December 7, 2007

December 7, 2007

This Weekend in Theatres

Busy weekend at the box office. I encourage everyone to get themselves to the theatres this weekend to see at least one of the several female-centric films. Some of them are quite good and enjoyable.

Options include:
The Golden Compass (which I have not yet seen)- this film really needs our support. Here's why. It is a potential franchise film starring a girl which happens rarely, and if it tanks the person who will most probably get the blame is Nicole Kidman and I am sick and tired of her getting shitted on for her films not living up to bullshit box office expectations. The religious freaks are also out for the film because the book preaches atheism so they are trying to organize a boycott. The film opens on over 3500 theaters so everyone should be able to see it.

Other new films that should be on your list:
Juno- 8 theatres
Atonement- 32 theatres
Grace is Gone

Still playing
The Savages
Margot at the Wedding
August Rush

Grace is Gone - review
Another film that I saw an enjoyed was the new John Cusack starrer, Iraq film, Grace is Gone. In this film John Cusack has finally grown up. He plays Stanley Phillips, husband of Grace, a soldier deployed in Iraq left at home to raise his two daughters aged 8 and 12. Cusack at first acts like he is in the army himself with short commands to his kids and rousing troop-like cheers to inspire his staff at work. In fact he still wants to be in the army, and would have been, had he not been kicked out for his terrible eyesight.

One morning the doorbell rings and his family is changed forever. His army-like facade of life crumbles instantly. He is truly lost and is unable to fathom a life without his wife, especially because he feels at a loss at being able to raise, let alone communicate with, his two daughters.

In order to delay telling anyone, and to give his girls one more chance to be kids, he puts them in the car and asks them where they wants to go. They wind up at a Disney like theme park several days drive away. Shelan O'Keefe, a local Chicago girl, makes her feature debut as Heidi the 12-year-old on the cusp of growing up yet still very girl-like. She is the family caregiver and worrier, who has been having trouble sleeping due to the anxiety she feels when her mom is away. The younger daughter Dawn, played by another Chicago girl Gracie Bednarcyzk, is more care-free than her older sister. Yet she deeply misses her mom and each day at the same time her watch alarm beeps and she pauses from whatever she is doing to take a moment to connect with her mom a world away.

Most of the images of war that we see are pictures of men deployed, and men coming home to their families. This film shows the other side of the coin, how men and their families deal with women in combat. Film was written and directed by James C. Strouse. I thought it was quite moving.

Atonement- review
I love a good British period piece and Atonement is a good British period piece that has been getting quite a lot of Oscar buzz. It's probably going to get one of the five best picture nominations. Everyone seems to be talking about the romance between rich girl Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and Robbie (James McAvoy), son of the housekeeper who works for Cecilia's family.

But the story of Atonement is not the story of the lovers, it is the story of Briony, Cecilia's highly imaginative and talented younger sister, who on one very hot evening spins a tale that devastates all three of them forever and causes Briony to seek atonement throughout the rest of her life.

Because Keira is a huge star and James is being groomed to be huge, of course, they are going to be put forward in all the ads for the film. But persoanlly, I think that Keira is overrated, her acting is at times stiff, and through the whole movie I couldn't get the images of another couple of lovers Kristen Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes from the English Patient out of my mind. Forbidden love needs to be hot and Keira just doesn't seem to have the heft (probably because she weighs as much as a bird) for it which could be due to the fact that she is still only 21.

The film is based on the Ian McEwan novel with a screenplay by Christopher Hampton and is directed by Joe Wright who also worked with Knightley on Pride & Prejudice and the new Chanel commercials.

Another films I saw that opens this week is The Walker, Paul Schrader's third film in his "lonely man" trilogy which began with American Gigolo and continued with Light Sleeper. The description "lonely man" trilogy totally pisses me off, can you imagine a woman director talking about her trilogy of "lonely woman" films? Firstly, no one would ever let a woman make one lonely woman films let alone three, so Schrader should really get over himself.

The film stars Woody Harrelson as a "walker" of rich powerful women in contemporary Washington DC. I went to see the film because of his co-stars which include Lauren Bacall, Lily Tomlin and the seldom seen lately Kristin Scott Thomas. The story turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected and Harrelson is quite good as the gay society man who knows and protects everyone's secrets but who gets thrown to the wolves when the going gets tough.

Women in Film and TV UK gave out their annual awards this week to J.K. Rowling and producer Alison Owen (Brick Lane)
WIFTV Honors Rowling, Owen (Variety)

Slamdance, the hipper version of Sundance, which runs concurrently to it announced its selections.

Film by and about women in the fest include:
Narrative Feature Competition
"Jetsam," North American Premiere (UK) Written/Directed by Simon Welsford
Starring Shauna Macdonald and Alex Reid
An amnesiac woman is washed up on a beach and attacked by a man who washed up next to her. On the run from this stranger, she pieces her life back together, uncovering a world of spies, obsession and betrayal.

"Portage," US Premiere (CANADA) Written/Directed by Matthew Miller, Ezra Krybus, Sascha Drews
In this sensual, intense drama, a quartet of teenage girls embark on a canoe trip with a male guide. After his accidental death, they find themselves trapped in the wilderness and have to fend for themselves to find their way back to safety.

"Under the Snow," North American Premiere (SPAIN) Written/Directed by Candela Figueira and Maitena Muruzabal
Following the unusual connection made between four workers at different stages of their lives, capturing factory life in a way rarely seen: personal, flirtatious, introspective.

Documentary Feature Competition
"Circus Rosaire," (USA) Written/Directed by Robyn Bliley
For nine generations the Rosaire family has entertained audiences all over the world with their legendary animal acts. However, the circus industry is changing and attendance has dramatically declined. The Rosaire's livelihood and future are at risk as they struggle to continue the family tradition.

"My Mother's Garden," World Premiere (USA) Written/Directed by Cynthia Lester
The story of one woman's extreme attachment to material objects and how her estranged children reunite to help her let go.

"Neo-Lounge," (CHINA) Written/Directed by Joanna Vasquez
Arong An Italian aristocrat, a Bulgarian jazz singer, a Colombian coroner, a French hair salon entrepreneur, all together for a short moment in time at Beijing 's hippest nightspot Neo-Lounge.

"Sync or Swim," World Premiere (USA) Written/Directed by Cheryl Furjanic
A splashy look at a marginal sport: U.S.A. 's top synchronized swimmers endure rigorous training and overcome unthinkable obstacles to compete for Olympic glory.

"View From the Bridge: Stories from Kosovo," World Premiere (USA/KOSOVO) Written/Directed by John Ealer and Laura Bialis Peace
Told through the first person stories of Serbs, Albanians and Roma (Gypsies), this documentary juxtaposes the nightmares and dreams of Kosovars as it portrays a society trying to build a future while inextricably bound to the past.

Narrative Special Screening Features
"Goodbye Baby", World Premiere (USA) Written/Directed by Daniel Schechter
When Melissa Brooks discovers she can't afford college she moves to New York City and gets a job as a waitress at a comedy club. Living with her eccentric older brother, she enters a love triangle while trying to muster the nerve to get on stage and perform.

Documentary Special Screening Features
"Frontrunner," World Premiere (USA) Written/Directed by Virginia Williams
A woman's heroic, relentless run for the Presidency of Afghanistan.

Interview with Jennifer Vendetti whose film Billy the Kid opens today at the IFC in NY.

Halle Berry will receive a film achievement award at the Desert Palm Film Festival in January.

There is another film professional in the Fiennes family, director Martha who has a new film, Chromophobia coming out in England.
The Price of Being a Fiennes (The Telegraph)