Cleaning Out The DVR #37: A Room With A View (dir by James Ivory)


(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by the end of today!!!!!  Will she make it?  Keep following the site to find out!)

Room_with_a_View

Poor Cecil Vyse.

The 1986 film A Room With A View is a love story.  It’s about a young woman who meets a young man in Florence, Italy and then, upon returning to England, she discovers that the same young man and his father are now her neighbors.  From the minutes they meet, it’s obvious that the young man and the young woman are destined to be together.  The only thing that’s standing in their way is the strict culture of conformity of Edwardian England.  That and the fact that the young woman is engaged to Cecil Vyse.

Cecil represents the establishment.  He comes from a good family.  He’s well-educated.  He talks about the right subjects.  He holds all the right opinions.  He’s not an exciting man but he’s a good man who is destined to have successful but not very interesting life.  From the minute that we meet him, we know that our heroine is not meant to stay with Cecil.

And it’s heart-breaking because the film goes out of its way to show that Cecil is not a bad person.  In his own befuddled way, he’s one of the most likable people in the entire film.  He may not have an interesting mind but he does have a good heart.  When the moment comes that Cecil’s heart is broken, the film treats him with respect.

Of course, it helps that Cecil was played, in one of his first roles, by Daniel Day-Lewis.  Day-Lewis plays the role with a quiet dignity.  Instead of just turning Cecil into a mere nuisance that has to be pushed out of the way in the name of love, Day-Lewis emphasizes Cecil’s humanity.  There’s a quiet scene where the recently heart-broken Cecil ties his shoes that is an example of truly great acting.

As for the two young lovers, Lucy Honeychurch is played by Helena Bonham Carter while George Emerson is played by Julian Sands.  Both of them are achingly beautiful and, even more importantly, they both look as if they belong in Edward England and with each other.  Still, seeing this film today, it takes a little while to adjust to seeing both Bonham Carter and Sands playing such … normal characters.  We’re so used to seeing Helena killing people in Tim Burton movies that it’s nice to see her getting to rather sweetly fall in love for once.

The entire film is full of great British actors, all at their best.  Denholm Elliott plays George’s father and gets to deliver a rousing defense of both true love and free thought.  Maggie Smith plays Lucy’s overprotective aunt while Rosemary Leach is Lucy’s supportive mother.  And then you’ve got Simon Callow as an eccentric vicar.  (Because every British film needs an eccentric vicar.)  Lucy’s younger brother is played by an actor named Rupert Graves and he’s so adorable that I kind of found myself wishing that he could have had a spin-off movie of his own.

A Room With A View is a wonderfully romantic film, one that I could easily see myself spending days just watching over and over again.  A Room With A View was nominated for best picture but it lost to the far less romantic Platoon.

(For those following at home, I now have one more review to go to reach my goal of reviewing 38 films in 10 days!)

Here Are The Golden Globe Nominations And Did You Know The Martian’s A Comedy?


The_Martian_film_poster

Did you know that The Martian was a comedy?

Well, no, actually it’s not.  It’s a very serious film that has a few comedic moments.  Matt Damon makes a few jokes but that’s largely because he’s trying not to lose his mind and commit suicide.  However, The Martian was submitted to the Golden Globes as a comedy.  Why?  Probably because the producers realized that it would be easier for them to win if their film was the only big-budget drama nominated in the comedy category.  It’s dishonest, it’s unethical, and it totally worked.  This morning, when the Golden Globe nominations were announced, The Martian was nominated for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical.

I was not a particularly huge fan of The Martian to begin with.  The fact that it has now been nominated for Best Comedy while Inside Out was not does not help matters.

Anyway, as for the rest of the Golden Globe nominations … actually, I like a lot of them.  Mad Max: Fury Road was nominated for Best Picture, Drama and that should help it regain whatever momentum it may have lost after not being nominated by the SAG.  The Big Short was also nominated for Best Picture, Comedy so I guess I really will have to see it, despite having no desire to do so.  Trumbo was not nominated for Best Picture but it did pick up nominations for Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren.  Spotlight was naturally nominated for best picture but received no acting nominations, which means that either all the actors are splitting the votes among themselves or maybe Spotlight, while remaining the front-runner, is not as universally loved as some are thinking.  It’s impossible for me to say because I haven’t seen Spotlight yet but I have noticed that a lot of critics seem to be more respectful than enthusiastic about it.

(At the same time, my friend, the sportswriter Jason Tarwater, was quite enthusiastic after seeing Spotlight and I usually trust his opinion on these things.)

Anyway, here are the Golden Globe Film nominations!

Best Picture (Drama)

Best Picture (Musical or Comedy)

Best Director – Motion Picture

Best Actor (Drama)

  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
  • Will Smith – Concussion

Best Actress (Drama)

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Best Actor (Musical or Comedy)

Best Actress (Musical or Comedy)

  • Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
  • Amy Schumer – Trainwreck
  • Melissa McCarthy – Spy
  • Maggie Smith – The Lady in the Van
  • Lily Tomlin – Grandma

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Best Screenplay

Best Original Score

 

Best Original Song

Best Foreign Language Film

  • The Brand New Testament (Belgium)
  • The Club (Chile)
  • The Fencer (Finland)
  • Mustang (France)
  • Son of Saul (Hungary)

Best Animated Feature

Here Are The Very Confusing SAG Nominations!


Spotlight

The nominees for the SAG Awards were announced earlier today!  The SAG Awards are usually one of the more accurate of the various Oscar precursors.  Because so many members of the Academy are also members of the Screen Actors Guild, the SAG Awards are usually a pretty good indication of what films are on the Academy’s radar and which ones aren’t.  Occasionally, an actor will be nominated by SAG and then snubbed by the Academy.  Last year, for instance, SAG nominated Jake Gyllenhall for Nightcrawler, Jennifer Aniston for Cake, and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent.  None of those three received any love from the Academy.  But, for the most part, SAG is one of the most reliable precursors out there.

And that’s why so many of us are in shock today!  The SAG Awards in no way resembled what many of us were expecting.  Other than Spotlight, none of the film’s that many of us expected to be nominated for best ensemble (the SAG’s equivalent of the Academy’s best picture) were nominated (and even Spotlight only received one other nomination, for Rachel McAdams who, up to this point, hasn’t really figured into the Oscar discussion).  The Martian was not nominated for best ensemble or anything else for that matter.  Creed was totally snubbed.  Brooklyn was nominated for actress but not ensemble.  Mad Mad: Fury Road was nominated for its stunt work and nothing else.  Helen Mirren received two nominations, for films that hardly anyone (outside of the SAG, obviously) was really paying any attention to.  Sarah Silverman received a best actress nomination for I Smile Back, which I hadn’t even heard of until about a week ago.  It’s an unexpected and strange group of nominees.

Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the nominees are unexpected.  Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton will both receive deserved boosts in their hunt for Oscar gold.  At the same time, I have to admit that I wasn’t happy to see either The Big Short or Trumbo nominated for best ensemble because I know I’m going to feel obligated to see them and they both look so freaking tedious and blandly political!  But consider this: if The Big Short and Trumbo are both huge Oscar contenders, we may face a situation where both Jay Roach and Adam McKay are nominated for best director in the same year.  I think that’s one of the signs of the apocalypse and, at this point, I’m kind of ready to welcome the end of the world.

Anyway, here are the SAG nominations!  Look them over and, after the Golden Globe nominations are announced tomorrow, update your Oscar predictions accordingly.

Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  • Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Helen Mirren – Trumbo
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Best Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

  • Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
  • Jon Hamm – Mad Men
  • Rami Malek – Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
  • Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

  • Claire Danes – Homeland
  • Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder
  • Julianna Marguilles – The Good Wife
  • Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
  • Robin Wright – House of Cards

Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Key and Peele
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Transparent
  • Veep

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Ty Burrell – Modern Family
  • Louis CK – Louie
  • William H. Macy – Shameless
  • Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
  • Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
  • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
  • Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
  • Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series

  • Idris Elba – Luther
  • Ben Kingsley – Tut
  • Ray Liotta — Texas Rising
  • Bill Murray – A Very Murray Christmas
  • Mark Rylance – Wolf Hall

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series

Best Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

  • Blacklist
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • Marvel’s Daredevil
  • The Walking Dead

I Got Your Golden Globes Right Here…


We’re halfway through Oscar season and that means that it’s time for the Golden Globes to weigh in.  To be honest, I think the Golden Globes are somewhat overrated as an Oscar precursor.  For the most part, the Golden Globes usually honors the films that are on everyone’s radar and then they come up with one or two nominations that nobody was expecting.  However, those surprise nominations rarely seem to translate into anything once it comes to time to announce the Oscar nominations.

So, while Salmon Fishing In The Yemen did receive a few surprise nominations (and those nominations were deserved, by the way), I doubt that we’ll see the movie mentioned on January 10th when the Oscar nominations are announced.

From the reaction that I’ve seen on the usual awards sites,  a lot of the usual suspects are upset that Beasts of the Southern Wild was completely snubbed.  Actually, they’re not just upset.  They’re about as outraged about this as they were when The Social Network lost best picture to King’s Speech.  The way they’re carrying on, you would think that someone had just informed them that David Fincher’s version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a thoroughly unneccessary rehash of an already brilliant film.  Seriously, the facade of Stone has fallen and tears are being shed.

Myself, I’m more annoyed that neither The Cabin In The Woods nor Anna Karenina are getting the love that they deserve.

Anyway, with all that in mind, here are the Golden Globe nominations!

BEST DRAMA
“Argo”
“Django Unchained”
“Life of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST DRAMA ACTOR
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Richard Gere, “Arbitrage”
John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone”
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock”
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
Rachel Weisz, “The Deep Blue Sea”

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL PICTURE
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
“Les Miserables”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL ACTOR
Jack Black, “Bernie”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook,”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
Ewan McGregor, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
Bill Murray, “Hyde Park on Hudson”

BEST COMEDY/MUSICAL ACTRESS
Emily Blunt, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Judi Dench, “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Maggie Smith, “Quartet”
Meryl Streep, “Hope Springs”

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 
Alan Arkin, “Argo”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Django Unchained”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Amy Adams, “The Master”
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy”

BEST DIRECTOR
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST SCREENPLAY
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Argo”
“Django Unchained”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Lincoln”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
“Anna Karenina”
“Life of Pi”
“Argo”
“Lincoln”
“Cloud Atlas”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“For You” from “Act of Valor”
Music by: Monty Powell, Keith Urban Lyrics by: Monty Powell, Keith Urban

“Not Running Anymore” from “Stand Up Guys”
Music by: Jon Bon Jovi Lyrics by: Jon Bon Jovi

“Safe and Sound” from “The Hunger Games”
Music by: Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, T Bone Burnett Lyrics by: Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, T Bone Burnett

“Skyfall” form “Skyfall”
Music by: Adele, Paul Epworth Lyrics by: Adele, Paul Epworth

“Suddenly” from “Les Miserables”
Music by: Claude-Michel Schonberg Lyrics by: Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg

BEST ANIMATED FILM 
“Brave”
“Frankenweenie”
“Wreck-it Ralph”
“Rise of the Guardians”
“Hotel Transylvania”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM 
“The Intouchables”
“Amour”
“A Royal Affair”
“Rust and Bone”
“Kon-Tiki”

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (dir. by David Yates)


Well, we all knew it would have to end someday and now, it’s over.  The Harry Potter film series, which began way back in 2001, is concluding right now in a theater near you.  On Friday night, me, Jeff, my sister Erin, and our friend Evelyn went down to the AMC Valley View and we saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. 

The cinematic story of Harry Potter is over and yes, I did cry as I watched it end.  I didn’t just cry because of the movie, though the movie itself is one of the best of the year and it has one of those wonderful endings that just makes it impossible to remain dry-eyed.  No, I cried because — with this film — an era of my life is truly over.  

When the first Harry Potter film came out, I was only 16 and still trying to deal with the fact that I had been diagnosed as being bipolar just a few weeks earlier.  I felt alone and broken and destined to spend the rest of my life on the outside looking in.  The three hours that I spent watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were three hours when I didn’t have to worry about suddenly bursting into tears and having everyone around me worrying about whether or not I was actually taking my hated medication.  For three hours, I could escape to another world where those who were different were celebrated precisely because they were different.  For three hours, I could imagine that just maybe I had a special purpose for existing too and maybe I had benevolent wizards and witches looking out for me too.  And I’m sorry if all that sounds trite in retrospect but, when you’re 16 and you think you’re too damaged to love, anything that gives you hope and pleasure in the present is a precious treasure.

Over the years, I eventually came to realize that being bipolar was hardly a curse and, as I matured and grew up and discovered new things, there was always a Harry Potter film either playing or about to come out.  Whether I was escaping high school, graduating college, or dealing with just every good or bad thing that makes up life, Harry Potter — this character who I first met (in book form) when I was 13 — was always there.  So, at the risk of sounding overdramatic, the end of Harry Potter is the end of a chapter of my life.

One final personal note: As I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two, I had three dolls (or action figures, as boys insist on calling them) in my purse.  These dolls — Harry, Hermione, and Ron — came out around the same time as the second Harry Potter film and my mom (who collected dolls) ordered them off of Ebay three years ago, shortly before she entered the hospital for the final time.  Now, my mom was not a huge fan of the Harry Potter series but she knew that I loved it and that’s why she made those dolls her final gift to me.

And those are some of the reasons why I found myself crying as I watched the finale of Harry Potter.  However, there’s another reason why I cried and that’s that this is just a great film and the perfect conclusion to the series.

Essentially, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two starts up immediately after the conclusion of Part One.  Dobby is dead, Lord Voldemort (a wonderfully neurotic Ralph Fiennes) and the Death Eaters are intent on destroying everything, and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, wonderful as always) is in charge of Hogwarts.  After spending the first part of Deathly Hallows as fugitives, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) return to Hogwarts to take a final stand against Voldemort.  Things end in a surprisingly bloody battle (this film is not for children) that leaves several characters dead and ultimately reveals that one wizard wasn’t the saint we always assumed he was while another is revealed to be the secret hero of the entire series.

Let’s get one question out of the way right now: will non-Harry Potter fans be able to follow this film?  Uhmmm…no.  Sorry.  Then again, why would a non-Harry Potter fan be at a film called Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part Two anyway?  I mean, seriously, if you’re just going to film because everyone else is doing it than who are you to bitch anyway?  This is what you non-Harry Potter fans need to do.  Stop reading this review.  Go watch the previous Harry Potter films.  Watch them in order.  Take your time because Deathly Hallows is going to be in theaters for a while.  And then, once you’ve become immersed in the story, go see how it all concludes.  And then come back here and read rest of this review.

Okay, so is everybody up to date?

Cool.

One of the more interesting features of the Harry Potter series is that so many different directors (each with his own definite, individual style) have been involved in bringing these films to the screen.  Among Harry Potter fans, hours can literally be spent debating the merits (and weaknesses) of Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and David Yates.  My own theory is that each director was perfectly suited for each film he directed.  The audience-friendly vision of Chris Columbus was what the first two films needed, just as Prisoner of Azkaban needed Cuaron’s far darker vision and Mike Newell’s attention to character made Goblet of Fire one of the best of the Harry Potter films.  And while David Yates may not be as well-known (or critically acclaimed) as Newell or Cuaron, he brings exactly the right tone to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a perfect combination of spectacle and humanity.  It is to Yates’ credit that the scenes in which the characters simply talk to each other are just as compelling as the dramatic sequences where Voldemort and the Death Eaters attack Hogwarts.  Yates understands that this material could easily come across as silly or childish and to his credit, he never allows the audience to simply dismiss this film as a lot of blathering about wands and CGI magic.  As opposed to other directors who have given us summer blockbusters, Yates takes his film seriously.

And, fortunately, so does his cast.

One of the great pleasures of the Harry Potter series is that it’s given American audiences the chance to discover (and rediscover) some of the great British character actors and a lot of them show up (some for only a matter of minutes) here in the finale.  Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Gary Oldman, John Hurt, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, and Jason Isaacs all put in appearances.  Kelly MacDonald has a great scene playing a ghost, Helena Bonham Carter is perfect as the evil Bellatrix Lestrange, and Alan Rickman is brilliantly ambiguous as Severus Snape.  (And yes, Snape’s actions are explained in this film and yes, I did cry.)

Ralph Fiennes plays so many villains that I now find myself expecting him to show up killing people in every movie I see.  He’s like a British Christopher Walken.  Still, it’s easy to take an actor like Fiennes for granted.  For the entire Harry Potter series to work, Lord Voldemort can’t just be an ordinary villain.  He’s got to be the sum total of all things evil and deadly.  You’ve got to believe that people would be scared to speak his name.  Great heroes need a great villain and Fiennes’ Voldermort is a great villain.

Ultimately, however, the true credit for the success of the Harry Potter series belongs to three actors who have literally grown up on the movie screen — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.  The producers are fortunate indeed that the cute kids that they cast over a decade ago have all grown up to be talented, attractive, and likable actors.  If the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows seemed to showcase both Grint and Watson (almost to Radcliffe’s expense), part 2 is most definitely centered on Harry Potter.  That doesn’t mean that Watson and Grint aren’t good in this film.  They are and they get to share one of the best movie kisses of 2011.  (As well, for those who keep count, Grint says “Bloody Hell,” three times in the film.)  But, for obvious reasons, this film is all about Harry and Radcliffe’s performance as Harry.  It’s a challenge for Radcliffe and it’s a challenge that he more than succeeds at conquering.  As the film ended, I realized that I was sad to know that the adventures of Harry Potter were done but I was excited to see what the future will hold for Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson. 

Incidentally, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has been released in both 3-D and 2-D.  We saw the 3-D version and if you have any knowledge of how I feel about 3-D (and how motion sick I tend to get while watching 3-D films) then that should show you just much I love the Harry Potter series.  I loved it so much that I was even willing to overlook my hatred of 3-D.  The 3-D here (which was added after the film has already been filmed) doesn’t really add much to the movie.  There were a few cool moments where I was all like, “Look, I can reach out and grab a piece of Voldemort,” but otherwise, the 3-D was a negligible factor as far as the overall film was concerned.

Still, there was one interesting thing about the 3-D.  The theater we saw the movie in was half-way empty.  At the same time, the neighboring theater — in which the 2-D version was playing — had a line of people waiting to get in.  They were not only waiting to see the 2-D version, they were waiting to see a showing that wouldn’t even begin until a full 90 minutes after the 3-D version started.  I mention this because, in the wake of Avatar, so many people have taken it for granted that 3-D is the future of movies and soon, as long as a film is in 3-D, we won’t have to worry about the difficult stuff like an interesting plot or compelling characters.  However, 3-D has become an overexposed gimmick.  For every film like Cave of Dreams that uses 3-D to craft an actual artistic statement, there’s a 1,000 films like Priest which use 3-D just because it’s an easy way to trick sucks into spending an extra dollars to see a crappy film. 

What so many filmmakers seem to forget is that the majority of film goers are not looking for 3-D.  We’re just looking for a good film.  And sometimes — like with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — we get lucky and we find a great film.

(Oh, and one last thing: I know everyone always expects me to claim to be just like Hermione but actually, I’ve always related more to Ginny Weasley.  Like her, I’m the youngest of four siblings, I’ve got red hair, and I always get my man, in the end.)