viola davis

Showing 9 posts tagged viola davis

September in Film: Must Watch List

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy share their own perspectives of the ups and downs of their relationship through the years, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are estranged twins who mend their relationship following simultaneous suicide attempts, and Jane Fonda is the matriarch of a less than normal family brought together for a funeral.

[September 12]

"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" (wide)

Director: Ned Benson (debut feature film)
Cast: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis 
Grade: A- [commentary]

Synopsis: A story of differing perspectives of Connor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby, a young married couple living in New York. Him looks at their relationship from Connor’s angle, while Her follows Eleanor’s. During the course of their daily lives, the couple encounters a life changing event that threatens the stability of their marriage. Them is a shorter form compilation of Him and Her.

A beautiful film that is so much about connecting and empathizing with the two lead characters. I saw it in the order of Him then Her which I contend is probably the best way to experience it. I wondered how they would package this (3 hour) movie when it was released to the masses and now I know, primarily as Them, an edited 2 hour version that I’m sure will sacrifice a lot of the integrity of this ambitious project. Do me a favor; seek out Him and Her.

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"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"

A story of differing perspectives of Connor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby, a young married couple living in New York. Him looks at their relationship from Connor’s angle, while Her follows Eleanor’s. During the course of their daily lives, the couple encounters a life changing event that threatens the stability of their marriage.

This weekend comes the exciting trailer for one of my favorite films to come out of 2014, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby starring the ever great James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as a married couple on the verge of a failed marriage. I have read a number of media outlets comparing this story to that of the Ryan Gosling-Michelle Williams-headed Blue Valentine. Yes, we have here a film that splices the more loving and playful begin stages of a long term relationship with the devastating and pain end stages, but for this film we have an extra element for which to hang your emotions. 

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"Get on Up"

A chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.

If the trailer can get me up and out of my seat, just think what the movie will do. Chadwick Boseman is surely making a name for himself in black Hollywood for jumping into the skin of real people after his impressive turn in last year’s Jackie Robinson biopic 42. As it takes on the spirit of the late, great James Brown this should be entertainment on a whole never levee.

The extended cast includes Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (reuniting with director Tate Taylor, the director of The Help), Nelsan Ellis, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd, August 1 is the date to get yourself to the theater and watch it. 

TIFF2013 [Day 3]: “Prisoners” & “Therese” and “All is By My Side”

On my Day 3 of TIFF13, I had three tickets in hand for three very different movies - a police thriller (Prisoners), a French literary adaptation (Therese), and a biopic on one of the biggest blues rock singers in history (All is By My Side). Let’s get to my brief thoughts on each of them and some interesting bits of knowledge I gathered from the post-screening Q&As (if there was one):



In many ways, Prisoners is a triumph of a dark thriller film. Every character carries with them the capacity of darkness and light, forgiveness and vengeance as they live on a respective side of the puzzle; the puzzle being what happened to two little girls who disappeared the afternoon of Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. One of sides stands the two families (Hugh Jackson, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrance Howard) who are desperate for answers which drives them to perpetrate or turn a blind eye to unspeakable acts in the name of their children. On the other side is a disturbed young man and his aunt (Paul Dano, Melissa Leo) who may or may not know what happened to them. It is all up to a detective to figure it out (Jake Gyllenhaal).     

For much of the two-and-a-half run time, the movie brims with unbearable tension, cringing suspense, and plenty of gasp-out-loud moments to carry along the unraveling mystery. Couple that with the many heavy emotional moments, the bulk and the best for me from Jackman, Bello, and Davis, the film is paced with intense beats that often throws you off guard in the best way possible.

Right from the start, in a opening scene with his son on a deer hunting trip, we are trained to take note of Jackman’s character, a man portrayed as been desensitized to the suffering/innocence of whatever he comes to consider his prey. This is important note director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowskiand drives home to make his subsequent struggles at morality completely plausible. It is only in the last thirty minutes of the movie that the movie loses momentum but the final scene that filmmaker chooses to end on is brilliant. My Grade: B

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Must Watch List (Sept 2013)

Here are a couple of indie theatrical releases I recommend for the month of September:

*Note: some of this theatrical release dates are for limited release before it goest wide; all are US dates

[Sept 20]



It’s a star studded movie (and official Toronto International Film Festival 2013 selection) that will surely examine the psychology of the two families of two missing little girls and the awful lengths they will go to find their children. 

—> Watch the trailer for Prisoners here. 

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After his six-year-old daughter and her best friend are kidnapped, a small town carpenter butts heads with a young, brash detective in charge of the investigation. Feeling failed by the law, he captures the man he believes responsible, holding him captive in a desperate attempt to find out what he did with the girls, whom he’s convinced are still alive. But the further he goes to get the man to confess, the closer he comes to losing his soul.

Wow! Can you get more critically acclaimed main actors in one movie? Five Oscar nominees (Jackman, Gyllenhaal, Davis, Bello, Howard) and an Oscar winner (Leo). Add on top of that an up-and-coming actor like Paul Dano who has impressed me as of late with his work in Ruby Sparks and LooperI’m betting this being a great psychological thriller, offering commentary on whether people are born evil and it remains latent for a time or if people driven to evil by traumatic experiences. 

Prisoners will be released in theaters September 20th. 

Oscars: What I Learned

1. (Last minute replacement) Billy Crystal couldn’t save the hosting gig. I love the Oscars. It’s sometimes pretentious and has the rep of being a long drawn-out boring awards show, but it’s glamour, it’s grand, it represents the beauty of the Hollywood movie tradition. I will watch as long as I’m able (Oscar, I just can’t quit you!). That being said, the show has been struggling in the hosting gig for alittle while. Last year, the duo of Franco-Hathaway was cringe-worthy (I had such high hopes!). This year, I almost had a heart attack when they announced Eddie Murphy was hosting (sorry, but I think he peaked in the 90s). I was alittle hopeful when he dropped out, but then they brought in the old standby Billy Crystal. Yes, he’s a legend for having hosting (now) nine times, but the times have changed. And the academy trying to then weave in theme of Old Hollywood didn’t help any. Which brings me to the fact that… 

2. The present generation of comedians were the highlight of the show. Never have I looked forward to the presentation of awards so much. Will Ferrell and Zach G. with the symbols, Chris Rock on the ease (and lucrativeness) of animation acting, and hilarious RDJ’s documentary bit. It felt like a very entertaining audition for next year’s hosting gig. Pay attention, academy! 

3. Standing ovations are in. The O’s stood for Octavia and Oprah last night and derservingly so. I’m so happy Octavia won for her rich performance in The Help. To me her journey is that of the underdog. Hopefully, this will up her profile to more interesting and nuanced roles. And Oprah, well, she’s Oprah. 

4. Emma Stone will forever have my heart. And the award for Most Entertaining Moment definitely goes to Emma Stone. It reminded me back when I first saw her in Easy A, how there is such a fresh ease to her funniness. I laughed so much I didn’t mind that huge ass bow on her shoulder. Hey, Emma, are you looking for a new BFF?

5. You go against Meryl Streep, you most likely will get your feelings hurt. Better luck next time, Viola. I really wished you would have won. Damn you, Streep. 

6. Skipping The Artist was a mistake. Seriously, that Frenchmen is so damn charming, terrific, and enjoyable to watch even on the award show circuit. Is there anymore awards I can see him win? Since I missed seeing both The Descendants and The Artist (I’ve been busy!), I told myself I’d see whichever won as a post-Oscars treat. To the theater this week I go, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

Curious about the winners, see a complete list here. 

SAG Awards: What I Learned

1. Let Viola Davis make all the speeches: The woman is a class act. Since the start of this awards season, she has given some of the most beautifully crafted acceptance speeches as she carts off Lead Actress awards for The Help. Her words can inspire anyone. To those expecting to win on Oscar night: pull Viola on stage with you and let her do all the talking. To all those who want to see past evidence of her powerful acting abilities, see Doubt (her one major scene defines the whole movie).  

2. Maybe I should give French men a chance: Here’s a secret for you - I have an thing for European men, specifically Spanish and British men (it’s the accents!). But after being exposed to the charm of Jean Dujardin of The Artist in the last few months, maybe I have overlooked what all Europe has to offer. Bonus: I was flipping through the recent GQ and saw his debonair photo spread. Oui, oui. 

3. The trio of Wiig, Rudolph, and McCarthy continue to bring the laughs: My best laugh of the night came when the Bridesmaids stars introduced their cast for the Best Ensemble In Film award. When they walk on stage carting alcohol, you already knew it was going to be good.

4. Brad and George are smooth operators: You know who I’m talking about - Pitt and Clooney. The ultimate bro-migos. I don’t think its a secret how far up on the A-list they are yet they continue to be present at award shows, even smaller less prestigious ones like the SAG awards (let’s face it, it’s not the Golden Globes or Oscars). The case can be made that they are nominated and that’s why they are there but not everyone shows up (talking to you, DiCaprio!). However, I read/hear reports all the time on how gracious they are with fans and how friendly they are with everyone no matter who you are so they are aces in my book. 

5. Movies definitely trumped TV this year: Maybe I’m missing something but the only show that was nominated in any category that I actually watch is “Dexter” and “Glee”, both of which I think had lackluster seasons this past year. I totally gave up on “The Office” once Steve Carrell left. I’ll give it up to “Breaking Bad” and “Modern Family”, which I hear are fan favorites but what about “Homeland”, “New Girl”? And don’t let me get started on the injustice that is the brilliant and underrated “Fringe”. Let’s get some new blood in the mix, people.

If you are curious on the complete list of winners, see it here