Tag Archives: director

All over but the crying

I have just finished binge-watching the new season of House of Cards. But don’t worry — there are no spoilers here.

You have to put in all those hours to learn about their latest foibles.

house of cards2

 

I’m just anxious to interact with real people again after my total immersion the past couple of days (other than brief breaks for UK basketball [29-0] and dog walks).

You know what I missed most?

Blinking.

Not me — I blink quite a bit, whether in conversation or while watching hours of TV.  I wear contacts; it’s required.

But the cast of House of Cards never appears to blink. Not even when the camera takes a long, dramatic look…pushing in for a revealing closeup.

They simply don’t give into the urge.

I would love to be on set when the director yells ‘cut.’ I envision the actors blinking furiously. Eye drops being administered post haste. A furious rubbing of eyelids, followed by frantic makeup touch ups.

Or, I hope that happens.

 

Men of action

Since I had a late night celebrating New Year’s Eve — thank you, Skype — I decided to ease into 2015 reading on the couch.

Today’s tome?

Cary Elwes Photo and Book 09262014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, Cary Elwes wasn’t here with me, darn the luck — but his memoir of the casting, preparation and filming of The Princess Bride reads like a candid conversation.

Elwes reminisces about every step and misstep (literally) in his journey as the sword-wielding Westley, true love of Buttercup and (SPOILER ALERT) secret identity of the Dread Pirate Roberts.  Every word telegraphs his enduring love for the role and for the cast and crew, as do sidebars from co-stars Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal and director Rob Reiner.

But it is Elwes’ gratitude and humility some 25 years later that are most endearing.  He has enjoyed a successful career in film, but acknowledges that he owes an enormous debt to…

The Man in Black.

 

 

Here’s to Tony

Thanks to Time Warner Cable’s primetime OnDemand, I was able to watch the first episode of WeTV’s new drama The Divide before it’s premiere this Wednesday, July 16th.

the-divideI was initially drawn to the show because Tony Goldwyn, our beloved president on Scandal, is one of the executive producers and the director.  He has an impressive list of credits in the director role :  Scandal, Justified, Dexter, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, and The L Word.  So I figured this new show was worth a look.

And I was right.

The story centers on a prisoner who has been on death row for almost 12 years for the murder of an entire family.  All appeals have failed, and he is scheduled to be executed in a matter of weeks when a member of the Innocence Initiative finds new evidence that may be enough for a new trial.

The cast is excellent, what I’ve seen of the writing is compelling, and Tony’s direction is top-notch.  I’ve already set my DVR to record the entire series.

Check it out!

 

Oscar unworthy

I’m headed to Los Angeles this weekend — for work,  of course.  But my hotel is located right next door to the Grammy Awards venue.

I know, right?

Another red carpet, another round of celebrity self-congratulations.  And as the Academy Awards draw ever nearer, I have to say — this year’s awards season seems even more shallow than usual.  The nominees, the producers, the directors, and even the Oscar voters, I dare say, have abandoned even the appearance of giving out the statutes based on quality.

You just gotta be popular.

Producers always run elaborate pre-Oscar marketing campaigns for movies and their stars, but this year, even the actors are purchasing full-page ads in industry publications ‘for your consideration.’

Case in point: Melissa Leo, Best Supporting Actress nominee for her gritty performance in  “The Fighter,” (which has already garnered her three other trophies).

Chillax, Melissa.  You’ve been considered.  And shee-shee pics like these may swing opinion in the other direction.

The popularity of  the leading actors in The King’s Speech is also one of the main reasons it has of late pulled ahead of The Social Network in the awards race — not because Speech is a better film.  (It’s not.)  This became especially clear during the SAG Awards telecast.

When the casts of both movies appeared on stage during the show, the good feelings that washed over the cast of The King’s Speech were palpable…. whereas the young entourage from The Social Network was prickly, awkward and off-putting.

Heck, I wanted TSN to win, and I didn’t like their attitude that night much either.  But I would hope — if I had the opportunity to vote for any of the awards — that I could separate my personal feelings about any of the nominees from their work in the films.

If the Oscars are going to mean anything now and in the future, the voting community has to man up, act like adults and vote based on the quality of the filmmaking…not just ‘who’s their buddy.’

But then again, maybe none of them are that good of actors.

Directions

I see a lot of movies…at least one a week.

And never has a director’s ‘stamp’ been so obvious to me as during the double feature I saw yesterday:  “Conviction,” starring Hillary Swank, and “Hereafter,” with Matt Damon.

I hadn’t intended to see two such heavy films back-to-back, but the times worked out and the screens were right next door to each other…so off I went.

“Conviction” is the true story of a working class mother who puts herself through college and law school in an attempt to free her brother who is serving a life sentence after being wrongly convicted of murder.  Director Tony Goldwyn, who has worked behind the camera in television more than film, really brings the audience into the story.  The scenes between Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell, who plays her brother, are particularly heartbreaking.

I don’t know how anyone could leave the theater untouched by that movie.

I can’t same the same about “Hereafter.” Directed by Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood, this movie tells the story of three people — an American man, a French woman and a British boy — who are all touched by death and whose lives intersect in their quest to connect with life beyond.

Eastwood’s movie  has a bold opening that took my breath away, but when the emotion should have matched the CGI, the film instead pulled away.  I felt like a spectator from a very great distance.  I still cared about the people; I just didn’t share in their experiences.

So…why was the material handled so differently?

Did Goldwyn, who has lived in in Massachusetts (where the “Conviction” story took place) have a more personal connection to the material…and that subsequently came through in the final product?

Could Eastwood’s own feelings about life-after death have caused him to ‘observe’ the story himself and unintentionally give the audience the same experience?

Or did I bring my own biases to the party that colored my view of both films?

If you’ve seen “Conviction,” “Hereafter,” or both, leave a comment with your thoughts.

And we’ll see.  We’ll see.