Monthly Archives: November 2012

Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie & Julia is a light comedy that takes us on Julie Powell’s journey of becoming a published writer. More specifically, we follow Julie as she decides she wants something more out of life and begins a year-long project in which she takes Julia Child’s cook book and cooking lesson videos, cooks up all her recipes in her first book, and then blogs about it everyday. We also get to see Julia Child’s start in the cooking profession and the struggles she faced in publishing her book.

The show is stolen entirely by Meryl Streep, since her acting skills are impeccable as she portrays the vibrant Julia Child, right down to her mannerisms and speaking ticks. She was cast alongside Stanley Tucci, who plays her husband Paul Child. These two work brilliantly well together, and Tucci also brings something of his own to the table in his performance. Amy Adams also did a good job acting as a blogger, showing us different mood swings and generally providing us a sense of what it felt like for the real Julie Powell undergoing the ups and downs in her project.

The cinematography was well done, especially in the flashback scenes. It added a certain sense of nostalgia, which was necessary as we were going back in time to see the real story of Julia Child unfold in front of our eyes.

The storyline was rather unique, in the sense that this has never been done before. The story is light, funny, and provides an overall feel-good movie. At the very end, however, I felt a sense of disappointment when Julia said she didn’t like Julie’s blog and that Julie and Julia never even met in person… but although it left me kind of dissatisfied with the ending, I guess that disappointment really illustrated what the character of Julie was feeling, and in that way I’m glad the film stayed in the realms of reality, as this was based on true events. The dose of reality is the added touch of this film, creating a certain atmosphere that leaves the viewers thinking about how this may relate to their own lives, which is something everyone can take away from Julie & Julia.


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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth, directed by the incredible Guillermo Del Toro, is one hell of an emotional ride, complete with scenes so gruesomely gory, it’ll have you cringing and moving nervously in your seat. Its plot and visuals are so complex, with old fairytales interwoven into its story (intertextual references), which is a postmodern collage technique used brilliantly by Del Toro. At the same time it has a sense of pure simplicity which draws viewers in even more. The visuals are breathtaking, the actors are skilled at evoking emotion, and the storyline is captivating.

First off, hats off to Guillermo Del Toro. He had an extraordinary vision and then gave it life. This man fought for his vision for Pan’s Labyrinth, and did not rest until he had complete control over this project. He is an auteur – he wrote, directed, and produced this film. He also designed the way all the magical creatures would look by sketching them all out beforehand.

“I gave back my entire salary in order to get the film made the way I wanted it. I probably should have abandoned it the moment the funding fell through the first time, but I stuck with it for almost two-and-a-half years and refused to back down. It’s the first time in the six movies I’ve directed where I’ve said: I’m doing this one my way, no matter what. Financiers ran out on me and everyone involved in my career was saying it was the biggest mistake I could make. But I’m very happy with the result. And for me, nothing will be the same again.” – Guillermo Del Toro

Pan’s Labyrinth has two narrative strands which are interwoven – fantasy and real life. The opening scenes, when closely observed, establish Ofelia as the protagonist. The very first scene is of Ofelia laying down, panting, incredibly injured and looking straight at the camera. As the camera zooms into Ofelia’s eye, we’ve already been told that we are experiencing this story from her perspective – through Ofelia’s eyes. However, as the narrator’s voice is of a male, we know we are being told this story from an omniscient figure. We are shown that this is a circular narrative, as the blood dripping from her nose suddenly starts to rise back up into her nostrils, hinting that we are going back in time to when the story first started to unfold.

The film is set in the fascist Spain of 1944, during the Spanish Civil War. When closely analyzed, this fairytale serves as a political protest.  There is male/female dualism present, as all women are good, and all men are bad in this movie. This reveals that Del Toro views fascism as being a male evil. The captain is represented as entirely evil (in contrast with the protagonist Ofelia) and he demands extreme control over everything. The gag-inducing scene where the captain is seen repeatedly hammering the bottle into the innocent man’s face and the scene where the captain is revealed to have brutally tortured another innocent man to the point of unbearable excruciating injuries is not only done to show reality, but also for shock value and to state that “this man is evil” loud and clear. Through the use of the character of the captain and making him an extreme fascist figure, Del Toro sends a powerful message that fascism is evil.

The intertextual references include:

Little Red Riding Hood – straying off the path / Alice in Wonderland – Ofelia’s dress, going down a spiral / Snow White – stepfather instead of stepmother / Wizard of Oz – red shoes, meeting up with different creatures, wanting to see what’s behind the curtain / The Hobbit – moves more and more away from home, creating their own stories

Intertextual references in the “Pale Man” scene:

Cinderella – limited amount of time / The Hobbit – in the sleeping dragon’s lair / The Garden of Eden – the taking of food / Christ – the holes in the hands

Immortality doesn’t mean you live forever in this film. It means you become immune to death, and death no longer has any effect on your decisions or actions.

“Pan’s Labyrinth is a movie about a girl who gives birth to herself into the world she believes in. At that moment, it doesn’t matter if her body lives or dies.” – Guillermo Del Toro

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“Listen up, F-ker” Emily Blunt on falling in love with Looper

‘Listen up, f–ker:’ Emily Blunt on falling in love with Looper

By Chris Knight

AllianceEmily Blunt enjoyed not having to play the typical ‘girl’ character in Looper.

Emily Blunt has had her share of feminine roles. She was a princess in Gulliver’s Travels, the Queen in The Young Victoria and the voice of Juliet in Gnomeo & Juliet. But to listen to her talk about her latest part, in the science-fiction action pictureLooper, she’d rather be one of the boys.

“I like that she’s not written like a girl,” the 29-year-old Brit says of her character, a single mom named Sara. “You read so many parts that have been written by men where the women are either objectified, or obviously they’re compassionate and sympathetic because they’re a woman.

“I’m always saying to people … don’t write me as a girl; write me as a personality. Write the character; don’t write a gender.”

Looper, from writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), tells the story of a future in which time travel is used by organized crime, sending people into the past in order to kill them. Trouble ensues when a hitman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sees that his latest target (Bruce Willis) is an older version of himself.

Johnson shares Blunt’s distaste for “girl” roles, she says. “He doesn’t base it in any kind of gender. He just writes the story.” She laughs: “It was pretty cool that my first line in the movie is: ‘Listen up, f–ker.’ ”

Preparing for the role meant working on her American accent. Blunt chose to listen to male voices, though she can’t quite say why. “Something grounded,” she hazards, “and the strength of it, and not acting on any kind of femininity.”

Since her character hails from Kansas, she looked for a Kansan role model. “I listened to Chris Cooper a lot,” she says. “I love his voice; it’s quite emotional and melancholy. I was like Chris Cooper’s stalker on this movie.”

Blunt hasn’t seen much science-fiction, but what drew her to Looper was not the genre but the story. “When I read this script I didn’t see it as any sort of genre,” she says. “I actually found it impossible to categorize. It just seemed to be carving out completely new space for itself.”

Even before she met Sara on the page, she was hooked. “I was desperate to be in the movie 20 pages in. I hadn’t even got to my character and I was desperate to be in it. It is a film that’s three steps ahead of you at all times.”

Blunt’s past few roles have been in romantic comedies and dramas – The Five-Year EngagementYour Sister’s SisterSalmon Fishing in the Yemen. Even the science-fiction film The Adjustment Bureau was more romance than action for her. But Looperseems to have started something.

“I got to fire a shotgun and cut wood, which is pretty cool,” she says. “I practiced for a couple of months beforehand. I thought, I can’t have this girl chop like a sissy; it’s something she does every day.”

Blunt is in London next month filming her next picture, another sci-fi time-travel tale starring Tom Cruise. It’s called All You Need Is Kill, and Blunt plays a character called (I kid you not) Valkyrie One.

“Right now I’m doing all the fight training,” she says. “I’m playing a highly decorated soldier who’s really good at kicking ass.” Sounds like it was written for her.

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When people told me that this movie was crap and warned me not to watch it, I couldn’t believe it. First off, Joseph Gordon-Levitt never chooses bad films to be a part of, and secondly, the trailer looked really intriguing. I went with my gut instincts, and decided to watch the movie anyway. And ended up loving it. This great film review says everything I wanted to tell the people who told me NOT to watch it… maybe they just need to watch it a few more times.

The Warning Sign

Looper [2012]

Looper [2012]
Director: Rian Johnson
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels
Runtime: 118 minutes

After 2005’s criminally overlooked Brick, it’s great to see director/writer Rian Johnson and lead star Joseph Gordon-Levitt collaborating once again. This time around, with a clever time travel sci-fi premise and a bigger budget, the results are even more impressive.

Looper takes place primarily in the not-so-distant year of 2044, with the focus being on a group of assassins known as “loopers.” Their job is to wait in a cornfield for their victims to be sent back to them from the future (2074), blindfolded, where the loopers promptly shoot them and collect their rewards. It’s a relatively easy job, but their one rule is to never let anyone escape, even if that means their future selves.

Looper [2012]

That’s exactly what happens to Joe Simmons (Gordon-Levitt). When presented with…

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Killing Them Softly – starring Brad Pitt

I always end up really enjoying every movie that Brad Pitt is in. I think it might be a combination of watching his incredible acting, and the fact that he always chooses great films to be in.

Definitely watching this new one, Killing Them Softly. Not only is Brad Pitt in it, but other amazing actors that I admire, such as Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, and Ray Liotta.

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‘World War Z’ trailer: Brad Pitt battles zombies at end of the world

Hero Complex - movies, comics, pop culture - Los Angeles Times

Fans who were disappointed that the release of Paramount’s big screen version of “World War Z” was delayed from December to next summer might have reason to feel some cheer.

A gripping first trailer (below) for the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of Max Brooks’ acclaimed zombie novel was just released, and the clip plays like a taut thriller that taps into modern fears about the fall of mankind and the ongoing fascination with the idea of the zombie apocalypse.

“World War Z” stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a United Nations fact-finder and family man who desperately races around the globe to determine the origins of a zombie pandemic that has toppled civilization in short order. Mireille Enos, of late of “The Killing,” stars as his wife.

PHOTOS: On the set of ‘The Walking Dead’

Forster was an interesting choice to direct; he boasts an eclectic resume that includes acclaimed dramas…

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