Tag Archives: Kate Winslet

Movie 43

COMEDY. EXPOSED. 

movie43It’s unbelievable that so many talents would be willing to work on and off on this collection of raunchy sketches for ten years and come up with so little. The title has nothing to do with the movie itself and there doesn’t seem to be much of a theme, even though Peter Farrelly’s influence might be the most discernible. A few vaguely amusing ideas are buried in some of the sketches, but the sight you’re likely not to forget is that of Hugh Jackman with a pair of testicles hanging off his chin.

2013-U.S. 94 min. Color. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Brett Ratner, Jonathan Van Tulleken. Cast: Elizabeth Banks (Amy), Kristen Bell (Supergirl), Halle Berry (Emily), Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Gerard Butler… Bobby Cannavale, Common, Kieran Culkin, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Greg Kinnear, Johnny Knoxville, Justin Long, Seth MacFarlane, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Chris Pratt, Dennis Quaid, Liev Schreiber, Seann William Scott, Tony Shalhoub, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet.

Trivia: George Clooney was allegedly considered for an appearance.

Razzies: Worst Picture, Director, Screenplay.

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Titanic: A Wreck Comes Alive

NOTHING ON EARTH COULD COME BETWEEN THEM. 

titanicTwentieth Century Fox wasn’t sure about letting James Cameron make an epic movie about the 1912 sinking of Titanic – especially since the director wanted it to be a romance. In other words, there would be no box-office-friendly terminators or aliens on this voyage. Fox eventually agreed to promote the film, because after all this was James Cameron. He became obsessed with every detail surrounding Titanic, going so far as to organizing several dives to the actual wreck, which lies on the bottom of the North Atlantic 12,000 feet down. Footage of the wreck is included, which is just one of many fascinating parts of a film that ended up receiving 11 Oscars, tying the record of Ben-Hur (1959).

In April 1912, the greatest luxury ocean liner in the world, Titanic, leaves Southampton for New York City on its maiden voyage. Among the first-class passengers are Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), her fiancé Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) and her mother (Frances Fisher); among the third-class passengers are Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), an artist who won the ticket in a card game. Rose is not happy about her situation, since she’s only marrying Cal to secure the financial future of her family. One evening, she finds herself considering suicide by jumping from the stern, but Jack intervenes and discourages her. When Cal spots them, Rose tells him that she fell and was rescued by Jack – who’s promptly invited to dine with the family. It doesn’t take long though for Rose and Jack to become smitten with each other…

The casting of DiCaprio and Winslet was a key part of why this movie became a huge phenomenon and box-office success in 1997; the magic is there, as the actors still trigger excitement every time they appear together. Jack and Rose’s romance is entirely fictitious, but the actors bring it to life with great assistance from Cameron and cinematographer Russell Carpenter who stage a few lovely romantic moments, especially the one that takes place at the ship’s bow; the Céline Dion song and James Horner’s music score are other obvious ingredients that win our hearts. Horner also expertly makes our hearts race from the moment that Titanic hits the iceberg until it finally sinks, because this isn’t only a romantic epic but a very action-filled spectacle. Watching the film in crisp Bluray quality today shows how the CGI effects have aged, but it was a technical marvel in its day – and still holds one’s attention, making us understand some of the horrors facing the passengers of Titanic. Two previous movies depicted the disaster, Titanic (1953) and A Night to Remember (1958), but neither captured the full extent of what happened in such a jarring and believable way. You can criticize Cameron for writing a melodramatic script that isn’t on the same level as all the technical achievements, but he sure knows how to drive his story forward, creating numerous thrills. Cameron also frames his story with a modern prologue that not only takes us down to the wreck, but introduces us to Rose as an old woman (lovingly played by Gloria Stuart, a movie star in the 1930s), adding stronger emotional impact. Among the supporting cast, Zane and Kathy Bates stand out as the wonderfully intolerable fiancé and the real life “unsinkable” Molly Brown.

Titanic wasn’t easy to make and there have been reports about Cameron’s hard-driving behavior on set, similar to what Ed Harris endured during another water-logged movie, The Abyss (1989). Still, as long as he makes movies like this, no one’s going to complain too much. Least of all Fox.

Titanic 1997-U.S. 194 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by James Cameron, Jon Landau. Written and directed by James Cameron. Cinematography: Russell Carpenter. Music: James Horner. Song: “My Heart Will Go On” (performed by Céline Dion). Editing: Conrad Buff, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris. Art Direction: Martin Laing, Charles Lee. Costume Design: Deborah L. Scott. Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack Dawson), Kate Winslet (Rose DeWitt Bukater), Billy Zane (Caledon Hockley), Frances Fisher, Kathy Bates, David Warner… Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton, Ioan Gruffudd.

Trivia: Rereleased in 3D in theaters in 2012. Cameron also made the documentary Ghosts of the Abyss (2003), where he revisited the Titanic wreck.

Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song, Art Direction-Set Decoration, Costume Design, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects. Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture (Drama), Director, Original Score, Original Song.

Last word: “‘Titanic’ was a situation where I felt, I think, pretty much like the officer felt on the bridge of the ship. I could see the iceberg coming far away, but as hard as I turned that wheel there was just too much mass, too much inertia, and there was nothing I could do, but I still had to play it through. There was no way to get off. And so then, you know, you’re in this kind of situation where you feel quite doomed, and yet you still have to play by your own ethical standards, you know, no matter where it takes you. And ultimately that was the salvation, because I think if I hadn’t done that they might have panicked. They might have pulled the plug. Things would have been very different, the whole thing might have crashed and burned but it didn’t, you know. We held on. We missed the iceberg by that much.” (Cameron, Academy of Achievment)

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Steve Jobs

CAN A GREAT MAN BE A GOOD MAN?

stevejobsThe life of visionary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs becomes, in Aaaron Sorkin’s hands, a play in three acts, each one taking place behind the scenes of a key presentation in 1984, 1988 and 1998. Focus lies on Jobs and a few selected people in his life, and each dialogue-heavy act is colored by Sorkin’s attempt to dig under the skin of the genius who refused to recognize his own daughter. Very intense at times, and done with a sense of humor, with Danny Boyle and his crew giving each period its distinct look and feel, mirroring the advancement of technology. Gets at the core of Walter Isaacson’s lauded biography, but hardly an emotional knock-out, in spite of an excellent cast.

2015-U.S. 122 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Danny Boyle, Guymon Casady, Christian Colson, Mark Gordon, Scott Rudin. Directed by Danny Boyle. Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin. Book: Walter Isaacson. Editing: Elliot Graham. Cast: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Kate Winslet (Joanna Hoffman), Seth Rogen (Steve Wozniak), Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston.

Trivia: The Apple icon was also portrayed in Jobs (2013). Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio were considered as Jobs; David Fincher for directing duties.

Golden Globes: Best Supporting Actress (Winslet), Screenplay. BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress (Winslet).

Quote: “God sent his only son on a suicide mission, but people like him because he made trees.” (Fassbender)

Last word: “What we tried to do was […] to make [the three time periods] as dynamically different and various as possible. But also tell the story within each act. And hope that also we got a sense of forward motion and momentum and the differences. So the first one is a certain edge for the music and the shots are very narrow and we keep it feeling homemade. He did see himself as a pirate. And so it felt like that was an opportunity to work on 16 [mm] again. Bizarre working on it again. It’s not easy to work on it these days. ‘Cause not many places develop it anymore. But it gave a lovely homemade quality to it.” (Boyle, Slash Film)

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Insurgent

ONE CHOICE CAN DESTROY YOU. 

insurgentTris and Four (Shailene Woodley, Theo James) are on the run from Jeanine Mathews (Kate Winslet), while she is trying to find a Divergent with powers strong enough to open a mysterious box. A new director and writers make sure that this sequel to Divergent (2014) has more action and moves faster, but it still gets bogged down after a snappy first hour with a series of simulations that get repetitious. However, interesting themes of courage and cowardice, and the film takes great advantage of its 3D effects in a few well designed action sequences. Woodley is still a compelling lead.

2015-U.S. 119 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Novel: Veronica Roth. Cast: Shailene Woodley (Beatrice “Tris” Prior), Theo James (Tobias “Four” Eaton), Kate Winslet (Jeanine Mathews), Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts… Zoë Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Octavia Spencer, Mekhi Pfifer, Janet McTeer, Ashley Judd.

Trivia: Followed by Allegiant (2016).

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Divergent

ONE CHOICE CAN TRANSFORM YOU. 

divergentAfter a war, Chicago has been walled off and its citizens divided into five factions; teenager Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) chooses which one to belong to and discovers a conspiracy. A dystopian sci-fi adventure targeted at teen girls with a strong female character fighting an authoritarian leader – it’s impossible not to draw comparisons with The Hunger Games, and this one falls short because of its underdeveloped story and leaden pacing. Woodley is good though, and a few scenes stand out, such as a nightly zip-line ride through a post-apocalyptic Chicago.

2014-U.S. 140 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Neil Burger. Novel: Veronica Roth. Cast: Shailene Woodley (Beatrice “Tris” Prior), Theo James (Tobias “Four” Eaton), Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews), Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson… Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Pfifer.

Trivia: Aaron Eckhart was allegedly considered for a role. Followed by two sequels, starting with Insurgent (2015).

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Labor Day

labordayIn 1987, a bleeding man (Josh Brolin) on the run forces a depressed single mom (Kate Winslet) and her 13-year-old son (Gattlin Griffith) to take him home to their house to hide from the police. This set-up turns romantic so fast that there’s no chance we’ll believe in it; of course, the fugitive is a hunk who knows how to bake cakes and fix things around the house. The film never fully recovers from this silliness, which is a shame since it’s a dark story with intriguing flashbacks revealing how Frank and Adele ended up where they are. Good performances are wasted.

2013-U.S. 111 min. Color. Widescreen. Written and directed by Jason Reitman. Novel: Joyce Maynard. Cast: Kate Winslet (Adele Wheeler), Josh Brolin (Frank Chambers), Gattlin Griffith (Henry Wheeler), Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, J.K. Simmons.

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The Greatest Hits of 2014

It’s time for that annual list of this year’s highly anticipated Hollywood films. Here’s 2014 for ya.

JANUARY:

* Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – This reboot of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst cum action hero has Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh (who’s also directing), but the trailer disturbingly shows another variation on the Jason Bourne concept.

* Labor Day – Jason Reitman returns, aided by Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. Unfortunately, what looked like a promising drama has now been dumped in the frigid January slot.

FEBRUARY:

* The Monuments Men – George Clooney directs this story about museum curators and art historians trying to rescue vital pieces of art before Hitler gets his hands on them. Starring Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Daniel Craig. Originally slated for a late 2013 release.

* RoboCop – The remake has Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman. One vital question remains: What’s the point?

Also interesting to note this month: Kevin Costner and Liam Neeson will clash in 3 Days to Kill and Non-Stop, two action thrillers that look pretty similar in style and tone. One likely hit will be Son of God, a movie based on material from The Bible as well as previously unseen footage.

MARCH:

* The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s new movie has a star-studded cast and an intriguing story set between the world wars.

* Grace of Monaco – Another movie originally slated for a late 2013 release, this one is hopefully better than Diana. Nicole Kidman plays the princess.

* Muppets Most Wanted – The Muppets return for a jewel-heist caper. Lots of star cameos, as expected.

* Noah – One can’t help but being intrigued by a Darren Aronofsky movie about the biblical hero. Stars Russell Crowe, and the trailer has Gladiator-esque qualities.

APRIL:

* Captain America: The Winter Soldier – A summer of big blockbusters begins with this Marvel sequel.

 

Sabotage – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to movies has been largely tongue in cheek, but the trailer for this film, directed by David Ayer of End of Watch fame, suggests a different approach.

* Transcendence – Johnny Depp stars in this sci-fi flick about a scientist who downloads his mind into a computer. Directing debut of cinematographer and Christopher Nolan loyalist Wally Pfister.

MAY:

* The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – The sequel looks like it might have the same problems as the first one. On the other hand, the first one was surprisingly good.

* Godzilla – Looks like a tired retread on paper, but director Gareth Edwards and the cast might make a difference. The trailer has the right look.

* X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer tries to unite two franchise threads. Let’s hope it’s better than Star Trek Generations (1994).

JUNE:

* Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise fighting aliens. Again. Directed by Doug Liman.

* How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Could become the animated hit of the summer. DreamWorks will be anxious to make sure that the sequel matches the wonderful original.

* Transformers: Age of Extinction – The last time I made the mistake of giving Michael Bay the benefit of a doubt. This time I’m sure Mark Wahlberg will be lost in a flurry of incomprehensible battles.

JULY:

* Tammy – Melissa McCarthy puts her stardom to the ultimate test, being directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, in a summer blockbuster comedy that has Susan Sarandon playing her alcoholic grandmother.

* Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) has Gary Oldman (but Andy Serkis is still the star). Directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame.

* Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowski Siblings return after Cloud Atlas (2012) with another sci-fi movie, this one starring Mila Kunis.

AUGUST:

* Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel strikes back with another adventure, this one starring among others Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

* Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s follow-up to their 2005 movie. Postponed for a year after its original 2013 release date. Hardly promising.

* The Expendables 3 – I’ll mention this simply because Mel Gibson plays the villain and the cast also has Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer. I guess it has to be seen to be believed.

As a Swede, I have to highlight two world-famous fellow Swedes this month: Lasse Hallström is set to release The Hundred-Foot Journey, a film about an Indian family competing with a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, starring Helen Mirren, and Alexander Skarsgård who’s starring alongside Meryl Streep in Phillip Noyce’s sic-fi drama The Giver.

SEPTEMBER:

* The Equalizer – Another TV show gets a movie adaptation, this one directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington.

OCTOBER:

* Gone Girl – David Fincher adapted the bestseller, with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris set to put the screen ablaze.

* Get On Up – James Brown is the latest music star to get a proper screen biography. Directed by Tate Taylor (of The Help) and starring Chadwick Boseman.

NOVEMBER: 

* Interstellar – Christopher Nolan returns with one of the year’s most highly anticipated sci-fi films. Starring Matthew McConaughey, who’s clearly continuing his current brilliant streak.

* Dumb and Dumber To – Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return after 20 years. Are they getting any smarter?

* Fury – Another film by David Ayer this year (after Sabotage), a war movie set near the end of World War II. Stars Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.

* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Francis Lawrence directs this complex endeavor, where author Suzanne Collins’s book has been chopped into two chapters.

DECEMBER:

* Exodus – Ridley Scott mounts a comeback after the creative abyss known as The Counselor. This biblical epic, starring Christian Bale, looks more like Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

* The Hobbit: There and Back Again – The third and final chapter in Peter Jackson’s insanely protracted franchise

* Annie – Another movie adaptation of the Broadway hit, this time featuring Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis.

* Into the Woods – The Brothers Grimm fairy tales are presented with a twist in this film, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp.

* Unbroken – Angelina Jolie is set to direct this World War II story, which is based on a best-selling book and adapted by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.

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Carnage

A NEW COMEDY OF NO MANNERS.

When their sons get into a fight in school, the Longstreets and the Cowans gather in a Manhattan apartment to discuss the incident… but it soon gets out of hand. Roman Polanski shows once again (as he did with Death and the Maiden (1994)) that plays can be perfect fodder for movies; this is set in one room and the claustrophobia soon gets to us just as it does to these four adults who seem unable to rise above the level of their children. This irony is reinforced by the individuals constantly shifting allegiances as they argue, depending on what nerve they’re hitting. Hysterical at times… but extremely entertaining, and the cast is spellbinding.

2011-France-Germany-Poland-Spain. 80 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Saïd Ben Saïd. Directed by Roman Polanski. Screenplay: Roman Polanski, Yasmina Reza. Play: Yasmina Reza (“God of Carnage”). Cast: Jodie Foster (Penelope Longstreet), Kate Winslet (Nancy Cowan), John C. Reilly (Michael Longstreet), Christoph Waltz (Alan Cowan).

Trivia: Matt Dillon was allegedly considered for a role. Polanski’s son Elvis appears in the opening scene.

Last word: “I don’t think the movie is theatrical. Because what would that be? On the contrary, I think it is highly cinematic. As cinematic as it gets. Just because it’s a confined space doesn’t mean it’s not cinematic. Just because the camera movements are not from thirty-foot cranes swooping over Death Valley and behind the racing stagecoach doesn’t mean it’s not cinematic. Everything affords a little more attention to detail. But, I wonder – and it would be an interesting discussion to entertain for some time – I wonder whether that’s not actually more cinematic than technological efforts to prove the point.” (Waltz, Moviefone)

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Contagion

Nothing spreads like fear.

 

When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a trip to Hong Kong, she’s caught a cold that quickly turns out to be something much worse – and the start of a global pandemic. A good example of hyperlink cinema, where we are introduced to multiple characters and storylines, a jumbled narrative and a worldwide perspective, linked together by a common theme. The filmmakers aim to show what would happen if the most serious pandemic since the Spanish flu strikes and do so in a scientific, matter-of-fact way. Similar to the director’s Traffic (2000); not always successful in its portrayal of the characters, but horrifying and well-conceived.

2011-U.S. 106 min. Color. Produced by Gregory Jacobs, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher. Directed and photographed by Steven Soderbergh. Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns. Cast: Matt Damon (Mitch Emhoff), Gwyneth Paltrow (Beth Emhoff), Laurence Fishburne (Ellis Cheever), Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law… Bryan Cranston, Elliott Gould.

Trivia: Jennifer Connelly was allegedly considered for a part.

Last word: “Scott [Z. Burns] and I were about to go into meet with Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher to close the deal to make a movie about Leni Riefenstahl. They had the Stephen Bach book, which is very good. Scott and I had a really, really interesting take on this, like a very radical interesting take on how to do this, and we were supposed to meet to talk about the pitch, like ‘Here’s what we are going to do.’ And suddenly I go, ‘I don’t want to do this. Nobody is going to go see this.’ I go, ‘We are going to spend twenty-eight million bucks and two years of our lives, and nobody is going to want to see this, not even our friends. I’m not going to do it. I’ve done that. I don’t want to do that again. I’m too old.’ I literally said [to Burns], ‘What else have you got?’ And he goes ‘I want to do an ultra-realistic pandemic film.’ I said, ‘Let’s go pitch that instead,’ and that’s what we did.” (Soderbergh, Ain’t It Cool)

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Mildred Pierce

HAVING IT ALL WOULD COST HER EVERYTHING.

 

mildredpierce11In the early 1930s, the newly divorced Mildred Pierce (Kate Winslet) reluctantly gets a job as a waitress and soon comes up with a way to make a lot of money; her sole motivation is the happiness of her ungrateful, oldest daughter. This miniseries remake of the 1945 film is closer to James M. Cain’s original story and ditches the noir feel in favor of Depression-era realism. The Far from Heaven director is certainly at ease with a melodrama of this type, although the bloated running time tries one’s patience. This is after all a treat, with excellent performances, exquisite period details and a story that paints a juicy portrait of a woman who can do anything – but win the love of her daughter.

2011-U.S. Made for TV. 360 min. Color. Produced by Christine Vachon. Directed by Todd Haynes. Teleplay: Todd Haynes, Jon Raymond. Novel: James M. Cain. Music: Carter Burwell. Cast: Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce), Guy Pearce (Monty Beragon), Evan Rachel Wood (Veda Pierce), Brían F. O’Byrne, Melissa Leo, James LeGros.

Trivia: Originally shown in five episodes.

Emmys: Outstanding Actress (Winslet), Supporting Actor (Pearce). Golden Globe: Best Actress (Winslet).

Last word: “We approached it as a long-form film, but I was aware of making it for a different audience and being respectful of that. It’s not necessarily a film-savvy audience that we’re addressing, it’s people sitting innocently in their living rooms! So I looked at the filmmaking of the ’70s that introduced the mini-series as a really valid dramatic form – a lot were British series that we saw on ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ – and movies that took classic genres and made them feel weirdly connected to the moment. Films like ‘The Godfather’, ‘Chinatown’ and ‘The Exorcist’ brought a realism and currency and understatement to their genres that we wanted for ‘Mildred Pierce’.” (Haynes, Time Out)

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Revolutionary Road

 

revolutionaryroadDirector Sam Mendes returned to American Beauty (1999) territory with this compelling adaptation of Richard Yates’s landmark novel that addressed a crisis in marriage at a time when it was not quite socially acceptable to talk about what might go on behind the façade of idyllic 1950s suburbia. Mendes brought his wife Kate Winslet along for the ride and she reunited with her Titanic (1997) co-star Leonardo DiCaprio as a young married couple who raise a family while also trying to handle resentment, shattered dreams and fresh hopes at the same time. Depressing and claustrophobic, but very well-acted and emotionally stirring.

2008-U.S.-Britain. 119 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Bobby Cohen, John Hart, Sam Mendes, Scott Rudin. Directed by Sam Mendes. Screenplay: Justin Haythe. Novel: Richard Yates. Music: Thomas Newman. Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Wheeler), Kate Winslet (April Wheeler), Kathy Bates (Mrs. Givings), Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour… Dylan Baker.

Trivia: Todd Field was allegedly considered for directing duties; Matt Damon as Frank.

Golden Globe: Best Actress (Winslet).

Last word: “The idea of Leo came to me when I was reading the book. It was pretty obvious in a way. It was a combination of the two actors and the part. Leo’s is an amazing performance. I thought he’d ask: ‘Do I have to be such a jerk?’ But if anything he pushed Frank further towards harshness, weakness and cruelty, and I think that was exciting for him. He’s played a lot of heroic characters, or troubled people with a gun in his hand, but I don’t think he’s ever played a father, or someone who felt his life has passed him by. He and Kate have a chemistry that’s so great. They’re like brother and sister. I didn’t have to create a relationship. There was one already there.” (Mendes, Cinema.com)

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The Holiday

theholidayAmanda and Iris (Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet) agree to change homes over Christmas; in Surrey, England Amanda runs into the charming Graham (Jude Law), and in L.A. Iris socializes with the Hollywood community. Nancy Meyers’s romantic comedies are usually overlong and feature at least one out-of-place slapstick scene… but she knows how to make them warm and romantic in an irresistible Hollywood way. The two female stars are radiant and overcome the flaws of this simple script. Meyers focuses a lot on aging in Hollywood, which is interesting, but a topic that might have needed its own movie.

2006-U.S. 135 min. Color. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers. Cast: Cameron Diaz (Amanda Woods), Kate Winslet (Iris Simpkins), Jude Law (Graham Simpkins), Jack Black (Miles), Eli Wallach, Edward Burns… Rufus Sewell, John Krasinski. Cameos: Dustin Hoffman, James Franco, Lindsay Lohan.

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Eternal Sunshine: Thanks for the Memories

YOU CAN ERASE SOMEONE FROM YOUR MIND. GETTING THEM OUT OF YOUR HEART IS ANOTHER STORY.

 

eternalsunshineScreenwriter Charlie Kaufman must have been pretty happy with his work after the success of Being John Malkovich (1999) and Adaptation. (2002). His friend Pierre Bismuth, a performance artist, had also given him an idea for another screenplay that would play around with conventions. The two friends and director Michel Gondry (who had turned a previous script by Kaufman into the film Human Nature (2001)) worked on the idea together. Gondry’s adaptation of the screenplay became his breakthrough, a confusing but vivid and entertaining fantasy.

Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) once had a fling. They’re quite different from one another; Joel is a discreet guy who doesn’t like parties but Clementine is spontaneous and impatient (the color of her hair is something she feels a need to change on a regular basis). After one of their fights, Clementine does an impulsive thing. She goes to a company called Lacuna that offers the possibility of erasing memories and has Joel erased from her mind. Lacuna has an obligation to inform those who have been erased from other people’s memories; when they tell Joel, he’s hurt and decides to do the same thing. As the procedure begins at Lacuna, Joel has second thoughts. Unable to stop the process, he actively does his best inside his mind (together with Clementine) to sabotage Lacuna’s work and save the memories. Meanwhile, the people performing the procedure learn a few lessons themselves about the consequences of their technology.

Told in nonlinear fashion
The title was borrowed from an Alexander Pope poem about a tragic love affair and one purpose of the film is to show how false that eternal sunshine is. We need our memories, both good and bad, because they are what shape us as human beings. That is what Joel and Clementine discover, but also that Lacuna’s procedure is pointless; the lead characters live in the same city and are bound to bump into each other… and fall in love again. The story is told in a nonlinear fashion and it is up to the viewers to piece everything together; it kind of works because the experience is close to the confusing feelings Joel experiences when he enters his memories of Clementine and tries to save them. It’s all very clever and pretty engaging, including the subplot where the Lacuna assistant Mary (Kirsten Dunst) discovers the embarrassing downside to erasing memories. The technical aspects are all excellent; cinematographer Ellen Kuras delivers striking images inside Joel’s head. Carrey (who also appeared in the somewhat similar The Truman Show (1998)) plays against type as a button-down guy; he’s very good and so is Winslet. This is a couple you want to see overcome differences, but at the same time you realize that they may not be destined for each other at all.

What prevents me from giving the film a higher rating is that this is one of those intelligent, original pieces of art that I admire but don’t really love. The filmmakers seem a little too busy with all the cool ideas and give us little time to actually fall in love with the central couple and their plight. Still, you can feel the emotions trying to overcome the film’s obstacles.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004-U.S. 108 min. Color. Produced by Anthony Bregman, Steve Golin. Directed by Michel Gondry. Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman. Cinematography: Ellen Kuras. Editing: Valdis Oskarsdottir. Cast: Jim Carrey (Joel Barish), Kate Winslet (Clementine Kruczynski), Kirsten Dunst (Mary), Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson.

Trivia: Nicolas Cage was allegedly considered for the part of Joel.

Oscar: Best Original Screenplay. BAFTA: Best Original Screenplay, Editing.

Last word: “[Gondry and I] pitched this idea several years before Chris Nolan came out with [‘Memento’]. I was delayed writing it because I had to write the movie that became ‘Adaptation’ first. And then I was producing ‘Human Nature’, which Michel was directing. Plus it was very hard to write for me. There was a moment when suddenly people started talking about this movie ‘Memento’ when I totally freaked out. I thought ‘Oh I can’t do this anymore’, and I called Michel and said ‘I am not doing it’, then we called Steve Golin and said ‘we’re not doing it’. Steve Golin was very angry and said ‘You are doing it!’ So we did it. I wasn’t influenced by ‘Memento’ except in that way. I have never seen ‘Total Recall’ but I’ve read a lot of Philip K. Dick stories and books, and I don’t think that was a direct influence on this, but I certainly like his work.” (Kaufman, DVDTalk)

4 kopia

 

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