Posts Tagged ‘Naomi Watts’

We Own The Stars

The Glass Castle

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Ella Anderson, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Sadie Sink, Brigette Lundy-Paine

Hawaiian director Destin Daniel Cretton’s cinematic adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle is an emotional and intricate exploration of a dysfunctional family’s unconventional upbringing.

The Glass Castle stars Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (The People vs Larry Flynt, The Messenger) as the patriarch Rex Walls and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (21 Grams, The Impossible) as his wife Rose Mary. Oscar winner Brie Larson (Room) stars as the grownup second daughter Jeanette who would eventually turn from gossip columnist writer to bestselling author of the novel from which the story is based.

Ella Anderson plays the younger version of Jeannette who has to deal with her poverty-stricken parents as they grow up in the backwater of West Virginia, often living in abandoned buildings and scrounging for food money.

At the film’s outset it is clear that Jeannette has a special bond with her heavy drinking, big dreaming and often delusional father Rex who keeps promising her and her siblings (two sisters and a brother) that he is going to build the family a glass castle from which they can glimpse the stars through.

As the narrative shifts between New York in 1989 and her poverty stricken upbringing in rural West Virginia, The Glass Castle intelligently explores the concepts of sustainable living, of living off the grid and repudiating the city driven Capitalist work ethic which defines contemporary America.

The mother Rose Mary is too busy painting to watch her children, never mind feed them while the father Rex is too busy drinking to actually get a proper a job to support his family. Woody Harrelson gives one of the best performances of his screen career as Rex Walls as he manipulates and misguides the family into believing that he has the capacity to actually take care of them.

Eventually the young Jeannette says to her siblings that they have to make their own plans to save up money and leave West Virginia for more lucrative work opportunities in New York.

Fast forward to 1989, where the older Jeannette, beautifully played with nuance and comprehensive emotional intelligence by Brie Larson who as a successful journalist on the verge of marrying her straitlaced accountant fiancée David played by Max Greenfield (The Big Short) suddenly has to contend with her parents squatting on the Lower East Side in an abandoned building.

Josh Caras, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Sarah Snook (The Dressmaker, Steve Jobs) play the other siblings Brian, Maureen and Lori.

The best scenes in The Glass Castle are between Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson and while the film is an emotional joyride, it does not give the parents any social accountability for the way they brought up their children through neglect and apparent starvation.

The Glass Castle is a fascinating exploration of familial responsibility or lack thereof and the emotional effects that irresponsible parents decision making can have on their unsuspecting children.

The drama gets a film rating of 8 out 10.

The highly underrated Woody Harrelson should received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Rex Walls in the upcoming 2018 Academy Awards.

The Glass Castle is recommended viewing for those that enjoy a tense, sometimes difficult family drama where the children are told to pick stars while they are starving on earth.

2015 Toronto Film Festival

2015 Toronto International

Film Festival Winners

TIFF2015_poster

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

demolition

Opening Night Film: Demotion directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper

 

Room_Poster

People’s Choice Award: Room directed by Lenny Abrahamson starring Brie Larson, Joan Allen, William H. Macy and Jacob Tremblay

closet_monster

Best Canadian Feature Film: Closet Monster directed by Stephen Dunn starring Connor Jessup, Isabella Rosselini, Joanne Kelly and Aaron Abrahams

Source: 2015 Toronto Film Festival

Performance Anxiety

Birdman

Or

The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

birdman_ver3

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Lindsay Duncan

Mexican film director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu whose previous films include the critically acclaimed Babel, Buitiful and 21 Grams, delivers another cinematic magic realist masterpiece in the electrifying film Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance about the crazy antics which occur backstage on a Broadway production of a play adapted from a Raymond Carver story.

Birdman is comical, fantastical and brilliantly acted by a great ensemble cast but particularly by Michael Keaton as the central character Riggan, a washed up 1990’s superhero film star who is desperate to revive his acting career on Broadway.

Michael Keaton delivers a crackling performance as the erratic Riggan, an aging actor on the verge of a nervous breakdown, whose alter ego the superhero film character Birdman keeps whispering in his ear that he should not be taking to the stage but rather resuscitating his failed film career. Riggan also seems to be constantly hounded by a multitude of neurotic woman throughout the film which feeds his own performance anxiety.

Joining the energetic Keaton who just won the 2015 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy is an impressive ensemble cast including the hugely underrated Edward Norton as Mike Shiner a younger more precocious actor, Emma Stone as Riggan’s snappy daughter Sam, Andrea Riseborough as Riggan’s neurotic girlfriend Laura, Amy Ryan as Riggan’s ex-wife and stabilizing influence on his life, Sylvia. The Hangover star Zach Galifianakis as the exasperated bearded theatre producer Jake and Naomi Watts as a drama queen Lesley.

birdman

What makes Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance so utterly absorbing and in parts quite delirious is that Inarritu chooses to film the entire movie as one long tracking shot which keeps the momentum of this frenetic story alive and fresh. Besides the extraordinary direction, a very witty script, there is of course the superb performances by the entire cast who really excelled in a very difficult and strenuous acting stretch reminiscent of Luigi Pirandello’s play Six Characters In Search of an Author with a massive dash of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Magic Realism thrown in.

Visual clues abound along with multiple references to the 21st century super saturated media world of the 21st century. In one of the best scenes of the film Sam (superbly played by Emma Stone) tells her father Riggan that he has lost touch with the world, he does not even have a Facebook Page or a Twitter account and is rarely on social media. As Birdman progresses and in a hilarious sequence with Riggan running through New York’s Times Square dressed only in white underpants, which is naturally captured on YouTube, his digital success changes instantly.

Then after a near meltdown with a bottle of Whisky and after Riggan tells the influential theatre critic Tabitha (a superb cameo by Lindsay Duncan) that he should be taken seriously as a stage actor, the opening night of the play arrives and no one can anticipate the final reaction or the review in the New York Times theatre page entitled The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.

For anyone that has studied drama or been in a stage production, Birdman is a must see film, as Inarritu expertly captures the confidence, chaos and utter lack of self-consciousness of the wild and crazy cast of this production, as they strip for scene changes, fight with their fellow actors and generally are quite debauched in all sorts of ways unique to the Theatre world.

Birdman imaginatively emphasizes that despite all the social media around especially in 21st century contemporary America, there is nothing quite as exciting as Live Theatre.

Keaton, Norton and Stone are absolutely superb and this film is highly recommended viewing, worthy of all the attention it is currently receiving, much like what every actor in the world constantly craves: rave reviews and becoming a celebrity!

 

 

 

 

 

2007 Toronto Film Festival

2007 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF 2007

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.
Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

Fugitive Pieces

Opening Night Film: Fugitive Pieces directed by Jeremy Podeswa, starring , , , Stephen Dillane, Rosamund Pike &

1Sheet_Master.qxd

People’s Choice Award: Eastern Promises directed by David Cronenberg starring Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl & Sinead Cusack

My Winnipeg

Best Canadian Feature Film: My Winnipeg A Documentary directed by Guy Maddin, starring , ,

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

Seduction and Salvation in China

painted_veil

The Painted Veil

This beautiful film gorgeously directed by John Curran and based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham is set in China in the 1920’s is a sumptuous tale of seduction and salvation told with an ironic eye about a young woman who marries a micro-biologist and bacterial specialist featuring superb performances by Naomi Watts and Edward Norton.

The young scientist needs a wife and the young woman needs to escape the confines of her suburban Chelsea family. Initially the young couple live in the exotic city of Shanghai and then due to an indiscretion on the wife’s part, as punishment the Doctor takes her to a cholera infected village in rural China, where she learns with humility about atonement and the true sacrifice involved in staying married at whatever the cost. The Painted Veil is shot in gorgeous colours making the most of the dramatic Chinese landscape and with a beautiful score by Alexandre Desplat (who was hailed for his original music for the Oscar winning Stephen Frears film, The Queen.) and consequently won a Golden Globe award for Best Original Score for this film.

Most notable is the strong performances by the two leading actors, both entirely underrated, Edward Norton playing the brutal and slightly calculating doctor who learns to treat his wife as more than a personal assistant, and Naomi Watts who plays Kitty the naive young Englishwoman who finds salvation in the most unlikely locations and with the assistance of Mother Superior, a wonderful cameo by Diana Rigg.

This 2006 film surely did not get all the praise it was worth upon release but will remain an undiscovered cinematic gem. The Hollywood Foreign Press described The Painted Veil as one of the most beautiful films ever made. The cinematography and the mesmerizing music by Alexandre Desplat withstanding, this film is well worth watching and could easily be considered a 21st century classic.

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