hey casual gold star readers out there!!!
I’ve put up a bunch of new categories on the right that let you browse by gold star rating as well as genre.
hope this is helpful!!!
Coming out in just a few hours in Australia (FINALLY!!), I was fortunate enough to make it to an advanced screening last weekend. And having waited a long time for this film, it came out in the US Boxing Day 2006, I was expecting good things…. and I wasn’t disappointed.
THE SET UP? (NB: Possible spoiler alerts – but nothing more than is in the trailer.) Twenty-something Kitty still lives at home determined to not be persuaded into marriage by her family, before eventually she is. Kitty marries Walter, a bacteriologist who is head-over-heels in lurve with her. She just wants to get away from her family. The couple move to Shang-hi (as all newly wed bacteriologists do) and it isn’t long before Kitty gets distracted and has an affair. When Walter finds out he volunteers his services to a cholera-infested remote town deep in China. Kitty is dragged along. Do they forgive each other? Do either of them die? But the most important question, do they grow to love each other?
Edward Norton plays Walter. I’ve always kinda liked Norton’s work but now I have a new appreciation for his amazing acting abilities. He is splendid in this. The audience totally gets Walter, his personality, his character and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Just like Margaret, I never thought of Norton as a romantic lead but he pulls it off with excellence.
I’d like to give next billing to Toby Jones, who plays Waddington, a fellow-Englishman stationed at the remote cholera-ridden village. This guy is a fine actor, who’s acting range is only limited by his physical stature. I really liked him in this. Hopefully he’ll get some more meaty roles!
Liev Schreiber plays the distraction (Charlie). I’m so immature, it makes me giggle to think that Naomi Watts and Schreiber play characters having an extramarital affair in this film and in real life they’ve been together since filming this and have a kid together! He he. Schreiber does the suave playboy thing well. Check out his directorial debut if you haven’t seen it already, Everything is Illuminated (3.5 GOLD STARS).
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM? Breathtaking cinematography. Well-spun dialogue. A beautiful, classic, old-fashioned narrative. And without giving terribly too much away – one of the best love stories I’ve seen in a film, ever. (Okay, that kind of gives everything away – but in my defence, no more than the distribution propaganda.)
WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone really. I saw it with one of my best mates. Probably not your twenty-year old brother. But anyone else. Suggestions …. friends, partners, mothers.
ANY BITS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT? From memory, I think some Chinese drugs and alcohol are involved, but, phhf! Oh, and the mild sexual activity usually involved.
THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS.
At our weekly movie night this week one of our party suggested we watch a western called Tombstone, I was like: never heard of it. Its kind of in that era from 1970-1995 where I was either not born, or not old enough to watch mature movies and then they kind of just disappear off into the abyss. Well we revived one of ’em last night! – To the great enjoyment of us all.
THE SET UP? The Earp brothers – Law men and peace makers retire and head to the silver-mining town of Tombstone to seek fortune and a more relaxed period of life. Along with TB-suffering friend Doc Holliday, the brothers (along with their wives) prosper in the new town but gradually feel compelled to protect the town’s citizens from the cowboys who are the unofficial and violent powers of Tombstone. The results made the Earp brothers, especially Wyatt a legend. The main plot is buoyed by great one liners from Doc and a r(ather annoyingly realised) romance between Wyatt and Josephine Marcus.
A powerhouse ensemble with too many biggies to mention, but notably:
Val Kilmer as Doc – brilliant! If I was ever in doubt as to Kilmer’s acting abilities this totally trashes that.
Dana Delany as Marcus – average, not helped by Russell.
Check out IMDB for full cast.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM? Kilmer’s first-rate performance. The one liners. To have another western in your viewing resume – never a bad thing. The only real negative aspect is the woeful state of the soundtrack (not the music but the SOUNDS – voice, sound effects, etc etc.) but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking out this early 90’s western gem.
ANY BITS? Apart from subtle debauchery, reasonably excessive violence (but not gruesome – the state of the sound effects is likely to grosse you out more), and some addictive substance related behaviour, there’s nothing to worry about. Oh, come on! Its a western! -We all expect a bit of rough-and-tumble-type stuff – its all in context and true to the time.
THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS
Once again this was as film that I had been looking forward to after seeing the trailer on apple months ago. The idea of this young, spunky, blockbuster gold-written-all-over-him male actor continuing to take on various art house roles makes me very happy!!!
THE SET UP? Lars is a shy and reclusive young man who lives in the garage at his brother (Gus) and sister-in-law (Caron)’s house in a small town somewhere in middle america. He pulls away from social interaction where it can be avoided. But a few months later all this changes when Lars brings over a lady-friend (Bianca) he met online to his brother’s house for dinner – oh yes she doesn’t speak much English (only Spanish), she is relatively wheelchair bound and all her luggage got stolen at the airport so she’ll need to borrow some of Caron’s clothes. Gus and Caron are very supportive and excited until it is revealed that Bianca is a lifesize doll – a sex doll.
But sex is the furtherest thing from Lars’ mind – he even insists she stays in the spare room at Gus and Caron’s – Lars just wants a friend. What follows is a delightful exploration of how Lars’ family and community come to terms with his “delusion” and how to (as Gus puts it) “fix him”.
Ryan Gosling – embodies Lars. Gosling is SUCH a talented young actor. He is beautiful as Lars, fleshing out all the complexities and eccentricities we discover about Lars as his story unfolds. I’d even go as far to say oscar worthy (or at least nomination-worthy) but the best Gosling got was a Golden Globe nom.
(I want to put Bianca next, but she’s not given a credit)
Emily Mortimer – Caron. Mortimer continues on her acting journey of “sweet” in this role. I do like her, and its nice to see a different kind of beauty on the screen in this capacity. But I’m yet to see her change her character.
Paul Schneider – Gus. I’ve had a little crush on this actor ever since the little indie film All the Real Girls (check it out!) so its great to see him continuing to pop up in more films approaching the mainstream. His performance is rather perfect as the concerned brother but also as the male who just wants to “fix” the situation and not spend time exploring why Lars has done this (I hope no males take offense at this comment!).
The ever-lovely Patricia Clarkson is Dr. Dagmar, the family’s GP. Ahhh…. she’s just great.
I will also mention Kelli Garner who plays one of Lars’ work colleagues, Margo. Its evident from the start she’s got a bit of a thing for Lars so its interesting to see how things evolve when Bianca shows up in town.
WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? For a vastly different film experience and one that will make you feel good and marvel at brilliant acting and loving community. The script by Nancy Oliver is a treat, with its twists and turns unexpected and beautifully realised by Aussie ex-pat Craig Gillespie.
ANY BITS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT? I must PLEAD with you not to let the fact that this story is primary about a young man’s obsession with a sex doll stop you from seeing this film! (I didn’t help myself just there.) This film always stays above the myriad of connotations that would normally be associated with such a subject – the film’s only rated PG here for goodness sake!
THIS FILM GETS 4 GOLD STARS.