Posts Tagged ‘Blue Valentine’

My Week With Marilyn

Posted 22 Apr 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

My Week with Marilyn, UK / USA, 2011

Directed by Simon Curtis

My Week with Marilyn is a solid biopic buoyed by an excellent performance from Michelle Williams. Marilyn Monroe was my first real crush, even before I really knew what a crush was. I grew up on old movies, which is probably the reason I still find the image of a woman smoking with a cocktail in the other hand extremely sexy, and no woman on the silver screen from that golden era long before I was born held the mysterious, seductive allure of Marilyn. Three of her films in particular were my childhood obsessions: Otto Preminger’s River of No Return (1954), Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) and John Huston’s The Misfits (1961), which turned out to be her final feature. Of course, there were other favorites, especially Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952) and Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955), but those three really captured her sweet vulnerability, her almost oblivious sensuality, and the soft sadness behind her alluring smile, an indication of the hard life she had lived and, as my young mind and these films dared to hope, had now left behind. In reality, of course, poor Marilyn’s life only got harder, until it was snuffed out all too soon. Read More

Drive – Full Of Adrenaline

Posted 02 Nov 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Drive, USA, 2011

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Drive is one of the biggest sleepers of the year. If you watch Drive on a superficial level, you get a bad-ass action film – a slow burning, tightly paced one, at that – but if you watch it from a critical standpoint, you’ll notice more than one polite tip of the hat to Taxi Driver (1976), slight turns from Martin Scorsese’s directorial play-book by director Nicolas Winding Refn. Really, Drive could be viewed as a pastiche of action movies and westerns from the glory days of Hollywood in the 70’s and 80’s era.

Ryan Gosling has a skill for determining the darker aspects of characters that appear to be a little blank on paper. In 2001, he played a self-hating neo-Nazi Jew in Henry Bean’s The Believer; in 2010, he was a failing husband in Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine (I really hope you all saw that); and here, he’s the wheel-man with no name. He goes by “the kid,” and that’s barely a term of endearment from the man who took him in. He has a hell of a job: he’s a stunt driver for the movies by day, and a getaway driver at night. Of course, he’s freelance all the way. When a producer needs a flawless car crash, he’s the guy, and when a mob king needs a flawless getaway, there’s nobody better. He works with a man named Shannon (Bryan Cranston) who gave him a job years before the movie (and the kid’s criminal activity) started. Read More

Blue Valentine – Is This You?

Posted 23 Jan 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Blue Valentine, USA, 2010

Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in Blue Valentine.2010 was an unusual year for me in that I saw only about a third (or less) of the number of new films I’ve seen in pretty much every year of the decade leading up to it. That said, of the few dozen I did manage to see (and we all know the film year isn’t over until around the time of the Academy Awards – the Super Bowl of movies – so there are more to be seen), Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is my favorite. I might even venture an objective opinion (is that an oxymoron?) and say that it is absolutely the best film of the year.

I have called this Derek Cianfrance’s film and, while it is true that its greatness is in large part due to his work as director and co-writer (along with Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis), Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams have created performances of such credibility and raw emotional intensity that it is easy to forget the director’s invisible hand. Gosling plays Dean, a high school dropout who now works as a house painter and drinks too much; Williams is Cindy, an on-call nurse who struggles to balance her heavy workload with time spent caring for their daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka). One weekend, they leave Frankie with Cindy’s dad and go to a “cheesy sex motel” to get drunk and try to forget the pressures of their lives for a while. What they find when they are alone together, though, is just how far they have gone from the happy, early days of their relationship. Read More