Tag Archives: Nicole Kidman

[Oscars 2013] – Predicting The Nominations

9 Jan

An actual Oscar statuette to be presented during the 79th Annual Academy Awards sits in a display case in Hollywood

I still have a few 2013 releases to catch up with, and I though I wanted to make my Oscar nominations predictions post having seen all of them, the nods are due early tomorrow morning so I’ll have to post them now.

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[Review] – The Paperboy

18 Oct

Title: The Paperboy
Year: 2012
Director: Lee Daniels
Writers: Lee Daniels and Peter Dexter, based on Mr. Dexter’s novel
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, Nicole Kidman, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, Scott Glenn
MPAA Rating: R, strong sexual content, violence and language
Runtime: 107 min
IMDb Rating: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Metacritic: 45

Lee Daniels started out as a producer first, most noticeably on Monster’s Ball, and then made his directorial debut in 2005 with Shadowboxer, a thriller starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren that’s not worth anyone’s time or money. He became a name though, with his sophomore effort, Precious, back in 2009, a film that got six Oscar nominations, including Director and Best Picture nods for Mr. Daniels, and won two of those, Mo’Nique for Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay. So, as you might expect, people were looking forward to seeing what he did next.

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[Trailer] – Stoker

26 Sep

Park Chan-wook is of course the acclaimed Korean filmmaker responsible for his impeccable Vengeance Trilogy, which includes the brilliant Oldboy. Next year he’s releasing Stoker, his English-language debut, and you can watch the first trailer for it below.

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Trespass

26 Nov

Title: Trespass
Year: 2011
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Karl Gajdusek
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Cam Gigandet, Jordana Spiro, Ben Mendelsohn
MPAA Rating: R, violence and terror, pervasive language and some brief drug use
Runtime: 91 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 11%

When I heard there was a psychological thriller made by Joel Schumacher and starring Nicolas Cage I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, the combination of the two seem destined to make this one the sort of train wreck of a movie that I would like to watch and laugh at. Yes, Nicole Kidman co-starred here, and that indeed gave it a sense of respectability, but I mean, it was obvious this one was going to suck. Thankfully, reception to the film indeed indicated it was horrible, and after grossing a measly $25’000 at the box office (against a $35 million budget) the film was pulled from theaters after just ten days, and only an extra week after that passed before it was available on DVD.

Mr. Schumacher is of course best known for his entries in the Batman franchise, with 1995’s Batman Forever (which starred Ms. Kidman) and, most infamously, the sequel to that one, 1997’s Batman & Robin, which was just utterly horrible and is best remembered because of the nipples in George Clooney’s batsuit. He has some good films in his filmography but lately Mr. Schumacher has become a director I just don’t really care for at all, he directed 2003’s Phone Booth which I thought was damn great, but other than that he’s just been churning out all of these really mediocre films again and again, like last year’s Twelve (to which I gave a C-).

Trespass is another one of those really mediocre films, the kind of thriller that Mr. Schumacher can probably now make without any effort at all and that’s just really bad entertainment, I really can’t see anyone liking this film. But then there’s Nicolas Cage. This is an actor who’s become famous nowadays not for his great performances of the past (the guy has an Oscar, people) but because for the past decade or so the man has apparently been saying yes to every script that comes his way, even though the vast majority of the times those turn out to be seriously horrible films.

I count myself amongst those who can’t wait to see what Mr. Cage does next, and that’s precisely because he’s become such a weird kind of sellout, the guy will play any kind of role no questions asked. And I’m interested in that because in the occasions when the films he makes aren’t bad, they either turn out to be seriously awesome like The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans from 2009 which proved the guy can still be a damn fine actor, or they get to the point in which they’re so crazy bad that they fly off the rails and end up being really entertaining, which was the case previously this year with the unhinged Drive Angry, to which I actually gave a B+.

There are moments in Trespass that made me think this one was part of that group, the films that are so bad they actually become good halfway through their running time, mostly because the dialogue here is already so ridiculously frantic that you can just imagine how hilarious it sounds coming from the mouth of Mr. Cage, the lines he gets here are just prime for a guy like him who just loves to amp it up to eleven and overact his ass off.

Mr. Cage’s character here is Kyle Miller, a diamond dealer close to going bald who has a troubled relationship with his wife, which is the character Ms. Kidman plays here. That already-troubled marriage is put to the ultimate test as a team of crooks invades their home (yes, this is a home invasion claustrophobic thriller done by Joel Schumacher, you can go ahead and giggle at what’s to come next). What’s awesome is that the reason for the break-in is never really clear and the thieves actually start offering up all these different reasons for why they broke in and what they want to get, it’s all kinds of funny.

Everything that happens afterwards is just as silly, you have a daughter who left home in the nick of time coming back and instead of calling for help as she heard the menacing voices of the thieves she calls for her mom and dad. And then of course you have this stupid little sideplot in which Ms. Kidman’s character realizes that one of the crooks is actually the security guard with whom she had been trading lustful glances. That security guard is played by Cam Gigandet who’s just horrible in the role, twitching every second and trying to look like a psycho, because that’s apparently mandatory for this group of thieves, they’re all made out to look as crazy people with some sort of mania, which leads to actors trying to match Mr. Cage’s overacting. Which, in case you were wondering, just can’t be done.

This is a bad movie people, we get crooks who change the reason for their criminal endeavor every other second, and it just starts off totally crazy and just adds a lot of ridiculous kooky stuff to it as it goes along. And it doesn’t matter because Mr. Schumacher directs it in a way that he makes it obvious he doesn’t care about how much he throws into this one and just how little of it is actually plausible. And yet, I can’t get myself to hate this film, because even though it’s not a so-bad-it’s-good film from Nicolas Cage, there’s still something fun about seeing him being given free range to start talking feverishly at a thousand miles an hour.

Grade: C

Beautiful Boy

9 Jul

Title: Beautiful Boy
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Shawn Ku
Writers: Michael Armbruster and Shawn Ku
Starring: 
Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Alan Tudyk, Moon Bloodgood, Kyle Gallner, Meat Loaf
MPAA Rating: 
R, some language and a scene of sexuality
Runtime: 
100 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 
69%

 

The death of a child was a subject touched upon rather incredibly in last year’s Rabbit Hole, that film I gave an A- to, it ended up ranked as my 30th favorite film of 2010, and Nicole Kidman’s performance in it I had as my 5th favorite from a leading actress last year, and Aaron Eckhart’s I ranked as my 7th favorite from a leading actor. By which I mean, the subject of losing a child can make for some seriously powerful films, and deliver some truthfully gut-wrenching performances. Now, Beautiful Boy is about the death of a child, but one that happened after the son of a couple has gone on a murdering spree at his campus before taking his own life. That obviously adds a whole new sense of dimension to the trauma confronted thereafter by the parents of said child, so I was really looking forward about how this film, which counted with two very talented actors in the roles of the paralyzed parents, would portray this sensation of loss and of coping with what their son has done.

And even though this one ultimately is nowhere as gripping or great as Rabbit Hole was, it’s still a very good film, because it makes you think hard about that situation, imagine you yourself having a kid who commits this horrible act and then takes his own life, there really is no correct response to it all, what do you do to cope, how do you feel about both your son’s loss and the acts he committed right before it, what does it reflect upon you as a parent. Those are all questions Beautiful Boy poses, and it gives us a glimpse right at the start of a time when the boy was alive, so that we get a look at him, and it presents us with your very stereotypical insight at a kid most movies would suggest would go on to commit such acts of horror, he was super shy, he never seemed to cause any problems, lives in a house in which his parents weren’t really communicative with each other and were seemingly falling apart as a marriage. And on his last night he called them from his campus, and you see him pretty much at the border of tears, as if he were calling for help, but not his dad or his mom seems to take notice of this quiet plead.

But this film isn’t about the son, it’s about the parents. Imagine them, in the morning watching TV and hearing about a shooting at their son’s campus, then imagine them receiving a knock on the door from a very serious-faced man, upon that sight they know their son has died, but just imagine when the man tells them there’s more, that their son was the shooter. And Michael Sheen and Maria Bello are given the task of playing this set of parents, Bill and Kate, who don’t really have the chance to grief ordinarily, as they are promptly being harassed by reporters trying to get a statement out of them. At work people start looking at Bill, wondering about him, and his boss tells him he should take a break from work. Kate starts losing herself in her work as an editor. They move out of their place to live with Kate’s sister and her husband, but that doesn’t work out, and they end up relocating to a motel.

And it’s fascinating to see these two having only one another, these two people who not that long ago were on the verge of  divorce and they only have each other, and they are left alone in the world with the questions between them, wondering how much of this was their fault, what they did, how they should feel. And that’s really the one problem I had with Beautiful Boy, the fact that it asked too many of these questions instead of just letting us watch the two grief, and I guess that in that grief of theirs those questions will pop up, but these are questions that don’t really have an answer, and by not finding an answer there’s really no closure, and not getting much closure in a film like this really bugged me. And I guess that that’s really how this would go in real life, that this sort of story only can end with the two eventually getting on with their lives with probably little to no visible or tangible cathartic release, but in a film like this I wanted that sense of catharsis.

But even though I had that little problem, about there not being answers to the many questions, at least the people we had asking these questions were Maria Bello and Michael Sheen. Because Ms. Bello is a terrific actress who is just insanely good at playing these women with huge emotional traumas masking them behind a tough exterior, and Mr. Sheen is given the less flashier role, but in a way an even harder one to play, because Bill is a guy who’s just flatly ordinary and is thrown into this very dire circumstance and he has to shoulder most of the load, and he just does some very good things with the role. But yeah, as good as the performances may have been, consider me not totally sold on Beautiful Boy because it didn’t say much at all, and if you’re gonna go ahead and make a movie that feels so uncomfortably claustrophobic in its exploration of deep emotions then you have to go all out and make something like the masterpiece that was Blue Valentine, and this one, good as it may have been, just isn’t that great at all.

Grade: B

Just Go with It

3 Apr

Title: Just Go with It
Year:
2011
Director:
Dennis Dugan
Writers: Allan Loeb and Timothy Dowling, adapting from the 1969 film screenplay by I.A.L. Diamond, which was adapted from the stage play by Abe Burrows, which was based on the french play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy
Starring:
Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman, Dan Patrick, Dave Matthews, Nick Swardson, Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck, Rachel Dratch, Kevin Nealon, Heidi Montag, Minka Kelly
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, frequent crude and sexual content, partial nudity, brief drug references and language
Runtime:
117 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
6.2
Rotten Tomatoes:
18%

 

By now we all know what to expect from an Adam Sandler comedy, we know what his style of goofy comedy consists of, so you know if you’d like to stay away from his films or not. Now, I personally like his style when it’s done right, but that hasn’t really seemed to be the case for his last few films, and even though Just Go with It is a film that you can, pardon the pun, totally go for, it’s not an amazing one by any means.

Moreover, I think it’s time for Mr. Sandler to go back and do a dramatic role. He is, much like Jim Carrey, one of those physical comedians that are super silly in their comedy, and yet have a really touching sensibility when they do dramas that I find incredible to watch. Adam Sandler has done two dramas, 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, a film by the master Paul Thomas Anderson and one that I can’t praise enough, the other one was 2007’s Reign Over Me which wasn’t as perfect a film, but was still quite remarkable. I guess we could potentially count 2009’s Funny People, a film I liked better than many seemed to, as more of a dramatic entry in Mr. Sandler’s canon, but it wasn’t a straightout drama film like the others, so I won’t. But yes, Just Go with It was fine and all, Adam, but please, give us another drama.

But, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the actual film. I’ll say this much for Just Go with It, for a romantic comedy, it’s pretty damn competent. I mean, it’s a film that while entirely predictable, does offer us a few surprises along the way to keep things fresh, and it has Brooklyn Decker in it, who is gorgeous enough to have any film she’s in bumped up a grade just for her sheer presence in it considering she wasn’t asked to really act all that much. Not to mention that Jennifer Aniston, who had been in last year’s The Bounty Hunter, needed a role like this to get her back to being her awesome girl-next-door self which we all love. But then again, I’d also like Ms. Aniston to go back and do another drama in the vein of The Good Girl again.

This isn’t a perfect film, don’t get me wrong, I’m not recommending it, I’m just saying that’s totally bearable and that, while it’s far from the best film you’ll see all year, it’s a good option in the horrible rom-com genre. I mean, it’s very very easy going, it tries to play naughty, but you know it’s innately good-hearted, it may try to seem as though it’s pushing the envelope with some of its stuff, but you know it’s actually quite the passive little bugger you’ll let pretend otherwise. And as such, there will be bits in which you’ll get frustrated by it, but there will also be parts you’ll find yourself laughing with it, and the ratio of those two is better than you’d expect going into it.

The thing is, we all feel like we know Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler already. They have been part of our media-loving lives for the past decade and a half, and they have been great friends themselves from way before that, so there’s that sense of watching people you know being funny and warm to each other, and that’s genuinely nice to see in this one. I mean, this is after all better than Mr. Sandler’s previous effort, which was the unfortunate Grown Ups. And, as for Ms. Aniston, even though I probably liked last year’s The Switch a bit better than this one, this is still heaps better than the disaster that was The Bounty Hunter.

If you’ve seen the trailers you already know what this one’s all about. Mr. Sandler has his heart broken on what was supposed to be his wedding day, and decides to get back on the horse by having a lot of sex with anyone he could find who would be disarmed by a man armed with a wedding ring and tales of a wife that broke his heart. Ms. Decker plays one of those girls, except when it’s all said and done, Mr. Sandler’s character, Danny, thinks she might be more than just a one-night thing, and she’s probably thinking the same way, except she first wants to meet Danny’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who obviously doesn’t really exist.

So then Danny enlists his assistant Katherine, the character Ms. Aniston plays, to pretend to be his crazy ex. And you probably know how the rest of this one goes. And there’s no shame in this film for being so obvious in its next steps, it still has the likable and beautiful Ms. Aniston, the gorgeous and sexy Ms. Decker and the dependably goofy Mr. Sandler to keep it afloat. Not to mention that the supporting cast includes an Academy Award winner in Nicole Kidman and Minka Kelly, who I personally find to be even more beautiful than Ms. Decker, not to mention that she’s actually got some acting chops, not that this is the sort of film in which she could prove that.

Go see this one if you have time to kill, if not, don’t bother with Just Go with It. I mean, I liked it much better than I thought I would, which is why this review may sound a bit enthusiastic, but that only says things about how low my expectations were, the greatest thing I can say about this film is that it looked as though everyone involved had a great time making this one, and since it’s not as though we were invited to hang out with movie stars in Hawaii then I guess that’s neither here nor there, so go see it if you’re a fan of the stars or if you have two hours of free time and the other options seem crappier.

Grade: C+

Oscar Predictions: Best Leading Actor and Actress

24 Feb

In my second to last Oscar Predictions post I will tackle both Lead acting races, both of which are pretty much considered locks by most, but one of which really isn’t.

BEST LEAD ACTOR

Nominees

  • Javier Bardem (for Biutiful)
  • Jeff Bridges (for True Grit)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (for The Social Network)
  • Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech)
  • James Franco (for 127 Hours)

In case you were wondering, this is that one that actually is a mortal lock. There’s absolutely no way in hell Colin Firth will not walk away from the Nokia Theater without the golden man firmly in his hands. He gives a masterclass in acting in The King’s Speech, not to mention he’s coming off his other Oscar-noinated stellar performance in A Single Man last year.

Should Win: Colin Firth
Will Win: Colin Firth

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

Nominees

  • Annette Bening (for The Kids Are All Right)
  • Nicole Kidman (for Rabbit Hole)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (for Winter’s Bone)
  • Natalie Portman (for Black Swan)
  • Michelle Williams (for Blue Valentine)

These are actually my Top 5 performance by any actress in a leading role in all of 2010, so I was specifically happy about this bunch of nominees. But this is the category which I think isn’t as clear-cut as most are assuming.

Yes, Natalie Portman has swept through the precursors, and her performance, to me, is certainly the best in this group and should most certainly earn her her first Academy Award (she was previously nominated for her supporting turn in Closer).

But then there’s Annette Bening. This woman is heavily involved in the Academy, absolutely loved and revered by everyone in the business, as she should be because she’s one seriously awesome lady, and has already lost three times before (twice to Hilary Swank, one of those, to me, quite unjustly), so the Academy may feel like she’s due (and she honestly is) and give her the award, even if her performance, stunning as it may be, isn’t as great as Portman’s.

So yes, I’m saying Portman for now. Not because she has won all the other awards, just because I liked her performance better. But maybe Annette Bening will pull off the upset, I mean, just look at her face during the scene at dinner in Paul’s house and it’s tough to argue against giving her the golden man.

Should Win: Natalie Portman
Will Win: Natalie Portman