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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.

#kirsten dunst

Congratulations Kirsten Dunst!

Kirsten Dunst has won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her turn in Melancholia. I was tremendously impressed with her in Andrew Jarecki’s All Good Things. My review is posted below.

ALL GOOD THINGS is a dark film of people pushed into doing terrible things that overpower their ability to see themselves clearly.  Mostly this applies to David Marks played by Ryan Gosling.  David wants to be a hippie health food storeowner and husband, but he’s reeled back to New York to work for the Marks Organization, which owns most of Times Square.  Not the posh shops, restaurants, and theaters of today, but the cruddy hotels, peep shows, and houses of ill repute of MIDNIGHT COWBOY. 

We see David’s descent from decency through his relationship with his wife Katie (Kirsten Dunst).  Her radiance gives David life and confidence, but her spirit fades as David’s unhappiness increases and is eventually stomped and beaten out of her by him.  After fighting, escalating violence, and Katie’s attempts to escape the marriage; Katie disappears.  The film does not reveal what happened to Katie because of the true crime story the film is based on.  David is actually Robert Durst, New York real estate heir who’s wife Kathie disappeared.  Gosling recites actual testimony from a separate (connected perhaps in the film’s eyes) murder of Durst/Marks’ neighbor 20 years after his wife vanished.  The film hints here and there as to who might have done what, but leaves it up to the audience to puzzle.  The most important member of its audience, Durst, has said the film made him cry.  


This film works because of Kirsten Dunst.  She is bright, lovely, hopeful, and over her head in this marriage.  Her horror as David turns monstrous was real for me.  There’s a particularly difficult act Katie is forced to take and Dunst plays is beautifully.  Once she is removed from the film, a dark cloud settled over the film and me.  Also, Frank Langella is the perfect bastard father.  After David and Katie’s wedding, we see the couple and their parents getting the check for the celebratory lunch.  Mr. Marks growls to Katie’s mom, “It’s $37 each.”  I mean the man owns half of New York and won’t pick up a simple lunch bill.  The shock and disgust on Katie’s and her mom’s face registers because money to them comes second to family and decency.  His evils comes out of the belief that everyone must pay their own way and earn the right to be happy, I suppose that is how he sees his own success.  Langella delivers a real villain, while Gosling is a cipher for one.  He talks of the terrors from his childhood and pressures of his family, but never really shows himself.  Next to Dunst and Langella, Gosling glowers in the shadows usually in ugly sweaters.  We see the damage, but not really the man.  

Fall/ Winter Preview

It has been a great year at the movies for me so far and it’s only September. Over the next few months, Hollywood will unleash its prestige films- titles they’ve been saving for Oscar season- and I will be in a constant state of elation seeing, talking, and blubbering about these films.  I’ve picked out some 36 titles I’m planning to check out between now and late January.  Here are the films I am most excited about and want to put on your radar.

1) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo


I decided to not read the books or see the Swedish films once I heard David Fincher would be taking a pass on the best selling series.  Fincher should have been crowned Best Director at last year’s Oscars, so I’m hoping for some vindication this Christmas.  

2) A Dangerous Method


Fassbender, Fassbender, Fassbender Fassbender, and Fassbender

This film about the beginnings of psychoanalysis features Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung to Viggo Mortienson’s Sigmund Freud.  Did I mention Micheal Fassbender was in this?  

3) Tinker Tailor Solider Spy


My favorite prestige title to say 5 times fast stars Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Benedict Cumberbatch in a spy thriller based on the Alec Guinness mini-series and John LeCarre novel.  

4) Carnage


Roman Polanski’s newest film stars Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, and Christoph Waltz as two New York couples trapped in an argument after their kids get into a fight.  I’m expecting verbal fireworks.  

5) J Edgar


Now is the time.  Leonardo DiCaprio needs to get the Oscar this year.  J Edgar may be the vehicle with Clint Eastwood directing this biopic.  Say what you want about Eastwood’s directing, but he has a good track record of directing Oscar winning performances.  Year of DiCaprio- you heard it here first.

6) Hugo


Sometimes I wonder when I’ll be able to show my unborn children their first Scorsese film.  How long will it be until little Marty and I can sit and watch Taxi Driver together?  Thankfully, Scorsese has directed a children’s film, in 3D to boot, so I won’t have to wait until my kids are of age to introduce them to my the master.

7) Ides of March


George Clooney stars and directs this political thriller featuring Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Marissa Tomei.  

8) Melancholia


I wish I had a t-shirt that said, “I survived Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST.” Early chatter about Melancholia hasn’t reported any fainting or vomiting and Kirsten Dunst won best actress at Cannes for her starring role, so I’m unreservedly excited to see this film. 

9) My Week With Marilyn


Every time I see promotional material with Michelle Williams as Monroe for this film, I get chills.  I think Williams has the chance to bring something about this iconic star to light that devotees and cultural novices never imagined.  

10) Drive


Another dose of Gosling this summer in an intense drama about a stunt man who moonlights as a getaway car driver for criminals.  Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, and Albert Brooks make up the rest of the cast.

This has been a great year for actresses. Across genre and age, I’ve seen many meaty, substantial, and memorable roles for women. So many actresses have given stunning performances, that picking five nominees, let alone picking one, will be difficult. 

At the top, I’ve got Michelle Williams for “My Week With Marilyn.” Her performance is a wonder. After her is Viola Davis in “The Help.” While I don’t love that film, many of the performances make it worthwhile, with Davis on top bringing a dignity to her role and the film. Alongside Davis, is Tilda Swinton in “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” Swinton has always been an aloof player for me, but here she feels dangerously close. She brings you into the anguish of the character. Add to this list Elizabeth Olsen, who will surely clean up the independent awards circuit for ” Martha Marcy May Marlene.” Olsen will be a star and I see an Oscar nod in her future. I’ll be happy if any of those four take home the gold, but I’ll agonize over it until the envelope opens. 

Many other actresses that could be in the five, but I would love to see Kristen Wiig for “Bridesmaids.” Comedies don’t get enough love and her performance is the best of the genre. Some acclaim for Kirsten Dunst in “Melancholia” would also be good   Mia Wasikowska and Saoirse Ronan gave great performances in unique roles in “Jane Eyre” and “Hanna” respectfully early in the year. Perhaps the Academy will remember their efforts.

This has been a great year for actresses. Across genre and age, I’ve seen many meaty, substantial, and memorable roles for women. So many actresses have given stunning performances, that picking five nominees, let alone picking one, will be difficult.

At the top, I’ve got Michelle Williams for “My Week With Marilyn.” Her performance is a wonder. After her is Viola Davis in “The Help.” While I don’t love that film, many of the performances make it worthwhile, with Davis on top bringing a dignity to her role and the film. Alongside Davis, is Tilda Swinton in “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” Swinton has always been an aloof player for me, but here she feels dangerously close. She brings you into the anguish of the character. Add to this list Elizabeth Olsen, who will surely clean up the independent awards circuit for ” Martha Marcy May Marlene.” Olsen will be a star and I see an Oscar nod in her future. I’ll be happy if any of those four take home the gold, but I’ll agonize over it until the envelope opens.

Many other actresses that could be in the five, but I would love to see Kristen Wiig for “Bridesmaids.” Comedies don’t get enough love and her performance is the best of the genre. Some acclaim for Kirsten Dunst in “Melancholia” would also be good   Mia Wasikowska and Saoirse Ronan gave great performances in unique roles in “Jane Eyre” and “Hanna” respectfully early in the year. Perhaps the Academy will remember their efforts.

Hollywood Turkey Shoot

Hollywood isn’t perfect y’all, so for Thanksgiving let’s remember the foibles, mistakes, and serious miscalculations in the world of film and television.

  • Brett Ratner Oscar Drama

The biggest Turkey is shared between the Academy for picking director Brett Ratner to produce Hollywood’s biggest night and Ratner himself for his homophobic comments. The mind reels at what Ratner and Eddie Murphy would have used for comedic fodder during the show.  Oh wait, I can guess: crude jokes about “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, “J Edgar”, and “Shame.”  No Thanks.

  • Warner Brothers and the Deathly Stinginess

Warner Brothers has botched years of good will to Potter fans with the DVD release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” Basically, every past version of the DVD you could get all the extras on the DVD as were on the Blu Ray. Obviously, I didn’t expect the full cast commentary that comes with Blu-Ray to appear on the DVD, but Warner Brothers decided that the poor souls who haven’t upgraded to HD don’t deserve to see the interview between Daniel Radcliffe and JK Rowling, any of the featurettes, or fun videos about the filming of the last movie.  Add on top of this that only people who bought their Blu-Ray at Target could get the documentary “When Harry Left Hogwarts” on the disk.  The documentary and the interviews don’t need to be in Blu-Ray.  Your fans deserve better.  

  • Lars Von Trier

As turkeys go, “Melancholia” director Lars Von Trier needs to be stuffed  At the Cannes Film Festival, Von Trier declared himself a Nazi out of the blue at a press conference.  His comments got him kicked out of the festival and cast a shadow over his otherwise brilliant film starring Kirsten Dunst.  Fortunately for it’s star, the Cannes voters named her best actress.  WTF Von Trier?  

  • "Friday Night Lights" not winning an Emmy

Momentum. “Friday Night Lights” had definite momentum on Emmy awards night. Jason Katims won best writing and Kyle Chandler beat Don Draper for best actor.  Mad Men was completely shut out and then, WHAM Matt Weiner gets to take home Best Drama series. Add to that Connie Britton not getting the Best Actress Emmy.  Julianna Margulies is probably great on “The Good Wife,” but Tami Taylor was a character for the ages. A fierce mother, no nonsense companion, and diligent student advocate. Whatever Chandler did to catch the Emmy’s eye was partly because Britton is so good. 

  • Superhero Overload 

Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, Green Hornet, blah, blah, blah.  This year has been super hero over load. Each movie spells more movies and more Burger King action figures.  In the case of Thor and Captain America, their stories were merely perfunctory.  Especially with “Captain America First Avenger” which was only an extended trailer for next year’s “The Avengers.” Now, I love Sam Raimi’s ”Spider-Man” films and will go nuts when “Dark Knight Rises” comes out, but we need to pull back on these superhero flicks. The source material probably does have something to offer. Let’s find that grain of truth and build a good movie out of it, not just lure the fan-boys with cool cars and CGI suits.   

  • Friends with No Strings

Many movies share the same themes, especially romantic comedies. Did we really need two films about 20-somethings settling for shallow sex with a friend in one year? Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher were first with their “No Strings Attached.” The film was shrill and paired two people who would never date, much less be friends. Next came “Friends with Benefits.”  It has the exact same plot featuring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake.  Timberlake and Kunis have loads more chemistry than their twin couple and the film is a little less cynical (flash mob dances REALLY help). Yet, it’s a little depressing to see two romantic comedies with such low expectations of humanity in one year.  What will be next, three films about people who meet on Craigslist?  Nothing would surprise me now.

  • "New Year’s Eve"

Doesn’t this look like the WORST MOVIE EVER.  First, New Year’s is not the stuff of great drama.  Second, ensemble cast films, unless directed by Robert Altman or written by Richard Curtis, do not work.  Third, all the pairings look dreadful. Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron? Katherine Heigl and Jon Bon Jovi? Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele? Oh, I think I get that one: both really annoying and confined to one facial expression.  Last, what is Robert De Niro doing in this movie? I’m preempting New Years Eve’s DECEMBER 9 release, setting it in my sight lines, and shooting this turkey down.  

Brilliant Video.  Love the music from “Drive” and “Hanna.”

I’ve seen 9 of these films.  

criterioncorner:

THE 25 BEST FILMS OF 2011: A VIDEO COUNTDOWN

there are gonna be lots of “best of” lists floating around during the next few weeks — this one is mine.

please enjoy. and please watch it LOUD (and in 480p… bummer that a lot of these clips were only available in standard-def).

p.s. some of these films i included on the countdown have yet to receive a domestic release here in the U.S, but i’d rather help get people excited for something now than chide them for not seeing it a year from now. also — as with a certain film towards the very top of my list — some stories simply can’t afford to wait for us to catch up.

Sam Raimi/ Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” Memorial Post

I’m not ready for “The Amazing Spider-Man” 

"Spider-Man 4" RIP.

heykmart:

Sam Raimi/ Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” Memorial Post

I’m not ready for “The Amazing Spider-Man” 

“Spider-Man 4” RIP.

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