Last week another great actor left, rather suddenly I would say, as most of us were not aware that he was ill. Alan Rickman was one of my favorite actors. His roles have marked my childhood, not only because he was in the majority of the films that I used to watch as a child and teenager, but also because my best friend was an uber fan - utterly in love with him. And how can one not fall in love with Alan Rickman? His amazing voice and acting skills, have mesmerized us in more than 60 roles, from the second best villain ever (after Darth Vader) Hans Gruber in Die Hard, to legendary Club owner Hilly Krystal in CBGB, up to our beloved Professor Snape… With his amazing performances, Rickman was a constant inspiration to young actors.
If I had to somehow narrow down my favorite performances, it would have to be:
He will be missed...
This year's Golden Globes, had the usual surprises and certain wins, the awkward jokes and the touching speeches, the laughs and the crying.
Overall, here are a few things I learned and wondered this year while watching the Golden Globes:
- No one can stop Jennifer Lawrence: Seriously, what will it take for people to stop handing her awards??? Unless her company keeps paying the Foreign Press Association (According to Ricky Gervais)
- Adam Samberg needs to present next year! He was so funny!
- Apparently we have no idea what the difference between comedy and drama is, if The Martian won nominated and won best comedy (!)
- Taraji P. Henson aka Cookie is the absolute queen
- Why is everyone upset that Lady Gaga won? Have you people actually seen her in AHS? She's awesome and it's her debut role. Excuse me, remember past year's winners ? (hello? Remember Gina Rodriguez?)
- How few good songs were out there this year that "Love me like you do" was nominated and "Writing's on the wall" won?
- Mat Damon is generally a funny guy, but come on FPA! Comedy??
- Why was Sylvester Stallone nominated? Why did he win? Am I seriously missing something for not having seen "Creed"? Is the world upside down?
- When did Amy Schumer became such a hot thing in Hollywood? I get it, she's funny, but seriously, why do people get so ecstatic with her? You know, cases like this, make me seriously consider all kinds of conspiracy theories about how Hollywood is structured
- TV shows on my list after watching the show: Mozart in the Jungle, Show me a hero, Outlander - Films to watch: Room
- Finally, how funny was Leonardo Di Caprio's reaction when Lady Gaga passed behind him, when going to get her And? Priceless
Colorful commentary aside, these is the full winners list. The Revenant dominated the awards, leaving us no questions as to what will the Academy awards nominations be this Thursday; let's hope they don't forget Leo this year...
Best picture, drama: “The Revenant”
Best picture, comedy or musical: “The Martian”
Actress, drama: Brie Larson, “Room”
Actor, drama: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Actress, musical or comedy: Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Actor, musical or comedy: Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Supporting actress: Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”
Supporting actor: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “Steve Jobs”
Animated film: “Inside Out”
Foreign language film: “Son of Saul,” Hungary
Original score: Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”
Original song: “Writing’s on the Wall,” “Spectre”
Best series, drama: “Mr. Robot” (USA)
Best series, comedy or musical: “Mozart in the Jungle” (Amazon)
Best television movie or mini-series: “Wolf Hall” (PBS)
Actress, mini-series or television movie: Lady Gaga, “American Horror Story: Hotel”
Actor, mini-series or television movie: Oscar Isaac, “Show Me a Hero”
Actress, drama: Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
Actor, drama: Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Actress, comedy or musical: Rachel Bloom, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Actor, comedy or musical: Gael García Bernal, “Mozart in the Jungle”
Supporting actress, mini-series or television movie: Maura Tierney, “The Affair”
Supporting actor, mini-series or television movie: Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”
Yes. The time has come. Today is the day that (finally) Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, is released in cinemas in Greece! And today is the day that I can finally write/talk about it!! You know how hard was not being able discuss the movie of the year?? To say how awesome it was? How I felt watching it? Well, now I can speak. And say just about that; as I have to avoid giving out spoilers….
Ok. Let’s try and do that. I will warn you though, if you do not wish to know ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING about the new Star Wars film then for God’s sake, look away!! It’s a trap!
So, now that you’ve been warned, let’s get to it by first saying that the film totally matched my expectations! And more than that, as ever since I heard about the new episode, I have to admit, I was quite skeptical…. How would the old cast be like? What would the plot be like? How would the new characters fit in the well established Star Wars universe? And most important: would we manage to avoid a Jar Jar catastrophe?
Well, catastrophe, avoided! The new episode is fun, witty, spectacular and back to the basics! In addition it featured great performances from the entire cast (protagonists & secondary). Following Lucas’ “recipe” in 1977, J.J. Abrams used fresh faces along with well establish actors, accomplishing amazing performances!
The new cast features brand new faces, but also some familiar ones: Oscar Isaac, the critically acclaimed actor, who along with Lupita Nyong’o bring a whole different vibe to the franchise, Andy Serkis in another SGI role, once again astonishing everyone but those who blew my mind were Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, who is now my favorite Star Wars villain. Daisy Ridley, brings back the feminist vibe to the saga, becoming even more groundbreaking (and kickass) than Carrie Fisher and John Boyega takes Harrison Ford’s humor and witty lines to a whole other level, becoming by far the funniest character! And Adam Driver: well, he completely made me forget about Girls and delivered more than I think everyone expected his part, which I will just say was… complicated.
I need to say though that I was expecting to see more of Captain Phasma/Gwendoline Christie… Let’s hope that she will have more screen time in the next episode…
And what can I say about the old cast! They gave me goose bumps, made me laugh, made me emotional and made me realize how much I had missed them!! Needless to say that when Han Solo said “Chewie, we’re home” the whole theatre cheered!
J.J. Abrams’ direction was very good and lens flare-less (phew) and overall the film was delivered in a way that made you nostalgic, had secret treats for the fans, left questions, answer questions and had some very jaw dropping scenes. Without wanting to reveal too much about the plot, I need to say that it was a full movie, that set up the plot for the next films and had plenty of action; honestly I could not tell how two hours passed and when I realized it I wanted more!! In fact I have already booked tickets to go and see it today for the second time! Until then, May the Force be with you!
Last Sunday, the 21st Athens International Film Festival (aka Nyxtes Premieras) came to an end, after 2 weeks full of a great selection of films.
The winners of this year's festival Awards were:
Golden Athena of the International Competition Section: Degrade by Arab & Tarzan Nasser
The film narrates the story 13 women who are trapped in a beauty salon of a hot summer’s day in the Gaza Strip, while gunfire takes place in the outside
Prize of the city of Athens - Best Direction: Alante Kavaite for The Summer of Sangaile
The director won the same prize at the Sundance festival. The film tells the story of 17 year old Sangaile, who loves stunt planes, but her fear of heights forces her to stay in the ground. At a aeronautical show, she meets a girl at her age, who leads to her sexual awakening
Script Prize: Mark Noonan for “You’re Ugly Too”
The film balances between comedy and drama, through the well written dialogues that showcase the depth of human relationships. The story is about a convict (portrayed by Aiden Gillen - Game of Thrones’ own Littlefinger) who is being released early from prison, so as to support his teenage niece. They move to a trailer in the Irish countryside and they try to manage their stormy relationship
Special Mention to Veronica Llinas for “Dog Lady”
Audience Prize: “Labyrinth of Lies” by Giulio Ricciarelli
A film based on a true story when in 1958, a young lawyer discovers that his neighbors were nazi criminals and decides to bring them to justice. It was the first trial of war criminals, lead by Germans and caused chain reaction to a nation that was denying the horrible truth
Golden Athena of the International Competition Section – Music & Film: “Jaco” by Stephen Kijak and Paul Marchand, a documentary on the legendary musician Jaco Pastorious who redefined the sound of the modern electric bass and changed the course of modern music
My experience with this year’s festival included 6 films: The End of The Tour (reviewed in previous post), 45 Years, Bridgend, Black Mass, Extraordinary Tales and In A Lonely Place.
45 years narrates the story of a couple, who in the week leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary receives an unexpected letter which contains life changing news. Charlotte Rampling’s moving performance sets the mood, as the tension builds up to a the finale that left a lot of room for discussion and different interpretations.
Bridgend was a very pleasant surprise and by far the best film that I watched in this year’s festival. The film is based on a true (!) story, that took place in a Welsh village, where teenagers are involved in a mysterious series of suicides. The Bridgend suicide incidents, took place in the area, in the period of 2007-2012, with 79 people having committed suicide. The dark theme of the film was perfectly captured by the film’s photography and direction, a compelling soundtrack, whilst Hannah Murray’s performance was deep and emotional, reminding me Cassie in the good old Skins days.
The next film I watched, was Black Mass, the “mainstream” choice of the festival, with Johnny Depp at the role of real life gangster Whitney Bulger, who dominated South Boston in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. In what seems to be the dream Oscar role (biopic role with physical transformation) I felt that Depp did not deliver his best… Of course he was in character, capturing the madness of Bulger, but that was it. Nothing more. There were a few strong scenes but it wasn’t what I expected. Overall I felt that the film was lacking balance, with a really weak first part and a better second part that tried to set the mood too late. As Black Mass captured the relationship with the corrupted senator brother of Bulger, the local Boston FBI agent who grew up with the brothers but tries to take them down, it is very easy to compare this story with Scorsese’s The Departed. On the contrary of my favorite Scorsese film, this one failed to deliver the smooth Boston atmoshere, the tension between the characters and the suspense of a classic gangster film …
My second favorite film, was the animated Extraordinary Tales. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, this animated anthology consists of 5 spooky stories of the great author. Narrated by the amazing voices of Christopher Lee, Guillermo Del Toro and Bela Lugosi among others, this is a must see film (especially with Halloween closing in)!
Finally, the last film I watched was the oldest one. Filmed in 1950, In a lonely Place is a 101 lesson in film noir: a charming leading man (Humphrey Bogart), is involved in a mysterious (?) murder and a seductive femme fatal is caught up in the story, trying to see if the man is who he says he is. The story is not complete without funny supporting characters and a surprising ending.
So, that was overall my experience with this year's Athens International Film Festival.
Untill next year...
For me, the 21st Athens International Film Festival (aka Nyxtes Premieras) began last night, on its 3rd day, with the film The End of the Tour.
The film is the adaptation of the book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by Rolling Stone journalist and author David Lipsky, narrating the five-day road trip with the author David Foster Wallace and stars Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky.
Although the film balances between the two characters, Jason Segel steals the show, with an impressive performance, in his first (or at least one of his very few) dramatic role, gaining international critical acclaim! His portrayal of Wallace, the troubled novelist, is sincere, deep and at times heart breaking. In a quiet way, he manages to bring out the many layers of the novelist, without being over the top. His performance reminds me of the old days of Freaks and Geeks, the cult early 2000s show; fun fact: Becky Ann Baker, who starred at the show as Seger girlfriend’s mother, has a small cameo as a bookstore manager.
Jesse Eisenberg gave a great performance as well, but I felt that he fell to the usual Woody Allen routines, with the classic New York style dialogue style, without evolving his acting style a bit.
The supporting roles, were very well (and carefully) casted; Lipsky’s girlfriend is portrayed by Anna Chlumsky, the child actress from My Girl, who has made a fierce comeback with Emmy winning TV show Veep being her latest achievement, the talented Mammie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter) who is on the rise with the upcoming film Ricki and the Flash (starring also dear mommy Meryl) and the hilarious Joan Cusack, who masters the role of the “escort” (inside joke – you need to watch the film to get it ;-) ).
Overall the film was good, with good performances and touching, human moments, great soundtrack, very well-written dialogues (although I think the credits should go to the book), but in the end it did not match my expectations. I felt that something was missing or that the climax could have been better.
It was a good start of the 21st AIFF for me and I hope that the next films that I will watch will match, or even better, top it.
As nerds from all over the world gather at the Mecca of comic book fans, San Diego for this year's Comic-Con, let's have a look at some highlights so far:
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
After the leaked teaser, WB gave the fans a good taste of what to wait for in Sping 2016, when Batman V. Superman will be released...
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
With a panel full of the stars of the new episode of Star Wars and a special featurette, the fans were not dissapointed.... Goosebumps
And for the uber-geeks.....
The Comic-Con Icon award
Joss Whedon accepted his Icon Award this year, after missing Comic-Con 2014 with a knee injury. My personal icon, talked about the Marvel projects ("I feel like, five years ago, a tornado ripped up my house and dropped it in the land of Marvel"), Serenity and of course Buffy, who he chose as his favourite creation... We couldn't agree more Joss :-)
And in case you were wondering what is the meaning of life...
Game of Thrones panel
With season 5 dead and gone (couldn't resist the joke), the Game of Thrones cast, gathered to give us something to look forward to for next season...
DC TV shows, shared a lot of scoop as to what we should wait for Gotham, Arrow and The Flash
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
From shows based on comic books, to a film based on a TV show... Here is the trailer from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiering this summer!
And what would Comic-Con be without a Marvel panel? The cast of X-Men: Apocalypse, answered questions on the latest film of the franchise and joined forces with other super-heroes and a special guest to take a super-selfie!
It's been a while since my last post; I have been facing some technical issues, but thankfuly my friends at Weebly, helped solving them! So, what's new?
Well, here are some latest trailers of some of the films you need to catch on theatres for the rest of the year!
Let's start with the one that has got everyone buzzing today...
And here's the second most anticipated film of the year, Avengers: Age of Ultron with some special clips:
And what about Marvel's next (little) big blockbuster?
Just when you thought that it couldn't get any better, here's a special trailer from Mad Max: Fury Road
The next trailer is from the film Suffragette, aka Maryl Streep's next Oscar nomination...
One the other hand Love & Mercy might just be John Cusack's first Oscar nomination:
A definite must see this year will be the Amy Winehouse documentary entitles Amy
On a spookuy note, The Harvest might be the film that will scare you this year... At least the trailer is pretty scary...
Next film is Aloft, a pretty mysterious indie film that wants to convince us that Jennifer Connelly & Cillian Murphy can pass as mother and son...
Finally, the trailer from Saturday Night Live documentary Live from New York! that opens this year's Tribeca Film Festival
Following tradition, on the day before the Oscars I share with you my predictions, so that tomorrow I can have the pleasure of saying "I told you so!" and so that you have the pleasure of seeing me make a fool of myself when my predictions turn out to be absolute fiction!
Jokes aside though, this year it seems that pretty much everything is pretty much expected.... No (major) surprises....
On the Best Actor in a Leading role category, after the Golden Globes, BAFTA, SAGs and many other awards, it is certain that no one is going to get in the way of Eddie Redmayne and his Oscar! His amazing performance in The Theory of Everything made him instant Hollywood royalty. If anyone is going to steal the Oscar, it will have to be the original Batman, Michael Keaton for Birdman, the role of his career. Poor Michael! If it was any other year, he would have locked the Oscar, but I guess this year he will have to stick to his Golden Globe.... On the other nominations, let me just state for the record that it is clear that Bradley Cooper has the Academy under some short of spell! Because only magic could explain his nomination....
The ladies nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, can spare themselves the trouble of writing a speech. Except you Julianne - we need to hear something when you receive your first (finally) Academy Award! No one can threaten Julianne Moore in this category: not the lovely Marion Cotillard for her surprising yet justified nomination for Two Days, One Night, not the newcomer Felicity Jones for her exquisite performance in The Theory of Everything, not Rosamund Pike for her psyco role in Gone Girl, not even the "Hollywood sweetheart" Reese Witherspoon for Wild...
This year, in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category, as harsh as the competition is this year, with veteran Robert Duvall for The Judge, Ethan Hawke for Boyhood, Edward Norton for Birdman and Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, it is almost a fact that J. K. Simmons will be the winner for his out of this world performance in Whiplash.
With many great performances in the Best Actress in a Supporting role category, including the Oscar veteran Meryl Streep for Into The Woods (which is a perfect example that even if Meryl simpy reads a restaurant menu, she is Oscar material!), Patricia Arquette seems to be the frontrunner. Her unique 12 year performance in Boyhood is what will give her her first Oscar.
Which brings us to the Best Picture and Best Directing. My gut feeling says that Richard Linklater and his masterpiece Boyhood, are going to be the big winners. The originality and uniqueness of this project, has made it an Academy favorite and will probably be awarded for both these categories. Although we might see surprises as we have in the past when the Best Picture and Best Directing awards go to different films (with a recent example Ang Lee in 2013 with The Life of Pi winning Best Direction and Argo winning Best Picture). So another possibility is that one of the two awards will go to Birdman. If it wasn't for Boyhood, Alejandro G. Iñárritu would be the big winner tonight, but like Micheal Keaton, unfortunatelly Boyhood gets in the way...
The Best Writing categories, are not that clear - my guesses are that The Theory of Everything will win Best Writing for Adapted Screenplay, with The Imitation Game being a threat, although my personal second choice would be Whiplash
In the Best Writing Original Screenplay category, Birdman needs to win this award! To my point of view Boyhood should not be a threat in this category, but you never know with the Academy... Another threat is The Grand Budapest Hotel, although I think they will settle the score with Best Makeup & Hairstyling and/or Best Costume Design...
In other categories, the Academy will try to make amends with... well the whole world, by awarding the amazing song from Selma, Glory. This way they will try to make us overpass the epic Oscar snub towards Selma.... In the Best Foreign Language film category, the battle is on between Ida from Poland and Leviathan from Russia: my guess is that Ida is going to be the winner. In the Best Animated Feature Film category, with Lego out of the picture, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the film with the best chances in winning.
So, in a year when we know pretty much what to expect and following Ellen's epic Oscar selfie, what will Neil Patrick Harris do, to keep us on our toes? Well, he has proven to be an excellent performer when he presented the Tony Awards in 2013 and with him we know that that the night is going to be... legen-wait for it-dary!
Happy Oscar night everybody! Don't forget to like and follow my Facebook page www.facebook.com/herdudenessblog for regular updates!
After watching Whiplash, you know instantly who's going to take home the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Whiplash though, is far more than the mind blowing performance of J. K. Simmons.
The film narrates beautifully the struggle towards excellence and the obstacles that one needs to overcome in order to excel in the arts. Miles Teller plays a young jazz drummer, who is challenged by the harsh teaching methods of his mentor, played by Simmons. The film is mainly focused on the "battle" between the two characters and raises serious questions on the thin line between bullying and pushing towards perfection.
Damien Chazelle's direction creates a claustrophobic atmosphere that makes us focus on the music, the feelings and the strong performances.
Interesting facts about this film is the bizzare way that it is autobiographical for actor Miles Teller, as he as well was once a drummer and he has also suffered a car crash that almost cost him his life.
The film might leave us with questions about whether the choices of the characters were wise and whether perfection overcomes love or family but regardless these ethical issues about bullying versus pushing yourself towrads excellence, Whiplash is a powerful film about the world of (jazz) music that I bet will inspire a whole new generation of drummers!
So, until J.K.Simmons is awarded tonight (oh, it's certain) let's see the reason why Hollywood and the whole world bowed to his talent...
That's a wrap! The 87th Academy Awards just ended with Birdman the big winner with 4 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The Grand Budapest Hotel won also 4 awards in Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Music & Production Design. As expected Eddie Redmayne and J.K. Simmons won Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Supporting Actor, while Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette again as expected won Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Supporting Actress.
The ceremony itself was rather dull, with Neil Patrick Harris trying too hard and failing, with only exception his musical number. A couple of great moments though, were Patricia Arquette, Graham Moore and John Legend and Common's acceptance speeches, Lady Gaga and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music tribute and Sean Penn's announcement of the Best Picture winner.
Below you may see the full list of winners. For the record I got 8 out of 13 in my predictions, but I couldn't be happier that Birdman managed to beat Boyhood!
Oscar Winners 2015
Best Picture: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Best Achievement in Directing: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Best Original Screenplay: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Best Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida (Poland) Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
Best Live Action Short Film: The Phone Call (Mat Kirkby and James Lucas)
Best Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry)
Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley)
Best Sound Editing: American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman)
Best Achievement in Visual Effects: Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher)
Best Animated Short: Feast (Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed)
Best Animated Feature Film: Big Hero 6
Best Achievement in Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
Best Cinematography: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Film Editing: Whiplash (Tom Cross)
Best Documentary Feature: CitizenFour (Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky)
Best Original Song: "Glory" from SELMA
Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ever since I first set foot on a cinema theatre, I knew that something magical was happening there....