And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Rooney Mara" tag.

Review: Nightmare Alley

I’ve been a big fan of Oscar winner Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water) since he first made his mark with Pan’s Labyrinth back in 2006. He’s a master at creating fantasy-filled narratives in visually striking settings. Nightmare Alley is lacking the fantasy that propelled his previous work. It tries to make up for that with one of the most gorgeous production designs in ages. And Bradley Cooper turns in an awards worth performance as conman Stanton Carlisle who rises from carnival side show mindreader to high society psychic, alongside an all-star cast that also includes Cate Blanchett, Toni Colette, Rooney Mara, and Willem Dafoe. But for all that, it ends up being a whole lot of flash that never pays off.

Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Director Gus Van Sant has brought us some very powerful films in the past — Milk, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, to name just a few — and he frequently pushed the envelope in the way he tells a tale — To Die For, My Own Private Idaho — but his latest is a pretty straight forward bio of alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan. Played by chameleon Joaquin Phoenix, the arc of the tale is Callahan’s coming to terms with himself after a life-changing accident while getting sober at the same time. There are some funny moments for sure, and an odd romance, and also some insightful AA bits. And it is a pleasant entertainment, though not terribly memorable.

Quickie Reviews: Wish Upon; A Ghost Story; City of Ghosts; The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography

For those who don’t go bananas over blockbusters like War for the Planet of the Apes, there are some alternatives out there. But, be careful what you wish for.

Wish Upon This creepy horror movie from the director of Annabelle starts out with a fair amount of promise, but quickly deteriorates into a dud. It stars Joey King (White House Down) as Clare Shannon, a High School teen whose widower dad (Ryan Phillippe) gives her an old Chinese music box that he found while dumpster diving. She’s able to decipher enough of the Chinese lettering on the box to know that it will grant her seven wishes. But for some reason, she doesn’t clue into the second part of the message, which basically warns that for every wish, there’s a blood price to be paid. So she starts making the typical teen wishes (to get the shallow stud muffin to fall in love with her, to be rich, to be popular, etc.) and people die. Gruesome, twisted deaths. Oops.

Carol

The film Carol is gorgeous.The clothes, the sets, the cinematography. And the actresses – Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara – are both fabulous in this 1950s era forbidden love drama directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) and adapted from a Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) novel. It is a lesbian love story told more through furtive, adoring glances and unspoken understandings than big dramatic moments. It is languid storytelling, but somehow it is effective.

Pan

I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to see this type of fantasy-adventure, “fun for the whole family” movie, but I was sort of roped into it, so here goes:

It’s a perfectly okay fantasy-adventure movie that is fine for the whole family and probably better than fine for kids aged 8-12. Any younger, and it’s rather dark, especially at the start. Any older, and it can’t compete with the likes of The Hunger Games.

For the adult tag-alongs, the real question is: Do we really need a prequel to Peter Pan??? Must we really know how an orphan named Peter came to be Peter Pan, or who exactly Hook was before he was ‘Captain’ Hook? No, we don’t. In fact, it all kind of muddles the classic nature of writer J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan mythology – a story that has stood the test of time and countless remakes on stage and screen.

For the kids, the questions raised above are probably moot. The movie has a flying pirate ship! It’s fantastical! It has kids running amuck! Evil nuns! Swordfights! Fairies! Hugh Jackman!! (okay, that last one was for me).

Her

Her is really all about him, him being Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his personalized operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). If this sounds a bit weird, it is, but only for a bit. In this film set in the very near future, true love is as elusive as ever, and a new technology allows people to become intimately entwined with their computers’ operating systems. Lonely Theodore is still recovering from breaking up with his wife (Rooney Mara) and isn’t having a lot of success in the dating world, so when Samantha enters his life through an earpiece and a mic, her ability to see and appreciate him is incredibly attractive.

Side Effects

Here’s how the studio pitches it: “SIDE EFFECTS is a provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law) – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.” On the surface, that description seemed like a prescription for box office boredom (to me). But now, having seen the movie, I understand the struggle to come up with a better way to spin this movie without giving too much away. The less you know, the better. But know this: Side Effects is an absorbing, thought-provoking, and unpredictable drama. In other words, it’s quite good.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Three of the most popular books of 2008-2010 were Stieg Larssen’s Millennium Trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book and there is already one great movie of it in the original Swedish. (Here is my review of that one.) But now we have the David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) prettied-up American version. I could just about recycle my first review for the new one, but there are a few differences. It is in English. Daniel Craig is hotter than Michael Nyqvist. And Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth is a great deal less insular and a lot more one-dimensional than Noomi Rapace’s.