Archive for August, 2012

24
Aug
12

The Sessions (dir. Ben Lewin)

Synopsis:  A 38 year old paralyzed man who wishes to lose his virginity contacts his therapist and priest in order to help him find a sex surrogate.

Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H Macy

Release: October 26th

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, The Sessions was one of Sundance’s biggest hits (along with Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was talked about in one of my previous posts).  In particular, the film has been praised for its acting performances and emotional grip that it maintains with the audience throughout the film. I’ll keep this post short, since I don’t know much about this film myself . Regardless, heres what i think.

Based on a true story, Mark O’Brien was a poet and paralyzed polio survivor who had been confined to his iron lung for twenty years. At the age of 38, he finally confronted his priet and therapist, in order to hire a sex surrogate for himself (..as he is  still a virgin due to his physical limitations). During O’Brien’s sessions, he wrote about his experiences in an article and he eventually wrote a book titled How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence.

In the film adaptation of O’Brien’s journey to lose his virginity, Ben Lewin serves as the director in this light-hearted comedy.  John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien,  William H. Macy plays his priest/therapist  and Helen Hunt plays the sex surrogate.

Now, some people might be wondering, who the hell is John Hawkes? Some may know of him but for then most part, he’s gone unnoticed for many viewers and critics- Until the past two years. In 2010, he played a meth addict in Winter’s Bone and in 2011, he played an antagonizing cult leader in Martha Mary May Marlene. Both performances were regarded as pyschologically dark and gritty, resulting in an Oscar nomination for his work in Winter’s Bone.

This is one of these films where you really have to appreciate the actor’s performance. I’ve always given a higher level of respect for actors who play mentally or physically impaired characters. Hawkes plays someone who is paralyzed from the neck down, which means he is physically limited when it comes to conveying actions and emotions. 

That being said, from an emotional perspective,  Hawke’s portrayal will  draw the audience in, as we catch an inside glimpse of what it is like to be a man who is able to shine through life, despite his limitations.  The only missing link is his ultimate desire to know what it is like to be with a woman. On that note, It’ll explore the way in which sex is with a doubt, part of humanity and can ultimately help us explore who we are. That doesn’t mean it’ll just be about having sex- It’ll also explore the intimate connection that can occur between human beings, no matter how different they are.

Concluding thought– Just because I mentioned Hawke’s peformance doesn’t mean I won’t be considering Helen Hunt and William H. Macy’s performances. Both are fine actors and I’m hoping to see some great chemistry between all of them in this film.

If your interested, here’s a link to John Hawke’s IMDB page.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0370035/

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14
Aug
12

Lawless (dir. John Hillcoat)

Synopsis: Set during the Prohibition-era, three brothers who run a bootlegging business are threatened by authorities, who want in on their profits.

Starring: Tom Hardy,
 Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska

Release Date: August 31st

Set during the backdrop of America’s most notorious crime wave, Lawless is a Gangster/Western blend that is based on a true story. Combined with an array of acting talent (..ranging from new generation actors, to veteran actors), it seems like this could be one of the more interesting gangster films to look out for this year.

One of the many reasons why I like these type of films is because as a period drama,  they serve the duel purpose of being entertaining and historically educating. In this case, we’re looking at the Prohibition era- A time in American history that dealt with economic issues (the great depression) environmental problems (constant dust storms),  and a growing imbalance between the rich and the poor. Within the mix of these problems comes the Bonudrant Brothers – Bootlegging siblings who redefined the American dream by selling unlicensed alcohol.  What’s interesting about the Bonudrant Brothers is that they aren’t the higher class, Al Capone, Jon Dillinger type gangsters who were living wealthy lives. They’re lower-end gangsters, who remain in the backwoods, away from society. Falling into the poorer category of society, these are the type of men who are ultimately willing to suffer the consequences of violence in order to become successful.

What makes this stand out to me is that most gangster films these days tend to be action-driven. Lawless will place a stronger focus on the characters, who have been described as being richly defined and therefore, more  engaging with the audience. To break it down briefly, Tom Hardy is playing Forrest Bondurant, the quintessential “quiet leader” who has taken on the patriarchal responsibilities of the family. Hardy is definitely a good choice, as he shows a lot of range as an actor. According to the director, John Hillcoat, Hardy wanted to explore the softer side of Forrest’s character, allowing for more emotional depth. Shia LaBeouf plays Jack Bondurant, the youngest of the brother and also the more wilder one of the three. As stated by Hillcoat, Jack is described as someone “who experiences every single emotion, from rage and despair to total joy and happiness”. Although I find Shia annoying at times, he shows a lot of energy as an actor and thats the type of presence  needed for the younger and more naive of the siblings. (Below, I’ll provide an info chart that I found, which describes the character’s more in detail).

I think the film’s title goes beyond the Bonudrant Brothers being lawless criminals. We’ll also see how the authority figures during that time period were also corrupt and willing to bend the rules in order to find the American dream (…err, their own version of it).

Sidenote:

If your interested, check out the director of the film, John Hillcoat. His last two films (The Proposition and The Road) are awesome and I would highly suggest them! If you want to find out more about him here’s his IMDB link.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0384825/

…Here’s some information regarding the characters.

01
Aug
12

the bourne legacy (dir. tony gilroy)

Synopsis: A new super-spy agent named Aaron Cross  gets caught up in a deadly situation that has been triggered by the events of the first three  Bourne films.

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Albert Finney

Release Date: August 10th

Background Info: The Story

In this next edition to the Bourne series, the story will be  loosely based on Eric Van Lustbader’s novel titled The Bourne Legacy, which appears much later in the Bourne series. The events that occur will run parallel to the events that take place in The Bourne Ultimatum. Instead of having Jason Bourne as our super-spy protagonist, we are introduced to a  new agent who goes by the name of Aaron Cross.   Whereas Bourne was part of the CIA’s Treadstone project, Cross is one of the six agents who is involved with another project codenamed Outcome. Within this program,  the Department of Defence has trained agents to be suitable for high-risk  assignments. As a result of Jason Bourne’s identity being revealed to the public (..the link to Ultimatum)  the DOD and Col. Eric Byers (..played by Edward Norton) take  preliminary action by destroying the Outcome program and anyone involved in it. Cross and a medical researcher (..played by Rachel Weisz) abandon the program, leaving  Byers to go on a global manhunt for the rogue agent.

What Makes This Film Intriguing

The overarching theme behind the film will explore the idea of government conspiracies and not being fully informed of what is going on around us.  This would  ultimately lead to characters like Cross being pawns who are controlled by the government. At first, many might think this is repetitive material (…in terms of the previous Bourne entries). However, what I think will make this intriguing and worth seeing is the idea that there is an expansion to the Bourne universe outside of Jason Bourne’s story. Theres also the consequences that occur from Bourne’s actions and that’s what we’ll be seeing in this film. As the story unravels, it’ll expand on the Bourne series and the audience will be able to connect the events that have occured in The Bourne Ultimatum. Maybe it’ll even provide the oppurtunity for  Jason Bourne to reappear somewhere down the road.. (Not in this film, but in future entries…)

New Characters in the Bourne Series

With a new expansion comes a new set of characters.  The actor’s they’ve rounded up seem like they’ll be enjoyable to watch in their respected roles. In recent years, Jeremy Renner has held down his own as an amazing actor who shows  great screen presence in terms of being a dramatic actor and an action-star.  People shouldn’t see him as a “Matt Damon replacement” but as more of a new edition to the series. His performances in The Hurt Locker and The Town were nothing short of spectacular so I’m almost certain he’ll be as enjoyable to watch as a super-spy. A plus factor is that Renner’s physically fit for the role, performing his own stunt work and going through extensive training in order to get into character.  The primary antagonist in the film is a characater named Eric Byer (..played by Edward Norton). He has been described as a CIA architect who’s plans  go beyond the usual intentions of an antagonist. As I stated in my blog for Moonrise Kingdom, Norton hasn’t been in too many films recently. He’s always showed a lot of versatility as an actor so molding him as the antagonist should be no problem. Not only that, but I’m looking forward to seeing Norton and Renner go toe-to-toe. Lastly, Rachel Weisz plays Stephanie Snyder, a doctor who helped create the Outcome agents. Like Cross, she is also wanted by the government. She’ll also serve as Cross’  love interest.

Overall, I think die-hard Bourne fans will like this a lot. I’m hoping this is the start of a semi-continuation of the Bourne series (…whatever you want to call it). I must say, it would be awesome to see Damon and Renner together in a Bourne film. Maybe there will be an open-ended ending which suggests so…