It won’t be a stretch to say Jennifer Aniston was the focus of Cake, so I’ll cut to the chase – She did what she could with a weak script. As Claire, an ex-lawyer suffering from severe chronic pain after an accident, Aniston de-glammed herself (complete with facial scars) and tried to evoke the desperation of an painkiller addict and the bitterness of someone who had pretty much given up on life.
Pride is a below-the-radar UK film exploring an interesting period in the 1980s: A group of London gay activists, in an unusual display of solidarity, supported miners on strike in small Welsh town by collecting donations and organising the “Pits and Perverts” fundraising concert (talk about reality being stranger than fiction).
“Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” (LGSM) felt a kinship with the miners, who were also a marginalised minority facing public humiliation and police violence. Director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford emphasised the dichotomy through comedy (expectedly, some of miners were homophobic and befriending “the gays” seemed ridiculous to them), resulting in a lighthearted atmosphere, which has greater general appeal.
Full disclosure: I’m a HUGE fan of Julianne Moore, one of the most fearless and versatile actresses around. Her most accomplished roles were those with characters who were not “perfect”, or even likable. Moore has the ability to humanise them, making them more relatable.
In Still Alice – a simple but effective film – Moore gave her all to portray a linguistics professor who was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Instead of overplaying the effects of the debilitating disease, Moore chose a more subtle approach where her transformation was felt rather than seen, and hysterics were kept to a minimum.
The Imitation Game is an important film because more people, other than historians and WWII enthusiasts, will learn about Alan Turing and understand his immeasurable contributions that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Turing’s invention of the machine that cracked the German’s Enigma code not only cut the war short, thereby saving millions of lives, but also laid the foundation for modern computing. In fact, we have Turing to thank for many of the conveniences we enjoy as a result of technological advances.
Once in a long while, a film comes along that completely blows me away, and I am reminded why I love cinema. Birdman was one of those moments, when what’s on screen echoed life in a way that transcended definition.
Yes, the uninterrupted one-shot scenes that lasted more than 10 minutes each were impressive from a technical and logistical standpoint (in fact, the whole film was made to look as if it was done in a single shot – brilliant work by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki!), but for me, it was the performances that took my breath away.
What a cast! Edward Norton as the egotistical star threatening to steal the show; Naomi Watts as the nervous actress making her Broadway debut; Emma Stone as a fresh-out-of-rehab daughter struggling to find her footing (Keep an eye out for her incredible monologue. You have a new fan Emma!);
Directed by Korean enfant terrible Bong Joon Ho (“The Host”, “Mother”), Snowpiercer is imaginative science fiction film was adapted from a French graphic novel, “Le Transperceneige”.
Set in a future where mankind has inadvertently turned Earth into a frozen wasteland (the result of the botched plan to counter global warming by releasing a cooling agent into the atmosphere), and a high speed train carried survivors on an endless loop around the world.
The “good lie” was right there on the movie poster. Reese Witherspoon’s involvement was at best a glorified cameo, but I guess one can’t fault Warner Bros. for using her star power to draw audiences into the theatre.
The bigger problem was with the film itself. I do not doubt the filmmaker’s (Director Philippe Falardeau and writer Margaret Nagle) sincerity in shedding light on the plight of Sudanese refugees (often refered to as the “Lost Boys of Sudan”), who fled civil war (1983-2005) and was allowed to enter America through a special immigration program.
(Razlan’s Note: This is the first contributed post by Alex Lou, whom will be guest blogging for You Got Me Blogging for movies he loves to hate and hates to love)
It is perhaps fitting that my first review of 2015 is about one of the most prolific and famous film critics of our time, Roger Elbert in “Life Itself”
There was a time when Siskel and Ebert’s “Thumbs Up” was my guide to selecting movies. As my appreciation for films evolved, that system became too simplistic for me. After Gene Siskel passed on, I continued reading Roger Ebert’s reviews online, and I often found myself disagreeing with his assessment. For example, he gave a gushing, glowing review of “Knowing” (2009), one of the most awful Nicholas Cage movies (and there were SO MANY) I’ve had the misfortune of watching. Opinions aside, I’ve always admired Ebert’s writing – it was clear, cohesive and reflected his passion for movies.
This documentary, based on his memoir of the same name, recounted his career highlights (the successful TV show “Siskel & Ebert & the Movies”, winning the Pulitzer Prize, his “discovery” of Martin Scorsese, etc.) The parts that exposed his ego and his love-hate relationship with Siskel were certainly enlightening, but it was his courage in battling cancer that moved me.