Posts Tagged ‘Maggie Gyllenhaal’

Say Anything… – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Oktober 8th, 2010


Lovable loser John Cusack decides to date high school valedictorian Ione Skye. Surprisingly, she actually agrees to this. What follows is a sweet story about first love, combined with some unnecessary dramatic elements and some clever dialogue. Young John Cusack is adorable and his character Lloyd Dobler might be the most sought-after guy in movie history. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, the film showcases his raw talent for emotionally touching stories, without ever achieving greatness, for it is too mired in mediocrities.

Random Observations:

Say Anything… at the IMDb

Well, will you look at that. This really has been “80s teen comedy week”.

John Cusack’s sister is played by Joan Cusack, his real life sister. Sort of like Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko. Only much earlier.

Crowe already displayed his interest in music here. An interest that earlier and later culminated in Almost Famous, the somewhat biographical film about his experiences of working for Rolling Stone as a teenager.

Secretary – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, April 29th, 2010


After being released from a mental institution, Maggie Gyllenhaal still has trouble dealing with life. She gets her first job working as a secretary for James Spader. Before long, their relationship turns to more than the usual employer-employee one, when he begins dominating her – and she enjoys it. An unflinching and unprejudiced look at the peculiarities of sadomasochistic relationships, the film is quite likely the most offbeat romantic comedy of all time. Sadly, despite the strong themes, the film never really finds its footing, swaying between a whimsical outlook and a harsh reality that threatens to destroy the story. Strong performances by the lead characters, however, salvage the wreck somewhat, creating an interesting and unusual film.

Random Observations:

Secretary at the IMDb

Since the film is based on a short story, the role was obviously not written with Maggie Gyllenhaal in mind, but it might just as well have been.

Both Gyllenhaal and James Spader have a knack for picking films in slightly outlandish films – Crash anyone?

Adaptation. – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, März 24th, 2010


Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is struggling to adapt a novel while dealing with the fact that his brother’s formulaic work is going along so well. Meanwhile, the author of the novel and the protagonist of the true story all have their own problems surrounding orchids. The film adds layers over layers until the plot ends up so far up its own arsehole that it looses all reason – intentionally, of course. The film plays with reality while trying to talk about passion, writing and love. It is often funny, but ultimately a little to pretentious in its own cleverness for my liking.

Random Observations:

Adaptation. at the IMDb

Yes, the film was written by Charlie Kaufman, together with his imaginary twin brother Donald. This is supposed to further add to the story’s mystique, but it just caused me to wonder about what was actually real. (Very little, as it turns out.)

Nicolas Cage plays both brothers, which makes this film an entry in THE EPIC SEARCH FOR NICOLAS CAGE’S LAST GOOD FILM! More here.

The film repeatedly references Being John Malkovich, which was also written by Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. Regretfully, I still have not seen that film.

I like the wordplay in the title.

Oscar Predictions and Preferences – 2010 Edition

Samstag, März 6th, 2010

Award Season is Crazy Season. If you follow these things at all, you have been bombarded by information about the superiority of one film above another for months now. If you blissfully ignore all that stuff, you might even not have heard that a producer on The Hurt Locker is in trouble for trying to convince Academy voters to vote for his film instead of Avatar. His crime: sending an e-mail to his friends. Yes, things are crazy. So it is a good thing that with the Oscar telecast on Sunday, Award Season will be over. Until May or so, when the first discussions for next year’s favourites and winners will begin once more.

But before the Oscars, the most important of all the meaningless awards, are handed out on Sunday, it is time for my annual Oscar predictions. Last year, I picked 19 of the 24 winners. This year, let’s try to improve on that. But unlike last year, this year I actually feel like I am entitled to my own opinion, having seen 20 of the 58 animated films, 18 of the 38 feature films, and actually having seen all nominated films in three categories. So not only will I now predict the Oscar winners as promised, I will also tell you who should win. (Yes, my opinion constitutes objective truth in these matters.) The following list is ordered rather randomly and incomplete, an alphabetical and complete breakdown of all categories and predictions follows at the end.

(weiterlesen …)

Crazy Heart – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, März 4th, 2010


An alcoholic former Country star, now reduced to living in squalor and playing in bowling alleys, reconsiders his life when he meets a young journalist and falls for her. The story of the film is fairly trite and unoriginal, and the direction by débutante Scott Cooper is lacking in many ways, but the film is nevertheless made bearable by decent actors who take their caricatured characters to a better place than they belong, and some truly great Country music.

Random Observations:

Crazy Heart at the IMDb

The film is nominated for three Oscars. Best Actor for Jeff Bridges (okay, par for the course for him), Best Supporting Actress for Maggie Gyllenhaal (not okay, she is far below her usual standards here) and Best Original Song, The Weary Kind, which is all kinds of awesome.

This concludes my pre-Oscar Oscar-nominated film-watching. I have now seen 20 of 58 nominated films or 18 of 38 if you don’t count the shorts and documentaries, which nobody does any way. Tomorrow: my big Oscar piece with winner predictions, including the ever popular “Who should win” aspect, and Sunday the Awards show.

I actually really like Colin Farrell’s performance as the young pretty-boy country music superstar.

In sharp contrast to the cast of Nine, the actors in this film can actually sing.

Away We Go – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, November 19th, 2009


A couple awaiting their first child go on a road trip to find out where they want to live, but also whether they are “fuck-ups” and how they will fare as parents. Seeing different families, they slowly find themselves. The film is a complete departure from director Sam Mendes previous work, often outrageously funny in its portrayal of the characters, yet also deeply poignant about the fear of becoming parents, of growing up and finding ones place in the world. As exaggerated as much of the film is, it is also painfully true to life. No matter if you have children, want children or are children, you should not miss this film.

Random Observations:

Away We Go at the IMDb

Very nice performances all around, but especially by the often overlooked Paul Schneider freaking out about being a single father.

My very favourite scene is the stroller scene. If you have seen the film, you will know why.

The trampoline scene is also very nice, although the last remark was clearly taken from The Royal Tenenbaums.

In my opinion, these kinds of films – comedies that are nevertheless very real and manage to make a significant point – are the pinnacle of film-making. I really wish there were more of them.

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 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 – Paris, je t’aime

Dienstag, März 25th, 2008


Paris, je t’aime is essentially a collection of short films set in Paris and dealing, mostly, with love of all kinds. As that, it is interesting to see 18 different takes on the matter, from many accomplished as well as up-and-coming directors. Naturally, some of those short films are better than others and everyone will have different favourites. But when the director line-up includes Tykwer, Coens, Payne, Craven, Van Sant and Cuarón to name just a few, great film-making is guaranteed. The experiment works and the movie overall is very enjoyable, although some of the segments lower the overall accomplishment.

Random Observations:

Paris, je t’aime at

The Coen brothers decided to make a comedic segment, with their regular Steven Buscemi in the lead role.

The only really bad parts for me were the vampire segment of Vincenzo Natali and parts of Nobuhiro Suwa’s segment about a mother who just lost a son.

I was especially surprised by Wes Craven’s segment, who I have only ever seen as a creator of horror and splatter movies like Scream. But even though it is set in a cemetery, it is quite different.

Minute Movie Review – Batman Begins

Donnerstag, März 20th, 2008


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

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.