Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hollywood's Tough-Talking Ball of Fire, Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck – None Like Her. TIFF Looks Back With Love

Ball of Fire: The Films of Barbara Stanwyck at TIFF February 7 to April 4
Tough, smart, independent, serious and versatile, are not adjectives that come to mind thinking of one of Hollywood’s most important female stars. But Barbara Stanwyck was a powerhouse who could literally do it all. She was a phenom, who played an impressive range of characters from back alley harridan to a society matron to a professors’ favourite to a Wild West gunslinger and burlesque queen, mainstream comedy and the pulpiest noir. She was a “ball of fire” and a murderer, a sentimentalist and feminist.
aaaaa In a time when women were gaining ground in Hollywood she was front row all the way, alongside fellow independents Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, dedicated to her work, too smart to be sidetracked, too successful to be ignored. Stanwyck looks were striking, but she was not beautiful or especially graceful. She was a salt of the earth type whose spirit and essence lit her from within in portrayals that have stood the test of time. She wasn’t a glamour queen, didn’t often appear in the tabloids or court publicity (“Attention embarrasses me.
I don’t like to be on display”), she was hardworking and conscientious, and left a legacy of serious integrity.
Her intelligence and forthrightness illuminate the work and that’s how we know her best, through her work.
Ruby Catherine Stevens was born in Brooklyn, her mother was killed when she was four and her father abandoned her and her siblings. They cared for each other until they were placed in foster homes. Later Ruby joined her older sister and became showgirls, landing in the Ziegfeld Follies.
A few years later, as Barbara Stanwyck, she Hollywood –bound where she would begin one of the most successful careers of any actress, at any time. She was one of the most versatile actresses Hollywood has ever seen  .....

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Th Americans Season Three Premieres Jan 28 on FX .. Matthew Rhys Tells Us All

Sex, Secrecy and Spying – Matthew Rhys on The Americans Season Three

The Americans – Season Three Premieres Wednesday, January 28th at 10:00 p.m. EST on FX
The Americans, FX’ intelligent, complex, character driven drama about two KGB officers planted in the US begins its third season with a bang. The spies, passing themselves off as ordinary middle class married couple with two children, are at a pivotal time in their personal and professional lives. It’s the 80’s Cold War, one of the most dangerous periods in political history as the US and the Soviet Union dance around one another, as the threat of nuclear war looms. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings played by Welsh actor Matthew Rhys and his real-life partner Keri Russell are about to have their worlds turned upside down.

Describe your partnership on the show with Keri as Elizabeth.
Their relationship and life together is so complex that it’s gymnastic in a way that it can leap from something incredibly domestic as to do with the kids’ school and then to do with a mission and then the killing or disposing of a body. They jump these huge caverns, these leaps, varied and often and that’s true of their emotional life. Also, they only have each other in this situation. There’s no one else they could turn to. There’s no one else who can empathize or sympathize like the other one can. Therefore, in that respect, they’re sort of beholden and dependent on each other. It makes for this amazing relationship whereby they need each other, but they antagonize each other enormously and they fight and they’re poles apart at times, but ultimately, knowing that they absolutely will always need each other, so it makes for incredibly interesting play.
Are there elements of yourself in Phillip?
I’ve always appraised any character I approach with the characteristics built up of myself. I’m always interested in the truth of the character and the way I bring a truth to the character to make him, I hate to say, but it’s your own makeup that you bring to the character.
Philip seems to have sex more often than anyone else on TV!
That’s based on my life!
As an actor, though, is it ever easy shooting sex scenes?
No. It never gets comfortable. It never gets to a point where you go, “Oh, this is normal, this is natural,” you’re simulating sex with 40 of your closest friends. It’s bizarre, the random bizarreness of it. Then it’s magnified when you have to do the gymnastics of the Kama Sutra as well. It’s never .....

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Still Alice starring Julianne Moore, Sends a Powerful Message


Still Alice | Movie Review by Anne Brodie

 Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Written by Lisa Genova (novel), Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish
Rating: 3/5
Julianne Moore’s cutting a swath through awards season for a film that stretches her beyond any she’s done in her career.  In Still Alice, adapted from the novel by Lisa Genova, Moore plays a 55 year old linguistics professor wonders why she’s become forgetful of keys, words, day and time, and even where she is.  Her doctor gives her a surprising diagnosis – Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  No mistake.
She courageously breaks the news to the family without emotion. Her husband (Baldwin) and children (Stewart, Bosworth, and Parrish) are mystified and defiant. Surely, it’s a mistake. And equally shocking is news that the children’s odds of getting the disease are high. It’s interesting to watch their reactions then and sometime later, once reality settles in.
Alice struggles through the stages of her deterioration with resolute calm.  She tries to “be normal” for her family’s sake but before long, normal function is a dim memory. They move her out to the beach house where she and Stewart take long walks, talking, bonding through this tragedy by ...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Benicio Del Toro as Pablo Escobar in Gripping Fact-Based Film

Paradise Lost | Movie Review by Anne Brodie

Paradise Lost Movie
Escobar: Paradise Lost
Directed by Andrea Di Stefano
Starring Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson and Claudia Traisac
Written by Andrea Di Stefano and Francesca Marciano
Rating 3.5 /5
Benicio Del Toro has played wicked but the profound wickedness he brings to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is breathtaking.  So who is this man Del Toro portrays?  Escobar grew up a petty criminal in the Medellin area of Colombia and rose to become the world’s most notorious trafficker, a gifted strategist unburdened by conscience and untouchable for nearly 20 years.  Just being wicked never gets powerful drug lords anywhere.  It’s that added layer of sizzling charisma that gets them to the top – the X-factor that allows a person to bypass normal rules and behaviour and eliminate resistance.  Del Toro brings him to life, this beloved, charming and profoundly evil man.
Escobar broke all the rules, ordered countless murders and walked on a lot of willing victims to control the cocaine trade between south and North America from 1975 to his death in 1993.  At the height of his reign of terror he is alleged to have moved $500M in cocaine per day and carry out crimes and routine executions to maintain it.   No one, no government, police force or rival could touch hm.
He held sway over hundreds of lives in his immediate circle and unknown numbers of official and unofficial forces from Colombia, Mexico the US and God knows where else.  It’s believed that his reach extended to Europe and Asia and that’s not counting the drug habits he fed. ...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winners of the BFCA's Critics Choice Awards Hot Off the Presses!

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) announced the winners of the 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards tonight, live from the Hollywood Palladium.  The show aired on A&E at 9pm ET/6pm PT and was hosted by Michael Strahan.

“Boyhood” was named Best Picture and garnered three additional wins including Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette, Best Young Actor/Actress for Ellar Coltrane, and Best Director for Richard Linklater.

“Birdman,” the most nominated film of the evening, won seven awards including Best Actor for Michael Keaton, Best Acting Ensemble, Best Original Screenplay for Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo, Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki, Best Editing for Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione, Best Actor in a Comedy for Michael Keaton, and Best Score for Antonio Sanchez.  Michael Keaton is the first person in the 20-year history of the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards to win three awards in a single year (Best Actor, Best Actor in a Comedy, and as part of the “Birdman” Best Ensemble).

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” claimed three awards including Best Comedy, Best Art Direction for Adam Stockhausen (Production Designer) and Anna Pinnock (Set Director), and Best Costume Design for Milena Canonero.

Best Action Movie winner “Guardians of the Galaxy” picked up an additional award for Best Hair & Makeup.  Additional winners include Julianne Moore for Best Actress for “Still Alice,” J.K. Simmons for Best Supporting Actor for “Whiplash,” Bradley Cooper for Best Actor in an Action Movie for “American Sniper,” Emily Blunt for Best Actress in an Action Movie for “Edge of Tomorrow,” Jenny Slate for Best Actress in a Comedy for “Obvious Child,” Gillian Flynn for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Gone Girl,” and Common and John Legend for Best Song for “Selma.”

“The Lego Movie” was awarded Best Animated Feature while “Force Majeure” took home Best Foreign Language Film.  “Life Itself” was named Best Documentary Feature, “Interstellar” Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie, and Best Visual Effects went to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

As announced previously, Kevin Costner, Ron Howard and Jessica Chastain each received special honors at the ceremony.  Rene Russo presented Kevin Costner with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ celebrating more than three decades of incredible work in film.  Chris Hemsworth presented the ‘Critics' Choice LOUIS XIII Genius Award’, established to honor an icon who has demonstrated unprecedented excellence in the cinematic arts, to multiple award-winning director, producer and actor Ron Howard.  Chris Pratt presented the inaugural ‘Critics’ Choice MVP Award,’ to Jessica Chastain, recognizing an extraordinary actress for her work in several standout movies throughout a single year - Interstellar, Miss Julie, A Most Violent Year (which also earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination this year), and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

“The Critics' Choice Movie Awards” are bestowed annually by the BFCA to honor the finest in cinematic achievement. The BFCA is the largest film critics' organization in the United States and Canada, representing almost 300 television, radio and online critics.  BFCA members are the primary source of information for today's film-going public.  Historically, the “Critics' Choice Movie Awards” are the most accurate predictor of the Academy Award nominations.

The “The 20th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards” are produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment.

About BFCA
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing almost 300 television, radio and online critics.  For additional information about the BFCA and their members, visit

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# # #


Best Picture – “Boyhood”
Best Actor – Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Best Actress – Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Best Young Actor/Actress – Ellar Coltrane, “Boyhood”
Best Acting Ensemble – “Birdman”
Best Director – Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Best Original Screenplay – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo, “Birdman”
Best Adapted Screenplay – Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”
Best Art Direction – Adam Stockhausen (Production Designer), Anna Pinnock (Set Decorator), “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Best Editing – Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione, “Birdman”
Best Costume Design – Milena Canonero, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Best Hair & Makeup – “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Best Visual Effects – “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Best Animated Feature – “The Lego Movie”
Best Action Movie – “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Best Actor in an Action Movie – Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Best Actress in an Action Movie – Emily Blunt, “Edge of Tomorrow”
Best Comedy – “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Best Actor in a Comedy – Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Best Actress in a Comedy – Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie – “Interstellar”
Best Foreign Language Film – “Force Majeure”
Best Documentary Feature – “Life Itself”
Best Song –  “Glory”, Common and John Legend, “Selma”
Best Score – Antonio Sanchez, “Birdman”


BIRDMAN (7 Awards)
Best Actor
Best Acting Ensemble
Best Original Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Actor in a Comedy
Best Score

BOYHOOD (4 Awards)
Best Picture
Best Supporting Actress
Best Young Actor/Actress
Best Director

Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Comedy

Best Hair & Makeup
Best Action Movie

Best Actor in an Action Movie

Best Visual Effects

Best Actress in an Action Movie

Best Foreign Language Film

GONE GIRL (1 Award)
Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie

Best Documentary Feature

Best Actress in a Comedy

SELMA (1 Award)
Best Song

Best Actress

Best Animated Feature

WHIPLASH (1 Award)
Best Supporting Actor

Monday, January 12, 2015

Julianne Moore Will Break Your Heart in Still Alice

Golden Globe Winner Julianne Moore on Still Alice

Still Alice opens in the US January 16th and Canada January 23rd
alice2Julianne Moore  in Still Alice
Still Alice’ Julianne Moore won the Golden Globe Best Actress in a Drama award this past Sunday, for taking a journey no other actress has taken.  She plays a 55 year old college linguistics professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and the film follows Alice’ descent into the disease, from simply forgetting words and where she left things, to full blown incapacity.  She loses her words, her ability to communicate and as Moore told us, her sense of who she is.   It’s a devastating portrait of a woman who won’t get well.  The film looks at her responses and her husband’s (Alec Baldwin) and her three children, only one of which steps up to the plate to care for her (Kristen Stewart).  As difficult as it is to watch, Moore’s performance as the vulnerable, confused Alice is a miracle.   We spoke with Moore at the Toronto International Film Festival where the film debuted last fall.
Did you have any fears about dealing with Alice’ story?
I didn’t feel fear. I was fascinated by it; it was something I didn’t have a lot of information about.  What’s interesting is how many people have a deathly fear of this disease and how little information and understanding there is.  It was fascinating to explore this population and talk to the women I met, the clinicians and researchers and the Alzheimer’s Association workers.  It’s a big issue increasing as people are living longer, and it’s more prevalent. It was often misdiagnosed as a condition of ageing when it’s not, it’s a disease.
You spent time with early onset Alzheimer’s patients who was inspiring, but was it at all depressing?
No. I loved working every day.  We worked really, really hard. I love working with Alec Baldwin who has so much heart and soul and chemistry.  It felt like a real marriage. That scene where we have to go to hospital and he helps me put my pants on, that’s what you see, that’s the kind of caregiving you see people doing for one another.  You see this great big man you realise what he’s been living with and what he’s been doing for her and what he’s taken on.  And Kristen Stewart is so extraordinary and has so much compassion in her performance. It was lovely.
alice and kristenKristen Stewart and Julianne Moore
Was it difficult keeping track of how far she deteriorates for continuity?
Hell yah. That’s really hard because for one thing, we were not always shooting in sequence.  They did the best they could but I played the end of the movie when we were halfway through the film. The running at the beginning we shot at the very end.  It was mixed up so (we were) keeping track of where she was and subtly noting her decline,  ....

Read more at  Monsters and Critics

Friday, January 9, 2015

Selma - First Feature Ever Made on Dr. King's Historic March

Selma – Movie Review by Anne Brodie

Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Stars: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth
Rating 3.5/5
It’s positively shameful that this is the first feature film made specifically on Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. It has featured as a sidebar in many films but the light has never shone on this dramatic and seminal moment in the struggle for minority rights.  And what a moment.  Hundreds of brave individuals including King’s core political group, locals, and black and white supporters from across North America set out to have their say in a peaceful, orderly fashion, to claim their equal rights.
They must have gritted their teeth marching on a bridge named for a Ku Klux Klan chief but march they did.  The first time it didn’t go well.  All white police and state forces drove them back.  But the second time, well, they made history. They had their say.  The civil rights movement suddenly came into sharp focus and thus was begun the work to equalise everyone, regardless of race.
Today’s’ headlines out of Ferguson, New York, Seattle and other cities suggest not much progress has been made, and that’s a strong subject for debate.  Thanks to King’s hopeful efforts and his ultimate sacrifice, the dialogue began and while it’s a better world today, it’s not perfect.  The film shows us what might remain to be done.
Ava DuVernay makes her feature film debut with Selma, ands gives it political strength as well as personal realities, like King’s inner doubts that were in stark contrast to his forthright public persona. He would not let his guard down and compromise the fight.   He wasn’t perfect, but he was first and offered hope and action. Inside he feared it would never be enough../....