I’m trying out a new theme for Basic_B. Let me know what you think, and let me know if you discover any portions of the blog that don’t seem to be working correctly. I know that some of the pages for the now-reading plugin aren’t displaying quite right yet, but I’ll be working on that soon.
James McAvoy plays Robbie Turner, the son of one of the housekeepers for the wealthy Tallis family, but he has grown up with the family’s children and is almost treated as one himself. Keira Knightley is the college age daughter of the family and is named Cecilia. These two have a burgeoning relationship that at first they deny, but then can no longer hide from each other.
The house is also occupied by thirteen year old Briony Tallis, Cecilia’s little sister. She is played by Saoirse Ronan. Briony is a precocious girl who writes plays and is always trying to be the center of attention.
Just as Robbie’s and Cecilia’s relationship is coming alive, Briony witnesses several key events between them that she doesn’t really understand, and then she misunderstands and misrepresents a terrible event that occurs one night among some guests of the Tallis family.
The upshot is Cecilia’s relationship with both Robbie and her family is ruined, and Robbie is sent away.
After that the film jumps a few years later to during World War II, where Robbie is now a soldier in France and Cecilia is a nurse in London. The film follows two major threads from this point on. One is the single-minded mission of Robbie to get back home to Cecilia. And the other is of, the now grown-up, Briony attempting to make amends for the misrepresentation she made as a child. She has come to the realization that she didn’t understand what was happening that night years before.
This is one of those lush period recreations. The look and feel of the film was very successfully realized. The time before the war is sort of golden and the characters are innocently spoiled. All of that is transformed in one night, and during the war the images become grey and bloody; mirroring the trauma happening within the Tallis family.
The performances in this film are good, and the movie is nice to look at. There are portions where it begins to feel a bit long; one segment that is set on the beach at Dunkirk felt a little overdone. Maybe after setting up such a lavish reproduction of the scene they felt they had to include all of it. That being said, it is still a fairly impressive sequence.
This is a very good movie. In another year I might have it at the top of my list of movies of the year. But this year there are a couple of possible masterpieces out there. Still, I’m sure it would make my top 10.
The nominees for the 80th Annual Academy Awards were announced today. The full and official list can be found Oscar.com, but I’ve included the major categories below. I haven’t really studied the list carefully yet, but I’ll include a few quick comments after the list.
Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah” (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises” (Focus Features)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal)
Julie Christie in “Away from Her” (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in “The Savages” (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement” (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone” (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Achievement in cinematography
“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.): Roger Deakins
“Atonement” (Focus Features): Seamus McGarvey
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Janusz Kaminski
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Robert Elswit
Achievement in directing
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight), Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson
Best motion picture of the year
“Atonement” (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight) A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers
“Atonement” (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
“Away from Her” (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight), Written by Diablo Cody
“Lars and the Real Girl” (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
“The Savages” (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins
The best actor category looks pretty solid. I’ve seen two of the five performances—Depp and Mortensen. I’m very keen to see the Daniel Day-Lewis performance, and hope I’ll do that this weekend. If there’s a surprise it is that Tommy Lee Jones is nominated for a film I’ve never even heard of. I just assumed, at first, that he was nominated for No Country for Old Men, but that’s not it. It’s a shame I never made it to Michael Clayton, but perhaps I’ll still get a chance to see it before the awards.
I’m completely at a loss with regard to the best actress category; I’ve only seen one of these performances, that of Ellen Page in Juno. It is a wonderful performance and a terrific film, but I expect some of the bigger guns will rule out. I understand there’s a lot of buzz around Julie Christie.
I feel like Cate Blanchett probably has the strongest shot in the supporting actress category for her role in I’m Not There.
Well, that’s about all I’ve got to say so far, but I’ll probably add some additional commentary in upcoming posts, and as I get to see some more of these films.
Also, Marcella and I did see Atonement over the past weekend. I haven’t had a chance to write up my thoughts yet, but I do still hope to do that soon as well.
It snowed for much of the afternoon yesterday; not heavily, but steadily. Last night there was a pleasant white coating on the grass and shrubs. The roads simply became wet.
Chuck came over and we watched the movie Sin City on DVD. That was fun. I hadn’t watched it since I saw it at the theater, even though I’d bought the DVD ages ago. I still say it might be Mickey Rourke’s greatest performance. And the film itself is just visually amazing. It really is just like a comic book.
I didn’t get up and ride this morning. Between sitting up late watching the movie, and having a few beers, and knowing that the roads were wet, it just was too hard to climb out from under the warm blankets. So I’ve been hanging out on the couch and trying to learn some about digital photo editing.
I may have mentioned previously that I got a digital camera for Christmas. I’m trying to take lots of pictures with it, but I also want to learn about editing them for the best effect. Adjusting the levels and balances and cropping and all that sort of thing.
Here’s an example I was playing with:
R.E.M. – I Remember California
I managed to successfully navigate a new loop this morning. It happened pretty much by accident, but it did get me 24 miles on a chilly grey Sunday morning. For the most part the ride was fine, but my toes were cold at the end. I think the temperature was around 40 degrees.
I’m experimenting with putting a map of my ride into the post this morning, and I’ve setup a profile at MapMyRide. Now this mapped route is actually slightly different than what I actually rode because the point at which I show a turn onto Scientific from Kivett I actually rode right past at first and went a couple more miles down Kivett to College before I decided to turn around. It was getting a little bit too urban for me. Also, there’s a big gap you might note where I appear to go cross-country. It seems that the connection of Guilford College Road hasn’t been updated yet on the mapping system, so I’m not sure if the mileage the map indicates is really quite right. My cycle computer had me at 23.8 miles or thereabouts for the ride entire.
I’ve named the ride my “Scientific Route” because the discovery was Scientific Street. I didn’t know where I was going to come out on Kivett, and as I rode past Scientific it rang a bell from when Marcella and I were out driving around about two weeks ago in Jamestown, and I thought to myself, I think that might connect through to Main Street in Jamestown, and if it does I can get home via Penny.
I’m going to put a link to my MapMyRide profile in the My Networks section in the sidebar of the blog so that as I add new routes they can be viewed from there. For now the profile is public.
Juno is a new film from director Jason Reitman. The screenplay was written by first time screenwriter Diablo Cody who is getting lots of press recently for her colorful life, and for this big breakout.
The movie stars Ellen Page as a pregnant and immensely individualistic 16 year old high school student named Juno. The young father of the baby is played by Micheal Cera. Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play a couple who want to adopt the baby when it is born.
This is one of those hyper-sharp films where the characters sometimes deliver lines that show an awareness and humorous insight into their condition that is probably all too unusual and unrealistic, but is still very enjoyable. I really appreciate movies like this. Nobody in the movie denies that a mistake has been made for Juno to be in the position she’s in, not even Juno. But they are where they are, and now they’ve got to live with it, so they act as they feel the must and as their natures dictate.
The performances are very strong. Ellen Page, for all of her petite size, is a dynamic and magnetic presence on the screen. Michael Cera delivers yet another of his quirky-likeable performances. He’s somehow cool in his un-coolness and geekitude. I don’t know if it’s just me or if what it means to be cool in high school is not the same as it once was?
Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner both deliver performances outside of the confines of what we have become a little too used to seeing from them.
I think Jason Bateman may be on the cusp of becoming an interesting actor to follow. Not necessarily as a traditional leading man type, but as an all purpose character actor type; someone you can count on to deliver the goods no matter the role. Here he takes his character from at first being the really like-able cool guy, and lets him gradually transform in a way that creates real dramatic tension. I don’t want to be overly specific for fear of spoiling a portion of the film. But it’s a performance worth watching.
Jennifer Garner may deliver the most complicated performance of the film, and she does it very convincingly. At first she comes off as overly controlling, and possibly even shrewish, but as the film progresses you begin to understand the deep need she has that is unfulfilled and that drives her with such determination and fear.
And then there are a number of smaller roles that are all delivered right on target; Allison Janney as Juno’s stepmother, J.K Simmons as her dad, and Olivia Thirlby as her best friend. They all contribute meaningfully to the sense and tone of the film.
And that’s the other nice thing about Juno—the sense and tone. The movie feels like it takes place in real homes in real neighborhoods. Juno’s home is warm and full of the stuff that a family collects. It’s slightly congested with the accumulation of memories, and they’ve spilled over to all parts of the house, but you wouldn’t want to part with any of them. While the home of Bateman’s and Garner’s characters is large and a bit too sterile. All of his memorabilia (movies, guitars, comics) is stored neatly away in one room as if to lock away the past so as not to pollute to present, but can it remain contained like that? Both homes are believable and familiar.
All in all it’s a quirky-funny film with good performances, good direction, a good soundtrack, and when I left the theater I felt glad I had seen it. I expect I will be purchasing this eventually when it becomes available in disk format, and I recommend it highly to anyone reading this.