Tag: Naomi Watts


While We’re Young

September 12th, 2015 — 6:45am

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Noah Baumbach is a prolific filmmaker who is best known for the award winning movie The Squid and the Whale (2005) that he wrote and directed. It was probably semi-autobiographical as it told the story of two boys in Brooklyn dealing with the divorce of their parents.  

This current film 10 years later which was released in March of 2015 is about a middle-aged couple in their 40s, Josh and Cornelia (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) who encounter a younger couple Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) who are in their mid 20s and seem to be “living in the moment” and enjoying life the way the older couple believe they did when they were that age. This leads Josh and Cornelia to do a great deal of self -reflection. Stiller’s character is a documentary filmmaker who hasn’t achieved the success that he hoped for and seemed to be stuck in the rut in many ways including being obsessively involved in one film for the past 10 years (An interesting sidebar is that the subject of this Josh’s film is a historian who is played by Peter Yarrow of the 1960s folk singer group Peter, Paul and Mary). In fact, Josh and Cornelia’s marriage also seem stuck as they ambivalently accept the plight of their not having children while all their friends are reproducing. Josh’s new friend seems to value him as a mentor, which is initially quite flattering to him. This new couple, Jamie and Darby, seem to be enjoying life and doing all the things that the couple in their 40s hasn’t been able to do. The storyline by Baumbach allows us to understand and empathize with the struggle of Josh and Cornelia. Not surprising however, things are all not what they seem to be as this film ultimately has an interesting reveal.

Each of the veteran actors mentioned above are excellent including Charles Grodin who plays Cornelia’s father who is a very successful veteran documentary filmmaker who while depicting his character’s elderly wisdom still conveys the actor’s comedic self.

Whenever there is a film about the inside working of some aspects of the moviemaking business (documentary films included), we expect that the filmmakers are giving us the inside scoop from their real life experience. That may very well be the case here but it is also a penetrating look of the struggle of many people trying to go through the process of maturing as adults. (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

St. Vincent

March 15th, 2015 — 11:47pm

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You might not picture Bill Murray who is St. Vincent in this film as a Saint. In fact he is depicted as a hard drinking, reckless gambler, tough old guy who lives in a small house in Brooklyn and hangs around with a pole dancer (Naomi Watts). Along comes a new neighbor, recently divorced (Melissa McCarthy) with her 10 or 11-year-old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and the magic begins. We see the chemistry between this grizzled older guy and the polite sweet kid who has to learn to get by in his new Brooklyn neighborhood. The screenplay and the direction by Theodore Melfi is just the right touch to seal the deal. Not surprising, there is much more that meets the eye. The sainthood issue will push your buttons and drain your tear ducts. (No, he doesn’t pass away). This movie and the actors in it have been recognized by various critics, receiving nominations for awards around the country. We were fortunate that we caught it with our grandson on Netflix.(2014)

1 comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

The Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

October 16th, 2014 — 9:28pm

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This movie has the ingredients to be a very well received production. Much of it is a powerful Broadway play within a movie . Specifically it is about an aging movie star Riggan who has made blockbuster movies titled The Birdman who doubts his acclaimed accomplishments and feels he has to prove himself by directing and acting in a serious dramatic play on the Broadway stage. Probably, it is not a coincidence that the star of the movie is 63 year old mega movie star Michael Keaton of Batman and Batman Returns fame among many other hits. His costar is Ed Norton who plays Mike a younger accomplished actor who is totally into the moment with his very dramatic acting in the play. There are excellent supporting roles by Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan and Zach Galifianakis. The creation of the film comes from screenwriter and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu who is best known for Babel and Biutiful. Thanks to a collaboration between Fox Searchlight Pictures and New Regency he had a 16 ½ million dollar budget. Most of the film takes place inside a Broadway theatre or within the surrounding two or three blocks in the theatre district in New York City. The scenes each last several minutes. These long takes characterize the film and the viewer is given the impression that one camera is following the actors as they move through the winding corridors, dressing rooms, balconies and the stage itself, which would appear to be the well known St James Theatre. Riggan’s inner voice is quite loud and appears external. To further keep things rolling along, the music background score is almost entirely drums. The audience at times is asked to suspend reality but the intense drama keeps us grounded. Despite the high flying antics of Mr. Keaton the most revealing moment in the film would appear to be when the NY Times theatre critic who can make or break any show seems determined to break this one because she doesn’t believe Superhero movies stars have a right to claim the Broadway stage as true actors. While the movie had a dramatic flair and an intensity, which held our attention, we felt we were watching characters tell about their stories and situations rather than identifying with them and fully experiencing their plight. We suspect this will be one of those movies that people will either love or walk away without being moved but it is worth being seen. (2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Fair Game

December 11th, 2010 — 5:47pm

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Fair Game-rm– This movie retells the well known story of Valerie Plame and how she was exposed as a CIA agent by the Vice President’s office because her husband Joe Wilson decided to write an op-ed piece in the N.Y. Times and tell the story how during his fact finding mission for the U.S. government he found absolutely no evidence of the sale of uranium to build nuclear weapons being sold by Niger to Iraq.  The Bush administration was motivated to do this because they had decided to attack Iraq on the basis that they believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and this supposed sale was an important part of the case, which they built for the US entry into this war. They tried to discredit Wilson by claiming his wife really sent him there on a boondoggle mission, that he was unreliable and that she was just a middling CIA agent. The opposite was the truth and the criminal act of exposing her as a undercover CIA agent actually endangered many lives who were part of the overseas operations that she was conducting and ruined her career as well as nearly destroying her marriage. Naomi Watts plays Plame who on one hand lives the life of the housewife next door, taking care of young kids, having evening get-togethers with other couples and discussing current events. However, instead of going to work at her cover job with a financial management firm and taking occasional overnight trips, she is at a fairly high level in the CIA going on overnight dangerous missions. Her husband Joe Wilson, former ambassador to Niger as well as having had other State Department jobs now has his own struggling company and doubles as the housedad when his wife is out of town. He is very well played by Sean Penn, who must have especially relished the role of the guy trying to expose government lies.  Director Doug Liman achieved just the right balance in  showing us the everyday life of this housewife spy, mixed with the frightening missions which she undertook. Watts and Penn brought intensity to the outrage and the despair, which their characters experienced. The location shots were very realistic as were the all too familiar cast of characters including the politicians and the media. The film captured an important piece of history mixed with the drama and the human emotions, which were part of this story. It is not a part of history that we should be proud of but what is encouraging is that this film can be made in this country and this story can be told and talked about as much as we choose to do so.(2010)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Drama, History

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

October 18th, 2010 — 4:15am

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You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger-rm – We have always been willing to see Woody Allen movies if for no other reason then to see where his head is at. He always comes up with an interesting group of characters who are struggling in great angst in which we can some way identify with or at least understand. This time he gives us various configurations of couples who are each having trouble with their relationships and for the most part they each have some very wishful fantasies. The oldest couple has split because Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) feels he should have relationship with hot young blond    (Lucy Punch). His disappointed wife Helena (Gemma Jones) falls under the spell of a forune teller (Pauline Collins) whom she believes hookline and sinker. Helena then falls in love with a widower Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) who needs the permission of his dead wife to marry her. Alfie and Helena have a daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) who is married to Roy, a doctor (Josh Broslin) who doesn’t practice but is trying to produce a second novel rather than a family and prefers looking out his apartment window at Dia (Freida Pinto), a beautiful woman whom he is convinced would be the perfect partner for him. The doctor – now writer’s wife really imagines that she would be better off with her art dealer boss (Antonio Banderes). If she can’t have him she would hope that her mother would lend her money to open her own art gallery but the mother doesn’t think the stars are aligned right. There are many more twists and turns in this study of the human psyche. There is also a narrator to the movie (Zak Orth) who really doesn’t tell us very much. Allen has a writing style that gives the audience a feel for who are these people and the dilemmas they face from their own point of view. The problem is that when all is said and done, we didn’t really care that much about any of the characters despite the unique story and a great cast. There were some good comedic moments but overall it is a sad commentary about human nature. (2010)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Mother and Child

September 8th, 2010 — 12:52pm

Mother and Child* * * *
Mother and Child
– sp – Over the years I have either personally known people or treated individuals in therapy who yearned for a connection with a biological parent whom they never knew. Some actually had the opportunity for such meeting in their adult life. They were able to tell quite remarkable stories of this reunion of the adopted child and the biological parent which often involved meeting other relatives. Screenwriter and Director Rogrigo Garcia had been working on a movie script on this subject for over ten years. He used his penchant for being able to tell multiple stories which effectively blend together as well as his skill in creating rich woman characters. The result is an interesting film which examines many facets of the emotional experience of giving up or not giving up a a new born for adoption as well as the long term impact on mother and child when the two do separate. The story originally centers on Karen (Annette Bening) who at the age of 14 gave up daughter for adoption 34 years previously . However, her phantasies about the daughter are never far from her mind. The daughter Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is self motivated successful attorney with no intention of every settling down with a man although she freely seduces them. She seems embittered by the fact that her own biological mother never tracked her down. Lucy (Kerry Washington) rounds out the trio of the main women characters and is a woman determined to adopt a child so she and her husband can have a family. The study of the mother child relationships is complimented by the mothers of Karen and especially that of Lucy (Epatha Merkerson) . Samuel Jackson and Jimmy Smits play parts contrary to their often tough guy roles as in this case they are sensitive caring men. The evolution of the characters and the depth of their emotions experienced in this movie brings to light the enduring bond that flows between so many ( but not all ) mothers and their children. (2010)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

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