Posts Tagged ‘julianne moore’

mockingjay part 1

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) shot an arrow that brought down the capital’s network, and is now being sheltered in District 13.  She has been split up from her partner in the Hunger Games, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and wants to know where he is. The President of district 13 is Alma Coin. (Julianne Moore) Plutarch Havensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) recommends to Coin that Katniss be named the Mockingjay, the symbol of the revolution.  Katniss resists at first, but after visits to see the destruction wrought by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in District 12, and District 8, including the bombing of a hospital, Katniss is willing to make propaganda films for the rebels. At the same time, Katniss sees a video showing Peeta working for the government making propaganda films. She wants to rescue Peeta, but President Coin is hesitant.

One of the propaganda films Katniss is making features Katniss singing a song called “The Hunger Tree,” and that song becomes an anthem for rebels in District 5, who sing the song while destroying a hydroelectric plant. With the plant destroyed, power to the capital is cut off and the rebels have a chance to rescue Peeta, and a few others, and bring them back to District 13.  Do they make the rescue?

I like Mockingjay Part 1, I like it because it’s primarily a war movie, and portrays war and its consequences in a realistic way.  I like how both the rebels and the government release propaganda films.  One scene is eerily reminiscent of a piece of real life.  There is also less emphasis on the love story and more emphasis on the Mockingjay, as a symbol and a real fighter.  This may be a disappointment to the target audience, but the lack of love story impressed me. There was a twist ending, that I didn’t see coming and that perfectly sets up Mockingjay Part 2.

The acting again varies greatly.  Julianne Moore gives a very controlled understated performance, she is believable as President Coin.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman also gives a low-key performance, and Woody Harrelson is a key part that is a turning point on the film. On the other hand, the younger cast is just so much eye candy.  Jennifer Lawrence yells her lines and thinks that is acting. I don’t know why she gets all these a-list roles, she constantly overacts, and gets praise for it. If she sang the song, she is at least a pretty good singer, maybe she should consider a career change. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are pretty boys who substitute looks for acting skills.

The direction is good the pacing is good, the action scenes are worth watching, and the director gets good performances from the veterans in the cast.  Ideally he would have gotten better performances from Lawrence, Hutcherson, and Hemsworth, but their performances are what they are.

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1:  Left me Hungry for more.

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stillalice

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore)is a highly accomplished linguistics professor at Columbia University, with a motivated and successful husband, John (Alec Baldwin) who’s a doctor, and three kids. Her son Tom, (Hunter Parrish) is a doctor, her older daughter Anna,(Kate Bosworth) is a lawyer, and younger daughter, Lydia (Kristen Stewart) is a struggling actress.  Alice just turned 50, and feels like there is nothing she can’t accomplish.  But while jogging, Alice forgets where she is, and struggles to get home.  Soon thereafter, she visits her neurologist, Dr. Benjamin (Stephen Kunken) and finds out she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  Alice learns to overcompensate for her memory loss, but soon there is no hiding the ravages of the disease.  It is hereditary, so Alice worries about Anna who is pregnant with twins, and whether Tom or Lydia will pass the gene on. She worries about Lydia’s career choice, and wants her to go to college, an idea Lydia bristles at.  John gets an offer to go to the Mayo Clinic, and wants to move Alice to Minnesota with him, but as Alice’s mind deteriorates, who will give her the care she needs?

Still Alice is a wonderfully sober look at memory loss and dementia.  There are no magic pills or panacea offered, just a gripping look at how a strong, vital and woman loses all her mental acuity.  It’s sad, but not depressingly so, the characters are real, and not just instantly supportive of Alice.  John has his own career to worry about, Lydia wants to be an actress, with no safety net.  Anna has to suddenly worry about herself or her kids having this debilitating disease.  All the subplots are woven seamlessly into the main story, and it all works.

The acting is superb, Julianne Moore won the Oscar for her performance and deservedly so, she gives a riveting performance as Alice, the viewer can’t help but follow her on her journey to dementia, she portrays the character so realistically, that the viewer feels every memory lapse as if it was happening to them.  There is not one false note in her performance.  Moore somehow fills the performance with hope, Alice’s speech to the Alzheimer’s association is spellbinding.  Alec Baldwin is equally strong as the likeable but somewhat self-centered husband, he’ll take care of Alice but he also wants to fulfill his goals,  Kristen Stewart gives a surprisingly strong performance, as the prodigal daughter, who is headstrong and still fighting for her own identity in this overachieving family.

The direction was also effective, every time Alice would have one of her memory lapses the picture would get fuzzy and the music would become discordant, so it became both a visual and auditory signal that something was wrong.  There were flashbacks to Alice’s childhood that looked like home movies, so there was a lot of effort to make this a visual movie as well as a character study.  The directors got great performances from Moore and Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart, who’s probably just happy to be done with the Twilight films.

Still Alice:  A shadowy trip down  Memory Lane.

nonstop

A United States Air Marshall named Bill Marks (Liam Neeson)  is on  a flight to London, when he receives a text saying in twenty minutes someone will die on this flight, unless 150 million dollars is sent to a secret account . Marks quickly deduces that the perpetrator of the text is coming from Jack Hammond, (Anson Mount) another Air Marshall.  After a violent struggle, Marks kills Hammond, but the texts keep coming.   Twenty minutes after the new texts, the pilot dies, it may be a heart attack, it may be poison.  Another man in Marks’ custody dies, and the secret account is traced to Marks.  The government officials on the ground are starting to suspect Marks, but there are other suspects, a pretty redhead named Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) who switched seats to sit next to Marks, and was in close proximity when the pilot died, a stewardess named Nancy (Michelle Dockery) who was the only one who had a key to the cockpit, an Arab passenger named Fahim Nasir (Omar Metwally) or was it someone else on the plane?

Non-Stop succeeds at being a suspenseful film, even if it’s sometimes redundant.  Every few minutes a new suspect emerges, and undergoes a grilling from Marks.  For 90 minutes, the suspense keeps escalating, but then the who and why are revealed and the suspense leaks out of this movie like air from a balloon.  The movie then proceeds to its predictable ending.

What makes this movie work is a superb performance by Liam  Neeson, in an otherwise unremarkable role.  He gives this Air Marshall an air of vulnerability and humanity that makes the character more complex and therefore more appealing.  There are a few scenes where Neeson really connected with me emotionally, one a soliloquy and a couple of scenes with a child actress.  Neeson is an excellent character actor, he classed up The Phantom Menace, and was excellent in two of the three Batman sequels.   And who can forget his funny turn as Bad Cop in The Lego Movie. I wasn’t sold on this new iteration of Neeson as action star, I didn’t like Taken at all, but he won me over in this role.  Julianne Moore is effective, albeit less so, as the quirky suspicious passenger net to Neeson.  Corey Stoll is also good as another passenger on the plane, but Lupita Nyongo, the heart and soul of 12 Years A Slave, was completely wasted in this film.

The movie is long, and even though the action scenes are well-choreographed and fast paced, there are scenes that lag, the movie could have used some editing. The director is Jaume Collett Serra,  who directed Orphan which I didn’t like, and Unknown another Neeson film.

Non-Stop Marshall Law in the air.

the_big_lebowski

“The Dude”(Bridges) is a California slacker/stoner, who is unemployed, has no prospects for work and doesn’t seem to care. He likes to bowl with his friends Walter (Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) Suddenly, The Dude’s life takes a bizarre turn when two thugs break into his house, and one starts urinating on his rug.  The Dude’s name is Jeff Lebowski, and he is a victim of mistaken identity, the crooks wanted The Big Lebowski,(David Huddleston) also named Jeff Lebowski a millionaire philanthropist whose trophy wife Bunny is busy spending money all over town.  The Dude doesn’t care about the Big Lebowski or his philanthropy or his trophy wife, he just wants his rug replaced.  Well, the Big Lebowski tells The Dude to go peddle his papers, he’s not interested in compensating The Dude in any way.

No sooner does The Dude leave The Big Lebowski’s house then he gets a call from the Big Lebowski’s sycophantic assistant, Brandt, (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) saying that Bunny has been kidnapped and the kidnappers want 1 million dollars in ransom. The Big Lebowski wants The Dude to make the drop to the kidnappers.   The Dude brings Walter to make the drop, Problem:  Walter is a high strung Vietnam vet with a plan of his own, which The Dude knows nothing about.  Walter switches the million dollars with a suitcase full of underwear, so the kidnappers now have dirty underwear.  Soon thereafter, someone steals the Dude’s car.  After the car is stolen, Maude Lebowski (Moore) the Big Labowski’s daughter calls the Dude, and says Bunny is faking the kidnapping and is a porn star, and that this is a plot with Bunny’s boyfriend and fellow porn star Jackie Treehorn. (Ben Gazarra) Who stole The Dude’s car? Is Bunny really kidnapped?  Who ends up with the million dollar ransom?

This is a very funny movie, the jokes come from the finely drawn characters, and rapid-fire dialogue.  “The Dude” could have been a stereotype. The California slacker stoner has been played by Keanu Reeves and Owen Wilson has made a career out of playing.stoner/slacker dudes, but Bridges plays him so naturally with such ease, that he doesn’t seem so hackneyed. The Goodman character also could have been a stereotype, the psycho Vietnam vet character has been done before as well, but Goodman is clearly having fun, so the audience has fun too.  Speaking of fun, Julianne Moore has plenty of fun with her character, affecting an aristocratic accent, and playing a avant-garde artist type.  This is a difficult comedic role, but Moore plays it with flair.

The Big Lebowski.  Big laughs.

Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) is a wealthy and successful gynecologist.  Her husband David (Liam Neeson) is a beloved music professor.  They seem to be living an idyllic life.  But then, David misses a surprise birthday party thrown by Catherine, and Catherine sees a text from one of David’s female students, thanking him for a great night.  Catherine suspects David of infidelity, and sets out to entrap him with a female escort from nearby, named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) Chloe tells Catherine of her and David’s first encounter, and each salacious detail of every subsequent meeting.  Catherine seems oddly drawn to Chloe, even while professing her love for David,  But then Chloe forms a bond with Michael, (Max Thieriot), but who is she really interested in, David? Michael?  Catherine?

Don’t bother to find out.  This movie is so predictable, the viewer knows immediately what’s going on.  Despite having a great cast, featuring the likes of Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, and Amanda Seyfried, this movie is basically a horrible mix of Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction, and that’s all you need to know.  Hollywood always seems to populate these movies with these psychologically deranged women, Sharon Stone, Glenn Close, and I’ll let the viewers find out who the nutjob du jour is in this movie.  Despite having a hot indie director at the helm, and a hot young actress staring wide-eyed into the camera (no not Julianne Moore), this movie ends up with the same tired clichés that most of Hollywood manages to conjure up every now and again.  Moore looks bored, Neeson looks like a wax dummy at Madame Toussaud’s.   Seyfried does her best vacant stare, to no effect.  They all deserve the horror of being locked in a room to watch this movie.  If you like cheap titillation, dressed up as arthouse cinema, this is your movie .  If you like to think, think again, before watching this movie. Chloe has lots of nudity, one graphic sex scene.  It is too explicit for children, too predictable for adults.  Just skip it.

Chloe.  Cloying.