Thursday, March 31, 2011

Saoirse Ronan : Pronouncing Her First Name May be Tough for Some, but you may Want to Learn How to!

In continuing my trend with highlighting actor/actresses whose careers are on the rise, this week I wanted to talk about Saoirse Ronan.  The first time I saw this girl was with her wide eyed quiet performance in the film Atonement.  Atonement follows the story of star crossed lovers Keira Knightly (Cecilia Tallis) and James McAvoy (Robbie Turner) who are are seen in very passionate moment by Cecilia's younger sister Briony (Ronan).  Saoirse Ronan's performance was one of the best parts about the film; she is quiet, innocent, and plays the unnerved Briony Tallis with gusto.  The film follows Briony throughout her older year (Ronan only plays Briony for a short time, but she begins the the journey of the characters depth and outshines the other two women who play the character Romola Garai (18 year old Briony) and even Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave (Older Briony).  Ronan was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for this role.
The next role she had was in the Lovely Bones or as I commonly refer to it as The Lovely Bones: Special Victim's Unit.  This was a terribly adapted film from a a GREAT book.  The film follows the story of a girl named Susie Salmon (Ronan) who is murdered and raped and watches her family cope with life after her disappearance.  First I only recommend this film for Ronan's performance; she is great and continues her growth as an actress in this poorly constructed film (what a let down Peter Jackson.)  Ronan handles the characters pain and anguish as she watches friends and family live after she has died so with such raw emotional power.

Ronan was in a film this past year (2010) The Way Back with Ed Harris - which I have not seen yet because good movies never come to northwest Ohio, but she got great reviews in that and I plan to follow her career.  She also has new movie coming out on April 15th called Hanna where she looks like she kicks butt.  She also has another assassin type film entitled Violet & Daisy from Geoffrey Flecther (the first African American to win an Oscar for a screenplay-which was in 2009 for Precious).  Ronan plays Itaril in The Hobbit Part and Part 2 which is bound to elevate her name.  Her final project that is is the works is The Brothers Grimm: Snow White where she will play Snow White, Armie Hammer (The Social Network) will play the prince and Julia Roberts will play the evil queen-what more could you ask for!

(the trailer for Hanna)

Ronan is certainly a star on the rise and I hope continues to elevate her acting and one day land an Oscar win, instead of just a nomination.

What Super Hero Movie do You Want to See Most this Year?

Vote on the Right Hand Side

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Long Days Journey into Higher Education

So I have been away since this past Saturday in Baltimore, Maryland at a conference for work.  I work in the Higher Education system, and I am currently a graduate student at Bowling Green State University in the College Student Personal program.  Many of you may ask what two questions 1) What does that mean and 2) How does this connect with the theme of the blog?  Well the answer to one is tough-I basically am getting a masters in college administration and theoretical perspectives of understanding college students.  Its interesting and the conference was a blast-I did my first Drag ever and it was to Grease (I am not a pretty woman).

The answer to the second question is the focus of this blog post-as I was sitting in my bed relaxing tonight I was thinking about my work environment and the way college/higher education is portrayed in film.  Film rarely portrays things as accurate but there are traces of authenticity within the subtext.  College films are interesting hybrid-many show the gross over representation of partying/drinking/ and the non academic focus (because well that would make the film less interesting.)  Now I know some college students drink and part, I realize this, but it made me think what should college movies be about-what movies about college are out there and what do they say?

The First film that comes to my mind is of course the classic, Animal HouseAnimal House (if you have never seen it) is about a fraternity at college who is filled with underachievers who constantly party, have low GPAs, and are constant battle with administration to stay recognized by their college.  The movie is hilarious!  Yet when I think about this film and the profession I am in, I can't help but think about the good guy vs. bad guy motif that the film sets up.  The fraternity men are portrayed as idiotic but love able heroes who are trying to save their chapter from the evil Dean Wormer who wants them to be more serious and take their education more seriously.  The Dean Wormer character is a douche, but an over exaggerated douche, which works for the plot.

I never was in a fraternity, and I don't directly work with students in fraternity and sororities on a day to day basis, but films like this often give students who are entering college a false impression.  Many students think and or look to join these organizations because they are one giant party-but there are also great leadership opportunities involved and tremendous networks.

As a lover of film, I look at Animal House as a hilarious comedy that helped shape many successful careers like John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Kevin Bacon.  There are so many classic like scenes and lines that I don't think ever stop laughing when I watch this movie.  I don't find the movie offensive, but yet I work in the profession/field they are criticizing.  This movie was released in 1978 but was set in 1962 where there was a shift in higher education-the Vietnam War was about to happen, and the student mentality at that time was question authority. This film was a reflective piece of history in a period of turmoil in higher education.

Now I may be making Animal House sound smarter than it is-in fact I know I am.  There are many negative portrayals in this film that carried onto Van Wilder, Road Trip, and many other films centered around either a fraternity or male behavior in college.  An accurate portrayal of college would be a great change of pace. The sad part about this is that audiences may not be willing to want to understand higher education more, thus preventing future students from understanding its purpose.

Now off my higher education soapbox-Films have a powerful impact on viewpoint and perspective.  Animal House is just one college film (from 1978) and its cultural influence still impacts my job and professionals who work in colleges.  Think about your own jobs and how the media portrays, is it accurate?  With many more college films than Animal House I could go on forever-but after my long trip it is time for bed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

5 "Must-See" Courtroom Dramas

So if you have not seen any of these films pull up your netflix-add them to your queue or your instant watch and get going-These are the five courtroom Dramas that are the best (in my opinion.)  I will not be doing much blog posting over the next couple of days, I will be away at a conference (trying to find a job-wish me luck.)  So I am going to try do as many posts today to make up for that.  Onto the list...

1-To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)-The best courtroom drama is the film To Kill a Mockingbird.  Gregory Peck stars as the admirable Atticus Finch who takes on a court cases where a black man is accused of raping a young white woman.  The story is told through the point of view of Finch's young daughter Scout, and through her eyes we see the innocence of understanding the complexity of race issues during the Depression in Alabama.  This films characterization moves away from characterizing lawyers as villainous and/or selfish.  This film paints the picture that men like Finch work hard to fight for the rights of the innocent.

2-12 Angry Men-Just like in To Kill a Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men represents the concept of one juror standing up for his beliefs.  12 Angry Men stars Henry Fonda (as that juror) standing up for a Puerto Rican man who is presumed guilty by the rest of the jurors.  This film works to present the jury system and the prejudices and judgement that people make in that private room during a deliberation.  Can man (or woman) be truly without bias?  This film represents the voice of what can happen when one person stand up and say "No" to rest.

3-Witness for the Prosecution (1957)- The combination of the genuis of Agatha Christie and Billy Wilder (Some Like it Hot, The Apartment) make Witness for the Prosecution a must have on my list.  With a great mystery this film helped catapault the twists and turns that are needed in a great courtroom drama.  The cast is superb.  Tyron Power Marlene Dietrich, and Charles Laughton make this a great film.

4-Inherit the Wind (1960)-Inherit the Wind stars two of the greatest film icons Spencer Tracy (Harry Drummond) and Frederich March (Matthew Harrison Brady) take on a fictionalized account of 1925 Scopes "monkey trial."  This film uses a lot of the original testimony from the original trial with Clarence Darrow (the Spacey character) cross examined William Jennings Bryan (March).  The films performances help to make a classic courtroom drama, and iconic to all lawyers.

5-Philadelphia (1993)-The fifth film on this list is the moving film Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks (Andrew Beckett) who is fired from his law firm for having AIDS.  Hanks asks a rival attorney played by Denzel Washington (Joe Miller) to defend him in  a suit against his law firm for wrongful termination.  As the disease wears Beckett down his testimony brings new emotional levels to the courtroom drama.  The film is about understanding what is right and what is wrong, and getting to know someone beyond their disease.  The case has so many intricate layers because not only does Washington's character have to confront his own issues with homophobia but he builds a relationship with this man, and understands more about himself.

Of all these great courtroom dramas many of them deal with civil rights and the fight for equality, the best films talk about rights and when someone does not have the opportunity to fight for themselves.  Our justice system has its flaws, but films can be a great place to show that there are people who care-don't ever give up and fight for your rights!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy the Show: Go to the Movies to be Enertained!

I love it when I get to go to the movies and see a film that is just enjoyable.  Tonight I went to go see The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew Mcconaughey.  I mentioned this movie to a lot of my friends, but many of them had not heard about it (mostly because there was poor publicity for this film.)  The sad part is this probably one of the most entertaining and enjoyable films I have seen this year.  The plot takes on the chase with Mcconaughey as a bad boy lawyer who you can't help but love.

This made me think about other films that I saw that were just plain enjoyable, but because of either poor marketing, the fact that the film was too small, or other various reasons people don't get to see some or hear about movies until long after they are released in the theatres.  This change in the movie industry also has a lot to do with the changing process of how people are watching movies.  More people are downloading, (I have never done this-I am an avid DVD buyer), watching things on demand on their television or streaming netflix on their computer than ever before.

After thinking about different films that people love there were several that came to my mind that people can quote or talk about on demand but their domestic gross was not incredibly high.  In 2004 there were two films released that you would expect to have huge box office numbers, Mean Girls and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy.  Both films domestic gross was a combined 171 million dollars.  That sounds pretty good, right?  The Day after Tomorrow grossed more than these movies did onto my main point, sometimes the public misses on great movie fun.  Which films have you seen more?  My guess is that more people are watching Ron Burgandy and Mean Girls than The Day after Tomorrow.  With so many lackluster films opening in early 2011 make sure when you see that a good movie is released you take the opportunity to see it.

Going to the movies should be a fun experience-sitting in the theatre with your popcorn laughing, crying, trying to guess who did it, or screaming when the killer pops out the shadows.  This blog is by no means publicity for The Lincoln Lawyer, but I enjoy when I can sit down and just enjoy watching a movie. I  love when I leave the movie theatre and I am not critiquing the different elements that  can bug me (like the editing or the acting.)  Alfred Hitchcock said "A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."  Find that film for you!

Comic Book Movies in 2011: Too Much or Just Right?

With the release of the Captain America: The First Avenger trailer yesterday, it dawned on me, there are so many comic book/graphic novel inspired films this year.  Some films are sequels, or re-inventions, some are one time happenings, and others are making comic fanboys drool.  The question is will they be worth your time, or are they simply bleeding this genre dry?  As a big fan of comic books it is my duty to help steer you clear or direct you to the hits and the misses this upcoming movie year.

The year started out with a wimper.  The Green Hornet was the first film inspired by a comic book.  Starring Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet) and Jay Chou (Kato) this film attempted to be funny, and humorous while also being action packed. Christoph Waltz played the villain-even a man who won an Academy Award for playing such a great villain in Inglorious Basterds could not help save this film. The two did not mix well in this film, it was loud and the plot was contrived.  The film was directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Seth Rogen helped write the screenplay.  Fanboy Grade: C

By the Hammer of Thor!  The next comic book film to be released in movie theatres is of course Thor on May 6th.  I was skeptical about this project but after watching a series of previews, I have faith that this not as popular marvel character will provide us with a great comic book film.  Now this is just a hypothesis so do not take me at face value, but with Kenneth Branagh in the director's chair his attention to detail could make this project worthwhile.  The cast is also impressive with Natalie Portman as Thor's love interest, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and newcomer Chris Hemsworth as Thor (looks exactly like what Thor should look like.)
Fanboy Grade: A Must See!

The X-Men are going back to their origins on June 3rd, well the origins according to their writers and the studios.  X-Men: First Class takes a look at the relationship between Charles Xavier-Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto's (Michael Fasbender) and their division in starting both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  My first problem is they aren't actually using the original team they are using characters as they please.  They are using Havok instead of Cyclops-that makes no sense!  As an avid X-Men fan I could go on for days about this, but I digress.  The trailer looks good, the director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) has handled comic book material before, and it has Emma Frost.  This movie has potential to go either way, I will probably be there at midnight becuase I love the X-Men, but I am not 100% sold on this movie. Fanboy Grade: See it, No High Expectations.

I have not admit I am not very familiar with the next film I am going to talk about.  I have talked to a lot of my friends who read comic books and they are very excited the Green Lantern on June 17th.  I think I am slightly excited about this film for two reasons, it has Ryan Reynolds and he will be a great Hal Jordan and two it will give me insight into the world of Green Lantern.  I have some reservations about this film like X-Men: First Class like casting Blake Lively as the the love interest (not a fan), but with Martin Campbell who has handled adaptations (Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro) on board and quality writer Greg Berlanti, this film could soar or tank. Fanboy Grade: Excited because its new to me, but have reservations.

Avengers Assemble!  I am so excited for The Avengers film in 2012, and seeing that they are doing a film for each character in the film is also great (except Hawkeye).  Captain America is iconic because of what he represents, prior to the Civil War storyline, and his current storyline I found Steve Rogers, well....BORING!  The movie looks like it has potential to be good, again great cast with Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chris Evans (they could have gotten a better actor), but it is Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull that has me most excited about this film.  Overall I think like the other films could go either way, but I am not as excited about it. Fanboy Grade: Will see it, but not on the top of my must see films list.

The last film Cowboys and Aliens got laughs when they had the previews before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1- and they weren't good laughs.  Jon Favreau (Iron Man) will be directing an all star cast with Harrison Ford, and Daniel Craig leading the charge.  I will eat my hat if this film is good, I think like the preview this movie looks laughable and not in a good way...nuff said.  Fanboy Grade: Wouldn't see it for a Dollar at the Redbox.

As this year comes to a close there are other films that may also be comic book based that have no release dates Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengence (yes they are doing this), Sin City 2, Deadpool and some others (which I think will be released in 2012).  I hope the mass release of films inspired by comic books/graphic novels does not hinder the quality of filmmaking, or make audiences tired of these types of films.  My fear is that it may be too late, remember comic book movie makers "With great power comes great responsibility."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What was your favorite Elizabeth Taylor Performance?

In Memoriam: Elizabeth Taylor

The first time I saw Elizabeth Taylor in a movie was as a young child in The Flintstones; she played Wilma's mother.  Then I saw her as a guest star in the television show The Nanny and in her iconic television commercials for her White Diamonds perfume.  I also remember everyone talking about the fact that this woman had been married eight different times, and no one ever talked about her acting.

All of the hype around her puzzled me, and  then one day I remember asking my grandmother "What's the big deal about Elizabeth Taylor?"  She answered "She was a huge movie star, beautiful, she had a strong presence, and was a great actress!"  I was still not sold, and let it it go thinking I was not going to proven wrong.

Years later TCM was playing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and let me tell you my grandmother proved me wrong.  Taylor was a tour de force as Martha.  The film centers around Martha (Taylor) and George (Richard Burton-Taylor's husband in real life two different times) and the co-dependent abusive relationship as seen from two younger newlyweds the invite over to their house.  This film won Taylor her second Academy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress ; her first Academy Award win was for Butterfield 8 (a win that happened while Taylor was close to death.) There have only 11 other women in Academy Award history that have won two or more Oscars in  Outstanding Lead Actress category: Katherine Hepburn (4 wins), Luise Rainer (2 wins), Bette Davis (2 wins) Olivia de Havilland (2 wins), Vivien Leigh (2 wins), Ingrid Bergman (2 wins ), Glenda Jackson (2 wins), Jane Fonda (2 wins),Sally Field (2 wins), Jodie Foster (2 wins),  and Hillary Swank (2 wins).

After Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf I watched my second favorite Elizabeth Taylor performance Suddenly Last Summer in which played Catherine Holly cousin to a boy who was murdered while they were on vacation.  After Catherine sees what happened to her cousin she goes crazy; her aunt played by Katherine Hepburn brings in Dr. Cukrowicz (Montgomery Clift) to lobotomize her so the truth surrounding her sons death will never be revealed.  Taylor is great in this film and proves what a wonderful actress she was.  Taylor's other notable performances/roles were in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Giant, Father of the Bride, and Cleopatra.

Not only was Taylor's acting impressive but she also worked hard to battle AIDS.  Elizabeth Taylor was a long time friend of Rock Hudson and when he died from the disease she co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and eventually created the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and the Elizabeth Taylor Endowment Fund.

What I learned was that not only was Elizabeth Taylor's acting career impressive (starring in 50 movies), but she had an impressive life.  You could tell that she was a passionate woman in all of her film roles and in her fight to help battle AIDS. Taylor was received many prestigious honors from the American Film Institute, the Kennedy Center, the Motion Picture Academy, and the Queen of England, who bestowed Taylor with the title Dame of the British Empire in 2000. Taylor passed away at 79 today but her legacy will live on in her film work and the work she did for others.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Movie Would You Rent Today?

In Honor of New Release Tuesday I have a Poll in my blog (to the right) about which film you would want to rent.  Here are the options:

The Demise of the Video Store

On March 10th 2011 Azam Ahmed wrote a piece for the New York Times about Blockbuster's Bankruptcy sale. The point of the article in this post is not important, but it made me think about the changing technology and the end of the video store. 

When I was young kid growing up in Albany, NY I remember heading to the video store Coulson's on Delaware Avenue.  They had magazines,snacks, and in the back a place to find and rent movies.  I remember my excitement renting The Muppet Show and Care Bears (don't laugh).  Coulson's went out of business  in 1996 fifteen years ago-this was the highpoint of video rental chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. I remember being sad when Coulson's stopped being the place to go, but I moved on and started renting movies from Blockbuster.

As the years went by I have cherished what Coulson's meant, it was that old musty classic store where there were great movies old and new.  Coulson's felt classic, like a good old movie.

When I started renting from Blockbuster the process to rent movies was not as fun: their selection was not as great, there was a lack of older movies, and the store felt sterile.  Now don't get me wrong I love buying previously viewed movies from Blockbuster, but this chain store ruined the nostalgic feeling of going to a video store.

Now with Blockbuster being sold the newer forms of renting movies are changing things even more. Many people have started joining Netflix, where they mail a movie to your house, or you can watch a movie streaming from your computer.  You can also go to a local store like Wal-Mart and pick up rental from the Redbox for a dollar a night.  Cable Providers have also created the On Demand system where you can click a few buttons on your remote and be instantly watching a new movie. 

Now many of these options are cheaper and make things more accessible, and that is important.  I am a big propenent of getting movies out to the public, and these new options provide that opportunity.  Having On Demand options helps someone chose a movie at their fingertips, but I miss getting to pick out my rental at the store.

Call me old fashioned but like in High Fidelity, I would prefer the old school store that sells videos and DVDS to the chains, and technologically mass produced opportunities.  The movie experience is not as magical as it once was, I remember going to the theatre and being in awe of the sheer greatness of films, but some of that feeling is gone.  As techonology advances in society, the art produced becomes less real and genuine. 

Here is a link to the article: (Note it may not be available long-NY Times articles tend to be accessible to members).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Performer to Watch: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Who knew that the young teen in televisions 3rd Rock from the Sun would be on the list of go to actors.  Gordon-Levitt was a cute younger actor, but who knew what he had in him; his first major film role was in 10 Ten Things I Hate About You, had him playing the adoring dorky Cameron pining after the pretty popular girl Bianca (now that I look back maybe I did see how his angst would come shining through on the big screen).

My first interaction with his greatness came from the film Mysterious Skin.  Mysterious Skin is about two teenage boys Gordon-Levitt who plays Neil a hustler and Brady Corbet who plays Brian a kid obsessed with alien abductions because he thinks he was abducted as a child.  These two boys paths crossed when they were younger, and their story is intertwined.  Neil remembers their past and Gordon-Levitt's acting shows his ability to take on tough material; he is so convincing in this dark role that I was hooked on following his career and his performances in the future.  This film is not an easy watch-the material is dark and raw but Gordon-Levitt's charisma helps.

Gordon-Levitt's next great performance came in the film Brick.  Do you love film noir?  Brick is a modern day Maltese Falcon Brick follows Gordon-Levitt's character Brendan through the underground world of high school drug use as he tries to solve the death of his ex-girlfriend.  What more could you want?  Brendan is vulnerable and Gordon-Levitt's portrayal again helps to elevate the material in this film.

With both Brick and Mysterious Skin under his belt he has showed that not only has he worked hard at the beginning of his career to shake his good guy image, but he has also been able to show that he has range.   I will forgive his choice to G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra-every actor makes a couple mistakes.  His next two choices were two of the best films of the 2000s: 500 Days of Summer and Inception.

500 Days of Summer is Gordon-Levitt's best acting to date.  In the film he plays Tom who goes through all 500 Days of his relationship with a girl named Summer.  You get to see Tom in his ups and downs, his triumph (in song and dance) and his tragedy (as he see the final nail in the coffin at a rooftop party).  Gordon-Levitt's vulnerability is real, and you feel, everything he feels; his acting has become more natural, and understated.

His last big film is Inception-I will not be providing any plot for this because well, if you didn't see it you heard about it.  Inception will help Gordon-Levitt propel to the ranks of stardom.  Christopher Nolan has a way of continually using the same actors and also creating opportunities for them to be more visible to larger audiences in the theatre.

Gordon-Levitt's future looks bright; he has two films being released this year Hesher and (to my knowledge) the tentatively titled 50/50.  Nolan will also be using Gordon-Levitt as a villain in the upcoming Dark Knight Rises; he will play the Holiday Killer (son of Carmine Falcone-the mob boss in Batman Begins).  I think he has a great career ahead of him, and will continue to grow as an actor.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Five "Great" Actors and Actresses Wasting Your Time at the Movies

It came to my attention after watching a terrible movie last night (Morning Glory) that there are a lot of actors and actresses who are doing some pretty terrible movies.  There are some people who I expect to be in a bad movie.  I don't ever expect to see  or hear the words Academy Award nominee Jessica Alba.  There are actors and actresses who I expect better from, they have shown they have talent, but have also proven to be in some terrible films. 

Here are five current iconic actors/actresses working today that are not doing their best work in film right now. 

1-Robert DeNiro-What a great actor; he brought us nuances in The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Cape Fear, Goodfellas, and of course Raging Bull.  DeNiro is a six time Academy Award nominee and two time winner.  DeNiro won for Supporting Actor in The Godfather Part II and for Lead Actor in Raging Bull.  I love this man and think that he is a great actor but some of his films need to remain on the shelf.  Little Fockers, Meet the Fockers, and Analyze That were pointless sequels. Stone with Edward Norton basically went straight to DVD.  Pairing DeNiro and Pacino in Righteous Kill sounds like an easy sell, but it was a waste of talent.  Everybody Hurts was too sappy, Hide and Seek was his attempt at horror, and even with a stellar cast and director the film What Just Happened (who even really heard about this one) were all epic fails.  I have saved the worst for last; he played Fearless Leader in the live action film The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, nuff said!
The Cure: Mr. DeNiro you are a funny man, you were great in Stardust and 30 Rock this decade, and Jack Burns in Meet the Parents is great.  Wait for a good script, start saying No!!!

2-Diane Keaton-After sitting through Morning Glory last night, Keaton's  is lucky her shrill portrayal portrayal as a vain news anchor, did not land her the top spot on this list.  Diane Keaton is a four time Academy Award nominee (and one time winner) for her roles in Annie Hall (her win), Reds, Marvin's Room, and Something's Gotta Give.  Diane Keaton was always good at playing strong confident women, she is sexy and smart.  I loved her in Baby Boom (not a great film) but it showcases her talents well; she was also  stellar in Woody Allen's film Manhattan.  After Keaton played Annie in the First Wives Club her confidence in her roles seemed to get shot.  Keaton has produced some major bombs in the 2000s.  Mama's Boy, Smother, Mad Money, Morning Glory, and the worst of them all Because I Said So.  Miss Keaton's acting is so over the top in Because I Said So it hurts; she is one of my favorite actresses of all time, but as of lately when I see she is in a movie playing the overprotective mom I cringe and sigh.
The Cure: Move to television!!! There was a pilot in the works for you about playing a Hollywood hot shot, do it!  It worked for Glen Close, it can work for you too.

3-Al Pacino-Stop Overacting!....I will say that again, Stop Overacting!!  You are Michael Corleone, you were Serpico.  You yelled "Attica! Attica!" and  said "Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in." Now lately when it comes to your film career, we want you to stay away from lame movies.  Al Pacino is an 8 time Academy Award nominee (1 win); his nominations include his performances in The Godfather, Serpico, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon,...And Justice for All, Dick Tracey, Scent of a Woman (his win), and Glenngarry Glenn Ross.  In the 2000s his films include, 88 Minutes, Righteous Kill, Gigli, S1m0ne, The Recruit, Two for the Money, and he was in the worst of the Ocean's movies Ocean's Thirteen.
The Cure: Stick to the roles you have taken on HBO, and stick with Shakespeare it works for you!  Pacino was great in Angels in America and You Don't Know Jack.  He killed in The Merchant of Venice, and doing Shakespeare in the Park in NYC.  This is your future Al, stick with it and your fans will forgive you for your bad film choices.
4-Harrison Ford-Considering Ford a great actor is probably debatable to some, but he is certainly iconic.  Ford brought two of the most memorable characters to film history Han Solo and Indiana Jones (a much better character than the similar written Robert Langdon).  Harrison Ford was the late 70s and 80s with films like Witness (his only academy award nomination), Blade Runner, every Indiana Jones film, every Star Wars film, and Working Girl; he did it all he kicked butt, made people laugh, and swoon.  Now he is starring in second rate films like K-19: The Widowmaker, Hollywood Homicide, Firewall, Extraordinary Measures, and Morning Glory.  Ford's foray as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a HUGE letdown.  I wonder if like Ford's character Mike Pomeroy in Morning Glory is Ford resistant to television as opposed to film.  Does television represent a lower standard?
The Cure: Ford's time as action star is done, he needs to focus on his humour and wit, and find films that will focus on that.  Morning Glory was an attempt, but a fail.  Keep going you are on the right path!

5-Robin Williams-The Man is funny and can really deliver a great dramatic performance, look at Dead Poet's Society, Good Will Hunting, and One Hour Photo.  The man has range!  I am going to make this one short and simple, don't be desperate!!  Stop taking terrible comedies like RV, Old Dogs, License to Wed, Man of the Year, Father's Day (there is a long list I will stop here).  Williams has four Academy Award nominations, and one win (Good Will Hunting).  His foray into darker material like Insomnia and One Hour Photo were great!  Robin Williams needs to keep using his range, and calm down!  Your Mrs. Doubtfire is classic, you don't need to keep trying to prove yourself so hard!
The Cure: Do some quality animated films, your stint on Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit was alright, maybe find some better written material, and go from there. 

I do not blame these five actors, nor do I hold ill will towards them.  They are of my favorite actors of all time, and I want the best for them maybe the material isn't there, or maybe there is ageism in Hollywood.  I think the five of them can do better, and I want them their careers to have an upswing.  I do not want any of these five people to fall into a Norma Desmond type lifestyle.  As Norma Desmond says in Sunset Boulevard "I am big. It's the pictures that got small"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rango Saves the Day: Are Animated Films Hollywood's Saving Grace?

This past Thursday March 17th 2011 (yes on St. Patrick's Day) I went to see my first film in theatres in over two months!  For my friends out there, I usually like to see a movie at least once a week, but there has been nothing on the horizon until this film. After the the movie ended (great film) a light bulb went off in my head,  and I said to my friends "Wow I have seen more animated films in the theatres as a 26 year-old then I did when I was a little kid."

As the evening drew to a close I thought the animated features I watched in my childhood Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mulan, etc and how animated features have changed in the last 10 years.  Rango is a prime example-the film has a message, there is adult humour.  Movie producers and executives have realized how to fill the seats to movie theatres make animated movies with shiny colors that appeal to children and throw in some adult joke so their parents will enjoy them too!

Throughout the 2000s every year there have been one or two animated films that just hit it out the park (most of them from Pixar or Dreamworks, and some foreign animated films).  However starting around 2008 animated films have become more important than ever.  In 2008 four animated films were on the list of the top ten grossing films for the year (in the USA), and they were: Wall-E (#5 for the year 223 million), Kung-Fu Panda (#6 215 million), Madagascar 2: Escape from Africa (#8 for the year 180 million), and Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who (#10 for the year 154 million).  Combined grosses for all four of these films from domestic and foreign numbers were in the billions and the animated film became a saving grace at the box office.

 Within today's financial climate studio bosses are pulling their hair out to make sure that their films are making money, but in early 2011 theatres have been losing money because of poor attendance at the movies.  Here is an idea Hollywood, make better movies and stop pushing terrible sequels on us!  Rango was a great film, it was original, cute, funny, quirky, pleasing to all ages, witty and so on.  Rango will most likely make just 100 million domestic at the box office and will become the highest grossing movie of the year soon. In today's movie climate animated films are becoming some of if not the most critically acclaimed most enjoyable films of the year.  Toy Story 3 was the largest grossing film domestically in 2010 make just about 415 million dollars. 

I am proud to say that the Academy Awards took note of this early trend in 2001 and created a category specifically for feature length animated films, and that first honor was bestowed to Shrek.  There have however only been three animated features nominated for Best Picture: Beauty and the Beast (1992) Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010).  Up and Toy Story 3 were nominated because there are now 10 nominees in the Best Picture category-worthy animated features had been snubbed in this category years prior.

So with a shift in quality and viewer taste animated features need to be recognized for the contribution they are bringing to cinema as creative films and films that fill the seats of movie theatres. I am proud to say that in 2011 animated films have advanced things "To Infinity and Beyond."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Welcome to Eternal Thoughts of Kevin's Mind

Welcome to my new blog!  This focuses on the film industry and the role it plays it not only shaping the landscape of history, but in shaping our culture.  Many of you may think of me as a film snob or an elitest, but I enjoy well made well written films.  When I spend my money I want to know the producers, directors, cast put the time, effort and energy to make quality material. (Just wanted to put in Warning)

My blog title was inspired by my favorite film of all time Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you haven't seen this movie yet-then we probably should not be friends.  But for your own sake I will give you a quick summary of the film in order to get you caught up to speed.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about two characters Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) and Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) who both go to Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) to erase the relationship they had.  The movie focuses on Joel (Carrey) erasing Clementine from his mind.  The main question of the film is without spoiling much is can you ever erase a relationship from your mind, or is it there forever.

I would like to erase  the last two months of major studio releases from my mind..  January and Februar are the months when there is a lag in the production of "great" films, but this often one or two films that excites fans, gets people in the theatres, and tells a good story.  These films have not existed.  I currently live in Bowling Green, Ohio and on Tuesday and Thursday I can see a film for $2.75, but I have not wanted to waste my time sitting through something that is cheaper than a rental at blockbuster.  Did Big Momma's House really need to become a trilogy?

Back to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this film represents film perfection within the 2000s.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was released on March 19th, 2004 (according to and there is no film on the horizen within the first sixth months of the year that will bring viewers a quality film experience.  So few films are made with actual heart and depth.  The movie takes a realistic look at relationships and does not sugar coat the difficulties of falling in love and the complications that come with developing a relationship.  No Strings Attached was close as we will get to a successful relationship film, but there is comparison to the quality.

As we survive the drought of the first few months of the mainstream desert in the film industry watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reminded me that there is hope out there, and that award season will come around once again, and bring quality films. I close with the great line from Kate Winslet in the film "Meet me in Montauk."