W: An Oliver Stone film about George W. Bush……is this going to be a thrashing or what? To my surprise, Oliver Stone took the straight road instead of taking his normal path that always bends around to the left. The result is a tamer look at W. the man with more of an emphasis on explaining the motives of his actions than making fun of him. Prior to seeing the film, I thought it was going to be a political satire. A satire it is not, making the film all the more interesting. Stone made a film that takes a much more serious look at the 43rd President of the United States. Josh Brolin plays George W. who did an excellent job playing him at many different stages of his life. The film goes back to George’s sloppy college days and does not try to conceal his partying lifestyle. These younger Bush scenes, drunk and out of control, are the funniest moments of the movie. Throughout the course of the film we see the strained relationship between George W. and his dad George Sr. (played by James Cromwell). The movie’s thesis is based on this relationship, suggesting that many of W’s actions were based on his desire to prove something to his dad and make him proud. The story ends with Bush leading the country into the Iraq war. It is these scenes with his cabinet (Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld) that I found the most insightful. In the end I came away knowing a little more about Bush and strangely….I felt sorry for him.
Ry's Rating: B
If this movie had parents they would be: Nixon & Fahrenheit 9/11
The Wrestler: Last Friday The 44th Annual Chicago International Film festival gave the Midwest its first look at “The Wrestler", directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) and starring the great Mickey Rourke (Angelheart, Sin City). Rourke plays professional wrestler Randy “Ram” Robinson 10 years past his prime. We follow him (the camera is literally behind Ram a good portion of the film) as he tries to regain old wrestling glory while attempting to mend a personal life that has left him broke and alone caused by his career as a professional grappler. Marisa Tomei also stars as his favorite stripper and Evan Rachel Wood as his daughter. We’ve seen this story before, but what sets this movie apart from the others is Rourke’s performance and the minimalist, slice-of-life filmmaking approach.
A Q & A with Aronofsky followed the screening. I asked him what his approach was when coming to the set everyday. He told us how “Pi”, “Requiem”, and “The Fountain” was his first trilogy and “The Wrestler” will start his next series of films. He talked about reinventing his filmmaking approach. I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon. The Wrestler opens in December.
The Brothers Bloom opened the 44th Chicago International Film Festival. Writer, director Rian Johnson and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz were on hand to talk about the making of the film. Weisz commented that not many comedies are thrown her way and this film presented a chance to show off her comedic side……and we are glad she did!
The Brothers Bloom: Rian Johnson, the creative force behind the superb 2006 film Brick has another success with his sophomore outing The Brothers Bloom. As he did with the film Brick, Johnson creates a distinct type of universe to tell his story, this time almost giving off a Wes Anderson type of vibe. The story centers on two brothers who make a living conning very rich people out of money. The brothers are played by Mark Ruffalo (Stephen) and Adrien Brody (Bloom). For their last con they target a beautiful heiress named Penelope (Rachel Weisz). It is her inventive character that makes the film so funny and also so charming. Of course, during “the hook” of the con, Bloom and Penelope fall in love with each other. However, instead of following all other con movies, this movie goes in another direction. The story ends up not focusing on some big con at the end or a “who conned who”, but rather focuses on the relationship between the two brothers and the relationship between Bloom and Penelope. The Brothers Bloom is a very funny movie with the humor being more of the witty variety. This is due to the three main characters being so well written and very well developed. I am not trying to con anyone when I say you should see this movie….it is just an easy one to enjoy!
Ry's Rating: B+
If this movie had Parents they would be: The Darjeeling Limited & The Sting
Rachel Getting Married: Anne Hathaway stars in this intimate, unorthodox family drama. We are introduced to her character, Kim as she is leaving rehab to attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. The beginning of the film is set-up well as we can tell Kim is still not in a healthy state of mind to be around a large group of people and of course there is a herd of family and friends staying at her house for the wedding. This scenario leads to some humorous moments during the early scenes of the picture and all the while keeps unlocking portions of Kim’s troubled past. The drama unfolds more as we learn how the whole family is scarred because of Kim’s drug abuse and a fatal mistake she made while she was high. The story is not an easy one to tell and a lot of credit has to go to Anne Hathaway for her performance. She brought an understanding to the character. She did not overplay the role and she saved her best for the movie’s most crucial scenes concerning the guilt she has to live with every day of her life. Now it would not be the movies if the wedding was not turned into a multicultural event. This film does not even attempt to explain all of the affluent and diverse people that attend the wedding. The wedding celebration scenes with live music and dancing go on way too long and take away from the emotion I had vested in the story. When the lights went up we had a good drama with an excellent performance, but I felt if the story had a tighter grip…..we could have squeezed much more passion out of it.
Ry's Rating: B
If this movie had parents they would be: SherryBaby & Margot at the Wedding