Sunday, January 30, 2011
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
"The Illusionist" is a story about two paths that cross. An outdated, aging magician, forced to wander from country to country, city to city and station to station in search of a stage to perform his act meets a young girl at the start of her life's journey. Alice is a teenage girl with all her capacity for childish wonder still intact. She plays at being a woman without realizing the day to stop pretending is fast approaching. She doesn't know yet that she loves "The Illusionist" like she would a father; he already knows that he loves her as he would a daughter. Their destinies will collide, but nothing--not even magic or the power of illusion--can stop the voyage of discovery.
This expertly drawn animated film was directed by Sylvain Chomet. The film is based on an unproduced script written by French mime, director and actor Jacques Tati in 1956. Controversy surrounds Tati's motivation for the script, which was written as a personal letter to his estranged eldest daughter, Helga Marie-Jeanne Schiel.
Originally intended by Tati to be set in Czechoslovakia, Chomet relocated the movie to Scotland in the late 1950s. According to the director, "It's not a romance, it's more the relationship between a dad and a daughter."
The film was made at Chomet's Edinburgh film studio by an international group of animators. Chomet said that it had ended up costing $17 million. One hundred eighty artists were involved, 80 of whom had previously worked on "Les Triplettes de Belleville," his last animated film which also received rave reviews in Hollywood.
Roger Ebert in his review wrote, "However much it conceals the real-life events that inspired it, it lives and breathes on its own and as an extension of the mysterious whimsy of Tati," calling it the "magically melancholy final act of Jacques Tati's career" and gave it four stars of four. The film was nominated at the 2010 Euaropean Film Awards and 68th Golden Globe Awards for Best Animated Feature Film. It has also received a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film in the 83rd Academy Awards.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
Looks like we'll find out if "guido" really is offensive to Italians--MTV has decided to move the cast of "Jersey Shore" to Italy for the upcoming fourth season, the "New York Daily News" reports. Maybe sensing that America has had a bit much of the cast, the network plans to keep the series fresh by means of the Atlantic transplant--and to make matters more juicy, they've found one locations with roots to the family of cast member Vinny Guadagnino.
"While the stateside Jersey Shore locations have become iconic for our audience, it's really the constantly evolving dynamic amongst the cast that keeps them coming back each season and Europe is a fresh spin on a show that continues to reach new heights for us," an MTV statement reads. "The cast is headed to the birthplace of the culture they love and live by. We can't wait to see what erupts as a result."
The British monarchy saga "The King's Speech" reigns at the Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including acting honors for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush and positioning itself to challenge "The Social Network" for best picture.
"The King's Speech" gained momentum against the Facebook drama "The Social Network" which dominated early Hollywood awards. Along with those two films, other best-picture nominees today for the Feb 27 Oscars were the thriller "Black Swan"; the boxing drama "The Fighter"; the sci-fi blockbuster "Inception"; the lesbian-family tale "The Kids Are All Right"; the survival story "127 Hours"; the animated smash "Toy Story 3"; the Western "True Grit"; and the Ozarks crime thriller "Winter's Bone."
"True Grit" ran second with 10 nominations, including acting honors for last year's best-actor winner Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld.
"The King's Speech" pulled an upset last weekend by winning the Producer's Guild of America Awards top prize.
"I've been texting people in between interviews and there's a lot of excitement going on across the globe from our team. It's really wonderful. It's sort of like 'Ben-Hur' proportions. It all seems a bit crazy you know?" said supporting-actor nominee Geoffrey Rush, an Oscar winner for 1996's "Shine."
Along with Rush, best-actor favorite Firth and supporting-actress contender Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech" had nominations for director Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler, plus honors in such categories as cinematography, costume design, art direction and musical score.
Monday, January 24, 2011
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
One of the most popular and mysterious figures in American literary history, J. D. Salinger eluded fans and journalists for most of his life. Now comes a new bio a book from which a true picture of Salinger emerges. Filled with new information and revelations--garnered from countless interviews, letters and public records--J.D. Salinger presents an extraordinary life that spanned nearly the entire twenthieth century.
Kenneth Slawenski explores Salinger's privileged youth, long obscured by misrepresentation and rumor, revealing the brilliant, sarcastic, vulnerable son of a disapproving father and doting mother and his entrance into a social world where Gloria Vanderbilt dismissively referred to him as a "Jewish boy from New York." Here too are accounts of Salinger's first broken heart--Eugene O'Neil's daughter, Oona, left him for the much older Charlie Chaplin--and the devastating World War II service ("a living hell") of which he never spoke and which haunted him forever.
"J.D. Salinger" features all the dazzle of this author's early writing successes, his dramatic encounters with luminaries from Ernest Hemingway to Truman Capote to Elia Kazan, his surprising office intrigues with famous "New Yorker" editors and writers, and the stunning triumph of "The Catcher in the Rye," which would both make him world-famous and hasten his retreat into the hills of New Hampshire.
Whether it's revealing the facts of his hasty, short-lived first marriage or his lifelong commitment to Eastern religion, which would dictate his attitudes toward sex, nutrition, solitude and creativity, "J.D. Salinger, A Life" is this unique author's unforgettable story in full--one that no lover of literature can afford to miss.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
"I can't believe my luck lately," exclaimed Golden Globes TV host/comic actor Ricky Gervais in an interview on the red carpet. "I'm amazed when these famous people like George Clooney and Al Pacino approach me and tell me how much they like my work. I always reply that I've seen a few of their movies too and like their work too." he laughed.
"I'm not using a script tonight. It's all open and free. I like being host. It's a fun gig. Oh I'm also working on a new show called 'Idiots Abroad.'"
The stars showed up in full force today at the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
"I'm ready to enjoy the party," enthused Best Supporting Actress nominee Amy Adams who sported a slick blue gown. Regarding her role in "The Fighter" Adams said, "I do play a very tough girl which is kind of a departure for me, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't have a whole lot of time to prepare but the director had confidence in me. So we'll wait and see and cross our fingers!"
Angelina Jolie showed up in a beautiful sparkling green gown, along with Brad Pitt who did a meet and greet with fans. Also walking down the red carpet:Michael Douglas (Wall Street II) and wife Katherine Zeta Jones, Jane Lynch (Glee), January Jones (Mad Men), Christina Aqueilar (Burlesque), Justin Beeber sporting big purple Elton John like glasses, Eva Longoria, Tina Fey, Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock (sporting heavy bangs), Halle Berry, Jake Gyllenhall, Dame Helen Mirren wearing a Bagley/Mishka number and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).
"It was so exciting to do such a small movie," said actress Michelle Williams, who modeled her gown for photogs. "I really love the movie."
"I'm happy to be here and I'm feeling great," said Michael Douglas. "So far so good. I have to still go to regular check-ups but I'm feeling positive."
Other stars who were early arrivals were Gabourey Sidibe, Edie Falco and Olivia Wilde.
The lineup of presenters during the three-hour show includes Sandra Bullock, Kevin Bacon, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez, Helen Mirren, Robert Patterson, Bruce Willis and Kevin Spacey.
Robert DeNiro will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement.
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
"Black Orpheus" is the most unusual film I've ever seen. Filmed in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus, it is based on the play Orfeu da Conceicao which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, set it in the modern context of a favela in Rio de Janeiro during the famous Carnaval. The film was an international co-production between Brazil, France and Italy.
The film is particulary renowned for its soundtrack by two Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim whose song "A felicidade" opens the film; and Luiz Bonfa' whose "Manha de Carnaval" and "Samba of Orpheus" have become bossa nova classics.
"Black Orpheus" won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 1960 and a Golden Globe Award as well.
The movie grabs your attention immediately with images of white Greek statues exploding to reveal black men dancing samba to drums during Carnaval. Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) arrives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and takes a trolley driven by Orfeu (Breno Mello). New to the city, she rides to end of the line. Orfeu introduces her to the station guard, Hermes who gives her directions to the home of her cousin Serafina.
Although engaged to Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira), Orfeu is a playboy and not very enthusiastic about the upcoming marriage. Orfeu and Mira go to get a marriage license. When the clerk at the courthouse hears Orfeu's name, he jokingly asks if Mira is Eurydice, annoying her. Afterward, Mira insists on getting an engagement ring. Though Orfeu has just been paid, he would rather use his money to get his guitar out of the pawn shop for the carnival. Mira finally offers to loan Orfeu the money to buy her ring.
When Orfeu goes home, he is pleased to find Eurydice staying next door with Serafina. Eurydice has run away to Rio to hid from a strange man she believes wants to kill her. The man (Death dressed in a stylized skeleton costume) finds her, but Orfeu gallantly chases him away. Orfeu and Eurydice fall in love, yet are constantly on the run from both Mira and Death.
The Samba music is beautiful and is a constant presence throughout the film, as are the vibrant colors of the reveler's carnival costumes. Lourdes de Oliveira as the jealous, outraged Mira gives an outstanding performance as does the handsome Breno Mello.
With it's eye-popping photography and ravishing epochal sound track, "Black Orpheus" was an international cultural event that kicked off the bosa nova craze that set hi-fis across America spinning. I highly recommend this film for those interested in visiting Rio and participating in the annual Carnaval. It's a sight to behold.
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
When an idealistic writer disappears during the Right Wing military coup in 1973 Chile, his wife and American businessman father try to find him.
"Missing" was directed by Costa Gavras and starred Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek, Melanie Mayron, John Shea and Charles Cioffi. It is based on the true story of American journalist Charles Horman, who disappeared in the bloody aftermath of the US-backed Chilean coup of 1973 that deposed leftist President Salvador Allende.
The film was banned in Chile during Pinochet's dictatorship, even though neither Chile nor Pinochet are specifically mentioned by name in the film (although the Chilean cities of Vina del Mar and Santiago are).
Both the film and Thomas Hauser's book "The Execution of Charles Horman" were removed from the market, following a lawsuit filed against Costa Gavras by former Ambassador Nathaniel Davis and two others.
The film opened with Costa-Gavras' statement that the events of the film are true and ends with a disclaimer from the United States Department of State, denying the events in the film happened. Set largely during the days and weeks following Horman's disappearance, the film depicts his father and wife searching in vain to determine his fate. The film is based on a book first published under a different title and later republished under the title "Missing" in 1982.
Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek give outstanding performances as does John Shea. "Missing" won the Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress in Leading Role (Sissy Spacek) and Best Picture. The film also won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. Lemmon was awarded Best Actor for his performance.
Friday, January 14, 2011
By: Vickie J. Rubinson
"The Great Waltz" is a bio film based loosely on the life of Johann Strauss II. It starred German actress Luise Rainer, Fernand Gravet and Miliza Korjus. Ranier received top billing at the producer's insistence, but her role is comparatively minor as Strauss' wife Podi Volgelhuber. It was the only starring role of Korjus, who was a famous opera soprano and playined one in the film. Korjus was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
In mid-19th century Vienna, Johann "Schani" Strauss, the son of the well-known waltz composer, whose name he bears, works as a clerk in a bank. Johann also wants to write waltzes and has difficult concentrating on banking matters. When he is caught composing a tune one day, he is fired, but is happy because he will now have more time to devote to music.
Johann's sweetheart, Poldi Vogelhuber, the daughter of a baker, is happy with his decision and while Johann visits her father's shop, baker Kienzl, who is an amateur musician, suggest that he and other friends help Johann to start an orchestra.
A short time later, they get a job at the popular Donmayer's Cafe, but their music does not seem to appeal to Otto Donmayer's patrons. Just as he is about to dismiss Johann, however, Fritz Schiller and Carla Donner, two stars from the Imperial Opera, arrive at the cafe and ask to have the orchestra play for them. Johann plays a new waltz, "Artist's Life," and the cafe is soon crowded with music lovers.
This movie was fantastic. The love story departs from the real life of Johann Strauss, but the producers acknowledge that fact at the introduction. No matter, Strauss' artistic skill and legacy of music are showcased while the story provides an endearing framework. This movie is exceptional and highly entertaining.