I will be honest upfront: I find that I like biopics, especially those based on individuals who have to overcome tremendous obstacles. I am also a sucker for “un-actor-like” roles…meaning the actor or actress plays someone 360 degrees from their own self. But (and this is the very big stipulation) only if done well. Very well. Read more »
Posts Tagged: drama
I saw Whiplash late one night at the end of a three-movie-day before the Oscars in February, so I was tired and my eyelids were fighting me when seeing movie number three. As soon as Whiplash began, sleepiness was the furthest thing from my mind. I was captivated, disturbed, angry, shocked, and afraid. The movie itself is good…not great. But it features two stellar performances by Miles Teller as the student and especially by J.K. Simmons (who went on to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, in addition to every other award under the sun) as the brutal and almost maniacal teacher.
A strong, moving family drama set around an Italian-American family who has issues dealing with the outside world and with each other.
Spanning generations, the Grasso family has a lot going on amongst their own family, not to mention trying to get back to Italy for one last visit. The personalities of all of the family members are well-defined and strong in their own way and the way the characters interact with each other is timeless and is reminiscent of typical family relations. Each of the fully developed characters are realistic and engaging. Some family secrets that are hidden for years emerge and there is nothing phony or fake about the repercussions.
Not the best family drama story ever written, but a deeply-engaging story nonetheless.
The book is available for check out at the Niles Public Library!
One of the most beloved and acclaimed movies of the 20th Century, Gone with the Wind is the winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Best Actress winner Vivien Leigh stars as Scarlett O’Hara, who is one of the most timeless characters in cinema history, not to mention one of the prettiest Southern Belles ever. From Margaret Mitchell’s iconic novel on life in the South before, after, and during the Civil War, Scarlett becomes engrained in the American consciousness as the epitome of beauty and selfishness. She spends most of her time pining over a man she can never have (Ashley Wilkes), and when she wins him over, she wants the man she has had all along (the infamous Rhett Butler). Her fickleness comes off mostly as charming – the men in her life understand that this is how she is. And every time she is let down by one of her beaus, her Mammy (Best Supporting Actress winner Hattie McDaniel) is right there to help Scarlett survive. After all, tomorrow is another day!
One of the most talked about new TV shows of 2013 had to be True Detective, HBO’s crime/buddy drama set in backwater Louisiana.
One reason it was so popular is that HBO has the magic touch when it comes to dramas (The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, etc.). Another reason is the cast – two actors (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) star in it, both of whom have normally stuck to feature film roles, especially McConaughey, who in 2013 was having a year actors only dream of, culminating in a Best Actor Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.
The Ides of March and Moneyball are two relatively recent films in which Philip Seymour Hoffman did not star, but rather provided crucial, essential and, as always, very strong supporting performances.
The Ides of March is a film that George Clooney not only stars in but that he also co-wrote and directed. And, really, he’s not the star here. Like Hoffman, Clooney is just a supporting player here. At the heart of The Ides of March is the Ryan Gosling character, Stephen Meyers. Stephen is the crux of this story. He is the pivot which all of the other action and characters revolve around. Stephen is a deputy campaign manager for a presidential candidate (Clooney) who at first seems untouchable. But soon, skeletons appear peeking out of the closets. Stephen finds himself caught in the middle of a potential scandal that could bring down both the campaign and his own career. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the candidate’s senior campaign manager. His time on screen is limited, but as always with Hoffman, his performance is larger than life and full of passion and vigor.
Right off the bat I will say it: NOT MY KIND OF MOVIE. But, oh well, Pirate Radio has a great cast so I thought I would give it a whirl. And, when it began, I almost said I told you so to myself. But, then the plot really kicked in and the characters all came to life right on the screen and boom, before I knew it, I was hooked.
Not by the music (most of which is pretty much the kind of music I like), not by the 60s culture, but by the characters. You REALLY get involved and attached to the characters…all of them. They all have their own quirks that really give each of them panache…and then all of them together give the movie a special touch that resonates with audiences…because they will all know characters like this. In a cast lead by Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (the token American), other British actors including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost and even Oscar-winner and icon Emma Thompson all lend their own spice to add color and vibe to the film that already rock with 1960s British pop.
The third and last (?) in the Richard Linklater directed and Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke starring series, Before Midnight again features more dialogue and banter between characters than plot. But, after three movies, we are used to that and we know these characters so well, we pretty much know what they are going to say and do. Not that this is a good or bad thing…but it’s comfortable. Like an old pair of slippers, these films have charmed us, endeared us, and romanced us. A little refresher on the series: Before Sunrise (1995) is set in Vienna and has Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) meeting on a train and taking a risk by spending the whole day with each other. They talked and walked and laughed and talked and walked and laughed some more. As they fell in love, so did we with them.
I have issue with movies based on real stories where I know the ending…mostly because it kills the suspense. Titanic: No matter how much Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet love each other, the boat will still sink. Marie Antoinette: She tells the French people to eat cake and then she loses her head. Joan of Arc: She inspires France and gets burnt at the sake for her troubles. Now, I know Hollywood takes a lot of liberties with endings (adaptations rarely end exactly as they do in the book or on the stage, etc.) But, even the fickle movie industry would never be so brazen enough to change the ending of a real life tale, right? Titanic 2: It’s Didn’t Sink will never be produced, right? (Well, hopefully!)
So, in Hollywood’s latest string of based-on-real-life movies (Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave), one stands out for me, EVEN THOUGH I was pretty sure I knew how the movie was going to end. Captain Phillips is based on a book by, that’s right, Captain Richard Phillips. Chances are (and I’m just GUESSING here) if he was able to write about his death-defying experience, he most likely survived. Again, I’m JUST guessing. So, what does this tell us…that we know the ending. Darn, another Titanic. But, wait. Not this movie. Captain Phillips is a wild ride, a fast-paced, highly enjoyable thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.