Posts Tagged ‘Bill Murray’

57th BAFTA Awards

THE  57TH BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 15th February 2004 in London

BAFTA WINNERS IN THE FILM CATEGORY:

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Best Film:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Best Director: Peter Weir – Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

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Best Actor: Bill Murray – Lost in Translation

Best Actress: Scarlett Johansson – Lost in Translation

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Best Supporting Actor: Bill Nighy – Love Actually

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Best Supporting Actress: Renée Zellweger – Cold Mountain

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Best British Film: Touching the Void

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Best Original Screenplay: The Station Agent – Thomas McCarthy

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Best Adapted Screenplay: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Philippa BoyensPeter Jackson, and Fran Walsh

Best Visual Effects: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Best Foreign Language Film: In This World directed by Michael Winterbottom

57th BAFTA Awards

 

61st Golden Globe Awards

The 61st Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 25th January 2004 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Best Film Musical or Comedy : Lost in Translation

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Best Actor Drama: Sean Penn – Mystic River

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Best Actress Drama: Charlize Theron – Monster

Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Bill Murray – Lost in Translation

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Best Actress  Musical or Comedy: Diane Keaton – Something’s Gotta Give

Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins – Mystic River

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Best Supporting Actress: Renee Zellweger – Cold Mountain

Best Director: Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Best Foreign Language Film – Osama (Afghanistan)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/61st_Golden_Globe_Awards

Moscow vs Hollywood

Get Smart

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Director: Peter Segal

Cast: Steve Carrell, Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, Terry Crews, Terence Stamp

Review originally published in July 2008

After Anne Hathaway’s wonderful performances in Brokeback Mountain, The Devil Wears Prada and Becoming Jane, I was intrigued to discover her cast opposite comedian Steve Carrell (The 40Year Old Virgin) for the Spy adventure, Get Smart, a big screen adaptation of the 1960’s American comedy TV show.

Get Smart started off as quite an amusing film, more spoof than serious action, but what occurs is that the first half of the film, making excellent use of its initial stylish Moscow and Russian locations, fares better than the second half, set in a tired-seen-it-before downtown Los Angeles. With Mel Brooks famed for such classic comedies as To Be or Not to Be as an executive producer, I was expecting a comedy, however the joke in Get Smart starts running thin to such an extent that by the end of the film, it seems to be more on the audience who actually spent time and effort sitting through a two-hour movie, than on this half-hearted affair comprising of a mismatched pastiche of James Bond and Mission Impossible films, with scenes reminiscent of Octopussy and Entrapment combined with more high-octane car and plane chase sequences certainly suggestive of the Terminator movies.

Steve Carrell is a talented actor as noted in such independent films as Little Miss Sunshine, yet his particular style of comedy is confusing at times, sometimes serious, but capably funny. His lack of desire at playing the character completely straight or inanely goofy, gives the audience a mixed idea of Get Smart’s main protagonist Maxwell Smart, a desk-bound covert analyst who gets the opportunity to experience the long-anticipated thrills of dangerous espionage fieldwork.

Anne Hathaway, who makes the best of the material of this shallow spoof whose greatest flaw is not taking itself too seriously, seems almost lost as to how to play the super-efficient Agent 99, deadpan or with a comedic wit, leaving her floundering as the better half of a miscast screen couple. Either way she is left grappling for a more meaningful character, not to mention storyline, only to be left smirking on the sidelines, almost acknowledging herself that Get Smart falls short of the mark, which is clearly a waste for such a talented actress.

In the hands of a more astute director such as the brilliantly comic Blake Edwards, this film could have been a really witty sophisticated and stylish spy-drama in the vein of the classic Pink Panther movies, especially given the talents involved. Director, Peter Segal whose previous Adam Sandler movies, The Longest Yard and Anger Management, fails to pool the adequate acting resources and whilst there are too few genuinely hilarious moments in Get Smart, most notably the lavatory scene in the airplane and the sequences set in Russia, particularly Moscow, while the Hollywood finale leaves one wishing for a more substantial filmic experience.

Such great character actors like Alan Arkin and Terence Stamp are wasted in this poorly directed film, which could have been so much sharper than what it was aiming for. Get Smart saving grace is that it portrays Moscow as smarter than Hollywood, which inevitably is always worth a laugh.

Fading Reign of Art Nouveau

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton

Moonrise Kingdom director Wes Anderson assembles a hugely talented ensemble cast led by the irresistable Ralph fiennes as Gustave H.  a suave Concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel who gets embroiled in a whimsical art theft after his benefactor dies mysteriously and her evil son Dimitri played by Adrien Brody pursues the eloquent and flamboyant Gustave in a fictitious republic of  Zubrowka representative of a modern day Yugoslavia or even The Czech Republic, but emblematic of a crumbling decadent and ravaged Eastern Europe.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful plot, inventive, hilarious, witty and beautifully orchestrated matched by a superb ensemble cast the likes of which haven’t been seen on screen for years including Oscar nominees F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus), Harvey Keitel (Bugsy), Willem Dafoe (Shadow of a Vampire), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Edward Norton (Primal Fear), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) and Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley) – all consummate character actors and brilliant performers in the own right.

Each perfectly constructed shot in the Grand Budapest Hotel is a pastiche of old European movies and landscapes reminiscent of a time between the wars when civility was still in fashion. When Old European Hotels were lavish and comfortable establishments with Bell Boys, Lift Operators, Chefs and naturally charming yet slimy Concierges adding to the intrigue of its elegance. When Hotels were places to spend a week, when time was plentiful and guests came to languish in the extraordinary facilities of these beautifully decadent Hotels which populated the ski slopes and small towns of Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

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Even though, the fictional country,  Zubrowka is representative of a mixture of Eastern European countries which all suffered under the Nazi’s and then under the Communists, the institutional history of such a charming hotel remained the centre of a town’s attraction, where legends of its fabled guests were passed down over the decades. The Grand Budapest Hotel reflects an era when Art Nouveau reigned supreme especially in the 1930’s. This comedy set in 1932, featuring a complicated and whimsical if not absolutely witty plot is deftly handled by screenwriter Anderson who makes sure each of his cast members whether on screen for a second or for several scenes delivers a perfect performance.

The cast also includes Lea Seydoux, Mathieu Amalric, Owen Wilson and Tilda Swinton. Inspired by the works of 20th century Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, The Grand Budapest Hotel is expertly crafted, dazzlingly assembled and wonderfully executed. A real treat of a film which will sure to delight audiences for years to come  much like the Hotel whose guests found its hidden charms suitably enchanting. Highly recommended viewing and a winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, The Grand Budapest Hotel is marvelous, whimsical, witty and comical with an underlying menace attached to the action, making the comedy almost tragic in its relevance.

 

 

 

The Treasures of War

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The Monuments Men

Director: George Clooney

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Sam Hazeldine

Actor and director George Clooney and screenwriter Grant Heslov, the team behind The Men Who Stare at Goats and Good Night and Good Luck, team up for an old-fashioned historical war film about a middle aged group of men who set out during the latter years of World War II to recover most of the stolen art works secretly stashed in Nazi hordes across France, Belgium and parts of Germany from 1943 to 1945 as the Germans retreated in defeat as the tide of war turned against them. Whilst The Monuments Men boasts an all star cast including Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin (from The Artist), John Goodman and Matt Damon, the film doesn’t quite match up to the incisive political comment of the Oscar winning Good Night and Good Luck about the approaching threat of McCarthyism on broadcast journalists in the 1950’s.

Instead, Heslov and Clooney focus more on the after effects of war and looting and the utter destruction of entire communities, mainly the European Jews at the hands of the ruthless Nazi’s during the holocaust. There are moments of humour interjected in a mainly historical narrative about how these men travelled across the European Theatres of War from Paris to Brugge to Normandy to track down the hugely valuable and culturally significant pieces of art works stolen by the Nazi’s from Rembrandts to Michelangelo’s famed sculpture Madonna and child stolen from a Belgium monastery.

There is a brief interlude with Damon  as Captain James Granger teaming up with a French Resistance woman in Paris forced to work for the Nazi’s Claire Simone played by Cate Blanchett, with an indistinguishable European accent. There is the witty banter between Richard Campbell and Preston Savitz played respectively by Bill Murray and Bob Balaban and then there is a wonderful cameo by Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as Donald Jeffries a British Lieutenant who sobers up to join the Monuments Men to save his famed Madonna.

Whilst at times The Monuments Men comes across as sentimental and nostalgic, it’s because its focusing more on the saving of priceless art than on the horrors of conflict and the utter destruction of parts of Europe. This film is in no league to such Oscar winners as Saving Private Ryan or Anthony Minghella’s elegant The English Patient. Instead The Monuments Men shines light on the aspect of war which is often neglected the looting of treasures by the conqueror over the defeated and the crazy scheme of Hitler’s 3rd Reich to build a Fuhrer Art Museum in Berlin, which naturally never materialized. If anyone has been to the great art museums of London, Amsterdam, Paris or New York, many viewers will know that much of the greatest artworks was saved and restored to their original glory.

For art historians, The Monuments Men is a delightful and fascinating film, but for lovers of War films, don’t expect loads of action or bloodshed, just lots of barbed humour and the occasional tragic scene as this band of merry men navigate through dangerous battlefields to reclaim the original treasures of war. Recommended for lovers of nostalgic war films.

Hot Dogs on Hudson

Hyde Park on Hudson

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Told from the innocent perspective of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s distant cousin Daisy Suckley, Hyde Park on Hudson is a charming film about a collection of fascinating historical figures namely the pivotal meeting between Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and King George VI and should be viewed as a companion piece to The King’s Speech. Veteran American actor Bill Murray takes the part of FDR and Olivia Williams plays his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, and British actor Samuel West (Howards End) takes the part of King George VI. Set in upstate New York, Hyde Park on Hudson tells of a weekend in the summer of 1939 when the recently crowned King George VI and queen Elizabeth, both whom are reeling from the scandal surrounding the 1936 abdication of his brother King Edward VIII in favour of marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson gorgeously told in Madonna’s companion film W/E.

The visit of the British monarchy to the American president is meant to bolster American support for Great Britain as the threat of World War II looms with Nazi Germany invading most of Europe and in fact World War II did break out three months later.

Besides the international magnitude of the time, the film centres more on the eccentric Franklin D. Roosevelt America’s president during World War II who crippled by polio resorts to having a string of extramarital affairs including one with his distant cousin Daisy and who despite his physical ailments does not let that deter him from enjoying life and running such a powerful country as the USA. Especially pertinent in the film is the after dinner discussion between the King, who suffering from a speech impediment is soon put at ease by the magnanimous and charming FDR. It shows two politically important men that despite their physical and social impediments have more in common and their strategic meeting soon eases any tension between the United States and Great Britain forging the beginning of a special relationship which is still active more than 70 years later.

Director Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson is an intriguing tale of great political leaders who are viewed through the context of their private frailties and how they triumph not just for their own countries sake but that of the enormous publicity which marked such a visit by a British Monarch and his wife on American soil, in the face of a looming World War. Soon his Royal Highness the King of England is munching on a hotdog in an American style Barbecue and is effortlessly drawn into the less stuffy social conventions of Americans on their home turf. Bill Murray (Lost in Translation) is brilliant as the charming and quite naughty FDR (with his cigarette holders and exotic stamp collection) along with Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) cast as the forthright Eleanor Roosevelt. Laura Linney is perfect as the awe-inspired, slightly naive Daisy who is caught in the middle of such a significant historical event.

Beautifully filmed as a period piece, if a tad dark in some scenes, but a fun and interesting comedy serving as a comparison of the differences between British and American cultures and social customs reminiscent of some of the best Merchant Ivory films which are unfortunately no longer made. Recommended!

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