We are nearing the end of the DVD release dates for Oscar winners. Still Alice was released last week. American Sniper – the final big film gets released on Tuesday, May 19th. Julianne Moore won the coveted Best Actress award for her portrayal of Alice Howland, a linguistics professor who is diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s at age 50. Based on the novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is Moore’s tour de force. She is reflective, nuanced, and brave as we watch her mind and world diminish. Alec Baldwin and Kristin Stewart play Moore’s husband and youngest child. Stewart in particular holds her own beautifully next to a powerhouse Moore. A beautiful, tragic film that will linger with you for days.
Argentine cinema began exporting some remarkable films in the 1970’s starting with 1974’s The Truce and continuing over the next 40 years including the 1985 Oscar winning film The Official Story, nominated film Son of the Bride, second winner The Secret in Their Eyes, and last year’s nominated Wild Tales. In 2000, Argentina sent us the delectable con artist film Nine Queens. From Rotten Tomatoes,
Early one morning Juan is pulling a bill-switching scheme in an all-night deli when Marcos, an apparently innocent bystander, pretends to whisk him off to the police. But Marcos is a con artist, just helping out a new recruit, and he enlists Juan in a plot that he claims will set them up for early retirement. Juan is skeptical at first, but agrees to work with Marcos after he impresses him with a few sophisticated cons. A once-in-a-lifetime scheme then seemingly falls in their laps–an old time con man enlists Juan and Marcos to sell a forged set of extremely valuable rare stamps–The Nine Queens. The tricky negotiations that ensue bring into the picture a cast of suspicious characters including Marcos’ beautiful sister Valeria, their innocent younger brother, Frederico who idolizes Marcus–as well as a slew of thieves, con men and pickpockets. As the action moves from humble barrios to luxury hotels, it soon appears that the city itself is part of an elaborate plot.
Rosewater is based on The New York Times best-selling memoir “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival,” written by Maziar Bahari. The film marks the directorial debut of “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, and stars Gael García Bernal. Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Bahari, a broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship. In June 2009, Bahari returned to Iran to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was the prime challenger to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Mousavi’s supporters rose up to protest Ahmadinejad’s victory declaration hours before the polls closed, Bahari endured personal risk by sending footage of the street riots to the BBC. Bahari was arrested by police, led by a man identifying himself only as “Rosewater,” who tortured and interrogated him over the next 118 days. With Bahari’s wife leading an international campaign to have her husband freed, and Western media outlets keeping the story alive, Iranian authorities released Bahari on $300,000 bail and the promise he would act as a spy for the government.
Before Claire Danes starred in the outstanding Homeland. Before Jared Leto won the Oscar last year for Dallas Buyers Club, there was My So-Called Life. The series debuted in 1994. It lasted only one season. 20 years later it’s considered a modern classic paving the way for more realistic portrayals of teenagers in television. From Wikipedia,
It was the first teen drama that didn’t feel like an after-school special. No one ever learned a very important lesson or uttered the phrase ‘I love you, Dad.’ Angela acted like a real 15-year-old, with all the crying jags and Buffalo Tom concerts that implies. What’s even more impressive is that anyone who watched the show back in the ’90s, when angst and Manic Panic felt totally of the moment, can now enjoy it on a very different level. Suddenly, Angela’s parents are relatable.
The Hunger Games continues its franchise with the first part of the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay. From Lionsgate,
The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the third in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins that has over 65 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
Foxcatcher may not have won any Oscars, but it garnered five nominations as well as snagging an Independent Spirit Award, a Gotham Award, and a whole lot of critic and audience praise this year. From Sony,
FOXCATCHER is a psychological drama directed by Academy Award nominee Bennett Miller (MONEYBALL) and starring Golden Globe winner Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo, Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller. The film was written by E. Max Frye and Academy Award nominee Dan Futterman. FOXCATCHER tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum), who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Ruffalo) and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Carell) to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins “coaching” a world-class athletic team and, in the process, lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral. Based on actual events, FOXCATCHER is a gripping and profoundly American story of fragile men who pinned their hopes for love and redemption on a desperate obsession for greatness that was to end in tragedy.
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity. (C) Sony Classics
All around us buzz of genre-bending, genre-busting, genre mash-up, genre-mooshing abounds. You definitely see it in our One Book One Town (OBOT), Station Eleven. In film it’s often difficult to give a movie just one description – hence the term dramedy for a comedy with drama or a drama with comedy. First time director James Ward Byrkit gives us just that – a genre mash-up of Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Drama in his indie film Coherence. From Rotten Tomatoes,
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film whose tension intensely ratchets up as its numerous complex mysteries unfold.
Lots of wonderful forces collide to bring to life the adaptation of Elizabeth Stout’s best-selling novel Olive Kitteridge. Frances McDormand (Fargo) executive produced and stars in the title role for HBO along with Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under). Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), explaining this film can be a pretty hard sell. McDormand’s Olive is a feisty, no-nonsense – ok I’ll say it – nasty woman who barrels through life taking no prisoners. That said, the nuance in performances especially with Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, she is a hard-shelled woman, but there is humanity underneath her rough exterior. She pays attention to life and people around her get second chances as a result. Olive Kitteridge proves once again what a dynamic and versatile actor McDormand is.