Posts Tagged ‘Nicole Kidman’

Paddington: A Magical Delight—Movie

January 20, 2015

In a movie year full of altruistic apes, snarky raccoons and dragons that rise from the sea, “Paddington’s” bear brings it and then some. A magical delight from beginning to end, “Paddington” is for the child in all of us. Directed by Paul King and written by King and Hamish McColl, based on Michael Bond’s character, Paddington Bear, this is the tale of how Paddington came to be.

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The story begins in darkest Peru where Paddington’s aunt and uncle encounter the English explorer, Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie). Clyde is enchanted by the bears and teaches them to read, write and speak English. Before going back to England, he tells them that they will always be welcome in London and leaves his hat behind as a remembrance. Many years later, the nephew of the aunt and uncle (who will eventually be known as Paddington) leaves Peru under sad circumstances. A stowaway on a ship setting sail for London, the bear has nothing more than a suitcase full of marmalade and a marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat, just as the explorer had taught the bears to do…just in case. He arrives in rainy London, expecting someone…anyone to give him shelter and welcome him into their family. While no one in London seems surprised by a talking, well-mannered bear, the city is not as friendly as he expects. It isn’t until he meets the Brown family, who offer him temporary shelter, that his fortune changes for the better. Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) and young son, Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), take an immediate shine to him…Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and older daughter, Judy (Madeleine Harris), not so much. The family decides to call him Paddington, named for the station in which they found him, and so Paddington begins to settle in, hoping to find either the explorer or the explorer’s family to eventually “adopt” him. However, finding a permanent home for Paddington is not his only problem. Unbeknownst to the Brown family and Paddington, a villainous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) has been made aware of Paddington and is out to find him and provide him with a different kind of permanency.

“Paddington” is so much fun on a variety of levels. The scenes in the Browns’ bathroom are absolutely hysterical, as the bear adjusts to a life with humans in a human house. His reactions and the family’s reaction to him are priceless. It all feels so very real. Even the scenes with the family in the kitchen seem quite genuine and are extremely funny.

“Paddington” boast a top-notch cast. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are just wonderful as Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Bonneville is especially good and has some terrifically funny scenes. It’s hard to find someone who can express disgust and disdain as elegantly as this actor can. Julie Walters is great as the family housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, and her interaction with everyone else in the cast is fun to watch. Nicole Kidman makes for a great villain. She’s absolutely terrific in her single-minded meanness and such are her shoes that they get their own special credit (Nina Shoes, for those of you who might be interested). It’s rare that we see her do anything with a comic bent and she really shines in the part. Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon as the voices of Paddington’s aunt and uncle are spot on. Finally,there is Paddington, himself. Voiced by Ben Whishaw, he is sheer perfection. He makes Paddington so loveable without being treacly…he is that great.

“Paddington” is full of real pigeons and monkeys as noted by their respective wranglers in the film’s credits. You can tell me that Paddington is not real, but I refuse to believe it. Everything about him feels genuine. You just want to reach out and touch him…or hug him. I don’t want the magic spoiled by knowing how this was done. If this really is special effects, then it’s the most amazing work I’ve seen in a long time. All I know is that “Paddington” seemed very real to me and I just fell in love completely.

4 nuggets out of 4

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Stoker: Nothing Beneath the Surface—Movie

March 21, 2013

With “Stoker” renowned South Korean director Chan-wook Park makes his English-language debut.  Sadly, it’s not an auspicious one.

Somewhere beneath “Stoker’s” watercolor-like cinematography, the sinister music (and who knew Nancy Sinatra’s and Lee Hazlewood’s “Summer Wine” could be so disturbing), the blood spatter in all of its red fineness, and most especially, the two pairs of the bluest of blue eyes one has ever seen on the screen, is what turns out to be, nothing more than a slasher film, albeit a stunningly packaged film.  It’s because of this beauty that I will be creeped out for some time to come. However, don’t view this as praise or a recommendation, because it is most assuredly not.Stoker

“Stoker,” with screenplay by Wentworth Miller (“Prison Break“) and Erin Cressida Wilson, is basically India Stoker’s (Mia Wasikowska) story. High-school age India spends most of her time in her own head and her one friend seems to be her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney). He’s killed suddenly in a car accident and it’s at the funeral that India meets for the first time her father’s younger brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode). That’s when the creep factor begins in earnest.  A too soon immediate attraction from Richard’s widow and India’s mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman),begins for Charlie. He reciprocates, but  at the same time we also sense something not quite right in how Charlie interacts with India.

Mia Wasikowska is an outstanding actress. Her work in “Albert Nobbs,”  “The Kids Are All Right” and “Alice in Wonderland” is as good as anything  her peer,Jennifer Lawrence, has done. BUT in “Stoker” she is so one-note sullen (and the dark brown severe hair-style does her no favors) as to become painful and boring to watch.

“Stoker”  is no friend to Nicole Kidman. She probably thought that working with Park would be an interesting experience. Perhaps it was for her, but not for the audience. Kidman spends most of her time staring with her big, blue eyes. This movie is so beneath her.

Finally, Mathew Goode. He also spends a lot of time gazing, glaring or staring with his big, blue eyes. He might be “Stoker’s” most interesting character.

Chan-wook Park  has directed some very remarkable movies, but this is not one of them. “Stoker” is beautiful to watch, but is excruciatingly boring and fairly dumb. He lets himself down with this one.

1 nugget out of 4

Rabbit Hole: So Worth the Digging—Movie

January 9, 2011

It’s rare, but possible, for a movie to be sad and moving without being depressing. Such is the case with the brilliant Rabbit Hole.

Based on David Lindsay-Abaire’s play and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole is the heartbreaking story of Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart). The Corbetts are a young, wealthy couple whose seemingly idyllic life is shattered when their young son is hit and killed by car. We join the couple eight months after the accident and see the toll that different coping mechanisms has taken on the couple’s marriage. Becca wants to ease her pain by eliminating the many reminders of their son, while Howie wants to hold on to everything. He seems to find solace in group therapy, while she finds comfort in occasional chats with the teenager who was driving the car that killed their child. Will the two ever come together and reunite as a family or will they go their separate ways in grief?

Kidman is absolutely fantastic as the grieving, brittle Becca. While we never fully witness the accident, we relive it briefly through her eyes. That piece of non-verbal acting is worth a ton of awards on its own. And Eckhart? He is a revelation. He matches Kidman every step of the way. He is given the opportunity to shine and he seizes it. Dianne Wiest, as Becca’s mother, with sorrows of her own, is terrific, as is Sandra Oh, a mother the Corbetts meet in therapy.

Rabbit Hole is a small gem of a movie. It’s a wonderful script with a superb ensemble cast. It should not be missed.

4 nuggets out of 4

Nine—Movie

January 8, 2010

I  loved Nine. However, this is definitely not your grandmother’s musical and will not be for everyone. Based on the Broadway musical, which in turn is based on the autobiographical Fellini movie 8 ½, Nine is directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and written by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella. Nine stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido, a legendary Italian director, struggling with creative block…struggling with his life.  Pressed by colleagues and the press for details on his next movie, he flees to a spa to reflect on his life. While there he has present-day encounters with and  flashbacks to the women who have been important  in his life and have made him the man he has become…for better or worse. The problem with the movie is that not enough of these scenes flow well together.

Each actress in the film has a featured song, some with better success than others, but all do a really great job. Penelope Cruz, as Guido’s mistress, Carla, is terrific. Her scenes are powerful…you feel her hurt and pain. But who knew she could sing and dance…I mean really sing and dance. Her voice is strong and what that woman can do with her body is amazing. Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, plays the prostitute who introduces the young Guido to sex. Her song, “Be Italian” is the film’s signature piece, the one you’ll hum leaving the theater and her way with it is a show stopper. Marion Cotillard, as Guido’s wife Luisa, has some very strong scenes that will break your heart and unlike her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Cotillard does her own singing and does a great job. Nicole Kidman, as his muse, Claudia, has a rather small role, but she acquits herself nicely.  Who knew Judi Dench, playing Guido’s costume designer, could sing, but sing she does and shows off a nice pair of legs in the process. Sophia Loren, displaying the oddest eye makeup in movie history, has a small but important role as Guido’s dead mother. Kate Hudson, whose role as journalist Stephanie was unnecessarily added for the movie, rounds out the female cast. Finally, there is Daniel Day-Lewis. There appears to be nothing this man cannot do. He’s extremely graceful and can more than carry a tune.

To some extent Nine is undone by its script, but if you love great singing and dancing, you’re in for a fun time at the movies.

3 nuggets out of 4


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