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Inside: Star Misses: 10 CareerChanging Hilary Roles that Swank: Got Away The All American Woman
Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer star in Angels & Demons
Available to Own On DVD Coming to Theaters . . . Movie Reviews
Since I am the founder of Monte Pictures, I have the authority to write whatever I desire in my introduction and newsletter, of course with the help of Julia, my editor. So, in this month’s issue I would like to inform you of seven tips to achieve your goals. These seven tips helped me on my journey through my education and the start of Monte Pictures.
Set a realistic but challenging/inspiring goal. Take a big dream like "I want to be famous", and break it down into smaller, more manageable steps, like "I want to star in a science fiction movie", "I want to go to three auditions a week", "I want to move to another city" and "I want to save $5,000 so I can move." Make the goal big enough to challenge and excite you, but not so big that you hesitate to take the first steps. Plan ahead. Once you've broken down your goal into pieces, write down the steps on a piece of paper to make sure you have everything thought out. One of the worst things that can happen is you're almost to the point of your goal, but you're not sure what to do next. Also, give yourself deadlines for each step. Otherwise, you'll end up procrastinating and never achieving your dream Be positive. Your goal should be written and have positive intent about what you want to bring into your life. This is very important, since the focus of your goal should not be centered around describing a problem you want to eliminate. Learn from mistakes. Making mistakes should be a subject at school to teach all children how to learn from them, instead of trying to avoid them. In the pursuit of a goal, you are likely to make some mistakes. Don't see them as bad or get angry. They are important to correct you and to lead you to success. Listen to your internal dialogue. What you are saying inside affects you physically, emotionally and mentally. Is your defense system inside trying to make you stick to your past, limiting beliefs and perceptions? Take over and challenge your inner critics. Monitor any excuses you might be making in relation to your goal. For example, saying "I don't finish work until late and won't have time to cook!" You must recognize that if you are truly passionate about your goal, it is up to you to make time. Seek help. Find the information, skills and knowledge that you need from other people, books, and audio or video programs. Speed up your learning process by emulating what other successful people have done. You save time and get results faster. Self-hypnosis audios are a powerful way to help you get fast, permanent results. Be passionate. Striving towards a goal without passion is like a fire which slowly runs out of fuel to burn. Get excited; this will mean that you will love what you are doing. Methodically check your behaviors against impassioned dreams developed as a child. Always share the child within amongst your potential peers, this empowers the Law of Attraction that shapes the dreams of the child into the creative force of the adult.
- Javier Serrano, founder
I would like to take the time to thank everyone for all of their support of this newsletter and welcome to all of our new members! Javier puts a lot of time in research, developing and writing and I put a lot of time into making it as close to perfect as I can get! So we can’t thank all of you enough for giving us a reason to keep working! I also want to ask the opinions of all of you, what is your favorite part of the newsletter? Is there anything you would like to see added? What do you think of the blog? Please email questions, comments, suggestions to: email@example.com I will gladly answer questions and post the most interesting comments on the next issue! We will also be grateful to any suggestions! As I go through and help edit other’s work I am often amazed by the hidden talents that I find, along with the shock of how many are unaware of how to write. Many people despise writing, and I think this is one of the most unfortunate side-effects of our schooling system. We only write when we are forced to, based on reading what the school tells us to, and hardly ever are given a chance to be creative. Once I was given this chance in a college writing class, I realized how much fun it can be. So I give advice to anyone that hates to write, please try creative writing. If it seems daunting, just write what’s in your heart; I find the most interesting stories are the ones that are real, which is why I love un-edited work, it shows thought process and specific language to the person who writes it. I only like to clean it up after, but never take away from the uniqueness put into it. The blog was one of the greatest ideas to come to writing. Blogs let people express themselves, however they want, whatever they want to say, in an almost diary-esque way, laid out on the computer to share and keep for years to come. Blogs allow people to share their life-stories to others. Some may not believe that writing a blog constitutes a writer, but simply telling your friends online about your day and your thoughts, even your mood, is all a story. Something to look back on years later and wonder, did I really think that back then? So please, do not ever be afraid to write, even if it’s only one sentence on Twitter, or your mood status update on MySpace, or a detailed account of your day on Live Journal. It’s all a record that you and others can look back on, and maybe one day you can put all those blogs together and have a book without even realizing it! “Not all those who wander are lost.” –J.R.R. Tolkien
- julia wieczorek, editor-in-chief
Misses: 10 Career-Changing Roles that Got Away
10) Raiders of the Lost Ark . . . starring: Tom Selleck Tom Selleck was offered the part of Indiana of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but he was too busy filming the TV hit show, “Magnum P.I.” The part of the suave archeologist went to Harrison Ford instead. 9) Casablanca . . . starring: George Raft George Raft had been the studio’s first choice for the role of Casablanca's Rick Blaine. But when the popular leading man wasn’t available for the film, the then-minor player Humphrey Bogart, was reluctantly offered the iconic role. Now fans can’t imagine anyone else uttering the famous words: “Here’s lookin’ at you kid.” 8) Brokeback Mountain . . . starring: Mark Walberg and Joaquin Phoenix Before Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger scored the now legendary roles in the acclaimed “gay cowboy” film. Mark Walberg told the press he and actor Joaquin Phoenix were considered the top choice for the roles. They passed because they were “a little creped out” by the sex scenes. In the end, the critically acclaimed film scored both Ledger and Gyllenhaal Oscar nominations and generated $80 million at the box office on the film’s budget of $15 million.
7) The Graduate . . . starring: Robert Redford Robert Redford was originally considered for the part of Benjamin Braddock, but director Mike Nichols didn’t believe the ravishing actor could convincingly play an underdog. Thus Dustin Hoffman was the right actor for the legendary role. 6) The Reader . . . starring: Nicole Kidman A-list gorgeous actress Nicole Kidman was initially cast as former Nazi prison guard Hanna Schmitz, in Stephen Daldry’s postwar-Germany drama The Reader. But when she became pregnant , the Australian Oscar winner (ironically, she won her first Oscar directed by Daldry in The Hours in 2003) was forced to step down, passing the Academy Award winning role to a much deserving performance by Kate Winslet. 5) Pretty Woman. . . starring: Molly Ringwald Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club star was originally offered the role as Pretty Woman’s, prostitute but reportedly turned it down. That proved good news for Julia Roberts, who snagged the famous part instead. The character not only earned Roberts an Oscar nomination but also an A-list career in Hollywood. 4) Forrest Gump. . . starring: John Travolta Hard to imagine John Travolta saying “Life is like a box of chocolates.” and yet Tom Hanks only snagged the role of slow-talking and brilliant-thinker Forrest Gump after the Pulp Fiction star turned it down. It worked out well for Tom Hanks, who went on to win his second Oscar for the part in Robert Zedmeckis’ 1994 film. Travolta has admitted his decision to pass was a mistake. 3) The Godfather. . . starring: Ernest Borgine While it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Marlon Brando playing the don of the Corleone family, Brando wasn’t the original choice. Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine, famous for his portrayal in the class 1955 romance film Marty, was an earlier candidate for the now legendary role. 2) Knocked Up. . . starring: Anne Hathaway The Devil Wears Prada star was originally cast as Knocked Up’s, Alison Scott (a successful entertainment reporter whose one night stand with a slacker leads to a surprise pregnancy) before dropping out for creative reasons. The film proved a smash hit at the box office, and the part made Grey’s Anatomy actress Katherine Heigl a big screen name. 1)Titanic. . . starring: Gwyneth Paltrow Had James Cameron had his way, Gwyneth Paltrow would have boarded the infamous ocean liner in the box office smash Titanic. But the Shakespeare in Love star reportedly told the press the role as Rose Dewitt Bukater did not interest her. Fortunately, this led Kate Winslet to nab the role and become one of Hollywood’s most brightest stars.
The All American Woman
Five Films You’ve Got To See:
1994, The Next Karate Kid 1999, Boys Don’t Cry 2004, Million Dollar Baby 2007, Freedom Writers 2007, P.S. I Love You
Hilary Ann Swank was born on the 30
July in 1974 in . . . well, that’s undetermined. Reports have been severely confused by the audition process for Boys Don’t Cry. In order to win the confidence of the director Kimberly Peirce, Swank told her that, like the real Teena Brandon, she was 21 and had been born in Lincoln, Nebraska. In fact, she claimed, she’d been born in the same hospital. Later, Peirce would discover that Swank had lied so she confronted her, which Swank cheekily replied that she did exactly what Brandon would have done. The part was hers, but the lies caused problems for biographers. Swank was certainly not 21, she was 24, at the time of production of Boys Don’t Cry. As for her birthplace, her management maintained that she was indeed born in 1999, Best Actress, Boys Don’t Cry Lincoln. Swank would often refer to herself as a mid-Western girl, and state that one of her grandfathers was born and raised in Iowa, just two hour’s drive from Falls City, Nebraska, the small town where Teena Brandon disastrously went to start a new life. With her heart set on an acting career, Hilary was now to be lent a hand by illfortune. Swank was just 15 when her parents’ divorced, and if this was not the turning point, then Swank’s mother, Judy, lost her job. Swank and her mother were at a crossroads in their lives, thus they 2004, Best Actress, both decided to seek a new life in Los Million Dollar Baby Angeles, where Hilary might apply her desired trade. So, with $75 between them, the pair took off for California in Her mother’s Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The same year would come her first starring role in The Next Karate Kid. This saw her step into the shoes of Ralph Macchio, as teen Julie Pierce who, with her parents dead, is forced to live with her grandmother. Fortunately, she’s taken on by the franchise’s guru, Pat Morita, who takes on Julie as one of his students, and takes her off to a Buddhist temple for training in martial arts and, naturally, the waltz, enabling her to
both bash up the bullies at school and score big at the prom. In January 1998, Hilary was written out of the show of Beverly Hills 90210, after three brief months. Devastated, I’m sure, Swank was mortified that she could not become a “serious” actress. However, in fact, her dismissal from the show turned out to be a blessing as within weeks she was auditioning for the film that would prove her breakthrough, Boys Don’t Cry. To prepare for the role in Boys Don’t Cry, Swank worked closely with acting coach Larry Mills, a former pupil, who’d helped Helen Hunt to an Oscar for As Good As It Gets, Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator. The results were stupendous. As Teena Brandon, a girl from Lincoln, Nebraska who moves to Falls City and starts life anew as a boy, runs with the lads, wins the heart of Cloe Sevigny and comes to a horrible end. At the 2000 Academy Awards, Swank beat heavyweight contenders Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening to win the Best Actress Oscar. A fair reward given that for her performance she’d only been paid $75 a day - $3,000 in total.
First woman to win an Oscar for playing a role as a boxer
Five years later, Swank won the role as Maggie Fitzgerald in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. Swank starred as a hillbilly waitress from south-west Missouri who seeks to escape her deadend life via success in the boxing ring. To achieve this, she attempts to enlist veteran trainer, played by Eastwood, but he refuses to work with a girl, until persuaded by Swank persistence and the wise words of former boxer and lifelong sidekick, played by Morgan Freeman.
Angels & Demons
Release date: May 15, 2009
on Howard does a far superior job of filming Dan Brown’s first Robert Langdon novel Angels &
Demons than he did with his lifeless blockbuster The Da Vinci Code in 2006. Picking up the pace considerably and wisely trimming some of the more preposterous excesses of Brown’s book, Angels & Demons is all the more intriguing for its setting in the murky halls of the Vatican and dusty churches of Rome. Although The Da Vinci Code was slaughtered by critics after an ill-advised opening night debut at the Cannes Film Festival, audiences didn’t seem too bothered and its grosses - $217m in domestic and $541m in international – reflected the fascination that Brown’s well-researched books inspire in the public at large. Unlike the book, Angels & Demons starts with the death of the old pope and the arrival in Rome of the world’s cardinals for the election of the new one. It then moves to CERN in Geneva where Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra (played by Israeli actress, Ayelet Zurer) is experimenting with the creation of antimatter, a powerful energy source which could change the world’s energy supply. The experiment is a success, but just as it is completed, her scientist partner is found dead, a canister of antimatter missing. Harvard symbology professor Langdon (Hanks) is enlisted by the Vatican police, who race him to Rome to help a critical investigation. A group claiming to be the ancient secret brotherhood of the Illuminati has kidnapped the four preferred papal candidates and is threatening to kill them one by one that night on the hour. They also have the canister of antimatter and plan to wipe out the Vatican at midnight.
Release date: May 8, 2009
The Starship Enterprise is back and better than ever. “Star Trek” has been one of several highly anticipated films this year and its already generating positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike. This “Star Trek” is a fresh take on a franchise that had gone tried, captivating only the most loyal followers all these decades. However, director J.J. Abrams, most notably for directing the Emmy-winning show “Lost,” takes on a new challenge of the “Star Trek” franchise, he directs today’s hot, young, talented cast, which will allure prospect and youngster audience to see the film. For “Star Trek,” they mix sweeping spectacle and thunderous action with intimate plot, sensitivity and humor. It’s a rare Hollywood blend because it’s so easily to be lost when the substitution of special effects becomes the dominate character in the film. The last film that captivated audiences and critics was last year’s “The Dark Night,” grossed over $500 million at the box-office, making it the second most successful film behind 1997 “Titanic”. The story starts backward to the troubled adolescences of James T. Kirk and Spock, whose future partnership forms the nitty-gritty of the story. Yet, not since “Star Wars” has the scope, the characterizations, and the special effects been as memorable as this maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Remember, its J.J. Abrams’ enterprise, which means, a new commence of a franchise like George Lucas did for the new generation of “Star Wars” fans.
Release date: May 21, 2009
Unfortunately, there is not much film reviews about Terminator Salvation, and movie trailers do not help at all. So, I am going to provide a short synopsis: In the highly anticipated new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and it’s army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares it’s final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind. The film also stars Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, Charlotte Gainsbourg as Kate Connor, Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams, Common as Barnes, and Jadagrace as Star.
Oscar Went to the Wrong Capote
Poor Toby Jones! In any other year, his work as Truman Capote would be in immediate awards contention, but coming right after Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning performance in Capote, it will no doubt be seen as a been there, done that kind of thing; certainly not helping matters is that Douglas McGrath's film covers roughly the exact same time period as Bennett Miller's Best Picture nominee. But McGrath and especially Jones manage to come up with a take on the writer that is distinct from and just as valid as Miller and Hoffman's more dark and moody take. With its lighter touch and gaggle of recognizable names in roles small to cameo (Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels, Daniel Craig, Gwyneth Paltrow), it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate to label this as the more Hollywood take on Capote, but it also wouldn't be inaccurate to call this an overall more traditionally entertaining picture than Miller's more dramatic piece. More than Capote, Infamous more clearly show's Capote's famously flamboyant rapier wit, shedding more light on his habits as a social gadfly than the earlier film, and Jones' comic gusto is infectious. The film does pale in comparison to Capote when it directly overlaps with the In Cold Blood era and the author's relationship with killer Perry Smith; while Jones and Craig are effective, they aren't as affective as Hoffman and Clifton Collins Jr. I wouldn't say that this film is a valid replacement for Capote--or vice versa; they are instead nicely complementary works that together make an intriguing look at a fabulously complex personality.
The Syrian Bride
Split Between Two Countries: Israel and Syria
In The Syrian Bride, the fate of a wedding rests entirely on a border official's willingness to apply correction fluid to an exit visa. Unfortunately for the bride and groom, the would-be ceremony takes place in the Golan Heights, where even the seemingly trivial is political. Directed by an Israeli with a Palestinian woman as his co-writer, The Syrian Bride explores the consequences -- sometimes comic, more often tragic and frustrating -- that can arise when political hostility reaches fever-pitch absurdity. Mona (Clara Khoury), a Druze living in the Golan Heights, wants to marry Tallel (Derar Sliman), a TV sitcom star who lives in Syria. It's a hostile border: Golan, formerly part of Syria, is now under Israeli occupation, and Syria, which refuses to accept Israel's sovereignty, will allow Mona to enter only if she settles permanently. For Mona -- who has made the painful choice to leave her Golan family forever -- the big day has arrived. She's surrounded by family and friends, and dressed in bridal white as she prepares to join Tallel, who's waiting on the other side. But her plans are derailed by the Syrian immigration officer who refuses to accept Mona's exit visa, which is in Hebrew, and his Israeli counterpart back on the Golan side who declines to erase the stamp. Two families -- staring at each other across the no man's land between them -- watch with mounting despair as bureaucracy and political obstinacy conspire yet again to ruin their pursuit of happiness.
Real Women Have Curves
With its cheesily empowering title, "Real Women Have Curves" may sound like a fable for fat women who nonetheless have great personalities. But it has a much wider appeal as a charming and funny story of clashing cultures and a clashing mother/daughter relationship. Having just graduated from high school with grades good enough for a scholarship to Columbia University, Ana is forced into a job at the family dressmaking factory by her overbearing mother Carmen (Lupe Ontiveros), who is also less accepting of Ana's curvaceous looks. As sparkly as her mother is demanding, Ana refuses to be ashamed of her shape. She slowly resigns herself to the fact her mother believes going away to university means needlessly breaking up the family. You can probably guess what's going to happen over the course of the story, but the real pleasure in "Curves" is in the pointed humor and spirited characters that populate the film. And most notably, two superb performances from Ontiveros and newcomer Ferrera. Natural in front of the camera, with an expressive face and comic timing, Ferrera is everything your average high school bimbo is not. Ontiveros is equally as bright and individual, and together they create an absorbing dynamic.
The Role that Made Her a Star
To Space and Back
Apollo 13 remains Howard's masterpiece. Here is that rare film that improves with age, as all the little details, those tiny ever-so-right things tucked away in the nooks and corners of the story, reveal themselves to you on second, fifth, twenty-fifth viewing, while all the things that felt so right the first time feel just as right all over again. I adored this film in 1995 and love it even more today. It is, quite simply, one of the finest movies ever produced. The film works because of its simplicity. Listen closely to the closing narration by Tom Hanks, who plays veteran astronaut Jim Lovell, upon whose book "Lost Moon" the film is adapted. Screenwriters William Broyles, Jr., and Al Reinert do not attempt to flower the speech with lofty metaphors and grand eloquence; instead, Hanks talks in a straightforward manner: here, briefly, is what happened after the mission ended, and here is what I think of my experiences. There's no need to show off with flamboyant dialogue. The story itself is exceptional, as are the people who lived it.
Mona Lisa Smile
What Women Wanted
Spanning the course of the school year, Mona Lisa Smile is narrated by Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst), the school newspaper editor and narrow-minded daughter of an influential Wellesley alum. Like most of her classmates and the old guard faculty, she greets the arrival of art history teacher Katharine Watson (Roberts) with chilly disdain. Originally from California, Watson is seen as too bohemian and common for the blueblood crowd. She in turn is bewildered by the students' all-consuming focus on marriage and motherhood. Refusing to honor the status quo, Katharine challenges her students to think outside the box. A few of them, such as self-possessed overachiever Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles) and worldly Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal), are inspired by Katharine, who's thirty and happily single. Her circle of admirers does not include the newlywed Betty, who attacks Katharine as anti-marriage and family in a scathing editorial. Stung by the attack, Katharine resolves to stay true to herself and continue pushing the students to realize their potential, despite increasing resistance from the administration and alumnae. There's much to enjoy in Mona Lisa Smile. This handsomely mounted and beautifully filmed drama sustains your interest for most of its running time and features fine performances across the board. Roberts is warm, forthright and intelligent as Watson. Dunst (crazy/beautiful) shines in a surprisingly unsympathetic role. Stiles (Save the Last Dance) is appealing as the most mature of Watson's students, and Gyllenhaal (Secretary) registers strongly, even if she's not given enough to do. And therein lies the chief flaw with Mona Lisa Smile. Screenwriters Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal introduce a host of potentially intriguing characters but neglect to develop them beyond a superficial level. Some of the characters, like Marcia Gay Harden's lonely poise and elocution teacher, border on caricature. Storylines also get dropped and situations never play out to a satisfying degree. For example, in one scene Giselle confronts the womanizing Italian professor (Dominic West) and tells him that they have to talk. If they do, it happens off screen, because the next time we see them, they're all smiles and the matter is never addressed.
Chinese “Gone With The Wind”
The history of China over the last 50 years has been one of phenomenal transformations and political upheavals. To Live is an amazing two and a half hour-long epic that translates all that history in human terms. The story is a melodrama that begins in the 1940s and takes us through such events as the 1949 Communist Revolution, the Great Leap Forward of the 1950s, the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s, and concludes during some unspecified point in China's recent, pre-Tienanmen past. To Live, however, is no dry recitation or reinterpretation of history. The story's emphasis is on the human melodrama, on the effects that all these constant political shifts wreak on ordinary lives. It tells a multi-generational story that focuses on one family and the mechanisms by which they cope throughout these tumultuous decades. One need not be a China buff to understand the nuances of To Live; one need only be a student of human affairs and a fan of great filmmaking. China's preeminent filmmaker, Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern), has once again created a masterpiece which was recognized as such when it was awarded the Grand Jury prize at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Yimou's aim must have been true because it provoked the Chinese government to ban screenings of the movie in its homeland and place gag orders on Yimou and Gong Li, the director's longtime collaborator and co-star of To Live. The movie continues Yimou's distinctive tradition of exquisite visual styling, though in keeping with the story about “common people” his compositions are a bit more subdued than his more histrionic, earlier work. One of the film's running storylines involves delicate performances of shadow or silhouette puppetry, a beautiful but little-practiced art form that's worth seeing for its sake alone. Gong Li's performance, as always, is extraordinary and her costar Ge You (who also won the Best Actor award at Cannes for this movie) is another great talent with a most expressive face. Detailing the events of this epic would only suffer in the retelling. To Live is a movie to be experienced.
Available to Own On
“Amazing performance by Kate Winslet,”
- Katherine Monk, Canwest News Service
No one going into The Reader should be under the illusion that it's some kind of redemptive saga this is one unhappy movie. Shot by Roger Deakins and Chris Menges (masters at sculpting light in a way that sums up a whole way of life in a bare moment of screen time), The Reader's basic "look" is enough to fill an optimistic viewer with dread; it's so bled dry of color that it looks like the sun has been turned off. Even the actors' faces look lined and pale and unhealthy. But then, at one level, this is a movie about a kind of ugliness, and director Stephen Daldry doesn't want you to forget it. His technique is the cinematic equivalent of a fist banging on a table. The Reader is also the kind of movie where characters gaze significantly out of windows to signal that they have something weighty on their mind. In this particular case, the sad eyes and the tortured mind belong to Ralph Fiennes. The year is 1995. His name is Michael, he's German, and he's in his mid-forties. As he ponders the view, his mind (we assume) and the movie itself flashes back to 1955, and to the first time that he met Hanna, played by Kate Winslet. Michael (in these sequences played by young newcomer David Kross) is a horny, fifteen-year-old schoolboy. Hanna is thirty-something, very beautiful, and seemingly just as horny, in her own way. She seduces the boy, who is an unsurprisingly willing participant. Still, Hanna is not easy to be around. Her mouth seems caught in a kind of perpetual frown, and her voice has the dark, hard edge that seems constructed to belt out orders rather than coo sweet nothings. If there is something strong and essential and deep about The Reader, it lies with Kate Winslet. It's certainly not in it’s gloomy style and sense of importance. Screenwriter David Hare (Plenty, Wetherby) and director Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot) appear to be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the themes and ideas being stroked here. This is a movie where characters contemplate in lengthy dialogue scenes, the paralyzing notion of mass genocide - only for the movie to move onto another turn in a plot that keeps boxing and beating its characters up. Yet in Winslet's characterization, the movie finds itself. She is dark, mysterious and always human. Where the other performances seem a little actorly (especially Bruno Ganz's law professor) or glib (Lena Olin's turn as a hard-boiled Holocaust survivor is grating), Winslet's control, and her sense of being (as opposed to acting) is staggering. It's not at all surprising that it's the film's nude scenes that have received the lion's share of the pre-release attention. They are so far from the smooth elegance of soft porn, however, that they're the most soulful, unaffected thing in the movie.
"Jolie puts on a powerful emotional display as a tenacious woman who gathers strength from the forces that oppose her. She reminds us that there is nothing so fierce as a mother protecting her cub.“
—Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter Changeling tells the story of a working, single mother whose son disappears while she’s at work, and continues with her frantic search to find him. Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, the real life mother whose harrowing experience taking on the Los Angeles Police Department makes for an interesting story which doesn’t seem to be one that director Clint Eastwood would want to tell. But here it is. Set in the 1920s, the Los Angeles police department, hounded for corrupt practices and questionable actions, decides to use Collins’ plight as a publicity mechanism. Finding a boy who they claim to be her son, simply because he says so, and forcing her to accept him became a cause-célèbre that ultimately brought the department to its knees. Collins knows that the child who claims to be her son, and who is forced upon her by the police eager to close the case ,is not her own, yet cannot convince anyone to believe her. However, as a woman in a period of American history when women were treated more like employees than like respected members of the community and marginalized for their overabundance of emotion, it’s not a large leap for us to recognize her persecution. Jolie is one of many modern Hollywood celebrities who do tremendous work creating incredible characters, but who find difficulty fully immersing themselves in the character because of jaded cineastes who can only see the actor and not the performance. But, history has proven that some of our greatest performers, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor and many others, were always easily recognizable. Jolie, while not yet an actress deserving of being included in that pantheon, has quietly created a respectable oeuvre of prestige in indie movies (Girl, Interrupted and A Mighty Heart before this) that one day, she may find herself if not mentioned in the same breath, at least within the same chapter as those greats of cinema. The film is ostensibly about Collins. There aren’t but a small handful of scenes in which she doesn’t appear. In those moments, we finally recognize the other characters in the movie. Michael Kelly is the one non-corrupt cop who seeks a resolution to several child murders that may ultimately bring Collins some closure; John Malkovich plays a local radio evangelist who has made it his mission to bring down the corrupt police department and decides to champion Christine’s case as a way to achieve his goals; and Jeffrey Donovan as the face of the police department who actively works to destabilize and embarrass Collins for irreconcilable acts when she refuses to accept his version of events.
"It's a decent enough stab at being what the old movie was to its time, following the same basic plot, full of respectful references to its model, updated with a gallery of fairly imaginative special effects.“
- William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Keanu Reeves was clearly born to play Klaatu, the alien from another planet who visits Earth with a dire warning. The actor's blank facial expressions ensure he's a believable ET, and make this Scott Derrickson remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic a worthy revision with an environmental twist. Despite a hint of melodrama and some scenes that simply do not work, Reeves and co-star Jennifer Connelly sell their respective roles, and the movie itself, thanks to their surrender to each moody moment. Do not panic. It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of the disaster movie. The genre is just going through a natural transformation as it evolves into a higher film form. Back at the dawn of the film age, the disaster movie was usually a moral fable borrowed from scripture. Then, the atomic era suddenly eclipsed the power of God's wrath and put the onus on government leaders to resolve big problems lest we destroy ourselves. For the past 50 years, the disaster formula remained pretty much unchanged saves for a few gimmicks and a host of new special effects. But with Scott Derrickson's, The Day the Earth Stood Still, we can safely say the disaster movie has turned a page. The shifts may not be obvious when you take in Keanu Reeves as the latter-day Klaatu in the remake of Robert Wise's 1951 classic about an alien visitor, but the signs of an important structural and thematic rethink are all over this moody melodrama as we redefine what it means to be "civilized" in the new millennium. It's not enough to be educated and logical, as it was at the turn of the last century. Once we split the atom, "civilized" had to mean something more, and so moral justice and compassion became part of the bargain -- because that's what separated us from the Blobs and Things out to get us, not to mention the Hitlers and the Stalins. The original The Day the Earth Stood Still explored this new concept of "civilization" by questioning our violent nature and frequent acts of war. Reeves delivers the line without any expression whatsoever, and for the first time in his long career, that's a good thing. The blank face makes it all matter-of-fact instead of emotional and manipulative, which once again, redefines the image of the "civilized being.“ Klaatu is not fazed by incendiary rhetoric so beloved by politicians. When a presidential emissary calls Earth "our planet," Klaatu can only shrug and say "Your planet?" There is no such thing as ownership of a life-sustaining cosmological anomaly like Earth in this new disaster scenario. If we are to survive, we must see the planet as a gift -- not an entitlement. It's a subtle shift, but one that's well-tailored to our modern paranoia, ensuring this remake is more than a retread.
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