Tag Archives: Rachel McAdams

Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris

Do you ever find yourself feeling drawn to or nostalgic for another time period? Like somehow even though you’ve never been, you feel like you miss being there? Owen Wilson has a case of this in Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, a charming, brilliant piece that comes across as a ‘small’ film but has some big and deep ideas to discuss with you, the viewer. Wilson is Gil, a hapless wannabe screenwriter who looks up to the literary giants of yesteryear as he meanders around present day Paris with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her family. He keeps going on about “Paris in the 1920’s in the rain” and how lovely it would be to see, hear and feel that for real. Her head is nowhere close to the clouds as his though, she subtly resents his whimsical daydreaming and yearns for suburban sprawl once they tie the knot. Now it’s impossible to really review this film without spoiling the enchanting central premise, so here goes: as he takes dreamy walks around Paris, he discovers that every night at precisely midnight he’s able to quite literally time travel back to the 1920’s. This puts him in close contact with aforementioned writers he considers titans and soon realizes are people just like him. I don’t know much about the figures portrayed here or whether the actors embody them truthfully, but they sure do a grand job of bringing their scenes alive. Kathy Bates is a robust Gertrude Stein, Corey Stoll dryly intones Ernest Hemingway, Adrien Brody is great very briefly as Salvador Dali, Tom Hiddleston as Fitzgerald and so it goes. This could have easily been a high concept, Owen Wilson In King Arthur’s Court style time travel film where the lessons learned are never all that striking or below the surface, but Allen wants to dig deeper. What is it about nostalgia that holds so much power over us? Would it be healthy or productive to live out those fantasies for real, and how would one come out of it? Gil finds a modicum of answer to these questions when he meets restless Adriana (Marion Cotillard, wonderful as always), but there’s a certain portion of theme here that lies in mystery, especially when her side off this phenomena comes into play, a thought provoking venture that I won’t go into here. The production team has wrought such a well lit, meticulously costumed Paris of the 20’s that you almost feel like they somehow tagged along with Gil each night and just filmed the thing there, it’s that good. The story rises up to meet it, and honestly as I type I can’t think of one single thing I disliked about this film. It’s engaging, never too simplistic nor too impenetrable, the actors are all clearly having the time of their lives (check out scene stealers Kurt Fuller and Mimi Kennedy as McAdams’s kvetchy parents) and there’s just this charm over the whole thing that’s irresistible.

-Nate Hill

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Spotlight: A Review by Nate Hill

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Spotlight focuses on a devastating turn of events which were ripe for melodrama, and instead turns out to be a spare, minimalistic entry that knows how to keep things close to the chest and still be deeply affecting. Director Tom McCarthy takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to his technique, showing us an intimate glimpse at what it no doubt must have been like for these Boston reporters as they brought to light one of the most sickening and heinous atrocities of our time, the sexual abuse scandal of the Catholic Church, which rotted through many a priest, parish and law firm who insidiously kept their mouths shut about the whole deal. For the reporters, ignorance was just not on the table, no matter what the consequences. Rachel McAdams is tender and fearless as Sacha Pfeiffer, a keen operative who is first to smoke out a lead, bringing it to her boss, the legendary Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, (Michael Keaton), and the executive in charge of the paper, Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery). The matter is brought to further attention by Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), who arrives from out of state. It’s Mike Rezendes though, played by a stunning Mark Ruffalo, who drives the point home, refusing to give up and shoving loads of empathy down the throats of those who would look the other way. Ruffalo is note perfect, his determind sentiment delivered with compassion and impact that lingers. He hounds diamond in the rough lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci hides the sympathy behind the sass) to allow him access to the victims, giving him something concrete to go on. The bitter side of the lawyer coin comes in the form of Eric McLeish (underrated Billy Crudup), a passively belligerent guy who is anything but cooperative until the hammer comes down. Richard Jenkins proves that he can turn in excellent work with nothing but his voice, playing a source who is heard only via phone calls. Keaton is brilliant, bringing the laid back nature and giving the character an easy listening style Boston accent. McAdams mirrors the hurt in those she interviews with eyes that echo years of suffering. Tucci comes the closest the film gets to comic relief, and then veers into dead serious mode as he realizes his character is in control of lives with the info he has, snapping to rigid attention. Watch for work from Jamey Sheridan, Len Cariou, Brian D’Arcy James and Paul Guilfoyle as well. The film arrives at its destination free from obvious emotional  fireworks, on screen text or sensationalism, elements which often permeate true life stories. It’s simple, to the point, grounded and diligent to story, character and truth. That approach makes it all the more shattering. 

Tom McCarthy’s SPOTLIGHT – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

SPOTLIGHT is a film that can win as many awards as possible, gain the attention and high praises of anyone who sees it, and the film would still be an understatement.  What this film achieves, is something that most films never come close to; accountability.  This film holds everyone accountable; from the Catholic Church, the lawyers making easy money on out of court settlements, society that has turned a blind eye, and above all – the journalists themselves.

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Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy brings a subtlety masterful hand to this film.  There are not any sweeping camera movements in the direction, there’s nothing that explodes from the screenplay.  As wonderful as the performances are, there isn’t a scene stealer, there isn’t one juicy role for an actor to come in and show off.  It is meticulously crafted by McCarthy and his GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS worthy ensemble.  In a word, this film is perfection.

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Michael Keaton headlines the cast as the tough Robby Robinson, whose floating Boston accent heads the Boston Globe’s investigative unit Spotlight.  Keaton gives a tremendous low key performance, doubling down on his cache he had received from his brilliant turn in BIRDMAN.  Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams follow behind Keaton as his two forwards, obsessively losing themselves in their quest to find the truth.

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The subject matter is very hard to watch, and very hard to re-live for those affected by sex abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church, those affected by lawyers quietly arranging hush money in the shadows of the Church all the while making sure there isn’t a paper trail of court documents, and lastly, those affected by the oversite of reporters who either missed tips, or did not take them seriously.  This film is not about atonement, this film is about it’s accountability to the survivors.  

Episode 24: Coverage of the 31st Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Terrence Malick’s KNIGHT OF CUPS

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Our coverage of the 31st Santa Barbara International Film Festival is up!  This has been our first red carpet coverage, and included are interviews with actors James Morrison, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Carl Weathers,  film historian Leonard Maltin, filmmakers Benjamin Cox of STEREOTYPICALLY YOU and Tom McCarthy of SPOTLIGHT, producers Marcia Nasatir (THE BIG CHILL, COMING HOME, IRONWEED) and Sarah Green (THE NEW WORLD, THE TREE OF LIFE, TO THE WONDER, KNIGHT OF CUPS) and executive director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Roger Durling.  We then dive in, head first, into Terrence Malick’s new film KNIGHT OF CUPS which had it’s US Premiere, and was the Centerpiece film at this years fest.  We would like to thank Roger Durling and the staff of the SBIFF for accommodating Podcasting Them Softly at the festival this year.  To find out more about the SBIFF please click here.

31st Santa Barbara International Film Festival Opening Night: THE LITTLE PRINCE

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Opening the 31st Santa Barbara International Film Festival was the new film by Mark Osborne, THE LITTLE PRINCE.  The film completely honored Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s legendary novella. SBIFF’s director, Roger Durling, introduced the film, spoke of how much the novella means to him, and then he joyfully introduced Santa Barbara’s favorite son, donning an incredibly glorious beard, Jeff Bridges.

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Jeff Bridges attending the SBIFF premiere of THE LITTLE PRINCE

The voice cast is one of the most eclectic and brilliant voice casts ever.  Bridges headlines as the Aviator, Rachel McAdams as the Mother, Paul Rudd as Mr. Prince, Marion Cotillard as the Rose, James Franco as the Fox, Benico Del Torro as the Snake, Bud Cort as the King, Paul Giamatti as the Academy Teacher, Riley Osborne as the Little Prince, Mackenzie Foy as the Little Girl, Ricky Gervais as the Conceited Man, and Albert Brooks as the Business Man.

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The film itself has a wonderfully unique animation style that was a merger of stop motion looking animation and clean and crisp animation that was masterfully fastened together by Osborne.

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The film was as funny as it was sweet and struck the perfect balance of the importance of child’s development of daring to be yourself and adult oriented entertainment.

PTS PROUDLY PRESENTS CINEMATOGRAPHERS CORNER WITH NIGEL BLUCK

NIGEL BLUCK

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Photo Credit: Lacey Terrell http://www.laceyterrell.com

We are absolutely proud to present Nigel Bluck, the director of photography of all eight episodes of the second season of TRUE DETECTIVE.  Nigel was the sole DP on the series this season, and did an amazing job giving the series an unprecedented and unique boost to its tone, setting the visual bedrock where we watched the new characters get the world they deserve.  Nigel also was the DP of Julius Avery’s SON OF A GUN, Julie Bertuccelli’s THE TREE, and he was the second unit director of photography of visual effects on THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING.  Nigel was listed this year in Varity’s Top Ten Cinematographers to watch.  Please visit Nigel’s website here.

True Detective We Get the Show We Deserve

True Detective We Get the Show We Deserve

“I didn’t live my life to go out like this.” – Frank Semyon

TD DESERVE

                Bleak and hopelessness.  That’s what we’re left with after the conclusion of the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s masterclass series, TRUE DETECTIVE.  Each one of the characters got exactly what we were promised, they got the world they deserved.  I want to preface what I’m about to say next with this: From the first episode of the first season, I was completely obsessed with TRUE DETECTIVE.  After the season concluded with the most satisfying ending it possibly could, I thought there was absolutely no way that a second season could, at the very least, be comparable on any level to the first.  Rust Cohle was a cinematic and ideological godsend.  No one had higher expectations for season two than I.  Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch were announced as the primary cast.  I thought, okay, this is interesting.  I always loved Vaughn in dramatic roles and Farrell has always been an actor I’d watch in anything.  Kitsch was good in SAVAGES, though I had not seen FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.  McAdams piqued my interest based on her performance in TO THE WONDER.  All that being said, and after digesting the finale of season two, I can honestly say that not only did Farrell, Vaughn, Kitsch and McAdams give career-high performances, and not only is season two better, but it completely upped the artistic game for not only Nic Pizzolatto, but also HBO and serious television series from this point on.

If you’re outraged by this, let me explain.  The first season was too big to fail.  It was backed by HBO, had Cary Fukunaga directing all eight episodes, T Bone Burnett doing the music, and drew the star power of Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monahgan.  The season was a dark cop show, wrapped in McConaughey’s dialogue sewn with lyrical realism.  The first season became not only a phenomenon but a revelation.  We had never seen anything like this before.  It became a monster that everyone suddenly watched.  Whether or not they grasped the content is irrelevant.  Everyone watched it because everyone was watching it.  Then came the finale, which underwhelmed a lot.  Disappointed many.  Those people were concerned about the ritual killing case not being fully closed.  But that wasn’t what the first season was about, was it?  It was all about Rust inadvertently finding his inner peace.

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Then came season two.  Some people found the casting to be lackluster.  There wasn’t one director for the entire season, and then the initial reviews came out, which were mixed, but predominantly overly harsh on the show.  Keep in mind, the critics were only sent a screener of the first three episodes.  The critics directed their negativity specifically at Pizzolatto himself.  The harsh criticism is akin to the same media sabotage that Michael Cimino suffered from his masterpiece HEAVEN’S GATE.

                Not all of the criticism to the second season is unwarranted.  The dark noir and the pulp dialogue are not for everyone.  Even those who are avid fans of that genre had legitimate criticism of the second season.  Understandably, TRUE DETECTIVE certainly is not a show for everyone.  I will be the first to admit that.  I’m friends with a lot of filmmakers and writers on Facebook.  The reaction from them was mixed as well.  Some loved it, some didn’t like it, and some were very vocal about their absolute disdain for the show, and specifically Pizzolatto himself.

LEFT BEHIND

I chat with one filmmaker very often, and he initially didn’t love the show nearly as much as I did, but as the second season unraveled, he was just as drawn to it as I was.  I asked him one day why there was such hostility directed towards the show and Pizzolatto.  His response was one word: Jealousy.  He then elaborated and told me that the disdain for Pizzolatto came from the fact he was not a part of the machine, he was a novelist who wrote a brilliant first season and went from a college professor to the showrunner of the most powerful show on the most powerful network overnight.

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Whether or not that is true, it doesn’t really matter.  What has me in absolute disbelief are the people “hate-watching” this previous season and proud to be doing so.  I can’t help but take away that these are the same people who started watching the first season because it became pop culturally trendy too.  They were the same people who on their initial reaction to the first season’s finale didn’t register it at first.  These are the same people who jumped on the trendy bandwagon to hate the show this season.  It became a game of Facebook “like” baiting, and Twitter retweeting.  Whoever could make the snarkiest hashtagged quip won the internet for the day.

                I wish I could thank each and every one of the “hate-watchers” personally and tell them how much I appreciate their viewership to keep buzz for the show high and keeping the ratings very high and ensure a third season from HBO is Pizzolatto is willing to do another.  Whether or not you loved the show as much as I did, or thought it was an admirable follow up, or absolutely hated it, one thing is the absolute truth — we got the show we deserved.