Posts Tagged ‘Heath Ledger’

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, Januar 21st, 2010

Review:

As much as I like the work of Terry Gilliam – and I do like almost everything he’s done, even some things that are not critically adored – the advance word on his newest film was so bad that I would have skipped it were it not for the fact that this is Heath Ledger’s final performance. Here, he plays a man who was hanged and has lost his memory, but is rescued by Doctor Parnassus and his crew, who entertain people by allowing them inside the Doctor’s mind. In there, he wages a battle with the devil that has been going on for a thousand years – and when Ledger enters the imagination, he is played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law or Colin Farrell. This works surprisingly well and the film is filled with the usual array of ideas sprung from Gilliam’s overactive imagination. Nevertheless, it doesn’t quite work. The story is a bit too rambling and many of the sequences rely to heavily on CGI to be believable, creating a film that might have been great, but is deeply flawed. It’s not bad, but from the talent involved one could expect more.

Random Observations:

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus at the IMDb

Depp and Ledger look eerily similar in this film, making this transition the smoothest. It also should be said that all of the three actors played the part of Ledger they were best suited to, but that it would have been even more interesting to see Ledger transform so much throughout the story.

The female lead, Lily Cole, was completely unknown to me and after her performance here, I very much hope that will be the case once again quite soon.

The Brothers Grimm – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, Juli 21st, 2009

Review:

“The Brothers Grimm” is a much maligned movie, but there were three good reasons why I saw it: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and especially Terry Gilliam. And while it can’t compare with Gilliam’s greatest work (Brazil, Twelve Monkeys), it’s still a good film. It tells a fictionalized account of the Grimm brothers, who travel around Germany in the early 19th century, fighting witches and evil spirits – which they actually created themselves. But when they are forced to help another town, they are confronted with a world of real magic. The film makes nice use of the source material (i.e. their collection of folk tales) to create a fantastic story that is just unique enough to be appealing. Add to that a tremendous performance from Ledger and the usual stunning visuals of Gilliam and you get a movie that is definitely worth watching. It may not be great, but it certainly is good enough.

Random Observations:

The Brothers Grimm at the IMDb

There is a surprisingly small number of films that combine (high) fantasy and comedy. I have never understood why that is.

Am I the only one who sees many parallels between the work of Gilliam and Tim Burton’s? Gilliam is obviously much better at what he does, but they seem to have a similar aesthetic and sense of story-telling.

Ledger and Damon were originally intended for the other brother, but both insisted on playing the one they ended up playing in the film and, in my opinion, this works rather nicely, especially since it might have been the first film that allowed Ledger to showcase his full acting potential.

It’s always nice to see Jonathan Pryce in a film, but he was rather bland in this one.

I was surprised, when seeing a making of, at how much of the film was created digitally. There are actually very few scenes where you can tell that special effects are being used – which is, obviously, great.

I’m always a little sad when I remember that we are never going to see a Harry Potter film directed by Terry Gilliam. I’m sure he would have created something truly unique and absolutely awesome.

My Favourite Contemporary Actors

Freitag, März 27th, 2009

As I said before, everybody loves Top Ten Lists. Especially me. So I thought I’d start a new, sort of regular, feature here, where I make Top Ten Lists of things I like. Now, the usual way to go about that would be to make lists like “The Ten Best Actors Working Today”, but even I don’t consider my opinion so important as to call it objective. So I will make lists like “My Favourite Ten Actors Working Today”, even if that title is a little longer. And so, without further ado, here are the ten actors whose body of work I enjoy so much, that just their participation in a film means that I want to see it, in reverse order. If you know all ten of them, congratulate yourself on having good taste. (weiterlesen …)

The Oscars are today! Did you know?

Sonntag, Februar 22nd, 2009

Later tonight, the prestigious Academy Awards will be handed out at the 81st Oscar ceremony. After the dismal television ratings last year, the Academy promised to revamp the show this year, make it more interesting for “common” people. So they got rid of a comedia hosting, who would only crack inside jokes that nobody not obsessed with Hollywood would get. So they promised to reduce the running time from three and a half hours to under three hours. So they got rid of the ban for commercials for upcoming movies. And then they completely forgot to nominate the most popular movie of the year.

Ever since The Dark Knight was wrongfully overlooked by Academy members, the predictions have been that nobody would care about the Oscars anymore. And to some extent, that is true. Advertising rates in the US are significantly lower than last year and for every Oscar buffy predicting a better show you can find three predicting that nobody will see that show.

For my part, I have kept mostly quiet about the award season, which comes to a close today, this year. Not because I didn’t care, but because there are so many people writing about it on the internet that I didn’t feel a need to write more of the same. So this is just a quick note to offer some of my predictions for tonight – that the Oscars are all about politics and not about quality should be universally known already. How else would The Reader have gotten in?

I would also like to offer my thoughts on who *should* win, but I can’t. There is only one category where I have seen all nominees and I would consider it unfair, just for example, to Mickey Rourke if I said that Frank Langella should win Best Actor. So now, without any further ado, some predictions:

Slumdog Millionaire is going to sweep the awards. Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle) and Best Adapted Screenplay(Simon Beaufoy) are sure to win – Cinematography, Score and Original Song also seem likely. Maybe they all deserve it, but I would bet my life that the movie wouldn’t have stood a chance of even being nominated without the current economic climate.

Mickey Rourke will win Best Actor for The Wrestler. The only other nominee given serious chances is Sean Penn for Milk, which didn’t impress me and hence will also not impress Academy voters. And besides, the comeback of the year wouldn’t be complete without this win. Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards be damned.

Kate Winslet will win Best Actress. And sadly, not for Revolutionary Road, but for “The Reader”. And even though I have seen neither film and thus can’t really judge the performances, I strongly feel that this is wrong on too many levels. But hey, at least Winslet finally gets an Oscar.

Heath Ledger will win Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight. I think if you were to bet on this, you would not make any money – everybody expects this. Heath Ledger was great in the film and the nomination is certainly deserved, but one cannot help to feel that it is also an award for all the movies he will never make.

Penelope Cruz will win Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Nothing to say here, except that this is apparently the consensus.

Man on Wire will win Best Documentary. It’s the only one I and the rest of the world have seen and this is one category, where Academy members have to see all five nominees to vote, so a surprise is not unlikely, but which film would win instead nobody can say.

WALL-E will win Best Animated Feature. For sure. They even tried to get it nominated as Best Picture. Almost as certain as Heath Ledger’s win.

Waltz with Bashir will win Best Foreign Language Film. Certainly better than The Class and The Baader Meinhof Complex. Better than the Italian entry Gomorra and not nearly as good as the Swedish film that wasn’t eligible, Let the Right One In.

I have no idea who will win in the technical and shorts categories. I’m not that obsessed…

The Ten Best Movies of 2008

Mittwoch, Januar 7th, 2009

Everybody loves Top Ten Lists, right? You can never get enough of them, correct? If you read one to the end, you want nothing more than start looking at the next one, or am I wrong? In any case, I like Top Ten (or basically any other number) Lists. I know they are silly and arbitrary and highly subjective, but they are still fun – even if one just reads them to poke fun at the author(s). So to start my own habitual list-making off, I hereby offer you the TEN BEST MOVIES OF 2008!

(weiterlesen …)

Minute Movie Review – Batman Begins

Donnerstag, März 20th, 2008

Review:

After 1997′s “Batman & Robin“, a successful comic book movie franchise was dead – and rightfully so. But in 2005, Christopher Nolan, the acclaimed director of “Memento” and “The Prestige“, revived it. Deciding to start all over, he tells the story of how Bruce Wayne, a billionaire, became Batman, the darkest of popular comic book superheroes. A brooding tale of revenge, Batman Begins actually focuses on story-telling and character development – and it does so extremely well. With a stellar cast (Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy…) and a brilliant director, those parts work extremely well. The action sequence, who here are supposed to be the icing on the cake instead of being the entire cake as is usual for blockbuster movies, don’t work quite so well. Nevertheless, as far as popular comic book adaptations go, there is none better.

Random Observations:

Batman Begins at imdb.com

The obligatory sequel, The Dark Knight, will be released this summer. And it certainly looks as if it could really get the whole franchise running again. Katie Holmes has been replaced with Maggie Gyllenhaal (who can actually act) and Heath Ledger will star in his second-to-last performance and the one he himself said he was most proud of as the Joker.

Compared to other movies in this genre (the earlier Batman films, Spiderman and so on), this one sets a new standard for gritty realism. Batman is not a superhero because of special powers, but because he wants to revenge his parents’ murder and do something good in the world. His opponents aren’t caricatures with “magical” weapons, but instead very real humans with very real ways of hurting people. Sure, you sometimes have to suspend your disbelief in this movie, but not to the same extent usually necessary.

Minute Movie Review – I’m Not There.

Sonntag, März 16th, 2008

Review:

I’m Not There is a kind of biography/documentary/mockumentary about Bob Dylan – who is never mentioned by name. Instead, six characters take on different aspects of his life. At least that is the idea. Sadly, it doesn’t really work. While Christian Bale, Heath Ledger or Cate Blanchett certainly are talented enough to play Dylan, the film focuses to much on being different, on being art instead of entertainment and on being something new and unique, that it never works. There is no real plot, the idea to split Dylan’s life into several lives might appeal to die-hard Dylan fans, but nobody else and unless you are still delusional about Dylan’s importance to music, you will probably not enjoy it. It’s confused and confusing – and with over two hours about 120 minutes too long.

Random Observations:

I’m Not There at imdb.com

If only filmmakers would remember that just because something is different that doesn’t mean that it is better. So many disasters like this one could have been averted!

Here’s a rule of thumb on when you might like the movie: If you think that not even naming the subject of the film is cool, you’ll probably like the film. If you realize how ridiculous this is considering that everyone only talks about “that Dylan film”, you won’t.

Bob Dylan fanatics will probably also enjoy this movie – but when you are fanatic about something, you enjoy everything connected to that, even if it is utter trash.

Streik, Oscars, New Line und Co

Montag, Februar 25th, 2008

Seit meinem letzten Eintrag über das bevorstehende Ende des Streiks der Drehbuchautoren sind ja doch einige Wochen ins Land gezogen. Der Grund dafür war simpel: Da ich meine journalistische Integrität als wichtiger betrachtet habe als meine schriftstellerische, habe ich ja auch während des Streiks eifrig geschrieben. Kaum war dieser beendet (an dem von mir schon angekündigten Tag) bin ich dann selber in den Streik getreten. Leider hat die AMPTP jedoch bis heute nicht auf meine (sehr moderaten) Forderungen reagiert und mein Streikposten vor dem Kodak Theater bei der gestrigen Oscar-Verleihung hat die Schauspieler auch nicht gestoppt. Wahrscheinlich weil er schon einige Stunden vor deren Auftauchen vom LAPD entfernt wurde. Und somit schreibe ich jetzt auch wieder – und hoffe, dass die Schauspieler, die in der SAG (Screen Actors Guild) vereinigt sind und deren Rahmenvertrag mit der AMPTP im Juni ausläuft, mich bei ihren Verhandlungen nicht vergessen. Denn auch wenn die Führung der SAG noch nicht mit der AMPTP spricht / sprechen will, läuft die PR-Maschine zur Verhinderung eines weiteren Streiks bereits auf Hochtouren. So haben beispielsweise einige der bekanntesten und beliebtesten Schauspieler der USA wie George Clooney und Tom Hanks die SAG schon aufgefordert, die Verhandlungen bald zu starten.

Gestern also war die Oscar-Verleihung – und da mein Versuch, sie zu bestreiken, leider verfrüht gescheitert ist, habe ich es mir natürlich dann doch angesehen. Was soll man dazu schon sagen: 4 Stunden feiert sich die Filmindustrie selber und man wartet als Zuschauer gespannt darauf, dass jemand mal endlich etwas wirklich Witziges sagt. Aber als relativer Oscar-Neuling sehe ich die Show eigentlich schon noch ganz gerne. Jon Stewart als Gastgeber war, wie auch schon 2006, lustig und souverän (auch wenn die meisten Kritiker das anders bewerten) und die meisten Gewinner – erwartete wie unerwartete – waren wohl auch gerechtfertigt. Die größte Überraschung war wohl die Auszeichnung Tilda Swintons als beste Nebendarstellerin, die sich unerwartet gegen Cate Blanchett und Amy Ryan durchsetzte. Auch interessant ist der Gewinn von drei (eher unbedeutenden) Auszeichnungen durch “The Bourne Ultimatum” – man wurde den Eindruck nie so ganz los, dass einige der Academy Mitglieder den Film gerne auch in wichtigeren Kategorien gesehen hätten. Die Gesamtliste der Gewinner kann man an vielen Stellen einsehen – in der Hoffnung dass wenigstens Amazon mich bezahlt, verlinke ich hierfür mal wieder zur IMDB.

Ein bedeutender Anteil der Oscar-Verleihung sind immer die Montagen, also die Zusammenschnitte von Filmszenen oder früheren Preisträgern. Wenn, bedingt durch den Autorenstreik, die Vorbereitungszeit dann noch etwas kürzer wird, spielen sie noch eine wichtigere Rolle. Auch diesmal fehlte nicht das Gedenken an diejenigen Hollywoodianer, die im letzten Jahr verstorben sind. Den Abschluss der Auflistung bildete dabei Heath Ledger. Als Ledger starb, hatte er gerade eine Drehpause von dem Film “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” – dem neuen Film von Terry Gilliam. Dieser dachte schon, dass er mal wieder ein Projekt unvollendet abbrechen müsste, aber jetzt hat sich doch noch ein Ersatz gefunden. Oder genauer gesagt gleich drei. Denn die Rolle von Ledger werden in dem Film jetzt Johnny Depp, Jude Law und Colin Farrell übernehmen – in den noch nicht gedrehten Szenen. Wie es funktionieren soll, wenn vier Schauspieler eine Figur spielen, wird sich zeigen, aber der bisherige Erfolg von “I’m not there” scheint darauf hinzudeuten, dass es durchaus möglich ist.

Derweil rückt das Ende von dem beliebten Studio New Line immer näher. Nachdem auch “Der Goldene Kompass” ziemlich schlecht gelaufen ist, deutete sich ja schon an, dass das Studio von Warner Bros. übernommen wird. Die Verträge der Geschäftsführer wurden nicht verlängert und auch wenn die Einigung mit Peter Jackson und die Ankündigung von zwei “Der kleine Hobbit” Filmen nochmal als Hoffnungsschimmer galt, ist spätestens seitdem die Nachfahren von JRR Tolkien New Line verklagt haben, da es nicht für die Rechte am “Herr der Ringe” bezahlt habe, wohl endgültig mit der Eigenständigkeit vorbei.

Um nicht ganz so traurig zu schließen: Bei der Verleihung der Independet Spirit Awards am Samstag hat “Juno” sich als der große Gewinner herausgestellt. Der Film ist jetzt schon in den USA der größte Independent Erfolg seit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” und die Komödie mit der grandiosen Ellen Page in der Hauptrolle läuft am 20. März auch in Deutschland an.

Minute Movie Review – Brokeback Mountain

Montag, Februar 18th, 2008

Review:

When Ennis and Jack herd sheep together in the summer of 1963 on Brokeback Mountain, they become more than friends. But in a time and place where being homosexual was not a social possibility, they both move on, only to be drawn back to each other time and again. A study of true love (in as much as it is possible in the real world) and how it affects the lives of a number of people, Brokeback Mountain tells a story that is both sad and encouraging. The only thing that can really be said about this movie is: Watch it. And think about it. And wonder why it didn’t win Best Picture at the 2006 Oscar’s (nothing against Crash, but seriously…).

Random Observations:

Brokeback Mountain at imdb.com

For all those people who still haven’t seen this movie and who are thrown off by the often told sentiment, that it is about “gay cowboys”: There is probably no better way to remember the late Heath Ledger and to see what he was truly capable of.

Seeing this movie on both the big and the small screen made me realize, once again, why cinemas exist. Movies like this aren’t meant to be seen on a television.

The way Ledger and Gyllenhaal talk, or rather mumble, in this movie is often quite hard to understand. The only movie where the pronunciation is worse is probably Scarface – which I honestly can’t understand without subtitles.

The short story this movie is based on, by Annie Proulx, is also quite remarkable.

Even though the story takes place in the US, the movie was filmed almost entirely in Canada. The beautiful scenery cinematography certainly didn’t suffer.

Heath Ledger died today

Dienstag, Januar 22nd, 2008

Earlier today, Heath Ledger was found dead in a New York City apartment.  It is not clear yet what the cause of death was, but pills found near the body mean that drug abuse or suicide can not be ruled out.

But whatever the reason for Ledger’s death is, it is a tragedy. Ledger was still young at 28 and has a small daughter with  “Brokeback Mountain” co-star Michelle Williams. That movie is also probably his greatest accomplishment career-wise, earning him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor as well as critical acclaim. Ledger recently finished filming for the role the Joker in the “Batman Begins” sequel “Dark Knight”. He was notoriously unhappy with his performances, even after commercial and critical success made him one of the most popular young actors.