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Enrique

born: 1984
born in: Guam
lives in: Hollywood
A young actor, screenwriter and film critic who appreciates fine art, literature, theater, all methods of writing, and of course, all aspects of the film industry. Studied Dramatic Writing at New York University and recently moved to Los Angeles to steadily... [more]

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posted on 02.24.10

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Coen Brothers

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Jason Reitman
Lone Scherfig
Lee Daniels
Kathryn Bigelow
Pete Doctor
Bob Peterson
James Cameron
John Lee Hancock
Neill Blomkamp
Quentin Tarantino


On June 24th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced some momentous news about next year's Oscars--there will be 10 nominees for Best Picture, instead of the usual 5. This is probably the biggest embarkment the Academy has taken since the inception of the supporting actor/actress awards in 1936. "After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year," said President Sid Ganis. "The final outcome, of course, will be the same – one Best Picture winner – but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009." This was clearly done in response to much debate concerning the exclusion of certain genres of films, such as animated features and action/adventure films, namely "WALL-E" and "The Dark Knight". The Academy's decision opens the doors for more movies to vie for the ultimate honor of being named Best Picture of the Year.




1. Avatar
Directed by
Starring



Being director James Cameron’s first non-documentary feature since his monster epic Titanic which was over twelve years ago, I was honestly expecting a great deal more, especially considering that this is a movie that he wrote, directed and produced.  However, he does have a track record for technically advanced films that often fall short on plot and structure.  And Avatar is no exception to this trend.  This is probably the most overly hyped film of the year.  Aside from the radiant special effects and masterful editing, there was nothing too impressive about this movie.  Cameron had originally written an eighty-page scriptment some fifteen years ago and filming was supposed to commence immediately after Titanic.  But he held off on pursuing its development and production because the visual effects capabilities were limited at the time.  Cameron had a vision of what the film would look like and did not want to cheapen his foresight of this imagined world on screen.  This kind of integrity for a filmmaker is indeed admirable, and I am not saying that this is a bad movie nor am I saying that Cameron’s work isn’t without merit.  What I am saying is that Avatar simply isn’t as great as people have been making it out to be. (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: Although a visually stunning spectacle, it is an overly hyped epic that is essentially just Dances With Wolves in Sci-Fi.




2. The Blind Side
Directed By John Lee Hancock
Starring Sandra Bullock, Kathy Bates, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Ray McKinnon, Jae Head, and Lily Collins



“This team is your family.” This line stuck out the most with me, on a personal level. A very close friend and teammate of mine recently conveyed very similar sentiments to me, having not been playing with them or even around much this past fall season. This concept of a team being like your family is the overriding theme of this film. There is much to be said about anything that unifies people from different walks of life and improves upon their very existence. This is the reason I have always loved playing team sports. Very few things in my own life have afforded me the kind of trust in my comrades and belief in my contributions as playing football and rugby. And that is precisely what The Blind Side so auspiciously conveys. Sandra Bullock, who portrays Leigh Anne Tuohy in the film, commented in a recent interview, “A family unit doesn’t work unless everyone’s working together. The Team doesn’t work, if everyone’s not working together… Working as a team or a family advances people faster and better than someone by themselves.” (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: Even if you're not a fan of football, you will appreciate the message behind this film. It is the feel good movie of the year!




3. District 9
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Staring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and David James



In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population, nicknamed "The Prawns," appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The refugee camp where the aliens were located has deteriorated into a militarized ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor. In 2010, the munitions corporation, Multi-National United, is contracted to forcibly evict the population with operative Wikus van der Merwe in charge. In this operation, Wikus is exposed to a strange alien chemical and must rely on the help of his only two new 'Prawn' friends. -Kenneth Chisholm




4. An Education
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Staring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson




An Education is a coming of age tale about a sixteen-year-old girl who falls in love with a man twice her age. Relatively unknown Danish director Lone Scherfig has created a film that truly captures the innocence of youth. The script itself is based upon the memoirs of British journalist Lynn Barber who didn’t originally publish her story until this year. There was an essay written in the "Granta", a student publication at Cambridge University, which featured Barber’s personal story. Screenwriter Nick Hornby read this and immediately was draw to the story. He states that what appealed to him most was this “suburban girl who's frightened that she's going to get cut out of everything good that happens in the city. That, to me, is a big story in popular culture. It's the story of pretty much every rock 'n' roll band.” Hornby, a novelist himself, also wrote the screen adaptation for such popular films as High Fidelity and About a Boy, and applies his usual shrewd understanding of pop palatability again here. (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: A remarkably distinguished coming of age story that truly embodies the angst and emotional trauma of life's many lessons.




5. The Hurt Locker
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Staring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty




“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” This opening quote from New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges’ novel “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” is the perfect summation for this movie.  People throughout the ages have faced the front lines of the battlefield and endured the sacrifice of themselves for a greater cause. This is not that kind of war story. In fact, to classify this as an Iraqi War movie is a hasty assumption. The Hurt Locker is more a story about three men, three soldiers, and the emotional duress they endure while defusing bombs in Baghdad.  There isn’t some greater cause that will serve some exorbitant conclave, or some revolutionary mission for the betterment of man, or some lofty discernment of some geopolitical purpose. The film focuses on the characters themselves and not the superseding circumstances of the war at hand. It separates itself from this A-typical scenario that so many preceding films of this kind have fallen to.  (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: Finally a modern war film set in the Middle East that isn't cliché. A great film that focuses on the characters not the politics.




6. Inglourious Basterds
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Staring Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender, Mélanie Laurent, and Til Schweiger



When anyone mentions the name Quentin Tarantino, a mélange of words come to mind: extreme, audacious, impudent. But much of his style is modeled after the numerous cult cinema classics and Inglourious Basterds is no exception to this. Tarantino not only has remade the original version of the 1978 film of the same name only spelled correctly (Inglorious Bastards), but he has crafted a parody on World War II films in general that rings to the tune of The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare, and The Great Escape, to name a few. The drastic difference here is that Tarantino distributes an equal amount of screen time between the good and bad guys. Many of the more esteemed war epics often ignore that realm of contradictory regard. So while Tarantino may ignore the factual accounts of the period, he executes a balanced story that enhances the perspective of the enemy, though still diabolical, simply by allowing them face time. He focuses on the story, not just the history. This is precisely why he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Pulp Fiction. Though his approach is indeed noteworthy, the film itself falls short on the whole. (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: Entertainingly glorifies violence in a way we have not seen in some time.




7. Precious
Directed by Lee Daniels
Staring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, and Lenny Kravitz



With all the hype surrounding this movie, I had expected an extremely moving film about the hard knocks of life. That was a huge underestimation on my part. This film relinquishes any preconceived inner-city stereotypes that one might have and exposes a down right horrific world of destitution and misfortune. To call Precious merely a social statement is like saying that Titanic was about a sinking boat. Director Lee Daniels has created a disarming film that doesn’t force false empathy or emotion from its viewers. The story line alone pushes the audience to feel for these characters with seeming constructed or imposing. With each scene there is a new revelation, some are hopeful but most are disarming. It is a rare occurrence for a movie to entice such a deplorable emotion reaction. (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Bottom Line: A heart-wrenching story about the hardships of an abused and seemingly hopeless teenager in Harlem. Masterful acting performances take this film to a whole other level.




8. A Serious Man
Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Staring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Wagner Lennick, Fred Melamed, Aaron Wolff, and Jessica McManus




There are two groups of people who should go see this movie: 1. anyone who is Jewish and 2. anyone who knows someone who is Jewish. Writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen have done it again with their latest parody on American-Jewish culture in the sixties. The public has come to know their style of film making to be intricately elaborate and situationally extremist, and A Serious Man is most certainly both. Personally, I wish I had gone to see this with one of my Jewish friends, but only so that I would have had an on-hand expert to immediately clue me in on some of the scenarios depicted in the film. There were several scenes where the audience bursted out into laughter without any real premise to do so; it dawned on me that these must have been some sort of Jewish inside jokes, if you will. Despite my lack of cognition, the movie was highly entertaining and not just in a Coen Borthers sort of way. We have seen this approach from them before in such films as Raising Arizona and Fargo that embrace a known ethnology that we may not all know personally, but certainly know of. This pre-establishes a level of endearance to audiences because most can certainly relate to the idea of what these characters are going through. So even if you're not of any kind of Jewish decent, the predicaments are so intriguing that it arouses a curiosity to want to know about being Jewish. Or at the very least, want to know about these characters. This is what makes this such a great film. (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: A must see! Especially if you can appreciate the dark farcical style of the Coen Brothers.




9. Up
Directed by Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson
Staring Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer and Jordan Nagai




From the Academy Award-nominated team of director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and co-director Bob Peterson comes Up, a comedic adventure taking off and lifting spirits. Carl Fredricksen spent his entire life dreaming of exploring the globe and experiencing life to its fullest. But at age 78, life seems to have passed him by, until a twist of fate, and a persistent 8-year old Wilderness Explorer named Russell, gives him a new lease on life. Up takes audiences on a thrilling journey where the unlikely pair encounter wild terrain, unexpected villains and jungle creatures. When seeking adventure - look Up.


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: A candid tale of two explorers who find themselves through the help of the other. Heart-warming from beginning to end.




10. Up In The Air
Directed by Jason Reitman
Staring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Amy Morton, and Sam Elliott



Have you recently lost your job? Is your business suffering because the consumer market is on a severe down? Have you felt the repercussions of the poor economy in any way, shape or form? If you are living anywhere in America right now, you probably answered “yes” to one of these questions. And if so, I highly recommend that you see this film. Director Jason Reitman has once again crafted a movie that drives its message home by focusing on characters through lightweight existentialism. Much like his prior films, Juno and Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air takes a typically nontraditional protagonist and gives us a rare window into their unconventional existence. Reitman co-wrote the screenplay with Sheldon Turner, whose previous work is limited to mediocre horror film remakes and a bad Adam Sandler movie. Although it is based upon Walter Kirn’s novel of the same name, the film takes a vastly different approach than the original story. I would not be surprised if both Reitman and Turner take home an Oscar this year for their lofty adaptation. (Read More Here)


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: A splendid contemporary glimpse into one man's ventures that induces us to reflect upon our own lives. An absolute must see!





The Short List:


1. Avatar
2. The Blind Side
3. District 9
4.
An Education
5. The Hurt Locker
6. Inglourious Basterds
7. Precious
8. A Serious Man
9. Up
10. Up In The Air



"Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going to allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize," commented Ganis. "I can’t wait to see what that list of ten looks like when the nominees are announced in February."

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Jane Campion

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Abbie Cornish
Ben Whishaw
Jan Chapman
John Keats
Paul Schneider


This film has renewed my belief that Hollywood can indeed capture the essence of romance. Academy Award winner Jane Campion has returned in full force with this remarkably poignant tale about renowned poet John Keats and the love that inspired his work & enticed his life. In the same fashion as her acclaimed film The Piano, Campion brings about a subtle melancholy mood that is subdued only by the strength of the actors on screen. With a relatively unknown cast, the audience is drawn in not by glamor or popularity but by the performances themselves. Such seems to be the trend with many the actor under Campion's direction, including Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, and Nicole Kidman to name a few. And once again, she has created a masterpiece of character driven storytelling with Bright Star.



The film opens in Hampstead Village with our heroine Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish, tailoring her latest ensemble. We quickly learn that Miss Brawne is a seasoned fashion designer who takes much pride in both her work and her opinions. In a time when women did not have conventional jobs, it is peculiar to see that Fanny actually makes a living as a designer. Her father is seemingly no longer alive and she has two younger siblings. So her vocation does lend to the idea that her family is not incredibly well-off and therefore her income is a great asset to her kin. Cornish creates a character that is both passionate and lamentable. As her feelings for Mr. Keats develop, we can slowly see Fanny's vulnerability unravel and her very existence becomes focal upon her relationship. The range of emotions that Cornish portrays is astounding. Campion comments that "Abbie's portrayal of Fanny is transcendent; this performance puts her in a category with the top actors of her generation." I predict that Cornish will easily garnish an Oscar nomination for this role and undoubtedly will now be at the forefront of the public's attention.



Films about poets in general have not been very good recants of their actual biographies. More often than not, such scripts are tailored in a way that focuses too much on their actual lives. Like in the film Sylvia, Gwyneth Paltrow seeks to create a dismal recantation of Sylvia Plath's love life but fails to effectively parallel it to her writing. This is not what Campion achieves in Bright Star. Because she wrote the screenplay herself, as is her creative tendency, she probably knew exactly the story she was looking to tell. Keats had left behind a detailed account of his relationship with Fanny Brawne in the numerous letters he wrote to her and to her sister. Campion clearly paid very close attention to the details of his correspondences and as a result we see how Keats loved and how it reflected upon his work. Though often subtle, Keats' poems are laced throughout the film so methodically it's almost artful. There is an elegant recital of Keats' poem "Ode to the Nightingale" in the closing scene that kept the audience glued to their seats long after the credits started to role.



This quintessence of legendary English poet John Keats is captured in whole by Ben Whishaw. He conceives a man who is both burdened by his failures and idealistic in his ambitions. You can see the sentiment of concern in Keats' eyes when he speaks of those most dear to him, namely his brother Tom and later Fanny. He uses an indirect modesty to recant how life has brought him to Hampstead. He curses his circumstances without being ungrateful to his companion Mr. Charles Armitage Brown, played by Paul Schneider, even though it is clear that he has not profited from his pen. Today, John Keats is considered to be the father of the Romantic movement, but he did not live to see such adoration or success. His dire financial restraints hinder not only his livelihood but ultimately prohibit him form marrying Fanny. The two seemed to be star crossed lovers from the get go who have everything and everyone against them.



Mister Browne establishes himself very early on as a foe to Fanny. Schneider fosters a range of emotions as Keats' best friend and sustains himself to be an annoyance for most of the film. He outright almost sabotages his friend by sending Fanny a Valentine message, proclaiming he is merely playing her "game". But he too inevitably faces his own predicaments with love and finds himself forced to make sacrifices of his own that he had not anticipated. Unfortunately, this directly impacts Keats. And their relationship is suspended as each man struggles with their own predicaments of love. Although Browne often overlooks his mate's personal sentiments, he always meant him well. Perhaps one of the most emotional monologues in the film is when Browne comes to the devastating realization of just what Keats means to him, "I failed John Keats! I failed John Keats! I did not know how tightly he had wound himself around my heart!"



On a cinematic level, Campion creates a vividly lush film that compliments the emotional situations of the characters. There are wonderfully resounding scenes set against open fields of purple flowers and the many splendors of the forest. This is a London that does not exist today, as much of that countryside has long since been developed. There are creative shots of Keats atop a tree reveling in his feelings and off-centered closeups of many an innate object, such as a key worn on a necklace or a detailed cross stitch threading, each capture the moment perfectly. There are numerous other symbolic images of Fanny and John's relationship made throughout the film: the Wall that divides their bedrooms in their adjacent houses, the Cat who fills a void while Fanny is separated from her love, and the Butterfly that transforms from a caterpillar with new found means of freedom.



In Bright Star, we find ourselves in the midst of a truly great romantic film where the simplicity of poetry and passion carry us all the way through to the very end. The acting is utterly superb and I expect that Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish and Paul Schneider will all receive recognition come awards season. Once again, director Jane Campion has written a script about human desire and emotional circumstance and created a film that surpasses the predictability of other period films of its kind. Her movie captures the force behind John Keats' greatest works and we can now put a face to the lyrics in many of his poems. "Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow." So too does Jane Campion's film Bright Star



Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Bottom Line: An extraordinary biopic of love & passion. Go see it in the theaters!


 

“This movie looks so good! Cannot wait to see it! ”
Posted over 5 years ago
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