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Posts tagged ‘dragon tattoo’

“Side Effects” ~ Gripping, pyschological thriller starring Rooney Mara & featuring Ann Dowd

I liked “Side Effects” the new, very serious, gripping psychological thriller starring Rooney Mara and Jude Law and featuring Ann Dowd as – wait for it- Channing Tatum’s mother!

Very fine acting work by all concerned and directed within a clinical inch of its’ life by Steven Soderbergh.

It’s sort of a medical thriller. And is all about pills, pills, pills. And this film examines, for perhaps the first time, just what the Side Effects of taking so much prescribed medication can be in our over-medicated society.

But who will go to see this very intelligent, thoughtful, dark drama/thriller? Who is the audience for this?This is a film about depression.

This is also the first leading film role for Rooney Mara away from and after “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and although that film established Rooney Mara as a star-in-the-making and got her an Oscar nomination, “Side Effects” will prove whether or not she really can open a film.

Does she have a following? Can she build up one?

She’s very, very good in this film, showing all the dark sides imaginable of her complex character and I found her compelling to watch. And Jude Law, who seems to be reveling in letting his good looks go, is very fine as the doctor-in-charge of Mara, his unruly and complicated patient.

It’s a great role for an actress, and there are so few of them. If this were opening later in the year, instead of the bone-grave-yard for films of January/February, I would think Mara would again be a candidate for a nomination.

But with a year to go til the next Oscar round-up, “Side Effects” has a long, long way to travel before Mara gets into the winner’s circle ~ AGAIN.

Ann Dowd also scores in this, too, in the minor role of a distraught, loving mother. I wish the part were larger, but she’s throughout the movie and she’s fine, fine, fine. With affectionate scenes and crying scenes and even a violent slapping scene. I only wish there were more of her.

There is more than enough of Katherine Zeta-Jones as Mara’s shrink previous to Law. Mara’s character, like Lisbeth Salander, seems to have been in therapy all her life.
And Zeta-Jones is merely serviceable.

But it has to be said that David Fincher’s prediction to Mara, as he was casting her, that an iconic role like Lisbeth Salander was going to throw a long, dark shadow over what ever else she did going forward in her acting career, and there are echoes and shades of Salander throughout “Side Effects.” Wrongful incarceration being main among them. However in “Side Effects” Mara is grappling with depression, all types of it. Whereas Lisbeth Salander, I don’t think was EVER depressed. Merely anti-social and ANGRY.

I think she’s as good as she could possibly be in this role under Steven Soderbergh’s astute, clinical direction, but as good as “Side Effects” is…it recalls how much better Steig Larsson’s millennium Trilogy was at this kind of thing. Soderberg’s washed-out bluish palette makes New York City look almost like Sweden in “Side Effects,” and just as depressing. I liked it. But not as much as I liked “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Best Actress Race – Pre-Festivals, Pre-TIFF

So, just where are we now with the only race I feel that has some clarity this early, and on the other hand, is also wide open? Certainly compared with last year’s Best Actress race. Which was locked and loaded VERY early on in the season, if you remember. But perhaps you don’t. Rooney Mara’s sneaking in at the last-minute with “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and her star-making turn as Lisbeth Salander, was the only surprise within that top category last year.

This year, with the exit of presumptive front-runner Carey Mulligan’s “The Great Gatsby” being shifted to NEXT SUMMER! GLACK! It’s mustn’t’ve so Great after all!

With Mulligan’s departure, this leaves many, many openings, so some surprises from the Indie world, like the stunning, scary tour-de-force of  veteran character actress Ann Dowd in “Compliance.” And certainly with Qu’venzahne Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” still hanging in there in release after three months, and still making money for Fox Searchlight.  That’s two Sundance ladies, although one is only 8 years old and the other well past 50. THAT’S interesting right there, in and of itself, it’s a unique pairing…IF it happens…Sundance didn’t have any gals in the Best Actress round-up last year, now it is making up for lost time with TWO.

Then there’s the absurd rumor that BOTH could go Supporting! Uh-oh! Category confusion! The dreaded Oscar disease that killed Viola Davis’ chances last year(among many other reasons).  If NEITHER Dowd nor Wallis end up in Best Actress, the category is RRRREALLY wide open.

Remaining are the soon-to-be-seen Helen Hunt, also out of Sundance, come to think of it with “Sessions.” She’s won previously of course and that always sort of hurts. Unless it’s a category with all previous winners. That was for “As Good As It Gets” where she played a worldly-wise waitress. Opposite Jack Nicholson.

Another previous winner Marion Cotillard has a VERY strong shot, it seems, with “Of Rust and Bone” which won her screaming raves out of Cannes this year. But NOT the Best Actress Award there. Which was a surprise.

She, too, is a previous winner for her incandescent, unforgettable Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”. She’s also in TDKR, too, remember this year. Something every Academy Voting member will have seen, even if it gets neglected in the nominations and I think it will…. But “Of Rust and Bone” is in French.

They COULD hold that against her. Since also acting in French this year is another Cannes contender, which DID win the Palme d’Or, Emmanuelle Rivas in “L’Amour.” TWO Best Actress nominees BOTH acting in French? I don’t think so. But if anyone can score acting in her own language once again it’s the beautiful Maid Marion.

Also soon to be seen at Toronto, along with “Rust and Bone” and “The Sessions” is Keira Knightley’s new star-turn as “Anna Karenina.” Directed by the extraordinary British helmer Joe Wright, who guided Knightley to her first and so far only Oscar nomination in “Pride and Prejudice.” Will this be a lucky charm once again for this dynamic duo? Or will she just fall short of a nod, and get snubbed, like she did for “Atonement”, which was certainly nomination-worthy in MY book.

And then there’s the darling Laura Linney, ALSO at Toronto, along with Hunt, Cotillard, and Knightley, WOW what a line-up! I’ll just be running from one Best Actress possibility to another in two weeks. Laura Linney has been picked by Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby as the Numero Uno Best of the Best for “Hyde Park on the Hudson.” She has been nominated three times before and this would make FOUR. She’s playing a real person, FDR’s until now, unseen and unrecorded mistress. And everybody loves Laura. She’s everywhere. She got a critically lauded TV series “The Big C” AND she introduces “Downtown Abbey” on PBS with great class and style. She’s due, if anyone is!

And perhaps even more importantly, “Hyde Park on the Hudson” has now ALSO been picked up by the NEW YORK Film Festival, which doubles Linney’s(and the pic’s) prestige chances. Neither “Of Rust and Bone” nor “Anna Karenina” has scored THAT particular double festival whammy.

Well, in two weeks time all will be revealed….And unless some one pops up in a year-end movie, like for instance, Anne Hathaway being put in lead, not Supporting for “Les Miserables” By George, I think we’ve already got our Oscar lady ducks all in a row! And all at Toronto, too! I can’t wait!

Oscar to go E-lectronic ONLINE Voting! Chaos? Progress? The End?

With the shocking announcement the very day AFTER the Academy’s Big Reveal of their 2011 Nominations, AMPAS has sent out a statement saying that is it going digital at last =  the last bastion of postal snail mail, Oscar voting, going the way of the Do-Do. Scary stuff. Some Academy Members are not even ONLINE. Some don’t even OWN a computer, nor want to. I’m not kiddin’. You can’t make this stuff up!

But you know what the Do-Do said to Alice, don’t you? “Everyone has won, and ALL shall have prizes!”

Guess so.

Which I, a victim of technology, as much as Jean Dujardin’s character in “The Artist”, see this as just an INVITATION to the hacker-sphere to “Come ‘n’ git it!”

What if the Oscar results got hacked? And you know THEY WILL…

I’m a Voting Member of the Drama Desk and yes, we all have to vote e-lectronically, but there’s still the OPTION to mail your ballot in. But it seems everybody does use the Internet. Does this mean Theater Critics are hipper than the Hollywood Academy? It would seem so.

You can read the actual press releases themselves at www.deadlinehollywood.com and Steve Pond’s great www.thewrap.com.

This will also herald an earlier Oscar night. Maybe as early as late January or early February. The E-balloting would be instated to MOVE THINGS up, and make things FASTER, voting and tallying-wise.

But it’s progress. They can’t avoid it. But it’s going to wreak havoc on an already crowded awards-season year-end calendar, which OF COURSE, will cause the BFCA, The Golden Globes, this Sunday night’s SAG awards and yes, even the BAFTAs to move THEIR Awards extravaganzas up, too. OF COURSE! D’oh!

Which means that films will have to move up their unseemly December glut to November? Well, that could easily be done. This year’s, 2012, I mean, films will all have to just get finished earlier. Heard THAT Mr. Spielberg?

He’s got Daniel Day Lewis’ BIG OSCAR contender of next year”Lincoln” on the boil…He’ll just have to finish it faster. And he COULD do that. For this announcement to come out THIS EARLY, it’s letting those who are preparing next years extravaganzas to SPEED IT UP! It’s doable.

For example, “War Horse” was more than ready and being screened all over the country, but god forbid not in L.A. and New York, where we, the huddled media masses could see it.

And he DID get nominated. But not THAT much. (He didn’t get nominated for Best Director. Though it did get Best Picture. But like “Hugo” none of his actors got nominated.) He went from being a front-runner, to being, well, just a runner. It’s being held back til Christmas Day did diminish its’ Oscar chances.

You could argue that holding “Dragon Tattoo” back til the last-minute on Xmas day, also, hurt its Best Picture chances. But you could also argue that it never had any chance at BP (Best Picture, not Brad Pitt) to begin with. It’s a genre film to quote Anne Thompson of www.indiewire.com

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone of www.awardsdaily.com  called it “re-arranging deck chairs on the ‘Titanic!’ “

Being accused of looking backwards this year, these pronunciamentos from AMPAS feel like Papal Nuncios. “No! You see! We aren’t looking backwards. We’re looking FORwards!”

But really, is it going to mean anything, except that voters will have to watch more films SOONER? Which means that Voters will inevitably watch LESS films than they even do now.

You better believe it! And that hurts the smaller fringe films. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even WATCH “We’ve Got to Talk About Kevin,” “Shame” and also probably, “Drive.”

I swear that Albert Brooks in “Drive” and Vanessa Redgrave in “Coriolanus” both lost out on being nominated this year on BOTH sides of the Atlantic, because voters just didn’t watch EITHER of their films.

They got turned off in the first 30-40 minutes by the violence and didn’t stay to see Brooks’ and Redgrave’s great, villainous performances, which really kicked in LATER in both films.

AMPAS voters, and probably SAG voters, too, certainly are just OVERWHELMED by the amount of films they have to watch on their DVD players, and that is the way most of them do see these films. The super 3d of “Hugo” loses a lot in 2D on anything but the most sophisticated home players. for instance.

Whereas films with a smaller TV-friendly aspect ratio, like “The Artist” look even BETTER! “The Descendants” would gain on the small screen, too. AND “The Help” AND “Midnight in Paris.”

This will make late summer/early Fall Film Festivals Toronto,Montreal, Venice, New York, even MORE important than they’ve always been.

Because now people like Jason Reitman, who held his “Young Adult,” back from TIFF & NYFF, lived to see his film wither and die outside the Festival circuit.  And now he’ll have to go running back to Toronto, where OF COURSE, they’ll take him back. Like the prodigal son that he is, if only for a nano-seceond. In this scenario, his film of LAST year “Up In the Air” which was accused of “peaking too early” would never have had the chance for that to happen to it. There would’ve been NO TIME! Ditto “The Joy of Typing.”

It will mean that film critics like myself will have VERY busy Novembers instead of Decembers.

And what WILL Harvey Weinstein do?

Well, since he’s always busy ANYway, this new roundelay of “change” may make things even EASIER for him. Certainly more refreshing.

But come what may, this is what is on the way, dear readers, dear cineastes. Change! The Computers are taking over EVERYTHING!

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