*** Quotable Quotes:
Su-Chin: I'm having a little trouble concentrating.
Juno: Oh well I could sell you some of my Adderall if you want.
Su-Chin: No thanks I'm off pills.
Juno: That's a wise choice because I knew this girl who like had this crazy freak out because she took too many behavioral meds at once and she like ripped off her clothes, and dove into the fountain at Ridgedale Mall and was like, "Blah I am a Kracken from the sea!"
Su-Chin: I heard that was you.
Juno: Yeah, I'm a legend. You know, they call me the cautionary whale.
Juno: You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.
Bren: When you move out I'm getting two Weimaraners!
Juno: Whoa, dream big!
***At a glance:
Diablo CodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s quirky Oscar-winning screenplay about teen pregnancy is skillfully brought to the screen by director Jason Reitman and a talented cast, headed by the unique Ellen Page.
Juno (Ellen Page) is sixteen and her moment of passion with Paul (Michael Cera), a boy she doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even know she is in love with, ends with a pregnancy. Unable to go through with her initial decision to have an abortion, she opts for pregnancy, finding a picture-perfect childless couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman). Director Jason Reitman, coming off the success of Thank You For Smoking, follows it up with his deft understated comedic touch. Page is a standout, showing real talent and a looseness in body and voice that shows sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be able to play a variety of roles. The script divides good lines among the cast, which is rounded out by Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons. Cera is my personal favorite, portraying the sensitive, intelligent, soft-spoken, unsure nerd character he brought to comic life in the Arrested Development series. Deservedly, Diablo Cody won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
***Other reviewers said:
"Juno...is smart, witty, and engaging -- three ingredients that, when applied to any film, comprise a recipe for success."
- James Berardinelli (ReelViews)
"That essence of pugnacious energy that is Ellen Page has just taken another solid step toward certain stardom."
- Jules Brenner (Cinema Signals)
*** Quotable Quotes:
Robert (Patrick Dempsey) [sarcastically] Welcome to New York.
Giselle (Amy Adams) [sincerely] Oh, thank you very much!
Giselle: I remember this one time, when the poor wolf was being chased around by Little Red Riding Hood around his grandmother's house, and she had an axe... oh, and if Pip hadn't been walking by to help I don't know what would've happened!
Morgan (Rachel Covey): I don't really remember that version.
Giselle: Well, that's because Red tells it a little differently.
Morgan: Remember not to put too much makeup or the boys may get the wrong idea. They are only after one thing.
Giselle: What's that?
Morgan: I don't know. They won't tell me.
***At a glance:
This Disney comedy of a fairytale princess who is banished to New York City manages to combine a hilarious parody of DisneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own animated fairytale films with a sincere love story and blend it into a movie that will appeal to young and old.
Giselle (Amy Adams) is a beautiful sweet young girl who lives in an animated, fairytale world. There, she falls in love with handsome Prince Edward (James Marsden). But her love can de-throne the princeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s evil mother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon). And so she is banished to a dark world of unhappiness and terror: live-action New York! Here, she is taken in by Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a good-hearted but melancholy lawyer, and Morgan (Rachel Covey), his six year old daughter. Initially, Robert thinks Giselle is either mad or from out of town, but slowly, he is taken in by her sincerity and beauty. Likewise, Giselle, in her first real friendship/relationship, falls for him too. In the meantime, their Ã¢â‚¬ËœrealÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ world is invaded first by Prince Edward, then by the QueenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s evil sidekick, Nathaniel (Timothy Spall), whose mission is to stop Giselle and the Prince from finding each other and getting married. When Nathaniel fails, the Queen herself gets involved.
The combination of Dempsey, who plays it absolutely straight, contrasted against Adams, who should win some sort of special Oscar for how she makes the naivete of Giselle absolutely believable, is a wonderful thing to watch. Sharing some of its core values with movies like Miracle on 34th Street, it is a story about loss of innocence and the death of romance - how empty peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives are when the belief in romance and Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtrue loveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ dies, and how more fulfilling it is to maintain that belief (even if it truly is a leap of faith to do so). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rare when a film can combine a completely imaginary and humorous fantasy storyline with one that addresses human emotions with such sincerity.
But donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get the wrong idea Ã¢â‚¬â€œ this is not a Swedish melodrama. Along the way while telling its tale of redemption, there are plenty of hilarious lines and scenes. Perhaps my favorite was a elaborate, live-action Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcleaning upÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ scene, complete with scrubbing bubble cockroaches (one of which is unceremoniously eaten by a pigeon, and all in time to typically jaunty whistle-while-you-work music). The songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz also deserve a special mention for helping to set the mood.
***Other critics said:
"One of those rare pieces of 'all ages entertainment' that will actually work for all ages, Enchanted succeeds most of all as a showcase for its superb leading lady."
- Geoff Berkshire (Metromix.com)
"Disney's Enchanted is the sweet, lighthearted antithesis to the more serious fare this holiday season, fueled by a thoroughly captivating performance from Amy Adams."
- Kit Bowen (Hollywood.com)
"What pushes the film over the top is the terrific turn by Adams, who really seems like a Disney heroine come to life."
- Matt Brunson (Creative Loafing)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“How do I talk to you, Arthur Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so you hear me? Like a child? Like a nut? Like everythingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine? WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the secret? Because I need you to hear me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
- Michael Clayton (George Clooney)
Michael Clayton: I am not the enemy.
Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson): Then who are you?
***At a glance:
Part corporate thriller, part character study, Michael Clayton excels on the strength of George ClooneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s powerful performance, combined with the no-nonsense dialogue by writer/director Tony Gilroy.
Michael Clayton is a man whose life is spiraling down. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more than just his financial woes, caused by a brother who went into partnership with him and then succumbed to alcoholism. It has infected every cranny of his life, from his job to his relationships. Sadness and hollowness is etched on MichaelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face, even as he still goes about business as usual as a Ã¢â‚¬ËœjanitorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ for a major law firm.
As his financial difficulties reach a head, the loan that he requires from the firm hinges on whether he can find and control Arthur (Tom Wilkinson), an independent lawyer and long-time friend, who, after six years of defending corporate poison manufacturer uNorth, has suddenly seen the light and has been amassing evidence against them. Just how far will uNorth go to protect themselves?
Like the fantasy novel being read by Michael's son, this is a story of a coming together of people who share the same dream. MichaelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soul-less existence as a uber-efficient corporate lackey is about to end, replaced by a much more dangerous path, where he must travel according to his moral compass and use his skills for good instead of evil.
ClooneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face tells the story of his character Ã¢â‚¬â€œ when Arthur dies, it is as if a mask has been removed, and he suddenly seems lighter, resolved, with purpose. ClooneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face and acting carry the story, helped by great, no-nonsense dialogue written by talented screenwriter Tony Gilroy. Tilda Swinton is excellent as a corporation representative that goes over the line Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the scenes where she prepares for work are simple and fascinating, revealing an insight into her soul, often without her saying a word. The movie feels like a Ã¢â‚¬ËœmovieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢: coherent, focused, intimate. It lacks the flash and explosions and tricks inherent in most thrillers, opting instead for strong writing and believable characters. It is not surprising that is has garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay (written directly for the screen).
Tony Gilroy has been around for awhile, with credited screenplays for The DevilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Advocate, Armageddon, Proof of Life, and the Bourne trilogy. This is his first directorial role, with more to come: Keep an eye out for Duplicity (starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Billy Bob Thornton, and Tom Wilkinson), due out in 2009. Rating: 3.5 of 4
***Other reviewers said:
"With his focused, charismatic manner and a character whose control is challenged by a colleague's principles, Clooney sustains the tension in a case of corporate corruption."
- Jules Brenner (Cinema Signals)
"A poignant and powerful thriller about corporate malfeasance that reveals what it is like to face life-shattering moments.
- Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat (Spirituality and Practice)
"A dark, engaging drama that asks some difficult moral questions, Michael Clayton is a classy piece of filmmaking with yet another in a long line of fine performances from George Clooney."
- Saxon Bullock (Channel 4 Film)
"This, ladies and gentlemen, is a Movie Star."
- Sean Burns (Philadelphia Weekly)
* Quotable quotes: *
Robbie (James McAvoy): I'm sorry, you weren't meant to see that. It was the wrong version.
Cecilia (Keira Knightley: What was in the right one?
Robbie: It was more formal, less...
Briony (Saoirse Ronan): Lola, can I tell you something? Something really terrible?
Lola (Juno Temple): Yes please.
Robbie: [voiceover] Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.
* At a glance: *
This unique, ambitious, and deeply tragic love story has moments of beauty and passion, but the screenplay makes a misguided attempt to invoke sympathy where none is warranted, which may leave some viewers dissatisfied and uninvolved.
*Full review: *
In 1930s England, Cecilia (Keira Knightley) has spent plenty of time around the family gardener and handyman servant, Robby (James McAvoy). Although she has tried to stay aloof, she is in fact in love with him. When he sends her the wrong version of an apology letter Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a version that is quite sexually explicit, her denial of that love is broken, and they make love and pledge their hearts to each other. The only problem is that her little sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan) has also read the letter, and it only confuses her fanciful mind and fuels a jealousy brought on by her ongoing fantasy crush on Robby. When BrionyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s young visiting cousin Lola is attacked by a man that evening, Briony knows and sees it is someone else, but her mind convinces itself that it was Robby. With the weight and wealth of her family behind her, her testimony is enough to send Robby to prison. Three years later, Robby opts out of prison by taking an offer to fight the Germans in the French countryside of World War Two. Will Briony atone for her sins? Will Cecilia and Robby ever be together?
Atonement is a story of mistakes, lost chances, and tragedy, and it has the type of script that is geared toward Academy Awards, and has indeed been nominated for a slew of them, including Art Direction, Cinematography (it should win this one), Costume Design, Supporting Actress (Saoirse Ronan), and Picture. And there is much to make Atonement a movie worth watching. There are moments of cinematic triumph, like a long nightmarish tracking shot through a war-ravaged beach in France where waiting soldiers sing, vomit, shoot horses, and ride on the remains of seaside carousels. There is the exquisitely lit interiors of the mansion, shot in cathedral style by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. There is the clever use of an antique typewriter as soundtrack percussion. But on the flip side, sometimes the soundtrack is overbearingly morose where the script and acting should have been enough to deliver sorrow. And there is a misguided attempt to evoke pity for a woman who, as a 13 year old girl, knowingly accused a man of a crime she knew he didn't commit, just because of a crush and misguided jealousy. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a totally unnecessary twist designed solely to tug the heartstrings Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a twist so ridiculous it required a closing soliloquy by Vanessa Redgrave in a failed attempt to explain it. All in all, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a mixed bag: thought-provoking but (because of its misplaced morals) uninvolving for some viewers.
* Other reviewers said:*
Ã¢â‚¬Å“[Director Joe] Wright brings off enough scenes to leave us with moderately good feelings about the time spent, but he lacks the David Lean-like vision and flair that might have turned this 75-year epic of love, war and family betrayal into an unforgettable movie.Ã¢â‚¬Â
- William Arnold (Seattle Post-Intelligence)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cleansing by self atonement doesn't hack it, and the resolution provided is superficial at best.Ã¢â‚¬Â
- Jules Brenner (Cinema Signals)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My problem is that it's 2 A.M. My problem is I'm asleep. I'm on a tour bus with eight stinkin' men. Rule number one: Don't propose to a girl on a bus, you got that? Rule number two: Don't tell her it's because you had a bad dream.Ã¢â‚¬Â
- June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) to Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix)
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not a fan of fictionalized film biographies. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m of the belief that a biography is better served by a well-crafted documentary. But Walk the Line is no ordinary biography. Country singer Johnny Cash chose Joaquin Phoenix for this role, and Cash was right: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficult to imagine anyone doing a better job at portraying him. Phoenix is excellent, easily handling CashÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s quiet turmoil and confusion, but also able to notch it up into pill-popping angry star mode where required. He even pulls a sink out of the wall in one scene, adding his own unscripted touch. As good as Phoenix is, Reese Witherspoon (as June Carter) is even better. Witherspoon plays an extremely complex character and brings every bit of the emotion to the role (deservedly, she won the 2006 Oscar for Best Actress). And of course they both do their own amazing singing (after six months of vocal lessons). The supporting cast is also good, with a special mention to Robert Patrick as CashÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cold father. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be hard-pressed to find a better example of a biographical film.
*Other reviewers said:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Johnny Cash sang like he meant business...Walk the Line, with its dead-on performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, helps you understand that quality.Ã¢â‚¬Â
- Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Although the straightforward story feels virtually the same as every other musician of the period, it comes to life in two awards-worthy performances.Ã¢â‚¬Â
- Rich Cline (Shadows on the Wall)