Tag Archives: Viola Davis

Movie Madness

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bicycle messenger in “Premium Rush.”

Just because I haven’t written a movie review since August 20 doesn’t mean that our family hasn’t seen any films. The evidence? Our soon-to-be worn-out AMC Stubs card.

Between the end of August and yesterday, we’ve mostly enjoyed “Sparkle,” “Premium Rush,” “The Words,” “Trouble With the Curve,” “Looper,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Argo,” and “Flight.” Two flicks not included in that list? “Fun Size,” which we saw with the boys when we visited our older son in San Antonio (meh), and “The Expendables 2,” which just might be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Ever! Save yourself the agony and don’t even rent this dud.

Bruce Willis talks to his younger self (Gordon-Levitt) in “Looper.”

Here’s what we learned during those 11 weeks:

1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Premium Rush” and “Looper”) is great in any movie as long as that awful Seth Rogen isn’t involved.

2) Bruce Willis (“Looper”) is wonderful as long as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone (“The Expendables 2”) aren’t involved.

3) Schwarzenegger and Stallone still can’t act.

4) “Won’t Back Down” deserved a better fate. It didn’t do well at the box office, even though it was a worthwhile movie with fine acting by Viola Davis (who will earn an Oscar one day) and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood (as her father) star in “Trouble With the Curve.”

5) We love baseball movies, so we thoroughly enjoyed “Trouble With the Curve.” Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood shone in this daughter-misunderstood father account. I even liked Justin Timberlake in it, but mostly because he’s so cute.

6) The Mister and I saw “Flight” yesterday. I was so glad I had him to hold on to during the realistic, scary plane crash. I hate to fly, so that didn’t help my mindset at all! Although a little too long as well as easily earning its R rating (nudity, drugs, drinking, and many f-bombs), “Flight” is excellent, mostly because of Denzel Washington, who plays the flawed pilot. It really makes you think.

7) Without a doubt, “Argo” was the best movie of the bunch. We were on the edge of our seats the entire time. We almost forgot that Ben Affleck really can’t act . . . almost.

Bradley Cooper. ’nough said!

8) Bradley Cooper’s eyes are so mesmerizing that anything he said or did took a back seat in “The Words.” And in every other movie he’s been in. With this latest flick, as a writer, I was able to relate to his character’s conflict (passing off a manuscript he didn’t write as his own).

In fact, Cooper wrote this blog post!

(Just kidding!)

“The Artist”: Well-deserving of Its Oscars

Not only is “The Artist” in black and white, but it’s mostly silent, too.

Back in 1983 (pre-the Mister), I couldn’t believe that “Gandhi” had beaten out “Tootsie” and “E.T.” for the Academy Award for best picture.

Then I saw it. Yep, it was totally deserving, as was Ben Kingsley as best actor.

I wasn’t about to make another Gandhian (well, it’s in MY dictionary) mistake this year. Which is why I made sure the Mister and I saw “The Artist” just hours before last night’s 84th annual Academy Awards telecast.

After we walked out of the theater (along with the rest of the early-matinee, senior-citizen crowd), three thoughts came to mind:

1) What an amazing movie! So glad we saw it.

2) “The Artist” definitely would win best picture, along with Jean Dujardin in the best-actor category.

3) Too bad the dog, Uggy, wasn’t eligible to win. He was wonderful!

Peppy Miller sticks by George Valentin.

When I explained to the Mister that “The Artist” was a silent movie, he, of course, didn’t want to see it. Perhaps he was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough noise to mask his snoring when he fell asleep during it. But he became just as big a fan of the movie as I did. As he said, it takes a lot of skill to make this kind of film so interesting. Not only was there virtually no talking, but it also was in black and white.

Fortunately, the story about a silent film star (Dujardin as George Valentin) who sees his stock plunge with the advent of talkies in the late 1920s and early ’30s kept our interest from start to finish. You couldn’t help but cheer for George and the perky starlet who not only becomes a megahit but always looks out for George, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo).

The music, which won a well-deserved Oscar for original score, was inspiring. And Uggy, a Jack Russell terrier, was awfully cute.

“The Artist” won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve every seen. Maybe as good as “Gandhi.”

The Oscars

Octavia Spencer poses with Oscar.

There weren’t too many surprises during last night’s Oscar show . . . including that Billy Crystal can’t sing anymore. Remember that 1983 “Gandhi” win? That was the last time that the magnificent Meryl Streep won the golden statuette (“Sophie’s Choice”).

I was torn between Streep and Viola Davis (“The Help”) for best actress. I felt that Davis carried her movie, but Streep was hers (“The Iron Lady”). They were equally deserving; I wish it had been a tie vote. There was no question in my mind, of course, that Dujardin earned his best-acting award. And “The Artist” as best picture? Slam dunk!

I loved that Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) won as best supporting actress. Minny was a tough character, and Spencer played her perfectly. I’m going to Netflix “Beginners” to see if Capt. Von Trapp (aka, Christopher Plummer) deserved to be picked as best supporting actor.

Bret McKenzie (left) and Jemaine Clements during their Flight of the Conchords days.

My younger son, who pretty much ignored the telecast, was thrilled when Bret McKenzie nabbed the Oscar for best original song, “Man or Muppet?” (great tune!). My sons love “Flight of the Conchords,” McKenzie’s short-lived TV show. We just wish Bret had mentioned Jemaine (Clement) in his acceptance speech!

Long Title, Worthwhile Movie

Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) learns to deal with loss and grief.

Do me a favor: Don’t be dissuaded by negative reviews and not see “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” If so, you’ll have missed a unique, surprisingly uplifting experience. It’s a wonderfully acted movie (you can rarely go wrong with Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Tom Hanks, and Jeffrey Wright) that helps us see how people cope with the loss of a loved one and the desire to always stay connected with that person.

Thomas Horn does a terrific job as Oskar Schell, whose beloved father, Thomas (Hanks), dies in the World Trade Center on 9/11. A jeweler, he, unfortunately, was attending a business meeting at Windows on the World on that fateful day. This is Horn’s first acting job; he was discovered when he excelled in Teen Jeopardy.

Oskar shares a strong bond with his dad (Tom Hanks).

Some reviewers are put off by Horn’s character, who probably has Asperger’s Syndrome, complete with all kinds of anxieties and phobias. But that’s how he’s written in the book the film is based on (I’m reading that novel by Jonathan Safran Foer now; it’s really unusual). Oskar’s father wants his son to move out of his “box,” so he gives him reconnaissance expeditions in Central Park that force him to talk to people and solve riddles.

After Thomas Schell’s death, Oskar finds a key hidden in a vase in his dad’s closet. Believing that it’s linked to something his dad wanted him to find, the preteen journeys through New York City’s five boroughs, facing his fears one step at a time. Will the key unlock a way for Oskar to always remember his father?

Mom Linda (Sandra Bullock) comforts her son.

Bullock has the unenviable role as a grief-stricken wife who doesn’t connect as well with Oskar as her husband always did. (I really related to this, because my younger son has such a strong bond with the Mister.) She seems detached from Oskar when he needs her the most. I was dabbing my eyes with a tissue when this was resolved. The ending is simply wonderful.

Go see this fine movie!