It may seem like I get to see all movies before their actual release dates, but that isn't always the case. I spent the last couple of weeks catching up on a few movies I missed -- and now I'm finally getting to the reviews here. And it's a good time to catch up because each of these movies play a part in the competition known as the Golden Globe Awards this coming Sunday night!
Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) returns with an all-star musical to re-tell the story played out before on stage, in book and even on screen (all incarnations were based on Federico Fellini's semi-autobiographical film 8½). And wow -- what a cast -- including Academy Award winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Academy award nominee and Golden Globe winner Kate Hudson, and Grammy Award winner Fergie.
Day-Lewis plays Guido, a famed Italian film director who is facing a mid-life crisis that is stifling his creativity and leading him into a variety of complicated romantic involvements. As he struggles to even start his latest film, he's forced to balance the numerous formative women in his life, including his wife (Cotillard), his mistress (Cruz), his film star muse (Kidman), his confidante and costume designer (Dench), an American fashion journalist (Hudson), a prostitute from his youth (Fergie), and his mother (Loren).
Nine has received five Golden Globe nominations -- including Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and nods for Day-Lewis, Cotillard and Cruz. But is it a great movie? No. For me, the music wasn't that interesting. And shouldn't that make or break a musical? Other than the memorable "Be Italian" (Fergie), the other songs seemed repetitive. I got tired of hearing 'Guido this' and 'Guido that.' Luckily the story kept my interest, the cast was impressive and the setting of mid-1960s Italy was breathtaking. So overall, it's not a great musical, but still a mildly entertaining film. [Rated PG-13; in theaters now]
Directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father), Brothers is a remake of the 2004 Danish film, Brødre. Tobey Maguire (Spiderman) plays Sam, a devoted family man and U.S. Marine who leaves his wife (Natalie Portman) and two young daughters behind for yet another tour of duty. Before he leaves for Afghanistan, his troubled brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is released from jail after serving time for an armed robbery.
In combat, Sam's helicopter crashes and he is presumed dead. Back home, Tommy finally grows up and helps his sister-in-law Grace cope with their loss. Months pass and they grow closer -- but unbeknownst to them, Sam is still alive -- captured along with a fellow member of his unit, Joe (Patrick Flueger). Sam and Joe endure unspeakable torture -- and yes, some of the scenes are horrific and quite difficult to watch. But Sam survives the ordeal -- and returns home to the shock of his family. But he's a changed man -- deeply traumatized and consumed by paranoid thoughts that Tommy and Grace have slept together. And you guessed it -- Sam finally snaps and all hell breaks loose.
All three leads are excellent -- with Maguire truly deserving of his Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Rounding out the cast is Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Clifton Collins, Jr. (Sunshine Cleaning, Extract) -- and two wonderful young actresses who play the daughters --
Bailee Madison and Taylor Grace Geare. [Rated R; in theaters now]
A Single Man
Set in 1962 Los Angeles, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a closeted middle-aged British college professor who has struggled to find meaning in life since the sudden death eight months earlier of his longtime younger partner (Matthew Goode of Leap Year). Over the course of one (at times, slow-moving) day -- he reminisces with his fellow Brit friend (Julianne Moore) and has encounters with two young men that awaken his spirit. But is it enough to keep him going?
In his directorial debut, fashion designer Tom Ford has shot a beautiful film -- with a deeply elegant style. Based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, Ford also co-wrote the script with David Scearce. Firth (Bridget Jones's Diary) is brilliant in a quiet, but moving Golden Globe nominated performance (Best Actor). And although Moore's role is much smaller, she is riveting as always -- earning yet another nomination of her own (Best Supporting Actress). [Rated R; in theaters now]
- A full list of nominations for Sunday's 67th Golden Globe Awards can be found here.
- An alphabetical archive of other film reviews can be found by clicking on the icon in the left menu.
- Reviews of The Lovely Bones, Crazy Heart and Extraordinary Measures are coming soon.