Tag Archives: Brie Larson

I’ve been lost on Kong: Skull Island

IMG_1710.JPGWell, I survived my movie challenge last year and (partially) as a result it’s been eight months since I’ve worked on this blog.

It’s fitting that my writing perch now has a view of my signed Mike Birbiglia poster (taken from the poster sale by a former coworker at the ol’ Edina Cinema) because my last post here was about Birbiglia’s film “Don’t Think Twice.” He did a Q&A about the film after the July 2016 screening at the Lagoon Cinema and, other than his obviously flawless and brilliant response to the questions I kept telling myself I would ask if I had the courage, I remember the breeze of comedic genius as he walked by my aisle seat to the front of the theater. Maybe I’ll meet him someday, but at the same time it’s enough for me to sit and listen and admire that he can sell out huge theaters and at the same time spend weeks touring to different cities doing Q&A’s and teaching improv classes to local comedians.

I could talk and write about him forever, but I didn’t come back here only to gush about Mike Birbiglia.

BUT I could keep going about him … no? Okay fine.

I know you’re all wondering about the side effects of watching 366 movies in one year (you can see the full list here) and I will say (Captain Obvious – be on alert, I’m about to steal your thunder) it’s too many movies and I think I missed some of the impact they would have had if I watched them at the pace of a normal person.

That said, there’s a good chance I would never get around to some of the classics and obscure films I made it through — “It Happened One Night,” “Charade,” “Prayer of the Rollerboys,” and “The Story of Ricky” come to mind.

This brings to mind another side effect of the challenge, any time someone asks me what my favorite or most memorable films are from last year, the answer always changes.

I should just carry my movie notebook around with me so I can consult the list and make sure I am really delivering the goods. (Dating tip: read from your movie, shopping, pet name, dream vacation, etc. list when things get awkward.)

I do have a movie notebook with my list now, which is another benefit of the challenge, although it makes me wish I had kept one all along so I would have a record of everything I’ve seen; and a tool for those extremely awkward date moments — like when a guy says you have nice veins. Um, so have you seen “Working Girl?”

This year, I only have nine movies to refer to compared to 75 by the end of this day last year when I watched “Upstream Color” and “That Touch of Mink.” Don’t ask me what they’re about.

The last movie I saw was “Kong: Skull Island” — mainly to see my girl Brie Larson and my boy Marc Evan Jackson, who delivers some great one-liners — my favorite being “Oh dear.” I can’t give away the context to that line, but just wait until you see it.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve also watched “Jackie,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Julieta,” “20th Century Women,” “Sing,” “Moonlight,” “Split,” “Baby Mama,” and the aforementioned “Kong: Skull Island.”

I knew very little about the film before seeing it and learned, from another former co-worker at the ol’ Edina Cinema when I stopped in there the other day, that the director– Jordan Vogt-Roberts — also made “The Kings of Summer.”

It’s an indie film that didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved, in my opinion, and represents a new trend of those directors breaking into the Hollywood blockbuster world with positive results: witty scripts and comedic actors coupled with special effects and action.

Another example: Colin Trevorrow made “Jurassic World” in addition to “Safety Not Guaranteed,” thus bringing together Chris Pratt, Lauren Lapkus and Jake Johnson and some pesky dinosaurs.

“Kong: Skull Island” has the right mix of action, humor (John C. Reilly) and heart and I hope the trend represented by the work of Vogt-Roberts and Trevorrow (who is making a “Jurassic World” sequel) continues.

As for me and my movie-watching challenge plans for the future, I think it’s to be continued …

I’ll see what I want to see and what I’m in the mood for this year (something I couldn’t always do in 2016) and next year might embark on a challenge of a smaller scale than 366 movies.

There are a lot out there I need and want to see and perhaps I’ll be ready to put some lipstick on and watch a ton of movies, again, by 2018.

Until then, I leave you with this reminder from Paul F. Tompkins to see ‘Kong: Skull Island” and one from me to see “The Kings of Summer.”

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19 of 366: Short Term 12

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imdb.com

Short Term 12 is a much talked-about film when it comes to the career of Brie Larson. By the time of its release in 2013, Larson had already built a solid library of work in film and on television  All of her film roles show a different level of her acting ability and Larson’s performance as Grace, a foster home manager who takes on the challenges of the kids there as much as her own, in Short Term 12 is no exception.

The feature-length version of Short Term 12 is based on director and writer Destin Daniel Cretton’s own experience working in a group home for at-risk teenagers and a short film of the same name that received official selection honors at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Larson and the rest of the cast, John Gallagher Jr., Rami Malek and Stephanie Beatriz, as far as I can tell, effectively embodied the reality of the lives of people who work in foster or group homes and the line they have to keep between being a friend and authority figure to kids there.

Cretton cast several young actors to play the kids living at Short Term 12, also the name of the foster home, who challenged the staff there and brought to light the struggles they face in their adult lives outside of work.

Grace is the most affected by the kids’ lives and their well-being, often putting them first before her health and own family and going to all lengths to protect them.

shortterm2
imdb.com

Larson drew me into the film right away through her portrayal of Grace and it is evident early on that she relates to the kids she cares for on a higher level than her coworkers, including her boyfriend Mason (Gallagher Jr.)

There are a lot of tough moments in the film and for its characters but they are balanced with positive happenings and simple things the group at Short Term 12 does to try to bring some normalcy to the kids’ lives.

That is where the film, also through its minimalist visual style, seems to mix well between fiction and reality of the environment it portrays and leaves you knowing that world of caring for people in need never stops, no matter what else is going on.

“To me, the difference between the people who are successful and fulfilled and those who are frustrated and freaked-out has always had to do with accepting what we can and cannot control, and then doing our best to enact changes within that.”

Emily V. Gordon

 

 

Truth, Brooklyn, Room, Spotlight, Concussion, The Martian

I have a new blog/life project in the works but I did want to recap some of the movies I saw last year before moving on to my new venture. These movies are among my favorites of 2015 and are making the rounds on critics’ top 10 and award contender lists.

The performances in each of these films stood out for me and I think the way actors took on the characters in the films based on true stories should be the source of recognition as awards season continues.

In no particular order …

Truth

tru2Movies about journalism and the news business make me happy. They make for good drama and a peek into a world that informs us of what’s going on. Journalism has changed a lot, so films about “old school” reporting on true events to build a story and the following success or fallout are especially interesting to me. In Truth, Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford star as producer Mary Mapes and CBS News Anchor Dan Rather in the time leading up to his resignation. That time includes their investigative report and broadcast about George W. Bush’s military service as well as the career-changing aftermath it caused for Rather and Mapes and their reporting team. In addition to learning more about the facts of the story in the early to mid-2000s as it played out on screen, I found myself enamored with Blanchett and Redford’s performances and I think they really made this movie. The supporting cast has its highs (Elisabeth Moss) and lows (Topher Grace and sometimes Dennis Quaid) but I think this film is overall underrated. Some scenes were a bit over-the-top but Blanchett and Redford always brought it back and their moments alone together really honing in on what they were trying to accomplish and why, away from all the drama, put the story into perspective. Truth doesn’t have a strong presence on the awards circuit (at least Blanchett’s hairstyle should be nominated) but I think it’s worth watching for newsies and film buffs alike. It will be out on DVD Feb. 2.

Room

room_stillIf I ever write a movie, Brie Larson will need to be in it. She’s having a moment right now, which I expect will continue for some time, so I am sure she will be game to star in my rom-com that has a plot no one has ever used before. Brie, call me.

Larson has range from working in dramas and comedies and in Room takes on a role where I imagine she needed to combine those skills to play her character, Ma. Room tells the story of a mom and her son, Jack, locked in a garden shed for several years after Ma was kidnapped as a teenager.

A good part of the film is Ma and Jack together trying to maintain a normal life in one room with, seemingly, no way out. If you see Room only once it is a drama and suspense, if you see it twice — which I did — it turns into more of a character-driven story about a family trying to rebuild their life and relationships. Ma’s parents come into the picture in the film as well and what happens to her is an avenue for them to focus on and rebuild their relationships with Jack at the center of it all.

I didn’t read the book the film is based on, which I think is a good way to go into this particular film, but if you did I still think watching it on screen will present a dynamic and unexpected telling of the written story.

Room is probably one of the strongest award contenders on this list, in addition to Spotlight, and I just hope Larson will still star in my movie after she wins. Seriously, call me.

Brooklyn

brooklyn

Brooklyn is a perfect movie. It ends the way you want it to end, Saoirse Ronan is just compelling to watch and it presents a complete picture of her character’s dilemma to build a new life in Brooklyn or stay in her hometown in Ireland.

In some ways I felt myself wanting more conflict in the end and to be left with a dissenting opinion about Eilis’ (played by Ronan) life decisions – but then Brooklyn wouldn’t be a perfect movie.

It is not often I find myself with little to write about a film — and this does not mean I didn’t like Brooklyn — it’s just that good and I think it’s probably a story all audiences will like.

I will say Ronan’s performance stands out in this film and I would like her to be in my movie with Larson. Saoirse, call me. If you want to hear more of her lovely voice (and life story) I recommend listening to her 2013 interview with Chris Hardwick on The Nerdist.

Spotlight

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Spotlight is another movie about the news business – this time about print journalism and The Boston Globe’s coverage of abuse in the Catholic church. It is directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy and includes top character performances by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo (who could also join my movie if they would like) as well as Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber.

This NPR story focuses on how the cast, mainly Keaton as Walter Robinson, took on who their characters are as much as depicting how the Spotlight team uncovered and reported on the story of the Catholic church scandal in Boston.

I actually want to see Spotlight again but as it stands now I think the acting carried the film as much as — if not more than — the telling of the story it is based on.

Concussion

concussionTell the truth! Doug Loves Movies fans out there will know that Doug Benson has been working on his Will Smith character impersonation for the past few weeks when he asks his guests about their favorite movie that the actor stars in.

What’s interesting about Concussion is you will lose sight of the fact that it’s Will Smith playing Dr. Bennet Omalu not long into the film. Omalu, a pathologist performing autopsies, very thoroughly, comes across a disease affecting football players that can really only be detected after they die. Concussion is another true story and character-focused plot and Smith excels at playing a man fighting keeping his reputation and career as a doctor intact while trying to bring the truth out and ultimately help people while the NFL tries to silence him. It presents a well-rounded telling of the story but one that could be pretty forgettable without Smith’s performance.

The Martian

The-MartianI know I raved a lot about The Martian from the moment I heard about it and I am finally getting to writing about it now, months after I saw the film. It is nominated for Golden Globes in the best picture, directing (Ridley Scott) and acting (Matt Damon) categories. I think it has some strong competition as far as awards go and I’ve heard some critics pan it because they are sick of space movies and found The Martian didn’t live up to the hype. I, overall, liked the film and felt (despite all my bias about Damon) he did well acting alone for much of the film. While Damon (as Mark Watney) is stuck on Mars trying to survive, Scott and the film’s writers (including novelist Andy Weir) did well mixing in the story of people on Earth trying to save him or “Bring Him Home.”

You may or may not know what happens, but I like how understated the very end of the film was and overall how the narration by Damon as Watney (which I didn’t like very much in the book) played out on screen.

There are a lot of movies to see this year, but I wouldn’t mind revisiting The Martian. It is out on DVD Jan. 12.

In the meantime, I am starting out my year in movies by seeing Mustang today and I’m pretty excited for what’s to come.

Also Matt Damon, call me.