THE PAPERBOY (2012)

Directed By: Lee Daniels 
Written By: Lee Daniels & Pete Dexter 
Based On The Book By: Pete Dexter 
Cinematography By: Roberto Schaefer 
 Editor: Joe Klotz 


 Cast: Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo, Macy Gray, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, Ned Bellamy


Eldest son Ward Jansen is a star reporter for a Miami newspaper and has returned home with close friend Yardley to investigate a racial murder case. Younger brother Jack Jansen has returned home after a failed stint at university as a star swimmer. To help give his life some direction, Ward gives Jack a job on their investigation as their driver. But into the mix comes the fiancée of the imprisoned convict who stirs up confusing feelings of love and lust for the young Jack. Meanwhile, Ward and Yardley’s investigation stirs up
deep-rooted issues of race and acceptance which could cause serious consequences for everyone involved.

This film that deemed to start out as a thriller, Quickly seems to spiral into a no man’s land that resembles more of a misguided Grind-house film more than anything else. The sad part is what seems at first to become earnest filmmaking quickly delves into some kind of camp classic

As the film continues the outline is about proving a man might be innocent. It mostly focuses not only on the politics, but the coming of age tale of Zac Efron’s character. It also concerns itself with building and defining the characters.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Lee Daniels as a Director yet, but watching this film. Just like in PRECIOUS. It feels like he puts in too many surrealistic seeming camera tricks and angles that become distracting and unneeded when the film could have just told the story.

It feels like a person just out of film school. Who feels the need to how off or insert things that aren’t really needed in a way to impress. Like a college student writing a paper with too many big words misused trying to impress. I see it as him trying and learning new things behind the camera thinking the audience will be amazed as much as he is using them. The other problem is it plays like a drama then wants to be a thriller, but only at certain times and wanting to represent race relations of that period.

In fact the film begins with Macy Gray playing a maid who is being questioned about a book dedicated to her. now it feels like an interrogation that is really used to give her character a reason to voice over the film. Other then that the opening scene amounts to nothing later in the film. No real reason to be there. There are a bunch of scenes like that throughout the film. Some are what help to bring out the ridiculousness of the film. This film could have been a sort of hard-boiled thriller and mystery if it didn’t seem to get distracted by becoming a Coming of Age film that has the look of a WONDER YEARS episode while parading Zac Efron around in his underwear. I am sure what might have worked on the page here comes off more silly and misguided. The film often times seems confusing or confused itself.

Pedro Almodóvar was several times approached to helm this project and seriously considered to make it his first English-speaking feature. He finally declined but, allegedly, he participated in early versions of the script. He might have been the one to balabce the camp with the drama and thriller elements without making it laughable.

Just as it could have been more believable if John Cusack’s character wasn’t as physically repulsive as he morally.

Alex Pettyfer was first choice for the role of Jack.

Tobey Maguire was cast as Ward but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts. Luckily for him.

Nicole Kidman replaced Sofía Vergara. Which might have pushed it into a more straight to DVD title though the lust factor would have been more understandable. Though explaining her characters origin and why a so called racist would correspond with her would take more then a bit of explaining.

It plays like camp, but tries to be taken seriously which makes it even worse. Though Nicole Kidman seems to be the only one who realizes or is comfortable with having fun and sending it all up, While trying to create a realistic character.

scenes like

Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Efron to combat his jellyfish stings.

Nicole Kidman masturbating in a jailhouse visit to John Cusack who also masturbates and we see the aftermath of

The film just feels dirty and unnecessary as it’s based on a hard-boiled mystery novel that seems to forget it’s premise. The film feels all over the place, for all of this ridiculousness and shocking scenes that come once on awhile between it is really dull, though gives Zac Efron no real reason to run around constantly only in underwear.

The film gives John Cusack a chance to embarass himself by looking really bad and dirty. Inhabiting a bad caricature of a character.

Matthew McConaughey’s character has an interesting arc that is shockingly Introduced then slightly dropped or pushed out of favor.

The key defining point of this tawdry tale is Nicole Kidman and her character. She gives the role her all and is impressive as a trashy femme-fatale. Overly made up with make up that looks like it was applied by herself an it is messy. She is a scary, but also a scene stealer. She deserves a oscar nomination for her determination and grounding as she stays true to the character throughout and somehow finds a way to fit in.While actually creating a character to care about

The film you think would be ripe for camp, bit it is so underplayed and then serious there isn’t room to enjoy it on a camp level.

In the third act the film revs up to be a thinker then just runs out of steam and ends with no great drama. Leaving us with a whimper.

While I can’t really recommend the film. I will say it is a film to see. To see something hopefully one of a kind. Some might find entertainment from it. Which is why I can’t completely fail it. I believe it shows lee Daniels a former film producer is still leading as a director At least he is trying unlike some directors

 Grade: D

RABBIT HOLE (2010)

Directed By: John Cameron Mitchell
Written By: David Lindsey-Abaire
Cinematography By: Frank G. Demarco
Editor: Joe Klotz

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Sandra Oh, Diane Wiest, Giancarlo Esposito, Tammy Blanchard, Jon Tenney

The film deals with a couple whose young son was killed in a car accident. They go to group therapy with other parents who had the same thing happen to them. Throughout the film, we see how they deal with the aftermath with family, friends and themselves.

There is nothing really wrong with the film. The actors are all superb and subdued. The film feels somewhat realistic the film presents a certain cool and cold atmosphere that matches the character’s emotional state and outlook on the world.

The film has artistic touches and looks beautiful but at it’s heart, it feels small and more theatrical like it’s origins then natural though it is opened up more location wise to make the story more visual.

I give a lot of respect to it’s director John Cameron Mitchell who shows a wide range from his previous film the wild and campy HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH and the shocking yet dramatic SHORTBUS. Here he goes the more reserved route with this effort yet still has heart and an artistic truthfulness.

Shockingly, I was more impressed by Aaron Eckhardt’s performance. Then Nicole Kidman’s. Maybe because we’ve seen her play this type of role before, So it’s not too big a revelation that she was good in the role. I am usually impressed by Mr. Eckhardt but he makes his character fully realized but all in all a loving husband. It’s no surprise she handpicked him for the role.

The film doesn’t contain any real surprises. It actually feels basic while talking about a shocking subject, Maybe I just expected it to be as good it was and that’s exactly what It gives.

The film feels like a project than something passionate to the people who made it. So I’m not really surprised or too impressed as it achieved exactly what it set out to and what I expected from it. I would suggest it but don’t expect to be knocked out by it.

The film comes off more as a independent prestiege film. It’s serviceable. Good but not great.

GRADE: B-

THE FAMILY FANG (2016)

Directed By: Jason Bateman 
Written By: David Lindsay-Abaire 
Based On The book By: Kevin Wilson 
Cinematography By: Ken Seng 
Editor: Robert Frazen 

Cast: Jason Bateman, Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken, Kathryn Hahn, Marin Ireland, Harris Yulin, Josh Pais, Michael Chernus, Danny Burnstein, Steve Barrish, Steve Witting


The first trailer for the film wasn’t released until three weeks before the release date. So the film never really had a chance. Which is strange considering the film’s pedigree.

Whatever I write about this film. It will come off as seeming bitter. As I read the book first and was a big fan of the book. I looked forward to watching this film as, after all, I liked Jason Bateman’s directorial debut BAD WORDS. And since the book was also a dark comedy. I thought it was a match that made sense. The film speeds up the story. Realized that most likely the book’s story would have to be condensed and the dynamics of the story reworked. Not necessarily changing details but leaving less informed turns and losing a certain context hurts the story overall.

It certainly hurt my appreciation of the story presented here. Probably because I read it so recently We would of course expect what you enjoyed being on display. If not in the story then at least in the mood. A film that you would expect more from or certainly handled by a director who had more of a reputation and history with similar material.

I believe I would have enjoyed the film more if I wasn’t so familiar with the material. The films seem smaller-scaled then needed. Shrinking the story to a degree. As it seems to try and be more intimate with the characters to be like a study by not moving the story forward as the book did with so many actions and distractions.

The novel ranked among Time’s “Top Ten Fiction Books of 2011”.

In the translation, it feels like certain layers are lost. The book could have made a great movie. Just. It. This is not this film, unfortunately. As the changes also impact the story. But makes it feel more grounded in reality and not so fantastic in the situations and parts. It never seems to have the impact that it should. As things happen and the film just seems to let them slide off the character’s soldiers. Never taking the time or accepting the consequences. Jason Bateman seems to be playing his usual type of characters. So that it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Maybe he wanted it to be easier as he also must direct the film. He plays the role with as many issues or sensitivity as the story provides for his character. His character here is more put together and takes charge. Not as distraught as he should be.

He moves forward as a filmmaker showing more depth and talent. Though I thoroughly enjoyed his first film as a director. Here it seems he is more interested in making a strange story more conventional. Understand he must condense, cut scenes and characters as well as events.

Nicole Kidman seems to wear her character on her sleeves, but she is good in the role of the damaged sister who becomes an actress. She gives a good performance that is more serious and how’s how grounded and good an actress she can be if given the right material. As she comes off less recognizable and less of a star even though she is playing one.

Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman both have several credits on the project. Bateman is the director, star, and producer of the film, while Kidman brought the rights to the book, served as a producer, and as the leading lady.

This is a project that is obviously very close and personal to both the stars. Who I wonder if they didn’t let their influence and their own visions of what they felt the story was really about and letting them reach a catharsis to challenge themselves. As well as letting it be their own homecoming and look at their careers For instance, it has a reunion of Steve Witting and Jason Bateman. The earlier collaboration was the Television series ‘Valerie’. Thought hey share no scenes together. He also casts Kathryn Hahn in a small role. This is their third time working together including being his romantic interest in his directorial debut. As well as Kidman hiring David Lindsay-Abaire who previously wrote the film RABBIT HOLE which she starred in

Trying to condense an epic story into a confined space that limits it and it’s beauty as well as shortening it’s reach.

The film maintains it’s questioning of art and artists throughout. The argument of life and art and what exactly is art is never answered. Which I believe is intentional to make the audience constantly wonder. As the film seems more nostalgic tinged and twee like a dysfunctional family as quirky more than devastating.

Feelings and emotions are on display as the story seems to be about overcoming your passion. Making reactions of others the real art. Turning it on the audience to make them more the performers. As the film puts an essential mystery in the middle of the film, but as the characters get more clues to try and solve it the film. Doesn’t make it feel urgent at all and seems like it is more of an annoyance than anything else. The film goes for a look of southern gothic.

The film is disappointing, both as a representation of the book and as a film on it’s own. Not a bad film as it has it’s own strengths of note, though the story feels more rushed then it should. It barely takes it’s time before it is off on another lead.

So many details that could have been explored or slowed down instead seem more plot-oriented then necessary. Characters that had a darkness to them to match where the story goes are lightened up. So it feels more upbeat. Though truthfully there is nothing wrong with the film technically.

It’s nice to see the cast is filled with naturalistic looking actors rather than unbelievably good looking stars.

Maybe as the adaptation of the book is written by a playwright. The film ends up feeling more like a play or at least more a theatrical piece than necessary The film lacks the depth of what made the original so magical and a delight to read. As well as softening the ending. Making the film feel too cut and dry. Though it seems like a quirky film that normally would be Oscar bait. That comes across as slight more than anything.

Grade: C

THE STEPFORD WIVES (2004)

stepford_wives

Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Paul Rudnick
Based On The Book By: Ira Levin
Cinematography By: Rob Hahn
Editor: Jay Rabinowitz 


Cast: Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Roger Bart, Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill, Matt Malloy, David Marshall Grant, Jon Lovitz, Kadee Strickland 


Joanna Eberhart, a wildly successful president of a TV Network, after a series of shocking events, suffers a nervous breakdown and is moved by her milquetoast of a husband, Walter, from Manhattan to the chic, upper-class, and very modern planned community of Stepford, Connecticut. Once there, she makes good friends with the acerbic Bobbie Markowitz, a Jewish writer who’s also a recovering alcoholic. Together they find out, much to their growing stupor and-then horror, that all the housewives in town are strangely blissful and, somehow… doomed. What is going on behind the closed doors of the Stepford Men’s Association and the Stepford Day Spa? Why is everything perfect here? Will it be too late for Joanna and Bobbie when they finally find out?

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DESTROYER (2018)

destroyer-nicole-kidman

 

Directed By: Karyn Kusama
Written By: Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Cinematography: Julie Kirkwood
Editor: Plummy Tucker 

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Bradley Whitford, Tatiana Maslany, Toby Kebbell, Toby Huss, Scoot McNairy, James Jordan, Beau Knapp, Jade Pettyjohn 


The film follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past

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THE BEGUILED (2017)



Written & Directed By: Sofia Coopola
Based On The Novel By: Thomas Cullinan
Based On the Screenplay by: Grimes Grice & Albert Maltz
Cinematography By: Philippe Le Sourd
Editor: Sarah Flack
Music By: Phoenix 


Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice 

Three years into the senseless American Civil War, in 1864, the dilapidated mansion of Miss Martha Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies is still running, occupied by the matriarch, a teacher and five students in Spanish moss-draped Virginia. However, when a young student stumbles upon Corporal John McBurney, a wounded Union deserter on the verge of death, the already frail balance of things will be disrupted, as the hesitant headmistress decides to take him in to heal from his injury. Little by little, as the unwelcome guest arouses an uneasy sexual excitation among the women of the secluded boarding school, it is not before long that they will find themselves competing for the alluring man’s favour. Undoubtedly, this handsome devil is a manipulator, nevertheless, will the ladies stay forever beguiled by his charm?

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HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES (2018)


howtotalkto

Directed By: John Cameron Mitchell
Written By: John Cameron Mitchell & Philippa Goslett
Based on the Short Story Written By: Neil Gaiman
Cinematography By: Frank G. DeMarco
Editor: Brian A. Kates 


Cast: Alex Sharp, Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas, Stephen Campbell Moore, Tom Brooke, Stephanie Hazel 


Suburban London in the late 70s. Under the spell of the Sex Pistols, every teenager in the country wants to be a punk, including our hopeless hero Enn. Hearing the local punk Queen Boadicea is throwing a party, Enn crashes the fun and discovers every horny boy’s dream; gorgeous foreign exchange students. When he meets the enigmatic Zan, it’s lust at first sight. But these girls have come a lot further than America. They are, in fact, aliens from another galaxy, sent to Earth to prepare for a mysterious rite of passage. When the dark secret behind the rite is revealed, our galaxy-crossed lover Enn must turn to Boadicea and her punk followers for help in order to save the alien he loves from certain death. The punks take on the aliens on the streets of London, and neither Enn nor Zan’s universe will ever be the same again.


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AQUAMAN (2018)

aquaman

Directed By: James Wan
Written By: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick & Will Beall
Story By: Geoff Johns, Will Beall & James Wan
Based On The Character “Aquaman: Created By: Paul Norris & Mort Wesinger
Cinematography By: Don Burgess
Editor: Kirk Morri 

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lungdren, Yahya Abdul-Manteen II, Temeura Morrison, Leigh Whannell, Michael Beach, Randall Park 


Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.

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