Posts Tagged ‘Julianne Moore’

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Flynn! If a movie stars Paul Dano, Robert De Niro, and Julianne Moore, then you should certainly expect it to feature phenomenal acting. Being Flynn doesn’t disappoint. As well as above-average performances, the writing is also top-notch with so many quotable lines—mostly from De Niro’s character.

The delusions of grandeur are evident in the introduction…

“America has produced only three classic writers: Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger and me. I’m Jonathan Flynn. Everything I write is a masterpiece. And soon, very soon, I shall be known.” — Jonathan Flynn

Paul Weitz directed Being Flynn and wrote the screenplay based on the memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, by Nick Flynn. The story is simple. Nick works at a homeless shelter where his long-lost father (Jonathan) ends up staying after spending weeks on the cold streets.

Being Flynn is dreadfully depressing. Naturally, the pacing is also slow and methodical.

Since Nick is an aspiring writer and Jonathan proclaims everything he writes to be a masterpiece, this movie involves a lot of narration from Nick and Jonathan talking inside their own heads. At the very beginning, Paul Dano and Robert De Niro trade-off with dueling narrations. De Niro’s character delivers the delightful line, “Don’t worry. You’re back. Back in the hands of a master storyteller.”

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That one early remark tells you everything you need to know about Jonathan Flynn.

De Niro’s character revels in being a dismissive, narcissistic prick.

The dynamic of the troubled father-son relationship between Paul Dano (as Nick Flynn) and Robert De Niro (as Jonathan Flynn) feels genuinely believable. Give De Niro credit for that. Although he’s pretty much a despicable human being, you still manage to like Jonathan Flynn because of De Niro’s undeniable charm. It’s impressive to see an engaging performance from De Niro. When was the last surprising performance from De Niro in the past decade? When you don’t see something for so long, you start to question whether that type of performance is still achievable. The range on display by De Niro in Being Flynn will serve as a reminder as to why he’s one of the best actors ever.

I want more of this De Niro before the old coot kicks the bucket.

As much as I love De Niro, the blood pumping through the heart of this movie is Paul Dano. Nick Flynn isn’t necessarily a likeable character, but Dano captures the essence and angst of someone struggling to find a purpose. It’s unfortunate that Paul Dano perpetually looks like a meek, mild-mannered teenager. Eventually, people will realize Paul Dano is one of our finest young actors.

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While Nick Flynn is trying to make meaning out of his life, he uses writing as a way to express himself and release his emotions. It made my skin crawl to listen to Nick read his writing with such self-satisfaction. It’s an amazing lack of awareness that so many people have about themselves. I’ve had people tell me they enjoy my writing or art. But I’ll never believe them. Compliments never make me feel comfortable. Instead, my brain will find some flaw to try to negate the positive.

Things seem to be getting on the right track for Nick when he starts working at Harbor House—a men’s homeless shelter. However, that facade quickly crumbles when his father, Jonathan, enters the picture as a resident in need of a bed. Learning his absentee father is circling the drain leads Nick down a path of drugs and alcohol to escape. Jonathan causes daily disruptions at the homeless shelter, and he just generally wreaks havoc wherever he goes because he only seems to care about himself.

Unfortunately, these types of explosive people actually exist in real life. They are toxic.

How do you deal with them when it is someone in your own family?

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Although Dano and De Niro are the stars—along with Julianne Moore, in her limited screen time shown in flashbacks as Nick’s mother—Being Flynn employs a surprisingly good supporting cast. Olivia Thirlby is a strong pillar of support as Denise, the love interest and close friend of Nick. Thomas Middleditch and Chris Chalk help break up the monotony as Nick’s roomates (Richard and Ivan, respectively). Even Wes Studi is enjoyable as the stoic Captain of Harbor House. It’s a very small detail, but I fucking loved when he turns his chair to sit backwards in the classic “teacher trying to look cool and hip” pose.

I found a lot to enjoy about Being Flynn over several viewings. When I find a well-written, well-acted film, I like to savor it. Being Flynn isn’t as good of a two-man show as There Will Be Blood (also co-starring Paul Dano), but this movie is much more palatable for a broader audience.

Being Flynn is hardly the first movie to focus on homelessness. It’s a relatable topic and a realistic day-to-day fear for too many in this country who live paycheck-to-paycheck. However, most movies of this ilk don’t have the same amount of dark fun with this type of depressing subject.

Luckily, Being Flynn never stays dull and dreary for too long. Director and screenplay writer Paul Weitz knew when to pull the plane out of a nosedive at the right time. Basically, Robert De Niro took the reigns to say something stupid and racist. It was fun mocking his bigoted idiocy.

This is another movie I will fight you over if you don’t like it. Flynn!

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4.5 out of 5 stars

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Still Alice is a heartbreaking story about a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University who discovers she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. If you’ve had family or friends with Alzheimer’s disease, this movie might be a difficult watch. Still Alice is a heavy drama that aims to give the audience a glimpse of what it is like to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and the impact it also has on family.

Julianne Moore will win Best Actress at the Oscars for her portrayal of Alice. This is a truly great performance, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone familiar with Julianne Moore’s career. Has she ever sucked in anything? Boogie Nights doesn’t count—I’m not talking about that kind of sucking. Julianne Moore is the best working actress and she should be more appreciated for her incredible range.

From start to finish, Julianne Moore shows you the progression of this terrible disease as it takes a toll on her personal and professional life. As a linguistics professor, Alice’s identity is her brain and handle on language. You experience the transformation as Alice is not so slowly losing her mind.

Nothing in Alice’s life is staying the same—not even her family.

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The supporting cast is decent, but no one else will be remembered for this movie. Alec Baldwin is the best you can hope for as Alice’s husband who is struggling with how to live his life while still care for his wife. Unfortunately, their children are just dreadful. Kate Bosworth is completely forgettable as Alice’s oldest daughter and Hunter Parrish (only known as Silas from the TV show Weeds) is just sort of there. Kristen Stewart is hit-and-miss as Alice’s youngest daughter who dreams of becoming an actress.

To the detriment of the movie overall and its story, Still Alice mostly uses the family members as objects in the background (albeit playing important parts at times) rather than bringing them to the forefront. Only Kristen Stewart really gets a significant opportunity to develop a more dimensional character than her bland siblings. Alec Baldwin’s character has more depth because of his acting ability.

Still, Alice is the focus even though everything is going out of focus from her perspective.

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Still Alice is a very depressing movie. This isn’t a fantasy, things don’t just get better because you want it to go back to normal. It’s real life. You or someone you love will struggle through a similar experience regardless of the affliction. Still Alice provides insight specifically on Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s a universal experience we all will inevitably face—especially with the prevalence of cancer. We all go through it and survive in our own ways. Still Alice is a good movie, but the story is unremarkable without Julianne Moore’s extraordinary performance. While this is likely the seminal movie on Alzheimer’s disease, I feel doomed to forget nearly everything except my love of Julianne Moore.

Forgetful

3 out of 5 stars

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Don Jon is another gem in a long line of highly enjoyable Joseph Gordon-Levitt movies. It’s no Hesher or 50/50, which are both in the upper echelon of my favorite movies—and that’s not even mentioning the fantastic, mesmerizing sci-fi flick Looper. But you can hardly hold that against Don Jon.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the writer/director, and his talent shines through in both aspects as he truly transforms into a Jersey Shore reject. However, that may actually be unfair to Jon because there’s more depth to his character than those orange, greasy one-note duds. After witnessing the quality caliber of Gordon-Levitt’s writing, I can excitedly declare I’m looking forward to the next 10-15 years of his movies. Hopefully, the same can be said for Michael B. Jordan (Wallace from The Wire) after his phenomenal performance in Fruitvale Station. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a few steps ahead of Michael B. Jordan at this point, but these are two incredible young actors with a penchant for interesting roles.

Pay attention to them, please.

As for Don Jon, it is a romantic comedy that avoids being your typical cookie cutter romantic comedy. Initially, I heard about this movie during Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s appearance on The Nerdist Podcast when it was still titled Don Jon’s Addiction. It’s fair to wonder whether or not Joseph Gordon-Levitt felt compelled to curtail the dark humor for a broader audience and more widespread appeal because this movie was initially threatened with the dreaded NC-17 label for the graphic porn displayed.

Ultimately, Don Jon could’ve gone darker with more of a bend on the genre, but it’s hard to complain when a movie makes you laugh and makes a point at the same time.

“There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.” — Don Jon

Don’t look too much into the story of Don Jon ahead of time. Where the story turns and how deep you travel down into the rabbit hole is a pleasant surprise. What you need to know is that Don Jon is a Jersey ladies man who loves porn and trying to find a new woman to fuck every weekend. This is not a shitty Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy, but it could have been if it were in the wrong hands. If only McConaughey did something half as interesting as this movie during his stretch of boring box office bombs.

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While this is largely a character study and commentary on love/relationships, the writing develops some thoroughly entertaining secondary characters. Tony Danza redeems himself—for failing to even remotely resemble a baseball pitcher in Angels in the Outfield, which also starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt—with this performance as Don Jon’s simpleton dad who loves football. He fucking loves football.

Who knew Tony Danza could act?

We all know Julianne Moore can act, and she does an impressive job as always in this movie as Esther. It was an interesting casting choice to go with Julianne Moore, but it pays off because of her incredibly believable portrayal. Scarlett Johansson is her typical uptight self, which is perfectly apt for her character of Barbara as a somewhat prudish, superficial succubus.

Some twists and quirks create an entertaining prism from which to view love/relationships. You surely have known someone in a similar position as Jon who has changed since he’s been dating Barbara. And now Jon is facing the inescapable pressure to settle down and start a family. That is an issue of note when you’re only concerned continuing your streak of fucking a new “8” or above each week. Oh, and Jon loves porn even more than prolonging that Cal Ripken-esque streak.

As if it needs to be said after reading this review, Don Jon is not a movie for parents or stuffy old white people with no sense of humor. Even watching this movie with a loved one or close friend could be awkward due to the rather racy subject matter. But don’t let the generous heaping of porn prevent you from watching this movie because there’s a genuine beating heart at the center of Don Jon.

Tony Danza

4 out 5 stars

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I had the displeasure of watching the reshot of Carrie about a month ago. But notice how I haven’t written anything movie-related since that awful experience. I’ve been dreading revisiting this film. Carrie is an abysmal mess that cannot be categorized as a remake or reimagining because that would imply that some actual thought or creativity was invested. Carrie was completely void of anything remotely interesting.

Can we please stop choosing good movie to be remade into worse ones? Remakes should only be reserved for bad movies to have a second chance at being worthwhile. This trend of recycling what is familiar needs to stop. We aren’t out of original ideas just yet.

Speaking of what is original, the 1976 version of Carrie was creepy yet comical. It was not a perfect movie without flaws, but the time setting fit perfectly for the story. Uprooting this story from the 70s era and planting it into the present age was a distractingly annoying choice. But that’s only like the 167th thing wrong with this movie.  Unless I’m misunderstood, the character of Carrie is meant to be a timid outcast afraid of everything without any social awareness as a result of being sheltered and abused by her crazy religious mother. For fuck sakes, she thinks she’s dying when her period starts while in the shower.

But in this version, Carrie is looking up YouTube videos of telekinetic powers. Don’t worry, they show her ignorance by the fact that she doesn’t know how to watch the video in full screen. Get it!? It’s because she’s sheltered and doesn’t know computers. Oh, they’re so creative.

One substantial issue with this new version is that it didn’t need to be burden with the R rating. The original Carrie seized on the opportunity to highlight boobs and bush—particularly in the girls shower/locker room, which was a classic staple of the 70s and 80s.

Why would you take the trade-off of less potential profit at the box office when you’re not taking advantage of gratuitous nudity or gore? Why else would you make an R-rated movie?

Without question, the most disgusting sequence in this reshot of Carrie is the wholly unnecessary home birth ordeal during the introduction when Margaret White (played by Julianne Moore) shits out baby Carrie and contemplates stabbing it. If there’s a silver lining to this turd, it has to be Julianne Moore.

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I can’t really recall a bad acting performance by Julianne Moore. But I don’t think Julianne Moore and Chloë Grace Moretz were acting in the same movie. Instead of the campy and absolutely crazy portrayal of Carrie’s mother utilized in the original (played by Piper Laurie), Julianne Moore took this role much darker with Margaret White mired in a deep depression that was exacerbated by her crazy conviction to the Lord.

If this new imagining of Carrie wanted the movie to match the mood set by Julianne Moore’s performance, then casting Chloë Grace Moretz was completely the wrong choice. Chloë Grace Moretz was truly overmatched as an actress. She couldn’t live up to the established standard when it came to dramatic moments and everything entirely fell to shit whenever Carrie was using her powers.

I don’t know why Chloë Grace Moretz looks like she was trying to hold in a massive shit while still releasing a fart, but that’s the best description I can conjure when she was shown wildly gesticulating as if her hands were controlling the objects—rather than the piercing stare of Sissy Spacek in the original.

Fire Shits

Let’s just say Carrie seemed like she was suffering from an awful case of the Taco Bell fire shits.

And while I love Julianne Moore, I need to know if Sissy Spacek was at least offered the role of Carrie’s mother in this new version. Why not? She’s still capable of an effective performance and it might have provided some caché or incentive to watch this fragmented mishmash.

Only a whole new script could have possibly saved this late-term abortion. The execution of Carrie was clunky, sloppy, and uneven. I look forward to finally putting this behind me so I can forget it even exists—just like what I had to do with the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Don’t support this movie or the uninspired repackaging it represents.

Stay away from this forever.

0.5 out of 5 stars

Boogie Nights