Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All Quiet on the Western Front

Author(s): Connor Campbell
Location: N/A

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Steven Zaillian
Edited by Michael Khan
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Original Score by John Williams
Sound Editing by Gary Rydstrom & Richard Hymns
Sound Mixing by Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson & Ron Judkins

Main Cast

Paul Dano- Paul Baumer
Shia LeBeouf- Albert Kropp
Philip Seymour Hoffman- Stanislaus Katczinsky
Chris Lowell- Leer
Joseph Gordon Levitt- Muller
Emile Hirsch- Tjaden
Wes Bentley- Detering
Peter Sarsgaard- Haie Westhus
Marcia Gay Harden- Maria Baumer (Paul’s Mother)
Vincent D’Onofrio- Peter Baumer (Paul’s Father)
Albert Finney- Himmelstoss
Rene Auberjonois- Kantorek

Tagline: "They lost the war, and so much more"

Synopsis: Germany is fighting the great war and the youth are enlisting in the thousands. Among them, Paul Baumer and his graduating class of 20. Who would they be if they didn’t? Their schoolmaster Kantorek taught them that it was their duty, nothing is greater than fighting for your country. But he had no idea what war really was.

Kropp, the bright one, Leer the ladies’ man, Muller the genius, Tjaden the hungry, Detering the homesick and Westhus the peat digger were among Paul’s closest friends. Their training officer Himmelstoss drilled them endlessly with useless information that they would never use. Then, the time came for them to move out to the western front. There they meet Katczinsky, a 40 year old man who acted as their leader, though he was the same rank. He was very wise and taught the boys how to fight this war. None of them knew what the war was about. They didn’t need to, it was kill or be killed. When the first of their classmates died, they lost faith in their country and became completely indifferent, because if they mourned for the dead, they would fall to pieces.

One by one, Paul’s friends continued to die. Each death he witnessed separated him more & more from his old self. Leer, Muller and Westhus are dead. And during an attack Paul and Albert are seriously injured, and are sent to a catholic hospital. Kropp’s leg is amputated and he has lost all hope and wants to kill himself. If it weren’t for Paul, he would have. Paul, however receives convalescent leave and goes home to meet his family. He gets home and it’s not what he was expecting. He can’t even sit down and have a conversation with his father because he only wants to talk about the war that he knows nothing about. He can only talk to his mother, who desperately needs surgery that they can’t pay for because she is dying of cancer. It is here that Paul realizes he’s been crushed inside.

Paul returns to the front. Everything has fallen apart. They are loosing the war badly. Of the original second infantry, only Katczinsky and Paul are left. Detering tried to run back home and Tjaden was killed in battle. They only have each other. Paul and Kat are injured in an explosion and Paul carries Kat on his back all the way to the nursing station only to find that Kat is dead. Paul is all alone now, by far the oldest in the infantry, at 20.

He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All Quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.

What the Press would say:

Millions of people all over the world have read Erich Maria Remarque’s masterpiece “All Quiet on the Western Front” a novel about a group of young soldiers who lose their faith and question everything they’ve ever been taught. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation, as expected, is breathtakingly beautiful. Paul Dano brilliantly plays Paul Baumer in one of the best performances of the year. Many people have raved about him in past performances like Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood, but this is sure to win him an Oscar ®. Spielberg has brilliantly captured Remarque’s sense of indifference and disillusionment has directed Dano and a remarkable supporting cast of stunning actors to potential Oscar gold. Philip Seymour Hoffman leads the supporting cast as Kat, the older wiser soldier who befriends Baumer and is the current frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actor race. With great performances by Shia LeBeouf as Kropp and a small but memorable performance by Marcia Gay Harden as Paul’s dying mother, this cast is one of the best in recent history. Steven Zaillian is also back on the scene with his best script since Schindler’s List. This movie will totally engross you and make you stop and think about what war really is. I give this film a solid ****/****.

Best Picture
Best Director- Steven Spielberg
Best Actor- Paul Dano
Best Supporting Actor- Philip Seymour Hoffman
Best Supporting Actor- Shia LeBeouf
Best Supporting Actress- Marcia Gay Harden
Best Adapted Screenplay- Steven Zaillian
Best Editing- Michael Kahn
Best Cinematography- Janusz Kaminski
Best Original Score by John Williams
Best Sound Editing by Gary Rydstrom & Richard Hymns
Best Sound Mixing by Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson & Ron Judkins

Angels Weep in Pakistan

Author(s): Ricky
Location: Maryland

"Angels Weep in Pakistan"

Directed by Sofia Coppola
Written by Sofia Coppola

Main Cast

Kate Hudson as Amber Nelson
Diane Keaton as Mrs. Nelson
Tim Robbins as Mr. Nelson
Lewis Alsamari as Nawaz
Aminah Haq as Ayesha
Arnold Vosloo as General Jahman
Shohreh Aghdashloo as Mother Ahmed

Tagline: "Forbidden love has no boundaries"

Synopsis: A story of evil, love, stubbornness, and trust. Mr. and Mrs. Nelson (Robbins and Keaton) visit their daughter Amber (Hudson), a prominent journalist based in Pakistan, and over the span of a few weeks begin to grow wary of their safety. Mr. Nelson in particular is uncomfortable at his daughter's growing attraction to a Pakistani prison officer, Nawaz Ahmed (Alsamari), who the two parents believe through their racist nature is a terrorist.

On the other side of the spectrum, Nawaz's sick mother (Aghdashloo) and older sister Ayesha (Haq) do not approve of the relationship. His older sister pressures him to drop the relationship not only for their mothers health, but for his own good. Their mother didn't know, but they were both firm supporters and participants in the local terrorist cell. Amber being an American reporter with suspicious parents made Ayesha very uneasy. Nawaz refuses to give up Amber, claiming that he loves her. Ayesha is extremely disappointed but says that if he doesn't let go of the girl, she will have to take care of it.

During a heated argument where Mrs. Nelson tells her daughter that she is being brainwashed into abandoning her family, Amber strikes her across the face accusing her of stealing her happiness. Mrs. Nelson cries as she tells her stubborn daughter how much she loves her and worries about her. Amber not wanting to hear any of it banishes her parents from her house and her life. At the airport, Mrs. Nelson, while using the restroom, is hassled by several Pakistani men who shake her stall. Frightened for her life, she screams out for Mr. Nelson who eventually comes to her rescue.

General Jahman (Vosloo), the head of the local terrorist cell receives a call of concern from Ayesha. His reaction to the call tells the audience that something devastating is about to occur. Meanwhile, Amber and Nawaz had just finished making love and were laying together in the bed when Nawaz tells Amber that the two of them must disappear as soon as possible. A confused and naive Amber questions her lover as to why they must disappear from this place. Nawaz reveals to Amber his real occupation as an influential member of the local terrorist cell which disgusts her. Amber jumps from bed and grabs a lamp, aims it at Nawaz, and tells him to stay back. The next thing we see is a shot of Amber's house. Amber can be heard screaming out in pain as Nawaz's shadow is seen through the window striking her. Suddenly, a gunshot rings through the night and Nawaz is seen falling to the ground. General Jahman's face them comes into frame blowing the smoke from his revolver.

A month later, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson receive a call from ABC, the news channel their daughter was employed with. It turns out that Amber had been reported missing as she hadn't checked in for at least two weeks. In an emotional scene, Mr. Nelson goes into a fit of rage breaking everything in his sight before collapsing on the floor crying. Amber was never found. The movie finishes with a scene of Ayesha knitting with her mother in a rocking chair. Several masked men pump rifles in the air while Ayesha smiles triumphantly.

Amber and Nawaz's love for each other was too much to break apart. It cost them both in the end.

What the Press would say:

A provocative, unflinching look at the complexity of racial tolerance of an American family in post 9/11 Pakistan as well as a brewing forbidden love. Similiar to many love stories, the two love subjects refuse to end their romance because they love one another. The film takes a turn from other movies of this caliber by putting the lives of the loved ones in danger, ultimately ending in the surprising death of both of the main characters.

Sofia Coppola was able to write with such directness and such a good ear for everyday speech that the characters seem real and plausible after only a few words. Her cast is uniformly strong; the actors sidestep clich├ęs and make their characters particular. Kate Hudson perfectly nails all of the naivety and wide-eyed innocence of a young woman filled with ambition being exposed to a truth that really isn't quite what she expected. Model and newcomer Aminah Haq comes across as the perfect villain appearing callous and greedy, yet displaying passionate love for her mother and her brother.

Lewis Alsamari, the confused prison officer, was able to bring his performance to another level by having his character show a deep affliction between staying with Amber or leaving her. Tim Robbins did amazing with bringing a tough father look to the screen who finally breaks down after hearing his daughter's fate. He meshed extremely well with Diane Keaton who played concerned mother who tried to rip her daughter from her relationship. There's not much of Shohreh Aghdasloo in the film, but she by far is one of the most important characters being a reason why Aminah is trying to rip Lewis away from Kate. Arnold Vosloo fit the role of the ruthless, by-any-means-necessary general.

An altered tear-jerker for today's audiences, Angels Weep in Pakistan is sure to bring in great reviews.

Best Picture
Best Director - Sofia Coppola
Best Actress - Kate Hudson
Best Actor - Lewis Alsamari
Best Supporting Actor - Tim Robbins, Arnold Vosloo
Best Supporting Actress- Diane Keaton, Aminah Haq, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Best Original Screenplay - Sofia Coppola

Between the Line of Life and Death

Author(s): Ryne
Location: Portland

"Between the Line of Life and Death"

Directed by George Clooney
Written by Curtis Hanson and George Clooney

Main Cast

Brandon Mychal Smith as Terrence Washington
Thandie Newton as Jillian Washington
Jamie Campbell Bower as Derek Olsen
Laura Linney as Ms. Lund
George Clooney as Detective Tim Mathews
Rob Brown as Marshall Washington

Tagline: "Don't Think on Past, Don't Dwell on Sin, When a Better Life Lays Ahead"

Synopsis: I haven't had much of a life. Being raised in East St. Louis, you can expect to have one. It started when I was two, maybe two and a half when my father walked out on my mother Jillian (Newton). He first got her pregnant when they were sixteen with my older brother Marshall (Brown). My mother dropped out of high school prematurely so she could take care of him. Marshall was always getting into trouble growing up. On his eighteenth birthday, he had himself a grand ol' time by stealing a nice Mini Cooper on the West Side. The police caught him the next day and he was sentenced to ten years. Apparently, he did more than just steal a car. I visit him every now and then, but he doesn't seem to care whenever I do visit.

I walk outside everyday and see nothing but pain and suffering. It makes me so upset to hear about the different gang violence when I go to school everyday. My English teacher, Ms. Lund (Linney), always tells me I'm better than that. I know she's right because, unlike them, I want to do something with my life, but the problem is I need money for college. I've weighed my options, but I figure other people get rich off selling drugs so why can't I. I'll use it for a good reason. I started selling about a month ago and I've made some pretty nice cash. My biggest customer is this rich white kid Derek (Bower) from Northwest. He's one of those kids who always wanted to be cool and kept hearing the popular kids talk about doing drugs so he felt he should try it. He's been addicted ever since I first sold to him. I see him probably once every three days and he is always good on payment. I hope for his sake it stays that way. My mother doesn't suspect anything. She's too busy being OCD to notice. I feel bad for her though; I see what it does to her.

Lately, the police have come to my high school to crack down on the drug and violence problem. Detective Tim Mathews (Clooney) has interviewed me a couple times about what I see around school and all, but Ms. Lund always reminds him I would never do anything like that. Despite her reminders, Detective Mathews still seems a little suspicious of me. Hopefully he doesn't get too suspicious.

It's a tough task selling drugs, the lying, the manipulating, your conscience plays with you, but it's okay since I'm using the money for college. I just need to watch my steps, filter what I say and I'll be okay. Yeah, I'll be okay…

What the Press would say:

George Clooney's latest task as a director brings us a chilling story of family, deceit, and hope for the future. It begs the question do the ends really justify the means. Clooney challenges the audience to think about it. What would you do if your life was predetermined? Would you do anything you could you change it? To Terrence, played magnificently by Brandon Mychal Smith, his actions are legitimized because of his desire to attend college, or at least that's what he tries to tell himself. Smith conveys this troubled and confused persona of Terrence perfectly. The fate of the movie relies heavily on Smith's performance and he rises to the occasion. The two most powerful scenes in the movie come when Terrence visits Marshall in prison and Terrence trying to cope with his mother's OCD. Smith shines in both these scenes. Countering Terrence on screen is his mother Jillian. Jillian is a strong woman, but struggles to contain her OCD. It is shown in bits and pieces, but it brings out the best in Thandie Newton. She is superb as Jillian and portrays every emotion exquisitely. Newton has just enough screen time to be considered lead and that is exactly what the studio is doing. It makes the road to her first Oscar difficult, but I still think it can happen. In the supporting roles, Jamie Campbell Bower and Laura Linney give stellar performances in their respective roles. Bower brings range and courage to a role that easily could have been too much. Derek yearns for acceptance and feels if he does what is necessary, a common theme throughout the film, he too will become popular. It is this naive attitude that makes Bower's performance so brilliant. Bower has the look, the attitude, and traits required of this role. He is not acting, he is Derek. Laura Linney gives one of her best performances to date as Terrence's idealistic English teacher. Ms. Lund looks for the best in everyone, which cause her to overlook or deny certain aspects about her students. She sees herself as a motherly figure to Terrence and she treats him like that. Terrence sinisterly takes advantage of this and manipulates Ms. Lund to take his side on almost everything. Overall, the performance and Clooney's direction makes "Between the Line of Life and Death" one of the best films of the year.


Best Picture
Best Director (George Clooney)
Best Actor (Brandon Mychal Smith)
Best Actress (Thandie Newton)
Best Supporting Actor (Jamie Campbell Bower)
Best Supporting Actress (Laura Linney)
Best Original Screenplay

Blood Harmony

Author(s): Scott
Location: N/A

"Blood Harmony"

Directed by David Fincher
Written by David Koepp
Music by Alexandre Desplat

Main Cast

Cillian Murphy (Jason Bie’rel)
Gwenyth Paltrow (Anne Howard)
Frankie Muniz (Ross Fisher)
Scott Godfrey (Dan Peacock)
Pele Hearne (Bobby Reeves)
Alicia Dickson (Sky Thomas)
Samantha Rye (Ways Garmond)
Gary Nightingale (Toby Mann)
Jennifer Diamond (Rashida Lopez)

Tagline: "If you go down to the woods today..."

Synopsis: Gwenyth Paltrow shines as Anne Howard a hell-bent cop who has finally managed to get her hands on psychotic serial killer Jester played by the cold-hearted super talent Cillian Murphy after hunting for years. When interrogating him, she manages to learn about a tale in the unwritten book of the mysterious Jester; when camping out in the woods one night, a terrible turn of murder occurs which leaves a group of teenagers helpless and running for their lives. As the story unfolds Anne gradually begins to feel more and more uncomfortable and in threat after realising that she really is in the presense of the ever unpredictable Jester...

What the Press would say:

Blood Harmony is an amazing spectacle of strong, believable acting and drama and delivers genuine chills when needed. The acting from Gwenyth Paltrow and Cillian Murphy is to an extremely high standard here and they certainly deserve Oscar Nominations for their strong performances and another shockingly brilliant performance is that of Frankie Muniz’s who portrays the evil bully Ross Fisher extremely well. The most attention focus will however be on Scott Godfrey and Pele Hearne, total newcomers to the business, whose performances are totally believable and will hopefully see justice and be nominated for Oscars. The film is directed superbly and the plot twists and cinematography is amazing.


Best Picture
Best Director: David Fincher
Best Original Screenplay: David Koepp
Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat
Best Actor: Cillian Murphy
Best Actress: Gwenyth Paltrow
Best Supporting Actor: Frankie Muniz
Best Supporting Actor: Scott Godfrey
Best Supporting Actor: Pele Hearne
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Dickson
Best Supporting Actress: Samantha Rye

The Bluest Eye

Author(s): Chris Perkins / D.W. Dillon
Location: IL / NV

"The Bluest Eye"

Directed by Carl Franklin
Written by Kasi Lemmons
Based on the novel by Toni Morrison
Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Hughes Winborne
Music by Terence Blanchard
Produced by Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte

Main Cast

Keke Palmer as Pecola Breedlove
Don Cheadle as Cholly Breedlove
Aunjanue Ellis as Pauline Breedlove
Ravin Goodwin as Claudia MacTeer
Camille Winbush as Frieda MacTeer
Laurence Fishburne as Soaphead Church
Ruby Dee as Great Aunt Jimmy

Tagline: "Color Meant Everything"

Synopsis: That Cholly Breedlove (Cheadle) was bread to hate, for he did not know what love was. As a child, his great Aunt Jimmy (Dee) offered up timely affection that would soon fade due to her dying crippled body. Offering up nothing more than a tease of compassion in contrast to his father's abuse, and the torment he endured by the hands of other white children in a world fueled by racism. Cholly Breedlove could not love but he would desperately try. He sure as heck ain't lovin' Pauline (Ellis). That wife of his with that silly club foot hates herself more than he does.

And poor Pecola Breedlove (Palmer). With parents like Cholly and Pauline, it's no wonder she ain't had her head on straight; worshipping them white babydolls, drinking milk from that Shirley Temple mug and wanting blue eyes of all things. I guess being black meant being ugly in that home. Prolly why Cholly burned it down. To go so far as to see that nasty gruddy ol' Soaphead Church (Fishburne), thinkin' he's some religious witch-doctor and grant her blue eyes! Go on! Pecola didn't know no better. He gave her blue eyes alright, but the price she paid was downright awful. Convincing Pecola to kill that annoying dog that bugged him so, and taking advantage of her in ways no one should.

Maybe it was her circumstance, or the environment she grew up in. Frieda (Winbush) was a good friend to her, after her home turned to ashes and needed a place to stay. She needed something and few tried to understand, but what Pecola went through no one could imagine. Her momma beat her some more when she found her crying on the kitchen, courtesy of Cholly. Maybe Cholly needed to feel love in some way, and that was his way, but Pecola didn't deserve that kinda love. No one does. Frieda thought it best to save the unborn child by growing flowers. Those flowers died as quickly as that poor unborn soul.

All she ever wanted were those damned blue eyes. And for what? She thought she had dem blue eyes but she was crazy. Losing that baby, and living that life, I probably would have felt the same way. Cholly was gone, but the damage was done and I, Claudia (Goodwin) by the side of my sister Frieda saw a girl, just a girl, mistreated as a dirty woman. Pecola was no woman. She was everything we feared. Color meant everything to her and that's where the world had placed her. Her neverending quest for the bluest eyes opened ours forever.

What the Press would say:

Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize award-winning book, "The Bluest Eye", is the latest to get the big screen treatment and what an amazing and powerful achievement it is. Here's a film people will be talking about for years to come. A film that is sure to not only captivate audiences but critics as well with its mesmerizing performances, unforgettable story, stunning technicals, and raw emotion.

Carl Franklin, the director of such critically acclaimed films as "Devil in a Blue Dress" and "One False Move", brings an authentic and intense reality to the story. Franklin's direction is quite simply exceptional and shows the real pain and sorrow these characters have to endure in their lives. The screenplay written by Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou") is just as incredible. The depth and realism Lemmons brings to the characters and story only enhances the film's strong and profounding message. The technicals for the movie are out of this world. The cinematography, editing, score, etc. are all done beautifully and with much detail.

The performances are what really stand out in this impressive film. Don Cheadle gives a tour de force performance as Cholly Breedlove, an abusive and alcoholic man whose had to live with a painful past. Cheadle's emotionally complex and heartbreaking portrayal of a man whose life is anything but complicated is beyond poignant. Keke Palmer is an astounding Revelation as Pecola Breedlove, a girl who believes she will only be beautiful if she has blue eyes. It's spellbinding to watch this young performer deliver this affective and great performance beside heavyweights like Don Cheadle. Palmer is pretty much the center of the film and steals every scene she is in. The supporting players are equally as fantastic. From Ruby Dee's unconditionally loving but dying Great Aunt Jimmy, to Laurence Fishburne's dirty and calculating Soaphead Church, and to Aunjanue Ellis' insecure and lonely wife of Cholly, Pauline. But the supporting performance that really shines and is most likely to catch people's attention is from Ravin Goodwin. She plays Claudia MacTeer, the young girl who narrates the story through her perspective. Goodwin's performance is what really holds this film together. She's telling the story of a family whose more than just dysfunctional but one who has serious problems.

"The Bluest Eye" is by far the best movie of this or any other year. A definite must see.

Awards Consideration
Best Picture
Best Director - Carl Franklin
Best Actor - Don Cheadle
Best Actress - Keke Palmer
Best Supporting Actor - Laurence Fishburne
Best Supporting Actress - Ruby Dee
Best Supporting Actress - Ravin Goodwin
Best Supporting Actress - Aunjanue Ellis
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Score

Brooks and Kane

Author(s): Zgamer
Location: ID

"Brooks and Kane"

Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morriso
Choreography by Adam Shankman
Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt

Main Cast

James Marsden as Arty Brooks
John Tartaglia as Pat Kane
Curtis Holbrook as Corey Mattock
Amanda Seyfried as Becky Yank
Sara Ramirez as Molly Adams

Tagline: "The light has never seemed dimmer than when it’s over Hollywood"

Synopsis: History always has its way of making greatness disappear when the press isn’t right. Oh the big names that have come and gone in the blink of an eye. Does anyone remember the classic team of Nixt and Cobb doing their famous corn cob routine? Or what about the amazing feats of strength displayed by Ivan Rusk’s legendary buttocks? No, you don’t remember them. Unfortunate as these stories are, however, they fail to compare to the fate of Hollywood’s greatest comedy/musical duo: Pat Brooks and Arty Kane.

The story of Brooks and Kane takes place back in the 50’s, when music was softer, gas was cheaper and communism was the most deadly form of cancer in America. The duo seemed like your average musical/acting team, smiling often and promoting products that are condemnable by our standards. Of course, not everything was G-rated bliss. Brooks, who wowed audiences with vocal talents like his whistling in “Betty’s Bongos”, used vast charisma to hide his hedonistic womanizing he would pursue whenever he was not busy. Kane, whose one man band kept audiences enticed in “Florida!”, would spend most of his time cussing in frustration whenever Brooks wouldn’t yield to his overbearing perfectionism. Did these traits cause problems between the two? Obviously! Everyone back then remembered how real Kane’s pantomimed punch appeared when they did “Chris Cross”. And everyone remembered how Brooks used his most frequent (and much younger) mistress Becky to politely demean Kane’s integrity to the public. Yet, every time they stepped in front of the screen to shoot their newest musical, they blew people away with their quality and showmanship.

That is, until the turn of the decade. When the 60’s arrived, something began to stink in the air. That foul, familiar smell that occurred each time a new generation began: fresh talent! That talent’s name was Corey Mattock and the two didn’t know it, but he was going to change entertainment for years to come. He had a new style that the public considered “revolutionary”, “innovative” and, the most shocking, “gritty”. Corey had all the tricks up his sleeve too. His aunt Molly, an influential PR agent, had access to all the most popular press outlets. Soon, Corey’s mug was available everywhere the public wanted to see it. Brooks and Kane were undaunted by this though. While they didn’t know who this kid was, they realized the threat to both of their careers. Thus the seeds of competition were sown and neither side was going to rest until one of them was buried. No star was safe, no movie was too far and no one was going to want to hear the end of it.

Song List

“Double Time!”- Ensemble
“Just Like Chocolate”- Marsden, Tartaglia
“My Ladies”- Marsden, Seyfried, Ladies
“Excuse The Interruption”-Holbrook, Ramirez
“Corey’s Song”- Holbrook
“The Mandatory Montage”- Marsden, Tartaglia, Holbrook, Ramirez
“Big Night at the Theatre”- Marsden, Tartaglia, Holbrook
“Double Time Reprise”- Marsden, Tartaglia, Ensemble

What the Press would say:

Musical theater is a hard genre to sell these days, but, as this film points out, it’s only because the public has made it that way. “Brooks and Kane”, Mike Nichols’s newest film, is a brilliant homage to the musicals of old as well as a riveting satire of the evolution of entertainment and the natural fear of change. With equal measures of wit and life, with a bit humor mixed together, “Brooks and Kane” serves as a reminder of what made the classics musicals classic.

The story of the musical, penned by Broadway writers O’Donnell and Meehan, is a very well written, with plenty wittily subtle gags and observations scattered throughout. While it does explore some familiar themes of Hollywood power struggles, the script has a lot more depth to it when considering what era the film is. Perhaps the strongest point that the story makes is the basic fact that man in general is afraid of change. As Brooks and Kane continue to oppose the new style Corey Mattock brings to the screen, they are labeled the bad guys for not giving him a chance to express himself. The film doesn’t demonize their resilience though. Throughout the film, it becomes very clear that the two are just acting this way because they are human. It’s a simple truth that makes the story more credible and enjoyable.

The effort put into this production is amazing. From the opening number, complete with some of the most impressive dancing seen in a recent musical, the audience knows that this will be something unique. Unlike many musicals that try to use lots of editing and disorientating images to please an audience, “Brooks and Kane” employs the techniques that worked for the old films. There is less editing present in the musical numbers, allowing the actors to perform more convincing and impressive choreography so the audience doesn’t consider it fake. The music contains none of the new age tweaks recent theater has given it, like electronic beats or heavy metal guitars. It is all classic oldie tunes, with simple, catchy beats and charming lyrics courtesy of Broadway songwriters Lisa Lambert and Greg Morriso of “The Drowsy Chaperone” fame. The most impressive feat, however, is how similar to the old 50’s movies this film looks like. The film quality is grainy yet expertly shot, the costumes are all appropriate for the era and the sound design will make you feel like you are back in the 50’s, even if you didn’t live in that time.

What gives the film its life, however, is the fantastic directing and acting displayed. Mike Nichols, bringing the musical expertise he’s used on Broadway to the stage, does an amazing job as he lets each scene flow smoothly together and Shankman’s choreography flowing. Nichol’s handling of the comedic elements of the film is superb as well, as all the dialogue is delivered expertly and none of the jokes are too overt or overplayed longer than they should. Nichols couldn’t possibly have found better actors for the title roles than Marsden and Tartaglia. They are pretty much the embodiment of the musical stars of old, with charisma and talent to match. Both of them are equal part Donald O’Connor, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, while besting each of them in different ways. Also true to the stars of old, their dancing is stunning, with so much life in their steps that you may be tempted to dance with them. They both show off their acting chops too, as they make their strengths and flaws more believable with the subtlety of their non-singing performance.

“Brooks and Kane” doesn’t try to be a great musical. It IS a great musical and it should not be ignored because it looks like an old film.

Award Possibilities

Best Picture
Best Actor (James Marsden)
Best Actor (John Tartaglia)
Best Original Screenplay (Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan)
Best Cinematography (Stephen Goldblatt)
Best Costume Design
Best Sound Design
Best Original Score (Lisa Lambert and Greg Morriso)
Best Original Song (Any of them)

A Corner of the Universe

Author(s): Evan D.
Location: NY

"A Corner Of The Universe"

Fox Searchlight
Directed By: Jay Russell
Written By: Anne M. Martin and Anthony Minghella
Score: Andrew Hollander
Cinematography: Eric Steelberg

Main Cast

Hattie – Anna Sophia Robb
Adam – Ryan Gosling
Liz- Dakota Blue Richards
Angel – Rachel McAdams
Dan (Hattie’s Dad) – Greg Kinnear
Laura (Hattie’s Mom) – Keri Russell

Tagline: "In the ever expanding universe, your corner of it will always remain the same, unless you choose to change it"

Synopsis: It’s 1960, and 12-year-old Hattie Owen expects her summer to be as normal, comfortable, and uneventful as all the others. She's looking forward to helping her mother run their boarding house with it's many interesting tenants, painting alongside her artist father, and reading her many books. Hattie loves to read. Every time she can, she picks up a book and tries to escape to another world. Then 21-year-old Uncle Adam, whom Hattie never knew existed, comes to stay with the Owens because his "school" has closed down. It soon becomes apparent that he has mental disabilities: he is a rapidly babbling, Lucille Ball-quoting, calendar-savant and emotionally immature child in a man's body. To Hattie, Adam is more like the younger brother she never had than he is an Uncle. He is pure fun, utterly innocent, very spontaneous and always, by her standards, in need of a helping hand. Adam also added another dimension to Hattie's life; he brought her a new awareness of her family and her town. Hattie's old standards of fairness, tolerance and understanding were severely challenged by Adam's reception into her town; the children of the community consider him a “freak,” and to the adults he is an oddity and a sometimes nuisance. And even to his own parents, Adam is clearly an unwelcome visitor that has to be tolerated. Hattie responds to these attitudes by making it her self-appointed task to guide Adam through his temporary life in Millerton. Adam had been sent off to “school” when she was only 2 years old. However, Hattie quickly finds a kindred spirit in her uncle, as they make friends with a young girl named Liz who is the daughter of the ring leader of a visiting circus. The three embark on a summer during which Hattie will find adventure, tragedy and enlightenment as she "lifts the corners of her universe" in order to better understand those around her, and to learn to heal and communicate. But, from the moment Adam laid eyes on Angel, Hattie’s parent’s newest, and youngest, boarder, he began to fantasize that there might be a relationship between them. His attraction to Angel is obvious to Hattie but Angel is oblivious; if she noticed Adam's romantic notions at all, she completely misinterpreted them as just another eccentricity of his eccentric self. Angel's indifference to that relationship brought Adam to realize that normality and acceptance were well beyond his grasp. At the end of the film, Adam becomes extremely scared when a Ferris wheel brakes when he, Hattie, and Liz are at the top of it. He has always been frightened of heights, and he doesn’t think they will ever get out of it. That everyone will leave him up in space because he’s different. After this severe breakdown, and the rejection he receives after Angel left the boarding house without saying goodbye, Adam hangs himself in the back shed of his parent’s house. He was never able to understand why his misadventures were so much more frowned upon than other, more normal peoples mistakes.

What the Press would say:

Based off of the New York Times Bestseller of the same name, Anne M. Martin (The Author) and Anthony Minghella bring this perennial book to the screen in the most positive way. The first shot in the film is a shot of a turning Ferris wheel, which will soon become a major part of the story. Director Jay Russell turns inanimate objects and such into key players in this pastel colored picture. Annasophia Robb (Because Of Winne Dixie) is perfectly cast as Hattie, the young girl who finds an unexpected friend in her mentally ill uncle. Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) gives his best performance yet, captivating, rather than annoying the audience with his quirky smile and childlike movements. The odd, colorful, and stylized 60’s costumes makes this film look like a cross between “The Diving Bell And The Butterfly” and “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.” The sweeping cinematography creates a wider scope, and perspective, so the audience really sees how the things that happen are much bigger than they may seem to the characters. With a touching and lyrical score by Andrew Hollander (“Waitress”), the magic really shines through in every little segment of the story. This movie is coupled with a new song, written for the film by the acclaimed Canadian singer, Feist. The single is called “Changes In Me,” and is a catchy and well written song about how anyone, and any moment, can change your life. This movie is about acceptance, and how some people, because of fate, aren’t able to live the lives they want to live. “A Corner Of the Universe” shows us all that a heart of gold can exist in anyone, no mater the exterior. “A Corner Of The Universe” is a beautiful film, and possibly the best of the year. Unlike other book to film translations, like “Memoirs Of A Geisha”, “Running With Scissors”, and “Cold Mountain” which failed miserably come award season, this film is likely to captivate the hearts of everyone, and anyone, who has ever felt like an oddity.

Best Picture

Best Director - Jay Russell
Best Actor – Ryan Gosling
Best Actress – Anna Sophia Robb
Best Supporting Actor – Greg Kinnear
Best Supporting Actress – Keri Russell
Best Supporting Actress – Rachel McAdams
Best Supporting Actress – Dakota Blue Richards
Best Adapted Screenplay - Anne M. Martin and Anthony Minghella
Best Cinematography
Best Sound Editing
Best Art Direction
Best Sound Editing
Best Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Original Score
Best Song “Changes In Me” – Feist