The Six Movies I Will See This Fall

Happy official first day of fall! It’s a great day of the year because it is time for good movies (other than Contagion and Drive) to finally hit the theaters. After a rather lackluster summer, I’m armed and ready to hit my local cineplex as often as I can. These are my picks for the movies I will be seeing this fall.

Continue reading “The Six Movies I Will See This Fall”

Review: Blue Valentine (2010)

It has been days and I cannot stop thinking about Blue Valentine. The performances by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are so raw, powerful, and gut-wrenchingly emotional that they make any other depictions of marriage look like a total sham.

Williams and Gosling are Cindy and Dean, a couple living in rural Pennsylvania with their young daughter. Their marriage has reached its breaking point and it is Frankie who holds them together. Cindy feels stuck in her life, having given up on her med school aspirations. Dean paints houses for a living and drinks all day, wasting away any potential. In an attempt to save their marriage, he takes his wife to a motel that only exacerbates the inevitable dissolution of their marriage. The film jumps between these moments of profound sadness, frustration, and arguments and flashes of the couple’s happier days when they were blissfully in love and beginning a heartfelt romance.

Blue Valentine captures the fleeting moments that make life so precious. Those happier days are met with sweet moments. Dean serenading Cindy with a ukulele – the song that accompanies the film’s simple yet lovely trailer – especially stands out. These scenes are filled with light and brightness, much like the character’s hopes for the future. The present-day scenes are darker, more claustrophobic as the realities they have become trapped by – parenthood, dead end jobs – have strained the relationship. You begin to feel just as trapped and at a loss as Cindy and Dean.

The flashbacks fit effortlessly with the present-day narrative, a testament to the sharp directing, writing, cinematography, and editing led by director Derek Cianfrance who co-wrote the script with Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis. These elements become emotionally real because of Gosling’s and William’s vulnerable and poignant performances.

Poignantly, no true conclusions are reached. Cindy and Dean’s divorce seems imminent but Blue Valentine does not preach anything about marriage or divorce. The characters are just as they are. First they are young and perhaps naïve and then they become older, more self-aware.

At the end of it all you have wonder, did they know each other at all or were they just clinging  to idealized dreams of romance and marriage?

Gosling and Williams are nominated for Golden Globes for their performances. In an ideal world, they will win. In a more perfect world, they will receive Oscars nominations.

Trailer Fix: Blue Valentine (2010)

So what if Blue Valentine, a marriage drama starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, received an NC-17 rating? Good movies are good movies regardless of their rating. The trailer for this film (embedded below) has completely captivated me and I already know that I will go to great lengths to see it.

Blue Valentine will be released December 31.

2007 Best Actor Nominees

Today’s Oscar preview is of the Best Actor nominees.

Unfortunately, I have only seen The Last King of Scotland but Half Nelson is my Netflix that is arriving tomorrow. (Who knows, maybe I will get two snow days in a row and be able to watch it!)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Danny Archer, an ex-mercenary and diamond smuggler, in Blood Diamond

This is DiCaprio’s third Oscar nomination; he has never won.

What the critics have said:

Blood Diamond works because of the performance from DiCaprio, which is stunning. Talk about rising above the material.” — Liz Braun, Jam! Movies

“DiCaprio gives a masterful performance. He’s become a man’s man with powerful on-screen presence.” — Victoria Alexander,

“What you will remember from the film though, is the performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, in his most impressive work since he was a teenage wunderkind.” — Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

Ryan Gosling as Dan Dunne, an inner-city teacher battling a drug addiction, in Half Nelson

This is Gosling’s first Oscara nomination.

What the critics have said:

“Gosling inhabits Dan with every feature of his face and particle of his body and soul.” — Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

“Gosling’s acting is the highlight here. He sets the bar for the rest of the cast, and those around him rise to the challenge.” — Krista Vitola, Premiere Magazine

“The star of the piece is definitely Gosling: so sweet, so smart, so troubled, and so much the jerk. There’s no vanity in the actor as Dan gives in to his demons.” — Pam Grady,

Peter O’Toole as Maurice, an aging actor whose life is turned upside down when he meets a teenager, in Venus.

This is O’Toole’s eighth Oscar nomination; he has never won.

What the critics have said:

“It may be Peter O’Toole’s last truly great performance.” — Don Willmott,

What makes this film the perfect career nightcap for Peter the great is the nimbus of rakish doom he has always cultivated.”– Kyle Smith, New York Post

“O’Toole gives a staggering performance — fearless, defiantley untamed and in its own way a work of art.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a single father who works Wall Street by day and is homeless by night, in The Pursuit of Happyness.

This is Smith’s second Oscar nomination; he has never won.

What the critics have said:

“What ultimately keeps Happyness on track is Will Smith’s perfectly pitched performance.” — Ethan Alter, Film Journal International

“Smith hasn’t delivered this kind of earnest, emotionally raw performance since Ali, and his Chris Gardner is every bit as complex.” — Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Will Smith has the right quality for the role — he’s an easy man to root for — but he augments this by channeling some inner quality of desperation and need.”–Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, the dictator of Uganda, in The Last King of Scotland.

This is Whitaker’s first Oscar nomination; he is the favorite to win.

What the critics have said:

“Whitaker carries the film on his broad shoulders, creating a realistic and frightening portrait of one of the world’s most elusive and notorious figures.” — Kim Voynar, Cinematical

“The movie’s real power, and true greatness, comes from Whitaker. Whether or not it’s forgotten at awards season, it’s guaranteed to be remembered for a long time to come.” — Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

“We are in awe not that the character is so wildly unstable, but that Whitaker has made such a wildly unstable character seem so natural.” — Erice D. Snider,