Currently browsing the "Helen Mirren" tag.

Mini-Review: The Leisure Seeker

I was looking forward to this road trip flick with Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren. But sadly, while they are both pretty great, the script for this movie, itself an adaptation of a well-reviewed book, feels hastily written without nuance or empathy for the characters. It’s the story is of a retired couple, John and Ella, he a former college professor with some sort of dementia and she his loving and patient wife with some unnamed, but advancing disease, taking off from their Boston home in their old Winnebago, heading for Key West to visit Hemingway’s house. Their kids are freaked out about it, but it could be John’s last chance to see the home of one of his favorite writers.

Collateral Beauty

Collateral Beauty is a bittersweet drama that could be either a tough watch, or cathartic, for anyone feeling the pain of loss during the holiday season. If I had to pick a target demographic, I’d go with fans of A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, or (to allude to something more current) the television drama This Is Us. It’s about finding the good – the collateral beauty – when life hurls a few ugly curveballs.

Eye in the Sky

I’d have gone to see this flim if only to see Alan Rickman for one last time, but fortunately it is an incredibly well done political thriller that forces the audience to ask some very hard questions about modern warfare. Headlining the wonderful ensemble cast is Helen Mirren playing Colonel Katherine Powell, a British officer on the trail of some of the world’s leading terrorists. Having found three of them in Kenya, she is leading a team of remote surveillance operatives around the world to track and capture them. The film cuts between her team in England, an American drone team near Las Vegas, the group that has the final say at Whitehall in London, and the people on the ground in Nairobi whose lives are on the line, including a Kenyan operative (Barkhad Abdi of Captain Phillips) who goes undercover in a very dangerous neighborhood. But when the mission changes from capture to kill, and a sweet little girl we’ve met in the opening scene is about to become “collateral damage”, not everyone is on board with the military leaders.

Trumbo

Trumbo is set in Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s during the Red Scare, when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was convinced that there were Commie spies planting propaganda in movies, and a lot of once bright careers were destroyed as a blacklist kept them from getting any work. The film centers on Dalton Trumbo, one of the highest paid screenwriters in town who begins the film at the height of his career. But after refusing to testify in front of the HUAC, he’s sent to jail and once released has to find creative ways to continue his craft. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) plays Trumbo, and his Oscar-worthy performance elevates a less than exciting script.

Woman In Gold

As the year comes to a close, I’m catching up on some of the films that slipped through the cracks. Woman in Gold tells the true story of Maria Altmann who escaped the Nazis in Vienna and settled in California and her attempts many decades later to reclaim a painting that belonged to her family. It was not just any painting but the extremely famous Gustav Klimt portrait of her Aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, which the Austrian government claimed to have a legal claim to. Maria, played by the always watchable Helen Mirren, is aided in her quest by a friend’s lawyer son, Randol Schoenberg (grandson of the famous Austrian composer) played by Ryan Reynolds. The film is part legal drama and part lost family mémoire with a bit of odd couple road flick thrown in. Sadly, it is a fascinating story that doesn’t ever quite click.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey has all the ingredients for an arty-mainstream crossover dish, ala The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It doesn’t hurt that the film has the producer power of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey behind it, and the star power of Helen Mirren. But it’s also got a solid cast and a relatable story peppered with drama, comedy and romantic chemistry. It is, quite simply, a feel-good movie with intergenerational appeal.

Hitchcock

This time of year, there’s a lot of really good stuff out there (or on its way). So while Hitchcock is a perfectly okay film, it’s not good enough to cut through the clutter… even if it does showcase the making of one of the most iconic knife-wielding scenes in cinematic history. Shower, anyone? That said, if you’re a fan of Alfred Hitchcock in general and/or Psycho in particular, then you’ll probably get a kick out of Hitchcock. It stars a heavily-padded and prosthetic-ized Anthony Hopkins as the acclaimed director and Helen Mirren as Hitch’s wife and collaborator during the making of the 1960 horror movie Psycho. It’s part ‘inside Hollywood’, part love story, part biography, and (probably large) part dramatic license.

Arthur

Arthur, oh where to start? It’s a remake of the 1981 Academy Award winner. Yep, nominated for 4 and won 2. It starred Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and Sir John Gielgud. And it was a HUGE hit. 30 years later, we get Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and someone I never heard of named Greta Gerwig in the role made famous by Liza. Oh, and there is Jennifer Garner. The story is basically the same. Arthur is a lovable, hard-partying super wealthy Peter Pan who gets an ultimatum from Mom: marry Susan (Garner) who is a her hand-picked dream daughter-in-law or give up his fortune. Only Arthur doesn’t love Susan, and just when he has grudgingly accepted the inevitable proposition, he meets a poor girl who steals his heart.

2010 Fall Movies

We’re moving out of the summer blockbuster kids’ movies and into the fall when traditionally a more serious adult roster hits the screens. This year? Well, there are a few that seem Oscar worthy, several with our favorite men headlining, a couple that look like real chick flicks and what just might be some nice comedies. See for yourself.

The Last Station

This is a wonderful film! It should be on the expanded Academy Awards list for Best Picture, but sadly it isn’t. At least both Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as his wife Sofya are nominated in their respective acting categories. The Last Station is the story of the last years of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s life, his tempestuous relationship with this wife, his coterie of adoring sycophants who turned him into a cult figure, and a young man who became his personal secretary and family confidante.