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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

5 Films that you can enjoy while you're waiting for a new season of Downton Abbey

When is the new season of Downton Abbey U.S. 
Impatient for Downtown Abbey’s new season that doesn’t premiere in the U.S. until January 5, 2014? Get your fix with these five films that even the Dowager Countess of Grantham would approve of.

1. Gosford Park (2001)
Gosford Park is a 1930’s period film, written by Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, and directed by the legendary Robert Altman. Upstairs guests and downstairs servants are assembled for a hunting party weekend when one of the group is murdered. It’s a high-class whodunit with a dream ensemble cast including: Helen Mirren, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe — and Maggie Smith as Constance, a dependent countess with a quip for every occasion.

2. The Remains Of The Day (1993)
If you think Mr. Carson is uptight, then it’s time to meet Mr. Stevens. Anthony Hopkins (Mr. Stevens) and Emma Thompson (Miss Kenton) star in this moving story of a butler's steely devotion to his master (Christopher Reeve) and the high-spirited young woman who threatens to crack his reserve. The Remains of the Day received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and more.

3. Cranford (2007)
Cranford, a BBC mini series, is a charming period drama set in northwest England in 1842. Dame Judi Dench leads a cast of quirky, snarky and lovable characters who live in a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. Jim Carter, Downton’s Mr. Carson, appears in many episodes.

4. Anna Karenia (2012)
Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky (Jude Law). Michelle Dockery, Downton’s Lady Mary Crawley has a role as Princess Myagkaya. 

5. The Secrets of The Manor House Series
Secrets of the Manor House, a PBS documentary series, looks at many ancient British houses, and how mounting financial, political and social pressures brought momentous changes to both the wealthy and their servants. The Secrets of Highclere Castle explores the home that is the setting to Downtown Abbey, The Secrets of Althorp –The Spencers navigates viewers through the childhood home and final resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales and The Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace: Hampton Court Secrets of Chatsworth visits the Tudor palace. All are perfectly charming. All are worth ten bucks.



Princess Diana Di movie
An air of respectful caution hangs over Diana, although Naomi Watts does her best to bring some complexity to the story of the Princess of Wales as she tries to redefine her public and private life after splitting from Charles. How British of this film to be so, so…constrained.

The good news is that it’s better than a Lifetime movie. The creators stayed clear of melodrama, sensationalism and “car-crash cinema” and they have an intriguing story to tell about Diana’s personal relationships with both Hasnat Khan and Dodi Fayed.

The bad news, is that’s it’s not as good as The Queen, the 2006 Helen Mirren film about Queen Elizabeth II that had a lot more to say about “the people’s princess.”

Simply put: I love any biopic, but most viewers will find this a royal bore.

Award potential: Taking on the most recognized woman in the world is a thankless task. Don’t bet too much money on Naomi Watts scoring a Best Actress nomination, this film’s only shot at award season.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

About Time

Oscar Golden Globe Best Picture comedy best director Richard Curtis Bill Nighy Domhall Gleeson nude Rachel McAdams Nude
The creator of Love Actually has his follow up, and it’s About Time.

Richard Curtis, who wrote the screenplays for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill and was the writer/director of Love Actually, uses time travel as an unusual storytelling device for this new romantic comedy.

The poster suggests a romantic love story, and there is a sweet romance between the leads Tim (Domhall Gleeson) and Mary (Rachel McAdams), but the more heartfelt story involves the relationship between Tim and his father (Bill Nighy).

Still, this is more of a movie about life than it is about love. And the life lesson that follows the wandering time travel and romantic love stories packs a huge wallop. So much so, I completely have to recommend this film.

Simply put: Close your eyes, clench your fists and go see this (ultimately) inspiring film.

Award potential: It has some potential for a few Golden Globe Comedy nominations I suppose, but this is not an Academy Award level film.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Captain Phillips

Photo of real Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips is a new thriller based on the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates.

Bourne director and Academy Award nominee Paul Greengrass' cinema verité style makes this film a bit more grounded and realistic than this season’s other quality thriller about a team in peril, Gravity.

And Hanks plays Phillips so layered and realistic that you can imagine working on his crew. By the time the story builds to an emotional crescendo in the final scene, I was definitely moved.

Simply put: It’s less fantastic than Gravity and duller than Argo, but this is one sturdy thriller and some of the most powerful work that Hanks has ever done.

Award potential: Oscar voters will certainly cast a Best Actor nomination for Hanks. Potential for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and more.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Don Jon / Enough Said

Best supporting actor actress comedy Golden Globe 2013 2014 Scarlett Johansson nude film naked bush
Two new comedies explore the topic of “love” with relationships that are a bit more unique than the standard romantic comedy: Don Jon and Enough Said.

In Don Jon, a buffed up Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jon Martello, a player who is basically The Jersey Shore’s Situation or any other douchebag who scores a lot. Scarlett Johansson plays guidette Barbara Sugarman — basically, Jersey Shore’s Sammi Sweetheart.

Wrestling with different expectations of the opposite sex, these two struggle against a culture full of false fantasies. For Barbara, the fantasies are Hollywood’s romantic movies. For Jon, it’s porn. It’s a lively, timely, and decidedly adult look at relationships, but it’s ultimately just too all-over-the-place for me to recommend beyond a rental (despite a refreshing final bit about sex and love).

Enough Said, also new to theaters, is a different adult take on relationships. In fact, the ads say “At last a movie for adults.” The film explores mid-life romance through multiple couples, and focuses on two post-divorce lost souls who hope to love and trust someone again.

Those two souls are played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini and they are are terrific together. Midway through the film, a sitcom-style plot nearly suffocates the authenticity out of this, but ultimately these characters and their dialogue make for a breezy good take on love and middle age.

Simply put: Two pretty good and pretty adult rom-coms.

Award potential: No Oscar noms for either. Enough Said’s Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini have a good shot at Golden Globe comedy nominations.

The ten buck review: Don Jon, not worth ten bucks, rent it later. 
Enough Said, worth ten bucks. I almost gave this a rental recommendation too, but it’s worth your money to see one of Gandolfini’s last roles on the big screen.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Academy Award Alfonso Cuaron Oscar Gravity Winner
Sandra Bullock plays Ryan Stone, a scientist on her first space mission and George Clooney plays Buzz Lightyear, ahem, Matt Kowalski, the wisecracking, experienced astronaut in a new 3-D film about astronauts stranded in space.

Enter Alfonso Cuarón's (Children of Men,Y Tu Mamá También) and suddenly this is not your ordinary Bullock Clooney thriller, it’s one of the best movies of the year. And it’s certainly the most breathtakingly beautiful one.

Cuarón and his cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, puts us in poetic, weightless suspension with the astronauts. The simple, beautiful camerawork is dazzling. It’s amazing that in 2013, they have created a space movie that looks and feels unlike any I’ve seen before.

The 91-minute story, which I won’t reveal much about, moves from a basic thriller to a tale of rebirth. It’s simple, yet worthy of the director’s remarkable work.
Simply put: An out of this world, intelligent crowd-pleaser for all types of audiences.
Award potential: In space, no one can hear you scream, but in January, 21st Century Fox will be screaming about nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and more. 

The ten buck review:  Worth ten bucks — and an appropriate use of 3-D.