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Inside Movie Reviews Available to Own on DVD Coming Soon to Theaters :
Hollywood’s Bankable Stars Norway Wins 54th Eurovision Song Contest
62nd Annual Cannes Film Festival
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In life things happen so unexpected, and it’s so out of control. I find myself wanting to do more in my lifetime, but never being motivated enough to do it. It seems that when I want to get something done it never happens the right way. But it all seems to change at the most unexpected times. When you least expect it! As you all know I really enjoy writing and creating these newsletters, it inspires me to work harder at what I do so I can pursue whatever I desire. If I find myself in a writer’s block, I listen to music, which actually works wonders for me. So, if getting inspired is something that you truly wish to do, then my suggestion for you is to just open up your mind to things that you've never seen or done before. Go out into the world around you and see what you can discover. It doesn't really matter what you find yourself doing. There's no use of doing any of it unless you can find a way to get inspired by it. I just find that things are so much better for you and your soul if you are inspired and motivated about what you do. Most importantly, it'll make your job or anything for that matter so much better. So if you’re trying to get inspired by anything around you…it can be as simple as listening to a song, or even looking at a picture… Even though it may seem like a lot of work getting inspired it can help you in life and your career, or anything else that you wish to do. For me getting inspiration is nothing more than experiencing new things in life. It gives me the chance to show the world what I really have to offer! p.s. I would like to dedicate this newsletter to my mother, sisters, brother, stepfather, nephews, Jose, and Julia for their hard work everyday and for being the people that inspire me. -
Javier Serrano, founder
I completely understand writer’s block and am always looking for points of inspiration! I too listen to music, read, watch movies and just observe everyday life to find my inspiration. What I’ve found is that people inspire me the most, the little things people say when they are just being themselves, not thinking someone like me will remember and quote them later (or use them to base a character in my novel…)! So, some of you spoke up, and I listened! Here are some comments we received from last months issue: “I really enjoyed the 7 tips for success...great advice for anyone that has a passion in life!” –James M. “…this is great!” –Marty S. “I think that your advise on Goals and their achievement is excellent [and] I can relate to. I absolutely enjoyed…Roles That Got Away.” –Steve W. “I've been enjoying your newsletters…” –Samantha S. “[I] like the Roles that Got Away.” –Angela C. Please keep sending-in those comments and wonderful messages!!! We really appreciate them and you WILL be featured (unless you don’t want to of course) in the next issue! We also personally respond to each email we receive, as well as any Facebook message or blog comment. *** Remember our new email is: firstname.lastname@example.org *** Blog: mpictures.tumblr.com
“Happiness can be found in even the darkest of places, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” –Albus D.
julia wieczorek, editor-in-chief
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Norway wins its third Eurovision Song Contest. Alexander Rybak winning Song: “Fairytale”.
Belgium's Hadise captures 4th Place for Turkey with her song: “Crazy for You (Dum Tek Tek).”
Urban Symphony takes 6th place for Estonia in Eurovision Song Contest.
Jade Ewen sung her way to 5th place marking the United Kingdom’s personal best since 1997, when they captured first in the Eurovision Song Contest.
“It’s My Time”
Lejsi Tola placed 17th for Albania. “Carry Me In Your Dreams”
Noa and Mira Awad took 16th place for Israel.
“There Must Be Another Way”
Anastasiya Prikhodko won the 11th place for Russia, the hosted nation for this year’s Eurovision contest. “Mamo”
Romania sent “The Balkan Girls” to Eurovision, where the song placed 19th.
Croatia glided their way to 18th place.
The Land of the Fire: Azerbaijan won third place for “Always”.
The biggest surprise of the night went to Yohanna’s “Is It True?” placing 2nd.
Soraya glittered her way to 23rd place, tied second to last. “La Noche Es Para Mi”
Alex Swings and Oscar Sings! Placed 20th for Germany in this year’s Eurovision contest.
“Miss Kiss Kiss Bang”
What you don’t know about Tina Fey: She is a five time Emmy Award Winner
Tina Fey, whose full name is Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, is a well rounded entertainer. Born on May 8, 1970, Fey is a writer and a comedian, as well as an actress. Born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Fey graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Drama in 1992. She then moved to Chicago, and got a job at YMCA to supplement her night classes at The Second City, an improvisational comedy troupe. Nine months after, she was encouraged by her teacher to audition for the Second City Training Center, which she did, but failed. Some two months later, she tried again and this time, she was selected to join in the year-long program. This is a pivotal move on her part as she spent a significant amount of years at the Second City in Chicago, the launching pad of many Saturday Night Live cast members. It was also the same case for Fey. Thanks to encouragement from her friend, Adam McKay, she made a submission to SNL and was accepted. She made history by being the first female writer on the show, ever, in 1999. She also made her screen debut during the 25th season in 2000 on, Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon. Her time on Weekend Update with Fallon was considered to be the best. She went on to become a regular cast member. Apart from her work on SNL, she also found time to pen the screenplay to the popular 2004 teen flick, Mean Girls. The characters were based on Fey's own experience with real life mean girls from her high school, as well as the non-fiction book, Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by author Rosalind Wiseman. Fey is also the creator and star of 30 Rock, a sitcom starring Alex Baldwin, Jane Krakowski and Tina Fey herself. The show revolves around Fey's character, Liz Lemon, the head writer of "The Girly Show", who must handle her arrogant new boss as well as an outrageous new star. The series has won Fey an Outstanding Female Lead in a Comedy Series from the Gracie Allen Awards. In 2006, Fey was working on the script for Curly Oxide and Vic Thrill, based loosely on the story of Hasidic rock musician Vic Thrill. Also on the cards is the movie Baby Mama, Fey's collaboration with Amy Poehler, her ex- SNL cast mate. This time, she was not involved in the writing process, but stared as a single woman who hires a surrogate mother to have her baby while she pursues her career. On her personal front, Fey married Jeff Richmond, a composer for SNL, in 2001. The couple had their first child, Alice Zenobia Richmond in 2005.
Writer: Curly Oxide and Vic Thrill (2007) 30 Rock (2006-2007) Saturday Night Live (1997-2006) Mean Girls (2004) (screenplay) The Colin Quinn Show (2002) Saturday Night Live: The Best of Molly Shannon (2001) Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary (1999) (TV) Actress: Baby Mama (2008) as Kate 30 Rock (2006-present) as Liz Lemon Saturday Night Live (2000-2006) Mean Girls (2004) as Ms. Norbury
Coming Soon to Theaters . . ..
My Sister’s Keeper
Release date: 26 June 2009
Based on the award winning novel from best-selling author Jodi Piccoult, MY SISTER’S KEEPER tells the story of Sara and Brian who live a peaceful life with their young son and daughter. But their family is rocked by sudden, heartbreaking news that forces them to make a difficult and unorthodox choice in order to save their baby girl’s life. The parents’ desperate decision raises both ethical and moral questions and rips away at the foundation of their relationship. Their actions ultimately set off a court case that threatens to tear the family apart, while revealing surprising truths that challenge everyone’s perceptions of love and loyalty. From the director of The Notebook, MY SISTER’S KEEPER stars Cameron Diaz (In Her Shoes, Charlie’s Angels, There’s Something About Mary), Jason Patric (In the Valley of Elah, Sleepers, The Lost Boys) and Alec Baldwin (30 Rock, The Departed, Glengarry Glen Ross) alongside Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Sofia Vassilieva (Day Zero).
The Hurt Locker
Release date: 26 June 2009
Director Kathryn Bigelow's first film in six years, THE HURT LOCKER follows three American soldiers (Jeremy Renner's cocky James, Anthony Mackie's pragmatic Sanborn, and Brian Geraghty's jittery Owen) as they encounter a series of perilous situations during the last few weeks of their tour in Iraq. The episodic structure employed by screenwriter Mark Boal admittedly does take some getting used to, as the film - which is essentially plot-less - consists primarily entirely of stand-alone sequences detailing the central characters' various day-to-day escapades. There's little doubt, however, that the almost unbearably suspenseful nature of some of these scenes - one in which James must disarm an explosive strapped to a reluctant suicide bomber - effectively ensures that one's interest rarely flags, although it's worth noting that the movie does start to run out of steam towards the end (with the inclusion of a fairly tedious nighttime mission certainly not helping matters). That's an awfully minor complain for a war film that is otherwise uncommonly taut and uniformly well acted; in terms of the latter, Renner delivers a breakthrough performance that's nothing short of stunning in terms of its power and effectiveness (Mackie and Geraghty, along with cameo players Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and David Morse, are also quite good).
The 62nd edition started on 13 May and ended on 24 May, 2009.
Exclusive photos available. . .
This year, the Cannes Film festival selected a female president, the formidable French actress Isabelle Huppert. It is worth pointing out that she is only the fourth woman in 62 years to chair the jury that will decide the Palme d'Or, also known as, Best Picture of the year..
Reasons why the Festivities de Cannes Jurors selected French actress as Madame President: "[Huppert] has to rate as one of the most accomplished actresses in the world today, even if she seems short of the passion or agony of her contemporary," – David Thompson and "This is surely one of the greatest performances of Huppert's already illustrious acting career, though it is one that is very hard to watch," (1999, The Piano Teacher) – Stuart Jeffries. A short history about Cannes: The Cannes Film Festival hasn't just produced six decades of fabulous films, but each year it has also created a unique and artistic representation of the world's most glamorous film festival. The inaugural Cannes Film Festival was held in September 1939, but it was not held again until after World War II. The event moved to April during the 1950s and the Palme d'Or prize was introduced in 1955. The festival established itself during the 1960s, and has since secured its status as the world's most prestigious. French translation: Cette année, le Festival de cinéma Cannes a choisi le président femelle, l'actrice française formidable Isabelle Huppert. Il vaut la peine de montrer qu'elle est seulement la quatrième femme dans 62 ans pour présider le jury qui décidera le Palme d'Or, aussi connu comme, la Meilleure Peinture de l'année. À l'exception de l'auteur Francoise Sagan, tous les Présidents de Madame précédents ont été des acteurs et tous étaient parmi les grandes beautés de leur temps. Raisons pour lesquelles les jurés des festivités De Cannes ont choisi l'actrice française comme Madame le président : « [Huppert] doit évaluer en tant qu'une des actrices les plus accomplies au monde aujourd'hui, même si elle semble short de la passion ou de l'agonie de son contemporain, Isabelle Adjani, » - David Thompson et « ceci est sûrement l'une des plus grandes exécutions de la carrière temporaire déjà illustre de Huppert, bien qu'il soit une il est très difficile d'observer que, » (1999, le professeur de piano) - Stuart Jeffries. Une histoire courte au sujet de Cannes : Le festival de film de Cannes n'a pas simplement produit six décennies des films fabuleux, mais tous les ans il a également créé une représentation unique et artistique du festival du film le plus fascinant du monde. Le festival inaugural de film de Cannes a été tenu en septembre 1939, mais on ne l'a pas tenu encore jusqu'à après la deuxième guerre mondiale. L'événement déplacé à avril pendant les années 50 et le prix de d'Or de Palme a été présenté en 1955. Le festival s'est établi pendant les années 60, et a depuis fixé son statut comme monde le plus prestigieux.
Top Five Major Prizes
White Ribbon wins Palm d'Or at Cannes Film Festival! The White Ribbon, a black and white parable about the rise of fascism in pre-war Germany from director Michael Haneke, has won the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.
Prix d'interprétation féminine - Best Actress
French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg poses with the Best Actress award she received for the film Antichrist, at the awards ceremony.
Prix d'interprétation masculine – Best Actor
Austrian soap star Christoph Waltz clinched the Cannes film festival's best actor award Sunday for his role as a multilingual Nazi in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Waltz plays the smooth-talking villain of the flick, SS colonel Hans Landa, whose memorable one-liners had the Cannes audience chortling throughout the film.
Prix de la mise en scène - Best Director
Brillante Mendoza for “Kinatay”
Grand Prix - Grand Prize of the Festival
UN PROPHÈTE (A PROPHET) directed by Jacques AUDIARD
Hollywood’s Bankable Actors of 2009
We're in a worldwide recession, but theater attendance is up in both the UK and the US alone. James Bird, of the Cinema Exhibitors Association, representing 90% of UK cinemas, states: "When people are feeling gloomy about the economy, the cinema offers good, value for money escapism." (Lucy Tobin, UK Cinemas Dodge Recession www.thisismoney.co.uk) Theater attendance went up 40% in the crash of 1929, a phenomenon that's been repeated during other downturns in the past 70 years. Hollywood magazine Variety last summer reported that against the odds, the box office was doing great. John Fithian of the National Assosiation of Theater Owners commented: "Though we don't wish hard times on anyone, the cinema business tends to do very well during challenging economic times." It seems that when money is tight, people are prepared to spend money on treats that provide escapism for a few hours. DVDs will always have their place for watching old favorites or catching up on movies you missed, but for seeing a movie at its best you can't beat the theater.
1. 3. 5. 7. 9.
Will Smith $80 million Eddie Murphy $55 Million Leo DiCaprio $45 million Ben Stiller $ 40 million Will Farrell $31 million
2. Johnny Depp $72 million 4. Mike Myers $55 Million 6. Bruce Willis $41 million 8. Nicolas Cage $31 million 10. Adam Sandler $20 million
Hollywood’s Bankable Actresses of 2009
Sadly, Hollywood actors still earn higher wages than actresses…
1. 3. 5. 7. 9.
Angelina Jolie $27.7 million 2. Nicole Kidman $26 million Julia Roberts $23 million 4. Reese Witherspoon $21 million Cameron Diaz $15.5 million 6. Jennifer Aniston $14 million Kate Hudson $10. million 8. Katherine Heigl 9.3 million Anne Hathaway $8.1 million
A coming-of-age story about losing a loved one
Nadav (Aviv Elkabets), a 14-year-old Israeli boy, is desperately in love with his Aunt Nina (Ayelet July Zurer, Angels & Demons), the beautiful younger sister of his recently divorced mother. He's resigned to love her as Nina has recently married Haimon, her long-term boyfriend, who's a soldier in the Israeli military. When Haimon is killed in a terrorist attack outside Tel Aviv, Nina is devastated for the loss of the husband, and Nadav is sent to live with her to offer comfort and company. He sees this as a chance to proclaim his love, all of which is documented very carefully and graphically in his diary, which, he loses on the grounds of his school. Writer/director Savi Gabizon's bright and insightful film might play as unseemly in less capable hands, particularly when involving the tragedy of losing a loved one to a terrorist attack. As Nina finds herself attracted to a handsome and emotional photographer, Avinoam, whom she met on the evening she was notified of Haimon's death, Nadav becomes jealous and withdraws, leaving Nina much more alone. Nina becomes immersed in guilt for thinking of another man, and begins to believe that she is seeing her late husband walking about the city naked and lurking at her bedroom window. Meanwhile, Nadav's very religious father falls ill and wants to reconcile with his son, which confuses Nadav's emotions that much more. With the help of a number of striking performances, especially from the devastatingly beautiful Zurer and the young Elkabets, this is a thoughtful and satisfying film of the sort American filmmakers rarely achieve.
The Infamous Story of Anna Anderson aka Anastasia
After being blacklisted (due to her desertion of husband Petter Lindstrom and their daughter Pia and subsequent affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini), Ingrid Bergman received her second Best Actress Oscar for her big comeback Hollywood performance in Anastasia. Bergman plays the title role, an amnesiac refugee chosen by scheming conman (Yul Brynner) as the woman (Anna Anderson) to be passed off as the last surviving daughter of Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia. Up to a point, Anatole Litvak's picture blends skillfully mystery, romance, and melodrama Hollywood style. In Arthur Laurents' script, based on a popular play by Marcelle Maurette and Guy Bolton, Russian exiles in Paris conspire to present someone as Anastasia, the daughter of Czar Nicholas in order to collect the 10 million pounds held in her name by the Bank of England. General Bounine (Brynner) finds a destitute girl on the verge of suicide, takes her under his care, and grooms her in all of Russian royal ways. In due process, in this Pygmalion-like saga, the more Bounine learns of her, the more he begins to believe that she is the real Anastasia. Mystery persists up until the end, when she is presented to the Empress (poorly cast Helen Hayes), who will identify her as "true" heiress in a series of test and rituals.
Marjane Satrapi’s Memior on the Islamic Revolution
In translating her popular graphic novels to the screen, Marjane Satrapi, along with fellow comic book writer Vincent Paronnaud, has brought her static images to vivid life, while keeping intact all the humor, pathos and emotional honesty that graced the page. Satrapi’s memoir about growing up in Tehran during the end of the Shah’s regime, the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq war and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, remains a great personal story, one that is leavened by Satrapi’s perceptive look at the cultural and political forces that shaped it. Persepolis is a spectacular movie, an endless stream of pungent experiences—both ordinary and calamitous—that made up Satrapi’s childhood. These events are rendered in stark black and white images and punctuated with her sharply astute and self-aware observations, delivered in voice-over by French actress Chiara Mastroianni, whose dark vocal tones create a perfect funnel for Satrapi’s deliciously down-to-earth commentary. Persepolis is an animated film, but even though there is not a live person in sight, it’s an extraordinary visual expression of the human condition. Satrapi describes her animation style as “stylized realism,” where scenes are based in realism, but the images are design-oriented—sometimes almost to the point of abstraction. But this is no distancing device; on the contrary, the stylized images end up heightening the emotional impact of the story. For example, when a young man is shot to death during a police crackdown of a demonstration against the Shah, the blood seeps from the body in a pool of black ink that covers the screen in darkness. By rendering her incredible story in these starkly expressive images, Satrapi not only adds intensity, but also strips the movie of cultural ornamentation, and the story becomes a universal one that we all can relate to, no matter what country we were born in.
Fatherless Boys see the Return of their Father
Being a teenager is not as easy as one remembers it when one is already well advanced into adulthood. It’s about not being a child anymore but not quite being an adult yet: it is a bit of both worlds and yet a bit of neither. Vozvrashcheniye (The Return), the debut of Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev, is a beautifully filmed parable about just that niche: walking the thin line between the joys of an innocent life as a child and aspiring to be a grown-up but having to carry the responsibilities that come with it. Andrey (Vladimir Garin) and Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) are two brothers that live with their mother and grandmother in the Russian countryside. It is summer and they love to go out fishing and swimming. Andrey, the elder brother, teases Ivan with his fear of heights and calls him names as big brothers do. Ivan tries to stand up against him but when they have to jump off a tower into the lake, his fear of heights is greater than his fear of being called names. He remains on top of the tower until his mother convinces him to come down. The day after they are out playing again and return home in the afternoon to find a car parked in front of their house. It is their father’s, who has just returned. Andrey and Ivan cannot believe it. But who exactly has returned? They go and check on the man who is sleeping in their mother’s bed and run off to compare him with a picture taken twelve years prior, when their father still lived with them. Could it be the same man?
One of Mel Gibson’s High Profile Films
Gibson and Russo play Tom and Kate Mullen, he a successful airline magnate, she his glamorous wife. They have it all--a penthouse in New York, money up to their ears, and a young son, Sean. Alas, things fall apart when Sean is kidnapped and held for $2 million ransom, which Tom eventually refuses to pay and instead offers as a bounty on the head of the kidnapper, much to the dismay of Kate and an FBI agent (Delroy Lindo) dealing with the case. It is always a disappointment when the filmmakers have a good thing going then botch things up through carelessness. While the makers of Ransom don't botch the film, carelessness does lead to the film's two major gaffes- the clear presence of boom microphones in two different scenes. This is especially a shame, since both boom cameos take place during some key dramatic moments; in one, the drama and passion of a Gibson monologue is severely undermined by the boom. Instead of listening intently to the speech and paying attention to the story, the audience at the press screening could not help but roar with laughter. An unwanted boom aside, Ransom is first-rate entertainment. Richard Price and Alexander Ignon's smart script wisely does not make Tom into a hero of impossible goodness; in fact, Tom is more than a little unsympathetic and morally ambiguous. His virtue and sanity is naturally called into question when he offers the ransom as a bounty, but his values are even more questionable when we learn that he paid a bribe to save his airline, yet won't pay for the safe return of his son. Gibson, in a fine performance, does not sugarcoat anything and creates a complex, difficult character. We see and feel his genuine love and concern for his son and can understand his desperation, but one cannot help but think that he's going about the whole thing wrong, that maybe he's lost his mind.
Modern Version of the Famous Story: Cinderella
Drew Barrymore’s got charm and sweetness in this fairytale film, Ever After. This time she plays Cinderella in a lovely update of the Grimm Brothers' tale. In fact, the story begins with Cinderella's great great granddaughter (played by a regal Jeanne Moreau), who is a French royal; informing the Grimms that the folk tale they adapted was actually based on a true story. She presents a true-life Cinderella without a carriage that turns into a pumpkin. The glass slipper is merely a bejeweled shoe and the fairy godmother turns out to be Leonardo, the genius of Vinci, visiting France. Cinderella's real name is Danielle. When she was 8, her dearly beloved father died after bringing his horrid new bride home. Once the loving father died, the stepmother, Rodmilla (Anjelica Huston), turned Danielle into a servant and focused on getting the king's son Henry (Dougray Scott) to marry one of her nasty daughters. As everyone knows, the prince is destined to fall in love with Cinderella. But Cinderella is no mere pretty face. When she meets Henry by chance, she lectures him on the unfairness of indentured servitude and gets him to free a friend from bondage.
The Third Man
An Iconic Film Noir that’s Still Fresh for Hollywood
The perfect psychological film ever made? Orson Welles's Harry Lime steals the show in this stunning film noir, The Third Man, set in the ruins of post-War Vienna, and featuring perhaps the most memorable chase sequence in cinema history. Holly Martins (Cotten) is a hack writer arriving in Vienna shortly after the end of WWII. He plans to meet up with his old friend, Harry Lime, but discovers that he has recently been killed in a road accident. He is told a few home truths about his old chum by a British Army officer (Howard) and from Lime's distraught girlfriend (Valli), and focuses his own energies on trying to discover the identity of the third man who helped carry Lime's body from the street. Eleven minutes was excised from the original US edit, supposedly to lessen the seedy tone. In fact it's this creeping sense of corruption and moral ambiguity that makes the film so fascinating. It was producer Korda's idea to set the action in a divided Vienna, and, in the course of Greene's research, he happened upon the city's thriving post-War trade in black-market penicillin, and the illicit use of the city's sewer network. The film's success was sealed by Welles's film-stealing extended cameo, the off-kilter, Oscar-winning photography of Krasker, and the instantly evocative and unforgettable score by Anton Karas, who Reed discovered while scouting locations in Vienna.
“Richly satisfying serving of deep-dish Hollywood storytelling,“ - Todd McCarthy, Vanity
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a beautiful, compelling, and heartbreaking film by the acclaimed director David Fincher. I must proclaim admirably that the film’s performances are exquisite and some of the visual effects are astounding, which a majority of drama films lack in the effects department. The story begins with Benjamin’s birth in New Orleans in 1918 on the year that marked the end of World War I. After the sudden death of his wife during childbirth, Thomas Button abandons his son immediately on the steps of a nursing home because of his disfigurement. A worker at the nursing home, Queenie, finds the abandoned baby and takes him in, even though her husband rejects the idea. Benjamin does not die, which doctors had expected because of Benjamin’s rare condition, that causes him to suffer the effects of old age as an infant and child and appear to gro younger as he actually grows older. However, Benjamin does what every young boy does through life: he grows up. Despite his condition, Queenie loves Benjamin as if he is her own son, and why not? Queenie is the only person who loves and cares for Benjamin. Brad Pitt, Fincher's favorite leading man, having collaborated with him in numerous films like Se7en and Fight Club, is sensational as the title character, living up to his movie star and character actor sensibilities. Though he has never won an Oscar, but I do imagine, the Academy members will acknowledge his career sooner or later. Pitt's performance is made possible by makeup and effects that place his aged face onto other actors to portray Benjamin at different stages in his life. It's done so seamlessly that it's almost startling when Benjamin has aged to the point where he is readily recognizable as Pitt. Technical advancement allows the always luminous Cate Blanchett to portray Daisy from a young woman to her deathbed. As she lies in a hospital, Hurricane Katrina bearing down on New Orleans, she has her daughter, Caroline (Julia Ormond), read to her from Benjamin's diary… Benjamin and Daisy meet as children, and Daisy innately recognizes that Benjamin is not the old man he appears to be. They go their separate ways—Benjamin to work on a tugboat that gets recruited to join the U.S. Navy during World War II, and Daisy to follow her dream of becoming a professional dancer—but they eventually find their way back to each other. With its decades-long story and somewhat passive protagonist, Benjamin Button’s closest cinematic relative is Forrest Gump (1994) —which does not come as a surprise since Eric Roth scripted both (Gump won him an Oscar). Button goes much deeper than Gump, though. Benjamin is not an idiot stumbling through history; he's a man quietly playing with the hand he has been dealt, determined to make the best of it. Their physical ages meeting in the middle, Benjamin and Daisy experience a few years of pure bliss together. Daisy dares to hope they can start a family; Benjamin knows he can never be the father a child needs.
“Tom Cruise’s role is Perfectly satisfactory, if not electrifying, in the leading role,“ - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
It’s difficult to examine Bryan Singer’s World War II thriller Valkyrie without placing actor Tom Cruise, and the entire mechanism of the Hollywood star system, under the microscope. Originally conceived as a lower budget, altogether smaller piece of cinema, Cruise’s involvement changed many aspects of the film’s development – most pointedly its budget. In the final analysis, he sits rather awkwardly in the film – the glazed fruit on a savory dish, the attraction rather than the meal itself.
But there’s a great feast to have here beyond the star. Singer (who made Superman Returns and X-Men 2) understands how to build the pace and maintain the dramatic tension of this story – one that has an ending we must all know. He surrounds Cruise with the cream of Britain’s senior male actors – Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, and Terence Stamp – and focuses the piece as a racy thriller rather than probing the trickier political and psychological issues that would have perhaps exposed Cruise’s limitations as a performer. It’s a great political war story, brought beautifully – if not a little self-consciously – to the screen. Cruise is Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, war hero and true believer in a noble Germany. Dismayed by Adolf Hitler’s leadership and the obvious decline in Germany’s fortunes against the Allies, he joins forces with Generals Olbricht (Bill Nighy) von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh) and Fromm (Tom Wilkinson) in a political and military plot to assassinate the Fuhrer, dismantle the SS, and start negotiating to save Germany from total destruction. The story follows the delicate political maneuvering that has to take place in order to get operation Valkyrie underway, and then its aftermath, a tortuously short moment in time when no one involved was sure which way history was to play out. In the heat of the operation – a coup by any other name - a German communications Sergeant comments to a superior officer that “when this thing’s over us better make sure we’re on the right side.” This is the real drama of the piece – both at the level of the individuals involved – with the lives of their families and selves at stake - and for the German nation as a whole. Singer flirts with these moments – and they’re the best written parts of the film, but he keeps moving on - building the tension and over-idealizing Von Staffenburg – or perhaps the bankable star Tom Cruise - as noble but wooden hero.
© 2009 Monte Pictures Newsletter. We acknowledge all photographs are subject to their original owners. Monte Pictures was created to express, entertain and educate members of Monte the variety of film selections available. We do not sell our newsletters nor accept donations of any kind; we are neither a corporation nor non-profit organization. Questions or comments, please email your inquiries to: email@example.com
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