Rachel Weisz in ‘The Whistleblower’ and ‘The Deep Blue Sea’

 

I stayed away from the theaters over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend opting instead to discover two small movies starring Rachel Weisz.  In The Deep Blue Sea and The Whistleblower, Weisz delivered wonderful performances in two divergent roles.

Rachel Weisz is one of those actresses that possess great talent but fails to register the recognition that her contemporaries receive.  She morphs easily between fragile and tough; consistently delivering a powerful performance in every role

takes on.

(Spoilers)

The Deep Blue Sea was directed by Terence Davies and was adapted from a 1952 play of the same name written by Terence Rattigan.  Weisz portrays Hester Collyer, the wife  of Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), a judge who is much older than she is.  Hester embarks on a passionate affair with a former Royal Air Force pilot, Freddie Page played by the very charming Tom Hiddleston.  Hester eventually leaves her husband for Freddie.

The movie begins with Hester alone in a dingy flat and abandoned by Freddie on her birthday.  She decides to kill herself by taking pills and turning on the gas from the furnace.  Hester leaves a letter for Freddie on the mantle and lies down on the floor to die.   The movie flashes back to when Hester first meets Freddie and gives glimpses of their affair from the beginning.

Hester doesn’t succeed in her suicide attempt and is saved by a neighbor and her landlady, Mrs. Elton (Ann Mitchell).   Mrs. Elton calls Hester’s estranged husband William after she finds Hester passed out on the floor in the flat from the failed suicide attempt.  William comes to see Hester and it is evident he still cares about her deeply.  William sees the way Hester lives and ask her if Freddie is worth it.  William confesses he had hoped Hester was suffering in some way but now that he actually sees the state she’s in, William feels sympathetic toward her.  There are flashbacks to their marriage where we see the couple having dinner with William’s mother who doesn’t care for Hester.  William is shown to be a bit spineless when it comes to both women in his life.  Hester leaves the dinner table and goes to call Freddie.  She promises to meet him as William walks in on the conversation but doesn’t confront her.

Hester is reminiscent of Anna Karenina in the way she tries to escape the drudgery of a passionless marriage for the excitement of a younger man’s arm.  Like Anna, Hester fails to see the devotion her husband has towards her and runs to a man who does not hold her in the same regard.  Hester’s young lover turns out to be disappointment.  Freddie like Anna’a Vronsky is self-absorbed and insensitive.   Thinking she has finally found true love, Hester like Anna can’t see herself existing in world where that love does not exist.  She tells William as much and crushes any hope for a reconciliation.

Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russelle Beale, the two men in Hester’s life give great performance as well.  Beale lends a tragic sadness playing a man who deeply loves a woman who no longer feels the same way towards him.  William is closed off emotionally that it is hard for him to express his feelings but he desperately wants to win his wife back.  Tom Hiddleston is naturally charming with a heart-swooning smile that it is easy to see why Hester would fall for his Freddie.  All the charm is a facade and Freddie loves the chase but doesn’t want to put in the work required to sustain a relationship.  He is abysmal at keeping a mistress; barely supporting her financially.   When Freddie finds out about Hester’s suicide attempt, he makes it all about him and he is angry at Hester for doing that to him.  Even at this moment, Hester doesn’t realize how worthless and undeserving Freddie is of her efforts.

Freddie tells Hester he must leave because he has a job prospect in Brazil and even though he loves her, he can’t see any future for the two of them.  They are no good for each other.  Freddie has his out.  Hester make one desperate plea to work things out but it is no use.  The last shot is of Hester looking forlornly out the window and it is uncertain if she will attempt to end her life again now that the love she feared she would lose was now gone.

The Deep Blue Sea is one of those movies that was overlooked when it was released but is worth the watch.  The film is quiet and thought-provoking.   Like Hester, the film will leave you feeling frustrated.  That to me, is a sign of a good movie because any film that elicits any strong emotion is a good one.

The Whistleblower didn’t get much press when it was initially released.  It is one of those movies that edified and leaves you wanting to rip the heads off the villains in the movie.  The Whistleblower was released in 2010 and was directed by Larysa Kondracki.

The film is based on a true story and follows Weisz as Kathryn Bolkovac, a former Nebraska police officer.  Bolkovac loses custody of her daughter and her second husband decides to move out-of-state with their daughter.  After she is unable to secure a job transfer so she can be closer to her daughter, Kathryn is forced to take high-paying  job for a U.K. company called Democra Security.  The company provides and trains the U.N. International Police force for a post-war Bosnia.

Kathryn is part of he peacekeeping force in Bosnia.  After helping to investigate and bring to trial a domestic abuse case of a Muslim woman, Kathryn is made head of the department of gender affairs.  One night, her assistance is needed at a raid of a local bar and it is there that she stumbles on sex trafficking ring of young girls from the Ukraine and Eastern European countries.  Kathryn’s investigation of the case leads her to uncover wide-scale corruption involving local police officers and U.N. International Police force members from the U.S.  Kathryn tries to bring the crimes to the attention of U.N. who in turn decide to cover up the case in order to protect lucrative defense and security contracts.

Kathryn is up against tremendous obstacles including a misogynistic predominately male work place that have little regard women.   This is witnessed by the way they purchase and trade young girls as slaves and take demeaning pictures of their exploits.  Her employer Democra is also not interested in making public the reprehensible behavior of their employees who have diplomatic immunity.

Kathryn finds allies in Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave) and Peter Ward (David Strathairn) who champion Kathryn but have little authority to give justice to the horrendous crimes Kathryn uncovers.

Kathryn becomes invested in the case even more when she gets close to one of the victims Raya, a Ukrainian girl who was sold to the human-traffickers by her uncle.  Being apart from her own daughter, Kathryn identifies with Raya and the other victims.  She sees her daughter in these girls  and it makes her more determined to help them.  Kathryn convinces some of the girls to come forward and testify against her captors.  The girls eventually agree but right before the trial, the girls are captured and tortured by the sex-traffickers until no one is willing to come forward again.  The final defeat for Kathryn is finding Raya’s body discarded in the woods.

I felt the frustration and anger Weisz’s Kathryn was going through.  Her face was so expressive you could just read the emotions flashing across it.  She is great at showing the power one woman on a mission processes when fighting insurmountable odds.

Kathryn is eventually fired by Democra.  She is able to smuggle out her files from the investigation and hands the information over to the BBC.  The result of her exposing the corruption and crimes only led to some of the  ”peacekeepers” being sent home but none were prosecuted.  The peacekeepers’ diplomatic immunity and the confusing bureaucracy resulted in muddled lines of jurisdiction.  The victims of the crime never saw justice and the large contractors were still able to do business with the international community.

Rachel Weisz is riveting in both The Deep Blue Sea and The Whistleblower.  After watching her in these films, it isn’t surprising to hear the Oscar buzz surrounding her performance in The Deep Blue Sea.

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Writers Stephanie Meyers and Nicholas Sparks Appear in THR with the Stars of the Film Adaption of their Best Selling Novels, ‘The Host’ and ‘Safe Haven’

 

Stephanie Meyers poses with Jake Able and Diane Krueger, the stars of the upcoming film adaption of The Host.  Diane Kruger plays the Seeker in Meyers dystopian sci-fi story about a future where human bodies have been taken over by alien souls.  Jake Able plays Ian O’Shea who is part of an unconventional love triangle.  Ian falls for a soul called The Wanderer who has taken over the body of Melanie Stryder played by Saoirse Ronan.

Nicholas Sparks is shown with stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel.  Hough and Duhamel will appear in the eighth movie adaption of his best-selling novel, Safe Haven.    Duhamel plays Alex, a widower who falls in love with Hough’s Kate, a mysterious woman running from a troubled past.

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Images From ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ Actress Roundtable


The Hollywood Reporter gathered four Oscar-winning and three Oscar-nominated actresses who may be Oscar contenders this year for their annual actress roundtable.

Helen Hunt won an Oscar for best actress in As Good As it Gets.  In The Sessions, Hunt plays a sex surrogate helping a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.

Rachel Weisz is married to James Bond (Daniel Craig) and won an Oscar for best supporting actress in the Constant Gardner.   In The Deep Blue Sea,Weisz plays the wife of a British judge who gets caught up in a self-destructive love affair with a pilot in the Royal Air Force.

Marion Cotillard won an Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose.  Cotillard stars in Rust and Bone as a whale trainer trying to recover her will to live after an accident leaves her confined to a wheelchair.

Amy Adams was a three-time best supporting actress Oscar-nominee for her performances in Junebug, Doubt and The Fighter.   In The Master, Adams plays Peggy Dodd, wife of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd.

Anne Hathaway was a best actress Oscar-nominee for her role in Rachel Getting Married.  She is coming off a good year having starred in one of the summer’s biggest movies, The Dark Knight Rises and getting married to long-time love Adam Shulman.

Naomi Watts was a best actress Oscar-nominee for her role in 21 Grams.  She stars in The Impossible as a mother trying to keep her family alive after a devastating tsunami.

Sally Fields is a two-time best actress Oscar-winner for her roles in Norma Raeand Places in the Heart.  Fields stars as mentally unstable Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

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Images From Oscar-Winner Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’



I saw the trailer for Zero Dark Thirty in the theaters over the weekend.  It looked pretty intense.  The film was directed by Oscar-winning director of The Hurt Locker,  Kathryn Biegelow and documents the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden culminating with the SEAL Team Six operation.  Jessica Chastain plays the CIA operative leading the manhunt.

The movie also stars Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreations), Mark Strong (Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy), Scott Adkins (The Expendables 2) Joel Edgerton (Warrior) and James Gandolfini (Sopranos).

Zero Dark Thirty opens in theaters January 11.

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Images from Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’

 

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln opened to limited release November 9.  The screenplay was penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 book Team of Rivals, Lincoln.   The movie spans the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life during January 1885 and briefly touches on the time before the president’s death in April.

The story covers the passage of the 13 Amendment that would abolish slavery and the end of the Civil War.

Star Daniel Day-Lewis first read the script in 2009.  He wrote Steven Spielberg a nice note saying he liked the script but didn’t think he wanted to play the 16th president.  In 2010, Daniel Day-Lewis invited the director and writer to visit him in Ireland then agreed to take the part.

Here are pictures of the actors/actresses and their real life counterparts they portray in the movie.

Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States

Sally Field is Mary Todd Lincoln, the First Lady of the United States

Gulliver McGrath (Hugo) is Tad, Lincoln’s youngest son

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Robert, Lincoln’s eldest surviving son

Gloria Reuben (ER) is Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s personal dressmaker and confidante

David Strathairn is William Seward of New York, Lincoln’s former Republican rival who became his trusted Secretary of State

Bruce McGill (Cinderella Man) is Edwin Stanton of Ohio, Lincoln’s Secretary of War

Richard Topol (The Practice) is James Speed of Kentucky, Lincoln’s attorney general

Grainger Hines is Gideon Welles of Connecticut, a leading abolitionist and Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy

Dakin Matthews (True Grit) is John Usher of Indiana, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Interior

Tommy Lee Jones is Thaddeus Stevens, an abolitionist and powerful Republican congressman from Pennsylvania

S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) is Lydia Smith, Thaddeus Stevens’ housekeeper and confidante

Jeremy Strong (The Messenger) is John Nicolay of Illinois, Lincoln’s private secretary

Joseph Cross (Running With Scissors) is John Hay of Illinois, Lincoln’s assistant private secretary

Hal Holbrook (The Firm) is Francis Preston Blair of Maryland, an influential behind-the-scenes power broker

Julie White (Transformers) is Elizabeth Blair Lee, the well-connected daughter of Frances Preston Blair

Byron Jennings (Liberty! The American Revolution) is Montgomery Blair of Maryland, Lincoln’s Postmaster General

Jared Harris (Mad Men) is Ulysses S. Grant of Illinois, the commanding general of the Union Army

Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children) is Alexander Stephens of Georgia, vice-president of the Confederacy

Gregory Itzin (24) is John Campbell of Alabama, the former Supreme Court Justice who became the Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy

James Spader is political operative W.N. Bilbo

Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) is political operative Richard Schell of New York

John Hawkes is political operative Robert Latham

Lincoln opens nationwide Friday, November 16.

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Images and Review From ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2’

 

I had a chance to see an advance screening of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ahead of Friday’s premiere.  It’s a tradition of sorts for my younger brother (the only male in my family who is brave enough to see Twilight) and I to see the latest Twilight installment.

I went into the movie without any expectations.  I was looking forward to saying a bittersweet good-bye to a beloved story with like-minded fans.  I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone knowing opinions are purely subjective.  Filmmakers will never be able to match the imaginations of loyal fans.  I want to share what I felt worked and what fell short.  Some spoilers will be revealed so read no further if you don’t want to know what happens.

The CGI was sub par at best and very distracting.  I know Twilight is not a big CGI movie but with all the money this franchise generates, it is to be expected that a fair amount of the budget would cover the special effects.  It was confounding why a very creepy CGI baby was used for newborn Renesme.  It wouldn’t have taken away from anything if a regular baby was used.  I understand as the rapidly growing child ages, the filmmakers want the child to still resemble McKenzie Foy, the young actress that plays the older Renesme.  There were also scenes where McKenzie Foy looked like she was digitized.  It was laughable and distracting.

I have read some reviews where the reviewer felt filmmaker Bill Condon was embracing the camp or “innate absurdity” of the franchise.  If it was Condon’s intention to make the movie campy then he isn’t a true fan of the franchise.  How serious should we take a reviewer who is using lines like “innate absurdity?”  It’s obvious he or she isn’t a fan either.  If Condon wasn’t purposely making the movie campy then it says volumes about how the final product ended up.

We get a more extended love scene between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) – a nice thing for fans, right? It’s disappointing how Condon shot the scene using disjointed flashes of legs, arms, hands and other parts that wasn’t a Pattinson ass shot.   Maybe he did it this way in hopes of pleasing the MPAA.  It would have been nice to finally get a complete love scene that would have satisfied older fans without scarring the younger ones. A nice long shot of a naked Robert Pattinson would have worked for me.

Michael Sheen’s (Midnight in Paris) Aro was a caricature you would see in one of those movie spoofs like Vampire Sucks.  The jump-the-shark moment for Sheen was when he actually cackled and squealed upon meeting Renesme.  He reminded me of Ken Jeong’s portrayal of the vampire-like Aro in Vampire Sucks.  Aro, Marcus (Christopher Heyerdahl) and Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) of the Volturi looked like they were in a glam rock band.  These are talented actors so the overacting can only be chalked up to flawed direction from the director.

There were so many actors to juggle that most of them barely had lines and were more like stage props.  This led to the core cast not doing much but be pretty window dressing.  The talented Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) who is also starring in Lincoln was used to deliver some bad comedic lines.

Charlie (an underused Billy Burke) meets Renesme as an infant and then sees a full-grown version of Renesme during the holidays but nothing is said about her rapid growth other than gee she is much taller.  I guess this is covered when Bella gives the blanket explanation of don’t ask there are reasons but she can’t explain.

The first shot of the Volturi looked like there were thousands of them and then the camera pans to a wide shot and now it looks like there are only 20 of them.  That got a chuckle out of the audience.

The big twist that was hinted about was used to shock and provide some brief suspense but was merely a fake out for the fans.   I don’t know how effective it was because there are many movies adapted from books in which the ending is known and doesn’t take away from the experience.  There really is no need to trick or surprise fans.  Movie goers are very savvy.  It takes a great deal to shock them.

I enjoyed seeing Bella being badass and the synchronized fighting with Edward where they rip off a Volturi’s head was quite a feat.  It was nice to see Alice (Ashley Greene), Emmett (Kellen Lutz), Jaspar (Jackson Rathbone), Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) and  Rosalie (Nicki Reed) each getting their own close-up shot of a Volturi take down.  It was a pretty cool fight scene.  There were cheers all around from the audience.

The ending with Bella allowing Edward to see their history through her eyes was sweet.  The flash backs from the previous movies in that scene was a nice way to look back.  The homage before the end credits of all the actors appearing in the franchise was a nice touch.  Bella’s mom Renee Dwyer who was played by Sarah Clarke was noticeably absent from the tribute.

I have to say when I watched Bella and Edward together, all I could think about was the cheating scandal that Stewart was involved in earlier in the year.  The line between reality and fiction was blurred.  I wanted to scream how could you Bella do that to poor Edward.

Many will disagree with my take on the movie.  I didn’t love or hate this final installment.  I did enjoy  being in a movie theater and sharing the experience with fans of the franchise.  Every laugh, groan, scream of dismay was made all the better because of the shared experience going to the movies brings.  For two hours we are transported to a place made real on the screen; lifting what we imagined in our minds and putting it into two-dimensional form.  That’s always a good take away.

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Images of the Cast of ‘Les Miserables’ Featured in Vogue

 

The cast of Les Miserables gets into character for some stunning Vogue portraits taken by Annie Lebovitz at the Pinewood Studios where the musical was shot.

Featured in the photo shoot are Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thenardiers; Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne as the lovers Cosette and Marius; Anne Hathaway as Fantine; Russell Crowe as Javert; and Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.

Les Miserables open nationwide Christmas day.

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More Images and Posters From ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

 

Set photos from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey provided by Collider where we finally get to see Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman.  There’s also images of Kili (Aidan Turner), Fili (Dean O’Gorman) and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman).  More posters from the movie are also available with Elrond (Hugo Weaving) Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and the 13 dwarves.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in theaters December 14.

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Behind the Scene Images of AMC’s ‘The Killing’

 

The  murder mystery series, The Killing was cancelled by AMC at the end of its second season.  Producers Fox TV Studios worked hard to keep the series alive by looking for potential buyers for the series.  They finally found a partner in Netflix.  Final details are being hammered out to air the third season of The Killing where AMC will air the episodes first before they get streamed on Netflix.

The stars of The Killing are contractually obligated to return for season three.  Marielle Enos will star alongside Brad Pitt in World War Z and Joel Kinnaman is filming the reboot of Robocop.

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Images From New James Bond Film ‘Skyfall’

 

Skyfall, the latest installment of Ian Fleming’s James Bond film finally hits theaters tomorrow Friday, November 9.

The 23rd James Bond film has opened to record numbers in Europe by already earning $286 million in its first 10 days.

In 2010, after a year and a half of trying to get a new 007 film made, the movie was met with indefinite delays when parent studio, MGM worked out its bankruptcy issues.   Its fortunate the issues were finally resolved so Sam Mendes (American Beauty) could come on to helm the 23rd 007 film.

In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty toward M (Judi Dench) is tested when her past comes back to haunt her.  When M16 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat.

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