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 clichés 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

The Dark Tower

Author(s): James Somerton
Location: Canada

"The Dark Tower"

Directed By David Lynch
Written By David Lynch and Stephen King

Main Cast

Viggo Mortensen as Roland; The Gunslinger
Justin Theroux as Mordred
Jeremy Irons as Father Callahan
Alexander Michaeletos as The Boy; Jake
and Tobin Bell as The Crimson King

Tagline: "Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came"

Synopsis: Roland sits inside the rumbling train car as the deserts of the world go by him in a blur of sand and waste. The vibrations of the train are soothing though and he is almost at rest when the train comes to a violent halt. Stepping out into the darkening desert night, Roland sees someone in front of the train. Clad entirely in shadow. Could it be the man in black? No. This figure seems to be naked... But so black... At closer glance he sees that the skin has been charred black by fire. "I am Mordred" it says and the train explodes.

Roland wakes. The train is still intact but it has stopped. Looking out into the darkness, Roland doesn't see anyone in front of the train. He takes his pistols and ventures out into the darkness. The train speeds off, leaving him alone in the vast expanse of the desert. He will once again travel by foot to The Dark Tower.

Roland may be alone but he can't escape his dreams. Mordred haunts him, even when he is awake. He can see him in the heat of the desert. At night the desert cold sets in. No shelter. No heat. He can't even escape into dreams for Mordred meets him there. That thing... burned to near nothingness.

His travels reveal little of civilization. In fact, he doubts if there ever was one here. Father Callahan finds him. Roland gives in to him immediately, no questions asked. The good father came from nowhere but he knows Roland somehow. He knows his way. The way to The Dark Tower. Jake meets him also. But Jake is dead... The boy lost to the underground so long ago. He too knows of the dark tower. Knows of the field of roses. The Crimson King held up inside.

When Roland awakes he sets out on a perilous journey through the underground of the desert. It seems as though all life has finally left this place with nary a living soul to be seen. Mordred is still with him though. Haunting his dreams. When he emerges from the underground he can smell the scent of roses...

A thousand feet above him is the tip of The Dark Tower; spiraling down to the ground in black onyx. The Gunslinger approaches the great structure and is about to enter it when he sees the Man in Black looking out at him through a jagged window. But he is now clad in red... The Crimson King. The Gunslinger finally is able to battle the man he has been hunting. Cowardly, The Crimson King quickly escapes and flees to the top of the tower. The Gunslinger advances on him step by step. At the top of the tower The Crimson King flees behind a door. The only door in the top room. The Gunslinger wastes no time before entering the door after him.

He was no longer in the tower. He knew this. A desert wind lashed his face as he surveyed his surroundings. And then he saw him. The one he had been hunting. He watched him closely from a distance and knew what he must do. The Man in Black fled across the desert and The Gunslinger fallowed.

What the Press would say:

David Lynch's "The Dark Tower" is the culminating support beam in a series of beams that hold up "The Dark Tower" as a series. It is the final leg of Roland's journey to the mythical source of all being; The Dark Tower. His journey has brought pain, struggle, and even death to those around him. Beginning as a solitary quest in "The Gunslinger" and becoming a group effort in "The Drawing of the Three" and "The Waste Lands", Roland is again alone, fighting his way through a harsh desert, and even harsher dreams. That's what this movie is about after all; dreams. The majority of the movie is told as Roland's dreams and, more often than not, nightmares. We are ripped in and out of his nightmares to often that we begin to lose touch with reality. In classic Lynch fashion, we are lead to believe one thing while something entirely different is happening. Only two characters really exist in this movie; Roland and The Crimson King. All the others are merely figments of Roland's dreams. The good reverend come to save his soul, the returning child who he had failed to save, the demonic, charred creature known as Mordred.

Roland's soul is all but lost in this film and Viggo Mortensen's performance encapsulates this completely. Th dread, the loss, the foreboding feeling of being forever on your own. The Gunslinger's eyes have aged so much since the last film. He is no longer the Clint Eastwood-esc anti-hero. He is now a worn down shell of what he once was. Rarely have we seen fear in this man's eyes but now fear engulfs him. His nightmares are becoming his reality as he slips further and further into a sort of insanity. He does return to the purity of The Gunslinger in the final moments of the film though. When he finally reaches The Dark Tower his journey has ended and he can rest. We feel the relief he feels as he chases The Crimson King up into the highest part of the tower. And then... he has to do it all over again.

At the end of this film we have all our questions answered. But now a whole new set of questions arise. How many times has Roland had to endure this journey? Has it ever changed or has it been an unending loop of events that he will have to face for eternity. Can he remember doing it before or is he naive to this fact? David Lynch has crafted the most confusing epic in film history, where questions are answered with enigmas and the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. In this film he tells the greatest dream of all. Like his other works Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, and Lost Highway, "The Dark Tower" reaches into dreams and can sometimes horrify you by them. This is the ultimate nightmare. Being forced to go through horrible pain and suffering over and over again. Never knowing when it might end. The shifting sand dunes, the reverse photography, the completely unexplained presence of Mordred... everything else in his dreams is explained except Mordred. He simply appears and disappears with no explanation. He is a nightmare, wrapped in a dream, wrapped in an question. As is "The Dark Tower". This is an epic that only Lynch could manage. But how much of this series has only been in Roland's head? We'll never know. But we aren't meant to. That is our Dark Tower.

Possible Nominations

Best Picture
Best Director - David Lynch
Best Actor- Viggo Mortensen
Best Adapted Screenplay

Death Whispered a Lullaby

Author(s): Tony
Location: Pittsburgh

"Death Whispered a Lullaby"

Directed by Terry George
Written by Steven Knight
Music by Mark Isham

Main Cast

Casey Affleck as Paul Starx
Terry O'Quinn as Roger Starx
Franka Potente as Ali
Wendy Crewson as Darla Starx
Jonathan Jackson as Johnny

Tagline: "There is a wound that's always bleeding"

Synopsis: Paul and Ali remain silent, the sound of footsteps are slowly fading away as Roger finally left the room, leaving them tied up for the time being. They hear his mumbling, it's hard to make out his words. Roger talked to his wife Darla, asking what to do next, what must be done? Paul was in sheer discomfort, his mother had been dead for over a year.

At the age of 32 Paul lived with his parents due to his scarred past. He remembers that hot summer evening like it was yesterday. His bed was leaned against his window, he rolled over to look outside and saw a man. The figure was completely black, but still molded in the figure of a man. Letting out the most blood-curdling scream, Darla rushed into her sons bedroom. The man was gone, and the only way to calm Paul down was for her to sing a lullaby from her childhood. It was a continuous pattern for years until the nightmares finally stopped. Roger was the ideal husband, no man could love his wife more. He took the passing the worst of all, but you wouldn't know it. Rogers state of mind was that Darla was still there and would talk to her frequently. Paul must deal with the mourning and his fathers condition while dealing with his own.

Ali was working the night where Darla was shot, no more then ten miles away from the Starx residence, the local grocery store. Darla was the next customer when a mugger approached the counter. There was only one reason for the lash out on Darla, he made his message clear, he wanted cooperation. However the plan backfired. Ali's friend Johnny wasn't supposed to kill anyone, but he left it out of the agreement so Ali didn't back out, he had to keep order.

Torn by guilt and despair, she convienently meets up with Paul after seeing him on the news. She tells him she worked the night of the murder and that she was truly sorry, together the two had a mutual bonding. Johnny didn't want her to spend time with him, afraid their cover would be blown, but it was the only way to relieve her remorse. Roger wasn't happy with the relationship, he believed from his wifes voice that Ali was trying to take the only part of Darla he had left, his son. Although he thought he heard Darla, Roger was behind his own actions. It wasn't until Roger had an anonymous phone call stating that Ali and Paul were involved with the mugging, Johnny would afterwards skip town. Roger wanted answers, and Paul and Ali are held at gun point, tied to a chair. Ali must choose to confess if she wants to save Paul while Paul sings his mothers lullaby. Roger points the gun down and is in distinctive pain. He remembers it was that lullaby Darla sung to Paul when Roger left the house to continue his affair, a secret he could never escape. The gun is cocked and a single shot is fired.

What the Press would say:

"Death Whispered a Lullaby" is the new years most impeccably crafted drama. A film that's superbly acted on all sides with peerlessly superior intentions. A personal tragedy hits home for three individuals with darkened, life altering secrets that connect the three. That being said, the plot is an intense, sophisticated yet suttle plot that focuses on human suffering and its relative ease in connecting with the viewers and evoking emotions. Director Terry George gives an astoundingly and unobtrusive portrayal of the catastrophic events with a touch of power. Death Whispered a Lullaby wastes no time sucking in the audience with its first scene, the abduction scene, a scene that makes us more anxious to see how the film portrays itself. Casey Affleck plays the lead as Paul, a tormented son with pieces of his life never resolved, his overwhelming devotion to his parents make him very weak and vulnerable, a fragile mind with depressing tendencies. "Lost" superstar Terry O'Quinn plays his father, a broken spirit that's on the verge of a mental collapse. His faith that his wife is connecting with him is the only thread he has to hang onto, or is it his insanity? O'Quinn rips and tears through his dialogue and emotion, intensifying all of his scenes that's so accurately riveting. The wildcard is Franka Potente, a down on her luck college drop out in need of a few spare bucks, only plans go drastically wrong. A guilt and pain building up as the world crumbles around her. Her only salvation is her attachment to Paul, together the two create a great chemistry but the guilt is always in the back of Ali's head, only to be betrayed by her accomplice that rats her out and involved Paul in the mugging. "Death Whispered a Lullaby" is undeniably chilling, with unnervingly coincidences, shattered souls, and a powerhouse that leaves no happy trails. One that'll make you reach your inner self blame and sorrow from all the tormented events in your life. A formulaic experience that leaves everyone gasping for their last breath.


Best Picture - Terry George, Steven Knight
Best Director - Terry George
Best Actor - Casey Affleck
Best Supporting Actor - Terry O'Quinn
Best Supporting Actress - Franka Potente
Best Original Screenplay - Steven Knight
Best Editing
Best Music Score - Mark Isham

The Elusive Flame

Author(s): Hugo Manso
Location: Spain

"The Elusive Flame"

Directed by Joe Wright
Adapted by Nora Ephron
Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski
Music by Dario Marianelli

Main Cast

Alexandra Holden …. Lydia Wybourne
Joe Anderson …. Edward
Patricia Neal …. Aunt Alyssa
William Houston …. Henry Black
Shirley Knight …. Mrs. Livinston
Justin Ashforth …. Carl
John Goodman …. Kurt

Tagline: "Some flames just won’t die"

Synopsis: Winter of the year 1845. Lydia Wybourne (Alexandra Holden) is a young lady who lives with her stepmother’s sister, Aunt Alyssa (Patricia Neal). Lydia was found on a ship when she was 5 years old, she only knows that she’s british. Alyssa is a pretty aged lady. Before she dies, she leaves everything clear up in her testament, at least that’s what Lydia thinks. The day after the death of Aunt Alyssa, Henry Black (William Houston) arrives to the mansion with the purpose of throw Lydia out of the house. With the help of his friend Carl (Justin Ashforth), Henry manages to expulse Lydia. Lydia is sure that Henry has manipulated her aunt’s testament but there’s nothing she can do.

Lydia is now forced to leave New England. She has to go back to England, her homeland. Mrs. Livinston (Shirley Knight), the housekeeper, helps Lydia to take some clothes, food and resources. Lydia leaves her house. She has to manage to get on a ship as soon as possible since Henry is trying to imprison her. He’s trying to convince everybody that Lydia had killed her aunt for money.

Lydia, frozen, breathless and wet, faints. She’s helped by Kurt (John Goodman) a fisherman. Kurt walks her to a tavern. There she tells him her story. Kurt advice her that she has to be fast. He tells her that there’s a man who will leave to London that night. Lydia, after giving thanks to the fisherman, runs toward the port. When she gets there she looks for the ship. There it is. Trying to find the owner she walks into the ship. Once there she slips up and falls. She wakes up the next morning without her dress. Edward (Joe Anderson) is the owner. He found her last night and took her to the bed.

They start to meet each other, eventually falling in love. When she asks for something about him he refuses to tell anything. In the long journey they keep increasing their love. At one point Edward finds out that Lydia was the little girl who used to live in the house he used to serve. At first Edward acts weird, he can’t fall in love with her, it’s not appropiate. But when Lydia finds out, everything changes finally she discovers her past. Together they will arrive to London, they’ll meet Lydia’s family and finally they’ll marry each other and be happy forever.

What the Press would say:

'Nora Ephron has done an amazing job adapting Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ novel. The script is just sensational. Joe Wright is the director of this masterpiece, just another great film from the creator of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. The Elusive Flame is not the classic romantic comedy, it’s treated as a historical drama with touches of adventure, but you can do nothing but adore the romance between Lydia and Edward. The script while great is helped by the stunning performances. Alexandra Holden is almost an unknown but she steals the show. Her look match perfectly with the fragility of Lydia along with her beauty. Another unknown as Joe Anderson surprise with his professionalism and skills. There’s something between them that, for sure, helps the movie to shine even more. The supporting job is done as well perfect. There two performances to stand all the way out: Patricia Neal and William Houston, both have done such a great job. The former has demonstrated that when it comes to act there’s nothing age can do. At the age of 81, Patricia Neal has done a devastating performance as the dying aunt. William Houston is perfect as the villain, also as an unknown he has make an unlikable character quite likeable. With a marvelous cinematography, a great editing and a perfect music score this movie will rock come the awards season.


Best Picture
Best Director – Joe Wright
Best Adapted Screenplay – Nora Ephron
Best Lead Actress – Alexandra Holden
Best Lead Actor – Joe Anderson
Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Neal
Best Supporting Actress – Shirley Knight
Best Supporting Actor – William Houston

Finding Death

Author(s): Bryce M.
Location: CA

"Finding Death"

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by: Francis Ford Coppola, Brad Grey, and Graham King

Main Cast

Brad Pitt as James Renageric
Gary Oldman as Shinigami
Ray Liotta as Alfred Pennasworth
Edward Burns Richard Renageric
Terry O'Quinn as Josh Stable
Denis Leary as Jake Sharm
James Spader as Brian Gaem
Samantha Morton as Chelsea Renageric

Tagline: "How do you find what can not be found?"

Synopsis: In the city of Los Angeles, Richard Renegeric and Alfred Pennasworth are running against each other for mayor. Unfortunately for Pennasworth, Renegeric is the clear favorite to win by the public and his peers. However, Pennasworth has one last trick up his sleeve. As the day turns into night, Richard is getting ready for bed in his hotel room when there is a subtle knock on the door. Richard opens the door to find a bald man, with a vast variety of scars on his face, known as Shinigami. Before Richard can even think of what to do, Shinigami takes out a dart gun, and shoots Richard with a dart. As Richard takes out the dart, he begins foaming from his mouth, bleeding from his eyes, and urinating on himself, before collapsing dead on the floor. Shinigami walks away with an eerily emotionless expression on his face. The following week Alfred Pennasworth wins the election and becomes the new mayor

Four years later, the case of who killed Richard Renegeric has been put away. In the past four years police have not found a single shred of evidence. Every detective on the case has given up, except for Richard's brother James Renegeric. Even though James has not given up on the case, the consequences of his decision has effected his life greatly over the past years. He has been fired, and has lost his wife, Chelsea. But these inconveniences doesn't bother James, because all he cares for in life is to find the person who killed his brother. The only possible evidence James has is his theory that his brother was killed by another politician. He is certain Alfred Pennasworth must of hired a hitman to kill his competition.

Alfred Pennasworth has an upcoming election, and is going against three other candidates, including the war veteran Josh Stable, the media favorite Jake Sharm, and the proclaimed genius Brian Gaem. James comes up with the idea that if he follows the other candidates he will find his brother's killer. However, he will find out that's easier said then done. As James tries to protect the candidates and pursue the hitman, Shinigami proves to be much more than James can handle. Will James be killed by the mysterious man only known by the alias of "Shinigami"? Or will James prevail in getting his revenge, and killing his brother's killer?

What the Press would say:

What more can be said about Francis Ford Coppola? He has done The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Apocalypse Now, three films known as the greatest of all time. "Finding Death" definitely doesn't surpass any of those three films, and I wouldn't even put this film in the same league as the others. However, just like Martin Scorsese's "The Departed", a film that may not be as great as his other films like "Raging Bull", "Taxi Driver", and "Goodfellas" but still holds up as another one of his masterpieces, "Finding Death" is another masterpiece from Francis Ford Coppola, and will age like fine wine until it gets to the point of being a legendary movie like Coppola's past films.

The film's style is a mixture of Noir and thrilling suspense, and never proves to be more of one then the other. The suspense will have you jumping more than a good horror flick, and the atmosphere is unique enough to put the film in it's own genre. The dialogue is diverse, never staying in one rhythm, and that helps separate the characters from being ordinary. Whether it's the aggressive hip wannabe dialogue of James Renergeric, or the off beat metaphor antics of Shinigami, the dialogue proves to have a good pace and makes each character feel different. The characters themselves are intriguing enough to either love or hate them. You'll be attacking the ones you hate, and defending the ones you love.

You would have to get a good group of actors to portray these characters, and luckily for Coppola he was fortunate enough to get some grade A acting from his players. Brad Pitt once again proves his commitment to the art side of films with this tragic character. The character is engulfed in an obsessive need to find the killer to a point where the character appears more emotionally scared than the antagonist's physical scars. The performance has the rage of his performance in "Seven", but with the paranoia of Jesse James and the emotion of his character in "Babel". It's definitely one of his best performance, if not the best. Ray Liotta also does an amazing job as the villainous mayor, whose fears of losing power manipulates his every action. There is also a few show stealing scenes from Terry O'Quinn's character, who proves to be a lot harder to kill than the other politicians.

But, the true show stealer here is Gary Oldman, who plays the infamous Shinigami, a character that will likely be remembered as one of the best villains to grace the screens since Hannible Lector. Oldman fits into this role like a good pair of shoes. The makeup department did a great job in physically transforming this actor into an entirely different person. What makes the performance even more incredible, is how Oldman is able to mix different ethnic traits. He mixes between a German and France accent, and also recites many Japanese haikus and folklore (which would explain his name since Shinigami means God of Death in Japanese folklore) when speaking, although he barely speaks for the majority of his screen time. There's nothing more I can say, because it is truly a performance you have to see to believe, but I guarantee he will be the character that everyone will be remembering by the end of the year.

Francis Ford Coppola has put a lot of work into the film, and it definitely shows. Youth Without Youth was Coppola return to filmmaking, but the movie proved to not live up to expectations. This movie will live up and surpass most expectations, and will prove to be entertaining to the art house audience as well as the average moviegoer. "Finding Death" is the true return of Francis Ford Coppola, and audiences will fall in love with this film.

Best Picture
Best Director- Francis Ford Coppola
Best Actor- Brad Pitt
Best Supporting Actor- Ray Liotta
Best Supporting Actor- Gary Oldman
Best Supporting Actor- Terry O'Quinn
Best Original Screenplay- Francis Ford Coppola
Best Make Up
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction
Best Film Editing

Killer Queen

Author(s): AJ Bell
Location: N/A

"Killer Queen"

Directed By Danny Boyle
Written By Dick Clement

Main Cast

Casey Affleck as Freddie Mercury
Macualay Culkin as Roger Taylor
Jay Baruchel as Brian May
Jake Epstein as John Deacon
Neil Patrick Harris as Harold Stark

Tagline: "In the World of Rock Music, One Man was a Visionary beyond all Others. He was Freddie Mercury"

Synopsis: A biopic about Queen's lead singer, Freddie Mercury, who was one of the first Hollywood icons to fall to the AIDS epidemic. The plot goes along in the form of a musical, set to the songs of Queen. The film begins with Freddie as the lead singer of the Wreckers, but he soon leaves this going-nowhere band to join Roger Taylor and Brian May in the soon to be legendary, Queen. Within a few months, John Deacon joins the band. They have a hard time staring off, only getting a few small gigs, and when they release their first album, Queen, it is thrown off as just another heavey metal band. But once the release Queen II, they celebrate by singing The Seven Seas of Ryhe, about Freddie's imaginary world called Ryhe. During this sequence, Freddie enters a trance-like state where in his mind he visits the imaginary world. Its colorful, inventive, and a reminder of what genuis Mercury had. Soon the band hits it off, playing gigs around Europe and America.

Its then that Freddie discovers his homosexuality. When he finds that he cant tell anybody, he sings the ballad, "Somebody to Love". The band keeps producing albums, such as the classic rock opera, A Night at the Opera. On the road however, Freddie meets a young groupie by the name of Harold Stark. Its then that Harold brings a new joy into Freddie's life. Heroine. When Harold introduces it, he sings the classic Queen song, Killer Queen, which is about drugs. Freddie falls in love with Harold, and Harold with Freddie. But soon Harold leaves Freddie, which leaves him heartbroken. Not long after that, Freddie begins not feeling well. He sees a doctor, and it turns out he has acquired the AIDS viruses. Freddie was still creating the best music of his career. But America was not responding as well as they used to. This started arguments in the band. They performing as well as they used to. Audiences and critics were criticizing Freddie's health. It was on the date of November 23rd, 1991, that Freddie announced to the world that he had AIDS. That night, he went out into the poverty filled New York streets. He sang the operatic Bohemian Rhapsody. traveling into his world of Ryhe one last time, as he witnesses it falling apart. At the end of the song, Freddie crawls into his bed, never to return from his sleep.

What the Press would say:

The whimsicality of the musical biopic, Killer Queen, is the perfect thing to define the style of Freddie Mercury. His vocals and visionary are what kept his music alive. And that was the truth behind this wonderful film by Danny Boyle, is that when the life of his music was gone, so was the life of Freddie Mercury. Although screenwriter Dick Clement added some fiction to a whole lot of fact (especially the part of Harold Stark, who is a completely fictional), it still holds strong as a powerfully moving film.

Peter Travers - Four Stars! Brings to life a man who was so full of life himself!
Roger Ebert - Two Thumbs Up! One of the Best Films of the Year!
Owen Gleiberman - Visual masterpiece. a feist for the eyes! A-

Possible Nominations

Best Picture
Best Director - Danny Boyle
Best Original Screenplay
Best Lead Actor - Casey Affleck
Best Supporting Actor - Neil Patrick Harris
Best Supporting Actor - Macaulay Culkin
Best Cinematography
Best Editting
Best Art Direction
Best Makeup
Best Costume Design

Kubrick Unfinished

Author(s): Sergio Requejo
Location: Spain

"Kubrick Unfinished"

Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Peter Morgan
Music by Jocelyn Pook, György Ligeti

Main Cast

Jeffrey Wright as Dave Bowman
Stephen Fry as Stanley Kubrick
Catherine Keener as Katharina Kubrick
Albert Finney as Producer John Calley
Steve Coogan as Mysterious Actor
Ellen Burstyn as Christiane Kubrick
Alan Arkin as Jan Harlan
Scott Wolf as Tom Cruise
Rachael Taylor as Nicole Kidman
Richard Schiff as Steven Spielberg
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Herself
Harvey Keitel as Himself

Tagline: "Keep your eyes wide open"

Synopsis: London 1997. Stanley Kubrick is in the middle of his last film, Eyes Wide Shut. There is a big delay during filming and producer John Calley decides to send one of his executives to the set to control, inform and try to accelerate the shooting. There are a lot of rumors about a parallel shooting in the studio, an experimental and secret new project, filmed at the same time as Eyes Wide Shut. Dave Bowman is one of the new inexperienced executives in Warner Bros, and he is chosen by Calley to face the genius. Bowman is not well received in the studios because his presence is uncomfortable for everyone and Stanley Kubrick refuses to be interviewed by him. Kubrick threatens the company with leaving the shooting, and Bowman, with the fear of being fired, tries to do his job in the shadow, kept in the margin, asking everyone in the cast and crew to figure out the truth. John Calley wants to see all the material that Kubrick has filmed in the last year, because it is property of Warner, and they want to know why he wants to repeat most of the scenes. Bowman has to answer lots of unsolved questions, why is the filming so delayed? Why Kubrick decided to film again the scenes with Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason Leigh? Why did he replace them? And, where is that material? Is there a second unit filming at the same time?

The film's shooting gets to 900 days and during all that time Dave Bowman stays in London investigating. He is witness of the tight relationship between Kubrick and the couple Cruise-Kidman, the Steven Spielberg's visits and videoconferences to talk about future projects. But he can't find anything about the rumors that came from Hollywood. But there is something strange in the shot planning because there is an actor in the set that hasn't being seen filming yet. That character is not in the screenplay, and Bowman focuses his investigation on him. Bowman only friend will be Katharina, Kubrick's daughter and art assistant in the film. Katharina introduces him in her circle and family, because she thinks that it is better to have the enemy at home. Bowman will meet Christiane, Kubrick's wife and Jan Haran. The relationship between him and Katharina gets closer and Stanley starts knowing him better and he starts talking to him, getting lot of confidence day by day because of his real love for cinema. But Kubrick warns him about something: If he wants to know the truth he must resign to Warner, and if he doesn't, he must go. Dave Bowman will be one of the few persons who will see the final cut and real version of EWS, and after Kubrick’s death, Bowman will turn into the inheritor and guardian of his unfinished last work.

What the Press would say:

This film was parked during several years because no one dared to finance this kind of non authorized biography about the last days of the great filmmaker. The story starts from a real base but this film offers a novelized vision about the reality of the Eye Wide Shut's extended shooting. It introduces fake elements and images mixed with real scenes about the filming, becoming a great novelized work of documentation. Stephen Frears accepted this project because his vision about it doesn't go deeply in rumors and polemic, though it is all about that. He doesn't want to focus the plot in the relationship between Kubrick and the couple Kidman-Cruise, and his particular vision about sexuality. All this is part of what we can see in the film but not the leading thread. Stephen Frears places the action in an unreal frame and he tries to recreate what could be the EWS set, one of the most mysterious and secret shootings of all time.

This film is a game about suppositions and it gathers some of the well known anecdotes, turning it into a schemer document and into an approximation about the last days of the genius. This is not a biography; it tries to create a picture about who was Stanley Kubrick, his way of working and how it really was at the end of his life. The talented British actor, Stephen Fry, plays the director and he gets a great characterization and a great verisimilitude with Kubrick. He had the physic but he needed a long make up session to get the final touch, and the similitude was spectacular even in his movements and the way he talked. Jeffrey Wright plays Bowman, the man everybody rejects because he is an intruder in the Kubrick's closet world. His character is the main motor of the plot because he will show us what is happening in the shooting, and we feel identified with him because we are intruders like him. Wright delivers a great performance being the structure of the film. His character is on the screen almost all the time and he has been consider the main character. Catherine Keener plays Kubrick's daughter, the nexus between his father, Bowman and the mysterious actor in the set, played by Steve Coogan. Keener gives a great performance based on a real woman but not in real events so she created the character over an idea, giving to her a supposed personality. Keener’s character offers one of the most interesting visions about who was Kubrick in his familiar circle.

This film has an intricate plot about cinema inside cinema, with a great directing and acting. An amazing film and work of fiction that may resolve many unsolved questions, or not.


Best Picture
Best Director: Stephen Frears
Best Original Screenplay: Peter Morgan
Best Leading Actor: Jeffery Wright
Best Supporting Actor: Stephen Fry
Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener

A Life of Death

Author(s): Michael
Location: Oklahoma

"A Life of Death"

Directed by Tim Burton
Written by John Logan
Original Score by Danny Elfman
Art Direction by Peter Young and Dante Ferretti
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood and Donna O’Neal

Main Cast

Johnny Depp- Edgar Allan Poe
Helena Bonham Carter- Eliza Poe/Maria Clemm
Ewan McGregor- David Poe
Jeffrey Jones- John Allan
Maggie Smith- Frances Allan
Laura Michelle Kelly- Virginia Clemm
Christian Coulson- Young Edgar Allan Poe

Tagline: "How can one live when all there is around them is death?"

Synopsis: Death. It seemed to be the only thing that ever happened in poor Edgar Allan Poe’s life. Whether it was with his caring mother or his loving wife Virginia, death always ruined what was good in his life.

Tuberculosis. It was the disease that no woman in Edgar’s life could ever escape.

First it was his mother, Eliza, who died early on in his life. Living a life in the theater, both his mother and his father, David, were madly in love and audiences were madly in love with them. Suddenly, and for unexplained reasons, Edgar’s father abandoned the family. Eliza continued to perform all around the country with Edgar continuing on with her. But, after a year of traveling on the road, Eliza came down with the disease Edgar would later call The Red Death. He was a mere 5 years old when death separated him from his mother.

After his mother’s death, Edgar was transported to the home of John and Frances Allan. After living 10 years with the couple, Edgar still felt a sense that this would never be his home, despite Frances’ maternal ways of raising him. Even so, it shocked him greatly to learn that she had succumbed to Tuberculosis. While Mr. Allan had never been the most respectful gentleman, it disgusted Edgar that John would carry on affairs while his wife was bedridden. After confronting John about his affairs, Edgar was shipped off to the University of Virginia. By the time he was 20, Edgar had had 2 mothers who died of Tuberculosis and 2 fathers who neglected him, and it was because of this that he would turn to a darker style of writing.

Shortly after unenrolling from University of Virginia, Edgar arrived at the home of his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter, Virginia. After many years of courtship, he would soon be living in the house as Virginia’s husband. Despite the happiness that had occurred during his time at their household, he still wrote in a sinister manner. It was throughout his time at their abode that some of his most successful tales were written including The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell- Tale Heart. During one of Virginia’s and his many nights sitting at the piano and singing, Virginia started to cough up blood. Through the time of his wife’s illness, Poe would write his most successful poem, The Raven. After very little celebration of his success, Virginia died.

Alcohol. It was what Edgar turned too after he was never able to find the happiness that he was always looking for and the cause of his mental breakdown. One October day he was found barely conscious in the streets of Baltimore and was taken to a nearby hospital where he would go to meet the ones who had left him in the gloomy world he lived in.

What the Press would say:

Inspired by the life of Edgar Allan Poe, A Life of Death, as it is so tastefully named, is a film for the ages. Directed by the always wonderful Tim Burton, the film is definitely his crowning achievement. Like all his other films, it has a clear look and feel, but unlike many of his other films, it is deeply emotional and has no boring parts. Burton has again assembled many of his usual crew members, however he energized them in such a way that he has never done before, because all of them have surpassed the previous brilliance. There is no better example than the remarkable Johnny Depp who delivers a groundbreaking and marvelous performance as demented writer Edgar Allan Poe. While many of his past performances have been creepy and fantastic, none quite match up to his recent achievement that will finally earn him his much deserved Oscar. Newcomer, Laura Michelle Kelly gives a marvelous performance as Poe’s main love interest, Virginia. Her death scene is especially painful and it really proves that she is an actress who is here to stay. Helena Bonham Carter is superb playing the roles of both Poe’s mother and his aunt. One of the best things about her performance(s) is that there is a clear difference between the two characters. She really shines in a cast of fantastic performers. Jeffrey Jones is superior in his scene stealing role as Mr. Allan; he gave a tremendous performance that shouldn’t be ignored. If he is overlooked yet again for a splendid supporting performance, it will be disgusting. Veteran actress Maggie Smith has possibly the most heartbreaking death in the entire movie and she gives her finest performance to date. It’s not a very showy role, but hopefully her status in Hollywood will help her gain the awards attention she deserves. The final standout in the film is Christian Coulson who gives an incredible performance as the younger Poe. It is very surprising that he has not gotten more work considering that he is such a great actor.

Finally, I have to mention the first-rate script crafted by expert writer, John Logan. One of the highest scripts in quality I’ve seen produced in a while. My god, it is fantastic, the lines are so well written it is will be a crime that needs to be taken to the supreme court if it is ignored at the Academy Awards this year. Overall, if you decide not to buy a ticket to A Life of Death, you are crazier than Poe himself.


Best Picture
Best Director- Tim Burton
Best Actor- Johnny Depp
Best Actress- Laura Michelle Kelly
Best Supporting Actor- Christian Coulson
Best Supporting Actor- Jeffrey Jones
Best Supporting Actress- Helena Bonham Carter
Best Supporting Actress- Maggie Smith
Best Original Screenplay
Best Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Original Score

Magic Lantern

Author(s): Harry
Location: Colombia

"Magic Lantern"

Distributed by: Miramax Pictures
Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci
Written by: Lasse Hallström and Bernardo Bertolucci
Original Score by: Ennio Moriconne
Production Design by: Gianni Quaranta
Cinematography by: Bruno Delbonnel
Costume Design by: Inger Pehrsson
Produced by: Richard Attenborough

Main Cast

Stellan Skarsgård (Ingmar Bergman)
Julie Delpy (Liv Ullmann)
Bruno Ganz (Victor Sjöström)
Alexandra Maria Lara (Harriet Andersson)
Scarlett Johansson (Ingrid Bergman)
Mads Mikkelsen (Erik Bergman)
Julia Jentsch (Karin Bergman)
Luke Spill (Young Ingmar Bergman)

Tagline: "A magic lantern can project the emotions of an artist"

Synopsis: Cinema. An obscure art that epitomizes. Cinema is like a dream. It goes directly into our feelings. It can travel the twilight room of the soul. Once, a young boy was locked in an uncomfortable and frightening wardrobe. This boy finds a magic lantern. As he turned around the crank, it would project mystical images. Cinema was his light in the middle of darkness. His name was Ingmar Bergman. This is his story…

Ingmar Bergman, an old man with a breathtaking passion, rests in his home in Faro, Sweden. Ingmar, inspired, begins to write his memories. He reveals his strongest demons as he writes and inevitably, cries. The words, written on the paper, suddenly become images. They are as intense as desperation. We see Ingmar in his childhood. He is painfully hit by Bishop Erik, a strict and perverse man that he recognized as his father. His mother Karin is depressive and tormented. Ingmar is blind towards love. He is a slave of his sins. He blames God. He fears death. His journey in life would become a dark mark in his soul. He regrets the day when he tried to murder his baby sister with his detestable brother. We then see Ingmar’s coming of age. He has his first sexual experiences and leaves his home, a place inhabited by ghosts and hate. Ingmar’s memories are as intense as sadness.

Ingmar continues his tragic path. He becomes a sensible theater director and an artistic filmmaker as well as an unfaithful husband. He leaves various families behind. He hasn’t been a father to any of his sons. The demons of his childhood haunt him. His inner doubts become a heavy weight in his persona. He is mentally and physically sick. Cinema, his life companion, suddenly illuminates him. Ingmar portrays his pain and his inner feelings through the seventh art. It is his way of freedom of expression. From his director chair, he witnesses the lives of his most admired actors such as the genius of Victor Sjöström, a man with a lack of confidence in himself; the attractive Harriet Andersson with whom he has an illicit love affair; a very sick and sad Ingrid Bergman who critiques his directing and his muse Liv Ullman, a woman with whom he has a beautiful friendship and who portrays emotion with her eyes. As we go back to Faro, the old Ingmar Bergman finishes writing his unforgettable story with an emotionally exhaustive ending.

What the Press would say:

Ingmar Bergman once said: “No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul”. Words that perfectly describe “Magic Lantern”, a powerful portrait about a tormented man and his unbreakable love for cinema. This film is both, a complex human study and an inspiring work of art. Bernardo Bertolucci and Lasse Hallström wrote a screenplay that touches the emotional core, based on Ingmar Bergman’s autobiography of the same name. The story is told through Bergman’s point of view as he writes the story of his life. His character development is evident in the film.

Bernardo Bertolucci directs another splendid motion picture. He mixes many elements of his past films to create one of his most beautiful. The film shows various decades in Sweden, from the twenties to the eighties. The atmosphere is dark and intense. Bertolucci and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel create an artwork with every shot. The light is perfect and the combination of colors mesmerizes. The film has some red tones as a symbol of Bergman’s philosophy: he believed that the human soul was red because it was desperate. Bertolucci also portrays some very emotional scenes and Ennio Moriconne’s haunting score gives more depth to them. Bertolucci is also an actor’s director in this film. Every single performance in the film is believable and that’s not just because of the great makeup work.

Stellan Skarsgård gives a tremendous transformation as Ingmar Bergman. I didn’t see him on screen, I saw Ingmar. His body movement and voice were simply identical. Stellan also gives the most breathtaking performance of his career. The emotion he portrays is simply draining. His performance is controlled but it was incredibly moving. In the theater where I saw the movie, the eyes of many persons were full of tears. Julie Delpy is also astonishing as Liv Ullman. When Ingmar was directing Liv in some scenes, her eyes gave a transcendental feel. Bruno Ganz also deserves some merit for his turn as Victor Sjöström, a man with a lack of confidence. The other performances of the film are amazing and Luke Spill is the breakthrough actor of the year as young Ingmar Bergman. All in all, “Magic Lantern” is an artistic motion picture that will never be forgotten.

For Your Consideration:

Best Picture: Richard Attenborough
Best Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Best Actor: Stellan Skarsgård
Best Supporting Actor: Bruno Ganz
Best Supporting Actress: Julie Delpy
Best Adapted Screenplay: Bernardo Bertolucci and Lasse Hallström
As well as various other technical categories