Thursday, December 29, 2011

review - My Week with Marilyn

It is difficult to believe that this is Simon Curtis' first directorial film assignment, as My Week with Marilyn is an amazingly lovely movie. Michelle Williams' performance, needless to say, is delectable. No over-the-top mannerisms or false moves: it's about as natural as one might see. She transforms into Marilyn effortlessly, or so it seems. I also enjoyed the work of Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark, documentary film maker, who worked as third AD on The Prince and the Showgirl (1956) and whose diaries supplied the basis for the story, screenplay by Adrian Hodges. Monroe loved Clark's youthful attraction to her and used it to her advantage. It freed her from the insecurities that were bogging her down and preventing her from giving the ultimate performance in The Prince and the Showgirl. She needed to relax and be supported in the positive way that Clark provided. Although their little 'affair' cooled down, she ended up giving a great performance, topping that of Sir Laurence Olivier, who so wanted to become a big box office star. Ironic, that both actors deeply wanted what they didn't have: Monroe to be considered a great actress and Olivier, the actor of all time, a big movie star.
Also wonderful in the film are Kenneth Branagh as Olivier, Dame Judi Dench, always a standout even in the smallest of roles as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond a charmer as Vivien Leigh, Emily Watson grownup and beautiful as Colin's girlfriend Lucy and Zoe Wanamaker so good as the clutching Paula Strasberg, who was like Marilyn's third arm.
This is a  loving portrait of the iconic star, who despite her well-known insecurities, was sweet and caring, adored by millions. Cinematography is gorgeous; the story attractive and playful, and Williams' work sublime, capturing in detail Monroe's genuine nature on and off screen.
5 stars
eddie redmayne and emily watson

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

review - Walk a Mile in My Pradas (2011)

tom arnold with nathaniel marston & tom archdeacon

Walk a Mile in My Pradas (2011)
written by Rick Sudi Karatas & Tom Archdeacon
directed by Joey Sylvester

We can all stand a little magic in our lives this Christmas. Walk a Mile in My Pradas is just the kind of holiday film to brighten your day and put a smile on your face. It pretty much concerns a macho homophobe construction worker Tony (Nathaniel Marston) and a gay coworker on a new job site named Steve (Tom Archdeacon) who cannot get along. Through vengeful spite, each wishes that the other would switch lifestyles, and in the presence of a Christmas tree angel that blinks on and off, puf! the transformation inexplicably takes place. Suddenly Tony starts acting weird - like cooking and cruising guys in Gay bars, and Steve, to the dismay of lover Michael (Emrhys Cooper), begins to check out and fancy chicks. The film's unpredictability is somewhat in the vein of Big, where Tom Hanks' innocent wish comes true and he must face the consequences, no matter how bizarre or uncomfortable!

Growing up Catholic and realizing you're gay is a nightmare. Well, Tony's family (Dee Wallace, Mike Starr) are Italian Catholics and teacher Sister Betty (Bunny Levine) taught Tony as a boy that "gay is evil". Therein lie the roots of his intolerance. Capiche? When Tony encounters Sister Betty in the present - 20 years later - her response? "Times have changed. Get with it!" Oh, these fickle Catholics and their hypocritical devotion! This is but one example of ...Prada's topical hilarity.

Under Joey Sylvester's caring direction, the entire cast is delightful. Marston rightfully underplays his newfound weirdness, as does Archdeacon with his attraction to women. Relying on overly swishy or super macho behavior just would not work, period. Cooper adds color to Michael, who is appropriately baffled and heartbroken at his lover's sudden lack of interest. Equally confused is Tony's fiance Sarah played with restraint by Kirsten Lea. Dee Wallace hasn't been this funny since 10 as the obsessive English teacher/momma who starts mopping the floor incessantly when she even conceptualizes her son as gay. Tom Arnold is a hoot as the laid-back boss sort of caught in the middle of the sexual issue. Poker-faced Levine is a scream as Sister Betty, and kudos as well to writer Rick Karatas as friend Brian and especially to Lindsay Hollister as Laura. Overweight and out of place, she has one of the funniest lines in the movie regarding consternation with bulemia. Bruce Vilanch has a cute cameo as himself.

dee wallace with marston
Of course, there's a happy ending and everyone gets what they want - c'mon, it's Christmas! Is it possible to be lightweight, yet high on sweet? If so,
Walk a Mile in My Pradas fits the bill and makes for perfect holiday fare. It's breezy and uplifting!

4/5 stars

Walk a Mile in My Pradas was a winner in the 2011 Hoboken International Film Festival for Best Trailer and Best Supporting Actor Tom Archdeacon.

lindsay hollister & bruce vilanch
bunny levine as sister betty & rick karatas
emrhys cooper as michael

Monday, November 21, 2011

Press Screening : Walk a Mile in My Pradas

costars emrhys cooper and tom archdeacon flank me
costar and co-writer tom archdeacon

co-writer Rick Sudi Karatas
executive producer cooper selling the DVD

review above!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Special Screenings of Disney's Lion King

Hollywood’s legendary El Capitan Theatre welcomes The Lion King for the first time ever in Disney Digital 3D from September 16 through October 6, 2011,The El Capitan will even provide “Kid Sized” 3D glasses for this one of a kind experience. A special live appearance by Timon is also featured at every performance.

Friday, August 26, 2011

news - The Help

(Viola Davis pictured)

This film based on the bestseller by Kathryn Stockett is causing a sensation and the Oscar buzz is that all actresses, including Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer should be nominated. Film also costars Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney, Mary Steenburgen and Cicely Tyson.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nights in Rodanthe (2008)

I happened to tune into George C. Wolfe's Nights in Rodanthe on Lifetime recently and quite by accident. I love Diane Lane, and for me, her deep emotional connection to this woman is the reason to see the film. Richard Gere is also very good as a doctor who lost a patient on the operating table. His attempt to cope and connect to his doctor son (uncredited James Franco) is at the core of the plot. Lane meets him at a North Carolina inn that she is tending for a friend, and of course, they fall in love. And I'm sure the love scenes were edited for cable, and so, I should rent the dvd to see the max. After all there's a hurricane raging outside, so there must be more than meets the eye under the sheets! Plotwise, she insists that he make a fuller commitment to face his demons head on; he does, and this ends up changing him for the better. Lane is luminous as always. What a great actress! The film does not have the impact of The Bridges of Madison County, but is still worth viewing, if not for anything other than to relish Lane's performance and view that gorgeous North Carolina beachfront scenery.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

review - The King's Speech

Bravo, bravo, bravo to this beautifully opulent and honest look at the speech problems of the Duke of York, played so brilliantly by Colin Firth. Also starring Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush (wonderful!), Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon and Claire Bloom, this film appeals to all those - many, many - who have problems with stammering due to fear of public speaking.

What makes this true-to-life study of members of the royal family so fascinating, apart from Tom Hooper's loving eye as director, is how a layman affects their lives. Rush's character is a typical example of a learned man whose experience as speech coach is invaluable, yet he is looked down upon by the King's court because of his station and lack of credentials. When he proves his mettle, he becomes a trusted friend and ally.
Lovely script and brilliant work from everyone involved. Should pick up many awards, especially for Firth as Best Actor.
Go see it!

Monday, January 17, 2011


The 68th Golden Globe® Awards aired LIVE coast-to-coast Sunday night, January 16, 2011 on NBC from 5:00-8:00 p.m. (PST) /8:00-11:00 p.m. (EST) from the Beverly Hilton Hotel with host Ricky Gervais. 

The Fighter
The King's Speech
***WINNER The Social Network

Alice in Wonderland
***WINNER The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

Darren Aronofsky, BLACK SWAN
***WINNER David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
***WINNER Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
***WINNER Natalie Portman, BLACK SWAN
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
***WINNER Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack

***WINNER Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone, Easy A

***WINNER Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street 2
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Mila Kunis, BLACK SWAN
***WINNER Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David Seidler, The King's Speech
***WINNER Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Despicable Me
How To Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
***WINNER Toy Story 3

The Concert
The Edge
I Am Love
***WINNER In A Better World

Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
Danny Elfman, Alice in Wonderland
A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
***WINNER Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Hans Zimmer, Inception

"Bound to You," Burlesque
"Coming Home," Country Strong
"I See the Light," Tangled
"There's A Place For Us," Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
***WINNER "You Haven't Seen The Last of Me," Burlesque

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(From the Past) Chuck and Buck (2000)

Chuck and Buck
written by Mike White
directed by Miguel Arteta
starring (pictured) Mike White & Chris Weitz

Chuck and Buck is an indie frequently screened on Logo. The last time I watched, it was more mesmerizing to me than usual. I saw beyond the expected.

Obviously, White's character Buck is an underdog, a poor half-child who has never made it out of the time capsule in which he has been living his empty life. His mother has died, he's alone with the fantasy of a continued intimate relationship with his boyhood friend Chuck, played matter-of-factly by Weitz, and he is totally bizarre, yet sympathetic and caring. Lack of maturity or not, nothing has inhibited his creativity; in fact, he writes an allegory about the boy/gay friendship, works to get it produced at an Equity-waiver theater and even stalks Chuck in an attempt to get him to come see it. Chuck, unlike Buck, has matured, is a successful record producer and engaged to be married. Buck is a painful reminder to him of what he once was, and of what he wants, or thinks he wants, to obliterate from his mind.

Both performances are very good, especially White's, and there is also terrific support from a favorite actress of mine - Lupe Ontiveros, so underrated - who plays the house manager at the small theater. She is so real and loving, and her friendship with Buck helps him eventually find his center, changing his life for the better. Paul Weitz, real-life brother of Chris Weitz, plays Sam, the actor who looks so much like Chuck to Buck that he casts him in his play. Interesting note: both Weitz boys are the sons of 50s/60s Academy Award nominated actress Susan Kohner.

I enjoy the intimacy achieved here by White's intelligent script and also by Miguel Arteta's sensitive direction.
White is not afraid to expose himself for who he is, even in his most fragile moments, and his slow transformation to manhood is surprisingly appealing.

Don't miss this little chestnut from the year 2000!