Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscars

The Oscars just took place and this year "Slumdog Millionaire" took over everything. The film swept most of the categories and finally brought acclaim to Danny Boyle (who directed such films as "Shallow Grave", "Trainspotting", "A Life Less Ordinary", "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine"). Another deserving wins were addressed to Sean Penn and the great film that was "Milk" and of course Kate Winslet and her stupendous performance in "The Reader". The ceremony was a lot more dynamic than usual and Hugh Jackman was a great host. For a complete list of the winners click here.

Independent Spirit Awards

The Independent Spirit Awards were given on February 21st and the big winner of the night was the fantastic "The Wrestler". Darren Aronofsky's film won three awards. Also on the winner's list was "Vicky Christina Barcelona" with two wins, one for Woody Allen and another for Penelope Cruz. Check the list of winners here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Movie name: Revolutionary Road
Year of release: 2008
Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, David Harbour, Kathryn Hahn, Kathy Bates, Dylan Baker, Zoe Kazan, Max Casella, Jay O. Sanders
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:
"Revolutionary Road" is the adaptation of a novel from author Richard Yates. It's also Sam Mendes' 4th film, following "American Beauty", "Road to Perdition" and "Jarhead". If his career thus far has been greeted with mixed reviews (from the universal acclaim of his first film, to the mediocre reviews that "Jarhead" achieved), one thing is certain: his films always have the prestige element associated with them. "Revolutionary Road" follows the life of a young couple, Frank and April Wheeler in America, circa 1950s. Frank and April are at a point in their lives where they feel they have compromised their dreams for a reality that is nothing like what they wanted or envisioned. April in particular feels suffocated and envisions a plan for them to escape: move to Europe and start over. Frank embarks on her ideas, but a surprising boost in his career makes their plans go awry with tragic consequences. The film is a dissection of a marriage and of how two people eventually sabotage each other because of their own fears and insecurities. The fact that the film takes place in the 50s, showcases the deconstruction of the perfect superficial look that families had (a bit like Todd Haynes did with "Far From Heaven"). It's nothing exactly new, but what ends up saving the film are the fantastic actors, particularly Michael Shannon who plays John Givings, a man undergoing shock treatments and says what he means as if there's no tomorrow. Kate Winslet does a great job with her character, but this year her performance to remember is in "The Reader". Leonardo DiCaprio continues to focus his intensity, but this time it feels a bit too forced. The film is impeccably photographed, courtesy of Roger Deakins and the score by Thomas Newman is melancholic and touching. Worth watching.

Push

Movie name: Push
Year of release: 2009
Director: Paul McGuigan
Stars: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Cliff Curtis, Ming-Na, Nate Mooney, Neil Jackson
Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4

Synopsis:
"Push" is the new film from Paul McGuigan, following his previous effort "Lucky Number Slevin". The film follows Nick, a young man with unusual abilities who is contacted by young Cassie, in need of help to save her mother. Cassie herself is possessed of special abilities and as the film progresses, we notice that there are plenty of young men and women, all of whom possess these special powers. They are all after a case with a special formula, that was stolen by a young woman named Kira (herself with special powers). The film ends up being a cat and mouse chase where the ultimate goal is to get the case and save Cassie's mother (and themselves). The film drinks directly from the mythology that "X-Men" have created, but where those characters had some depth, here all of the characters are paper thin, and their entire purpose is to support the exhibition of their powers. The film mixes the noirish concept with the superhero theme, and the hybrid ends up falling short. The screenplay is certainly missing the originality that this film needed to gather some more attention. The acting doesn't really help much - Dakota Fanning ends up being the most memorable actor, while everyone else sleepwalks throughout the entire run of the film. A missed opportunity.

Saturday, February 7, 2009