In honor of the release of Mama, Spencer and Greg discuss Jessica Chastain.
The notion of “presenting” a film has become an easy way for studios to market films based on their producers rather than selling the production itself…and tends to be more of a warning sign for the viewer. I was willing to overlook this concern for Mama because I really like Guillermo del Toro, and he does have a track record of attaching himself to some good films. Additionally, Jessica Chastain has had a great track record for picking projects the last few years. But, sometimes it is best to judge a book by its cover.
Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Really? The 32nd President of the United States? The man who rescued us from the Great Depression and dealt with the looming threat of World War II? The camp counselor from Meatballs and the smarmiest Ghostbuster was going to play one of the greatest presidents in American history? Really? Many people are probably struck by this casting when they first hear of the new period drama Hyde Park on Hudson. Truthfully, Murray is quite good and probably the least problematic part of this very mixed bag of a movie.
Well, what a weak year it has been. Not that there haven’t been movies and performances that I have liked, but nothing is easy to point to and say: “this is a great piece of cinema that deserve accolades and will be talked about years from now.” The Academy has done little to help here, with many random—and, in some cases, dismal—nomination choices. But still, they have to give these awards to someone. So, here are my guesses and personal choices for the Academy Awards.
Another Top 5 segment from The MacGuffin. This time Allen and Brandi share their top 5 character actresses.
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I love the Oscar race! Just looking at the potential films and seeing which will become major contenders sends excitement coursing through me, especially for Best Picture. I try to figure out the films that the Academy will love and, more importantly, which films will I love as well. I always hope that I will agree with the Academy, because despite what my feelings might be about the Academy, them giving a movie Best Picture helps a movie become more well known and helps people embrace it. So, when they give it to something less than deserving (or worse), it is like they are hurting film. This is an intense love/hate relationship for me, but I keep coming back and right now we have reached the end of summer and are entering the fall. This is usually the starting point for the Oscar season.
The Debt, an American remake based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name, follows the story of three Israeli operatives set with the mission of apprehending a Nazi war criminal in East Berlin in 1966. Rachel (Jessica Chastain), Stefan (Marton Csokas), and David (Sam Worthington) don’t know each other, but must now live together in one rundown apartment as they execute the plan to capture the man who once conducted the most horrible of medical “experiments” on Jewish captives, Dieter Vogel, the “Surgeon of Birkenau” (Jesper Christiansen). He’s now working under an assumed name as a gynecologist and fertility specialist, which is about the creepiest thing I can imagine.
I have been reluctant to write this review. I’ve been avoiding it for days, despite knowing that I have a lot to say. Sometimes you enjoy a film immensely despite undeniable flaws, and often we term that a “guilty pleasure,” an “escape,” or something along those lines. But when one feels that way about a film that has the pedigree of something like The Help, a film that tries—and often succeeds—in being much more than escapism, the discussion feels a little more difficult. It feels more like launching a defense, and maybe a reluctant one. That’s where I stand now: knowing what my emotional feeling was during and immediately after the film, and trying to reconcile that with my analytical thoughts after some distance. It’s tougher than I anticipated going in to that screening.