago on the 6th. 

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