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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jean Dujardin Swoops Down On Clooney's Expectant SAG Award; "The Help" Wins Top Prize


















I see we're still pretending that The Help is a good movie.

While Hollywood pats itself on the back for "rectifying" last year's blatant whiteout situation (by, in essence, stroking a long-standing situation), let's give a hand to Jean Dujardin who graciously stole expectant winner George Clooney's SAG right out of his grasp for his wonderful performance in The Artist. I'm sure Clooney was halfway up to the stage when Dujardin's name was announced.

Check out the full list of film winners below:


ENSEMBLE (equivalent to best picture)

The Help

LEAD ACTOR

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

LEAD ACTRESS

Viola Davis, The Help

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Octavia Spencer, The Help

The Subtle Core Movement of Black Indie Films and News about the Big Screen Version of "Half of a Yellow Sun"


On today's Cinema in Noir, we dished about the latest from acclaimed director Julie Dash, who's been added to the upcoming big screen adaptation of Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Half Of A Yellow Sun, and other film news.

We also go over the latest news from Sundance, as well as the so-called rants of director Spike Lee about his film, Red Hook Summer.

Karen Gilmore of Reel Artsy also calls in to share her thoughts on the "subtle core" movement in black indie. Read more about that here.

Missed the show? Check it out below.


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REVIEW: The Beauty of "Miss Bala"

If you've seen one Mexican drug drama you've seen them all, right? Not if you've seen the Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal co-produced film, Miss Bala.

Using the backdrop of a tender Baja California beauty pageant, the Gerardo Naranjo-directed Miss Bala follows the nightmarish story of 23-year-old Tijuana woman Laura Guerrero, a hopeful contestant whose dreams of becoming Miss Baja are hijacked by a dangerous drug cartel led by drug lord Lino (Noe Hernandez).

Stephanie Sigman stars as Laura, whose life in just a few short moments is turned upside by a dangerous drug cartel who, after igniting a bloodbath at a local nightclub, kidnap her and force her to become their drug mule. What follows is a series of agonizing events that continue to escalate from one scene to the next like a well-oiled pressure cooker.



What's most interesting about the movie is the way that it shifts from the build up of what could possibly be a very magical rags-to-riches moment for a young woman from an impoverished family to a moment that becomes soiled with violence, gunfire, and trafficking. Sigman, who holds down the fort as the only female star in a male-saturated cast, towers over her shorter-limbed male counterparts, which for a moment makes the audience believe that she could try to get herself out of this horrific situation. But the sheer terror in her eyes and the manipulative desperation of her captors discards that possibility in a quick flash.

As the film progresses, it's hard for the audience not to get caught up in each dismaying situation Laura is thrown in. From sexual sacrifices to brutal brawls, the movie is as gritty as it gets, but doesn't forfeit taste even as it plummets down its darkest paths. Though the ideals of beauty and femininity are often peppered throughout the movie, Laura never comes across fake or disingenuous and her body isn't ever made to look lustful or objectified. Every time you look at her, you're immediately thrust into her godawful predicament, and you--like her--have become removed yourself from the flowery reality that could have been.



Sigman, in only her second full feature film, is simply magnetic on screen. She stirs an equal amount of suspense and empathy from the audience just when she needs to. She is surprisingly calm in even Laura's most dire scenes, which speaks to Laura's bravery and ability to think on her feet, but is effectively petrified at just the right times. From one scene to another she takes you on an appropriately wide range of emotions that are right in line with the film.

Except for its disappointingly tapered ending, Miss Bala (bala is the Spanish word for bullet, used here as a pun for "baja") is an impressive, anxiety-ridden crime drama that can join the ranks of some of the best in its genre, from two of Mexico's best talents. It will be wonderful to watch how Sigman's career takes shape after this movie, and what else Luna and Bernal have up their sleeves next.

Rating: B+

REVIEW "The Artist:" Nostalgia Killed the Talkie Star

At first glance, the nostalgia-soaked silent film The Artist seduces audiences with its fanciful flair and dramatic score. But underneath also lies two of the most surprisingly charming performances of the year.

French actor Jean Dujardin captivates audiences as George Valentin, Hollywoodland heavyweight of the 1920s silent era. With a resume stacked high with one box office success after another, the somewhat arrogant George thought his luck would never run out. That is, until his production company decides to jump on the talkie bandwagon. Clinging to his career as the preeminent silent star, George chooses to part ways to try to continue his career on his own terms. Meanwhile, little does he know that while he's off rebelling, a new wave of talkies crash the big screen in a major way, and have elected accidental starlet Peppy Miller to lead them down the pike.



In comes Argentina-born French-bred leading lady Bérénice Bejo, who waltzes onto the screen as Tinseltown ingenue Peppy Miller and almost steals every scene from Dujardin. Her feminine daintiness coupled with her easy relatability as a female lead is simply enchanting to watch. Although Peppy bursts onto the scene as a threat to George, a character the audience has already been introduced to side with, Bejo's Peppy is anything but a villain. Representing the new world of cinema, Peppy is still a throwback herself with her wide-eyed elegance and classic stature, but wrapped in a new world package. That said, the contrast between George's resentment of his forced transition and Peppy's fierce innocence of the old world ways is a definitive characteristic of the movie in more ways than one.

Where George's lack of desire to move forward has alienated himself from the things he cares most about (with the exception of his Lassie-like dog), Peppy's ambition to propel the new style of cinema makes her a magnet for legions of fans and admirers.



But will The Artist be remembered for years to come? More than likely the film will be most remembered because it's a silent movie from 2011, like if an endangered Atlantic Halibut suddenly washed up on a beach one day. It's headline news mostly for the mere fact that it exists at all in this day and age.

This won't take away from the loveliness of the film, by any means. The performances from Dujardin and Bejo transcend any possible declaration of a gimmick the film may spark. What the two actors are able to do with this deafeningly silent movie is something many actors today would probably not be able to bring to life as well as they did. Bejo and Dujardin (along with costars John Goodman, James Cromwell and Penelope Ann Miller), in essence, made a musical in silence. But even though there were no words to the story (unless you count the every 15-minutes-or-so subtitles), their large gestures and dramatic (but not overly so) expressions told complete stories. This was further enhanced by the spot-on grandiose score by Ludovic Bource that made you want to dance in the aisle of the movie theater, as well as director Michel Hazanavicius, who made the signature rusty look of a silent movie appear glossy and luxurious.

The Artist is simply a pleasure to watch, if only for just two hours in time.

Rating: A-

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Academy Dips Back Into the Dark Ages for Their Best Actress Pool

Another year goes by an Oscar fails to recognize some of the more daring lead performances from women on the big screen.

In a year when we were honored to see a collection of bold performances from women in leading roles--from Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids and Charlize Theron in Young Adult, to Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method, Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene and Adepero Oduye in Pariah--it's disappointing to learn they each were ignored by an academy so deeply rooted in tradition it's frightening.




















This year the academy reverted back to its old school formula to salute performances of their go-to characters--you know, the downtrodden domestic worker (no doubt a homage to Gone with the Wind), a woman in drag (hello, Shakespeare in Love), and real-life iconic women (Lady Sings the Blues, What's Love Got to Do With It?, Coal Miner's Daughter, The Queen, Frida, etc).

There is, however, the wild card nomination, the one that raises eyebrows, and offers a glimmer of hope that Oscar actually grew a pair and may step out of the dark ages--Rooney Mara's innocently devious portrayal as hacker Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Though Mara didn't truly embody the character as much as her Swedish predecessor Noomi Rapace, she does get an A for effort for taking on such a challenge and giving a solid performance. And the academy gets a high five for at least recognizing a character that's neither whimpering nor traditional, but rather commanding and progressive.

The other four slots, however? So steeped in Oscar status quo, you'd think it really was still 1994. No disrespect to any of the other four nominated actresses in the category, but we could have all called their nominations this year.






















Sure, Viola Davis did the best she could with the measly screenplay she was given for The Help, so that deserves a nod in and of itself. Glenn Close has been putting in good work for years and simply disappears into the role of Albert Nobbs, as does Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. And Meryl Streep delivers an expectantly admirable performance in The Iron Lady, while not her best by any stretch of the imagination, and manages to bring to the role of an aging Margaret Thatcher what many good actresses could not.

But, still, none of these performances are nearly as brassy, as cheerless, or as unexpected as the wonderfully refreshing portrayals of a woman wrangling to come out of the closet (Oduye), a young girl grappling with her identity (Olsen), a loathsome woman on a desperate downward spiral (Theron), a woman trapped in her own hysteria (Knightley), and a hilarious and surprisingly nuanced portrayal of a lovable basket case (Wiig). Any of these performances could have replaced the esteemed yet snoozeworthy four slots on the ballot.




















Can the Academy step back into the present and commend performances of women that don't fit into its cookie-cutter mold? Clearly, not this year.

(Original piece published for The Lamb).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Special Edition of "Cinema in Noir:" 2012 Oscar Nominations

You didn't think the ladies and I were going to miss out on sharing our opinion on some of the hits and misses of this year's Oscar nominations, did you? In a special edition of "Cinema in Noir" this evening, we offered some of the best sound bytes about some of our favorite movie nods, and ones to which we gave the side eye. Listen here:

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"Shame" and "Young Adult" Both Shafted by Oscar, While Maids and Horses Prevail

This morning's Oscar nominations announcement recycled many of the season's usual suspects, while it also provided us with quite a few surprising snubs.

First of all, let's stop pretending Moneyball is a good movie. No matter how many awards it gets nominated for, or performances that are oddly complimented, this is a poor movie that offers no compelling story and two of the biggest phoned-in performances from last year from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. What version of this movie did Oscar see? I need that dvd.

Speaking of lost in translation, it seems like the handwriting is on the wall for The Help. Clearly this award season is all about throwing the maids some love, even though we all know both Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are better than their okay performances in a lackluster movie. I blame the source material.

But since we're talking about it, if we're going to surprise nominate anyone from The Help, it would have been more settling to see Allison Janey on the nominations ballot and not Jessica Chastain's underwhelming performance of a caricature in the movie. It's also worth noting that at today's announcement ceremony, a picture of Chastain in The Tree of Life flashed on the screen, in lieu of a picture of her in The Help. Coincidence? She was indeed better in The Tree of Life, even though the movie itself is downright frustrating to watch.

Notable surprises include Rooney Mara's nod in the best actress category for her performance in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Demián Bichir for best actor in the very quiet but solid movie A Better Life. While both were impressive, I can't help but to think Adepero Oduye's touching performance in Pariah could have aced this category in lieu of Mara's solid performance of character to whom she brought nothing. By the way, Pariah received NO nominations, in any category. Zilch. Nada. Who can I write to about this tragedy?

Let's talk about some of the other snubs. Albert Brooks for Drive and and the entire institutes of Young Adult and Shame were robbed! There is NO reason for them not to be here. Michael Fassbender? Diablo Cody for the wonderfully daring Young Adult? But Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt are here? Stop the madness. And nothing for Carey Mulligan. These are all crimes against humanity.

In other news, thankfully Midnight in Paris, Nick Nolte (the best part about Warrior) and Christopher Plummer (for his touching portrayal in Beginners) all received well-deserved nods. We can take comfort in at least that.

Check out the full list of nominees below:


Best picture

"War Horse"

"The Artist"

"Moneyball"

"The Descendants"

"The Tree of Life"

"Midnight in Paris"

"The Help"

"Hugo"

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Actor

Demián Bichir, "A Better Life"

George Clooney, "The Descendants"

Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"

Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Actress

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"

Viola Davis, "The Help"

Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"

Michelle Williams, "My Week with Marilyn"

Supporting actor

Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn"

Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"

Nick Nolte, "Warrior"

Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

Max von Sydow "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Supporting actress

Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist"

Jessica Chastain, "The Help"

Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"

Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"

Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

Director

Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"

Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"

Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

Animated feature

"A Cat in Paris"

"Chico & Rita"

"Kung Fu Panda 2"

"Puss in Boots"

"Rango"

Original screenplay

"Bridesmaids"

"Midnight in Paris"

"Margin Call"

"A Separation"

"The Artist"

Adapted screenplay

"The Descendants"

"Hugo"

"The Ides of March"

"Moneyball"

"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

Best foreign language

"Bullhead" (Belgium)

"Footnote" (Israel)

"In Darkness" (Poland)

"Monsieur Lazhar" (Canada)

"A Separation" (Iran)

Art direction

“The Artist”

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”

“Hugo”

“Midnight in Paris”

“War Horse”

Cinematography

“The Artist”

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

“Hugo”

“The Tree of Life”

“War Horse”

Costume design

“Anonymous”

“The Artist”

“Hugo”

“Jane Eyre”

“W.E.”

Live action short film

“Pentecost”

“Raju”

“The Shore”

“Time Freak”

“Tuba Atlantic”

Sound editing

“Drive”

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

“Hugo”

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

“War Horse”

Sound mixing

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

“Hugo”

“Moneyball”

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

“War Horse”

Animated short film

“Dimanche/Sunday”

“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”

“La Luna”

“A Morning Stroll”

“Wild Life”

Original song

“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”

“Real in Rio” from “Rio”

Film editing

“The Artist”

“The Descendants”

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

“Hugo”

“Moneyball”

Makeup

“Albert Nobbs”

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”

“The Iron Lady”

Original score

“The Adventures of Tintin”

“The Artist”

“Hugo”

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

“War Horse”

Documentary feature

“Hell and Back Again”

“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”

“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”

“Pina”

“Undefeated”

Documentary short subject

“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”

“God Is the Bigger Elvis”

“Incident in New Baghdad”

“Saving Face”

“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”

Visual effects

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”

“Hugo”

“Real Steel”

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Awards will be handed out live on February 26th at 7pm EST on ABC

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Here Are Those NAACP Image Award Nominations You Ordered...

The 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominations were announced earlier today and, in usual tradition, were met with shock and abhorrence.

As much as you want to offer your support, it's very hard to take these awards seriously when, right out the gate, Tower Heist holds the fifth nominated spot as best picture. That film is dangerously close to racking up all the nominations of the Razzie awards this year.

And let's not even talk about how Vin Diesel scored a nod for his motorized performance in Fast Five. Everything about that movie is a popcorn flick, nothing more. He was nothing more than an escaped autobot from the Transformers movies.

And in typical NAACP Image Awards form, non-colored people found their way onto the nomination ballot, raising eyebrows. From honoring Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey to everyone but the extras in The Help, the standards for the awards have clearly become blurred over the years.

On the bright side, it's great to see Pariah get so much love. In a perfect world, that will be the clear winner in each category its nominated in.

Check out the full list of film nominees below:

Outstanding Motion Picture

“Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)
“Pariah” (Focus Features)
“The First Grader” (National Geographic
Entertainment)
“The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)
“Tower Heist” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

Eddie Murphy – “Tower Heist”
(Universal Pictures)
Laurence Fishburne – “Contagion”
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
Laz Alonso – “Jumping the Broom”
(TriStar Pictures)
Oliver Litondo – “The First Grader” (National Geographic Entertainment)
Vin Diesel – “Fast Five” (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

Adepero Oduye – “Pariah” (Focus Features)
Emma Stone – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)
Paula Patton – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)
Viola Davis – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)
Zoë Saldana – “Colombiana” (TriStar Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Anthony Mackie – “The Adjustment Bureau” (Universal Pictures)
Charles Parnell – “Pariah” (Focus Features)
Don Cheadle – “The Guard” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Jeffrey Wright – “The Ides of March” (Columbia Pictures)
Mike Epps – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Bryce Dallas Howard – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)
Cicely Tyson – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)
Kim Wayans – “Pariah” (Focus Features)
Maya Rudolph – “Bridesmaids” (Universal Pictures)
Octavia Spencer – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

“I Will Follow” (AFFRM)
“Kinyarwanda” (AFFRM)
“MOOZ-lum” (AFFRM)
“Pariah” (Focus Features)
“The First Grader” (National Geographic Entertainment)

Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture

“A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Attack the Block” (Screen Gems)
“In the Land of Blood and Honey” (FilmDistrict)
“Le Havre” (Janus Films)
“Life, Above All” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Outstanding Documentary – (Theatrical or Television)

“Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest” (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” (Submarine Deluxe)
“Sing Your Song” (HBO Documentary Films)
“The Rescuers” (Michael King Productions)
“Thunder Soul” (Roadside Attractions)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture – (Theatrical or Television)

Alrick Brown – “Kinyarwanda” (AFFRM)
Ann Peacock – “The First Grader” (National Geographic Entertainment)
Dee Rees – “Pariah” (Focus Features)
Elizabeth Hunter, Arlene Gibbs – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)
Tate Taylor – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture – (Theatrical or Television)

Alrick Brown – “Kinyarwanda” (AFFRM)
Angelina Jolie – “In the Land of Blood and Honey” (FilmDistrict)
Dee Rees – “Pariah” (Focus Features)
Salim Akil – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)
Tate Taylor – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/Participant Media/Touchstone Pictures)

The awards will air live on February 17 at 8pm EST on NBC.

Milla Jovovich Continues to Fight the Good Fight in "Resident Evil: Retribution"

Alice can't seem to shake off these pesky undead creatures.

Milla Jovovich returns for the fifth installment of the Resident Evil horror franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution . Reprising the role of Alice, survivor of the military zombieapocalpyse, Jovovich reteams with previous cohort Michelle Rodriguez, who returns as badass Rain Ocampo.

Here's the official synopsis from Collider:

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, Alice (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun.

It seems like more of the same of what we're used to in the franchise. Resident Evil: Retribution hits theaters September 14.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Battle of the Basket Cases: Mavis Gary of "Young Adult" and Annie Walker of "Bridesmaids"


















Charlize Theron and Kristin Wiig unleash two of the most engaging yet cringe-worthy female performances last year in Young Adult and Bridesmaids, respectively. While both characters have somewhat different personalities, they each suffer meticulously constructed dramatic breakdowns. Let's take a look at both characters and performances.

On the one hand, we've got the black-hearted authoress Mavis Gary, scrupulously played by Charlize Theron. One the other hand, we've got the eternally single Annie, desperately played by Kristin Wiig, who sends Annie teetering towards self-abandonment. Both characters tread dangerously close to the end of their lifelines. One peers over the edge and ends up slinking away from it, and other leaps over the edge and sets up camp there.

What else makes these characters different? Empathy. You want Annie to get over this hump, which is triggered by her best friend's graduation from her dreaded single life, leaving her in the dust. Her descent is rapid, but is realized. She knows she's losing her footing, but sadly doesn't feel she can do anything to stop it. You feel for her. You may see yourself in her. You even want to hug her at times, especially when she starts flailing downward. At her worst, she wallows in her own self-pity. She tries not to fling her dread onto those around her, but rather onto one innocent giant cookie.



This is quite the contrary for Mavis, who we want to feel more sorry for if only she wasn't such a bitch about her extravagant spiral downhill, taking every man, woman and child down with her. Her tactic is more malicious, and inflicted on everyone around her. Unlike Annie, we're never led to think she realizes her spiral downward. It is because her descent is more deliberate, more blind, and not knowingly and pitiful like Annie's. Mavis doesn't hit rock bottom with as quite as big a splat as Annie. Her impact is far more padded, and therefore less discerning and worthy of any real sympathy.



Theron and Wiig arguably tackle two of the most reckless female characters we've seen this year with a frightening ease. Both performances are nuanced, yet not contrived. They both feel real and not in any way put on. One performance isn't better than the other, although it can be debated that Mavis is written with a bit more sophistication than Annie. Theron takes the slovenly aspects of Mavis, and ties it into an ugly bow. While Wiig takes the messiness of Annie and makes it wilder and more entertaining to watch, keeping its authenticity, which is also a talent in and of itself.

In the battle of the basket cases, who do you love to watch more?

Who Would You Cast in a Remake of "Taxi Driver?"

Don't worry. A remake isn't in the works (that we know of, at least).

But the good folks over at the Large Association of Movie Bloggers (LAMB) have planted the seed in our heads about a remake to the classic 1976 drama Taxi Driver, originally starring Robert DeNiro as Travis, a deranged New York City cab driver who descends on a well-constructed downward spiral after experiencing years of city deviance. LAMB is looking for thoughts on who you'd cast in a remake today.



Here is a refresher on the original cast:

Robert DeNiro as Travis
Jodie Foster as Iris
Harvey Keitel as Sport
Cybill Shepard as Betsy
Albert Brooks as Tom
Peter Boyle as Wizard

Other LAMB members have come up with makeshift casts who they think would be good to step into the roles of the above mentioned, and now we're asking you to decide which cast you think is the best fit for a remake of the movie. Choices are below:

OPTION 1: MICHAEL PITT (Travis); ABIGAIL BRESLIN (Iris); JOHN LEGUIZAMO (Sport); ZOOEY DESCHANEL (Betsy); JASON SCHWARTZMAN (Tom); JEFFREY TAMBOR (Wizard)

OPTION 2: JAKE GYLENHAAL (Travis); ELLE FANNING (Iris); MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY (Sport); MICHELLE WILLIAMS (Betsy); OSCAR ISAAC (Tom); NICOLAS CAGE (Wizard)

OPTION 3: JAKE GYLENHAAL (Travis); ELLE FANNING (Iris); MARK STRONG (Sport); MICHELLE WILLIAMS (Betsy); NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (Tom); SETH ROGEN (Wizard)

OPTION 4: CILLIAN MURPHY (Travis); CHLOЁ MORETZ (Iris); EDWARD NORTON (Sport); MICHELLE WILLIAMS (Betsy); MICHAEL SHANNON (Tom); JOHN C. REILLY (Wizard)

OPTION 5: CHIWETEL EJIOFOR (Travis); MACKENZIE VEGA (Iris); JOSH HARTNETT (Sport); LINDSAY LOHAN (Betsy); JESSE EISENBERG (Tom); VAL KILMER (Wizard)

OPTION 6: BEN FOSTER (Travis); CHLOЁ MORETZ (Iris); CHRISTIAN BALE (Sport); KATE HUDSON (Betsy); SETH ROGEN (Tom); PAUL GIAMATTI (Wizard)

OPTION 7: TOM HARDY (Travis); ELLE FANNING (Iris); IDRIS ELBA (Sport); GWYNETH PALTROW (Betsy); GUY PEARCE (Tom); MEL GIBSON (Wizard)

OPTION 8: RYAN GOSLING (Travis); CHLOЁ MORETZ (Iris); CHRISTIAN BALE (Sport); SCARLETT JOHANSSON (Betsy); JESSE EISENBERG (Tom); PATTON OSWALT (Wizard)

Cast your vote on the LAMB site here. Leave any comments below.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Shame, "Attack the Block" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Among the 2012 BAFTA Nominees


In the wee hours this morning (if you're in the U.S), the British Academy of Film and Television Arts unleashed their prestigious list of the best and brightest in 2011 film. And, by the looks of things, those across the pond seem to agree with a lot of the American accolades this season.

But not all of it.

The British Academy is shaking things up with a few interesting choices, including recognizing Phillip Seymour Hoffman's thrilling performance in the solid yet disappointing political drama The Ides of March. Jim Broadbent's delightful performance was graciously hailed by the academy, but its presence does point out the glaring omission of Albert Brooks in Drive (he easily could have taken Jonah Hill's questionable slot for his blank performance in Moneyball).

One of the most perplexing nominations is Carey Mulligan for her awkward performance in Drive and not her more heartbreaking portrayal in Shame. At least Shame got a nod for best British film, which, if there's any hope for humanity, it will win, hands down.

With the constant celebration of Melissa McCarthy's performance in Bridesmaids this season, one could only imagine Kristin Wiig slouched in a corner bemoaning her awards neglect in the voice of one of her best SNL characters. The academy is even recognizing Chris Dowd over Wiig, nominating him for their Rising Star award (most likely for his minor role in Bridesmaids). I imagine Wiig is probably off pouting with Ryan Gosling nearby...Hey, why don't they be in a movie together?

See the full nominee list below and share your thoughts in the comment box.

BEST FILM

THE ARTIST - Thomas Langmann

THE DESCENDANTS - Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

DRIVE - Marc Platt, Adam Siegel

THE HELP - Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN - Simon Curtis, David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein, Adrian Hodges

SENNA - Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Manish Pandey

SHAME - Steve McQueen, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Abi Morgan

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Tomas Alfredson, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo, Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN - Lynne Ramsay, Luc Roeg, Jennifer Fox, Robert Salerno, Rory Stewart Kinnear

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER

ATTACK THE BLOCK - Joe Cornish (Director/Writer)

BLACK POND - Will Sharpe (Director/Writer), Tom Kingsley (Director), Sarah Brocklehurst (Producer)

CORIOLANUS
- Ralph Fiennes (Director)

SUBMARINE - Richard Ayoade (Director/Writer)

TYRANNOSAUR - Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)

DIRECTOR

THE ARTIST - Michel Hazanavicius

DRIVE - Nicolas Winding Refn

HUGO - Martin Scorsese

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Tomas Alfredson

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN - Lynne Ramsay

DOCUMENTARY

GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD - Martin Scorsese

PROJECT NIM - James Marsh, Simon Chinn

SENNA - Asif Kapadia

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

THE ARTIST - Michel Hazanavicius

BRIDESMAIDS - Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig

THE GUARD - John Michael McDonagh

THE IRON LADY - Abi Morgan

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS - Woody Allen

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

THE DESCENDANTS - Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

THE HELP - Tate Taylor

THE IDES OF MARCH - George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon

MONEYBALL - Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

INCENDIES - Denis Villeneuve, Luc Déry, Kim McCraw

PINA - Wim Wenders, Gian-Piero Ringel

POTICHE - François Ozon, Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer

A SEPARATION - Asghar Farhadi

THE SKIN I LIVE IN - Pedro Almodóvar, Agustin Almodóvar

ANIMATED FILM

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN - Steven Spielberg

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS - Sarah Smith

RANGO - Gore Verbinski

LEADING ACTOR

BRAD PITT - Moneyball

GARY OLDMAN - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

GEORGE CLOONEY - The Descendants

JEAN DUJARDIN - The Artist

MICHAEL FASSBENDER - Shame

LEADING ACTRESS

BÉRÉNICE BEJO - The Artist

MERYL STREEP - The Iron Lady

MICHELLE WILLIAMS - My Week with Marilyn

TILDA SWINTON - We Need to Talk About Kevin

VIOLA DAVIS - The Help

SUPPORTING ACTOR

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER - Beginners

JIM BROADBENT - The Iron Lady

JONAH HILL - Moneyball

KENNETH BRANAGH - My Week with Marilyn

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN - The Ides of March

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

CAREY MULLIGAN - Drive

JESSICA CHASTAIN - The Help

JUDI DENCH - My Week with Marilyn

MELISSA MCCARTHY - Bridesmaids

OCTAVIA SPENCER - The Help

ORIGINAL MUSIC

THE ARTIST - Ludovic Bource

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

HUGO - Howard Shore

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Alberto Iglesias

WAR HORSE - John Williams

CINEMATOGRAPHY

THE ARTIST - Guillaume Schiffman

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - Jeff Cronenweth

HUGO - Robert Richardson

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Hoyte van Hoytema

WAR HORSE - Janusz Kaminski

EDITING

THE ARTIST - Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius

DRIVE - Mat Newman

HUGO - Thelma Schoonmaker

SENNA
- Gregers Sall, Chris King

TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY
- Dino Jonsater

PRODUCTION DESIGN

THE ARTIST - Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS
– PART 2 - Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan

HUGO - Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald

WAR HORSE - Rick Carter, Lee Sandales

COSTUME DESIGN

THE ARTIST - Mark Bridges

HUGO - Sandy Powell

JANE EYRE - Michael O'Connor

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN - Jill Taylor

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - Jacqueline Durran

SOUND

THE ARTIST - Nadine Muse, Gérard Lamps, Michael Krikorian

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2 - James Mather, Stuart Wilson, Stuart Hilliker, Mike Dowson, Adam Scrivener

HUGO - Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman, John Midgley

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY - John Casali, Howard Bargroff, Doug Cooper, Stephen Griffiths, Andy Shelley

WAR HORSE - Stuart Wilson, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Richard Hymns

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN
- Joe Letteri

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2 - Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler, David Vickery

HUGO - Rob Legato, Ben Grossman, Joss Williams

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White

WAR HORSE - Ben Morris, Neil Corbould

MAKE UP & HAIR

THE ARTIST - Julie Hewett, Cydney Cornell

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2 - Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin

HUGO - Morag Ross, Jan Archibald

THE IRON LADY
- Marese Langan

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN - Jenny Shircore

SHORT ANIMATION

ABUELAS - Afarin Eghbal, Kasia Malipan, Francesca Gardiner

BOBBY YEAH - Robert Morgan

A MORNING STROLL - Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe

SHORT FILM

CHALK - Martina Amati, Gavin Emerson, James Bolton, Ilaria Bernardini

MWANSA THE GREAT - Rungano Nyoni, Gabriel Gauchet

ONLY SOUND REMAINS - Arash Ashtiani, Anshu Poddar

PITCH BLACK HEIST - John Maclean, Gerardine O'Flynn

TWO AND TWO - Babak Anvari, Kit Fraser, Gavin Cullen

ORANGE WEDNESDAYS RISING STAR AWARD


ADAM DEACON

CHRIS HEMSWORTH

TOM HIDDLESTON

CHRIS O’DOWD

EDDIE REDMAYNE

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"The Artist" and "The Descendants" Receive Top Honors at the Golden Globes

We could really use some surprises in this year's awards season.

While the Golden Globes did offer some surprises, namely Meryl Streep snagging the award from shoo-in Viola Davis for her performance in the lackluster The Iron Lady, and the always wonderful Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn, the praise of George Clooney in The Descendants and the eternal shower of love for The Artist is worrisome.

But we can be thankful for Woody Allen's recognition of his fabulous film, Midnight in Paris.

Check out the full list of Golden Globe Award winners below:


BEST PICTURE (DRAMA)

The Descendants

BEST PICTURE (COMEDY/MUSICAL)

The Artist

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

George Clooney, The Descendants

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Michele Williams, My Week with Marilyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Octavia Spencer, The Help

BEST DIRECTOR

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

BEST SCREENPLAY

Woody Allen - Midnight In Paris

BEST FOREIGN FILM

A Separation

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Ludovic Bource, The Artist

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

The Adventures of Tintin

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

"Masterpiece," W.E. (Madonna)

New Podcast: "How the Black Audience Impacts the Images We See in Film"

Our lively web chat continues with a discussion on how the black audience plays a role in the images we see on the big screen on today's edition of Cinema in Noir.

With Red Tails hitting in the big screen this Friday, it seems like the black audience is weighed down by thoughts of what it will mean for black cinema, and even fearing that Hollywood would give up on black cinema as we know if this movie doesn't do well. The ladies and I break down the real deal and discuss the state of black cinema on today's podcast.

We also share our thoughts and predictions on tonight's Golden Globe award nominations.

Missed the show? Catch a recap here:

Listen to internet radio with KimberlyRenee on Blog Talk Radio

DVD Review: "Moneyball" Is All Game and No Heart

"How can you not get romantic about baseball?"
It's no secret that Hollywood has a love affair with baseball. From Field of Dreams to A League of Their Own, audiences have been enamored by the heart and soul of America's favorite pasttime for years. But with the newest addition to the baseball movie hall of fame, the Bennett Miller-directed Moneyball, audiences may finally fall out of love.

Brad Pitt stars as real-life Oakland Athletics general manager and minority owner Billy Beane, who successfully assembled a baseball club using a groundbreaking method to draft players. And, according to this movie, that was the most interesting thing about his life.

When we meet Beane, he is already trying to make his mastermind idea come to life, with little support from his peers, including Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). So he hires recent Yale grad and analytical geek Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) as his partner in crime to help iron out of the kinks and make his dream come true.



Then the movie becomes a numbers and statistics game. From analyzing extraordinary losses and wins in historical games, to watching old footage of historical power moves, the audience becomes lost in a sea of equations, baseball terminology and dollar signs. This drains any heart out of the movie it could have had. Beane's resilience, though it often comes off as blind arrogance, is commendable but doesn't make you feel anything for the character, who really seems more like a nifty businessman than anything else.

This is probably because the writing is so dry, it's impossible to feel any empathy, which is very uncharacteristic of screenwriting giant Aaron Sorkin, who collaborated with Steven Zaillian to bring Michael Lewis' book about Beane to the big screen. Unlike the movies that have come before it, there is no defining moment or noteworthy scene that audiences will want to come back to.

A missed opportunity was not playing up the role Beane's daughter played in his life and their relationship. This would have humanized Beane and provided something the audience could really grab on to, rather than trying to impress the audience with boring math equations and woeful shots of games past. It would have also been more effective to provide more insight into Beane before he became this baseball scientist, whose glossed over relationship with his ex wife (played by the eternally underused Robin Wright) doesn't help to build any interest in his character.



Jonah Hill, while his portrayal shows his range into more dramatic flair, is effective enough but unmemorable in the role. He seems more to be reciting lines rather than saying them with any conviction. But that may be in part due to the lackluster writing than his performance.

Like a long, boring game of chess, where hopeful baseball players are discarded as effortlessly as a pawn and a knight, Moneyball fails to provide the sentiment it needs to inspire audiences. Though it may charm avid baseball fans, it will alienate everyone else who's just looking for a good movie to watch.

Rating: C-

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"The Help" Women Clean Up at the Critics' Choice Awards





















As expected, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer humbly accepted their shiny statuettes for their roles in the wildly overrated period drama, The Help, at tonight's predictable Critics' Choice Awards ceremony.

With a night punctuated by terrible hosts and uncomfortable presenter speeches, luckily there were a few highlights from the event, like Bridesmaids winning for best comedy and Woody Allen's deserved win for writing the delightful Midnight in Paris.

But the biggest travesty of the night was to have to watch George Clooney take the stage when he won the best actor award for The Descendants, when it's clear that Michael Fassbender should have had that award in the bag for his heartaching performance in Shame. In just his last few performances alone, Fassbender has proven that he can act circles around Clooney's entire career. Do over, please.

For more notable upsets and surprises, check out below the list of winners from the major categories. Feel free to leave your comments below.

BEST PICTURE

The Artist

BEST ACTOR

George Clooney -- The Descendants

BEST ACTRESS

Viola Davis -- The Help

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christopher Plummer -- Beginners

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Octavia Spencer -- The Help

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Thomas Horn -- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

The Help

BEST DIRECTOR

Michel Hazanavicius -- The Artist

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Midnight in Paris -- Woody Allen

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Moneyball -- Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

A Tie:

The Tree of Life -- Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse -- Janusz Kaminski

BEST EDITING

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

"Drive" -- Matthew Newman

"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" -- Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

BEST SOUND

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

BEST SCORE

The Artist -- Ludovic Bource

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Artist -- Mark Bridges

BEST MAKEUP

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

BEST ART DIRECTION

Hugo -- Production Designer: Dante Ferretti, Set Decorator: Francesca Lo Schiavo

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Rango

BEST ACTION MOVIE

Drive

BEST COMEDY

Bridesmaids

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

A Separation

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

BEST SONG

"Life's a Happy Song" -- performed by Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter/written by Bret McKenzie -- The Muppets

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DVD Review: Vera Farmiga Gets Caught Up in the Word in "Higher Ground"

Vera Farmiga usually arrests audiences with her trademark intense glare, which makes you want to embrace her and fear her at the same time. Her fierce portrayal of female characters with shady pasts put her on the map, and earned her an Oscar nomination for her role in 2009's Up in the Air. But it is last year's small town religious drama Higher Ground, her directorial debut, that may have Hollywood heads turning but audiences raising eyebrows.

Farmiga plays Corinne, a young mother grappling with her faith during a time when she desperately needs it. Or, when she feels should should have it. Her struggles aren't made entirely plain to the audience, but we feel we must root for her to attain whatever it is she so clearly yearns for in the movie simply because Farmiga's portrayal is so gentle yet so sad at the same time.



As her family continues to grow, we see Corinne evolve throughout the movie from an awkward teen (impressively played by Taissa Farmiga) to a slightly less awkward wife and mother of three. She and her God-fearing husband Ethan (Joshua Leonard) are diligent about raising their kids to be chips off the old block--prayerful churchgoers dedicated to the word of God. Meanwhile, Corinne is quietly conflicted by the error of her own faith--what it should look like and why, though well-intentioned, it is often a trajectory of her tight-knit church crowd.

As you watch Higher Ground, you'll notice how solid the performances are (including that of Dagmara Dominczyk, who plays Corinne's friend). You'll also be taken by the sheer fragility of the story. But mostly you find yourself questioning how Farmiga got wrapped up in a movie like this filled with bible-thumping commentary. In fact, the most fascinating thing about the movie is that she's in it. It would be interesting to see whether the movie would have received as much acclaim had her name not been attached to it. It's an odd, off the beaten path, movie that doesn't necessarily go anywhere, make you feel anything, or lead you to examine faith. It rather presents a quaint coming-of-faith tale that's not especially captivating to watch.



It's respectful that Farmiga took on such a project, which really shows her range as an actress, if anything. But the target audience for the movie is unclear, and leaves you wondering whether it is indeed for you. And, if it isn't for you, who is it it for?

Rating: C

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reminder: Live Q&A with Angelina Jolie This Thursday!



If you're been paying attention to the countdown clock in the right sidebar on the homepage, you know that in less than forty-eight hours Angelina Jolie will be live right here to answer your questions about her writing and directing debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey.

Don't forget to leave your questions for Ms. Jolie in the comments section of this post, and you could be the lucky winner of the In the Land of Blood and Honey poster!

Below you'll find the countdown clock and movie trailer, as well as some of the comments fans have been leaving about the event on facebook. Come back on Thursday, January 12th at 8pm EST/5pm PST and this stream will go live to the Q&A where you will get to watch Angelina Jolie respond to your questions and dish about her new movie. Don't miss this special event!



Monday, January 9, 2012

Eva Mendes Hopes to Impress Audiences as a "Girl in Progress"

Eva Mendes is one of those actresses who, just when you'd like to write her off, she delivers a performance like the one in last year's criminally underrated provocative drama, Last Night. With a resume ranging from comedies to crime dramas, you can call her anything but predictable.

This year, the oft supporting actress headlines Girl in Progress, a dramedy where she plays a young mother struggling to grow up as her teenage daughter (Cierra Ramirez) tries to come into her own in a way her mother can't relate to.

The trailer actually looks really promising, even if the premise sounds a bit familiar. Patricia Arquette also star in the film as some kind of school counselor. Matthew Modine plays Mendes' married boy toy.

Patricia Riggen, who helmed Under the Same Moon (a movie you should see if you haven't already), directs the movie, which also stars Under's co-star Eugenio Derbez.

Check out the new trailer below and leave your thoughts. Are you going to watch the movie when it hits theaters April 27th?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

DVD Review: "Beginners" Is a Touching Tribute To False Endings

"I don't want to just be theoretically gay. I want to do something about it."
It's easy to think of death in terms of being the last--the last breath, the last dance, the last hurrah. But in Beginners, the beautiful 2010 semi-autobiographical drama written and directed by Mike Mills, death is viewed as a first.

Christopher Plummer stars as Hal, a 75 year-old who comes out as a gay man after his wife of over forty years dies. For the first time in his life, he is living in the most honest, happiest way. His thirty-something-year-old son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is naturally surprised by the news, but is supportive of his dad as he embarks on this touchstone phase of his life. Watching the relationship between these two very different but very loving characters is one that grabs at the heartstrings.



Then Hal is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although the news is fatal, Hal continues to live his life to the fullest, as Oliver begins to prepare for the worst. But the constant smile on his father's face, the pep in his step, his new-found friends and his hot new (younger) boyfriend Andy (Goran Visnjic) makes it inconceivable to feel pity for him.

So, just as Hal is starting a new phase in his life, Oliver begins one as well. He meets and falls for quite possibly one of the quirkiest female characters onscreen, Anna (Mélanie Laurent), a woman of a few words but always the right ones. Together Hal and Oliver welcome a new wave of life when they least expected it.



Too often when we are introduced to a character on screen who is already dying at the beginning of the movie, and we're inevitably waiting for that death to happen the entire two hours. But in Beginners, death takes a backseat to a much more uplifting story. It's not the typical depressing movie the subject matter alludes to. Plummer's marvelous performance doesn't allow an audience to feel anything but joy for this senior in the most important time of his life.

McGregor's Oliver provides a nostalgic narration to the movie as he relates the landmarks of both his and Hal's lives to equally significant facts in history. From the first year a gay man's group met in a secret meeting, to who the biggest celebrity was on the day Oliver fell for Anna, this movie reminds you to embrace each day as a loving reminder of how far you've come.

Although she appears briefly in the movie, Laurent lights is magnetic as the woman in Oliver's life who pushes it forward from its paralyzed state of fear and sadness. McGregor delivers an impressively nuanced performance as we see him progress from a supportive son, to a grieving man, then to a man in love. The chemistry between he and Plummer is so touching that they would make you tear if you weren't impossibly happy for them. Because, at its core, Beginners is about finding happiness, even at the end.

Rating: A

The Best of 2011 and Our Most Anticipated Movies of 2012 on Today's "Cinema in Noir"

On today's Cinema in Noir, we look back on our favorite performances from 2011. We also discuss our most anticipated movies of 2012 and proclaim our new year's resolutions for the new year in film.

From the abomination of sequels and prequels to our plea for diversity of characters for women, and our undying appreciation of Bridesmaids tune in below to the very lively discussion in our first episode of the year.

Listen to internet radio with KimberlyRenee on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DVD Review: "Another Earth" Is As Odd As It is Charming

"What would we really like to see if we could stand outside ourselves and look at us?"
It's hard not to think about the 2004 movie The Machinist when watching last year's indie darling Another Earth. With plots heavily resting on guilt and solitude, the two films would make an interesting--albeit depressing--double feature.

But Another Earth has a little quirk--it's a dramatic film fighting with its sci-fi alter ego.

Brit Marling stars as 16-year-old Rhoda Williams, a smart, ambitious young woman who, after a night of celebrating her college acceptance, gets behind the wheel of her car and accidentally crashes into and kills a mother and her child. That same night she learns that a duplicate planet has been discovered in the solar system. Both events have a profound impact on her life in the years that follow.

Several years later, Rhoda is released from jail and wrought with guilt over what she had done. She returns home to her parents and brother and lapses into a very solitary state of existence, working as a building janitor. Her life begins to float alongside everyone else's without having any real contact, just as this doppelganger planet shadows Earth. That is, until the day she decides to ever so softly slip back into the life of John Burroughs (William Mapother), the man whose wife and child she killed years earlier.



As the audience trudges through the hollowness that has become Rhoda's life, the movie is narrated by somber breaking news headlines about the other planet, which tends to interrupt the flow of the movie in a slightly Tree of Life kind of way (but thankfully not as elaborately). Sometimes Rhoda and her family are shown watching TV reports about it, but other times Rhoda is just walking on the side of the road or staring into nothingness. The movie is rather slow, so these scenes take a particular toll on the audience.

As the movie progresses, we see the duplicate planet flirting with Earth, a phenomenon by which Rhoda becomes more and more enraptured.



But the second half of the movie, where it focuses more on Rhoda and John, is more streamlined and far more remarkable. The relationship between them is as elegant as it is frightening since the audience knows the truth behind it. We are able to empathize with Rhoda, but fear for her as she struggles to find her way back to herself.



Even with its faults, Another Earth is quite an achievement from 28-year-old Marling, who also co-wrote the screenplay along with director Mike Cahill. Marling illuminates Rhoda in a way not many young actresses could, in such an honest portrayal of sorrow and existentialism. Mapother is touching as the grieving dad whose spirit is finally reawakened after a chance encounter with an unknown soul. Another Earth is quite a gem in a lot of ways, but wrapped in an enigma. It's a very sophisticated approach to a familiar theme.

Rating: B-

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