Tag Archives: Wild

GOING TO THE MOVIES IN DECEMBER

At the end of last month I suggested six book-based movies to see before the end of the year. So far, I’ve seen three. Here’s basic data and my brief impressions.

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MOCKING JAY PART I
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Peter Craig and Others
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Awards: Golden Globe nominee for best original Song, Critics Choice Award Nominee for Best Actress in an Action Movie

Given my recollections of Catching Fire, this movie is easily second best. Photography and sound are paramount. Story and character are overshadowed by the noise.

Jennifer Lawrence as our heroine is subdued, performing mostly in one key. Emotions seem to be conveyed by film editing and not by actors. Katniss flounders, and it is painful to watch. Julianne Moore takes center stage; mostly she reads lines with expertise in speaking to large audiences in the underground skyscrapers. Well, they are very tall buildings. I’d best not use the word skyscrapers since they do not touch the sky.

Having said this much, I will say the film held the attention of all my companions, family members of different ages and interests. The film meets that standard. One theater was sold out at 1:00 in the afternoon.

But, even the youngest critic remarked on the slow pacing. I can only agree.

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THE HOMESMAN
Director: Tommy Lee Jones,
Writers: Tommy Lee Jones and others
Actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter
Awards: Palme d’Or
PFCS Award Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading role, nominees
And others including nominee for World Soundtrack Award Film composer Marco Beltrami

Disappointing and disjointed best describe this movie for me. It is essentially about a place and about women, but it is titled The Homesman. Tommy Lee Jones, a very capable actor, is the writer and director, but whenever Hilary Swank is not on screen, the movie seems as bland and boring as the scenery. The western plains can be beautiful even as they are dangerous and difficult. I did not see that. Swank gave her character depth, but then, her character surprised viewers and not in a satisfactory way.

The story is strange and surreal, rather than realistic and gritty. It’s not exactly untrue, but stretched and distorted like the mirrors at the carnival. The Tommy Lee Jones character morphs into different personalities at different times. Instead of a realistic gradual change, we think we are seeing, and expecting, at the end he reverts into someone else yet again.

This movie will elicit many different opinions. It’s absence from many award lists testifies to this. Different viewers will see different movies. For me, somehow the excellence of the actors, the beauty of the place and the high interest of the topic, women in the early west, are all lost in the strange incoherence of the story.

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WILD
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Writers: Nick Hornby and Cheryl Strayed
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Bay Hoffmann, Michael Huisman and Thomas Sadoski
Awards: Golden Globe nominee for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Critics Choice Award Nominee Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay

This movie scores in many areas: photography, acting, story all come together to make an unforgettable experience for movie-goers. Based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, we see her character played in perfect pitch by Reese Witherspoon save herself as she deals with her demons while hiking the Pacific Coast Trail alone.

Laura Dern is excellent in the role of Cheryl’s mother. Other actors do well with their roles. Witherspoon holds us mesmerized in every frame. Clarity is a feature of both acting and story. As we watch we are not confused, but entertained, interested and thoughtful.

For my money, this movie is clearly the best of the ones on the list, I’ve been able to see so far.

I’ll add another movie to my list: Into the Woods. So along with Unbroken, Gone Girl, and Still Alice, I hope to see more movies.

Do tell us what holiday movies you like, whether they are based on a book, or are filmed from an original screenplay. It seems movie genres span a wide range of interests this year. Let us know what you like! Maybe you are off to see The Hobbit, Intersteller, or a biography. Keep the conversation going, in many directions. Thanks.

SIX BOOK-BASED MOVIES TO SEE BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR

I listed these movies in no particular order. All scripts are adapted screenplays predicted by some sources to be under watch for an Oscar in the adapted screenplay category. You can expect a good story, well-told. All of them have something special to offer in addition to a good script.
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Mockingjay Part I
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is not to be missed! There are endless articles about this movie. You can easily find more info. Jennifer Lawrence is the outstanding young actress of this or any generation. The movie also stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Juliette Moore, both usually give outstanding performances. Woody Harrelson gave a riveting performance in the first two movies of this series.

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Wild
Yes, I am a Reese Witherspoon fan, and I loved the book by Cheryl Strayed. Reese is receiving plenty of Oscar buzz. I can’t wait to see this movie. I expect the cinematography to be stunning.

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Unbroken
Another terrific book, a classic of this century. The word is that Angelina Jolie has done a fine job directing. Any way you slice it, it is a fabulous story. The adapted script credits list Joel and Ethan Coen, well-known and extremely able movie writers, producers and directors.

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The Homesman
Another outstanding performance or so we are told, by Hilary Swank. Admittedly this movie gets my nod because I am a fan of westerns. Here we have Mary Bee Cuddy, a Nebraska pioneer woman in the years before the Civil War, and a look at the cost to women of immigration and the life on the plains with only the wind to keep them company. The movie also stars Tommy Lee Jones. It is based on a novel by Glendon Swarthout.

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Gone Girl
This script continues to be talked about. Rosamund Pike is being touted for a best actress Oscar nomination. The movie also stars Ben Affleck. Need I say more?

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Still Alice
Several friends have recommended this book. I have yet to read it. The subject matter of early-onset dementia is a tough one. Juliette Moore’s outstanding performance draws raves from the critics and the script is in the running for an Oscar nomination.

I like the IMDb website or the app for more information about a movie or TV show. I have the app on my ipad. (How else would I understand some of the crazy TV I watch?) www.IMDb.com

Do tell us what movies you plan to see or have seen and what you think. You pay your money. You are a movie critic. Your opinion counts.