SPOTLIGHT: Laura Linney

Few actresses stay under the radar and still garner as much acclaim as Laura Linney.  She hit her hot streak in the 2000’s with rich, respectable roles in small movies.  However, she has transcended the “indie darling,” label with struts onto the small screen in John Adams and her new headlining act on Showtime on The Big C.  Linney doesn’t just pick movies to make bank.  She does projects where the female characters she plays aren’t jokes, even if they tell them.  She has a knack for both comedy and drama, but her real gift lies in the middle ground (The Squid and the Whale, The Savages).  Few actresses can garner a chuckle and gasp in the same scene, but she does it expertly.  Though she often shares the spotlight with gifted male counterparts like Liam Neeson or Phillip Seymour Hoffman, she never lets them steal it.  She’s that rare actress that doesn’t try to steal scenes but still ends up doing it quite often.

Continue reading

REVIEW: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Written by: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Annette Bening, Juliane Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska

You usually watch a movie about the inner workings of the suburban American family expecting to see it deconstructed, but sitting through Lisa Cholodenko’s bracing, hilarious The Kids Are All Right you watch something strange: it being rebuilt.  Following an economic crisis and subsequent rethinking of what it means to be American, Kids comes at the perfect time.  It rethinks the nuclear family on the silver screen by doing the most daring thing: not mentioning it.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Juliane Moore), the two moms at the center of the film, were each impregnated by the same sperm donor.  Now that their daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has turned 18, her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) pressures her to contact the donor (Mark Ruffalo).  They do, it’s awkward, and it almost tears the happy family apart.

Continue reading

REVIEW: Mother

Mother
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Written by: Eun-kyo Park & Joon-ho Bong
Starring: Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won, Ku Jin, and Yoon Jae-Moon

To call Mother, the latest effort from seminal South Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong, obscure would be putting it lightly.  Rarely does a movie of such visual beauty have such an odd sense of humor, especially when the subject matter is so dark.  It begins with its small female protagonist dancing alone in the middle of a wheat field. It ends with the same dance, this time in a crowded bus.  It’s hard to describe a reaction to this, and I’m sure it will differ for many viewers.  However, it summarizes the movie quite well.

What begins as an odd tale of a mother/handicapped son relationship quickly saunters into an intriguing murder mystery.  When her son (Bin Won) is accussed of the murder of the local nympho, the unnamed mother (Hye-ja Kim) sets out to prove his innocence.

Continue reading

ARCHIVE REVIEW: Julia

Julia
Directed by: Erick Zonca
Written by: Roger Bohbot & Michael Collins
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Aidan Gould, Saul Rubinek, and Kate de Castillo

Make no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Tilda Swinton is one of the finest actresses of her generation.  So sublime and brilliant is her technique, that even in a dud like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe she manages to give you something to watch.  And then there is Julia, a movie that is actually good, where she inhabits the heart and soul of her character, leaving you stunned, disgusted, and many other things by the time the credits roll.

As the title character, Swinton plays an alcoholic nothing hired by a neurotic Mexican neighbor (Kate de Castillo) to kidnap her son and reunite them across the border.  This plot seems like something you’d see in a glitzy Hollywood caper, and the characters in Roger Bohbot and Michael Collins’ screenplay seem conscious of it.  When Julia tries to explain the scheme to some of her confidants, they look at her like she’s a fool, which she is.

Continue reading

ARCHIVE REVIEW: Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Written by: Nancy Oliver
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson

Pretty much your standard indie-love-dramedy. Boy meets girl. Boy suppresses feelings for girl. Boy orders an anatomically correct mannequin off the internet in replacement.

Okay, so not quite the standard love story arc we’re used to, but it’s definitely something quirky and cool enough for to get excited about, since it is the premise is really what drives the interest throughout movie. Lars Lindstrom (Gosling) lives in the garage/apartment adjacent to the home his brother (Schneider) and him inherited from their dead parents. For the most part Lars seems like a normal guy, driving his own car, attending church, dressing in a range of gaudy sweaters and working in a small desk job where he has many co-worker friends who attempt to reach out to Lars. The problem is, is that Lars rejects their affection and often seems irritated by their company and kindness. Continue reading