Review: Sicario

In the last 3 days, I watched two films directed by Denis Villeneuve. Both have a female protagonist. Both are excellent. The two are very different stories, but are alike because the female actor gives an outstanding performance. In this post I’ll review Sicario starring Emily Blunt. The other Villeneuve film I recently reviewed is Arrival. There are spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Sicario”

Review: Arthur Newman

Arthur Newman stars Emily Blunt and Colin Firth. When I noticed it on Netflix, I saw it didn’t have a very high rating. I would watch Emily Blunt in just about anything so I gave it a chance. I’m glad I did. My opinion of the film turned out to be higher than others. Continue reading “Review: Arthur Newman”

Watch This: Trailer for The Huntsman Winters War

The Huntsman Winters War has Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain in a feminist fairy tale about the huntsman. Oh, yeah, Chris Hemsworth is in it – he’s the huntsman. In case you weren’t counting, that makes The Huntsman Winters War an action adventure tale with 3 women and 1 man in leading roles.

In a more perfect world, at least one of those faces would be a woman of color, but I’m happy to celebrate this bit of progress.

The wordy plot synopsis of this dark fantasy is,

The fantastical world of Snow White and the Huntsman expands to reveal how the fates of The Huntsman Eric and Queen Ravenna are deeply and dangerously intertwined. Chris Hemsworth and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in The Huntsman Winter’s War, an epic action-adventure in which they are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Producer Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) once again leads the team in a breathtaking new tale nested in the legendary saga.

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen—including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)—only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.

When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power. But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.

The film is a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman from 2012, which was an equally feminist turn on a fairy tale starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Hemsworth as The Huntsman. In the sequel, as in the first huntsman tale, the director, writer and most of the behind the scenes names are male. But in front of the camera it’s nothing but awesome.

The film is set to open in April of 2016.

Images © 2015 – Universal Pictures

Review: Your Sister’s Sister

Your Sister’s Sister stars Emily Blunt as Iris, Rosemarie DeWitt as Hannah, and Mark Duplass as Jack. It was written and directed by Lynn Shelton. She’s the blonde with the three actors in the photo above.

I’ve had it in my watch list on Netflix for a long time and never watched it. But after watching Laggies the other day, I decided it was time to have a Lynn Shelton week, so I hit play on Your Sister’s Sister.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Your Sister’s Sister”

Watch This: Trailer for Sicario

This drugs-on-the-border war story stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Emily Blunt as Kate Mercer is an FBI agent. The action moves back and forth across the border between El Paso and Juarez and shows a world of brutality and murder.

Emily Blunt claims a part many argued should be played by a man. Personally, I’m in favor of action heroes being played by women, especially women as talented as Blunt.

I’m also eager to see women get roles that are not violent and action oriented, but are stories about women living more normal lives – especially women played by actors as talented as Emily Blunt.

When Variety reviewed it after it showed at Cannes, they wrote, “A blisteringly intense drug-trade thriller that combines expert action and suspense with another uneasy inquiry into the emotional consequences of violence.”

The film opens September 18.

Actors on Actors -UPDATED

Variety has created a series of conversations called “Actors on Actors” that are fascinating discussions between peers. Most of them are a man and a woman. I picked these three to include here because both the conversationalists are women, but don’t overlook the others at Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.

The women’s conversations are about art and craft and fame and the meaning of success.

 

 

UPDATE: Here’s another that just published with two women in conversation.

Brain Dump: A Wife’s Nightmare, Annie, On My Way, Into the Woods

It’s time for a brain dump. My brain is teeming with thoughts about this and that – mostly movies I watched over the holidays. Short thoughts. Thoughts so short that combining them into one post seems like a grand idea.

A Wife’s Nightmare

Jennifer Beals in "A Wife's Nightmare"
Jennifer Beals

A Wife’s Nightmare gave us a Jennifer Beals who was unsure, compliant, nervous, and worried. The gaslighting part of the story was a new acting challenge for Jennifer Beals and she did it very well. I was happy she found her way to some backbone by the end of the story, however. Jennifer Beals is always a pleasure to watch. Here’s a full review.

Annie

dancing and singing on a rooftop
Rose Byrne and Quvenzhané Wallis in Annie

Annie is a wonderful update to the familiar story. The new songs were perfect contemporary music. The cast was excellent, particularly Quvenzhané Wallis. Hat tips to older versions of the story were well done.

I had the pleasure of going to the movie with a friend and her two grandchildren who danced in their seats and sang along. Afterwards they agreed that the movie was really good. These two biracial youngsters – ages 3 and 6 – wanted their hair freshly washed for the movie so it would look like “Annie hair.” The importance they placed on looking like Annie reminded me again how critical it is that we see someone who looks like ourselves represented on screens as smart, successful, talented, and worthwhile human beings.

On My Way

Catherine Deneuve and Nemo Schiffman in On My Way
Catherine Deneuve and Nemo Schiffman in On My Way

On My Way (French title Elle s’en va) is a French film with English subtitles I found on Netflix. Catherine Deneuve is the star, which is what caught my interest. It has 4 stars on Netflix, always a good indicator it’s worth watching. Catherine Deneuve is 71; she’s put on some weight. But whatever it was she had – she’s still got it. She’s still got ALL of it.

Into the Woods

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods
Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods

When you start with talent like Stephen Sondheim and Rob Marshall, add in a screenplay by James Lapine, and cast fantastic people like Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt as the players – well, you end up with something utterly brilliant. That is all I have to say: brilliant.

Annie photo ©Sony Pictures. Into the Woods photo ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Watch This: Trailer for Into the Woods

Into the Woods opens on Christmas Day. The prospect of seeing another musical directed by Rob Marshall, who directed Chicago, makes me quite excited. And this one has music by Stephen Sondheim!

Into the Woods is based on a Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. It stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine. The story is a mash up the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. These classics are wrapped with an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish for a family and their interaction with a witch who put a curse on them.

I caught a glimpse of Christine Baranski in the previews. Her vocal talents landed her parts in Mamma Mia (with Meryl Streep) and Chicago. This time she’s playing Cinderella’s stepmother.

And, my, doesn’t Johnny Depp look fabulous as The Big Bad Wolf?

A background feature is also available.

I grew up in the heyday of musicals with stars like Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, and Shirley Jones. Musicals make me happy! Let’s all sing and dance, shall we?

Images © 2013 – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures