Thursday, June 19, 2008


Author(s): Tony
Location: Pittsburgh


Directed by Bill Paxton
Written by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Kathleen Kennedy
Music by Jeff Danna

Principal Cast:

Bill Paxton as Lewis Hominick
Laura Dern as Jane Hominick
Sarah Chulke as Audrey Hominick
Cameron Bright as Danny Hominick

Also starring:

Alan Rickman as The Shadow
Ian McDiarmid as Sid Hominick
Illeana Douglas as Marcy Freedman

Tagline: “A road that never ends can lead to many truths"

Rated R for intense scenes, brief sexual content, disturbing images, and language
Runtime: 2 hours and 10 minutes (Drama)

Synopsis: It was a day like any other when Lewis Hominick opened his house door and called a family meeting. Lewis, the proud father of two children, Audrey and Danny, and proud husband to wife Jane, took a long look at a family he knew was falling apart, but did not know why. It was then Lewis decided the family need to take a vacation, a quiet, peaceful penthouse next to a beautiful lake and soft sand that the family used to rent out about 5 years from when Danny was born. He said they needed a break from their reality, little did the Hominick family know that they were in for a whole new reality.

It was the last time they'd get a sense of "their reality". The father takes the wheel and everything is fine, but there was still tension in the car that couldn't be explained. Night time arrives and Lewis starts to get impatient, he decides to take a shortcut he's heard of for years. Lewis doesn't hesitate and takes a left in the dark, misty fog on a straight forward road surrounded by a cloudy forest. An hour goes by, and there's no sign of signs, houses, or human life as the tension builds inside the car. They finally arrive to a broken down cabin in search for someone to ask for directions. The only thing they find is a dead corpse rotting on top of a dusty old desk. Judging from the knife placed in his back, he was murdered, but why, and who?

Hours pass now and it's been nothing but a straight forward path to the misery that awaits them. The longer the ride gets, claustrophobia sets in more and more as the secrets build more tension, with each family member having something to hide. As the family takes out their anger on each other, flashbacks throughout the film appear in a black and white manner. Little does Lewis know that while his father did die of drowning in a pool, it was Danny that witnessed it, as Sid cried for help, but Danny wouldn't respond, the reason being that Sid always thought lowly of Danny. While Jane is unaware that Lewis is having an affair with her yoga partner Marcy. In return what the family doesn't know is that Jane suffers from munchausen syndrome.

More bizarre acts occur as all of a sudden random objects that represent each family members secret arrive on the road placed by a shadow figure that the family is confused by as the truth starts to unravel. Is this mysterious man the killer on the loose? Is he behind the magic of "the road"? The ending finally concludes as the family lets out all emotions. As Danny has a conniption fit, his mother tries to calm him down, only to receive a slit throat from Danny's pocket chain knife. Danny goes in shock, and doesn't say another word, but the family must continue on. Upset by the killing of her mother, Audrey sits in the back with Danny, and quietly grips her fingers around his neck and puts him away, as two remain. Once Lewis sees the corpse of his son, he feels no remorse. Lewis finally loses his mind and puts a tire iron through Audrey's stomach. Not only did Lewis murder his daughter, but the child that she was conceiving, that Audrey hid from her family, with the shadow figure only representing the family's hatred towards each other.

What the press would say:

Every year there is always one film that leaves you speechless. You walk out of the theater, and ask yourself "What exactly did I just watch?" Then on the car ride home the film never leaves the back of your mind, it sticks like super glue. This is that film. What this movie consists of is a very compelling story with unforgettable tension and dialogue. Paxton is once again the man in the chair and the man on camera, as he was known for in his thriller Frailty. His artistic integrity shows again in his well orchestrated feature and no one better to write it than Requiems own Darren Aronofsky. Not only should Paxton's directing be under radar, his performance on camera is nothing like anyone has seen before. His leadership in his role only leads his supporting cast to be better. The flashback scenes are definitely Laura Dern's most memorable scenes, the troubled mother that only wants others to show her love, even if it means starving her children. Speaking of children, don't sleep on Cameron Bright and Sarah Chulke for a best supporting nod. Bright's evilness in his eyes is enough to win over your vote and Chulke makes you want to throw "Scrubs" out the window, because this is the film she will forever be remembered in. This is the family that you see at the grocery store and you say what a happy life it must be, this film only states don't judge a book by its cover. What is there to make of this road? Does the road have any symbolic meaning? Is it a test to see if the family can stick together through the worst, or a pure test of their own sanity? Was the road a figment of the Hominick family's imagination? Think what you want, because you will be thinking after you see this. I think the true meaning of this film was show the unparallel look of human behavior, a small spark can instantly fry a persons view on right and wrong, and that's what I think Paxton wanted to get across. Please viewers, don't shield yourself away from this, all naysayers not impressed with Paxton's ability and the rest of this cast and crew, I think you need a "new sense of reality".

Possible Nominations:

Best Picture - Darren Aronofsky and Kathleen Kennedy
Best Director - Bill Paxton
Best Actor in Leading Role - Bill Paxton
Best Actress in Leading Role - Laura Dern
Best Actor in Supporting Role - Cameron Bright
Best Actress in Supporting Role - Sarah Chulke
Best Original Screenplay - Darren Aronofsky
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score - Jeff Danna

Aunt Harriet

Author(s): Michael
Location: Oklahoma

“Aunt Harriet"

Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by Dan Futterman
Music by James Horner
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classic

Principal Cast:

Jennifer Connelly- Harriet Beecher Stowe
Woody Harrelson- Calvin Ellis Stowe
Bob Balaban- William Lloyd Garrison
Liam Neeson- President Abraham Lincoln
Nicolas Cage- Gamaliel Bailey
Jaden Smith- Harry

Tagline: “She made people think…"

Synopsis: In 1850 the Fugitive Slave laws were reinstated and Harriet Beecher Stowe (Connelly) was livid and was then moved to the abolitionist side of slavery. Stowe’s sister-in-law inspired Harriet to write something that would alert the nation about the horrendous nature of slavery. Stowe started to research slavery the best she could. She interviewed countless slave owners, slaves and different society members getting as many points of view as possible. Harriet met many slaves whom she touched there lives and included them in her stories. With the help of her husband Calvin (Harrelson), Harriet was able to write some stories for newspapers including The Liberator and The National Era. The editors of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison (Balaban) and The National Era (Cage) published the stories in the newspaper which grew to acclaim. With the success of her stories, Harriet decided that she would compile the stories into a book called, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852 and was released to critical acclaim in the north; it sold 10,000 copies within a week of its initial release. In the south however, the book was hated and was called “Untrue,” and “Full of lies,” even with those statements Harriet’s goal was achieved, thousands soon agreed with her views that slavery needed to end.

The book was widely embraced in Great Britain; Harriet then went on a Europe tour speaking about her book. While in Europe, Stowe spoke out against the decision Great Britain had made to join the south in the Civil War. After the Harriet’s tour through Europe, Great Britain decided to stay neutral throughout the war. In 1862, sine President Abraham Lincoln (Neeson) did not carry out his promise to sign the Emancipation Proclamation; Stowe decided to talk to him herself. On January 1, 1863 the President made a proclamation that the slaves were free. On the day of the announcement was in a balcony of a hall waiting for the proclamation, when it had been made a man stood up, pointed at Harriet and yelled “Look, it’s Mrs. Stowe, the woman who ended slavery.” The crowd then all stood, applauded and cheered for the next few minutes.

What the press would say:

Bennett Miller’s latest film, “Aunt Harriet” may be the finest film of the new century. With an inspirational story that Miller executes so flawlessly, it makes itself one of the greatest biopic films of all time. Miller directs the film so well it is well worth a few awards and he once again teams with Dan Futterman who wrote a script that is full of memorable and inspirational lines that are sure to live on for decades to come. Those two elements alone make a great film but acting is usually what puts films over the top and this film is exception. Jennifer Connelly has given yet another unforgettable performance that is worth multiple Oscar wins just for her performance. Connelly has a natural acting ability that is so magical that you forget that it is Jennifer Connelly and you believe you are watching Harriet Beecher Stowe. A++ acting coming from Jennifer Connelly in this movie and Liam Nesson never fails to grace the screen even in this limited role.

“Two Thumbs Way Up!”- Ebert and Roeper

“A+”- Entertainment Weekly

“**** and then a ton more”- The New York Times

“100% Fresh”- Rotten Tomatoes

“****”- The Oscar Igloo

“The Best Film of the Year by far”- Los Angeles Times

We agree with all of them!

Best Picture (Sony Pictures Classic)
Best Director (Miller)
Best Actress (Connelly)
Best Supporting Actor (Smith)
Best Original Screenplay (Futterman)
Best Original Score (Horner)
Best Editing
Best Cinematography

Bloody Trail

Author(s): Bryce Marrero
Location: Los Angeles, CA

“Blody Trail"

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Producer: Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Bender, and David Valdes
Music Composed by: Gustavo Santaolalla and RZA

Principal Cast:

Harvey Keitel (Mango "Devil" Shayne)
Uma Thurman (Chelsie Manta)
Michael Madsen (Sherman "Snake Venom" Jones)
Henry Winkler (Jack "Nancy" McGee)
Robin Williams (Karl "Two Tongues" Rover)
Samuel L. Jackson (Charles "Dark Hand" Johnson)
Ken Watanabe (Red Sun)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Shawn "Headshot" Marlow)
John Travolta (Mr. Jay)

Tagline: “All this bloodshed, for a whore"

Drama/Suspense Action/Adventure

Synopsis: Quentin Leads an all star cast in this dramatic western. Harvey Keitel plays Mango "Devil" Shayne, a notorious retired murderer, who wants to put his guns away for good in his life. Uma Thurman plays Chelsie Manta, a prostitute who refuse to sleep with the mayor and is ordered to execution. Michael Madsen plays Sherman "Snake Venom" Jones, a corrupt mayor who use to be Mango's partner. Henry Winkler plays Jack "Nancy" McGee, a poorly coward ex-cowboy who is a close friend of Mango. Robin Williams plays Karl "Two Tongues" Rover, a comedic fast talking cowboy, who also is a friend of Mango. Samuel L. Jackson plays Charles "Dark Hand" Johnson, a notorious bounty hunter sent to find Chelsie. Ken Watanabe plays Red Sun, A samurai bounty hunter who is also sent to find Chelsie. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Shawn "Headshot" Marlow, a trigger happy mercenary who is hired by Mango to help protect them on there journey. John Travolta plays Mr. Jay, Chelsie's pimp who assist Sherman and his bounty hunters in finding Chelsie.

On A cold winter night, Mango and his assistants, Karl, and Jack, walk into a bar. On this day the mayor, Sherman, feels pretty excited and wants a "free ride" from a prostitute, Chelsie. Chelsie refuses to have sex with him, and Sherman orders her to be hanged. Mango spots Chelsie and recognize her. She is the daughter of a woman he killed in his murderous youth days. He decides to rescue her, and leave town. Sherman finds out what his old partner, Mango, has done and hires Charles, and Red Sun to help him find them. When Mango and his friends find out Sherman has hired bounty hunters after them, they must travel west, to safe land, and hires Shawn to help protect them on their journey. During there journey they go into a few towns that results in gunfire (mostly Shawn, and Karl being the ones killing people). They continue the journey wondering if going through all this trouble is worth the life of a whore, and why would Mango even care about a whore?. Eventually in the journey, Chelsie is captured by Mr. Jay, and Jack risked his life to try and protect her. Now Mango must break his vows and pick up his guns one last time to save Chelsie, and get some sense of redemption.

What the press would say:

"Quentin is BACK!!! and he's back in full force, creating a movie that is so amazing, passionate, ground-breaking, and fantastic, that this will surely be this decade's "Pulp Fiction". Blood Trail is the story of a retired gunman risking it all to protect a prostitute, getting some sense of redemption from his murderous past. All the acting is top notch, the best yet in a Quentin Tarantino film, but the three that stand out the most are Harvey Kietal, Michael Madsen, and Henry Winkler. Harvey Kietal is just brilliant. The best role he has ever done, and will ever do. Michael Madsen, is back as another villainous role, that is surely better than his roles in Reservoir Dogs, and Kill Bill. His performance is grade A, and one of the best villains to emerge in a long time. But the most amazing performance in the movie is Henry Winkler. His performance, is so touching, and powerful, surely the best of this year. He has never acted this good, and I'm surprised he was capable of acting this good. Not noticing his performance is a sin against nature. Quentin's direction is his best yet, rivaling Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. His usual art style, and comedic dialogue returns, and is mixed with touching dialogue and a more dramatic style, that is very efficient. This film is a true Masterpiece, and a film to be remembered throughout film history.

"A true Masterpiece, Two thumbs way up" – Roger Ebert and Richard Roper
"Quentin Tarantino's best film since Pulp Fiction" – Entertainment Weekly
"It's Pulp Fiction mixed with Unforgiven that equals a movie far superior to any other film in this decade" – New York Times

Best Picture
Best Director- Quentin Tarantino
Best Actor- Harvey Keitel
Best Actress- Uma Thurman
Best Supporting Actor- Michael Madsen
Best Supporting Actor- Henry Winkler
Best Supporting Actor- Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Original Screenplay- Quentin Tarantino
Best Sound Mixing
Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography
Best original Score

Cigarette Burns

Author(s): Ben
Location: Canyon, Texas

“Cigarette Burns"

Directed by Paul Weitz
Written by Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Produced by Rodney M. Liber & Andrew Miano & Paul Weitz

Principal Cast:

Mary-Louise Parker as Sarah Newman
Tim Roth as Lenny Briskman
Anthony Mackie as Laurence Phillips
Ian McShane as Sage McWeen
Ian Holm as Benjamin Louis
Julie Walters as Julia Newman

Tagline: “She’s getting the best reviews of her career. She’s praying they stop"

Synopsis: Sarah Newman is a famous actress, not known for her quality of work. She decides she wants to quit the business and get out of Hollywood. Unfortunately she is in the midst of a six-picture deal with her studio. So, Sarah decides every movie she appears in she will purposely try to screw up. Her sly and morally-lacking agent, Lenny Briskman, gets her a role in a long-delayed movie that is expected to bomb. Unfortunately for her, the film becomes a huge hit and she gets the best reviews from critics, even leading to an Oscar nomination. Her sudden acting “abilities” have led to attractions from her costar, Laurence Phillips, which may or may not be reciprocated. To make thing worse, her quirky director, Sage McWeen, may be stalking her. Sarah would be more than happy to talk to Sage about his attraction to her, if only she understand anything he said due to his heavy Scottish accent. The head of her studio, Benjamin Louis, wants to extend her contract, while her mother Julia, an actress from the sixties, just won’t stop calling to ask if she can be in one of Sarah’s movies or critique something in her personal life. Lenny continues to get bad movies for her, and starts to hit on her now that she is successful. Can she dispatch Lenny, pursue Laurence, figure out what the hell is going on with Sage and finally appease her mother? And on the eve of the Oscar ceremony, does she want her career back or does she still want to get out of Hollywood?

What the press would say:

There aren’t a whole lot of Hollywood movies that one can call up to memory. But as a Hollywood film, “Cigarette Burns” takes a different angle. While many films are about how lowly actors/directors/writers are trying to break into the business and find success, “Burns” turns it around and shows Sarah Newman, a successful actress played by Mary-Louise Parker, who is trying to get out. This is the dynamic that makes the film work. Written by Chris and Paul Weitz and directed by Paul, they continue to go behind the scenes in their film forays. They first looked into the world of modern-day high school (“American Pie”), the corporate world (“In Good Company”) and now Hollywood. Parker is radiant in a character that has grown tired of the attention and fame. She conveys her anxiety and cynicism about the entire situation, but whenever things start to go in a different direction, she is torn with the decision to remain in the place she, up until recently, hates. In the hands of a lesser actress, the role of Sarah Newman could have been a stereotypical picture of a Hollywood actress, but Parker brings all the bravado expected without all the drama. It certainly doesn’t hurt that she is utterly hilarious and drop-dead gorgeous. All the supporting players certainly leave a lasting impression. Tim Roth plays Sarah’s sleazy agent whose job is to get Sarah the awful roles to get her out of the film business. Roth makes the character strangely likable despite being one of the most despicable people. I don’t know who to credit more with the success of the character, Roth or the screenplay for his lightning-fast speeches and sharp wit. Also showing great ability is Anthony Mackie as Sarah’s co-star. Mackie, known by roles in “Million Dollar Baby” and “She Hate Me,” is incredibly charming and makes the audience root for his character to get the girl. He is so into his craft, that he may be discredited for how easy he makes it look (a la Jeff Bridges). Also shining in small performances is Julie Walters as Sarah’s annoying, yet warm-hearted mother, constantly seeking movie roles and providing the comedic commentary on her daughter’s life. Maybe the funniest performance of the year goes to Ian McShane. The “Deadwood” actor plays Sarah’s director who has become obsessed with her and even begins to stalk her. McShane’s conversation with any character is gut-busting due to his over-the-top, Scottish accent and the other character’s inability to comprehend. Overall, this is definitely one of the funniest and best films of the year.

For Your Consideration (Comedy)

Best Picture: Rodney M. Liber & Andrew Miano & Paul Weitz
Best Director: Paul Weitz
Best Actress: Mary-Louise Parker
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Roth
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Mackie
Best Supporting Actor: Ian McShane
Best Supporting Actress: Julie Walters
Best Original Screenplay: Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz


Author(s): Steven
Location: Louisiana


Directed by: Michael Gondry
Written by: Michael Gondry
Score by: Clint Mansell

Principal Cast:

Rachel McAdams (Claire Watts)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Michael Watts)
Jude Law (John McIntyre)
Jane Fonda (Ethel Richards)
Robin Williams (Bill Richards)

Tagline: “Love knows no boundaries"

Synopsis: Claire and Michael Watts live a normal, happy life until one day when everything changes. Driving home, they get into a car accident which puts Claire in a coma. This incident leaves Claire trapped inside her own head in a fantasy world. Soon Claire meets John McIntyre, who she instantly falls in love with. Claire is undecided whether she wants to live out her life with John in this fantasy world or return to Michael in the real world.

Meanwhile, Claire’s parents, Ethel and Billy, arrive at the hospital to watch over their daughter. They are going to give Claire two months to wake, and if she doesn’t then they are going to ask the doctors to pull the plug. They don’t believe that a human being should be kept alive by a machine. Michael, however, believes that Claire will return to him and that nothing should be done. Michael fervently begins to speak to Claire in the hopes that she will hear his pleas.

Back in Claire’s fantasy world, Claire begins to hear Michael’s voice in her head. She decides to return to the real world, and she begs John to come with her. John is reluctant to go because of how miserable he was before he moved to this world, but he decides to go with Claire. In a surprising twist, John is also a coma patient in the hospital. When they meet each other Claire has decide whether she wants to spend the rest of her life with Michael or leave him for John.

What the press would say:

Critics are calling Michael Gondry’s “Comatose” the best film of the year! What works most for the film is its amazing screenplay. Gondry will hands down win the Best Original Screenplay award. Another surefire winner is Rachel McAdams who delivers her best performance to date. She has great chemistry with both Gyllenhaal and Law. Her best scene is when she is standing between Michael and John, and she has to decide who she wants to be with. The audience can feel the longing and passion she has for John, but does she really want to leave Michael and throw away her life? Jude Law also delivers a magnificent performance. He gives the most sensual emotional performance of the year. His whole body quivers when he is with Claire. Gyllenhaal is also excellent as a man who is praying for his wife to wake. All the audience has to do is watch his eyes; Gyllenhaal could have had no dialogue, and his performance would have been just as remarkable. Jane Fonda and Robin Williams are also quite good, especially Fonda who has to cope with the actuality of possibly losing her daughter. Her best scene is when she lashes out at Michael and blames him for Claire’s condition.

For Your Consideration:
Best Picture
Best Director, Michael Gondry
Best Actress, Rachel McAdams
Best Actor, Jake Gyllenhaal
Best Supporting Actor, Jude Law
Best Supporting Actress, Jane Fonda
Best Original Screenplay
Best Score
Best Editing

The Counselor

Author(s): Connor Campbell
Location: Carrollton, Texas

“The Counselor"

Directed by Cameron Crowe
Written by Cameron Crowe & Alan Ball

Principal Cast:

Annette Bening- Amy Carlson
Kevin Kline- Gary Carlson
Kim Basinger- Jamie Ellington
Bernadette Peters- Janice Murphy
Emily Browning- Kelsie Carlson
Liam Aiken- Christian Carlson
Lauren Graham- Nicky Purcell
Heather Graham- Brooke Hennessey
Doug Savant- Mark Simon
Mary Tyler Moore- Betty Strickland
John Goodman- Gary Goldsmith

Tagline: “When talking to teenagers about their problems, you can’t help but laugh your ass off” December 2007

Synopsis: Amy Carlson is the counselor at Forrest Pine Middle School. When the district decides to split Forrest Pine into two schools, everything changes. When her husband Gary gets dragged down the pavement by one of the family dogs, he is forced to be removed from his job as a floorer and become a supervisor, who is paid much less. Her daughter Kelsie is a senior in high school who has just come out of a nasty break-up. Her son Christian’s grades are slipping & is in his first real relationship. Her twin sister Jamie has recently discovered that her husband is cheating on her. Her other sister, Nicky is concerned that she isn’t a good mother. Her friend Janice is negative and her son just went off for college. Her co-worker Brooke has been engaged for three years and is finally getting married and treats it like a national holiday. Her gay friend Mark is thinking about coming out to his parents (the last people) but doesn’t know how. Gary is the principal of Forrest Pine middle school who is bitter and takes nothing seriously and is a dampener on every employee’s professionalism. This is the story of the last year of the Forrest Pine Middle School everyone is used to.

What the press would say:

This is a towering achievement! Cameron Crowe and Alan Ball have managed to write yet another masterpiece. Annette Bening is sensational! She captures Amy so well and gives her best performance since American Beauty. Kevin Kline gives a simply perfect performance as Gary. The scene where he is dragged by the dog is pee your pants funny and Kline pulls it off beautifully. Kim Basinger is absolutely fabulous as Jamie and is so heartwarming. A Near perfect performance. Bernadette Peters was perfect casting. She plays the bitter Janice without a flaw. Emily Browning & Liam Aiken, who are used to playing brother & sister (A Series of Unfortunate Events) and have maintained that convincing bond the two share. Lauren Graham wowed me with her portrayal of Nicky Purcell, the troubled mother. She gives her best performance ever, and I say that with confidence. Heather Graham plays the funniest character in the film and is spot on as the ditzy, marriage-obsessed Language Arts teacher who needs professional guidance that nobody seems to give her, other than Amy. Doug Savant gives a glowing performance as the homosexual Mark Simon. He is such a believable character and adds a lot to the story. Mary Tyler Moore appears as Amy, Jamie & Nicky’s mother Betty in a scene at Betty’s beach house and steals the scene. She has clearly shown that she is here to stay. We also see a lot of her in pone conversations with Amy. John Goodman is spectacular as Gary Goldsmith and adds a whole other level of comedy to this particularly dark film. Alan Ball & Cameron Crowe have managed to write one of the best screenplays in recent history. The story flows from Comedy to Drama with such ease. Cameron Crowe directs this beautifully made film with a touch no one else could. Thank you Cameron Crowe for directing my favorite film of the year. Thank you Alan Ball for teaming up with Cameron Crowe to write the best screenplay I’ve read in a long time. And thanks to the cast for not just reading what’s on the page. Thank you for being professional actors, which is seldom seen these days. I applaud this film and everyone involved. Thank you for an enjoyable film experience ****/****

For Your Consideration

Best Picture
Best Director- Cameron Crowe
Best Actress- Annette Bening
Best Actor- Kevin Kline
Best Supporting Actress- Kim Basinger
Best Supporting Actress- Bernadette Peters
Best Supporting Actress- Emily Browning
Best Supporting Actress- Lauren Graham
Best Supporting Actress- Heather Graham
Best Supporting Actress- Mary Tyler Moore
Best Supporting Actor- Liam Aiken
Best Supporting Actor- Doug Savant
Best Supporting Actor- John Goodman
Best Original Screenplay- Cameron Crowe & Alan Ball

*This bait is dedicated in loving memory of Robert Altman.*

Counting Sheep

Author(s): Matthew LaRusso / Jennifer Milan
Location: New Jersey

“Counting Sheep"

Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Tim Burton
Music by: Danny Elfman

Principal Cast:

Edward Norton as Sgt. Trent Redding
Johnny Depp as Sgt. Robert Stevens
Christopher Walken as Det. Frank Serrone
Javier Bardem as Officer Sergio Morales
Jennifer Connelly as Jessica Redding

Tagline: “This Winter, All your Dreams will Become Nightmares…"

Synopsis: In the small suburban town of Doddington, Nebraska, there is a serial killer on the loose. He lurks in the dead, dark hours of the night, kills his victims in brutal fashion and leaves no clues behind. It is the job of the Doddington PD to find this killer. The task force is led by Sgt. Trent Redding (Norton) and Sgt. Robert Stevens (Depp) who are both dumbfounded by these killings in such a peaceful neighborhood. No witnesses, no clues and no leads. When an FBI agent gets involved (Walken), many start to suspect Sergio Morales (Bardem), a former DPD officer who was let go, because of his overly violent behavior and psychological problems. When Morales’ alibi fits, he is eliminated as a suspect. Unknown to everyone in the investigation is the one key witness waiting in the wings, Jessica Redding, the wife of Trent Redding. She is the only one who knows about the Sgt.’s little problem: sleepwalking. There are many nights when Sgt. Redding disappears for hours at a time and she does not know where he goes. Now the hunter will become the hunted, only he does not know it, and neither does anyone else….

What the press would say:

Tim Burton, the director of such classics as “Batman” and “Edward Scissorhands”, brings his most un-Tim Burton-like movie to the big screen, in the form of “Counting Sheep”. While the title may have Tim Burton written all over it, the acting takes his direction to a whole new level. Edward Norton is sure to get his first Oscar nod in nearly a decade and Javier Bardem may finally get a win for his astute portrayal of a small town officer who has lost everything. The editing and cinematography are the best in years and Danny Elfman’s frantic and heart-pounding score are sure to garner a nomination. The screenplay is tight and to the point, and reveals great character insights. Let the nominations begin!

Best Picture
Best Director- Tim Burton
Best Actor- Edward Norton
Best Supporting Actor- Javier Bardem
Best Original Screenplay
Best Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Original Score

The Fishing Game

Author(s): Chris
Location: New Hampshire

“The Fishing Game"

Directed By: Stephen Frears
Written By: Eric Roth
Music By: Hans Zimmer

Principal Cast:

Arthur Castaglo: Nick Nolte
Joan Castaglo: Patricia Clarkson
James Ranan: James Woods
April Ranan: Catherine Keener

Tagline: “Fish live deep in the ocean, these men will go deeper than that to win"

Synopsis: Arthur Castaglo and James Ranan are the most successful fishermen in the state of Maine. They each have two children, large homes, and beautiful wives. Joan Castaglo is working woman, who thinks that fishing has disturbed her husband’s life, and their marriage. April on the other hand, is too busy to look at her children, or her husband for that matter, because for the past three years she has been working on a book about blue-collar socialism, in which she has been on page 47, for ten years. Ever since April was young, she was focused on marrying a rich man, and she did, however passing herself off as socialite with fisherman husband has always been hard, so she decided to write a book about it. Joan tries to keep her business out of the red, while her husband goes off every day and enjoys himself.

Every year in August, there is a huge fishing contest in the town that James and Arthur live in. For the past fifteen years, James has come out the champion and Arthur comes in second. The thing that needs to be understood here, is that a $450,000 prize is given out to the winner. This and a few sales to restaurants are how James makes his fortune, while Arthur makes a steady income throughout the year (this includes sales on ice fishing). But, when April reaches page 48 in her book, things fall out of synch, and Arthur takes home the prize, James is left with barley any money. When his wife finds out about the bad fortune, she threatens to leave him, and take the children with her. James claims he will do anything to win his wife, and the money back. He says he would even kill. Meanwhile, in hopes to settle his marriage, Arthur gives the $450,000 dollar prize to his wife, for her now blooming business. Joan finds death notes in her bedroom and office, and reports them to the police. The track the handwriting to Ranan, and he is immediately arrested. Even from prison Joan is haunted by him, because he sends henchmen to kill the entire Castaglo family. This is when Arthur and Joan struggle for dear life.

What the press would say:

Stephen Frears the director of such highly-regarded films like The Grifters, Mrs. Henderson Presents and The Queen brings life to the screen again in The Fishing Game. The director known for directing women extraordinarily well, directs men equally as well in this film. Nolte gives his most powerful performance since The Price of Tides, and Woods uses the same quick wit and prowess that he uses in CBS’ “Shark”. The Women also perform well, with Clarkson out acting her Oscar nominated turn in Pieces of April. Keener matches both her nominated performances as a neurotic housewife on the brink of stardom. Overall, this film is filled with power house performances and is sure to get nominated for these awards come Oscar time:

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor-James Woods
Best Actor-Nick Nolte
Best Actress-Patricia Clarkson
Best Supporting Actress-Catherine Kenner
Best Original Score
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay

Foreign Affairs

Author(s): Josh P.
Location: Chicago, IL

“Foreign Affairs"

Directed by Paul Greengrass
Written by Paul Greengrass and Paul Haggis
Cinematogrpahy by Rodrigo Prieto
Edited by Hughes Winborne
Music by Alexandre Desplat

Principal Cast:

Christian Bale (Mark Power)
Thandie Newton (Millie Riely)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Billy Hibbins)
Cillian Murphy (John Rather)
Hugh Laurie (Det. Arnold Ramsey)
Colin Farrell (Will Hartford)
Pierce Brosnan (Ryan Hartford)
Tom Wilkinson (Mickey)
Peter Sarsgaard (Rob O’ Backins)
Peter O’ Toole (Jack Millens- Passenger)
Julie Walters (Maurene Millens- Passenger)
Stephen Rea (Jacob Harolds- Passenger)

Tagline: “What have you done to affect these lives?"

Synopsis: July 17. 5:23 p.m. A subway train has just left its underground station carrying many people back home from work. Some are there for that reason, others because they need a ride. What most of them don’t know is that a few kilometers ahead is a deadly surprise. Once they pass that point, all are in shock as a bomb is detonated from beneath and sends tons of rock and debris on the train, trapping it beneath the rubble. As the people are trapped, we see an insight into their lives and what has brought them here:

Mark Power is a workaholic businessman who is a manager for Materials, Inc., an industrial plant for manufacturing carburetors. He has been forced to take a paycut because of a recent deal with the Matsumoto Plants company that will outsource more jobs in exchange for providing cheap metals to make the parts. Mark has worked with the company nearly fifteen years and now lives alone in a single bedroom apartment.

Billy Hibbins is a graduate student who has an internship at an up and coming law firm. His job mostly consists of filing papers for the many lawyers that come about. He recently was handed a document which involved a case of a man who was suing a Japanese company because the carborater in his mother’s car had fallen apart and caused the car to stop on train tracks as one was approaching.

Millie Riely is Billy Hibbin’s fianceé. She works at an art gallery where she helps out with the auctions. A few months ago, she saw an irregular painting: a watercolor portrait of a fire exploding London’s Big Ben. Her boss told her that this was obscene and that she should not sell it. She, however, found it interesting and decided to keep it.

Will Hartford is the son of Ryan Hartford, the vice president of Materials, Inc. Will is a homosexual, and his father knows this. However, his father is not biggoted but does want his son’s identity to be kept underwraps in fear of negative publicity. Because of this, Will has to venture in the dark streets to express himself, as he tours the gay clubs, using illegal narcotics and has sex with strangers in public bathrooms and dark alleys. One stranger he meets is John Rathner. After hours of titillating fun, Rathner says he has to go home by subway and wants Will to come back with him. Will isn’t sure at first but then decides yes because he’s never been on a subway train before.

Rob O’Backins is an accountant for a rich man who likes to collect a lot of art. He is married and has two children but recently had to devote his attention to something else. He bought his mother a new car even though she detested on having one. He insisted and she drove it for two months until she had an accident in which a train hit her car. Further investigation revealed the carborater had fallen apart due to the material. Brought on by anger and guilt, Rob is suing the company to pay for the death of his mother.

Arnold Ramsey actually was a chief of police in Great Britain. However, he became distraught after a terrorist tried to blow up the House of Parliament. He didn’t succeed, but the man managed to break through the gates before being stopped. Ramsey sees this as a failure on his part and secluded himself for two years, painting pictures of what he though could have happened that day. He resurfaces in Ireland to assist the police officers there in case there should be another IRA attack. He finds out this is going to be true.

John Rathner is the man who has brought all of these people together. He is thirty-two years old and has an unusual job. His employment comes from a man simply known as Mickey and Mickey always tells John to blow things up. Rathner is one of the chief bomb maker for the IRA and he was the one who created the bomb which traps the train now. He was sent along for two reasons: to make sure the bomb blew up and to lure Will Hartford onto that train so that the son of the VP of a company that is stealing jobs from Irish citizens will make a formidable body to be viewed on the evening news.

The lives of these people affect us all. What will happen now as they face eachother?

What the press would say:

An overwhelming effort. Every frame of this movie has captured and affected critics and audiences alike. Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93) delivers on every level. Once again using his trademark hand held camera look, Greengrass creates an intense and gritty portrait of the lives of these people. During the scenes on the train, he makes us feel nervous and anxious as to what will happen, then he can turn the tone to more quiet moments where we can feel for the characters. Either way, Greengrass provides a great effort and, much like his United 93, creates a real emotional connection to the story and characters that causes the viewer to empathize with the piece. Equally emotionally driven is the screenplay, jointly written by Greengrass and Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby). While Haggis has ventured into similar territory, it only serves to the point that he is a great writer that knows how to draw us in with smart dialogue. However, probably the most enthusiastic part of the movie is its magnificent cast. It features great actors, like Christian Bale who makes us feel sorry for a life that has been destroyed, Thandie Newton who creates a character that is sympathetic to those less fortunate and Peter Sarsgaard as a man trying to battle a seemingly corrupt system in order to get justice. Still, there are two moving performances that should be taken note of even more so. The first if Hugh Laurie. He really brings out the guilt and anguish his character has felt and when the time comes to battle a similar event, he convincingly pulls off showing us a man who all his life has felt powerless battling violence and now it is happening again. The other is Colin Farrell. While Farrell’s track record has featured big box office failures (Alexander, Miami Vice), it has almost all been forgiven with this tender performance. His character is not a gay man being hurt by society and trying to battle prejudice. He is a man that must keep parts of his identity a secret as not to jeopardize his father’s company. That subtle persona will become a feeling of downright betrayal when he discovers the man he’s with is not who he seems to be. Both Laurie and Farrell give great, standout performances and should be the ones recognized for their achievements. Due to the immense talent from the director, writers and cast, many are saying it’s a triumph and should not pass blindly through this award season. The campaign consideration:

Best Picture
Best Director: Paul Greengrass
Best Supporting Actor: Colin Farrell
Best Supporting Actor: Hugh Laurie
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Greengrass and Paul Haggis
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score

Geek Love

Author(s): Brian Kress
Location: Minneapolis

“Geek Love”

Director: Tim Burton
Adapted Screenplay: Jon August
Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot
Editing: Chris Lebenzon
Production Design: Mark Tildesley

Principal Cast:

Aloysius “Al” Binewski: Steve Buscemi
Lil Binewski: Helena Bonham Carter
Arturo “Arty”: Cody Kasch (Desperate Housewives)
Electra “Elly”: Meghan Tuma (All My Children)
Iphigenia “Iphy”: Alison Tuma (All My Children)
Olympia “Oly”: Abigail Breslin
Fortunato “Chick”: Zane Huett (Desperate Housewives)
Older Arturo: Johnny Depp
Older Electra: Lindsay Greenbush (Little House on the Prairie)
Older Iphigenia: Sidney Greenbush (Little House on the Prairie)
Older Olympia: Renee Zellweger
Older Fortunato: Seth Green
Miranda: Naomi Watts
Old Oly: Ellen Burstyn
Mary Lick: Sharon Stone

Tagline: “If you thought your family was dysfunctional…"

Synopsis: GEEK LOVE is the story of a traveling circus run by Aloysius "Al" Binewski (Buscemi) and his wife, "Crystal" Lil (Carter). When Al's circus begins to fail, the couple devises an idea to breed their own freak show, using various drugs and radioactive material to alter the genes of their children. The children that emerge are Arturo "Arty" (Kasch), a boy with flippers for hands and feet; Electra "Elly" and Iphigenia "Iphy" (the Tuma twins, playing conjoined twins); Olympia "Oly” (Breslin) the hunchback albino dwarf; and Fortunato "Chick" (Huett), the normal looking telekinetic baby of the family -- as well as a number of still-borns kept preserved in jars in a special wing of the freak show.

Two stories are told. The first deals with the Binewski children’s constant vicious struggle against each other, but especially against Arty (later played by Depp) as he develops his own cult: Arturism. Arturism involves members having their limbs amputated so that they can end up like Arty, the cult leader, in their search for the principle he calls PIP – “Peace, Isolation, Purity.” As Arty battles his siblings (later played by twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, Renee Zellweger as Oly and Seth Green as Chick) to maintain control over his followers, mundane aspects of their lives, such as competition between their respective freak shows, slowly begin to take over their lives.

The second story involves Oly’s daughter, Miranda (Watts). Miranda, in her twenties, does not know Oly (now played by Ellen Burstyn) is her mother and lives on a trust fund set up by Oly before she was given up to be raised by nuns at the urging of Arturo, who is Miranda’s father. Oly lives in the same rooming house as Miranda so she can “spy” on her. Miranda has a special defect of her own, a small tail, which she flaunts at a local fetish strip club. Mary Lick (Stone), a wealthy woman who pays poor but attractive women to get operations that disfigure them so that they may live up to their potential instead of becoming sex objects, tries to convince her to have it cut off. Oly’s plan is to stop Lick to protect her daughter. The entirety of GEEK LOVE is narrated by the old Oly as a novel she plans to give to Miranda.

What the press would say:

Tim Burton brings another dark, human tragicomedy to the screen, assembling an expert cast. Ellen Burstyn has the comeback role of her career with the hunchback, albino dwarf Oly. She narrates the “early years” and truly becomes this belabored, but optimistic woman in her older years. Naomi Watts gives a beautiful performance as Miranda, a simple woman living a difficult life. We see her as a truly lost soul. Johnny Depp is haunting and hilarious as the older Arturo. His cultish, slightly psychopathic behavior is both unnerving and hilarious. The children in this production (Cody Kasch, Meghan and Alison Tuma, Zane Huett and the amazing Abigail Breslin) are astounding, especially Ms. Breslin as Young Oly. Renee Zellweger has some beautiful moments as Older Oly. Steve Buscemi and Helena Bonham Carter are excellent in small roles as Al and Lil Binewski, the parents of the freak show family. Finally, Sharon Stone gives a stellar performance as they conniving, sleazy, pushy Mary Lick.

Best Picture
Best Director: Tim Burton
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jon August
Best Actress: Ellen Burstyn
Best Supporting Actor: Johnny Depp
Best Supporting Actress: Abigail Breslin
Best Supporting Actress: Naomi Watts
Best Supporting Actress: Sharon Stone

Ghosts of Hanukkah’s Past

Author(s): Ryan
Location: New Jersey

“Ghosts of Hanukkah’s Past"

Directed by Steven Speilberg
Written by Tina Fey
Music by Al Yankovich

Principal Cast:

Dustin Hoffman (Scroogeberg Horowitz)
Ben Stiller (Ben Goldberg)
Daryl Sabara (Aaron Goldberg)
Sarah Silverman (Rachel Goldberg)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Ghost of Hanukkah Present)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Ghost of Hanukkah Past)
Kate Hudson (Ghost of Hanukkah Future)
Doris Roberts (Lisa)
Mel Brooks (Jacob)
Scarlett Johansson (Belle)
Joaquin Phoenix (Matthew)
Zach Braff (Young Scroogeberg)
David Arquette (Fred Greenberg)
Sophie Okonedo (Sarah Greenberg)
Evan Rachel Wood (Beggar)

Tagline: “A Jewish Story with a Jewish Cast.” 12/21/07 or
“Coming Hanukkah, 2007"

RATED PG- for thematic elements and mild language

Synopsis: Ghosts of Hanukkah’s Past is a quick-witted family Dramedy about a mean, heartless and despised man, Scroogeberg Horowitz (Dustin Hoffman) who hates Hanukkah. He treats his workers unfairly too. When one of his workers, Ben Goldberg (Ben Stiller), asks for a Christmas bonus so him and his wife, Rachel (Sarah Silverman), can celebrate Hanukkah with their son, Aaron (Daryl Sabara), Scroogeberg says no. Scroogeberg never goes to his nephew’s, Matthew (Joaquin Phoenix), Hanukkah party on the last day of Hanukkah, and his sister, Lisa (Doris Roberts), pities him. Also Scroogeberg never goes to the first day of Hanukkah party which is the biggest party of the year hosted by, Fred Greenberg (David Arquette) and Sarah Greenberg (Sophie Okonedo). Also, Scroogeberg never donates to the town shelter’s Beggar (Evan Rachel Wood).

One night when Scroogeberg is asleep he is visited by a ghost of his greedy business partner, Jacob (Mel Brooks), who doesn’t want the same fate happen to Scroogeberg. Then Scroogeberg is visited by three ghosts; the Ghost of Hanukkah Present (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Ghost of Hanukkah Past (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Ghost of Hanukkah Future (Kate Hudson). In Hanukkah Past Scroogeberg sees his younger self (Zach Braff), and his ex-fiancé who died from loneliness because of Scroogeberg’s absence…and rabies, Belle (Scarlet Johansson). Finally in Hanukkah Future Scroogeberg sees his untimely death. Showing him what will be if he keeps living life like he is.

In the end we find the true meaning of family and Hanukkah with Cameos from: Paula Abdul, Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, Matthew Broderick, Sacha Baron Cohen and Rob Schneider

What the press would say:

“Two thumbs up!”-Ebert & Roeper
“A heart-warming family comedy and may be BETTER than A Christmas Carol”- People
“A+! Hilarious and dramatic, even though it is Hanukkah themed even people that celebrate Christmas or whatever else should see this one.”-Entertainment Weekly
“Who says Jews Can’t Be Funny?”-Jewish Community Daily
“An Oscar Winner and then some more.”-Rolling Stone Magazine

Ghosts of Hanukkah’s Past is a heart-warming Jewish version of A Christmas Carol but that is an understatement because it is better. Ghosts has quick wit, drama, and charm. With an all Jewish cast we get the real Jewish experience. Tina Fey has an excellent screenplay and Speilberg is terrific like always. Dustin Hoffman and Mel Brooks are side-splitting and dramatic. Gyllenhaal, Hudson and Paltrow are great with sass, and a terrific performance by Johansson. Dustin Hoffman along with the rest of the cast will make you laugh and cry and have you watch this movie a thousand times. A new instant holiday classic.

Best Picture
Best Director: Steven Speilberg
Best Screenplay: Tina Fey
Best Original Score: Adam Sandler
Best Actor: Dustin Hoffman
Best Supporting Actor: Mel Brooks
Best Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow
Best Supporting Actress: Scarlett Johansson

The Golden Boys

Author(s): Al
Location: New York

"The Golden Boys"

Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Judd Apatow
Original Songs by: Marc Shaiman

Principal Cast:

Mike Fennel: Steve Carell
Bob Langston: Billy Bob Thornton
Rick Perry: John C. Reilly
Ed Fennel: Matthew Perry
Wallace Plotkin: James Caan
Marcus "JoJo Cray-Z" Orwin: D.L. Hughley
June Fennel: Elisabeth Shue
Lizzie: Parker Posey
Jack Manter: Hugh Jackman
Edna Langston: Jane Krakowski
Frank: Ethan Suplee

Tagline: “N/A"

Synopsis: Mike Fennel has some real problems. His wife June is constantly nagging him, his kids hate his guts, he's stuck in a soul-crushing job as a CPA, and on top of all this he's got a mean midlife crisis creeping up on him. Desperate, he turns to his lone triumph: "The Golden Boys", a cheesy college band that enjoyed success for a few months before crashing, burning, and disbanding. He decides to contact the old members: His snarky brother Ed, (a sports agent who wants nothing to do with Mike), the rebellious ladies man Bob (now living in a trailer with his ditzy wife Edna), and the quiet, soulful, talented fourth member Tom. After discovering that Tom died in a car accident a few months after the group broke up, Mike enlists their onetime roadie Rick, currently stockpiling firearms for use against the Communist militia with his equally clueless brother Frank. Emboldened, Mike contacts their old manager Wallace, now retired in Palm Beach, who politely declines his offer. A young, slimy Hollywood agent, Jack Manter, picks up the band and gets them a spot performing with the flamboyant hip-hop artist JoJo Cray-Z, shooting them to cult stardom among mocking young men. However, Bob acts increasingly hostile towards the other members of the group, and Rick, of all people, starts to drift towards a solo career. And Mike begins to suspect that there's something going on between Jack and his wife. Will these middle-aged men hold on for more than 15 minutes of fame, or will Mike's dreams come crashing down?

What the press would say:

Oh wow. "The Golden Boys" may just be the funniest film of all time. This movie has got it all: hilarious and witty, dialogue, fleshed-out characters, and a poignant flair to a movie that could have been goofy and overdone. Ivan Reitman, a veteran comedy director, deserves serious praise for this movie, as does Judd Apatow for his clever and witty screenplay.

But let's get to the stars. First off are the four members of the band. Matthew Perry is very funny as the resentful brother of Steve Carell's character, while Billy Bob Thornton also deserves praise for his drunken, hardened character that proves both his dramatic and comedic chops. John C. Reilly, I must say, is flat-out brilliant. As the dim-witted burnout who is drafted into the band, he puts on a funny but also emotionally resonant performance. He eventually begins to believe in his vocal chops and begins a solo career, with unexpected success. This role should finally get him the mainstream (and possibly awards) recognition he deserves. The real standout is the lead actor, Steve Carell. In "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", he established his reputation as one of Hollywood's best comedians, and in "Little Miss Sunshine" he solidified his dramatic capacity. Now it seems that everything he's learned about acting has been parlayed into his portrayal of a sad, pathetic middle-aged man who just wants an accomplishment. Even in his most slapstick moments, we can sense his inner thoughts, his introverted distress and dejection. This role will surely lead him to even greater fame.

Of course, there is a great supporting cast that must not be forgotten. James Caan, so often the straight man, does one of his best jobs yet, as does Hugh Jackman as a yuppie music manager with a devil-may-care grin and a snappy wardrobe. His scenes with Elisabeth Shue, as Mike's needy wife, are hilarious but meaningful as Shue's character uses Jackman's character as a receptacle for her bottled-up emotions and desires. D.L Hughley, with a robust comedic career, is spot-on in his portrayal of the eccentric and sometimes delusional hip-hop star "JoJo Cray-Z." What a great comedic performance. Also noteworthy are Parker Posey as the backstabbing indie music producer who seduces Mike in one hilarious scene, and Jane Krakowski as the dim but caring wife of Billy Bob Thornton's character.

All in all, this is an amazing film comedy with a wonderful cast, and though the Academy hates to honor comedies, don't be surprised to see this little movie that could pick up a few gold statuettes next February. It certainly deserves every one of them.

Best Picture (AMPAS)
Best Picture-Musical/Comedy (HFPA)
Best Ensemble (SAG)
Best Director: Ivan Reitman
Best Original Screenplay: Judd Apatow
Best Actor: Steve Carell
Best Actor: Billy Bob Thornton
Best Supporting Actor: John C. Reilly
Best Supporting Actor: D.L. Hughley
Best Supporting Actress: Elisabeth Shue
Best Supporting Actress: Parker Posey

I Know James Bond

Author(s): John
Location: Romania

“I Know James Bond"

Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Eric Roth and Peter Morgan
Music by John Williams
Produced by Andy Harries and Christine Langan

Principal Cast:

Freddie Highmore(6-year-old Tommy Goldfield)
Chris O’Donnell(30-year-old Tommy Goldfield)
James Cromwell(Tommy’s dad)
Reese Witherspoon(Dolly Goldfield)
Robert Patrick(50-year-old Tommy Goldfield)
Sean Connery(cameo)(James Bond)
Eva Green(Lily,Tommy’s girlfriend)

Tagline: “The city of all people who forgot life can be saved"

Synopsis: A boy, named Tommy Goldfield, once met Jame Bond,his hero. Years later, he became lazy, angry and frustrated with life, so he found healing in drugs, lots of women and abuse. He had no responsibilities, no real life.What is director Stephen Frears is trying to show us in this movie is how the power of changing can affect the lives of people living in a city. Tommy Goldfield wants desperately to change after his father’s death and remembers how life gives us heroes and villains. In the end Tommy must choose between being the savior of his destiny or a drunken gangster.

What the press would say:

”Exciting”,”Marvelous”,”Original”. These are the words that can describe this incredible, emotional,maybe even above the clouds movie. But it hs it’s flaws,just that they’re too little even too be observed by some.Other than that,Stephen Frears gives us an image of city who has known a legend(James Bond),but unfortunatly it still needs a hero from drugs,illegal fights to the death and mass-destruction.John Williams provides us again with beautiful sounds and music that takes your breth away.Cinematographer Emanuel Lubezky is now showing us a very dark side of a city,plus revives the moments,choices the lead character is in.The title is a message that just reminds us of a hero,and creates a new one. Bravo!To Annie Lennox ,who made such a beautiful song.The film leaves a mark to any viewer and you go aut of the theatre maybe crying or just trying to remember what you have seen.At the end of the movie Sean Connery,makes a great cameo,saying in a scene:”It’s like I'm home…but where are guns?”

Best Picture:Andy Harris,Christine Langan
Best Actor:Chris O’Donnell
Best Director:Stephen Frears
Best Actress:Reese Witherspoon
Best Original Screenplay
Best Editing
Best Cinematography:Emanuel Lubezsky
Best Original Score:John Williams
Best Original Song:”Going Back” performed by Annie Lennox and lyrics and music by Annie Lennox

The Man Behind the Knight

Author(s): Chris Moffitt
Location: North Carolina

“The Man Behind the Knight"

Directed by Spike Jonze
Written by Charlie Kaufman
Music by James Horner

Principal Cast:

Kelsey Grammer- Michael Frazen
Kate Winslett- Dulcinea
Steve Buscemi- Sammy
Tom Wilkinson- Dr. William Mandeville
Emmy Rossum- Jennifer Frazen

Tagline: “This is the story of a man who lived his dream and became a knight"

Synopsis: Michael Frazen is a rich and famous author who once dominated the social scene of New York City. However, since he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic who now resides in an institution, his life has become based on one thing- his books. Frazen’s favorite book is Don Quixote and after reading it over and over again he has decided that this book must be about him. One day, he like Don Quixote receives a meeting from the lovely lady, Dulcinea who tells him that he is a knight and that he must now preserve her honor and become a knight. He escapes the institution and turns a trashcan into armor and steals a sword from a museum in the city. While walking in Central Park, Frazen who now calls himself Don Quixote finds a homeless man named Sammy living on a bench and tells him that he must become his squire. Sammy remembers Frazen’s face from the newspapers and believes that he has money and will give him some so he follows Frazen on his journey through New York City, as he becomes a knight. While in the institution, Dr. Mandeville and Frazen’s niece discover that he is gone and plan to try and catch him before he does anything crazy. Frazen’s niece, Jennifer decides that the escape is the perfect excuse to try and have all of her uncle’s books eliminated and destroyed. As Frazen and Sammy go on a journey throughout the city, Frazen begins to understand what it is to live a dream even if you don’t know that it is a dream.

What the press would say:

“The Man Behind the Knight” is one of those truly remarkable films that is amazing in every sense of the world. It has an amazing cast that includes great performances by Kelsey Grammer, Kate Winslett, and Steve Buscemi. It is written with the sharp tongue and sharp mind of Charlie Kaufman who truly shows the great theme of idealism. And it has phenomenal camera work, which brings forth the ideal of a true adventure. The relationship between Kelsey Grammer’s Michael Frazen and Steve Buscemi’s wise but uneducated Sammy is one of the great parts of the film showing a true friendship, which grows as the story goes on. However, the centerpiece of the film is the relationship between Frazen and Dulcinea and the dream sequences that these two characters experience. Frazen learns the most about himself through these scenes and like Kaufman has done in most of his films he uses these scenes to show how reality is bended and contorted and convinces the audience that these scenes can be real.

Best Picture
Best Director- Spike Jonze
Best Adapted Screenplay- Charlie Kaufman
Best Actor- Kelsey Grammer
Best Supporting Actress- Kate Winslett
Best Supporting Actor- Steve Buscemi
Best Original Score- James Horner
Best Film Editing
Best Sound Editing
Best Cinematography


Author(s): Stefano
Location: Italy


Directed by Bill Condon
Written by Bill Condon, Dan Futterman
Original music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography by Lajos Koltai
Art direction by Luciana Arrighi
Costume design by Jenny Beavan
Produced by Martin Richards

Principal Cast:

Kristin Scott Thomas – Marlene Dietrich
Emily Watson – Ona Munson
Natalie Portman – Maria Riva
Vincent Perez – Jean Gabin
Bob Balaban – Billy Wilder
Maury Chaykin – Alfred Hitchcock
Vincent D’Onofrio – Orson Welles
Richard Griffiths – Charles Laughton
Bruno Ganz – Josef Von Sternberg
Greg Kinnear – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Carmen Maura – Mercedes de Acosta

Tagline: “Beyond the legend… there was the woman"

Synopsis: Kristin Scott Thomas plays the unforgettable role of one of the greatest divas of all-time in this marvelous portrait of legendary German-born actress Marlene Dietrich, written and directed by Bill Condon. The film tells the two opposite sides in the life of Marlene: the first is about her successful career as an internationally-famous movie-star, a celebrated cabaret-performer and an unique fashion-icon, and her image of charm and mystery. The second aspect narrated by the film is the private life of Maria Magdalene Dietrich, and the real person beyond the myth of Marlene: a strong and indomitable personality, a loving mother (and grandmother), and above all an unconventional, transgressive and resolute woman who attempted to challenge the rules and impositions of the world she lived in.

Through the story of the film, we can see Marlene during her professional experiences in Hollywood alongside the most important directors of that time, such as Alfred Hitchcock (Maury Chaykin), Billy Wilder (Bob Balaban) and Orson Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio), while she was on the set of some of her best movies: “Stage Fright”, “Witness for the Prosecution”, starring Charles Laughton (Richard Griffiths), and “Touch of Evil”.

And then, off-stage, there is Marlene’s family-life beside her young daughter Maria Riva (Natalie Portman), and her close friendship with German director Josef Von Sternberg (Bruno Ganz), who launched Dietrich to stardom with masterpieces such as “The Blue Angel”, “Morocco” and “The Scarlett Empress”. The film also explores Dietrich’s bisexual inclinations: her well-known relationships with French actor Jean Gabin (Vincent Perez) and future President John F. Kennedy (Greg Kinnear), and her “scandalous” love affairs with writer Mercedes de Acosta (Carmen Maura) and sensual actress Ona Munson (Emily Watson), who fell deeply in love with Marlene and several years later committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates.

What the press would say:

Academy Award winner Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters”, “Kinsey”) directs another extraordinary biographical picture, probably his best movie to date, with excellent performances from the actors and a riveting and witty screenplay written by Dan Futterman (“Capote”) and the director himself, who have adapted one of Dietrich’s numerous biographies.

Academy Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas (“The English Patient”, “Gosford Park”) gives the performance of a lifetime with her intense, outstanding and chamaleontic portrait of the mythical star and icon Marlene Dietrich, thanks also to her impressive resemblance with the German actress. Kristin Scott Thomas shines in the role of the charming and beautiful Mrs. Dietrich, both in the dramatic and in the brilliant scenes of the film, and she shows an unexpected singing-talent in some of Marlene’s most famous musical numbers (including a spectacular version of her song “Falling in love again”).

The wonderful cast include also a terrific performance by Emily Watson in the heartbreaking role of actress Ona Munson (the prostitute Belle Watling in “Gone with the Wind”), who was involved with Marlene Dietrich in a brief but passionate affair, and dramatically killed herself in 1955, plagued by depression and ill health. Watson, who’s extremely similar to Ona Munson, plays the role of Dietrich’s lesbian lover with such a deep involvement, in one of the best female roles of the year.


“I had no desire to be a film actress, to always play somebody else, to be beautiful with somebody constantly straightening out your every eyelash. It was always a big bother to me.”
“In Europe, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, we make love with anyone we find attractive.”
“A country without bordellos is like a house without bathrooms.”
“The diaphragm is the greatest invention since Pan-Cake make-up.”
“I’m not an actress… I’m a personality.”
“I never ever took my career seriously.”
“I was an actress. I made films. Finish.”

For your consideration:

Best Picture
Best Director – Bill Condon
Best Actress – Kristin Scott Thomas
Best Supporting Actress – Emily Watson
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design

The Mission

Author(s): Maia
Location: Los Angeles

"The Mission"

Written, Produced and Directed by Fernando Meirelles

Principal Cast:

Tim Robbins as Joseph Parson
Sigourney Weaver as Sister Edna Meyer
Michael Peña as Manuel Sanchez
Evan Rachel Wood as Marie Parson
Peter O’Toole as Bishop Mariello
Salman Khan as Azeem Jahleh

Tagline: “Faith is a double edged weapon"

Synopsis: Convinced that spreading a new faith is the cure for a land where another one has caused pain and suffering to millions, a group of American missionaries travel to a small village in Afghanistan to evangelize its community and to build the first Catholic Church in the region. After their arrival, the missionaries are soon confronted by the Muslim opposition and now, as they struggle to fulfill their mission, they must battle hate and prejudice on a land where everyone is against their beliefs.

What the press would say:

As a smart study of social dynamics, religious interpretations and culture shock; “The Mission” is a mesmerizing drama about the power of faith in which a group of Americans are placed in the most metaphoric scenario: they are outsiders determined to make their beliefs prevail in a country where they are despised. To face this challenge, brilliant director Fernando Meirelles ensembles a powerful cast toplined by Tim Robbins as the enthusiastic leader of the missionaries and veteran Peter O’Toole, as the supportive bishop commanding their mission from America (the warm dialogues between them let both actors shine, particularly as they discuss faith and devotion on captivating phone conversations). Evan Rachel Wood costars as Robbins’s rebellious daughter who falls in love with his father’s main oppositor, played by Middle-East superstar Salman Khan; Michael Peña is terrific as the inexperienced priest caught in a faith crisis and Sigourney Weaver circles the cast as the courageous nun who is the missionaries’ moral support. The film achieves greatness naturally, due mainly to Meirelles’ brutally honest screenplay. On one powerful scene near the end of the film, after Azeem and his men have burned the church, Weaver’s Edna (giving a performance full of candor and commitment) is finally defeated by her emotions and collapses while Robbins, in one of his most subtle performances as Parson, weeps as he stares vividly to his destroyed sanctuary and then, finds himself uplifted by the event and determined to start over. The film’s highlight is Peter O’Toole as Bishop Mariello, a righteous man of faith and wisdom whose continuous telephone conversations with Robbins’ character give the missionary the comfort he needs to lead his group, even if he has realized they can’t succeed. Meirelles’ nuanced screenplay gives these amazing characters conviction to rise from the ashes and continue their assignment. This, in the end, is what “The Mission” is aiming as its main goal: to teach us that human spirit always triumphs over human actions and this sharp project achieves it perfectly enough to be considered the best and most inspiring film of 2006.

Consider this captivating film for the next awards:

Best Picture (AMPAS)
Best Picture – Drama (HFPA)
Best Ensemble (SAG)
Best Actor – Tim Robbins
Best Supporting Actor – Peter O’Toole & Michael Peña
Best Supporting Actress – Sigourney Weaver & Evan Rachel Wood
Best Original Screenplay
Best Original Characters (written directed for the screen) – Joseph Parson & Manuel Sanchez
Best Casting – Tim Robbins as Joseph Parson, Peter O’Toole as Bishop Mariello

Once More, With Feeling

Author(s): Ian
Location: New Jersey

"Once More, With Feeling"

Comedy / Drama / Musical

Directed by Bill Condon
Written by Christopher Guest
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Principal Cast:

Holly Hunter - Christina Brock, the ballsy director
Hugh Jackman - Allan Michaels, the male lead
Idina Menzel - Melrose Cohen, the leading lady
Joel Grey - Jeffrey Roche, the composer/lyricist
Jennifer Hudson - Jodi Phillips, the scene-stealer
Alan Cumming - Sam ‘Cameraon’ Willis, the choreographer
Donald Faison - Max Summerville, the scene-stealer’s boyfriend
Amy Adams - Alma Von Beal, the screenwriters’ widow
George Carlin - Richie Miller, the unseen producer

Tagline: “Getting through this musical is gonna require a little more than following the yellow brick road"

Synopsis: Famed, groundbreaking female director Christina Brock has been hiding a dark secret for the past forty eight years: she has never celebrated Christmas. Coming from a broken home in Chicago, Christina had a tumultuous relationship with her parents and her lone sister. The most painful aspect of her childhood, though, was missing out on all of the great holidays: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, etc. Now, on top of the Hollywood A-List, Christina has decided to use her fame to finally get to have a good old Christmas. Why, she’s going to direct an epic Christmas musical! It’s a risky idea, but this is the closest she has ever come to a real Christmas.

Christina’s first taste of Christmas might turn out to be pretty sour, though. One of Broadway’s most famous modern legends, Allan Michaels, has landed the male lead and sparks a relationship with Christina that threatens the well being of the project. Egotistical Melrose is an absolute nightmare of a diva, stopping at nothing to walk away with the show, which basically means sabotaging scene-stealing co-star Jodi’s role. Her crew isn’t helping, either. Jeffrey the composer is slowly losing his mind on set, and choreographer ‘Cameraon’ has decided to use the set of “Almost Angels” to explore his questionable sexuality. Oh, and her screenwriter dying a day before filming started left her with: well, no, screenwriter and his weeping widow that won’t go away. To top it all off, the producer thinks it was doomed from day one and won’t step foot on set.

As the film goes on, Christina realizes that maybe Christmas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and maybe it is. The film’s climax comes when Christina realizes two key components of the story. One, she’s found a new family. And two, you can either embrace Christmas and the wackiness that comes along with it, or you can push it aside and avoid it altogether. The choice has been, is, and always will be yours.

What the press would say:

“Once More, With Feeling” is one of the most strangely delightful films I’ve ever seen. I mean, this movie really, really, really shouldn’t work, but it does. At first glance, it seems like there’s too much going on between the Christmas aspect, and the romance between Allan and Christina, and the colorful supporting characters. Crazily, though, it works quite terrifically. What’s even better about the film is that one department does not carry the entire project – they’re all strong. Condon’s direction is inspired and the subtle switch between comedy and drama and musical is handled in a genius way. Christopher Guest provides a heartwarming and at times heart wrenching script that is heavily complimented by living legend Stephen Sondheim’s naturally marvelous music. Also, the performances here certainly don’t disappoint. Holly Hunter is the only character who never sings one line of music and believe it or not, it really helps establish her as the heart and soul of the film. Always grand, Hunter delivers the movie’s most sensationally moving moments and is not afraid to flaunt her comic skills, either. The other standout would be Idina Menzel’s delicious Melrose. Menzel is devastatingly evil, sexily scandalous, extraordinarily humorous, and astoundingly easy to sympathize with all at once. It’s a grand performance and an obviously baity role, but hey, at least she’s proud of it and at least she delivers one of the best pieces of acting of the year. (And, DAMN, she rips through showstoppers like no other!) In supporting roles, Alan Cumming, Amy Adams, George Carlin, and especially Joel Grey are all hilarious and will make you laugh until it hurts. In conclusion, “Once More” brings home all of the goods. It’s a gut-buster, a tear-jerker, a toe-tapper, and a miraculous showcase for Hunter and Menzel.

Best Picture
Best Director – Bill Condon
Best Original Screenplay – Christopher Guest
Best Actress – Holly Hunter
Best Supporting Actress – Idina Menzel
Best Film Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction
Best Sound Editing
Best Original Song – “Soul Meets Power” (performed by Menzel and Hudson; written by Sondheim)
Best Original Song – “Stay Out of My Way” (performed by Menzel; written by Sondheim)

My Queer Nephew

Author(s): Masnoraffis Masdil
Location: Singapore

"My Queer Nephew"

Directed by Ang Lee
Written by C. Jay Cox
Original Score by George Fenton

Principal Cast:

Ed Harris (Michael Garrett)
Randy Harrison (Samuel Reynolds)
Joan Cusack (Samantha Garrett)
Blythe Danner (Julia Garrett)
Ryan Carnes (William White)
Rosemary Harris (Barbara White)
Joan Allen (Sarah Reynolds)
Donald Sutherland (Donald Garrett).

Tagline: “What happens when the love of your life... turns out not to be your spouse but somebody else?"

Synopsis: Michael Garrett is a big shot businessman, who’s very involved in his political beliefs. He’s opposed to gay rights and shuns any gay activities. One day, he is visited by a young man named Samuel who proclaims to be his nephew. It turns out that he is the son of his younger sister, Sarah, who has left the household years ago due to an estrangement with their father. Sarah had decided to get married with a young Latino shopkeeper. The father, Donald, is a very uptight person who’s obsessed with class and position. From young, Michael and Sarah were brought up with the beliefs never to mix with people below their class and race. Due to their clashes, Sarah left the household promising never to return. Now, Sarah is suffering from terminal cancer and is in a very critical situation. As a plea to her brother, Sarah asks Michael to take care of Samuel and look after his well-being after her death.

After Sarah’s death, Michael offered to help out Samuel and offered his home. To Michael’s dismay, Samuel revealed that he’s gay. Michael was reluctant to help out Samuel but his wife, Samantha, and mom, Julia, reasoned with him to at least support him financially and give him home even if he doesn’t allow Samuel to live with them. Samuel was reluctant to get help from the Garretts as he discovers his uncle’s anti-gay stand. Even while all that is happening, Samantha and Julia are becoming fond of Samuel.

While working at a bookstore, Samuel gets acquainted with William, who’s a regular patron of the store. William was always a quiet boy, whom people can never get him out of his shell. Living with his grandmother, Barbara, she was the only friend he ever had. With Samuel, their friendship blossoms into deeper regions and William becomes uncomfortable with the feelings he’s having. When he finally comes out to his grandmother, she reaffirms her love for him and tells her she’s not disappointed at all. Samuel misses his mother’s love seeing the relationship between the two of them.

Meanwhile, Michael himself is becoming fond of Samuel, recognizing him as the son that he had once lost. After the death of his 3-year old child years ago, he realizes that his child would be at the age of what Samuel is now. Even so, his ego and the words of his father don’t allow him to reveal his true feelings. He continues his rampage against gay activities. Samuel himself, who lost his father at a very young age, wishes for a father’s touch that he has barely experience, but he’s adamant not to because of Michael’s anti-gay stand.

Will Michael and Samuel can ever put aside their ego and learn to love one another? Or will they continue on their respective path, giving hurt to the people around them?

What the press would say:

“My Queer Nephew” is a fantastic movie that is dealing with the issues of homosexuality and whether family ties can be disrupted with that. Ang Lee deals with the issue well, after his award-winning Brokeback Mountain, eliciting great performances from his characters. Ed Harris, as the protagonist of the movie, gives a superb performance as the gay-hating businessman who suddenly finds out that his dead sister has a gay son whom he’s asked to take care of. Instead of the gay guy being the protagonist here, we get the gay-hating uncle instead so giving a lot of things from his perspective. You quite loathed him most of the times with not only his anti-gay stance, but his racist attitude at the beginning of the movie. But the moments when you get the glimpse of his loving attitude towards his nephew and the flashback scene of the death of his young son tugs at our heart strings. These moments are the highlight especially as Ed Harris’s scenes are of minimal dialogue and his facial expressions & body language bring out the scenes very well.

Randy Harrison, of Showtime’s “Queer of Folk” fame, gives a riveting performance as well as the gay nephew. His confrontation scenes with Ed Harris are very strong. Being hot-headed just like his uncle, he displays his rebellions to prove that he’s not going to take his anti-gay stance lightly. His best scene was with Blythe Danner when he broke down and says he misses his parents while he was trying to defend himself for not trying to make his uncle understand him.

Joan Cusack & Blythe Danner gave commendable performances as the aunt and grandmother who longs for a son and grandson respectively. The highlight of course when Joan Cusack flares up at Ed Harris about how Randy Harrison could be their child who they had lost years ago, and how she won’t ignore Randy anymore. Rosemary Harris, as the loving grandmother to Ryan Carnes, gives a wonderful performance too as the maternal factor in Randy Harrison’s life. Ryan Carnes, as the love interest of Randy, supports the movie well. As the shy guy who’s being brought out his character by Randy, his scenes are well acted out. Even though the love angle is a supporting issue in the film, it is handled well by Ang Lee. He demonstrates that you do not need any graphic love scenes to show the romance between the two characters.

The two minor characters are Joan Allen & Donald Sutherland, who both died in the film. Joan Allen, with her few scenes with Randy, shows emotional impact and bring us to tears with her death scene. But Donald Sutherland, as Ed Harris’s ruthless father who’s racist and a homophobe, gives such a villainous performance. Even though he’s only in the film for around 16 mins, his character leaves such a vile taste in our mouth. His high-handedness of handling his family and the people around him are so well-executed.

Ultimately, this movie is a well-acted drama. Ang Lee focuses a lot on facial expressions and body language to bring out the emotional impact of his actors. I can foresee a lot of accolades for the well-constructed screenplay and the performances.

For Your Consideration

Best Picture
Best Director: Ang Lee
Best Screenplay: C. Jay Cox
Best Original Score: George Fenton
Best Actor: Ed Harris
Best Supporting Actor: Randy Harrison
Best Supporting Actor: Donald Sutherland
Best Supporting Actor: Ryan Carnes
Best Supporting Actress: Joan Cusack
Best Supporting Actress: Blythe Danner
Best Supporting Actress: Rosemary Harris
Best Supporting Actress: Joan Allen
Best Film Editing: Tim Squyres
Best Art Direction: Clay A. Griffith
Best Cinematography: John Toll
Best Costume Design: Betsy Heimann

Ralph's Food and Drug

Author(s): Alex
Location: Washington State

“Ralph's Food and Drug”

Written & Directed by Rod Lurie
Music by James Horner

Principal Cast:

Christopher Plummer (Ralph Morgan)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Barbra Kinney)
Carol Burnett (Margaret Morgan)
Virginia Madsen (Jenna Morgan)
Liev Schreiber (Paul Morgan)
Joan Allen (Governor Christine Ferry)
Bradley Whitford (Attorney General Rob Randolph)
Judd Hirsch (Alan Strossen)
Mary-Louise Parker (Laura Romero)
William H. Macy (Warren McCorvey)

Tagline: “It’s a battle of ‘The Right to Choose’….but whose right is it?"

Synopsis: Ralph Morgan is a friendly grocer who owns Ralph’s Food and Drug, a local grocery store/pharmacy. Ralph had it all. A great career that he loved, a family that he really loved, and everyone in the community considered him a friend. He was one of those guys you could just walk by on the street and say “Hi, Ralph” and not even know him (though most did). Ralph was pretty conservative guy, which living in Olympia, Washington kind of makes you somewhat of a political outcast, and nobody really had a problem with it until one day.

On this day Ralph was ordering all the new medications he would stock his store with. McCorvey Pharmaceuticals was coming out with a Plan B abortion after pill. Ralph decided that he would NOT order it. He thought that he was just making an everyday choice of morals and ethics and people would understand that. He was wrong.

Barbra Kinney was known for her feminist ideals and always finding a way to stick it to the establishment. Founder of a local feminist group, she was often the first one to raise a picket sign for just about any cause. When she hears that Ralph’s Food and Drug will not be carrying the soon-to-be-released abortion pill, she is furious. She is pro-choice and feels that Ralph Morgan owes his community’s women the right to choose whether they want the pill. Calling all women to stand beside her and protest what she calls “the worst act of tyranny our community has ever seen”. A boycott is ordered, by Kinney, on Ralph’s.

This is all happening around Thanksgiving time. Ralph’s family, consisting of him his wife, Margaret, and their two children, Jenna and Paul, comes together for dinner, as most families do. Ralph is carving the turkey when Jenna asks him about his controversial decision. She explodes right there and then telling her father that he has disgraced their family by disrespecting a woman’s right to live her life the way she wants. Paul tries to defend his father, and says it’s their father’s right to choose and that anyone who wants to have an abortion can shop somewhere else. Jenna decides to make a public statement denouncing her father and praising Kinney. Paul stands by his father, while Margaret doesn’t quite know how to feel. Should she join her daughter and protect her right as women or should she stand by her man. Morgan family life is thrown into complete chaos.

Both Ralph Morgan and Barbra Kinney go to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to help them. Morgan claims that it is his right as an independent pharmacist to choose whatever medicines he stocks his store with, while Kinney says it’s his duty as a pharmacist to provide all the latest drugs, whatever their purpose may be. Senior ACLU lawyer Alan Strossen sides with Morgan, while hotshot rookie Laura Romero sides with Kinney.

Meanwhile, at the state capital, a war is raging between the Governor and State Attorney General. Democrat Washington Governor Christine Ferry, a feminist who has received campaign funds from Kinney’s group, sides with the protesters and is about to hold a press conference. The day before the governor’s press conference is to take place, Republican State Attorney General Rob Randolph holds a press conference of his own siding with Morgan stating that he, and not Kinney, has the right to choose.

All of a sudden, locals start picketing in front of Ralph’s….in favor of him! Who will win? Who will lose? To find out you have to come see “Ralph’s Food and Drug”.

What the press would say:

From the director/writer of the Oscar nominated “The Contender” and the creator of the Golden Globe winning series “Commander in Chief” comes his new epic “Ralph’s Food and Drug” starring Christopher Plummer and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Christopher Plummer, who has amazingly never received an Oscar, truly shines as Ralph Morgan. Fully deserving of an Oscar this is by far the best performance of the year. Gyllenhaal is almost as deserving playing lead picketer Barbra Kinney. The Supporting Actor category could see a nod for Whitford, Hirsch, or Macy, but the gold lies with the women. Carol Burnett takes a perfect dramatic turn, something most actors fail miserably at, as Plummer’s confused wife who wants to do the right thing but isn’t quite sure what the right thing is. Burnett delivers with absolute perfection and is rightfully gaining buzz as the front-runner in the Supporting Actress category. Noteworthy performances also lie with Virginia Madsen who plays Plummer’s bold, rebellious, and defiant daughter and Joan Allen (who’s Oscar nominated role in “The Contender” was written and directed by Lurie) plays the liberal Governor of Washington. “Ralph’s Food and Drug” is just one of those films you have to see. I can easily see nods in the following categories:

Best Picture
Best Director: Rod Lurie
Best Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Actress: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Best Supporting Actor: Bradley Whitford
Best Supporting Actor: Judd Hirsch
Best Supporting Actor: William H. Macy
Best Supporting Actress: Carol Burnett
Best Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen
Best Supporting Actress: Joan Allen
Best Original Screenplay: Rod Lurie
Best Original Score: James Horner
Best Cinematography

The Road

Author(s): Brian
Location: Arizona

"The Road"

Written and Directed by James Cameron
Based on the Novel by Cormac McCarthy
Produced by Ridley Scott, James Cameron and Stephanie Austin
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography by Wally Pfister
Edited by Martin Walsh
Makeup by Rick Baker
Art Direction by Kevin Cross
Visual Effects by Alex Funke

Principal Cast:

Ed Harris (A Father)
Kevin Zegers (A Son)
Willem Dafoe (A Tribal Leader)
Sigourney Weaver (A Mother)

Tagline: “When All is Lost, We Find Ourselves"

Synopsis: An American father has just awoken, coughing up blood, surprised to be alive. The previous night, a nuclear holocaust swept away nearly all life on Earth. Millions more, including his wife, committed suicide to escape from the nightmare they knew would face them otherwise. The nameless father and his son seemed to be the only ones fortunate enough to survive. Although he knows that the after effects of the apocalypse will more than likely kill him, the father does not want his son to have to make it another harsh winter up north, so he begins an expedition to the south. With all forms of transportation destroyed, the two rely on their feet to travel. They begin their journey thinking that they are the only ones left on Earth, only to meet up tribe after tribe of demented, half-dead beings, sought out to kidnapping any and all survivors. The trip begins to become more and more about simply finding a way to make it through this new life, rather than reaching their southern destination. A significant part of the film is spent showing what happens when the two are caught by one of the tribes, and see the rituals performed by them, as well as their actual emotions. However, the film is mainly about the relationship between this father and his son, and how the father selflessly ensures his son a better life after his expectedly imminent death, but still must battle his natural emotions. We see the rise and fall of a difficult relationship built and destroyed by trust. This highly symbolic, surprisingly complex parable is candy for the special effects lover’s eyes and drama for the human heart.

What the press would say:

Academy Award winner James Cameron has become a household name in the lives of sci-fi, drama and adaptation lovers. And his new film “The Road” will satisfy all of them, as well as countless others. This modern masterpiece, based on the praised novel by Cormac McCarthy, is not just a showcase if top-notch special effects and moviemaking techniques. It also displays human characters, realistic dialogue and a moving father-son relationship. And, if there’s one more thing that makes this film impossible to miss, it is two of this season’s most powerful and awe-inspiring performances. Kevin Zegers makes a total breakthrough as the always questioning son who survived extinction. If you were wondering who the next Tom Hanks, Ben Kingsley or Jack Nicholson would be, this performance proves that Zegers is the answer to all three. Also, Ed Harris, who plays Zegers’ dying father, determined to provide for the better of his son by traveling down south, triumphs over even his screen partner with the best male performance of the year. I cannot imagine Harris not getting some sort of recognition for this touching, personal and simply exceptional performance. I can solemnly say that this is the best film of the year, in both technical and creative aspects. Talks about an Oscar for “The Road” have been popping up all year, and with a strong campaign in the following categories, this spectacle is destined to sweep.

Best Picture (Ridley Scott, James Cameron and Stephanie Austin)
Best Director (James Cameron)
Best Actor (Ed Harris, Kevin Zegers)
Best Adapted Screenplay (James Cameron)
Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister)
Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)
Best Film Editing (Martin Walsh)
Best Art Direction (Kevin Cross)
Best Makeup (Rick Baker)
Best Visual Effects (Alex Funke)
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing

Same Old Lang Syne

Author(s): Pat
Location: New York

“Same Old Lang Syne"

Directed By Alexander Payne
Written By Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Based Upon The Song “Same Old Lang Syne” By Dan Fogelberg

Principal Cast:

Virginia Madsen (Amanda Lubieski)
Nicolas Cage (Danny Katerin)
Rachel McAdams (Young Amanda Lubieski)
Lucas Black (Young Danny Katerin)
Jason Schwartzman (Eric Scwartz)
Jeremy Piven (Johnny Lubieski)
Jason Ritter (Freddie Higgins)
Dennis Farina (Frank Walsh)
Kathy Bates (Katie Walsh)
Victor Garber (Peter Katerin)

Tagline: “They tried to reach beyond the emptiness, but neither one knew how"

Synopsis: Based upon Dan Fogelberg’s holiday classic, Alexander Payne’s “Same Old Lang Syne” is a stunning new romantic comedy that will have you falling out of your chairs and breaking your heart. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Danny, a forty-year-old rock star, who meets his college sweetheart Amanda (Virginia Madsen) in a Long Island grocery store on Christmas Eve night. Since their breakup nearly 20 years ago, Amanda has married an architect (Jeremy Piven) who she is not sure if she loves while Danny has retired from his singing career after a series of failed albums. They begin to rekindle their love that night, a love that is revealed through flashbacks of the couple (Lucas Black, Rachel McAdams) when they were first dating. Jason Schwartzman and Jason Ritter star as Danny’s flashback bandmates who disapprove with their singer’s choice of girlfriend. Dennis Farina and Kathy Bates play Amanda’s blue collar parents and Victor Garber stars as Danny’s uptight father.

What the press would say:

From the Oscar-winning team that brought you “Sideways”, comes a new romantic comedy based upon Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne”, which tells the story of a rock star who runs into his former flame on one lonely Christmas Eve. Nicolas Cage plays the rock star who goes shopping and runs into his college girlfriend, played by Virginia Madsen, who is now married. The two reminisce over the night and drink and begin to reconsider their choices in life. The movie is filled with flashbacks to the eighties where we see the two lovers (Lucas Black, Rachel McAdams) in the beginning of their courtship. The script is in all ways phenomenal. It makes you laugh like crazy one minute and making you blubber like a baby the next. Cage and Madsen are at their best in these roles where they play two people who are unable to convey their love for each other because of social circumstances. Rachel McAdams is very good playing Madsen’s flashback character and Jeremy Piven shows a new darker side in Madsen’s husband who treats her like garbage. Virginia Madsen deserves best-in-show accolades as the troubled ex-lover who is trying to find her place.

Best Picture
Best Director-Alexander Payne
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor-Nicolas Cage
Best Actress-Virginia Madsen
Best Supporting Actor-Jeremy Piven
Best Supporting Actress-Rachel McAdams
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing

The Spy of the Cumberland

Author(s): Zgamer / Dpac
Location: Eagle, Idaho / Appleton

"The Spy of the Cumberland"

Directed by Sydney Pollock
Produced by Steve Zaillian and Robert Redford
Written by Steve Zaillian
Based on the book by William J Christen
Music by Thomas Newman

Principal Cast:

Sigourney Weaver as Pauline Cushman
Robert Duvall as General Braxton Bragg
Woody Harrelson as Union General William Rosecrans
Jim Broadbent as P.T. Barnum
Jeremy Davies as Peter Taylor
John Turturro as Charles Dickinson, Pauline's first husband
Jeremy Irons as Jefferson Davis
Vera Farmiga as Mary Keller
Bebe Neuwirth as Delilah Hathorne
Sam Neill as August Fitcner, Pauline's second husband.
Tim Roth as Jere Fryer, Pauline's third husband.

Tagline: “The war that divided a nation was just the start for one woman"

Synopsis: The year is 1890. In the city of San Francisco, a lonely and broke woman in her late fifties walks out of a tiny boarding house. She has been doing this for a while and she knows she will be doing it for a long, long time. She never used to be this way though. She used to be famous. She used to be a celebrity. Now she is nothing, with nothing left to her name but memories. She is just someone who is destined to become a part of history.

Today is different though. On her way to work, a man blocks her path. This man, Peter Taylor, knows who she is and was. However, he is not convinced. He read her autobiography, he heard all the tales, but in his opinion something didn't add up. So he has tracked her down to get the information himself. With nothing else to do and seeing a chance to get someone to notice her, this woman, none other than the legendary Civil War spy Pauline Cushman, sits down with Peter to tell her tale. A tale that she has decided would end soon.

Born Harriet Wood in New Orleans in 1833, Cushman was always a person who wanted more in life. At the age of eighteen, she decided enough was enough and left her family to pursue a career in acting. She was helped in this dream by a music teacher/theater musician named Charles Dickinson, who she eventually married. Unfortunately, when Dickinson was drafted into the Civil War, he developed a case of chronic dysentery, which led to his eventual discharge and death in 1862. Things were not looking great for Cushman.

However, while doing a show in the Union held Louisville, two confederate soldiers approached her to propose a toast for Jefferson Davis. Cushman agreed, but being the Union loyalist she was, she reported the event to the local Union officer in the town. This officer suddenly realized the potential of using her for the Union's benefit. An actress who had just infiltrated an enemy camp and become popular among the troops. Upon this realization, he enlisted her and two fellow actresses Mary Keller and Delilah Hathorne as spies for the Union.

For a good while, Cushman and her companions followed the Confederate troops around dressed as men, under no suspicion of their true motives. However, a Confederate Officer named Braxton Bragg eventually discovered the truth when he caught her in possession of several important documents. After a quick trial, Cushman and her companions were found guilty and sentenced to hang. While her companions were eventually killed, Cushman was lucky that a Union regiment led by General William Rosecrans invaded the town of Shelbyville where she was held. With the Confederate soldiers gone, Cushman was immediately rescued and became a famous figure overnight when President Lincoln granted her the rank of major.

After publishing an autobiography of her exploits, she signed onto P.T. Barnum cross-country act to raise funds for the war cause. Given the title of 'The Spy of the Cumberland', Cushman continued to stay consistently popular for many years. However, fame was all too fleeting, Fame became a major focus for Cushman, and she constantly neglected her family in her pursuit to make herself known. After two more marriages, ending in death and divorce respectively, Cushman's popularity was destroyed. So with no fans or tours left, she took a job as a seamstress while she tried to find some way to be known again. Before she ends it all.

What the press would say:

P.T. Barnum once said that Pauline Cushman was 'the greatest heroine of the people' not just because he had the honor of knowing her but because he was able to experience all the great things she had done. And he wasn't the only one. Historians said that she had combined all the daring of a soldier with the tenderness and modesty of a woman, which this movie makes quite evident. Being a spy wasn't easy those days. However this once unknown actress had increased her fame as a female spy, one of the few during the Civil War. She enjoyed famed till she became too notorious for her family issues and her life took a traumatic turn to alcoholism and drug abuse and soon suicide by overdose. Till now, no one knows exactly what was true and what was false about Pauline's life, but this movie helps give a good explanation for some of the big parts. Not only does it tell the story of a role model for women but also the role of women in a male-dominated world of spies and war. It also captures the Civil War from the eyes of a woman, accurately. The Spy of the Cumberland is a meditative movie about the life of Pauline Cushman during the Civil War.

'The Spy of the Cumberland' should be compulsory viewing for any member of the voting panel who decide Academy Award winners. Quite simply, Sigourney Weaver's performance is THE benchmark for that 'Best Actress' category. Many great performances have come and gone, but not one performance has ever (or will ever) match one like this. The manner in which she embodies Pauline goes beyond explanation. Weaver's performance thoroughly does justice to her larger-than-life character. Pauline is by turns melodramatic, egocentric, depressed, overbearing and overwrought but a hero nonetheless, and Weaver doesn't once fail to bring out these qualities in her character. Even as Cushman declines into drugs and alcohol, Weaver handles the situation with that touch that only a few actresses possess. Weaver expressed all of Cushman's feelings, every little desire with accuracy and dedication to the character. It is very impressive with such little and questionable material to prepare from. It is just too accomplished and moving to put into enough words.

Aside from the breathtaking central performance from the marvelous Ms. Weaver, there are so many other reasons to see this film. Jim Broadbent is amazing as P.T. Barnum. He had witnessed and seen everything Pauline had done, even as she performed and bragged constantly about the glorious future she had in her sights. Broadbent deals with this character fantastically, giving some logic to counter a somewhat illogical woman. Also, Vera Farmiga, an up and coming actress, does exceptionally well as Pauline's fictional (concerning historical accuracy) companion Mary. She has a certain elegance that is absent in most of the supporting performances nowadays. She is phenomenal in her boisterously loud 'Mary' role and provides the subtle comic relief needed for this powerfully intense film. All though her screen time is short, she's superb in her role as the beacon of strength and hope for injecting a meaningful existence of living. Jeremy Davies is also excellent and equally Oscar worthy as the inquisitive young man determined to discovering the truth behind Pauline. The cinematography, done by 'Dances With Wolves' master Dean Semler, really draws you into the scene with its focused close-ups and sweeping landscapes. Thomas Newman's score is as haunting as it is sweeping. Sydney Pollack, an expert on unique and masterfully done films, handles the story with a sense of
wonder and dignity towards the time period and subject. The civil war era has never seem so awe-inspiring.

The Spy of the Cumberland is an intelligent and profoundly moving film that will live on in your memory long after the closing credits. A movie that will be remembered as a classic with a capital C not only for the plot, the direction and performances but also how it changes the way we look at the little people who took part in the Civil War. I doubt I'll see anything like this ever...

Possible Nominations....

Best Picture - Steve Zaillian and Robert Redford
Best Director - Sydney Pollack
Best Actress - Sigourney Weaver
Best Supporting Actor - Jim Broadbent
Best Supporting Actor - Jeremy Davies
Best Supporting Actress - Vera Farmiga
Best Adapted Screenplay - Steve Zaillian
Best Original Score - Thomas Newman
Best Cinematography - Dean Semler
Best Editing - Willian Steinkamp
Best Costume Design - Ngila Dickson
Best Original Song - Thomas Newman and Annie Lennox