Tag Archive: marisa tomei


The Ides of March

George Clooney’s latest, ‘The Ides of March’, is about a young idealistic campaign manager who finds his ideals challenged and must make the choice of whether to stick to his guns or ‘play the game’.  It’s a good film and I’ve gone on record of being someone who drinks the Clooney Kool-Aid. But having said all that, this is my third favorite film of his as a director (behind Good Night and Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). The real irony of that statement is I still consider this one of the better films I’ve seen this calendar year.  Maybe it’s because at this point the studio system only gives us five adult dramas a year, but The Ides of March was film geek crack if that’s the case.

I was in a hotel room last week when I caught Clooney having a sitdown interview with Charlie Rose.  He claims at this point in his Hollywood career, he’s just a character actor.  That’s a tragic statement that probably has a lot of truth in it from a business point of view; regardless for the film he’s made here it makes complete sense.  The cast is headlined by Ryan Gosling, who’s surrounded by Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and Clooney himself. That…is not chopped liver for character actors.  At all.  So why didn’t I like this movie more?

Hard to say.  I don’t have a strong like or dislike for Gosling; right down to the name I always think of him as a more serious version of Ryan Reynolds (which is not meant as a jab at either one of them).  But maybe not having a strong connection to him hurt him in this role.  He pulled off the character arc just fine; but if my instinct is telling me that a young Matt Damon or Affleck (or others) would have killed that role, maybe that’s not for the best.  Or maybe I’m just being nitpicky cause I really loved Clooney’s other directorial efforts to this point.

More posts later in the week.

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differentworld

Spun off from The Cosby Show, A Different World began as a sitcom about Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) going off to college, then quickly evolved into a show about all the characters (and issues) that went down at fictional HBCU Hillman College.  As critically acclaimed as it was popular, A Different World was nearly as popular as the show it was spun off of.

On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance: I will go out on a limb and say this will be the only network television show ever that will be take place at a Historically Black College or University.  When the show debuted, future Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei was part of the cast as Denise’s roommate Maggie, but once Debbie Allen (an HBCU grad) took charge, one of her first moves was to replace the white roommate with a pair of black roomies.  Hard to say it wasn’t authentic.

Legacy:  There is statistical evidence that enrollment in HBCUs went up while this program was on the air.  Beyond that, the number of names who passed through Hillman for an episode or a season is a who’s who of 90s black culture (Sinbad, Jada Pinkett, Tupac, Jesse Jackson to name a few).

Craft:  Over the course of the show’s run, A Different World was always very good for hitting us with the ‘A Very Special Episode’ at least once a season.  Whether it was Jesse Jackson’s visit, the date rape episode, the domestic violence episode, or any of the numerous episodes that dealt directly or indirectly with race and class, A Different World was able to tackle issues that were probably very important to Dr. Cosby, but would have felt ‘forced’ or otherwise inauthentic in an episode of The Cosby Show.

Crossover:  Thanks to its incredible lead in program, A Different World was always respected by the mainstream, even if it didn’t receive the same amount of overwhelming praise.  It’s hard to call it a crossover smash, but to have the run it had on NBC; it’s hard to imagine another show with a such a pronounced African-American backdrop getting that kind of play (sadly).

Apollo:  I think the entire Whitley-Dwayne Wayne relationship was kind of an Apollo moment.  I actually remember watching with my mother the episode where Whitley was about to marry that well to do, pretty boy brotha, but Dwayne came to the wedding and was getting dragged out when he begged Whitley to marry him (and he said yes).  This isn’t the space to get on a soapbox about the whole ‘new money’ vs. ‘legacy’ kid thing that plays out inside the black community, but I think every black kid gets fully introduced to that (as I did) in college, whether you went to an HBCU or not.

#9 is another landmark show of the 90s; come back later to find out what that is…

Best Supporting Actress

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture:

  • Amy Adams in ‘Doubt’
  • Penelope Cruz in ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
  • Viola Davis in ‘Doubt’
  • Taraji P. Henson in ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
  • Marisa Tomei in ‘The Wrestler’

What may happen:  The people who love ‘Doubt’ may split the vote between Viola Davis and Amy Adams, opening the door for one of the other three ladies.  It’s also possible (but less likely) that voters may want a ‘sister’ to win and split votes between Taraji and Viola.  Either way, it doesn’t look good for Viola Davis (who did a hell of a job in a few scenes, worth checking out).

Who will probably win: Hmmmmmm.  This is usually the ‘unpredictable’ category.  I could see a case for Penelope or Taraji, but it would be ‘Oscar-style’ to give Marisa Tomei a second Oscar (to prove the first one wasn’t an ‘accident’ – classic urban legend, look it up if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Who I’ll be cheering for:  Taraji.  ‘Benjamin Button’ wasn’t my favorite movie this year, but not because I didn’t enjoy Taraji’s performance.  The sister can act man, and she added a lot to what was probably written as a one-note character.  And you know she’d give a hell of a speech if given the chance.

My Golden Globe Pics

 

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Alright gang, the Globes is this weekend, and as you can probably guess, I’ve seen almost every nominated film and performance.  Here are my picks for the film categories:

Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy or Musical

I could make a case for Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia (the biggest hit) or Emma Thompson in Last Chance Harvey  (solid as always), but I’m going with Frances McDormand in Burn After Reading.  With Clooney, Pitt, and Malkovich all hamming it up, McDormand brought the comedy more through mannerisms and behavior than over the top theatrics.  Well played.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical

Not even his best work this year in my opinion, but I’m going with James Franco in Pineapple Express.  I’ve said this before, but at a pretty young age he’s shown a) range, b) he takes his craft seriously, and c) no real love affair with being a ‘celebrity.’  My kind of actor.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

If this were the People’s Choice Awards I’d easily choose Mamma Mia, but instead I’m taking Burn After Reading.  A tightly written genre piece by the Coen brothers, that’s pedigree enough without the all star cast. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

At this point, we know Penelope Cruz can be more than a pretty face.  Doubt is a good movie, but I keep hearing it’s better on the stage where it originated.  Call me biased, but I say Kate Winslet for the Reader.  With all due respect to the other four actresses in this category (and I admire and respect all of them, they were great), I feel with some rewriting Kate Winslet could play the characters that they’re nominated for.  But watch the Reader, no one else on this list could play that role but Winslet.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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I think you and I are destined to do this forever.  (sigh…)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Jolie, Streep, Winslet…there are some heavyweights in this category.  I’d cast my vote for Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.  She’s been around so I don’t want to use the word ‘breakthrough’, but she definitely wasn’t playing the glamour girl in this role.  The Globes are more of the ‘feel good’ awards, and the timing would be perfect.  Speaking of feel good…

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Frank Langella is my dark horse here for Frost/Nixon, and in my opinion, Sean Penn as Harvey Milk was the best performance of the year.  But this is a ‘who I think will win’ column, and all signs point to Mickey Rourke for the Wrestler.  I didn’t bring as much of his past into the theatre with me as most people, but I still thought it was a great performance.  Now I’m hearing he’ll co-star in Iron Man 2.  Got to love Hollywood…

Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Motion Picture – Drama

If you want to see a fun, politics free, well crafted movie, Slumdog Millionaire is the way to go.  Written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle, Slumdog is way, WAY lighter than its competition (Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button, Reader, Revolutionary Road).  And the way things are in the real world right now, that lightness is the perfect tonic.

 

 

 

 

The Wrestler

 

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Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei are both nominated for Golden Globes for their acting in The Wrestler.  Now, I can’t say I’m a card carrying member of the Mickey Rourke Fan Club; he’s alright of course, but his ‘peak’ was before I started loving movies. The reason this movie was on  my must see list is because of my own interest in the wrestling business.  Like a lot of young boys of my generation, I spent countless Saturday afternoons cutting promos like Ric Flair, jumping off my bunk beds like Ricky Steamboat or Randy Savage, and slamming pillows like Hulk Hogan.  As you get older and you realize it’s a show, it loses its luster of course.  I’m still aware of what’s going on, who’s champion and so forth, but nothing like how I used to be.  I watched Ric Flair retire this year, and for me it really was the end of an era so to speak.

Anyway, this film isn’t about the Ric Flairs or Hulk Hogans who made (and kept) enough money so that the worst price they’ve paid is the damage they’ve done to their bodies (like most professional athletes who spend the second half of their lives in constant pain; another blog for another time).  Mickey Rourke’s character, “Randy the Ram” is one of those big guys from the 80s who made crazy money, blew it all on cars, drugs, i.e. the stuff that doesn’t appreciate in value over time.  Now in the 21st century, he has a grown daughter who wants a relationship with him but can’t let herself trust him, a career built completely on nostalgia, and a body that’s telling him he can no longer do the only thing that he really knows how to do.  It’s a story that we’ve seen a thousand times before, but it’s played so well, it’s still very sad to see. 

Rourke will get nominated, I have no doubt about that.  Can he ride the momentum into a win?  Possibly.  I wasn’t knocked out of my boots by his performance, but he sure as hell put the movie on his back and carried it.  PROPS from me for the Wrestler.  You don’t have to be a Mickey Rourke fan or a wrestling fan to enjoy this movie I think, but it definitely helps.