2012 Golden Globes Results

Some of the major winners at the 69th Golden Globes Awards last night.

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama: The Descendants
  • Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Artist
  • Best Actress – Drama: Meryl Streep (Iron Lady)
  • Best Actor – Drama: George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Best Actress – Comedy or Musical: Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Best Actor – Comedy or Musical: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Best Director – Motion Picture: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  • Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris

I must say I’m not too excited about this year’s Golden Globes to start with. Main reason: how can they totally snub Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life? Not even one single nomination for that epic production! I hope the Academy Awards can correct that negligence.

But I’m glad though for The Artist winning Best Picture, Comedy or Musical. It offers me a unique experience: watching a silent movie made in 2011 in the theatre, a successful, nostalgic attempt paying homage to the golden era of Hollywood. Last night, Uggie got a chance to share the spotlight.

Michelle Williams is impressive as Marilyn Monroe. Just a look at her at the Golden Globes and you’ll know how acting and make-up can create a whole world of difference. The transformation of an understated actor into a legendary personality in a dreamscape is what’s so magical about the cinema.

     

George Clooney is good in The Descendants, a showcase for his acting talent. You can actually see a tear welling up in his eye then flow slowly down his cheek to the tip of his nose. That scene is so deeply imprinted in my memory.

Haven’t seen Iron Lady yet, but what I remember from last night Meryl Streep winning Best Actress is her presenter, the inimitable, ever poised (even more so this time… marvellous result of some great workout?): Colin Firth.

And last but not least, excited to see Woody Allen once again getting recognized for his talent, albeit not in directing, still a worthy nod, winning Best Screenplay with Midnight In Paris. And I must mention this: not too long ago I read a book entitled Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen. In it I read a story called “A Twenties Memory”.  O what a discovery! Of course! This piece of writing dating back to 1971 must be the original spark that later materialized into the script for Midnight In Paris, some forty years later. CLICK HERE to read “A Twenties Memory”. This just shows it’s never too late to bring ingenuity to life.

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For a full list of nominations and winners, CLICK HERE.

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Austen Inspired Acceptance Speech

2011 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Sense And Sensibility, her first published novel.  And since we are in the midst of Awards Season, inundated (or soon to be) with speeches, I’d like to join these two occasions and celebrate both Austen and fine speeches.

The 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility had received numerous awards, most notably accolades for Emma Thompson’s screenplay, which had garnered the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and ultimately, the Oscar. I have posted this before a few years ago, but think it is high time we read or reread Austen’s wonderful novel and be entertained again by the very talented Emma Thompson.

Also, I’m sure you would love to read a transcript of it, one of the most unique awards acceptance speeches of some time. Since the event occurred some fifteen years ago, I have taken the liberty to annotate (in parentheses) and format it in a way to enhance your reading pleasure.

Here it is, Emma Thompson’s Acceptance Speech at the 53rd Golden Globe, 1996, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Sense And Sensibility:

“I can’t thank you enough, Hollywood Foreign Press, for honouring me in this capacity.  I don’t wish to burden you with my debts, which are heavy and numerous, but I think that everybody involved in the making of this film knows that we owe all our pride and all our joy to the genius of Jane Austen.  And, it occurred to me to wonder how she would react to an evening like this.  This is what I came up with:

Four A.M.   Having just returned from an evening at the Golden Spheres, which despite the inconveniences of heat, noise and overcrowding, was not without its pleasures.  Thankfully, there were no dogs and no children.  The gowns were middling.  There was a good deal of shouting and behaviour verging on the profligate, however, people were very free with their compliments and I made several new acquaintances.

  • Miss Lindsay Doran (producer), of Mirage, wherever that might be, who is largely responsible for my presence here, an enchanting companion about whom too much good cannot be said.
  • Mr. Ang Lee (director), of foreign extraction, who most unexpectedly appeared to understand me better than I understand myself.
  • Mr. James Schamus (co-produceer), a copiously erudite gentleman, and
  • Miss Kate Winslet (role of Marianne Dashwood) , beautiful in both countenance and spirit.
  • Mr. Pat Doyle, a composer and a Scot, who displayed the kind of wild behaviour one has learnt to expect from that race.
  • Mr. Mark Canton, an energetic person with a ready smile who, as I understand it, owes me a vast deal of money.
  • Miss Lisa Henson — a lovely girl, and
  • Mr. Gareth Wigan — a lovely boy.

I attempted to converse with Mr. Sydney Pollack (executive producer), but his charms and wisdom are so generally pleasing that it proved impossible to get within ten feet of him.  The room was full of interesting activity until eleven P.M. when it emptied rather suddenly.  The lateness of the hour is due therefore not to the dance, but to the waiting, in a long line for a horseless carriage of unconscionable size. The modern world has clearly done nothing for transport.

P.S. Managed to avoid the hoyden Emily Tomkins who has purloined my creation and added things of her own.  Nefarious creature.

With gratitude and apologies to Miss Austen, thank you.”

***

Transcript of Emma Thompson’s speech taken from the book The Sense And Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries by Emma Thompson, published by Newmarket, 2007.

Note here on the back of the cover page these words:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

“I should like to acknowledge the profoundest debt for my having developed any sense of humour to Jane Austen, Monty Python and The Magic Roundabout

 

The Golden Globe Speeches

While I was all eager to watch the 68th Annual Golden Globes last night, I was feeling bored from the beginning, after the first award of Best Supporting Actor was handed out. With Geoffrey Rush (The King’s speech therapist) losing the award, I will always miss the acceptance speech from him. I’m sure he had prepared something brilliant and witty to say. That would be the speech I had hoped for, but now, will never get to hear.

Most of the speeches last night were banal and uninspiring, exceptions were few. Even Robert De Niro’s for winning the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award was lacklustre.  What sounded like self-deprecating humor could well have de-mythicized the acting profession and brought it down to the level of just another job to feed the kids.

Annette Bening had a sweet ending to her acceptance speech for Best Actress, comedy or musical, for The Kids Are All Right. After thanking the cast, she acknowledged “the 1962 winner of the Golden Globes for Most Promising Actor, my husband Warren Beatty.” They looked wonderful together, after all these years.

Canadian viewers must be delighted to hear Paul Giamatti, Best Actor, comedy or musical for Barney’s Version, as he acknowledged Canadian author Mordecai Richler and his family, and the film’s shooting location “up in an incredible, beautiful city, Montreal, which I dream about, an incredible place in a great nation, Canada. I salute the great nation of Canada.”

The audience stood and cheered as Michael Douglas came on stage at the end, making his first public appearance in Hollywood after receiving treatments for throat cancer: “That’s got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation,”  he quipped.  He presented the Best Movie Award to The Social Network, which won four Golden Globes last night.

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The best speech of the night came from Colin Firth. Just like his role in The King’s Speech, reflecting his persona and style, his speech was an exemplar of finesse and character.

Here is Colin Firth’s acceptance speech for Best Actor, Drama, for The King’s Speech:

“Getting through the mid stage of your life with your dignity and judgement in tact can be somewhat precarious and sometimes all you need is a bit of gentle reassurance to keep on track. I don’t know if this qualifies as gentle reassurance, but right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson. I owe a very great debt to my supernaturally talented fellow cast members, my exquisite no-nonsense Queen, Helena and my wayward Royal older brother Guy [Pierce]. Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper, my two other sides of a surprisingly robust triangle of man love, somehow moved forward in perfect formation for the last year and a half or so… Tom with his scorching intelligence and Geoffrey who has now become my true friend and geisha girl. David Seidler, I know something of what you went through to create this…. at a time in my life when I truly appreciate the value of longevity in my relationships, Harvey Weinstein has made an improbably number of good films. We have had 20 years together, which is not bad going for a showbiz marriage. Thank you, Harvey. But the very best thing of all has been Livia [his wife] and all the beautiful things she’s given me and I think I can cope with just about any age as long as I can still see her.”

Who can be more deserving to win?

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For a full list of Golden Globes nominees and winners, CLICK HERE to the official Golden Globe Site of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

To read my review of The King’s Speech, CLICK HERE.

Colin Firth’s Speech quoted from The Telegraph.

Photo source: The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/8260914/Golden-Globes-2011-Colin-Firth-wins-Best-Actor-as-The-Social-Network-takes-four-awards.html

 

The King’s Speech (2010)

CLICK HERE to read my new post ‘Oscar Winners 2011’

Update Feb. 27, 2011: The King’s Speech just won 4 OSCARS: Best Picture, Best Director Tom Hooper, Best Actor Colin Firth, Best Original Screenplay David Seidler.

Update Feb. 13, 2011: The King’s Speech just won 7 BAFTA’s: Best Film, British Film of the Year, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Music.

Update Jan. 30, 2011: The King’s Speech just won the Best Cast in a motion picture and Colin Firth Best Actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards tonight.

Update Jan. 30, 2011: Tom Hooper just won the Directors Guild Award.

Update Jan. 17, 2011: Colin Firth just won the Best Actor Golden Globe last night. To read his acceptance speech, click here.

Colin Firth must be feeling the pressure now.  I don’t mean the likely Oscar contention.  I mean, how is he going to surpass himself in his next film?  That’s the trouble with having reached your career best, so far.

But that is not going to be an issue at this point, because it is in celebratory mode right now, yes, even before the Oscars.

The King’s Speech first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, 2010, and won the audience award.  Since then, it has seen more and more accolades.  At present, the film has been nominated for seven Golden Globes and four SAG Awards on this side of the Atlantic.  Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter have all won their acting categories at the British Independent Film Awards in December, with David Seidler seizing Best Screenplay, and the movie garnered the Best British Independent Film Award.

A moving real life story about the struggle of King George VI (Colin Firth) to overcome a life-long stammer, as he was reluctantly crowned king after his older brother King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) abdicated the throne in 1936 for love of an American divorcee.  Bertie, as his family called him, was fortunate to have a devoted and loving wife (Helena Bonham Carter), who found him an unconventional speech therapist from Australia, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).  The film builds on the development of their friendship leading to the exhilarating climax at the end, when the King gives his first war-time speech to his nation, rousing up their support against Germany.

It all began with screenwriter David Seidler being evacuated out of Britain to America upon an imminent Nazi attack at the brink of WWII.  To the then three-year-old Seidler, the treacherous trans Atlantic ordeal was so devastating that in his subsequent childhood years after arriving America, he had to struggle with a debilitating stammer.  During the war years, he had listened on the radio to the speeches by King George VI, whom he learned was a fellow stutterer.  With the King as a model, Seidler was motivated to overcome his own stammer.

The idea of telling the true story of his personal hero remained with Steidler for decades. He had been doing research on the King and found the son of his speech therapist Lionel Logue, Valentine, who had preserved his father’s notes.  As a loyal ex-subject, Steidler wrote the Queen Mother requesting her approval to use her late husband’s story for a movie.  The following was the reply from Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales:

“Dear Mr. Seidler, thank you very much for your letter, but, please, not during my lifetime.  The memory of those events is still too painful”

The Queen Mother passed away in 2002, at the age of 101.  Seidler could now publicly work on a story that had captivated him all his life.  But the Royal Family needs not worry.  The screenplay that Seidler has written, and the film that ultimately comes out from director Tom Hooper is every bit dignified, respectful and artistically executed.  What more, the very human suffering and the exhilaration of overcoming an impediment are movingly told.  Overall, the film is a poignant portrayal of a courageous man, a beautiful friendship, and a loving family.

Colin Firth has presented to us a reluctant hero, won us over from the start with his vulnerability and insignificance, and kept us on his side with his perseverance and loyalty.  As the Queen Mother had put it, it is painful to watch him struggle to be heard.  The walk to the microphone, then an advancement in technology, is as grim as the dead man walking to his execution. No wonder there is the Brahms’ Requiem.

In an interview, Seidler mentions how Firth had asked him for specifics on the stuttering experience, and strived to live it in his performance. Powerful method acting indeed as Firth found himself so involved in the role that he had experienced tongue-tied episodes at public speaking.  Click here to listen to the in-depth interview with David Seidler at Stutter Talk. For a pre-Oscar interview with Seidler, Click Here to find the link to a BBC news clip.

Geoffrey Rush is the crucial partner in the bromance.  Without his devotion and humour, the relationship between therapist and client could not have risen to the level of trusting friendship necessary for effective treatment.  It is not a cure, but the breaking down of barriers, psychological and social.  Herein lies one important element of the film’s success, humour.  We are treated with lighthearted moments in the midst of struggles, unleashing the humanity to shine through.

As for the music. First off, I must say I’ve enjoyed the original music by Alexandre Desplat.  The timing and editing is particularly effective, an example is the rehearsal scene.  But the reverberations have been the selections of German music, in particular, Beethoven’s 7th second movement the Allegretto being used at the climatic King’s speech.  My view is that the war was against Nazism, the tyranny and atrocity committed by Hitler and his regime.  Considering Beethoven’s struggles with his own hearing loss, and his vision of freedom and brotherhood, he could well be a universal symbol of resistance and resilience, significant beyond national boundaries. And who can protest against the lofty and hauntingly moving Allegretto.  I’d say, good choice of music for the climax.  And after that, the mutual look between the two friends into each other’s eyes with the warm, soothing slow movement of the Emperor Concerto, what better way to end the movie.

What better way to start the new year.

~~~ 1/2 Ripples

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To read my post Oscar Winners 2011 CLICK HERE

To read my post on the book The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved The British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, CLICK HERE To “The King’s Speech: Fact and Fiction”

To listen to the historical archive of the actual speech by King George VI, click here.

For a review and critique of the music in The King’s Speech:

‘The Music of The King’s Speech’

Movie Music UK: Alexandre Desplat

Mary Kunz Goldman, music critic

To read a detailed Colin Firth Interview

To see a video clip of Colin Firth interviewed at TIFF

A Serious Man (2009)

UPDATE:  A Serious Man has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the coming 82nd Academy Awards, to be held March 7th, 2010.  Joel and Ethan Coen receive a nod for Best Original Screenplay.

Do we go to the movies to be entertained, or to search for meaning and answers about life? For those who frequent Ripple Effects, you probably can guess what my stance is. Yes, allow me to answer a question with a question… Why must the two be mutually exclusive?

I’m all intrigued about films that explore deep subjects and yet remain as comedies, or, dramedies, as the genre has evolved in recent years. A Serious Man is one such films, entertaining and yet hauntingly serious. But it’s not entertaining with a big splash of hilarity. It is a dark comedy, a film that makes you chuckle in a most poignant way. It’s the deadpan humor that strikes deep. The subject matter in A Serious Man deals with the inscrutable question: Why do bad things happen to good people? And, if we can’t find the answer to the why, then at least, how should we then live?

The film has been described as the most personal of Joel and Ethan Coen’s works; others see it as the most Jewish they’ve done, or even somewhat autobiographical. The setting is 1967 Minnesota, where the Coen brothers grew up.

A Serious Man has won the 2009 Independent Spirit’s Robert Altman Award, and accolades for its screenplay.  It’s one of the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Films of 2009. Michael Stuhlbarg’s excellent performance receives a 2010 Golden Globe nom for Best Actor, Musical or Comedy.

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a college physics professor, a conscientious man who just tries to live his life minding his own business, trying to do what is right.  Yet, it’s trouble he finds everywhere he turns. His wife Judith (Sari Lennick) is divorcing him for their mutual friend Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed); his daughter Sarah (Jessica Mcmanus) is stealing from him to do a nose job; his son Danny (Aaron Wolff) is taking drugs even as he prepares for his bar mitzvah; his unstable brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is staying uninvited in his house and has no intention to leave any time soon.  On the career front, his student Clive (David Kang) is bribing him for a passing grade; his tenure committee is making decision on his future while an anonymous letter is circulating, defaming him. At the same time, his chest x-ray result is back, and, an ominous tornado is making its way to his son’s school. I’m exhausted just to keep up. Can anyone explain why Larry is having so many problems while he is only trying to be a mensch, or, a serious man?

Larry goes searching for answers from three rabbis. While the first two cannot give him a satisfactory answer, the third, the most senior, is too busy to see him. Who then is left to help him through all his troubles?

Many critics equate Larry’s predicament with Job of the Bible, a righteous man facing incredulous torments. But Larry is no Job. He may attempt to be a righteous man, but he is not totally blameless. I feel the film may reflect the notion described in the book of Ecclesiastes even more:

… And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. Then I said in my heart, ‘What happens to the fool will happen to me also.  Why then have I been so very wise?’ … this too is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2: 14 – 15

If we have no control over the bad things that happen to all, it’s only natural to question why we ought to be good then. If his wife runs away with another man, is it justified that Larry should lust for another woman? Since bad things will happen to the good and the bad alike, why bother being good? Do we act prudently because we expect positive consequences, or, do we act prudently because it is the right thing to do, period. And now, the moment of decision, the bribe…

A Serious Man throws at us more questions than answers, expectedly so, for who has all the answers? It is in such precarious situations that we look into our hearts and search ourselves. Instead of a challenge thrown at HaShem, God, I see the film as one that’s turned towards us: what would I have done?

~ ~ ~ Ripples

****

Up In The Air (2009)

UPDATE February 21: Up In The Air just won Best Adapted Screenplay at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards.   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

UPDATE February 2nd OSCARS NOMINATIONS:  Up In The Air has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the coming 82nd Academy Awards.  Jason Reitman gets a nod in the directing category, George Clooney in the Best Actor category, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for Best Actress.  Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner also received nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

UPDATE January 17th: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner have just won the Best Screenplay Award at the Golden Globes tonight.

Now that we’ve entered the new year, the awards season has arrived.  Only two weeks to go before the Golden Globes presentation, and about a week after that the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the buzz now is around the nominees.  And this one is a good start for the new year.

Watching Up In The Air is like reading an O. Henry story.  The twist at the end makes it hauntingly poignant. But O. Henry probably would not have imagined that a story could be told in such a visually dynamic way.

Following Oscar nominated Juno (2007) and Golden Globe nom Thank you for Smoking (2005), director Jason Reitman, together with screenwriter Sheldon Turner, have created a screen adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel.  Reitman has crafted an apt and relevant contemporary tale with just the right pacing, suitable for those too rushed to stop for a story.  I’m sure they’ll enjoy this one.

‘I fly, therefore I am’ … that could well be the philosophical stance of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney).  He flies from city to city, doing something most bosses shy away from: laying off people.  Apparently Ryan loves his job.  It gives him the reason to be constantly on the go. One time on the plane, he is asked “Where are you from?’  With just the slightest hesitation, he answers: “Here.”

Ryan Bingham is also a motivational speaker.  He brings a backpack to the podium, an object lesson too vivid to ignore:  the more you put in, things and people the same, the heavier it’ll get, the more bogged down you’ll be.  His warning to his audience: ‘The slower we move, the faster we die.’  He’s the guru of non-committal living.

Goerge Clooney is perfectly cast as Ryan Bingham.  His suave, urbane sophistication is tailor-made for the role. Add in the nonchalant nuances, no wonder his performance earns him a nom for the Golden Globe.

But just when Ryan is performing so well with his air ballet — even his carry-on-suitcase-packing manuevers look sleek and stylish, thanks to some fascinating series of shots — Ryan gets notification that he’ll soon be grounded. Thanks to newly hired, Cornell grad Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), who has developed a video conferencing system for the company, Ryan can now do his job without leaving his office.

To phase in, Ryan is to bring Natalie along to familiarize her with his job.  It’s most amusing to watch the foil between the experienced and the naive, the callous and the tender.  At the same time, the plot thickens as Ryan meets another frequent flyer, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), in a hotel lounge.  Meeting Alex, who seems to share his airborne lifestyle, Ryan’s outlook on life soon faces a major turnaround.

As the film unfolds, you’ll find the title ‘Up In the Air’ not so much refers to the obvious: air travel, but a more metaphorical meaning.  It points to the existential limbo in which we sometimes find ourselves, always moving but never arriving, constantly twirling in the transitory, never coming to a rest.

Further, the film deftly deals with the questions most relevant to us all:  Is the rootless and ungrounded life worth living?  Does the ‘airborne’ phenomenon define the modern man/woman? What makes life meaningful after all?

The dramedy explores these issues without being didactic.  You’d be gratified to see Ryan’s awakening, and empathize with his situation as his path twists and turns.  With its slick editing, catchy music, witty dialogues, and great acting, the movie offers some worthwhile and enjoyable entertainment.

Up In The Air is nominated for 6 Golden Globes: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (both, Farmiga against Kendrick), and Best screenplay.  I think this will be a strong contender comes January 17th, and will likely soar to the Oscars.

As to which O. Henry story particularly stood out in my mind as I was watching the movie? Without giving out any spoilers, let me just say: when we know we need to change, let’s just hope that we’d get the chance to do so.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

Last Chance Harvey (2008)

last_chance_harvey

Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, London, England… attractions enough.  Can anyone ask for more?

… Well, yes…  how about a good plot.

The relatively new director/writer Joel Hopkins must have great confidence in his actors unleashing their charisma in lieu of a substantial plot… well, he’s lucky.  They do.  Despite a slow start, an uneventful and banal storyline reminiscence of past movies, I’ve enjoyed it, mainly because of the actors.  Just watching Hoffman and Thompson strike it up can lighten your day.  Their performance is worth the ticket, especially Hoffman.  Just watching his toast to the bride in the wedding of his daughter is worth the 92 minutes you sit in the theatre.

For their performance, both are nominees in their respective best acting category for a comedy or musical at the recent Golden Globe Awards.

Weddings are popular in recent movies.  Maybe because a wedding is the most sensitive occasion where families, past and present, have to come together, tempted to open old wounds, but also given the chance to mend relationships, or to simply love those for whom you haven’t got time in your life. A hotbed for drama to ensue.

Hoffman here plays Harvey, a divorced jingle writer facing a post mid-life crisis.  Not only is he hanging in a dead-end job, his life is one stale and stagnant bore.   The movie begins as he flies to London England for his daughter’s wedding. The excitement is soon doused by his realizing that the wedding ceremonies have all been planned without him. An embarrassment to his ex-wife Jean (Kathy Baker, The Jane Austen Book Club, 2007) and even to his daughter Susan (the fresh Canadian Liane Balaban, Definitely Maybe, 2008 ), Harvey nevertheless grasps the most critical moment to express his heart-felt endearment for his daughter at the reception.

Other than that self-assertion, and the father-daughter dance which is made possible only because his son-in-law is gracious enough to initiate, Harvey is totally slighted.  While drenched in self-pity, he meets Kate (Thompson).  She too is beginning to, (or has she already?), give up the chance of falling in love.   Kate is self-sufficient though, and probably feels she could fare better on her own, especially without her mother (Eileen Atkins, Evening, 2007) calling her every hour.  But of course, the rest of the story is predictable;  yet you still want to cherish the two great actors hitting it off, to witness Harvey winning Kate over.

Last Chance Harvey is like a stroll in the park.  It’s simple, light, relaxing.  I mean for both the viewers and the actors.  It sure looks like this is one easy job that the two of them can do even in their sleep.

But of course, for me as a viewer, I’d like to see more depth, more characterization, more twists and turns, more laughs.

I suppose it’s alright if you don’t mind coming out of a restaurant half-full… and you did enjoy the dessert.

~ ~ ½ Ripples


2009 Golden Globe Winners

If you’re looking for the 2010 Golden Globes, CLICK HERE.

slumdog-golden-globe Photo Source:  Irish Times

Click here for the list of the 2009 Golden Globe winners

Slumdog Millionaire is the big winner of the night, garnering the golden globe in four categories:  Best Original Score (A. R. Rahman),  Best Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy),  Best Director (Danny Boyle), and Best Motion Picture – Drama.  Good to see the underdog win.  Hopefully the bright road leads all the way to the Oscars.

Another big winner is Kate Winslet, surprising even herself by winning both Best Supporting Actress (The Reader) and Best Actress (Drama, Revolutionary Road).  Her emotion was spontaneous… She even said sorry to her fellow nominees Meryl  (Doubt),  Kristin (I’ve Loved You So Long), and who’s the other one?  Yes,  Angelina (Changeling).  But ooh, she forgot Anne (Rachel Getting Married), who got all the hype from being recognized as the winner due to an earlier glitch on the GG website.

kate-winslet-golden-globe-2009 Photo Source: CBC.ca

Sally Hawkins nabbed the Best Actress trophy  (Comedy, Happy-Go-Lucky), beating fellow Brit  Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey).

After waited for a whole year, Steven Spielberg finally received the Cecil B. DeMille Award which he won in 2008  but was not presented due to the cancellation of the GG Awards ceremony. Or was it 50 years that he waited?  It was in 1959 that Spielberg made his first film, an 8 min. short.  He was 13.

Heath Ledger won posthumously Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight.  Chris Nolan accepted it on his behalf: “He will be eternally missed, but he will never be forgotten.”

Wall-E took the Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, deservedly.

As for the TV division, John Adams garnered four Awards, seeing Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti receiving their honors.

Overall, a big night for the Brits.

Click here to read CBC reporting.

Click here to see a clip of the highlights from BBC News.

*****

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

slumdogposter

Updates:

Feb. 22:  Slumdog Millionaire just won 8 Academy Awards. CLICK HERE for the Oscar Results 2009.

Feb. 8:  Slumdog Millionaire has just won 7 BAFTA Awards including Best Picture and Best Director tonight in London, England.

Jan. 25:  Slumdog Millionaire has just won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

Jan. 22:  Slumdog Millionaire just nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture. Click here to go to my Oscar Nominations Post.

Jan. 12:  Slumdog Millionaire just won 4 Golden Globes for Best Original Score, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama.

***

A. O. Scott in his 2008 year-end article and podcast on the New York Times website gives credits to movies that explore the element of hope. How fitting it is to start the new year by watching ‘hopeful movies’. In this turbulent time of ours, ‘Hope’ might just be the word of the year for us all.

Slumdog Millionaire not only explores the idea of hope, it builds its whole momentum on this element, and its fuel is none other than ‘love’.  The movie is a modern day fairy tale, an exciting concoction bubbling with fantastic visuals and sounds, a post-modern alchemy of culture, language, and place. But what unifies is the aspiration of requited love and shattered souls redeemed.

Directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, 2002, Trainspotting, 1996) and based on Vikas Swarup’s award winning novel Q & A, which has been translated into 36 languages, the film has garnered high acclaims in film festivals. Just four months into its limited release, Slumdog Millionaire has already won 20 awards, and is nominated for 4 Golden Globes including Best Picture, and 2  SAG Awards, and is a possible contender for the Oscars.

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) grows up in the slums of Mumbai, India. He and his brother Salim watch their mother killed by mobs. The two boys have to fend for themselves living on the streets. They survive the deplorable conditions with tact, style and grace, until Salim falls for the gang. Jamal has a childhood sweetheart Latika (Freida Pinto). In a heart wrenching episode, she gets separated from the brothers. Her fate seems to be sealed as a young girl on the street.

Years pass but Jamal’s heart still yearns for Latika. One thing that unites all Indians seems to be the popular quiz show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. With his heart firmly fixed on reaching out to his long lost love  somewhere out there in the mass populace of India, Jamal gets on the show, hoping Latika would see him. Latika at this time is in the firm grip of a gang lord, her hope of freedom is dismal.

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Yet, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, 2008 ) and director Danny Boyle gratify their viewers with some unexpected twists and turns, allowing us to savour an exhilarating end to the story. With their seamless, non-linear way of storytelling, framed by an upbeat musical score, they have turned what could be just another love story into a fresh and engrossing tale.

While the film features all Indian actors and some Bollywood stars, shot in Mumbai, many dialogues in Hindi with English subtitles, I don’t feel the cultural elements particularly stand out, drawing attention to themselves. Herein lies the success of the film. It has not led me to feel like I am watching something ‘foreign’ or ‘ethnic’, like some National Geographic features. The sense of place and subject matter, plus the amiable cast have all worked together effectively to transmit a universal appeal. The only Bollywood moment is when the end credits roll. Do stay for that.

Slumdog Millionaire evokes reminiscence of similar successful though lesser known titles like ‘Chop Shop’ (2007) and ‘Born into Brothels’ (2004), but on a grander scale, with an explicit message of hope and an unabashed resolution of requited love.

How satisfying! You’ll come out rejuvenated. The skeptic in you might say it’s only a movie, a fantasy too…  Mind you, not all fantasies end well. With some, the darkness can loom for days. Be good to yourself, start the year on a cheery note. Watch a ‘hopeful movie’. Love and Hope can sustain and triumph. As simple as that.

~ ~ ~½ Ripples


*****


2009 Golden Globe Nominations

Update January 12:  CLICK HERE for the Golden Globe Winners.

Hollywood Foreign Press Association has just announced the 2009 Golden Globe Awards nominations.  Click here for the full list.

If, as they say, the Golden Globes usually is a good prediction of the Oscars, then I am hopeful that some of those who truly deserve the recognition might just get a nod for next year’s Academy Awards.

I’m thinking in particular of Kristin Scott Thomas for her role in I’ve Loved You So Long (France), nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award (Drama), and the film getting a nod in the Best Foreign Film category.

Anne Hathaway is also a contender in the same category as Scott Thomas, for Rachel Getting Married.  Her performance is a good sign of her versatility.  But my choice is Kristin Scott Thomas, hands down.  She has delivered a superb performance in I’ve Loved You So Long as the deep and tormented Juliette Fontaine.   I wish her all the best all the way to the Oscars.

As to the two nominations Mamma Mia! receives for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), and Meryl Streep for Best Actress (Comedy or Musical), I admit I am a bit surprised.  But then again, as a musical goes, especially one made up of amateur singers, maybe it does deserve a nomination for its entertainment value.

To read my reviews of the movies mentioned here, just click on their names.  My reviews are also linked by IMDB’s ‘external reviews’.

*****

 

I’ve Loved You So Long (2008, France) Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

Update: 

March 3:  The DVD has come out.  For those who don’t like to read subtitles, the DVD has an English Version with Kristin Scott Thomas voicing her own part.  But nothing compares to the original of course. 

Feb. 8  I’ve Loved You So Long has just won the BAFTA for Best Film Not In The English Lanugage tonight in London, England.

Dec. 11:  I’ve Loved You So Long has just been nominated for two Golden Globes, Best Foreign Film and Best Actress (Drama) for Kristin Scott Thomas.

Sisters reuniting is the storyline of several movies recently, as in Margot At The Wedding (2007) and Rachel Getting Married (2008 ).  But both Nicole Kidman and Anne Hathaway are just featherweights compared to Kristin Scott Thomas’s powerful performance here in I’ve Loved You So Long.

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Winner of the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival, I’ve Loved You So Long is the  directorial debut of Philippe Claudel, French novelist, screenwriter, and professor of literature at The University of Nancy.  It is unfortunate that festival films like this one are rarely shown in North America, except in major selective cities.  I’ve wanted to see the film for a while, but not until my trip to Vancouver last week did I have the chance to watch it in a theatre.

In the film, the reunion of the sisters comes under the most unusual of circumstances.  Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, 1996) plays Juliette, an older sister who has just been released on parole after 15 years in prison.  She rejoins society to the  embrace of her younger sister Léa (Elsa Zylberstein).  Léa was only a young teenager when her much older sister was disowned by their parents.  To them, the crime she had committed was unforgivable.   Léa was told to ostracize Juliette, as the rest of the family did.   Now years later, Léa is teaching literature at a university, and  mature enough to reconnect the tie that binds.   She receives Juliette  into her own home, a warm family with a loving husband, two adopted Vietnamese girls, and her father-in-law Papy Paul (Jean-Claude Arnaud), who has lost his ability to speak after a stroke.  But her husband Luc (Serge Hazanavicius) is apprehensive, and understandably so.

Like the viewers, Léa is kept in the dark as to the details of the act Juliette had done , a secret that is painfully borne by Juliette alone.  The slow unfolding of the facts thus sets the stage for the heart-wrenching performance by Scott Thomas.  The film is an exploration into the nature of good and evil, love and forgiveness.  In our society that excels in labeling people, the writer/director leads us to ponder the questions of what constitutes a crime, who are the victims, likewise, who are the strong, the helpers, and who are those that need help?  How can we truly know each other?  And ultimately, what is love?

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I admire that the elegant Oscar nominated actress Scott Thomas was willing to take up a role that would cast her against type, and to work under a first-time director.  Devoid of  make-up, her gaunt and haunted look,  deep set eyes and languid lids, and the high cheek bones that used to speak of beauty in her other films now form the epitome of a soul tormented.  Her icy demeanor reflects a guarded self that is too wounded to risk another blow.  Though released from physical confinement, Juliette is still imprisoned by her own guilt, and has to serve a  life sentence of torments from the ambivalence of her act.  Scott Thomas has poignantly portrayed a believable character and effectively created a tragic heroine.  Juliet is out of prison, has nowhere to go, lost to herself and the world.

Yet love paves the road to redemption, and courage is the building block.  While Léa plays a major part in reaching out to Juliette, her adopted daughters and even the silent Papy Paul have all unknowingly participated  in the healing process. It is his silence and the calming effect of his books that Juliette finds affinity.  In sharing the French children’s song ‘Il y a longtemps que je t’aime’ with Léa’s adopted daughter P’tit Lys (Lise Ségur), she ventures out to reconnect in a meaningful way.

Léa also invites Juliette into her circle of friends, in particular, her colleague Michel (Laurent Grévill).  Michel has spent some time teaching in a prison.  He reaches out to Juliette with his understanding and compassion, and shares with her the enjoyment of art.  Although he does not know the full details of her circumstances, he respects her humanity and offers his friendship, even when Juliette is not ready to receive.  He patiently waits.

Engrossing and intense, the film nonetheless offers a satisfying experience.  Even though I was able to guess the nature of the dark secret underlying the suspense, such that it has lessened the effect of surprise on me at the end, I still find the film thoroughly enjoyable, in particular, the superb acting from both sisters.  For those who associate tears with melodramatic and contrived effects, the film is an apt refutation of such a view.  Tears are most welcome and cathartic as a closure here after almost 90 minutes of elliptical restraint,  for they are  the very expression of reconciliation and redemption.  The climax is one of the most poignant I’ve seen in a long while, and the subsequent ending, a triumph.

I look forward to more of Claudel’s work.  And for Kristin Scott Thomas, I think she deserves no less than an Oscar for her performance.

~ ~ ~ ½ Ripples

****

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

“I think families are weird and insane…

They are the best source material.”

Jenny Lumet Interview with L.A. Times

I can’t agree with Lumet more… well, maybe not the insane part.  As screenwriter (daughter of director Sydney Lumet), she must have pondered the facts that the family is the first point of social contact a newborn is introduced to, the hotbed of human relationships from jealousy to rivalry, and the school of harsh lessons, learning to love amidst hate, forgive despite hurt.  That is the scenario in her script Rachel Getting Married.

And usually it’s at weddings that the raw emotions are exposed and where conflicting sentiments are so intense that they become unmanageable, hence, the source materials for many of our films…

It was full house again at The Calgary International Film Festival’s screening of Rachel Getting Married. First time screenwriter Jenny Lumet has crafted a realistic family portrait.  Director Jonathan Demme (of The Silence of the Lambs fame) uses roving camera work to effectively capture the naturalistic look, giving me the impression that I’m watching the home-made video of another family.  This film is definitely not for those with weak stomach or who are easily nauseated.

The movie is about Kym (Anne Hathaway) returning home for her sister Rachel’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding.  Kym has been in rehab for some years, trying to deal with substance abuse.  Coming home is bitter sweet for all. First, Kym’s father has remarried and a wedding means the re-appearance of Kym’s mother (Debra Winger), and the re-opening of old wounds.  Further, the jealousy and sibling rivalries are still intense, albeit hidden within a facade of good will most of the time. As the story unfolds, we see the tragic past of the family, its emotional residue still spilling out to the present.

Shot in a naturalistic style (Robert Altman is acknowledged in the end credits), with a hand-held camera jolting its way through family gatherings, punctuated with non-script-like casual and spontaneous talks, the film makes us feel like we’re secretly prying into another family’s affairs.  But herein lies the merit of such an incisive look.  The truth is, if we get the chance to peep behind the curtains into other people’s homes, we would probably find how similar they are with our own.   We may not have to deal with a substance abuser, or have gone through similar tragedies, but we have to live with the common human emotions of hurt and disappointment, rivalries and anger.  We are encouraged when we see how others find redemption, and from the pit of negativism, rise up and go forward.

Anne Hathaway has shown that she can act outside of the sweet and charming feminine roles as in The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and Becoming Jane (2007).  Here in Rachel Getting Married, she has effectively delivered an excellent performance as a messed up substance abuser struggling to redeem herself.  The film could well lead her to other more character-driven roles in the future, or maybe even an acting nomination.

As for the film itself, the roving camera work is not for everybody.  With its almost 2 hours running time, seems like it needs a bit more work on editing and pacing to make it more appealing.  Do we need so many musical numbers?  Overlooking the melodramatic parts, the film is still effective in delivering a very human story.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

Update December 11:  Anne Hathaway has just been nominated for a Best Actress Award at the 2009 Golden Globes for her role in Rachel Getting Married.

*****

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Arti of Ripple Effects is the writer of the above original review, posted on September 30, 2008, here at https://rippleeffects.wordpress.com   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

If you see this article on some other blogs or websites (as I have) without acknowledgment, citing, or linking back to Ripple Effects, then you know it has been copied without permission from the author.