a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Angelina Jolie’

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Brit Jack O’Connell Triumphs Over Miscasting in “Unbroken”

Unbroken 1The young British actor Jack O’Connell’s biggest triumph over adversity in the torture porn epic “Unbroken” is making the audience believe he is an Italian American. Director Angelina Jolie WHAT were you thinking? I ask you. Does the above ^ picture look even remotely like an Italian? He looks Irish, if anything, and it turns out he is a through and through Brit.

So the audience has to suspend their disbelief for quite a large chunk of the early part of the movie that is receiving mixed critical reaction, and I think I know why. It’s the casting. Don’t tell me that Jolie couldn’t’ve had her pick of any of the young Italian stallions that abound States-side. But no, she has to go to England to cast this super-hot, young, working-class Brit with washboard abs. Angie, he’s CUTE, but not Italian at all! And to add insult to injury the SECOND lead in this film about WWII is played by Domhnall Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson’s son, who is IRISH!

So we’re supposed to believe that these two dive bombers who get stuck in a life-boat for 47 days, after their airplane gets shot out of the sky by the Japanese, are AMERICANS?!?

There seems to be something, well, broken about “Unbroken”, and I think it’s this. Both leads are NOT  UNBELIEVABLY Americans!

As this overlong film wears on and on and on (are they NEVER to be rescued from that lifeboat?) I had to admit O’Connell, as he was beginning to suffer and starve, began to get to me.

And by the time the INCREDIBLY over-extended, over-done, over-heated second half of the film takes place in the several  horrific Japanese prison camps that Louie Zamperini (yes, that’s his real name, and he was an Olympian track hero, and a real person, and 100% I.T.), O’Connell is suffering and suffering and getting punched in the face and hit and caned and starving, and being kicked and well, just about everything you can think of, and yes, it’s all true,  you do begin to feel for O’Connell as an actor and how in the world did he ever endure all this, AS AN ACTOR?

This is the main problem with “Unbroken” I feel. It’s the casting and as good as O’Connell gets towards the end of the picture, you are always aware that it’s a PERFORMANCE. He doesn’t draw you in. You observe him. You admire his acting chops. When you should be feeling the tortures of the damned. Well, actually, you DO feel like you’re being tortured. I left with a headache, there was so much audience-torture going on. Who’s gonna sit through this? Masochists? Is there that big an audience for plain, unrelenting torture? In the end, he does survive, of course, to tell this tale of horror, but YOU, the viewer barely do. I left craving an Ibuprofen.

I don’t think the Academy is going to sit still for this at all, as they watch their screeners, (or should I say screamers?) of this  true horror epic over the holidays.

Jolie’s work is really the great Roger Deakins’ work. The cinematography is picturesque in the classic Hollywood way, and it’s extremely beautiful. Even the torture scenes are perfectly lit and shot.

But Angelina Jolie in her sophomore directing stint, hired the cutest, hottest, masochistic young actor she could find. And he IS CUTE! Blue eyes, cheek bones, incredible physique. Jack O’Connell is clearly going to survive this debacle of a debut and go on to quite a healthy career, despite the pain and agony he has to endure in “Unbroken.”

The ones who are suffering the most are the poor audiences.There’s so much torture and so little uplift at the end, it’s really a cheat. Angelina just got fixated on the S&M of it all as Louie draws the sadistic attentions of the Japanese Prison Camp guard whom they call “The Bird”(rock singer Miyavi) hits him again and again and again.

Last year’s “The Railway Man” starring Colin Firth and an incredible Jeremy Irvine as the older and younger believably British Brit P.O.W.s in yet ANOTHER Japanese prisoner camp, were MUCH more effective, and the torture scenes were there, and were harrowing, (Irvine gets waterboarded!) Because they were a resonable length.

In “Unbroken,” the same scenes don’t work as well,because they go on for sooooo lonnnng. Same with “Bridge Over the River Kwai” the classic ’50s David Lean film this tries to emulate. Lean, who was a film editor, before he became a great director, knew when to yell “Cut!” Angelina Jolie does not.

So rent either “The Railway Man” and/or “River Kwai”, and you’ll have a much better time. “Unbroken” could break you.

 

TIFF on Tuesday

It’s Tuesday morning at TIFF, and this is the day the Toronto International Film Festivals really changes. It’s the day all the Americans leave and basically turn the Festival back over to the Canadians. It’s so quiet in the TIFF Bell Lightbox this morning. The lobby looked deserted. Tumbleweeds could be rolling through it. It’s really scary, in the sense that, why am I still here?

Well, in the first place, you just don’t want TIFF to end, ever. And the atmosphere once it starts rolling is intoxicating. I’ve been here over a week now. And I still love it.

The first weekend is craziness personified. And yes, Brad and Angelina were here. That was for “Moneyball.” Hardly an Oscar movie it seems and if you don’t like baseball, which I DON’T, you won’t like this movie, so I’m told. Then Saturday seemed to be George Clooney day. I did see him from the Media Lounge’s TV screen. Almost a movie screen, it’s so big. But then it’s TIFF where everything is a movie screen let’s face it. Including the walls, the interior walls of the lobby.

Images are being projected everywhere. It’s trippyy, and delightful. But it is something akin to sensory overload. But again, I like it.

They used to have a 24-hour TV channel here in Toronto that just broadcast festival news for the entire length of TIFF, and before. Heaven! But they don’t have it any more. So all I can really check on my TV now is the weather, which every day is predicted to rain and the sunshine is dazzling. THANK GOODNESS!

I’m dressed for summer! I never want this lovely warm weather  to end! But it’s Canada, and last year about this time there was suddenly a cold snap, and BOY, did it get chilly! FAST! And I wasn’t dressed for that.

But even though it’s TIFF Blue Tuesday, there’s still PLENTY to do.

With George Clooney having two movies here, he certainly was a presence, even though I only saw him on the screen in the media lounge, as I said. People STILL love him and I tried to catch his “Descendants” movie this morning at 9AM(!?! I HATE those early screenings!) but I missed it.

So here I am talking to YOU.

And I’ll just have to catch up with “Descendants” at the New York Film Festival.

The Weinstein Co. is having a quiet festival, which is odd. Oh, except for Madonna. Who was walking the Red Carpet yesterday for “W.E.” which is the film she directed. And yes, I didn’t see that one either.

I have a lot to catch up on.

There is no one film that has a glorious, uproarious, across the board consensus. Like “The King’s Speech,” “Slumdog Millionaire”, and “No Country for Old Men” did in previous TIFFs all of whom went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

So that means, well, that we’re going to an actual race, with many contenders, or that simply The Big One, the eventual Best Picture winner is simply not here, and will open later this year.

My favourite is still “Machine Gun Preacher.”

And now I have to go watch this year’s “Pitch This” which this year, Anthony Del Col of last year’s winner “Kill Shakespeare” which you all are now VERY familiar with who read this blog and watch my show, Anthony is coaching TWO hopefuls, and afterwards we’re interviewing everyone in sight. Including Anthony, again, and Mariangiola Castrovilli, the red-headed Italian Zsa Zsa Gabor.

So there’s PLENTY to do. Even if I missed George’s BIG Oscar movie, which is the “Descendants” everybody here seems to think and NOT “The Ides of March.” Which seems to have disappointed  every one who’s seen it.

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