Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I finally have my very own laptop! This means unlimited access to internet without getting off my behind to use the shared comuter. Two days straight I was surfing the internet, doing nothing specific, but the hours went ticking by. Two days ago, my 2day old laptop crashed. While I was working on a post, viruses and whatnot suddenly started to attack my hard drive. In 2 weeks I have my final exams, and I really ought to put all my time and energy into that. Though I don't believe in karma nor fate nor meant-to-be, I will take the universe's suggestion and take a break from my blog and the excessive use of internet. Even if I only post once a week, my mind always tends to wonder off to potential interesting posts and other blog-related matters. Exams start June 16th and ends June 29th. I will be back the 30th. hope you will be too.


My Life in Film

Perhaps I'm a bit late to join into this meme, but what the heck right? It's really simple. You name your favourite movie from each year starting with the year you were born. My list is a mixture of in-depth stories and guilty pleasures. I've been totally honest and some of my choices may be unexpected. I had to do only 17 movies, while others have done more than 30! I'm glad I was born in the early 90s though; I think that was the best period for films. So here goes:

1993: The Age of Innocence

Runner up: The Piano

1994: Forrest Gump

Runner up: Pulp Fiction

1995: Before Sunrise

Runner up: Dead Man Walking

1996: One Fine Day

1997: The Wings of the Dove

Runner up: Titanic, As Good as it Gets

1998: Playing by Heart

Runner up: Elizabeth

1999: Girl, Interrupted

Runner up: Fight club

2000: Requiem for a Dream

Runner up: What Women Want

2001: A Beautiful Mind

Runner Up: The Shipping news

2002: White Oleander

Runner up: Unfaithful

2003: Finding Nemo

Runner up: Under the Tuscan Sun

2004: The Aviator

Runner up: Noel, The Day After Tomorrow

2005: Mr and Mrs Smith

Runner up: Brokeback Mountain

2006: V for Vendetta

Runner up: The Devil wears Prada, Notes on a Scandal

2007: A Mighty Heart

2008: Mamma Mia!

Runner up: Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2009: It's Complicated

Runner up: The Lovely Bones, A Single Man

2010: The King's Speech

That was surprisingly hard. As you can see, sometimes I had no runner up, and sometimes just one runner up wasn't an option. For 2006, for instance, I started out with seven! I thoroughly enjoyed this though, and I'm glad I decided to do one last post before my break.

Happy 45th B-day...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

to one of the most eccentric, funniest, worst-dressed, prettiest, strangest, most talented and wonderful actresses in Hollywood:

My 10 Best Actresses (3/10)

Monday, May 23, 2011

# 8

(On her nude scenes in The Thomas Crown Affair)

"It never really dawned on me that, gee, I'm 45 and I'm taking off my clothes. For me it was a matter of living inside the character."
-Rene Russo

Favorite Film: Lethal Weapon 3

Best Performance: The Thomas Crown Affair

Status: Well, I guess Rene is what you'd call a C-actress. Model turned actress, she never really had a break-through performance and with very few exceptions, she hasn't done any notable characters. I'm sure many have never heard of her. After an absence since 2005, Russo had a small role in "Thor" as Frigga.

Future Projects: She's rumored to play a part in upcoming comedy "Frank and Cindy". That's it.

Why Rene?
Considering her status and existing filmography, I bet you're wondering why Rene? It's in the smile I tell you! Haha. In all sincerity, I just love the way she has about her. The first time I ever saw her, in a very silly film with Dennis Quaid, I was just drawn to her energy and charisma. Though she has done few significant movies, I find her acting refreshing and I love seeing her on-screen. Not to mention she looks amazing. See that picture on top of this post? That's a 56 year old woman right there! With the few movies she's done, she has still shown a range. Funny, sincere, sexy. Whenever I watch a movie of hers, I instantly feel good. Seeing as Superhero movies are not my thing, I went to "Thor" just for her (she had only 3 scenes and very little dialogue, but still). So in conclusion, it's not about what films she has done, it's about how she does them.

5 reasons to highly anicipate "The Tree of Life"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

1. Palm d'Or
It just won the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The same award that went to Taxi Driver
(1976), The Piano (1993) and Pulp Fiction (1994).
Jury president Robert De Niro explained after the ceremony that it had been The Tree of Life's grand scale and ambition that finally clinched it. "It seemed to have the size, the importance, the tension to fit the prize." But there was the suggestion that it wasn't a wholly unanimous decision. "Few films are 100%," said De Niro. "But most of us thought it was great."
Terrence Malick who wasn't present couldn't accept the Award himself, so producers Bill Pohlad and Dede Gardner accepted it on his behalf.

2. The Cast
Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and promising newcomer Jessica Chastain make for the leads in this film.

3. Trailer
The wonderful, beautiful masterpiece that is the trailer. I keep watching it over and over again. In a time where the art of beautiful trailers is lost, this is definitely the best one I've seen in a long time.If the trailer alone is so miraculous, what will the actual film do to us??

4. Terence Malick

His movies are said to be pure poetry. I've only seen one of his movies, but I have to agree with that statement. He has a great look on things and knows how to frame actors in a miravulous story. In his entire career (which has been lasting almost 40 years) he has made only five movies. He's a perfectionist this one.

5. Reception
Ever since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, there have been raving reviews of its beauty and message. Many professional critics have given it perfect ratings and the praise keeps on coming. I'm not one to get influenced by critical respones, but 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and remarks like "a mad and magnificent film", sure sound promising.

So if you're still not excited to see this film, there's something seriously wrong with you!
"The Tree of Life" opens May 27th.

Project 1993: "The Piano"

*Project 1993 is a series of posts where I review films from the year 1993. I do movies from various genres and mostly ones that really meant something to me. Here's a link to all the articles from the project

A story of loneliness, repression and passion
“The Piano” tells the story of a woman who has been mute since she was six years old. Ada and her daughter move to New-Zealand when her father arranges a marriage to a wealthy Brit. She’s having a hard time adjusting to her new life, especially when her only comfort, her piano, is taken away from her. She is suddenly forced to teach the buyer, Baines, to play the piano. But soon it becomes clear that Baines doesn’t have piano-playing on his mind. The two of them get lost in a game of chase, lust and secrecy which ultimately results in a great love and a great loss.
There are different kinds when it comes to drama movies. There’s romance drama, psychological drama, and there’s dramatic drama. The last one, I find easy to identify. They are ordinary, and often disturbing situations framed in an exquisite and shocking way. The one thing that always happens to me when watching such a movie: I don’t see the beauty of the story until the final moments. Regardless of the actors and setting, every time I frown at these films trying to grasp the significance. But when I near the last scenes, and sometimes the very last shot, I suddenly get a shock of realization. It’s those last scenes that are excruciating to the power of the film. It makes me rethink every thought I had about the previous scenes. When the end credits are rolling, in my head I briefly start replaying scenes and put the pieces together. It’s that moment when I grasp the message and let the powerful impression wash over me. “The Piano” was such a film for me. When it was finished, I was stunned at its beauty.
To the naked eye it may seem that sex or lust is the dominant element in this film, but it surpasses those shallow themes and emphasizes repression, love and emotion. The piano stands for so much more than just music. It’s how Ada expresses herself, the only way she can. It’s her voice, her thoughts, her melody. Baines understanding this, while her husband doesn’t, shapes the obvious relationships and feelings.
This is the first film I’ve ever seen of Holly Hunter and I was immensely impressed. She elevates the film to the greatness that it is. There are a few poignant moments where simply her face is on screen. Her eyes speak pain and vulnerability and her face recalls epiphanies of classic beauty and distant grace. For these moments alone, she did her Best Actress Oscar justice, but she gives us so much more. Hunter, unable to use voice and tone, turns to expression and movement to give her performance all. It couldn’t have been easy, but she manages to create a beautiful character that stirs up empathy and fascination. We want her to succeed, even though we don’t know what it is she’ll succeed in. We try to comprehend the essence of her complicated being but never achieve to do so. She’s unusual and lingering, which at times could be mistaken for disturbing and strange. Ada grabs your attention from the very first scene, throughout the entire movie, right up until the end credits.
Ada’s daughter, Flora, plays a big part in the story. She’s captured by a young Anna Paquin, who proves to be one of the best child stars ever. Her naïve innocence as well as her sharp perception contributed to her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Sam Neill and Harvey Keitel (Ada’s husband and Baines respectively) complete the supporting cast and hold their own with solid performances.
“The Piano” is one of those rare films that aren’t just about the story. It’s about repressed emotions that can erupt when no one expects it. It’s about passionate love that hides in unexpected corners. It’s about the choice between want and must. But most of all it’s about a mute woman, one with a voice.   

"There is a silence where hath been no sound. There is a silence where no sound may be. In the cold grave, under the deep deep sea."

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seeing as Pirates of the Caribbean was ranked high on my most anticipated movies of 2011, I went to the cinema with high expectations.

I remember loving the first one, liking the second and frowning at the third of the POTC series. One of the main reasons for that was the Elizabeth/Will storyline. It got old fast and when it did, boredom was all there was left. So when Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom walked the plank, I couldn't be happier. Especially when another actress was added to the cast in the form of Penelope Cruz. She may have been added merely for the "babe-factor", but I liked the idea very much.

The fourth of the POTC series evolves around the search for 'the Fountain of Youth', which obvious function is the gift of more life. Captain Jack Sparrow is back as his funny, silly self and got quite a few laughs out of me and the rest of the audience (no surprises there). Somehow he ends up a prisoner on 'The Queen's Revenge' with new villain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) as well as "old friend", Angelica (Cruz). Basically, the begin, middle and end of the film is the journey to the Fountain, but not only Jack and co. want to get there; the Spanish, British navies and good ol' Captain Barbossa are in the race too. What's next is a fun ride filled with mermaids, good action scenes and mixed encounters between Jack and Angelica.

Visually, the film couldn't be better. The setting starts out in beautiful London, and gets even better along the coast of Hawaii. The 3D effect was, once agin, highly unneccesary, but I hadn't been expecting anything else. If there's one thing POTC masters at, it's the well-choreographed action scenes. Whether it was between two pirates, a pirate and a mermaid or between Blackbeard and a one-legged Barbossa; the action never failed.

In the beginning I felt the movie slip to the wrong side. The overdone comedic moments of Barbossa and the lenghty escape plans on Jack's part were just about to tire me when the actual story started. But towards the end, it again started to lean a little. The oversimplified elements were achy at times. Though I didn't adore the third POTC, it had a nice plot with some issues that required half a brain. I felt as if this one was made with less intellligence and wit. It may have to do with the fresh take on things by new (to POTC that is) director Rob Marshall.
Better character development wouldn't have hurt either. Though I see Penelope as a valuable addition to the cast, a little more complexity would've been nice. On the other hand, we do have Jack showing some feelings of love, which ultimately are more cute than smart, but still nice.
One thing I did thoroughly enjoy was the performance of Sam Clafin, a young, hunky missionary taken on board. His sub-plot with co-star Astrid Berges-Frisbey was pretty interesting to watch and I expect them to return may there be a fifth installment (just as long as they don't become Will and Elizabeth part 2).

Did the film meet my expectations? Yes and no. Though it lacks the complex matters of the previous films, it gains new elements and powers through. It contain some of the classic POTC elements; funny dialogue, good action, gorgeous setting. As well as new ones; romance for Jack (which is pretty much superior to any other).
All in all, I enjoyed the movie very much and don't regret going to the cinemas to see it. It's what we call a "guilty pleasure" and that's good enough for me!

My 10 Best Actresses (2/10)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Famous is celebrityism and I don't want that. I know that I'm not that. Everybody knows who you are, I can't imagine living that life."
-Robin Wright

Favorite film: Forrest Gump

Best Performance: Moll Flanders

Status: After her breakthrough film "The Princess Bride", Robin Wright stepped on a few small roles before landing the part of Jenny in "Forrest Gump". Even though she was nominated for a Golden Globe, Wright was never really big news. With a few exceptions, down to today, she always seems to be in the supporting chair.

Future Projects: She actually has some pretty nice movies coming up later this year. "Moneyball" with Brad Pitt and David Fincher's "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

Why Robin?
Though she's not one of the biggest stars and I don't agree with many of her film choices, she has a certain charm and humanity about her. I recall watching her in "Message in a Bottle" and being amazed at her natural character. I got the idea that she's really like that in real life, which I think is quite extraordinary. She acts without acting and therefore always allures me whenever she's on-screen. I also would never underestimate the power of the supporting actress. She's done the sweet, indulging one (The Princess Bride) and the psycho, suspicious one (White Oleander). And the few lead roles she's done, "Moll Flanders" for example, though practically unknown, are really something else.

Project 1993: "Sommersby"

*Project 1993 is a series of posts where I review films from the year 1993. I do movies from various genres and mostly ones that really meant something to me. Here's a link to all the articles from the project.

I know this was supposed to be posted on Sundays, but circumstances demanded a delay. Better late than never!

A story about the search for identity and the willpower to savor it
Jack goes to war and for many years, doesn’t return. Just when everyone assumes he’s dead, a man comes to town, claiming to be Jack Sommersby. His wife, Laurel, remembers how he used to treat her, but he has changed vividly. His cruelty has made way for compassion; his abusiveness has been traded for playfulness and his stupidity has transformed into passion. In simple words: he’s a changed man. The big question: has Jack really changed or is this another man?

Sommersby’s plot circles around that particular question. Through a progressing romance, doubts and reconsiderations, we finally get to the surprising but uplifting answer.
The main reason I decided to watch this particular 1993 movie is its actors. And one thing you can be sure of: they won’t disappoint. Richard Gere gives one of his most energetic performances as Jack. Even though we’re not sure of his true identity through most of the film, Gere gives Jack (or whoever he is) a legitimate personality. Not being a fan of most of his work, I was pleasantly surprised. And then there’s Jodie Foster. Seemingly the passé, inferior housewife, Laurel proves us wrong with her strong persona and witty self-respect. Jodie manages to give Laurel lovable yet sharp characteristics with her equal parts strength and vulnerability. Although she’s a no-nonsense kind of woman, she’s hard to read. Does she know the true identity of her husband? Does she really believe he’s an imposter? If so, why would she let a stranger in her house? Is she an accomplice? Or is she a victim after all?

Often in period pieces such as this, strong female characters seem like old news. But Jodie proves that there’s much more where this came from. She has never played such a character, which makes the achievement that much bigger. In one of the court-scenes, Laurel –with one sentence- makes it clear why she’s so sure of herself. The sudden burst of emotion and desperation literally gives you chills.  
Sommersby contains the perfect blend of romance, mystery and drama. Much of the screen-time is reserved for the development of the relationship Jack and Laurel have lost. Sudden emotions or overly done courting are the last things that happen in the storyline. Though there’s a certain charm about the couple, they never let you forget that there’s more to it.

I have to warn you though; this film is not for everyone. The charades, speculations and the continuous question whether or not everyone’s who they say they are might tire certain people. I myself was drawn to the plot. Although the court-room scenes were a bit lengthy at times, I was never bored. It may have been Jodie’s strong screen-presence or the need to get the ultimate solution, but “Sommersby” held my eyes glued to the screen at all times.

I was very much satisfied with the ending as it turns away from any clichés or unrealistic idealisms. The desperate look of complete love between Laurel and Jack in the end was better than Rose and Jack's scene in Titanic (Jack? Jack! Come Back!) Though I hoped for a better ending sequence, I found the final realization a fulfilling one. Although he wasn’t honest at all times, Jack simply fought for his identity and wanted to be superior to the man he once was.

Happy 42nd Birthday...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

to one of Hollywood's greatest actresses.

Angelina Jolie at the 2011 Cannes Festival

Friday, May 13, 2011


My 10 Best Actresses (1/10)

Monday, May 9, 2011

I'm not very sexy or glamorous. I have a girl-next-door kind of look and I just have to do the best I can with that.
- Helen Hunt

Favorite Film: What Women Want

Best Performance: As good as it gets

Status: After receiving her Best Actress Oscar, she did a couple of blockbusters such as 'Cast Away' and 'What Women Want', but from 2000 to 2007, she kind of dissapeared from the film industry. She had a child and spent some time with her family. She also worked on her directorial debut 'And then she found me', which was released in 2007. In her most recent film 'Soul Surfer', she has a supporting mom role.

Future Projects: IMDB has several projects listed (either pre-production or filming status) including a voice role in ‘Jock’ and a film about writer Thomas Wolfe set in the late 1920s/early '30s, in which she’ll play older socialite Aline Bernstein whom he has an affair with.

Why Helen?
Despite her amazing acting abilities, she always manages to be subtle about it. When looking at her highest praised performance (As good as it gets), her character is very grounded and ordinary, but she nonetheless manages to work it into something incredible. She performs a role in a dedicated manner without overdoing it. There’s also a certain vulnerability about her that isn’t found in many actresses today. And because of that, she always succeeds in making people empathize with her characters. She can emphasize the face of worry so beautifully, but is also able to have a look of total freedom. It’s that kind of diversity I love so much in actors. Another thing I admire about her; she feels no pressure to be in the spotlight all the time. She won an Oscar, which is a very big deal, to say the least. She could've had any role she possibly wanted but instead chose to spend time with her family. Many actresses form a certain amount of self-righteousness when receiving such praise, but Helen is as down-to-earth as it gets. I realize when judging actresses, the main thing is to comment on their acting skills, but I always tend to compare and mingle the movie character with the personal character. It's my way of getting the best of both worlds.

Enough is enough!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I'm so sick of studying all day long. You remember what it was like senior year? Wake up, studying, go to sleep, wake up, more studying. I know it's for my future, but enough is enough! Anyway, due to my (very, very) slow internet connection, it takes almost 2 days to download one 700MB film (I know). That's the reason why I've not been keeping up with "Project 1993" (well, that and school :$).

But now, I think it's time to plan my day more effeciently and cram my blogging in there. With that attitude in the back of my mind, I've come up with a schedule: Every Sunday I will post a review for "Project 1993". This will go on for at least 10 movies. In addition to that, I'm going to start a new project: "My 10 Favorite Actresses". Each Monday I'll put one Actress in the spotlight, mentioning favorite movie, best performance etc. I'll start with #10 and end with #1 (guess who? :p). Needless to say this one will also go on for 10 weeks. I have to warn you though; don't expect all the best actresses on my list. Some of them are merely B-actresses, meaning they've either dissappeared or never really shined at all. I judge them on performance, of course, but that's not all there's to it. It's in the way they act. Example: I agree that Nicole Kidman is a great actress, but I can't stand her. Why, I can't really explain; there's just something about her. Anyway, you'll see what I mean when I start "My 10". I'm thinking of expanding it with "10 best actors", "10 best movies", etc. But we'll see how that turns out.

For now I have to get back to my books; but next week I'm putting this plan to work!

Notes on a Scandal

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Two days ago, I went to the cinema and saw Hanna. One of the main reasons I did was the fact that Cate Blanchett stars in it. But, coming out of the theater, I was so immensely dissapointed with the movie. I know, everyone's raving about it and it has great ratings practically everywhere. The movie wasn't horrible; I just couldn't get over the way Cate, the great Cate Blanchett, was so underused. She was great in her role, like always, but there was so little screen time and so few characteristics to work with. She was supposed to be mysterious and vague, I know. But I still feel that the director, and probably the writers, did a lousy job when it came to Cate's character.
When I got home, I seriously needed to see a good Cate Blanchett film. So I went and watched 'Notes on a Scandal'. And man, what a movie that was!

The story about a woman whose loneliness drives her to insanity
In the movie we first get to see the sadness that is Barbara Covett's life. Barbara is an unmarried, cynical teacher who is nearing her retirement. She's very unpopular with her students and coworkers as she's a woman of bitter characteristics. She seems like your everyday lonely spinster who's dissapointed with her life and takes it out on the rest of the world, but soon we learn differently. A new teacher comes to work at the school: Sheba Hart. First Barbara restrains herself from this beautiful, charming young woman whom everyone else is in love with. But soon Sheba's kindness breaks her walls down and a silent fascination begins to emerge. Barbara, being the lonely woman that she is, grabs onto this chance of a friend and innocently starts to pursue Sheba more and more. Sheba has an older husband, a teenage daughter and a son with Down's Syndorme. She desperately needs someone to talk to and ends up trusting Barbara.  A friendship starts to form, and an obsession begins. When Barbara discovers a shocking revelation in Sheba's sex life, she recognizes a chance to keep a hold on her by emotional blackmailing. She keeps clawing her way into Sheba's life, all the while deluding herself that they are the greatest of friends.
There is this great scene where Barbara's cat has died, and she comes running in tears, forcing Sheba to choose between comforting her and her son's stage début. When after several threatening comments, Sheba still chooses to go, all hell breaks loose.

I'm ashamed to admit that this is one of the few movies I've seen of Judi Dench. She is downright astonishing. As far as complicated roles go, this is it. First we see her as an unlikeable woman who looks down on everyone. The clichéd mannerisms of this ordinary woman are portrayed terrificly. Then Sheba comes in and the story begins. The immense fascination that Barbara has for Sheba is both frightening and fascinating. At times, you can see her obsession in her eyes, but Dench always reserves Barbara with a pretentious calmth. We hate her, yet we feel sorry for her. She's a woman who has reached the highest level of loneliness and now has found some hope to fill that void. The intense isolation and sad desperation to be Sheba's everything is hard to watch, yet impossible to turn your back to.

Cate's Sheba made quite an impression on me too. Though her character is far less intense, her role was every bit as striking. She seems to have it all: big house, nice family, beauty, charm; but we soon get to know that all of this is pretend. Through a shocking action, it is revealed that Sheba is lonely, hopeless and desperate for attention. I have to say Sheba struck me as a bit naïve. It wasn't until the last minutes that she realized Barbara's true colors. Her subtlety and sheer innocent manners make for a terrific performance.
The last couple of scenes, though, were the breakthrough for Blanchett. All her hopelesness vanishes and makes way for sudden realizations and fueled anger. Her soft side as well as her tough spot; in this movie Cate gives us the best of both worlds.

Wheter it's Cate's or Judi's movie, they're both at the absolute top of their game. They manage to perfectly illustrate the intense fractions and the genuine tender moments of their strange and complex relationship. At times, the weirdly intimate moments between the two women get almost too uncomfortable to watch. And I mean that as a compliment. All as a result of the brilliant acting of two great actresses and the perfect chemistry between them.

The movie is a beautiful portrait of a disturbing relationship. It shows us what loneliness can drive us to, how it can make us do things we never thought we would. Complimeted by two of the best actresses today, Notes on a Scandal is a disturbingly perfect film that you won't soon forget.

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