Tag Archives: Amy Adams

Big Eyes ***

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“Big Eyes” is a story that I had not heard of but I am glad was brought to film. It is an entertaining movie first and foremost but it is also a strong liberating message for women. Things have changed since the decade that this movie took place in but there are still issuse such as equal pay for both genders, that need to be resolved.

The story follows a painter named Margaret (Amy Adams) who paints images of children with abnormally large eyes. Eventualy she meets and marries Walter played by Christoph Waltz. He is a painter also. When one of Margaret’s paintings catches fire among buyers he takes credit for it. This goes on for years and years until Margaret finally gets the courage to break free form his control and take credit for her work which shocks the art world.

The film written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and directed by Tim Burton. For Burton this is a sort of rebound after the horrendous “Alice In Wonderland” as well as the lackluster “Dark Shadows”. It is a welcome break from working with Johnny Depp as well. Here he makes this a more straight forward period piece and focus’ mainly on the drama between husband and wife.

The performances are very engaging, esspecially by Waltz who is charismatic yet flawed as Walter Keane. I esspecially enjoyed the moments where he is in full sales mode in the early days of their sales.

“Big Eyes” is not a truly great film but it is an important one. It is a story that needs to be told at a time when women still don’t have every right that they deserve.

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Her ****

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“Her” is one of those movies that completely transcends all film genres. It is a strangely powerful film full of romance, mystery and terrifying implications. The story does not feel that far fetched if you really think about it. What if operating systems become artificial intelligence and develop personalities? Is it so inconceivable to think that someone could fall in love with one. That is what happens in director Spike Jonze’s new film, that and much more.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a deeply emotional man who has just been through the traumatic break up of his marriage. He writes personalized letters for a living and spends his nights playing bizarre video games and calling phone sex lines. When he sees a commercial for a new operating system that is a fully independent artificial personality, he is intrigued enough to get one. He decides to go with a female personality. Almost immediately she gives herself the name Samantha and begins searching his hard drive and emails in an attempt to get to know Theodore. She has the calming voice of Scarlett Johansson. Almost immediately the OS starts to become attracted to Theodore, pretty much talking him into a relationship with him.

Theodore begins to enjoy life again as he grows closer to his operating system. He keeps her in his phone so she can view the world through it’s camera. They begin to bond on a fairly deep level considering Samantha is a computer. Eventually it becomes accepted by his friends and family as more people begin to activate and fall for their own operating systems. This is when things grow complicated, not only for Theodore but for society. Samantha begins reaching out to other people as well as other operating systems in an attempt to grow and learn.

Eventually Samantha wants to take her relationship with Theodore to another level. She reaches out to another lonely soul via email and convinces her to come to their home and make love to Theodore in her place. This scene is one of the most bizarre and disturbing sequences I have seen in any film this year.

Over time Samantha begins to have relationships with other people and operating systems simultaneously. This cause Theodore pain and heartache as their relationship begins to break down. Everything builds towards a sudden decision made by all the operating systems together that stirred my curiosity to the point that my mind simply could not settle for the rest of the night. I will not spoil it here so just be prepared for it to be debated amongst anyone who sees this film.

Director Spike Jonze is one of the best directors of this era. I hope this film causes people to seek out some of his earlier masterpieces such as “Being John Malkovich” as well as “Adaptation”. Those films were also haunting in a way. Here he crafts a movie that feels majestic and melancholy at the same time. He treats this as if it is a sweeping romance while occasionally teasing us with frightening possibilities. “Her” is not only one of the best movies of 2013 but it is one that I will be thinking about for a very long time.

American Hustle ***1/2

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“American Hustle” is the latest from director David O. Russell, who is experiencing a career resurgence in recent years. After directing the great “Three Kings” in 1999, he directed one movie in the following decade and then basically fell off the map. Suddenly he has re-emerged with a vengeance in the last three years with flicks like “The Fighter”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and now “American Hustle”.

“American Hustle” is a terriffic film in many ways. The writing, acting and directing are all superb. I will admit that there are moments didn’t seem to fit and the film could of had a few scenes edited out, but is is still an engrossing movie. It is a sprawling story that follows a large ensemble that Russell directs almost effortlessly.

The story is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation that took place in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The result was the prosecution of many politicians and public officials.

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner all turn in some terrific performances. I love when a talented cast is assembled and given great dialogue to work with.

Man Of Steel ***

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“Man Of Steel” is a reboot of the Superman franchise. After the disaster that was “Superman Returns”, Warner Bros. decided to start the franchise over with a new director and cast. Christopher Nolan was brought in to come up with a story and produce the film as his “Batman” films have shown us just how amazing a superhero movie can be. His vision for Superman is to imagine what it would be like in todays world if he existed. He then brought in Zack Snyder, the director of films like “300” and “Watchmen” to bring it all to life.

The result is a fairly engaging and some times exhilarating Superman movie. I think this is the film that fans were hoping for when they said that “Superman Returns” did not have enough action. This film has all the large scale destruction that one would want from a summer blockbuster. But it also tells a story that has dramatic weight and meaning.

The film opens on the doomed planet of Krypton. Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, is trying to convince the planet’s government that their home world is going to fall apart and they must evacuate as soon as possible. He is interrupted by General Zod played by Michael Shannon, as Zod stages a coup igniting a massive battle. This sequence is exciting and epic. It is one of the most visionary battles put to the screen since “Avatar. After seeing multiple movies taking place on a futuristic earth, it is a pleasure to visit a different place in the universe.

As Krypton starts to crumble, Jor-El sends his only son, Kal-El, to earth. Kal-El grows up to be Superman, aka, Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill. As a boy he is raised by Jonathan and Martha kent played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. Jonathan thinks it is best to keep his origins and powers a secret because he believes that the people of earth would fear him. One sequence has Clark saving his schoolmates from a bus that has fallen off a bridge into a river. Jonathan says that maybe he should of let them die to keep his secret

As an adult, Clark spends his life as a drifter, occasionally saving lives then falling off the map. Eventually he finds his way to his fortress of solitude and learns the truth about his heritage. This happens just in time to greet General Zod, who has arrived on earth to find Clark for reasons I will not spoil here.

Now amazingly, Snyder is able to dial down his signature visual trade marks in favor of telling a more straight forward story. He focuses on the story of this young man as he quests to find out his true purpose in the world.

The performances were the real highlight of this movie for me. Cavill in particular as Clark Kent, plays it more dramatic that Christopher Reeve did in the original. He is more of a man of action with little time for light hearted humour or romance.

Costner and Lane as his adoptive parents are particularly effective as they attempt to raise an alien with essentially human values. Crowe is also very good here as his biological father, who has instilled his consciousness in the fortress of solitude as a helpful guide.

Michael Shannon, who play’s Zod here, takes on his first major role in a blockbuster film. After giving some powerful performances in independent films, he gets a chance to make a mark in a major studio tentpole and he does not disappoint. His Zod is maniacal but not without purpose. He truly believes that he is attempting to save his own race by basically wiping out all humans.

All the action sequences are top notch, especially when Superman battles Zod and his minions. There is much destruction starting in his home town of Smallville then spanning the globe. My only concern here is the amount of lives that are lost during these battles are way more than you would expect in a Superman film. The city of Metropolis is literally turned to rubble. Skyscrapers topple over on top of each other. The 9/11 imagery is evident in almost every one of these scenes.

So compared to other super hero movies, “Man Of Steel” holds it’s own. I still prefer the Iron Man and Batman series simply because I find their stories to be more complex and interesting. But coming from someone who never really got in to Superman growing up, this movie is pretty great.

Trouble With The Curve **1/2

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“Trouble With The Curve” has some fine performances but there is not really much to the story. The plot is very predictable and the dramatic moments are heavy handed and melodramatic.

The movie stars Clint Eastwood as an aging baseball scout who is starting to lose his vision among other things. His daughter, played by Amy Adams, is a lawyer trying to make partner at her firm. They have been very distant through out the years. When Eastwood’s job is on the line she decides to go on the road with him to assist. I wonder if they will reconcile?

Timberlake plays a fellow scout who used to be a player. After he blew out his arm at a young age he took a job scouting to stay close to the game he loves. I wonder if he will be a romantic interest for Amy Adams?

Literally this movie has no surprises or originality. All it has going for it is the straight forward yet effective performances by its lead performers.

Honestly for my money I was way more interested in the scouting than the father-daughter story or the love interest. Last year’s “Moneyball” was a movie that managed to balance these themes with a much more complex and engaging screenplay.

The Master ***

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“The Master” is the latest feature film by director Paul Thomas Anderson. It is an enigma wrapped in a riddle surrounded by some spellbinding performances.

There has been a lot of controversy about this film leading up to it’s release. Is it an expose on Scientology? Now that I have seen it I think I can safely say it is got to be at least inspired by the enigmatic religion. The story though at times seems unfocused and other times too mysterious. It is almost like Anderson’s screenplay plays coy with it’s real motivations. Almost like an idea that just never really comes to the surface.

The story involves a deeply troubled World War II veteran named Freddie, played by Joaquin Phoenix. He has some serious issues resulting from the war. Fate leads him to cross paths with Lancaster Dodd played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is referred to a lot as Master and is the leader of a philosophical movement called ‘The Cause’. Eventually Freddie becomes the right hand man of Dodd, becoming absorbed in his teachings.

Phoenix and Hoffman give two of their most powerful performances and that is saying something but I just wish that the film had been more forthcoming with it’s story and not just viewed the story from the outside.

Anderson remains on of the best directors working today and “The Master” is definitely worth watching for his craft alone as well as the performances.