Tag Archives: James McAvoy

50/50: Was Better Than 50/50

To keep things simple, this movie surpised me as a darker true drama comedy. I wasn’t sure about 50/50 going in, and I was surprised that I liked it more than 50/50 percent. I hadn’t seen any trailers, but knew I was going to see it based on my mom’s need to see it. That’s solely because Josephy Gordon-Levitt was meant to be play by fellow boss actor, James McAvoy. But, all the same, it was a moving film about cancer that I’d never really seen before. It was edgy with just the right amount of humor (AKA Hall scene, when you see it, you’ll know.) and just enough human connection. Although I thought it was going to be a comedy, I was pleasantly surprised to the contrary.

This is a true story (about one of Seth Rogen’s friends, I think) who was diagnosed with cancer in his late twenties. With seemingly nothing wrong in his life, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a radio producer in his prime with a

Gordon-Levitt coming to terms with cancer.

loving girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). His best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) is a bit of a dick, but he really sticks by Adam. Include a neurotic, worrying mother (Anjelica Huston) and you’ve got the heartbreakingly bittersweet journey of one man’s back cancer.

There were lots of things I loved about this movie. First off, Adam and Rachael’s relationship. Adam, for lack of a better word, is spineless (and that’s a pun). He doesn’t assert himself anywhere in life, and you feel that would set up for his last run at life full force with his knowledge of cancer. But that’s not what happens at all. At least, not until the threat of

This scene was amazing because it was real.

death towards the very end. I have to say, the entire ending is one gigantic emotional scene. I’m pretty sure everyone shed at least one tear in that theater. Anyways, Rachael is an artist, and she has all of these “expos” and “galleries” all the time that gives her not much time for Adam, although she promises to stay by his side and help him through his disease. Fat lot of good that does.

Adam’s relationship with his parents is something I would have liked to see a lot more of. Adam’s father has Alzheimers and hasn’t remembered his son for quite some time. His mother has both her father and her estranged son to dole on, but never is really give the chance to help and care for them. Adam’s friendship with Kyle (AKA, Seth Rogen in every movie) is something that isn’t worthwhile until the end of the film. In a Knocked Up/40 Year Old Virgin mash-up, Seth Rogen drinks and smokes as he does in every movie and tries to get laid. He’s skinnier now, but it’s still sad. If this is how he truly acted around his real friend with cancer, I will now shudder with the thought.

Anna Kendrick. Yes.

Add also into the mix, Anna Kendrick. Current Twilight understudy, like many of the other Twilighters, she has broken away from the stereotypical marble mold and been given a chance for bigger and better works. I would say this is one of them. Playing an awkwardly naive therapist, Katherine attempts to help Adam come to terms with the idea of dying, although his chances are 50/50.

There are some eye opening scenes and experiences in this movie that I never really knew about. Chemotherapy and its aftermath looks horrendous and tragic. The diminishment of life that is experienced while just going through treatment is completely harrowing. The toll that cancer can play on not just the life of the person, but the life of everyone the person knows, is beyond comprehension. All of this issues come to a beautiful story about Adam that I would love to give credit to director Johnathan Levine and writer Will Reiser. With a great cast (besides Seth Rogen for the most part, but, if Seth Rogen is playing Seth Rogen, then it’s all good) and a fantastic delivery, this movie is worth a watch or two for a good life perspective switch. 9.3 out of 10.

Just overall fantastic.

 

Advertisements

The Conspirator: 19th Century Courtroom Drama

I didn’t know much about this movie as me and my family sat down to watch this Robert Redford film of drama. I thought, “Hmmm, James McAvoy? Courtroom drama? Civil War Era? I’m in.” Always having had an interest in the courtroom (I love The Rainmaker.) and becoming a lawyer, fighting for equal representation, this movie piqued my interest once again. And the injustice of another trial was the perfect setting for this film of one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.

Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is a hardened Civil War

Never stop acting, you lovely man you, James McAvoy.

Northerner that has found his place in the martial court of the newly reunited United States of America. Prejudiced like so many against the South, Frederick hesitantly walks through a newly formed Union, as if on eggshells. And then one night it happened.

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) the man who pulled the trigger, escaped on the only bridge opened that night in D.C., and

Some wonderful images from The Conspirator.

was subsequently shot by his pursuers. It was not this man alone though who crafted one of the worst killings of all time. Also implicated were a dozen other men, including one Mrs. Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). It was at her boarding house that those men, with or without her knowledge, plotted a beloved President’s assassination.

In conjunction with Mary Surratt’s case, Aiken must defend a woman who he finds detestable, a Southerner, and do it with all the equality he can muster. With inner turmoil, a D.C. village who outcasts Aiken for his ability to abide by justice for all citizens, and a government attempting to hang a woman out to dry for her boarding house/son’s doing, this film full to the brim with injustice. And like it or not, the ending with frustrate the shizz out of you. And, despite this harrowing fact, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Just some of the great cast from the movie. Chillin'.

Why, you may ask? The actors. And surprisingly, a bunch of English actors parading about as Northerners and Southerners of America. It appears as if Robert Redford found their caliber of acting to be far better than that of an equally good American counterpart. But that’s besides the point. Let’s talk about James McAvoy. This wonderful actor really took a role that spoke to me and my own beliefs. He attention and hold to justice was admirable and honorable all in one. Despite the persecution he felt from his contemporaries, he fought fairly for Mary Surratt and her unfair incarceration and foreboding hang date. And Robin Wright herself was a beauty to watch on film. Her prim and proper character fought for her son and daughter and the injustice that was done to her was denied until the end.

Other notable people? Of course there are lots. Kevin Kline played a key, behind the scenes role as

Wonderful scenes happened here.

Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War and initiator of the Mary Surratt trial. He knew his Northern counterparts demanded a scapegoat, some form of justice, and he gave it to them. Tom Wilkinson played the helpless Southern Marlyand lawyer in charge of Mary’s case who had to decline taking it on the grounds of his bias. His noble stature as Reverdy Johnson stood out to me, despite his cowardice. Evan Rachel Wood played a solidly respectable Anna Surratt, the daughter and poorly mistreated girl that Aiken came to respect despite her ability to turn in her brother. And Danny Huston played a fantastic antagonist as Joseph Holt, the prosecuting attorney and lowlife scoundrel.

A film to be remembered.

The list goes on as is expected from a Redford backed film, and I appreciated the attention to detail in costume, characters, and time period. For the love of God, we must talk about the lighting! It was superb. If any detail in a time period without electricity needed paying attention to, it was this. The lighting in this film blew me out of the water. It literally blew my mind how a film could still function with minimal lighting and dust floating through the air, and make it seem so so so so so authentic. It was superb and caught all of my attention, as if the trial was taking place just right in front of me. The town felt like a suburb of D.C., and all actors carried resemblances of their Civil War characters. If any period piece film about the Civil War need be watched other than Glory (that most important #1), it should be this one. 9.5 out of 10.


Gnomeo & Juliet

This cute little film filled with British actors takes a new look at the story of Romeo and Juliet and uses a British topic of interest. Garden gnomes. (Not sure if a lo of Brits have these, but it’d be interesting to see some U.K. gardens.) I watched this with my mom (U.K. T.V. analyst and fellow blogger) mostly for James McAvoy’s voice talents. We’re both fans, but for slightly different reasons. (Not really though, he is pretty dreamy.) This tragic William Shakespeare story is turned on its head (as the poster suggests) with a cute plot device using warring gardens who happen to be owned by Miss Montague (Julie Walters, good old Mrs. Weasley) of the “Blue”burys and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson) of the “Red”bricks.

Set apart from typical Pixar and Dreamworks films, this film takes its own approach to animation in the 3-D. Although

McEvoy and Blunt as the disguised Gnomeo and Juliet

Touchstone and Miramax do good animated films, this British touch to the way things looked was refreshing, at the same time that it seemed a bit off in its sharpness and cutting edge-i-ness. But it’s all the same to me these days, what with all these mass amounts of animal infested, fantastical adventures films made for kids and adults in 3-D animation. (I would recommend Rio though, it was quite a cast and story.) But the story stands out in comparison to the lack of pizzazz in the animation, and gave it some credibility.

Warring gardens with love in the mix.

So as expected, the story follows quite closely to the original Romeo and Juliet plot line. (Less death unfortunately.) The warring families led by Lord Rebrick (Michael Caine) who’s Juliet’s (Emily Blunt) father and Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith) who’s Gnomeo’s (James McAvoy) mother despise each other for reasons that seem a bit hazy. The real test between the families is whose garden is superior. One night, in order to impress her father, Juliet sneaks out of the garden in order to retrieve a beautiful flower to spruce up the garden. Surprise, surprise, Gnomeo sneaks out as well for some mischief. The two cross paths, sparks fly, and their love is forever fated.

But oh the problems that ensue. One’s red and the other’s blue! What will they do? Their love is forbidden and they may only meet in secrecy. And there must be some conflict that arises when their love is discovered! And yes, there is. This version doesn’t disappoint and how could it? True British actors are tackling a fellow countryman’s play.

Now let’s talk about the cast. I was quite surprised at the acting chops associated with this film, and every last one a Brit! Of course there’s the two star-crossed

Sorry Jim Cummings you just missed the mark.

lovers, James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as Gnomeo and Juliet. Maggie Smith and Michael Caine lend their voices to their parents as some veterans of the BBC business. Also, and more unexpectedly, Jason Statham is featured in this film as Tybalt the red menace of the Montague house. I was really surprised to discover this after a few Transporter lines were delivered. I just can’t seem to grip the idea that Jason Statham is British! Matt Lucas, the good old Little Britains sketch comedy genius of the hairless kind lends a generically comedic voice to Benny, Gnomeo’s number 2. Even Patrick Stewart (Will Shakes himself) and OZZY OSBOURNE himself lends his voice to this film, as a ceramic fawn!

Thanks to this British cast for the cute film!

The only miss in this film is Jim Cummings as the pink flamingo garden ornament. His annoying attempt at some sort of foreign bird just loses it for me, because, to put it bluntly, didn’t deliver a funny line. This is quite disappointing as Jim Cummings has been in the Disney voice business since the early 90’s.

But all in all, this cute film about what our gardens hold delivers a nice little escape from reality for 75 minutes. With the occasional grown up joke and slapstick comedy, mixed with witty uses of the gnomes and what they’d be like if they could move (Toy Story style), this movie delivers a bit of entertainment worth a watch if you’re into British accents or children’s love/comedy/adventure films. 6 out of 10.

AND DID I MENTION THAT THE FILMED IS FUELED BY A ELTON JOHN SCORE AND SOUNDTRACK?!?!?


X-Men: First Class

So I’d been planning to see this movie with my mom for some time. We’re big James McAvoy, and this movie quickly jumped to the top of our list. We thought, “Hey, James McAvoy. A new X-men movie that looks quite good? Definitely.” And he didn’t disappoint. And neither did anyone else in the film X-Men: First Class. I did expect to take the phrase “First Class” literally, but I was a bit mistaken. (I thought this movie would focus on the first young group that Charles Xavier took into the X-Men academy. Guess not.) But I wasn’t disappointed at all. This movie delivered. I would say it did, even more than the original trilogy.

So the plot of this movie is the origins of the X-men. I’m pretty sure it holds true to the comics, and I think this

The rivals unite.

was a big plus. (Maybe a few liberties were taken?) But, either way, this 1960’s set X-men classic follows the origins of Erik Lensherr/ Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). This is before Charles was given his wheelchair (explained) and so that’s why you see him puttering around on his own two legs. The hip, suave, young Xavier (a welcome change from Patrick Stewart’s stuffy portrayal of Professor X) has just become a Professor from Cambridge based on his work on human mutation. (Fitting right?) Parallel to this, Erik is on a rampage (using his harnessed powers) to destroy the German Nazis that imprisoned him during WWII and killing his mother. It was this pain that unleashed his powers as a young boy.

And it is through the power of the government that these two come together to team up for the only time in their lives. To stop an evil mutant of unspeakable power, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) these two must recruit other mutants across the world in order to prevent nuclear disaster. As you watch the movie, you find that, in fact, the X-Men were what prevented the Cuban Missile Crisis. And then, as expected, things fall apart for the duo, leading up nicely to the next movies made years ago.

It sent chills down my spine when he put that helmet on.

I’ve heard people didn’t like this movie. People gave this a bad review and I was surprised. I found this to be a decent movie that was respectable among X-men entertainment. So I found it hard to believe, with such a good cast and decent special effects, how this movie could even be viewed as a bomb. I mean, come on, James McAvoy (great actor) and one of my personal favorites, Michael Fassbender? You can’t get much better than that. Throw in a handfull of cameos (yes, a scene of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Rebecca Romjin as a view of the older Mystique.) and great foreshadowing, and you have a great prequel.

I mean, I can’t say enough about the cast this film boasts. I have to say again, James McAvoy. Having another big action film under his belt, Wanted, he is perfectly comfortable as an action hero (although be it a passive one). Michael Fassbender. He is no newbie when it comes to action films. 300, Centurion, Inglorious Basterds. This guy has done some of the best action films of the decade. And he’s such a malicious character actor that when you see him as the villain, you can actually see the evil seething from him. Kevin Bacon. I haven’t seen him in a while and they hid it well in the trailers that he was in the movie. And as the villain? That was a shock. But still, he was quite devious. Combine that with Nicholas Holt as Beast (great job to say the least) and Jennifer Lawrence (academy award winner for Winter’s Bone.) among other X-Men, and you have a great cast.

Great group. Great cast. Great movie.

From the director Matthew Vaughn, director of some pretty badass action films, Layer Cake (personal favorite), Kick Ass, even Stardust was decent, you have to expect some good acting combined with great visual chemistry. There’s a great scene with Michael Fassbender absolutely destroying some Argentinian Nazi fools that brims with gorish action. This movie screams great summer film. If Stan Lee’s onboard (not just for the money, I hope) then it has to be good. His baby creation has come to life once again and it’s all good. 8.8 out of 10.