MSN Movies Blog

John Cameron Mitchell's study of grief

By Kim Morgan Dec 17, 2010 11:24AM
It's tough to recommend John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole," and yet, it's one of the most sensitive, beautifully acted and honest movies made this year.

It's tough to recommend because if you've ever survived a death in the family, you will feel things you may not want to revisit or think about. And you will think about them. The story of a couple (played by Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart) attempting to navigate their way through grief (they lost their young son less than a year ago) is told without pointing fingers, even at characters we find annoying, and without a one-way attempt to treat grief. Support groups are not for everyone, God is not always the answer, but then if that's a comfort, fine. Sometimes, in one wonderfully realized scene, science makes a person feel more alive.

The movie says that however you deal with grief is just how you do it -- and you have to figure out if it's healthy or not. And no one should judge you.

John Cameron Mitchell and Nicole Kidman were interviewed about the film in the NY Times, and here's what the director had to say:

"You can't tell someone they're going to have an experience that's useful to them. Whether we like it or not, at some point we're going to be dealing with loss, and if you don't have tools — you're not given tools by your religion, by your parents, by whatever — all we have is stories to help us. This is not throwing you into the abyss and destroying you and reminding you that life is horrible, we wouldn't want to make it if that was the case. We already know things can be rough.

"This was necessary for me to revisit some feelings I never dealt with as a kid because we weren't supposed to talk about stuff in the ’70s. I think going through fire by watching a movie is the safe way, doing it vicariously and experiencing what the Greeks call catharsis. You can be cleansed, you can be purged and you can be ready for life. That is the point of art."

 

The legendary director passes away at age 88

By Kim Morgan Dec 16, 2010 12:36PM
Sad news. A major director and screenwriter is gone.

Rest in peace, Blake Edwards.

More from TheWrap:

"Blake Edwards, the man who put  'The Pink Panther,' 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and '10,' among many other films, up on the silver screen has died at the age of 88.


"The veteran director passed away at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, CA, late on Dec. 15 from complications of pneumonia. Julie Andrews, Edwards' wife of 41 years, and the couple's five children were with the Honorary Oscar winner."


 

'The King's Speech' leads the pack

By Kim Morgan Dec 15, 2010 11:37AM
The nominees for the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards were just announced yesterday, with "The King's Speech" leading the pack via its seven nominations.

Here's a partial list of the nominations:

MOTION PICTURES


— Picture, Drama: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The King's Speech," "The Social Network"


— Picture, Musical or Comedy: "Alice in Wonderland," "Burlesque," "The Kids Are All Right," "Red," "The Tourist"


— Actor, Drama: Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"; Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"; James Franco, "127 Hours"; Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"; Mark Wahlberg, "The Fighter"


— Actress, Drama: Halle Berry, "Frankie and Alice"; Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"; Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"; Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine"


— Director: Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan"; David Fincher, "The Social Network"; Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"; Christopher Nolan, "Inception"; David O. Russell, "The Fighter"


— Actor, Musical or Comedy: Johnny Depp, "Alice in Wonderland"; Johnny Depp, "The Tourist"; Paul Giamatti, "Barney's Version"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Love and Other Drugs"; Kevin Spacey, "Casino Jack"


— Actress, Musical or Comedy: Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"; Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right"; Anne Hathaway, "Love and Other Drugs"; Angelina Jolie, "The Tourist"; Emma Stone, "Easy A"


 

MSN film writers list their picks

By Kim Morgan Dec 15, 2010 11:28AM
Check it out. MSN comes up with its top 10 movies, and I'm happy to see it's a diverse, fascinating list, showing a diverse, fascinating year.

Here's how we did it, as described by our senior producer at MSN Entertainment, Dave McCoy:

"Welcome to the fourth annual MSN Movies top 10 films poll. We are continuing our tradition of presenting multiple viewpoints from all of our writers that add up to some sort of hodgepodge representing the best movies of 2010. This year, we've increased the number of writers from 10 to 13. The method is simple: 13 critics vote for their 10 favorite films. Films are assigned points based on their ranking, and -- BAM! We have a list that no one is TOTALLY happy about but sure causes much heated debate, at least among ourselves and hopefully with you as well.


"Many called 2010 an awful year for movies. We're not going to make such a sweeping, shortsighted statement, but we will say this: As a group, we ended up naming 56 different films on our lists. Does this mean 2010 was a great year? No. It just means that there were great movies if you looked for them. Hopefully, this list will celebrate films that you, too, love, but also introduce you to new titles.


"If you want to jump to the individual lists, you can do so. But we hope you count down the top 10 with us. And then write in and let us know what we missed."


Read our entire list here


 

The actor will be starring in Simon West's newest

By Kim Morgan Dec 15, 2010 11:14AM
Hooray! Another possibly nutty but frequently inspired Nicolas Cage performance is on the way.

According to ComingSoon via Heat Vision, the actor will star in director Simon West's newest action film, "Medallion."

Given that I'm a huge fan of "Con Air," also directed by West -- a movie in which Cage and John Malkovich chew up and spit out the scenery with such relish that it's impossible to not enjoy yourself ("Put down the bunny!") -- I'm hoping this is another one of those crazed action films everyone says they hate, but secretly love.

Here's more from ComingSoon:

"The film, to be directed by Simon West ('Con Air,' 'Lara Croft: Tomb Raider'), will star Cage as a former criminal who has to find his kidnapped daughter who has been locked in the trunk of a taxi cab in New York City.

 

Film images and an interview with legendary DP Roger Deakins

By Kim Morgan Dec 14, 2010 8:49AM

 

Roger Deakins is a giant in his field. Not only has he shot all of the Coen Brothers' movies since their surreal, gorgeously decrepit look at Hollywood life in the 1930s, "Barton Fink," he's also done the masterpiece “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” a movie renowned for all of the techniques and lenses and approaches he took, and “The Shawshank Redemption,” a movie the cinematographer admits he knew was something special.

Often, as he expressed, one is not sure -- like with “The Hudsucker Proxy” (though this writer has a soft spot for that picture). But Deakins’ cinematography is superb, as it is with all of the Coen films, which vary from picture to picture. The Coens enjoy working with him because he’s able to come up with incredibly different looks, from the noir-soaked, “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” to the gorgeous bluegrass Americana of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" to the faded-'70s-photograph look of a “A Serious Man.” And then there’s “No Country for Old Men,” a vicious Western of sorts.

But, according to Deakins, “True Grit” is even more vicious. Inspired by the Charles Portis novel (which is much darker and layered than the classic John Wayne picture), Deakins approached the film with the grittiness that the novel provided. He said that the movie, though somewhat in the same milieu as “No Country,” is more like a rough “Peckinpah film.” It's violent. And he expressed that people will be surprised and in awe. And, no doubt, (he was too modest to admit this) in love with his look.  He claimed it was one of his favorite Coen movies he’s ever worked on.

 

The coolest women of cinema

By Kim Morgan Dec 10, 2010 1:53PM

What is cool? In a very uncool move, I'll look to Wikipedia for a definition: "Something regarded as ... an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist."


That seems about right, but usually we can just see and feel what is cool, often in celebrities. Look at the charisma, style, swagger and witty aplomb of Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Miles Davis, George Clooney or Samuel L. Jackson and you don't need to reach for Merriam Webster. But, then, these are men we're talking about. What about women? Just like the myth that women aren't funny, there's also some discrimination regarding women and the chill factor. There are exceptions -- Marlene Dietrich was cool, Deborah Harry was, and still is, cool. Billie Holiday is cool times 10 -- but there are always exceptions.


So to increase the cool index, we're looking at 10 ladies currently working who are, and will likely always be, effortlessly cool. Sometimes, as the saying goes, they're too cool for school, which probably hurts their pocketbook -- but what a fashionable pocketbook they carry.


Here's one of the cool:


Kathryn Bigelow


Let's just consider the achievement filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow received this year: She was the first woman to win an Oscar for directing a feature film. Awesome. But (and this isn't meant to discount women for directing movies about women; see Sofia Coppola on this list) Bigelow didn't make a movie about Diane Keaton falling for the wrong but oh-so-right guy, or Meryl Streep realizing she can have a sex life after a certain age while dishing to her friends in a dining room designed by Pottery Barn. No, she made a war film, a lean, suspenseful and sympathetic-without-being-sloppy war film that studied the stress and danger of men in battle. "The Hurt Locker" is now her crowning achievement, but let's not forget some other great, somewhat underrated works in her canon: "The Loveless," "Point Break," "Strange Days" and the now-cult classic "Near Dark," a vampire film featuring good-looking blood suckers decades before that was all the rage. Now let's consider Bigelow herself.


Have you seen this woman? I have, in person: She's not only beguiling and intelligent, but a knockout, carrying a cool charisma that women (and men) half her age would die to have. During our interview, the director, dressed in slim black pants and a fetching leather jacket, not only discussed her movie, but the films of Sam Fuller, Sam Peckinpah and Anthony Mann. I fell in love with her. And not only because she directed "The Hurt Locker," but because, well ... I imagine she doesn't drag her boyfriends to watch "Sex and the City 2" on a Friday night.



 

Video shorts give us Warholian look at screen talents

By Kim Morgan Dec 10, 2010 11:32AM
This is fascinating. The New York Times is running a set of video shorts called "Fourteen Actors Acting" in which 14 actors ... act.

Directed by Solve Sundsbo, the shorts are interesting to watch not just for the ability of the likes of Natalie Portman, Matt Damon, Robert Duvall and (of course!) James Franco, but for their very Warholian observation.

Robert Duvall shaving mirrors Warhol Superstar Baby Jane Holzer brushing her teeth. And then you think, is he acting, or is he just ... iconic?

 
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