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Posts tagged ‘Amanda Seyfried’

Cher Saves “Mamma Mia 2,” but It’s Hard to Resist


When Cher, yes, CHER, enters in the Final Act of “Mamma Mia 2,” she saves the film, and yes, kicks it upstairs into Gay Heaven, or at any rate, Camp Heaven with a good, swift  stilletto-heeled sureness, only a stage and screen legend like Cher could provide. Pow! All the dullness and wishy-washiness of her young co-stars vanished, and NOW we were in the midst of a glorious fun-filled summer musical romp. She was so good, I immediately re-wrote my mind’s middling review and began raving like a teenaged fan-girl. Which let’s face it, is a cheery place to be in these troubled times. I guess I ended up loving it, and wanting to see it again. No, really.
In spite of all good sense, I found myself totally abandoning myself to its epic silliness. And why not? I always loved ABBA as a guilty pleasure. Those original, now classic, tunes got me through some very dark times when I was a house-cleaner in London in the ’80s. I was trying to get my plays done and become a right, proper British actor in the grand tradition. And it was tough. But ABBA was so uplifting, it made me forget all the charring.

I was a “Super Trooper”, and now Cher is a Super Trooper, too. In fact, she climaxes this barely organized mish-mash with that song, as well as her much heralded “Fernando” duet. As she and Andy Garcia(yes, ANDY GARCIA!) tango and sing their hearts out, both Senior Citizens now, as fire-works explode behind them, like it was 1968. Or ’86. Or one of those years, or decades that Cher’s career spans and she’s still singing! She’s a goddess for the ages. And FINALLY makes up for Meryl Streep not being in this movie except as a ghost.

You see, “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again” does not really have a center to it, until Cher appears at the end like the Deus Ex Machina that she is. “Here We Go Again” flips back and forth in time between two stories, both starring lovely young blondes, Amanda Seyfried and Downtown Abbey’s Lily James. They both have to carry half the film each.

It seems Meryl’s character has died a year before “Mamma Mia 2” starts and her cinematic daughter Sophie (Seyfried) has to carry on without her, trying to re-build her mother’s dream of a turning their Greek island into a perfect Aegean guest house. Meanwhile, the film flashes back in time to the ’70s, when Donna (Lily James) was a wild young thing cavorting all over the continent, shagging everybody in sight.

Thus explaining (or trying to) how three different men could have potentially been the father of the single Mom Meryl’s child. As played by a trio of young hunks, notably “War Horse”s Jeremy Irvine (who grows up to be Pierce Brosnan). They make the case quite clearly how and why the young Donna/Meryl couldn’t keep her hands off all of them, one after the other, in rapid succession.

I would say Josh Dylan, who is making his big screen debut here as the young yachtsman that one day would become Stellan Skarsgard, has the best chiseled bod. British actor Hugh Skinner, who plays the young Colin Firth, doesn’t really get enough foreshadowing that his character is in later life going to be gay. An interesting opportunity missed.

Though Firth does camp up a storm in his own reserved way as his grown up self, and Christine Baranski (and Julie Waters) are back supplying even more camp (as if this film needed it).Which goes to prove something I’ve always felt. There can never be too much of a muchness. Or too much camp. Camp makes you happy. And so will “Mamma Mia 2.”

And last but not least, the young British hunk of hunks Dominic Cooper is back again as Sky, Sophie (Seyfried)’s hotter than hot love interest, and absentee husband. Dominic was one of the many stars of my year’s Best Film of that year “My Week with Marilyn” playing Milton Green, Marilyn Monroe’s ex-lover and now exasperated agent. He was also one of the original “History Boys” on Broadway and in film, and has been on “The Stephen Holt Show” more times than just about any one else (in this movie).And he used to date Cher! He just told Stephen Colbert. So it must be true!

Oscar Chances of Cate Blanchett ~ Too much, too soon?

Oscar is such a fickle little devil. If the Academy Awards were held tomorrow, Cate Blanchett would win in a walk for “Blue Jasmine”, ANOTHER astonishing Woody Allen movie with an unforgettable performance by Cate the Great.

Plusses ~ All the rave reviews, and the staggering performance itself.

Minuses ~ All this Oscar brouhaha is WWWAAAY toooo soon in the Oscar season. Sony Pictures Classics has to keep “Blue Jasmine”, a rare, exotic flower blooming til the holidays.For a film that’s only playing now in two cities that’s no mean feat.

Minuses ~ Sony Pictures Classics is NOT the Weinstein Co.

If this were one of Harvey’s girls she WOULD win. Lest not forget that the last woman to win for an Oscar for a Woody film was the beauteous, unforgettable, explosive Penelope Cruz in “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” But that was a WEINSTEIN Co. release! You’ve GOTTA have Harvey…Sony Pictures classics is not known for nailing WINS. But nailing nominations, yes. See Emmanuelle Riva’s near miss last year for “Amour.” She got the nomination, yes, and some major critics’ awards,but…she lost to last year’s Harvey girl, Jennifer Lawrence.

Minuses ~ She’s playing Ruth Madoff

Plusses ~ She makes you LIKE her.

Plusses- It’s a complex, intelligent career-capping role that people will be talking about as long as they discuss Cate Blanchett.

Pluses ~ She had AN HOUR-long chat with Charlie Rose, who gave her the ENTIRE program.

Minuses ~ By the end of the hour, she and Charlie got soooo abstract and convoluted, they completely lost me. And I’m sure many others too. And Academy voters watch Charlie Rose like a hawk.

Minuses ~ She looks like she’ll be up against two OTHER Aussie homegirls, Nicole Kidman for “Grace of Monaco” playing the late Princess, who died tragically in an auto accident. AND that other wonderful Australian actress Naomi Watts in “Diana” about another blonde royal, the late Princess of Wales, who also dies tragically in an car crash. THREE Australian Best Actress nominees? WHEN has that ever happened before? And it is a good thing? Will they split the Australian vote? IS there an Australian vote?

Minuses – Meryl Streep will very likely be nominated for the vicious, drug-addicted mother who you love to hate in “August: Osage County.” a Weinstein Co. production that’s heading straight to the Toronto Film Festival, as are “Grace” and “Diana”. This would leave Meryl the only American actress in this category, although she already has THREE other Oscars. The fifth slot I’m guessing is going to Berenice Bejo for “The Past” ANOTHER of Harvey’s films. And she would be in the now traditional French actress slot. We see it every year now. This film will also be at Toronto…Or it could be ANOTHER French actress Julie Delpy, who stars in and who also co-wrote the “Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight” trilogy. She was nominated before for a Best Screenplay. And Berenice Bejo was also previously nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “The Artist.”

And of course, we must not forget the Babe Factor. The pretty young thing who sweeps in from seemingly nowhere and makes the Academy of collective Old White Rich Men fall in love with her and takes the prize, again, like Jennifer Lawrence did last year. This could be the surprising and gorgeous American Beauty Amanda Seyfried who unbelievably breaks your heart as Linda Lovelace in “Lovelace.” And Radius is behind “Lovelace” which is Harvey Weinstein’s Co., too.

<So LOOK OUT!

A completely empty playing field is going to be SLAMMED in about a month’s time by alllll these female centric movies playing at TIFF and also, some of them at Telluride.

Will I get to TIFF this year to talk to all these great ladies? I hope so. I’m trying my hardest, but I’ll certainly be seeing all four of these acclaimed-already, buzzed-about movies…

So Cate the Great AND especially Sony Pictures Classics REALLY have their work cut out for them.

Cate already has an Oscar. But then so does Nicole and Meryl has three.

It’s Cate’s to lose, as they say. But SPC has a history of stumbling at the end game.

It could be Cate, but…

 

Provincetown Film Festival ’13 Wrap Up!

PROVINCETOWN FILM FESTIVAL 15th ANNIVERSARY Wrap-Up

Epstein/Friedman Triumph TWICE with Double Whammy of “Lovelace” &”The Battle of AMFAR” ~ Almodovar, “Fruitvale” and Divine also score

Oscar-winning documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman did the seemingly impossible at the 15th Anniversary of the Provincetown International Film Festival, which just wrapped. They opened this smart, exciting, essential & growing film festival with their first narrative feature film “Lovelace” about the ’70’s porn star Linda Lovelace of “Deep Throat” fame and followed it up with a terrific doc about the AIDS organization “The Battle of AMFAR.” Both were superb.

“Lovelace” was my favorite film of PIFF, boasting a surprising trio of Oscar-worthy performances from Amanda Seyfried (“Les Miz,””Mama Mia”) as Linda Lovelace herself,and Peter Sarsgaard (“An Education”) is incredibly believable in his tough-to-take role as Lovelace’s porn producer/husband Chuck Traynor. The triumvirate of great star turns is completed by an unrecognizable Sharon Stone as Lovelace’s hard-nosed Catholic mother. I never thought Seyfried had the dramatic chops, and I, like Harvey Weinstein I was told, did not realize that it was Sharon Stone as the mother, until the end credits rolled, and I nearly jumped out of my skin!

Stone has been nominated once before for “Casino”, but didn’t win, and now I think she will have another strong shot for sure, as Seyfried and Sarsgaard will, too, be up for Oscar consideration again. And this time, as a Best Supporting Actress, she could actually win. And neither Seyfried nor the worthy-as-hell, overdue Sarsgaard has ever been nominated either. Also, Radius the new Weinstein Co. off-shoot is repping this terrific film.

A biopic of a porn star? I didn’t think I’d like it, but “Lovelace” and Seyfried and Sarsgaard and filmmakers Epstein and Friedman draw you in utterly and make you CARE. And it’s funny, too, when it needs to be, and tragic as Lovelace’s story gets darker and darker. And with Harvey Weinstein in the mix behind them, look out!

“The Battle of AMFAR” is about the founders, the unlikely duo of research scientist Dr. Mathilde Krim and superstar-turned-activist Elizabeth Taylor. who joined forces to bring about a critical change in the perception of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1985. This terrific doc that sped by at a lightening pace was ALSO directed by Epstein and Friedman, who also directed “Lovelace”! Is there anything these two titans of cinema can’t do? It was definitely their time to shine at this year’s charming sea-side Festival.

The Weinstein Co. was also behind the laceratingly powerful racial drama “Fruitvale Station”, a true story about an innocent African American youth, 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who is wrongly slain by police on New Year’s Eve 2008. Unknown actor Michael B. Jordan has to carry virtually every scene of the film, and he does, but it is Oscar Winner Octavia Spenser(“The Help”) who outdoes herself here as Grant’s mother.

Grant is no plaster saint and his mother knows it. We are shown flashback scenes of Grant in prison, when his mother comes to visit and tells him she won’t be coming to see him anymore and refuses to hug him. We see her try to control her wild, pothead son, when he gets out, and she tries to keep him on the straight and narrow, and most monumentally, we see her grieving when he is shot-to-death by police. Octavia Spenser meets every challenge of this bravura, heart-breaking role that pulls out all the stops, and then some.

Having won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic film at 2013’s Sundance Film Festival, “Fruitvale Station”, the subway station where the tragedy occurs, seems primed to compete across the categories as last year’s Sundance favorite “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did. And with Harvey as its’ producer, you know it will be a significant player this awards season.

An enchanting Film Festival by the sea, picturesque Provincetown is surrounded on three sides by water, and boasted a particularly strong slate of docs this year, with “Casting By” about the late, great, legendary casting director Marion Dougherty. Who at one time, as Tom Donahue’s film amply illustrates, seemed to be running the film industry in the ’70s. Dougherty speaks for herself fortunately in many insightful interviews, where it is revealed that she single-handedly talked directors Peter Friedkin into casting Gene Hackman in “The French Connection” and also persuaded John Schlesinger to cast Jon Voight in “Midnight Cowboy”! Try to imagine those two films without those two great performances, both of which won Best Actor & Best Film. Dougherty became so powerful that she turned Casting which was a male-dominated field, into the female-centric one it is today, as she constantly hired women as her assistants. But Casting Director don’t get Oscars. They don’t even have their own category, even as Dougherty and others fought for accreditation. The all-powerful DGA wants to make sure the power stays with The Director and not The CASTING Director. If the public only knew! And “Casting By” at least shines a bright, benevolent light on this tricky situation.

Another doc that knocked my socks off was “I Am Divine” about the late drag performer and cult icon of John Waters’ films “Pink Flamingos”, “Female Trouble” and “Hairspray” among many others. Filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz emphasizes what a good actor Divine was underneath all the make-up and gowns and that he was poised to have a substantial character as a male character actor when he died of a massive heart attack at age 40. Too young. Too soon. And like with the unlikely heroine of “Lovelace”, Schwarz makes you care about his too-chubby protagonist, who just couldn’t stop eating. Or acting. Or acting out.

Waters was there to speak about the film and his late star. Noting that when people said that they often saw Divine walking around Provincetown in kaftans back in the Day, Waters said, “That’s a lie! Divine took cabs!”

And last but not least there is Pedro Almodovar’s HILARIOUS new comedy “I’m So Excited!” which is already one of my favorite Almodovar films. The hottest ticket in one of the smallest theaters (The Art House 2), I had to line up in a Rush Line for AN HOUR before the film started! But I got in! And what a delight it was!

I don’t remember Almodovar doing such an out-and-out comedy since “Woman on the Verge…” or “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down”. Pedro, always a scamp as well as a camp, lets the bobby pins fall where they may as he lets his hair down in the wildest situation imaginable. A plane is stalled flying over Toledo, where it circles and circle and circles. The three tres gay male flight attendants have drugged all the passengers in coach and are left to entertain the first class passengers with campy numbers like “I’m So Excited”, which is a music video-like gem. Pedro could direct musicals, too, if he wanted. I couldn’t stop laughing!

Penelope Cruz and Antonia Banderas make hilarious brief cameo appearances at the beginning of the film. And I was particularly fond of returning Almodovar regular Lola Duenas, “Sole” Penelope’s illegal hair-dresser sister in “Volver”, as a wacky psychic who predicts that she’ll lose her virginity on this flight. What do you think? Hilarity ensues! Don’t miss it!

“Les Miz” First Preview in NYC to Cheers! Standing O! Could get historic 16 Oscar Nominations!

“Les Miserables” previewed this afternoon to a packed, cheering crowd at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. And the reaction is ecstatic according to those who were there, applause at the end of every number, and standing ovation and cheers greeting director Tom Hooper and the cast members Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne who were there also in attendance.

Kris Tapley at http://www.hitfix.com who was there and who has that wonderful podcast with Anne Thompson every week called Oscar Talk(but not this week) says in the comments his just-printed piece is getting that he thinks that Hugh Jackman(Jean Valjean), Russell Crowed(Javert), Anne Hathaway(Fantine), Eddie Redmayne(Marius), Amanda Seyfried(Cossette), Samantha Barks(Eponine), Sacha Baron Cohen(Thernadier) and Helena Bonham-Carter (M. Thernadier) could ALLLL get nominations.

Well, that sounds like a SAG Ensemble nod right there.(There as a screening earlier today for their nominating committee) and if Tapley is RIGHT. That’s One lead Best Actor for Jackman. THREE Supporting Actor nods of Redmayne, Crowe and Cohen and FOUR for Best Supp. Actress for Hathaway, Seyfried, Barks, and Bonham-Carter.

Well, THAT alone would be historic and mean that “Les Miz” is going to end up with a staggering number of nominations. Maybe the highest vote total ever.

Best Picture, Best Director(Hooper), Best Actor, 3 Best Supp. Actors, 4 Best Supp. Actresses, Best Original Song(They added one called “Suddenly”) Best Costumes, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing. That’s SIXTEEN!

I’m not counting Best Score, because that has to be written directly for the screen, but this certainly was not.

Scott Feinberg at http://www.thehollywoodreporter.com is a bit more balanced than Tapley. He thinks Jackman in a very crowded Best Actor race SHOULD be nominated but may struggle to get in. And he thinks that only Hathaway is a slam-dunk in the Supporting races.

I’m just THRILLED! I can’t wait to see it!

And I bet you can’t either. It opens on Christmas Day.

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