Review: ‘The Woman in the Window’ pays homage to many other films you should probably watch instead

Woman in the Window

Imagine for a moment a film full of Oscar-winning actors you love, written by a Pulitzer prize winner whose work you adore, directed by a director with a solid track record, and that pays homage to some of the great mystery stories of all time. Now imagine that it isn’t very good.

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VIFF Review: ‘Wonderstruck’ is a magical, moving tale for all ages

Todd Haynes movies, love ’em or … not? Wait, does anyone not love Todd Haynes movies? Anyway, the point is that the man is a consummate visual storyteller, and in that regard, Wonderstruck might be his magnum opus. There are two main stories, one set in the 1970s and another in the 1920s, each with a child protagonist and each moving in their own ways. If you think that they might be connected, yes, of course, they are both to each other, and a third story told later in the film.

It would have been easy to adapt this story, a kids novel, for kids, but Wonderstruck is a moving tale for all ages.

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72nd Golden Globes: I Can & I Did. A Celebration of Diversity.

2105_1208_GG_2015_AlternateImage_ACThe Golden Globes are my favourite award show.  The combination of humour and sincerity that can only be achieved when A-List celebrities, precious auteurs and television “we’re just happy to be here” actors are shoved sardine-like into a hotel ballroom and given as much booze as they can (or can’t) handle.  An extra hat-tip this year to the Beverly Hilton who forgot to turn on the AC making melting orange spray tan the look of the evening.

This year, however, wasn’t quite the shitshow that the Globes can sometimes be.  Amy Poehler & Tina Fey did a solid ten and then, as happens every year, twitter questioned where they went for the next 2 hours.  The audience seemed to laugh hardest at how they introduced Amal Clooney to America:

“Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected for a three person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”

Quickly followed by massive gasps at their series of Bill Cosby rape jokes & pill/pudding pop impressions.  Fun fact re: Amal, she actually sewed her own gloves the morning of the Awards.  And when Ryan Seacrest interviewed the couple on the red carpet she pointed out the “Je Suis Charlie” button on her bag “in solidarity with the people of France”.

It wouldn’t be the last time the recent Charlie Hebdo tragedy was mentioned.  In fact the Hollywood Foreign Press Association President talked about how important free speech is whether it be North Korea or Paris to a standing ovation.  Helen Mirren, nominated for her role as a French chef in the 100 Foot Journey, wore a fountain pen pinned to her lapel.

The evening overall seemed to be sending a message of diversity.  Breakout star Gina Rodriguez won Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy for her leading role on Jane the Virgin, a show which fluidly slips between Spanish & English.  In her acceptance speech she said how she was grateful to represent “a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes”. (The title for this piece “I Can & I Did” came from how she paid tribute to her father.)  Maggie Gyllenhaal won Best Actress in a Miniseries for the Honourable Woman, a show in which she played an arms dealer trying to reconcile things between Israel & Palestine, and gave quite the feminist speech.

The Amazon show Transparent won for Best TV Series, and the star Jeffrey Tambor won for Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy.  A show about a Transgender person aired on a non-cable service won twice.  And everyone cheered.  The movie Pride was nominated (and I suspect, introduced for the first time to North American audiences) about UK gay activists who raised money to help during the Miners’ Strike.  Matt Bomer got to thank his husband after winning best Supporting Actor in a Made for TV Film (the Normal Heart), which was about the AIDS epidemic.

Common & John Legend won for Best Original Song ‘Glory’ from the film about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, Selma.  Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt won a best Supporting Actress award for her work during a storyline about rape.  Eddie Redmayne won best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama about the life of Stephen Hawking (the Theory of Everything) and becoming paralyzed from ALS.  Julianne Moore won Best Actress (Still Alice), beating all the younger nominees, in a role about a women with early onset Alzheimer’s.  And Richard Linklater won Best Director for Boyhood (which also won Best Picture) for filming an indie movie over 12 years.

The message from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association this year was clear: Be different. Be brave. Be you.

 

VIFF Review: Maps to the Stars

Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg makes two kinds of films: Great ones and weird ones. I’m honestly not sure which category _Maps to the Stars_ falls into. On the one hand, it’s a biting indictment of Hollywood and the stars who live there and featuring some completely amazing performances, but on the other, it’s a muddled mess of slow-moving plots, some of which are never resolved.

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Review: Non Stop

Non-Stop

Liam Neeson is a celebrated actor. He’s been in epic romances, costumed adventures, and important historical dramas. Lately though he’s carved out a niche for himself as a slightly older action star. There’s only one reason why this works: Liam Neeson is great. The movies he’s making are kind of dumb, heavy handed, and full of plot holes, but for some reason they just kinda work. Taken is probably the first (and best) example of this. Non-Stop is just the latest.

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Review: Don Jon

Don Jon

It’s hard not to love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He started out as your average adorable child actor and then rather than transitioning into fluff pictures he went indie, working on great films like Brick and The Lookout, building credibility and honing his acting skills. Now, after building a bank role with more mainstream fare he’s made the leap to writing and directing.

Turns out he’s pretty damn good at those too.

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Carrie Trailer Gives Away The Plot

Carrie

Chances are you have seen the orginal 1976 film version of Carrie, or maybe even read the book by Stephen King. If you have, the watch away. If you haven’t, know that this trailer gives away the majority of the plot. Still, you probably are at least familiar with the original, right??

I don’t know how I feel about this trailer. Kimberly Price has two movies under her belt and they are great and good respectively. On the other, I feel this is a needless remake.

On the one hand It’ll hopefully be pretty cool to see the rampage played out with modern effects (as long as it’s not all CG) but on the other, I feel like this is a needless remake when the original effects work perfectly well.

Also, on the one hand, I really like CHloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore for Carrie and Margaret, they’re both talented actors. On the other, I feel like this is a needless remake when Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were both Oscar nominated in the original.

Maybe you’re starting to notice a pattern.

Trailer: What Maisie Knew

What Maisie Knew

Have you had your heartstrings tuggeed recently? No? Well watch this trailer then.

I haven’t read What Maisie Knew but I am aware of the plot. Updating it from it’s 1890s context to now is makes a lot of sense. At the time of it’s writing the book was a reflection on society in which the story was somewhat scandalous whereas now it’s story is the new normal for a lot of people. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the original criticism comes through.