[caption id="attachment_141803" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 'Ant-Man' stars ants, and Paul Rudd.[/caption]
I saw “Ant-Man” over the weekend, and given the fact that advance buzz (so to speak) was iffy, I was pleasantly surprised: It was the funniest Marvel movie yet, and it fully embraces its ludicrous premise
There’s much to like about Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest from Joel and Ethan Coen. As usual, the production is extraordinarily good–the evocation of a wintry Greenwich Village, circa 1961, is the uncanny work of the filmmakers, cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, production designer Jess Gonchor, a team of artisans, and New York itself. As usual, T-Bone Burnett has overseen a terrific score, one that, like his Grammy-winning soundtrack for the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) should enjoy a healthy life beyond the movie. As usual, a game cast, of newcomers, Coen regulars, and the most gargoylean supporting actors that could be herded, leap into the deep end of their conception. I love this poster.
Lots of musicians decide they are famous and attractive enough to act, but it takes a special kind of hubris to take a break from making music to direct a movie. Sometimes it works out, as with the fruitful horror filmmaking career of Rob Zombie,
Mad Men and Modern Family may have received the most attention at this year’s Emmy Awards, but HBO once again dominated the fields of Made for Television movies with two excellent films, the triumphant Temple Grandin and the provocative You Don’t Know Jack. The inspiring Temple Grandin was nominated for fifteen Emmys and came away with seven, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Best Director, Outstanding Lead Actress, Outstanding Supporting Actress and Outstanding Supporting Actor (all in the category of Miniseries or Movie). You Don’t Know Jack won the Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Writing for a Movie or Mini-series
Temple Grandin is the remarkable story of the title character, an autistic woman whose insight into the behavior of cattle revolutionized the way the animals are treated on ranches and slaughterhouses. This inspiring biopic stars Claire Danes as Temple, giving one of the best performances of her career. Danes captures the way Temple speaks and carries herself in the same broad manner that the real life Grandin does, bounding into scenes and commanding each room she’s in. Additionally, Danes gives the character emotional depth, making it a well-rounded performance and not just an impersonation. It is a brave performance and Danes deservedly won the Emmy. Complimenting Danes throughout the film are three veteran character actors who enlighten the film.
As the film follows Temple’s pursuit of a higher education, we witness the leers and prejudices she suffers in college, and later in grad school, when she’s the only woman in the all male world of cattle farming. Luckily she has a strong support group to keep her going. First and foremost, there is her diligent mother, Eustacia Grandin, played with strength and grace by Julia Ormond. Eustacia refused to give up on Temple when doctors told her the girl should be institutionalized. She also refused to coddle her daughter, despite her autism. Then there is her Aunt Anne, who is patient and understanding with her niece. It is at her aunt’s ranch that Temple first begins understanding and relating to cows. Catherine O’Hara, the great actress from all of Christopher Guest’s ensemble films, gives a restrained and nuanced performance. Finally, as Temple’s mentor, Professor Carlock, the first teacher to take the time and try and understand her, David Straithern gives another heartfelt performance. Whether it’s a John Sayles indie or a big budget Bourne style action film, Strathairn always delivers.
Matt Aselton’s film Gigantic is a quirky little movie with a great deal of charm and plenty of heart. Eccentric would be a good adjective to describe this film co-written by Aselton and Adam Nagata. There are plenty of reasons to check out this independent film, in particular the splendid cast and the entrancing cinematography by Peter Donahue, who shot on film instead of the indie trend of HD, adding to the movie’s appeal.
Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will be Blood) stars as Brian, a mattress salesman from a large family who is in the process of adopting a child from China. Quiet, reserved, and intellectual, Brian also has a demon pursuing him around the streets of New York in the form of Zach Galifianakis, who appears randomly throughout the film in different guises, trying to beat up or even kill Brian. One afternoon, Al Lolly, a boisterous, rich man (John Goodman) comes to purchase a mattress. After some great back and forth between Brian and Al, a mattress is chosen and Al tells Brian he will send his daughter down to pay for it. Enter Zooey Deschanel, the reigning queen of indie pics, as Happy. She’s a bit misguided and off course in life. When she arrives to make the payment, she promptly falls asleep on the mattress for several hours. Brian is immediately smitten. Slowly, a relationship builds and the two characters begin to fall in love.