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I don’t even like Pierce Brosnan. So how did I end up seeing all four of his movies that he released in 2010 (and subsequently writing a blog entry about it)? But nonetheless, he did make four rather diverse films this year that I watched for entirely non-Brosnon-related reasons, so I figured that I might as well give a rundown of my thoughts on his performance in each.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief
Released: February 2
This was a throwaway role for Brosnan. His role is small, and he seems to be phoning it in for the entirety of his miniscule screentime. I kind of enjoyed this film (though considerably less so the second time around), but it was certainly not because we got to see Brosnan with horse legs.
Released: March 12
The movie was fairly dreadful, and Brosnan was in full-out growl mode here. But that said, I admit that he had good onscreen chemistry with Robert Pattinson. Pattinson’s acting was iffy all around, but unexpectedly, I think Brosnan brought out the best in him. They’re both exasperatingly self-conscious actors, but it worked weirdly and wonderfully in the ridiculous scene where Pattinson confronts Brosnan at his office. It’s one of the few memorable moments from this movie (aside from the mindfuck of an ending).
Released: April 2
If Brosnan sleepwalked through Percy Jackson, he did the complete opposite here. It’s obvious that he really wanted to give a good performance. And, boy, does he go for it. He cries! He yells! He flails around in the ocean! And at times, he’s pretty good. Unfortunately, at other times, he’s god awful. It’s an intermittently affecting movie (thanks largely to a refreshingly natural supporting turn from Johnny Simmons as the grieving brother), but Brosnan is always in ACTING mode. Distracting, to say the least.
The Ghost Writer
Released: March 19
Definitely his best performance of the year. He plays the cowardly cad well. At times, he actually seems to forget that he’s on camera, which is basically unheard of for Brosnan. He still aggravated me at times, but for him, it was a very dialled-down turn.
I’ve been looking at some of this year’s “For Your Consideration” ads for the Oscars over at Awards Daily, and I loved these two:
So, feeling inspired, I decided to make some of my own, like I did last year. I’m trying to highlight some actors who I know won’t get nominated, but whose performances I enjoyed. Obviously mine look pretty shitty by comparison, but I kind of like them, nonetheless.
(You can watch “The Suburbs” video embedded above, or head over to Arcade Fire’s website to watch a better quality version.)
…I think that the music video for Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” will become a classic.
I know that it’s hard for music videos to achieve the ubiquity that they used to. MTV doesn’t play music anymore, and I recently discovered that Much Music is now playing videos in ADD-friendly one minute snippets (seriously!). But this thing is just too good.
It’s directed by my boy Spike Jonze, and it’s a fantastic addition to his catalogue. Throughout the 90′s Jonze was a prominent music video director, most famous for clips such as the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and Weezers “Buddy Holly“. He broke into feature films with 1999′s Being John Malkovich (which earned him a Best Director Oscar nomination) and has since directed 2002′s Adaptation. and 2009′s Where the Wild Things Are.
Although he’s still been directing music videos, his output decreased in the past decade. Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice“, Phantom Planet’s “Big Brat“, and Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” all serve as highlights of his post-Malkovich career. However, I think he’s outdone himself here.
It’s crazy to me that such a cryptic video can make me feel so many things. There are so many unanswered questions. There were rumours earlier this year that Jonze was working with the band on a sci-fi short film, which could potentially expand on this video (or could BE this video). But in a way, I think I’d prefer to let it stand on its own.
It starts off with your standard directionless youth getting into hijinks. It’s a music video staple, but it works so much more effectively when Jonze is behind the camera. He always imbues his films with an airy tinge of nostalgia. The images of faceless suburbs and bored kids immediately took me back to my own childhood.
But then things start to get strange. The military is in town, one of the kids gets a haircut, and the whole friendship crumbles. Even though it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, I felt the urgency, and I held my breath for much of the video’s second half. I think it says a lot about our current society, and everything that it means to grow up. I’ve heard others make the comparison, but “The Suburbs” feels like this fucked up generation’s version of the “1979” music video from fourteen years ago.
Combined with Where the Wild Things Are and Jonze’s excellent short film from earlier this year, I’m Here, Jonze seems to be taking a more melancholic approach to his filmmaking recently. All three pieces explore the loss of innocence and the desire to connect, and he does it with a fine balance of optimism and restlessness. I’d even go as far to say that Jonze is putting out his best work yet.
I haven’t done one of these in a while. And since I’ve been so busy focussing on Oscar films, I’ve barely been paying attention to the early 2011 releases that are just around the corner. So with the slew of new trailers that hit the internet today, I figured I’d educate myself.
(But since I don’t give a shit about Cars 2 or The Mechanic, I’m skipping those.)
Green Lantern (June 17, 2011)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins
The trailer makes The Green Lantern look like fairly standard superhero fare, yet it still seems more appealing than I’d expected. Reynolds has the charisma to pull off something like this (and he LOOKS absolutely gorgeous here, I must say), and with Peter Sarsgaard in the supporting cast (WTF is up with his hair, though?) I’m on board. And considering it’s the same director (Martin Campbell) who did Casino Royale, I think that we can expect some well-shot action scenes.
Your Highness (red band trailer) (April 8, 2011)
Starring: James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux
I love Pineapple Express and its director, David Gordon Green (great to see him teaming up with James Franco, Danny McBride, and Zooey Deschanel again). But this 3.5 minute trailer left me cold. McBride is funny here (and it’s great to see him get a starring role), but the whole thing looks far too broad. Historical comedy isn’t my favourite genre to begin with, and this looks far more sophomoric than I would expect from the names involved. Watch the trailer here.
Starring: Sam Riley, Jason Statham, 50 Cent, Ray Winstone, Mickey Rourke, Michael Shannon
13 has already been released abroad (and a Russian trailer hit the internet a few months back), but the star-studded film has struggled to find North American distribution. I absolutely adored Sam Riley in Control, and I’m interested in anything that he makes. 13 looks like a stylish take on a standard crime thriller, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if it weren’t for Riley’s refreshing screen presence, I’d say that this trailer could double for a low-key version of The Expendables. Watch the trailer here.
Red Riding Hood (March 2011)
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie, Lukas Haas, Billy Burke
Everyone has been talking about how much Red Riding Hood looks like director Catherine Hardwicke’s last effort, Twilight. And with Robert Pattinson doppelgangers and all, I have to agree. Twilight had some genuine style to it, so Red Riding Hood could potentially be interesting. But it could also be shamelessly pandering to thirteen year old girls.
Why, hello there.
Seeing as the vast majority of my blog traffic is centered on my Oscar prediction pages, you probably have some interest in the upcoming awards season.
I’ve been frequently updating my Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress prediction pages. But since they’re now buried in the back pages of my blog, it makes it seem like I never post anything new. So I figured I’d pimp out my prediction pages and share a few random thoughts about this year’s Oscar race, which is finally starting to get going in full swing.
Biggest Disappointments (i.e. potentially baity films that ended up getting weak buzz)
- Miral (which has now been bumped to 2011)
- For Coloured Girls
- Never Let Me Go
- Conviction (though I’m still hoping for a Sam Rockwell nomination)
Biggest Unknowns (at this point)
- The Way Back
- True Grit
No Guts, No Glory Winner Predictions
Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Director: David Fincher (The Social Network)
Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Best Actress: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Best Original Screenplay: Another Year
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
- Leonardo Di Caprio is not getting nominated this year. Can we all accept this and move on?
- On that note, none of the performances from Inception, Shutter Island, or The Town are going to get nominated, either.
- Is Blue Valentine‘s NC-17 rating going to hurt or help the film’s award prospects? Granted, if the rating sticks, it will mess up its distribution royally. But it never struck me as a film that was going to get a very wide release to begin with. The scuffle over the rating is getting far more people talking about the film than would have been otherwise. I’m not sure if it’s a big enough movie to get Gosling and Williams nominations (I hope it is!), but I don’t think that the NC-17 rating alone will kill their chances.
- I would love to see James Franco (age 32), Jesse Eisenberg (27), and Ryan Gosling (30) all receive nominations this year, but I don’t see it happening. Franco is a lock, but I think the other two are going to have to duke it out, because Best Actor always skews old. As The Film Experience Blog pointed out, only four actors aged 30 and under got a Best Actor nomination in the entire last decade (one of them being Gosling, who was the youngest at 26). So to have two in one year (in addition to the very young Franco) seems unlikely.
It’s been four years, bud.
A couple of new songs (“What If I’m Wrong” and “Under the Tongue“) have been floating around the internet and they’re lovely, as always. Now we just need about eight more of those and we’ve got an album.
His debut disc, 2003′s O, is a classic. Everyone knows “The Blower’s Daughter”, but every single song on there is wracked with so much emotion. After being launched into the spotlight, Rice followed that up with 2006′s 9, which was met with surprisingly tepid reviews. I agree that it’s a less focussed album, but there are some absolutely phenomenal songs to be found (“Rootless Tree”, just for starters).
I get that recording an album is probably an incredibly taxing process for him. He seems to put so much of himself into every song. It’s why we love him, but being such a sensitive and open (sometimes brutally so) musician apparently does not equal proliferation.
While we wait (and hopefully not in vain), please enjoy the following:
- I linked it above, but his performance of his new song, “What If I’m Wrong”, is amazing. He’s even more raw than usual (if that’s possible), and the stark, intimate setting makes it seem all the more personal.
- Another fantastic live performance is one that he did with fellow beard enthusiast, Ray LaMontagne. The Bee Gee’s song choice is unexpected, but these two men bring predictably beautiful results.
- In the years since 9, Rice hasn’t given many interviews. But when he spoke to Hot Press in 2009, he made up for lost time. Painfully detailing his feelings for the estranged Hannigan, Rice proved to be earnest in every facet of his life. You can read the interview here.
I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. My parents were very careful about what I watched as a child and generally adhered to MPAA movie ratings. This is ultimately probably a good thing. But it also means that instead of slowly becoming desensitized to onscreen sex and gore over many years, I kind of just threw myself into it once I had more say in what I watched. And a bit more preparation probably would’ve been helpful before watching Requiem for a Dream in order to celebrate my movie-watching liberation.
That said, I’m up for most movies. I don’t think I’m especially squeamish, and I like it when filmmakers challenge the audience. But there are still a few movies out there that I’m hesitant to watch, even though they feature some of my favourite actors. And 127 Hours (opening today in limited release), which has caused a slew of fainting at screenings, is one of these films. I’m excited for it, and I’m definitely planning to watch it (but perhaps on the small screen, where I can pass out in the privacy of my own home, if need be). But I’m sure it won’t always be an easy experience. So in honour of this, I’m listing 10 films that I’m still too afraid to watch. I’m curious about all of them, and with the talent involved, maybe this will inspire me to finally bite the bullet and give them a try.
(Names in brackets are the actors that draw me to the project)
Hunger (Michael Fassbender)
From first-time director Steve McQueen, 2008′s Hunger tells the story of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender, who earned raves for his gritty performance). The film itself (which recently got a Criterion re-release) is said to be meditative, grim, and unflinchingly realistic. Not a fun time at the movies, but probably very worthwhile.
Mysterious Skin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
After hearing so much about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s searing performance, I watched the first few minutes on YouTube. The film starts with flashbacks to the young boys being lured by a supposedly trusted little league coach. I hope to revisit the film soon (and I suspect that first part may be the most disturbing portion of the movie), but onscreen child abuse is always gruelling.
Hard Candy (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson)
I’m always very nervous towards films about pedophilia, because that subject is often used simply for shock value. However, I’ve heard great things about this film, and I like both of the lead actors quite a bit. And the idea of the victim turning the tables on her captor is interesting.
Antichrist (Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Gainsbourg has impressed me in I’m Not Here and The Science of Sleep, but to be honest, I’m in no hurry to see this film.
The Killer Inside Me (Casey Affleck)
I love me some Casey Affleck, and it looks like he’s chillingly great here. The big controversy is the violence against women displayed on screen. It only got a 14A rating in Canada, though (as opposed to our “R” equivalent of 18A), so it must not be that bad…right?
Leap Year (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott)
I’m just scared that it will make me hate Matthew Goode.
Funny Games (Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts)
American Psycho (Christian Bale)
Both films are slick satire, and I’m all for some sharp social commentary. I’m a bit weary of the brutality, but I’m not one of those people who’s ignorant enough to think that films like these and Fight Club (which I loved) are advocating senseless violence.
Savage Grace (Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne)
I’ve read some details about the plot, and honestly, it just sounds fucked up. Incest isn’t my jam. But Eddie Redmayne is. What to do?
Se7en (Brad Pitt)
Director David Fincher doesn’t pull his punches (see the lakeside killing in Zodiac). And a film revolving around a killer who is inspired by the seven deadly sins has all sorts of potential to disturb.