Saturday, July 25, 2009

“Shameless” is a 2004 British TV series about 6 siblings living in a seedy housing development. Their father is a worthless drunk and the kids are cared for by their feisty and capable older sister Fiona. The show is currently in its 6th season, and I am trying to imagine how the story had enough material for that many seasons. It’s funny and the kids are good actors, especially the hard-nosed and smart Lip, but it’s a little too over the top sitcommy and unnecessarily vulgar too often, -- it just seems like it might get old after awhile. I did watch all of the first season. At first I could not remember why I rented this series. Usually I put something on my queue because of a review I read or a DVD preview I saw. But within the first 5 minutes of watching this quirky series, I knew the reason I added it: James McAvoy. He plays Steve, Fiona’s boyfriend. And like Ryan Gosling, I seem to have the goal of watching everything he's been in. Below are a list of James McAvoy movies. I put a star next to the ones I've seen. I guess I've got a few more to see.

Wanted (20o8)
* Atonement (2007)
* Becoming Jane(2007)
Starter for 10 (2006)
Penelope (2006)
* The Last King of Scotland (2006)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
*"Shameless" (2004)
Inside I'm Dancing (2004)
Wimbledon (2004))
Strings (2004)
* "State of Play" (5 episodes, 2003)
"Early Doors" (4 episodes, 2003)
Bright Young Things (2003)
"Children of Dune" (1 episode, 2003)
Bollywood Queen (2002)
"Foyle's War" (2002)
* White Teeth (2002) (TV)
Swimming Pool (2001)
"Band of Brothers" (1 episode, 2001)
Replacements (2001)
"Murder in Mind" (1 episode, 2001)
Teacher (2001)
* Lorna Doone (2000) (TV) Regeneration (1997) "The Bill"
Rent (1997) TV episode An Angel Passes By (1997) (TV) The Near Room (1995)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Lovers

The critics loved Two Lovers, Joaquin Phoenix’s last role, but I just thought it enhhhhh. (by the way enhhhhh means so-so I guess but kinda boring, I suppose) Phoenix plays Leonard Kraditor, and he’s a great actor for sure. He’s plays an awkward man-child who is forced to live with his protective parents after he has a mental breakdown. Now, Leonard, finds himself entranced by the flakey beautiful neighbor played by Gwyneth Paltrow even as his parents push on him a more suitable Jewish woman, Sandra. The movie gets predictable in parts -- you definitely can see where it is going, but for some it would be worth seeing for the great acting. Not only are Paltrow and Phoenix good but Isabella Rosilini is great as Leonard’s mother and, unknown to me, the Israeli actor Moni Moshonov as his father.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Proposal, Guest Entry

Sandra Bullock carries the movie. Ryan Reynolds is eye candy but is a secondary presence to her luminous screen appearance. The scenes of Alaska provide a beautiful backdrop to the plot. Betty White, Mary Steenburgen and Coach aka Craig T. Nelson play Andrew's (Reynolds) family in Alaska. Betty White brings her type-casted irreverent grandmotherly character to the movie, and this mostly works -- there are a few over-the-top scenes that fall flat. Proposal has a lot of potential but didn't develop the characters enough or create believable relationships enough to make the ending satisfying. Albeit, it made for a pleasant Saturday afternoon on a rainy Minocqua afternoon. (that's northern Wisconsin) By Ruth, Mary's pal

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Control is about Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division. Director Anton Corbijn focuses on the part of his life that leads up to his suicide. It’s an arty movie, black and white, with the Sam Riley as Curtis who mopes around the screen, decrying his epilepsy and stage fright. Despite these gloomy bits, the movie isn’t a bummer. Instead it’s pretty compelling. You don’t really figure out what makes the awkward misfit Curtis so unhappy, but it is fascinating to watch a man, that is not made to be a rock star, perform as if it is a heavy burden. Have you ever seen him dance? It is bizarre, very march-like, and Riley does it spot on. I even checked YouTube and was amazed how closely he matched Curtis’ odd march-like dancing style. The movie also made me want to download some Joy Division, which I was never a big fan of, but now want to revisit their enigmatic music.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Away We Go

I was excited to see Away We Go. I was excited about the David Eggers screen play, cute John Krasinski and beautiful Maya Rudolf in the lead roles, And the previews made it seem smart. I imagined it would make witty commentary about modern societal ills. I also had hopes about the great comedic actors like Jim Gaffigan, Alison Janney, and Catherine O’Hara. Big expectations, I know. So, what usually follows big expectations is a handful of disappointment. And yes, that’s what happened. It wasn’t terrible. It had interesting characters, and it did a good job of showing two people who seemed genuinely in love, but, hmmmm, what was it missing? A plot for one. Cohesive dialogue for two. Some understatement for three. Let’s take the first complaint. The movie wandered from place to place – sure it had a thread running through, expectant parents search for a new home, (by the way it was easy to predict where they were going to end up) but that was really it. The dialogue was all over the place and seemed like it was just shooting for smart but not very meaningful. Finally, it is way over the top. Points about the way parents can be terrible were made by hitting you over the head with the absurdness. So bummer. I wish I liked it better, but maybe Eggers’ next script will hit the mark.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones is road trip movie about three Iraq war soldiers from different worlds who are home on leave and are forced to rent a car and travel across the country after their flight is cancelled. Tim Robbins plays the older and wiser soldier who learns that his wife is leaving him. Michael Pena is the driven career soldier who is wounded and impotent, and Rachel McAdams plays the tough but sweet Collee who is really the most charming of the three. The movie is filled with hokey contrived plot points but is buoyed by the great acting of the three and the good chemistry they create. It also has some very funny moments – usually supplied by McAdams’ sunny character; she even makes peppy hopeful comments about TK’s impotency problems. Luckily the movie makes few political comments about the war and rather portrays three interesting soldiers’ lives.