21st Feb2016

Freeheld (Film)

by timbaros


A dying female police officer struggles to get her benefits passed on to her female domestic partner in the new film ‘Freeheld.’

Starring Oscar Winner Julianne Moore (last year’s ‘Still Alice’), Moore plays the real-life Laurel Hester, an Ocean County New Jersey police detective who is diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 48. But before she was diagnosed with cancer, she meets Stacie Leigh Andree (Ellen Page – ‘Juno’ and ‘Inception’), on a Lesbian volleyball team. Andree is 19 years younger than Hester, but they’re both smitten with each other, enough so that they decide to move in together, in a house that’s purchased by Hester.

But Hester is not out at work, and she continues to tell her police partner Dane Wells (Michael Shannon) that Andree is her roommate. It takes a bit of time, and courage, for Hester to confirm to Wells what he’s always suspected – that Hester is a Lesbian. It’s not long after that when Hester is diagnosed with rapidly spreading lung cancer. Hester is given a bad prognosis, especially after the cancer spreads to her brain, so she knows that she’s going to die. Her wish is to leave her benefits to Andree, but she’s told that this is not allowed for same-sex domestic partners. She appeals to the county legislators (a/k/a freeholders) for them to allow her pension to be passed to Andree, but the all-male panel of five refuse to do so. Although New Jersey counties have the option to extend pension benefits to domestic partners, the Ocean County Freeholders do not do this for her. Enter gay lawyer and activist Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell – trying to ante up an Oscar nomination in a very campy role), the chair of Garden State Equality – a powerful gay activist lobbying group – who, along with many other activists, protests to the freeholders to allow Hester’s benefits to pass to Andree. It’s a fight that they’re not going to give up, but Hester’s clock is running out.

‘Freeheld,’ named as such because of the freeholders, is based on the 2007 documentary of the same name. It’s a documentary that told the same story as the current movie, but features Andree and the rest of the people that knew and worked with Hester, and includes the local media discussing the case. Why make a movie of an excellent documentary that already exists? The documentary was made by Cynthia Wade, who is listed as a producer on this film – and directed by relatively unknown Peter Sollett and written by Ron Nyswaner. Why put such an important movie into these two film novices hands? ‘Freeheld’ doesn’t quite work as a movie. While the acting by the female leads and Shannon are very good, it’s Carrell who’s way over the top as the activist gay lawyer. He’s a gay cartoon character come to life! Also, we’ve already recently seen Moore dying in her last film – ‘Still Alice’ – so it’s puzzling why she would follow up that with this movie where she’s dying again. It appears that the filmmakers were gunning for Oscar nominations by making this film with it’s timely subject matter, but at best it’s a mediocre film that’s marred down by a poor cookie cutter script and direction that’s not very realistic with scenes that appear to be staged. It’s an important story to tell but best to rent the 2007 documentary instead.

28th Nov2015

Carol (Film)

by timbaros

CAROL_Carol and Therese in the store at Christmas time_CA1_3079In the new film ‘Carol’, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchette play two women who fall in love in a time when it was not accepted and actually frowned upon.

Director Todd Haynes, in his first film since 2007’s ‘I’m Not There,’ has crafted this movie in a style and theme that he’s used before. In ‘Far From Heaven’ Julianne Moore’s housewife faces a marital crisis – her husband is caught kissing another man so she takes comfort in the arms of a black man. Whereas in ‘Carol’ Cate Blanchette’s unhappy housewife falls into the arms of another woman. Both of these films take place in the 1950’s where it’s all dewey and lush and beautiful. And the attention to detail in both films is amazing, capturing the fashion and essence that was the norm of it’s time, where everyone made an effort to dress up, especially the women, even just to go shopping.

Blanchett’s character, Carol Aird, is in a loveless marriage but it’s not because her husband is cheating on her with another man, it’s because Carol is cheating on her husband with another woman. It’s not a mid life crisis that Carol is going through, she’s been linked to Abby Gerhard (Sarah Paulson) in the past, and Abby has always been in the shadows throughout Carol’s marriage to Harge (Kyle Chandler). Harge still loves Carol, he wants to stay married, but Carol insists that the divorce still go ahead, which is very difficult for the both of them because of their young daughter. But one day Carol goes into a department store and is eyed by employee Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), who suggests to Carol to buy a train set for her daughter. Carol and Therese have chemistry, and the next day Carol invites Therese out for lunch to thank her for helping her out with her purchase. Eventually they start seeing each other more and more, and they fall headstrong into a relationship. Carol, who has the perfect husband and the perfect house, pursues a relationship with Therese, at the risk of losing custody of her daughter. Harge, in utter frustration over Carol’s new found relationship, seeks full custody of their daughter using a morality clause as the reason. And Therese risks her impending marriage to her boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy) to be with Carol, and her and Carol embark on several trips together. It’s not until New Year’s Eve where they consummate their relationship in a full on one minute lip lock, which leads to a sexual act, again full on, there’s almost nothing left to the imagination. But will Carol’s impending divorce and the threat of losing her daughter and Therese’s burgeoning career as a photographer get in the way of their relationship?

Blanchett is magnificent as Carol, who risks losing her daughter yet has strong feelings for a much younger woman. Mara is even more superb as Therese, her innocence and naivete in full display. Both actresses are excellent, yet it’s Mara who ups Blanchette in the acting arena. The movie basically revolves around Therese and her coming of age not just with her career but with her sexuality as well. It would be a shame if Mara is reduced to supporting actress level as Blanchett does get top billing, they both deserve Best Actress Academy Award nominations but it’s Mara who should be on the podium. Chandler is also excellent as Carols’ husband – he’s got an ideal 1950’s look about him. ‘Carol,’ Based on the novel ‘The Price of Salt’ by Patricia Highsmith, was written at a time when it’s subject was considered scandalous, which Haynes truly captures. ‘Carol’ was filmed with Super 16mm to produce the muted hues of glamour magazines of the era, it’s romantic and dramatic and lovely to watch.

08th Mar2015

Still Alice – Film

by timbaros

Julianne Moore realistically and achingly plays a middle-aged woman who develops Alzheimer’s in the new film Still Alice.

Moore, in the best performance of her career (and having just won the Best Actress Oscar for this film) plays Alice Howland, a highly successful college lecturer with a loving husband John (Alec Baldwin) and three grown children – Lydia (Kirsten Stewart), Anna (Kate Bosworth), and the very handsome Tom (Hunter Parrish). Alice lives a comfortable and happy life in Brooklyn, that is until she starts forgetting things. One day in class, she struggles to find a word that she’s used many times. Then one day on a run at her university campus she gets lost and disoriented. Worried, she visits a neurologist who tests her on her memory, and she’s unable to repeat a name and street he had told her to remember at the beginning of the session. Soon enough, Alice is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s getting worse, and John and the rest of the family realize that it’s going to be hard and tragic to deal with her deteriorating condition. More memory lapses occur; at Christmas she forgets the ingredients to bread pudding, a dish she’s made at least one hundred times. And she reintroduces herself to her son’s girlfriend, minutes after just meeting her. Alice decides to record a video to herself, a video that gives instructions on where to find pills to kill herself if she can’t remember the answer to three personal questions. Meanwhile, she tries to get her daughter Lydia (visiting from Los Angeles where she had moved to pursue an acting career that’s going nowhere) to move back east to go back to school for a real career (and to be close to Alice). Unfortunately, Alice is still getting worse, no longer working, one day at her family’s beach house she can’t find the bathroom, and wets herself. It is up to John to pick her up and change her. Unfortunately, this is the reality of someone living with Alzheimers, and Still Alice perfectly and tragically captures this.

Moore is absolutely amazing. She gives a performance that is so real, so emotional, so tragic, and very raw. Moore spent time with Alzheimer’s patients to capture their every nuance, and she did. She is very deserving of the Oscar she has just won, her first after five nominations. She’s also picked up every Best Actress award given this year. Baldwin as her husband and Parrish as one of her sons are perfectly cast. Stewart, who is always broody and cold in most of her films, really shines through in this movie, being very supporting to her ailing mother. Directed and written by real life couple Richard Glazer and Wash Westmoreland, perhaps in response to Glazer’s battle with ALS, they have done an excellent job in providing a vehicle for Moore – it’s a perfect yet highly emotional film in every sense, and a must to watch just to see Moore’s performance.

24th Feb2015

Academy Award Winners – Film

by timbaros

Birdman surprised the industry (and all of us here at The Entertainment Website) by winning Oscars in three top categories, stealing them right out of Boyhood’s hands, at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday.

It was supposed to Boyhood’s night, as it had won almost every single Best Picture award (including the BAFTA), but alas, it was not meant to be. Birdman, which had gained momentum over the past month, scooped Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu) and Best Original Screenplay. Richard Linklater, director of Boyhood, went home empty handed. But his film did win in one category; Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. She truly deserved to win, she gave an exceptionally nuanced performance – a performance that she gave for over 12 years – to see her son in the movie grow from a boy to a man.


There were no other surprises on the night. Eddie Redmayne was expected to, and won, Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of everything. However, as Birdman was winning on the night, it could’ve been a first-time Oscar for Michael Keaton, but alas it wasn’t meant to be – Redmayne’s acting was more complicated, more powerful, and was a much better performance. He gave a very animated speech during the Oscar ceremony where he cutely said that he will be the custodian of the Oscar for the Hawking family.


Speaking of powerful performances, Julianne Moore so truly deserved to win an Oscar for her portrayal of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s in Still Alice. After four nominations, she has finally won one, and this award and her performance in the film cements her status as one of the best actresses we have around today.


J.K. Simmons was, without a doubt, expected to win Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash. None of the other four nominees were even close. And as he had won every single Best Supporting Actor Award for this film, this was no shock.


Best Adapted Screenplay was won by The Imitation Game’s screenwriter Graham Moore, who gave an excellent speech during the ceremony about what it feels like to be different and how when he was a teenage he wanted to kill himself because he was different. It was a fitting speech in tribute to the man the film is based on – Alan Turing – who ended up committing suicide in 1954 at the age of 42 because he was gay.

Selma took home one Oscar on the night – for Best Original Song – called Glory. Written by Common and John Legend, they performed the song during the ceremony and when they were done there was not a dry eye in the house. Glory is perhaps one of the best original songs to win this award in a very long time.

The Grand Budapest Hotel won in four categories, including Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Original Score and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Disney’s Big Hero 6 took Best Animated Feature while Whiplash took the Best Film Editing award. American Sniper won the Best Sound Editing award and Best Visual Effects went to Interstellar. Ida deservedly won the Best Foreign Film and Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden, won the Best Documentary award.

So all of the eight films nominated in the Best Picture category won at least one award. So there were no real big winners on the night, just Birdman practically stealing the statuettes away from Boyhood. And Academy, if you are reading this, please bring back Ellen Degeneres next year, please.

19th Feb2015

Academy Award Predictions – Film

by timbaros

The Oscars, also known as the Academy Awards, will be presented on Sunday, February 22nd live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. It’s hard to believe that these awards have been given out for the past 87 years, and are still going strong. Some years, of course, are more popular than others depending on which films are nominated. This year there is a glut of well-made films, more so than in year’s past. But having said that, it’s very easy to pick the frontrunners this year as they each stand out in the respective categories. But herewith are my predictions:

“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”

There are eight nominees in this category this year when the Academy could’ve nominated ten. Why did they go with eight when they left off the beautifully made Mr. Turner or the excellent Still Alice? In any case, Boyhood will win. It just won the BAFTA for Best Film and has won practically every Best Picture award given this awards season. It took 12 years to make, which shows dedication on the part of the filmmakers and the actors. The Theory of Everything is a better film, but it’s going to be Boyhood’s night.



Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

All men nominated in this category are well-deserving, and even some men who were left off (Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner and Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler). But this award is going to go to Redmayne for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. It’s an amazing, incredible performance that won his the BAFTA earlier this month. It would be nice to see Michael Keaton up on the podium but Redmayne truly deserves the award.

The best performance of the five nominees is Redmayne’s. Michael Keaton comes a distant second but Redmayne’s performance is more memorable and moving.


Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Moore will finally win an Oscar, after having been nominated four other times in the past 18 years (including being double nominated as Best Actress for Far From Heaven and Supporting actress for The Hours in 2002). Moore gives a devastating performance as a woman stricken with Alzeihmer’s, and expect her to look radiant on that podium. It’s the one award where you might need tissues next to you.


Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

While it would be nice to see Ethan Hawke win for his portrayal of the father in Boyhood, it’s Simmon’s performance as the maniacal music teacher in Whiplash that is the Best Supporting Actor performance of the year. Simmons has been around for quite some time, cutting his teeth in television (Law & Order, Oz) before hitting big in film (The Spiderman franchise, Juno). Simmons won the Golden Globe, the BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild Award, and he will win the Oscar.


Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Arquette, just like Redmayne, Moore and Simmons, have all taken home the trifecta of awards – BATFA, SAG and Golden Globe – and like them Arquette will take home the Oscar for her portrayal of the mother in Boyhood. She gave a memorable performance, her best yet, and the Arquette family has been acting for generations in Hollywood. Emma Stone actually gives the best performance in this category, but Arquette will win on the coattails of a Boyhood sweep.
Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Lots of deserving men (sorry ladies) were left off this list ( ) however, give this one to Richard Linklater and his dedication to getting this film done over a 12-year period. Linklater has also won almost every Director trophy award this season (except the all-important Directors Guild award – which went to Iñárritu, whose direction in Birdman was so off the charts, while Marsh did a beautiful job bringing Stephen Hawking’s life to the big screen in The Theory of Everything. But Linklater is the favorite here.

Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Two Days, One Night is the best Foreign Film of the year and is lead by a powerful performance by Marion Cotillard but it’s not nominated. Ida will take the prize because of it’s story about the Holocaust, plus it won the BAFTA.

Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice

This is one of the toughest categories to call but I will go with Anthony McCarten for his screenplay for The Theory of Everything. It’s a beautifully scripted film about Stephen and Jane Hawking’s relationship, plus it won the BAFTA in the same category. Though Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash has been picking up momentum over the past few weeks to he could easily sneak in and win.

Writing – Original Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo, Birdman
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher

It’s easy to think that Linklater will take this one for Boyhood. But this is one of the toughest categories to predict. Birdman’s screenplay was so original and different that it deserves to win just on that basis, while Foxcatcher told the eerie tale of a very rich man who perhaps had too much money on his hands (and was clearly not sane). But when it comes down to it, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s screenplay was very original. And it will be the only major award that this film will win, and deservedly so.
Music – Original Song
‘Glory’ by Common and John Legend, Selma
‘Lost Stars’ by Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley and Nick Southwood, Begin Again
‘Everything Is Awesome’ by Shawn Patterson, The LEGO Movie
‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’, by Glen Campbell, Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me
‘Grateful’, Beyond the Lights
Glory from the movie Selma will win. It’s shocking that Selma failed to get nominated in many of the major categories, but it does deserve to win this one, it’s a great song with gorgeous vocals by Legend.

Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Song of the Sea

The Boxtrolls was dark and grimy, so I would give this one to Big Hero 6, which is now the third highest grossing animated film of all time.

With Neil Patrick Harris emceeing the show for the first time, expect a very funny and entertaining show!

27th Sep2014

Maps to the Stars – Film

by timbaros

images-261Maps to the Stars can be described as a take off on Hollywood and celebrity and the people who inhabit this world, and boy what a world it is.

It’s a world created by David Cronenberg, who also directed. He’s the man who last brought us 2012’s Cosmopolis but he is more well known for the much better received A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Maps to the Stars is not a normal movie, in other words, it’s not what it says on the tin. It’s surreal, dark, black, and intense. It’s a movie that is desperately trying to show us the inhabitants of Hollywood, and their dreams, and their need for fame and validation.

There are several lead characters in the film, but it mostly belongs to Julianne Moore. She plays ageing actress Havana Segrand. While she’s not that old, she can’t get the parts she used to get, but one part that she really wants is to play a part her late mother once played. Segrand seems to live in the shadow of her more legendary mother, who died in a mysterious fire. And Segrand is not a stable woman – though she lives in a huge house that befits a famous film star. And even though Segrand is surrounded by people all the time, including her agent, her personal assistant Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikoska), and her visits to self help guru Dr. Sanford Weiss (John Cusack), she sees the ghost of he mother as a young girl around the house, and she doesn’t know why. And Segrand is just one of the many strange characters in the film.

There’s also the already-mentioned Agatha Weiss. Her story is even more bizarre. She’s been kept in a psychiatric asylum in Jupiter, Florida since she was a young girl after a horrible fire that left her with scars on her hand (she wears gloves) and face. It was a fire that appears to be one that she started, as she has been ostracized and totally rejected by her family. And this includes her father,who happens to be Dr. Sanford Weiss. And she’s obsessed with trying to re-enter the family circle, which she does. And on top of all this, there’s something really strange about her.

Dr. Sanford Weiss is a famous television psychologist who offers New Age advice to his followers, as well as performing intimate bodywork on his celebrity clients, the rich and famous. He stars in his own television program that is constantly on in his household; he’s a strange egotistical man. He is also the author of best-selling self-help books with analysis for the troubled, which doesn’t help his 13-year old teenage son, Benjie Weiss (a very good Evan Bird).

Benjie Weiss is a teen sensation, a Beiberesque movie star who is making way to much money. He’s spoiled and screwed up (just like Justin Beiber?). He’s a teen heartthrob (having starred in the big hit ‘Bad Babysitter’ and fresh from rehab – at the tender age of 13. He visits a sick girl in a hospital to boost his reputation and told by his agent that this girl in dying of AIDS, but actually she tells him that she’s got Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He’s pissed off and tells his agent off for providing him the wrong information. The girl eventually dies and Benjie is haunted by her ghost – a ghost that he sees almost everywhere he goes. It’s a metaphor for his stardom, an attempt to bring him back down to earth perhaps? But it doesn’t, it makes him a lunatic to the point where he thinks he’s strangling her but he actually strangles the co-star of a new film that’s he’s doing, and he’s jealous that this co-star is stealing scenes from him. The strangulation is a chilling scene, and all to surreal by the reaction of his mother, Cristina Weiss (Olivia Williams). She’s not your typical celebrity mother; she’s a bit spastic and emotionally unstable, paranoid if you will, who is more concerned about her son’s ability to make more money than for his personal well-being. The Weiss family is one screwed up family.

Robert Pattison shows up as perhaps the only sane person in the movie. He’s Jerome, a limo driver who happens to pick up Agatha when she arrives in Los Angeles. He’s not just a limo driver, he’s also a part-time actor. And he falls for Agatha, but also gets seduced by Havana. After their sexual romp all hell breaks lose and Agatha goes on a rampage.

Maps to the Stars is an exaggerated take off on Hollywood and it’s denizens. It’s a film that is a distorted view on celebrity culture, but to the extreme, with highs and the very lows, with ghosts from their past thrown in for scary effect. And it’s a film where the characters are all very unlikeable, so unlikeable that you sort of wish they would all kill themselves. Maps to the Stars uses Los Angeles and Hollywood as the backdrop, with parts of the film shot on the Hollywood walk of fame and under the famous Hollywood sign, to give it a realistic look. Most people say that Hollywood is fake and artificial, and it’s a bit like this film, it’s fake, dark, make believe, artificial and over the top, with celebrities swallowed up by their obsessions with success, celebrity and money, and perhaps this is what Hollywood is all about?

04th Jan2014

What Maisie Knew – DVD

by timbaros

images-56What Maisie Knew is a heartbreaking film about a 7 year old girl in the middle of her parents divorce and the extreme hostility between them.

 Maisie, played by a really amazing Onata Aprile, is a very sweet, typical 7 year old girl. Both her parents, rock singer Susanna (Julianne Moore) and English businessman Beale (Steve Coogan) have very busy lives. While they both love the daughter to pieces, they hardly have any time to spend with her. They always shuffling her between both of their New York City apartments, constantly arguing on whose turn it is to have her, whose turn it is to pick her up at school, and really whose turn it is to be the parent.
Things get really complicated when Julianne’s former right hand assistant Margo (Joanna Vanderham) moves in with Beale, while Susanna quickly takes on a new husband in the form of bartender Lincoln (a sweet and charming Alexander Skarsgard). When Beale decides that he has to go to England to work on his business ventures (without taking Maisie), and at the same time Susanna has to embarks on a tour that she can’t get out of, it is up to Margo and Lincoln to watch over and take care of little Maisie.
The most amazing thing about this movie is Aprile’s performance. She is absolutely great in this film. She is cute as a button and has the most soulful eyes and the cutest giggle of any little actress in recent memory. She also displays an incredible look of sorrow when her father tells her he can’t take her to London with him, and more sorrow when her mother all of a sudden departs on her tour. She also has a very sad look of exasperation on her face when her mother needs to find a place to drop her off so someone else can take care of her. Moore, who always gives a great performance in any movie that she is in, is also very good as the rock star singer living a rock star life, but with a little girl she barely has time to take care of, and always on her phone or hanging out with her rock star buddies. Coogan is an OK choice to play the father, but it is hard to believe that a woman like Susanna would fall in love with a man like him. Vanderham and Skarsgard also give excellent performances as the other halves who understand Maisie’s needs. But it is the performance of Aprile, the twinkle in her eye, and the smile on her face at the end of the movie, that will long last way after you have seen the film.
What Maisie Knew is now out on DVD.