Monday, June 9, 2008

African Falls

Author(s): Chris K.
Location: AZ

"African Falls"

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Written by Raoul Peck
Cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki
Sound Mixing by Peter Hliddal and Tom Fleischman
Art Direction by Jeannine Oppewall
Set direction by Jennifer Williams
Edited by Alex Rodriguez
Produced by Miramax

Main Cast

Courtney Rozan: Emma Watson
Samuel Doe: Adrian Lester
Prince Yormie Johnson: Djimon Hounsou
Said Mohamed Barre: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Laurent Kabila: James Earl Jones
Sekou Torre: Laurence Fishburne
Haile Mariam Mengistu: Samuel L. Jackson

Tagline: "Mr. Right’s coming and he’s in Africa , but he’s walking"

Synopsis: Courtney Rozan (Watson) a college student giving a speech on African Dictators and after each one is named then that character is delved into. After the segment she explains the men’s reign with their countries. Also she explains there situation, why they could have done certain things, and how things changed after their rule. She’s an idealist hoping to convince an audience what she is stating has relevant importance to the world today.

Samuel Doe(Lester) and Prince Yormie Johnson’s(Hounsou) infamous meeting on September 9, 1980. Due to an uprising in which a military coup upon Samuel Doe, while at ECOMAG headquarters in Monolivie he is kidnapped by Prince Johnson. Upon which he is taken into a housed up facility where the whereabouts are unknown to anyone except the men in the room. After lengthy beatings, Samuel Doe is then shot in the head by Johnson who immediately leaves the room. He then is tried for Doe’s murder, but no evidence can be produced so he is let free. Almost a month after the trial a video is put onto the internet documenting the entire event. As of late he has become part of the Senate in Liberia .

Said Mohamed Barre (Ejiofor) has just ordered the force removal of all Soviet born citizens to leave the country of Somalia . The Soviets took all aid, military, and economic support away and left the country out to dry. Due to their alliance the Americans would not help and disease was spreading. His irrational decision was to poising half the countries water supplies because of the fatal HIV spread. Although it achieved success he was branded as an insane madman and eventually overthrown by another who would follow the same path. After attempting two rebellions to regain power he goes into isolation which is the state he remained until his death.

Laurent Kabila (Jones) it is January 16, 2001 and it is Kabila’s last day on earth. When he reaches his office a minister is waiting for him. Kabila was informed that the man was an informer and supporter for another faction. After Kabila murders him, he travels to the other side of the building. After this he attempts to convince Nigerian officials to give aid to his starving people, due to shortage of food storage due to the population rate increasing every year. After nothing could be done to persuade them, Kabila leaves and as he is walking away his personal bodyguard shoots him down while getting shot at himself. An insurrection was going on and Kabila struck it down with military force while they were in a town that was neutral with the conflict.

Sekou Torre (Fishburne) was considered a hero once for his resistance towards French colonial rule. His goal was to give the people poverty with freedom instead of riches with slavery. Instead he enforced Gulag-style death camps. When not torturing his people, he loved to write poetry. He brings his vice-president and throws him into one of these camps with the other victims. Upon doing so he suffers a major heart attack and is flown to the United States . During surgery he dies and after arrival of the news the people of Guinea where he once ruled rejoice.

Haile Mariam Mengistu ( Jackson ) “the red terror” was a Russian aide during his reign at the helm of Ethiopia . He was a strong supporter of Leninism when he made political decisions. Mengistu assisted in the execution of 1.5 million of his own people in the years between 1975 and 1979. Although he did this he increased enrollment by a million students. Due to famine and an Economic collapse he needed aid and was very convincing. When he received it he used propaganda to state the good it was doing, in reality he used it for himself. When a military coup forced him to flee into Zimbabwe they tried and convicted him of genocide without his presence. Attempting to force him to return, he currently lives lavishly, but constantly wary as assassination attempts upon him are a recurrent trend.

What the Press would say:

“African Falls ” is an anthology about African dictators that has never been witnessed before. “The Last King of Scotland” showed this but on a limited level and Hotel Rwanda showed the righteous side of a massacre. These movies were inspirational no doubt about that, but people needed to be informed of what kind of men lead them in everyday world. Documentaries although effective never get people to care enough about the killings in Darfur or constant massacres committed. This film allows us to see this and it isn’t just violence. It depicts the real world that is totally unique to the world. Not a single film like this has been witnessed before with the type of brutal honesty portrayed within the film.

Alfonso Cuaron has given directorial performances that are spectacularly wonderful. This one stands out above them all because of two reasons. One he leaves his comfort zone considerably by going into a very violent film and comes out giving us a beautiful spectacle that is his style that we’ve seen before and something completely different. The second reason is that you can see his personality on the screen such as the surrounding area’s which are truly beautiful and real while these horrible events are taking place. His signature color green is signified throughout the film and adds a beauty that would have been missed with any other director.

Written beautifully by Raoul Peck (Sometimes in April) showed the beauty of Africa once again, but provides us a violent, yet real world. Some people wanted a big time writer to make this, but someone from this land who could thoughtfully depict the corruption, desperation, and beauty Africa has to offer to the moviegoer. This script stands out for being completely original even if people’s lives are taken into account. A bio-epic of amazingly astounding proportions was written by a true genius.

Before the men are talked about, the breakthrough performance is by Emma Watson who makes a speech about these men and shows up in between each story to give us a breather from this intense story. Watson has been typecast as “Hermione Granger” but this performance is truly spectacular in its simplicity and thoughtfulness. She provides a breather for the audience and in the final shot when all the men are lined up alongside her you can clearly see they are all merely figments of the past and she is the hope people are looking for in everyday life.

Djimon Hounsou’s performance can be described in one word, intense. The only significant character without being a Dictator from the beginning is possibly the scariest of all. His torture scene is performed brilliantly and he shows us how insane this man really was. Recreating a scene that is already on video which has rarely been seen was tough but he created his own character and gave another Oscar-worthy performance that the academy is sure not to miss.

Chiwetel Ejiofor has given excellent performances but has never received anything for them. This could be that stand out performance that he needed to garner attention. His performance of true desperation within a character who justifies killing half his countrymen to save them was shown perfectly. This performance is stand out because of its true depiction of a man who loses everything and attempts to regain it.

Laurence Fishburne is an actor who everyone likes, but can never seem to get any recognition for his work. He might not here because of the extensive cast list, yet this by far his greatest performance and on par with everyone else in this gilm. Although he plays the wise black man in most movies (Higher Learning, Akeelah and the Bee) his roots are uplifted and he does it very well. He portrays a difficult character one that torture’s his fellow countrymen and attempts to write beautiful poetry. All during his blood-soaked reign is seemingly portrayed without a sweat by Fishburne.

Samuel L. Jackson is a well respected actor who has performed in many films that received critical acclaim such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Jungle Fever”. This is by far greater than any of those because of his devotion that is seen on screen when he shows up. Some have said they think he is a method actor with the layered performance he gives in just his segment alone. Not once is his character dropped and like all these performances it is unique in a revolutionary sort of way.

Adrian Lester has been in a lot of films but is always forgotten. This is not one of those situations because he plays a dictator you feel really sorry for. He plays it out with style and gives respect to this person who was brutally murdered. His convincing death has left critics speechless even though as the female lead states the man was a harsh dictator in his rule as president.

James Earl Jones has not starred in a serious role that he has been praised for in a while. Considered a sort of wash up he comes back to give a spectacular performance and a memorable one. He puts on the façade of Kabila and seemingly never removes it once. People would probably drop character or over-exemplify especially with the scenes he had, but not once was his character’s respect for himself and disgust with anyone else not exemplified to the up most degree.

Like a story book, where each page could a different story it’s all seemingly guided by a competitive speech piece which is a completely original idea for this type of story. Every bit of frame, performance, word, set, extra, direction, and performance all went to perfection and will not be ignored come Academy’s time to decide who wins awards. “ African Falls ” is a true modern masterpiece within the world of cinema.


Best Picture
Best Director- Alfonso Cuaron
Best Original Screenplay- Raoul Peck
Best Actress- Emma Watson
Best Supporting Actor- Djimon Hounsou
Best Supporting Actor- Adrian Lester
Best Supporting Actor- Samuel L. Jackson
Best Supporting Actor- James Earl Jones
Best Supporting Actor- Laurence Fishburne
Best Supporting Actor- Chiwetel Ejiofor
And in all categories

The Blood Countess

Author(s): Joshua
Location: NY

"The Blood Countess"

Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Ronald Harwood
Produced by Alain Sarde & Robert Benmussa
Executive Produced by Michael Hirst & Timothy Burill
Distributed by R.P Productions
Film Editing by Juliette Welfling
Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski
Art Direction by Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer
Make-Up by Didier Lavergne
Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne
Set Decoration by Peter Howitt
Original Score by Wojciech Kilar

Main Cast

Alexandra Maria Lara - Countess Elizabeth "Erzsebet" Bathory
Vlad Ivanov - Count Ferencz Nadasdy
Rade Serbedzija - King Matthias
Bruno Ganz - Father Istvan Magyari
Thomas Krestschmann - Gyorgy Thurzo
Geraldine Chaplin - Katalin - Servant
Marketa Irglova - Dorottya - Servant
Virginie Ledoyen - Fickó - Servant
Daniela Nane - Ilona - Servant
Maximilian Schell - Theodosious Syrmiensis de Szulo

Tagline: "May God Bless Those Who Ever Cross Paths With The Bloody Countess"

Synopsis: On the cold stone floor of the great hall lay a pale, partially clothed young girl. She failed to move. They wondered if she might simply be asleep or drunk, so several men went toward her. Still, she made no effort to rouse herself. One man reached down to touch her and shook his head. He told the others she was dead. They turned her over and saw how pale she looked. She appeared to have been drained of blood, exactly as the rumors went. Then they heard a moan. Just a few paces away was another girl, sprawled face up but still alive. The men discovered that her body had been pierced in many places. She was also pale, as if from severe blood emptiness. The scene was too monstrous to be written into a permanent record, but there was plenty to tell for those who would be called to the legal proceedings. The officials arrested all of those involved in the evil activities, freed the surviving victims, and took the sorceress into a room in her own castle, to confine her until a decision was made about her fate.

Her name was Countess Elizabeth Bathory and she was a member of a powerful family from an estate at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains . Elizabeth was not an easy child, nor was life easy for her, despite being a member of the privileged class. She suffered from fits, and uncontrolled rages that may have indicated a brain disorder. At the age of 15, she married Count Ferencz Nadasdy, a great warrior who was often away from home. Elizabeth moved into Nadasdy's castle in Sarvar and learned how to run a great estate. She maintained herself until her husband died in 1604, and then the unthinkable began.

She soon began to forcefully make her servant Katalin to lure women and children into the castle. All her servants knew the torturing of innocent souls was reprehensible, but obeyed due to their lives being threatened. Lutheran priest István Magyari complained that villagers talked about young women disappearing, as well as children. King Matthias assigned Gyorgy Thurzo to investigate. Finally, the peasant girls had run out. Elizabeth had done so much thus far without being stopped. Arrogance made her bold and stupid. She was eager to extend her reach for the thrill of seeing what she could get away with. She also appeared to be so caught up with the pleasures of what she was doing that she could not stop. Eventually she was caught. Now she awaits her judgement.

What the Press would say:

The Blood Countess brings back Roman Polanski in his best to date. Although some may disagree, I find that Polanski proves that he can still amaze in the horror genre because I found this film to be all horrifying as it's telling the true story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Bathory who was deranged since birth begins takes it to the extreme when she starts torturing innocent people. It is the scenes that we see Bathory command her servants to lure people into the castle that really cuts down to the core and why i find so horrifying and yes, why the infamous legend was nicknamed the Blood Countess.

Alexandra Maria Lara (Downfall, Youth Without Youth) delivers the performance of her career as Elizabeth Bathory. Lara, whose Romanian is pitch perfect for the part and her older appearance helps her in the process too. She really brings out the madness of her character and there's no reason why she shouldn't be considered for many awards as she plays a woman who takes interest in seeing human beings suffer.

There are some great supporting performances that need to be taken into consideration. Rade Serbedzjia rules as King Matthias who orders an investigation towards the countess once he gets tired of complaints being made from Father Magyari. Bruno Ganz plays Magyari in his third film with Alexandra Maria Lara and he couldn't better. He's the one who dealt with the villagers who are hysterical over their missing loved ones. Geraldine Chaplin, who can transform herself into any character really outdones herself this time as one of Elizabeth's servants. She fears Bathory and tries to obey her every order. Orders that include tricking little children into the castle, knowing their fate. We also have great performances by Vlad Ivanov as Elizabeth's husband Nadasdy and Maximillian Schell as Judge Szulo. Schell is only on screen for ten minutes but still manages to impress. He takes judgement into his own hands and convicts the countess to life house arrest and her servants to death.

Ronald Harwood teams up with Roman Polanski once again and it's no shock that what they accomplish is pure masterful. Everyone involved with the film is right. Lara's make-up is handled by the Oscar Winning Didier Lavergne (La Vie En Rose). Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker's Dracula) works his magic for the scores that just go right for the film. No scene will disatisfy, No scene will leave you without the question of why a beautiful woman like Elizabeth could be so ugly and evil at heart. In the end, we see a beat up Elizabeth, sitting in a chair, suffering her punishment of house arrest. Looking out the window without a care in the world. Without pity or sorrow, the film ends and all I can think about is the fact that Roman Ploanski's The Blood Countess is one to watch for come Oscar time.

For Yor Consideration

Best Picture
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress - Alexandra Maria Lara
Best Supporting Actor - Rade Serbedzjia
Best Supporting Actor - Bruno Ganz
Best Supporting Actror - Maximillian Schell
Best Supporting Actress - Geraldine Chaplin
Best Crew
Best Tagline
Best Film Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Ensemble
Best Original Score


Author(s): Connor Campbell
Location: TX


Directed by Spike Jonze
Screenplay by Andrew Niccol

Main Cast

Melinda Dillon- Justine Redford
Meryl Streep- M.J. Mullins
Freddie Highmore- Charlie Powers

Tagline: "A book inside a book inside a book inside a movie"



Justine Redford is one of the most highly regarded authors of our time. Her books such as “Reflected Glory” or “Because It Isn’t Snowing” have sold millions of copies and have been adapted into award winning films. Her next project, “The Magician”, is the fictionalized biography of hit children’s novelist M.J. Mullins, author of the “Youngblood” series. Justine has only met M.J. once the year before when they were presented with the same award. M.J. spoke of her childhood and how far she had come to reach that spot in her acceptance speech, and Justine had to write about it. That’s the way she works. She got the idea for “Because It Isn’t Snowing” when she saw a child in a park whining to his mother about how he wanted to play in the snow in the middle of June. She immediately ran home and typed. Justine feels like she’s racing herself and has to finish the book as soon as possible. She’s getting old and losing her talent. This will likely be her last book. She’s very old and her style isn’t appreciated as much as it used to be. “The Magician” needs to be her greatest and most powerful book. She has to talk to Mullins as soon as possible.


M.J. Mullins is one of the most highly regarded authors of our time. Her books in the “Youngblood” series have sold millions of copies and have been adapted into award winning films. Her next project, “Powers”, is about a boy named Charlie Powers who writes stories that come true. She can’t finish it though. She is absolutely certain that it will never amount to what the Youngblood series was. It can’t be a children’s book, but children need to be able to read it. She’s challenging herself with too much. And now, author Justine Redford whom she had met at an award’s show or a benefit or something like that wanted to write a book “loosely” based on her. About her history of being abused by her stepfather and being poor. The only problem was none of that ever happened. She was born Alexis Trent in Los Angeles to a wealthy family that she abandoned when she was 16. She changed her name to M.J. and enrolled in writing classes in New York. She would have to lie to this poor old woman trying to write her masterpiece. She had to finish “Powers” as soon as possible.


Charlie Powers is a very talented young boy. He loves to write stories. But Charlie is also very odd. He would always ask his mother to play in the snow, even in the summer. And he would run around at recess and whisper erotic and inappropriate things in people’s ears. But recently, his stories have been getting strange, and he is certain that they are coming true. He never knew what he was writing until he finished and soon enough, his stories would play out in the real world. Getting increasingly frightened by his stories, he sat down and thought of what to write. He wrote about a woman. An old woman. An old woman who writes, just like he does. But the old woman is dying. She isn’t sick, she’s just dying. She’s starting to lose her memory and her talent. The old woman wants to write one last book before she dies. It will be her masterpiece. It’ll be about a woman she had met once who had told a beautiful lie that the old woman didn’t believe for a second. “The Magician” she’d call it. But what would the old woman’s name be? Justine. Justine is the perfect name.

What the Press would say:

“Book” is a story about intelligence, writing, and accepting the inevitable. There are 3 writers. The first (Melinda Dillon) is an old woman trying to write her last masterpiece. The second (Meryl Streep) is a woman trying to follow up her masterpiece while facing her past. The third (Freddie Highmore) is beginning his first masterpiece. The beauty of Andrew Niccol’s screenplay is unparalleled. The three writers intertwine beautifully and they keep you guessing who’s real and who isn’t. Melinda Dillon is the comeback of the year with her mesmerizing performance as “Justine Redford”, a dying woman trying to write her last masterpiece. She plays Justine with such elegance and grace as opposed to overplaying it. She’s just a woman staring death in the eye fighting for her talent and her life. Meryl Streep is perfect as always playing “M.J. Mullins” loosely based on J.K. Rowling. This character is very guarded and mysterious until we discover her secret. Streep captures the fear and anxiety of a woman living in a lie so perfectly. Freddie Highmore is a wonderful addition to the cast playing “Charlie Powers” a young boy whose stories come true. His character is very eccentric which Highmore captures brilliantly. Spike Jonze has once again taken a beautiful screenplay and transformed it into a beautiful film keeping us scratching our heads and asking ourselves “What’s real?” The beauty and overall brilliance of this film is something that can’t be missed. ****/****


Best Picture
Best Director- Spike Jonze
Best Actress- Melinda Dillon
Best Supporting Actress- Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actor- Freddie Highmore
Best Original Screenplay- Andrew Niccol

The Boy from Oz

Author(s): Brian
Location: AZ

"The Boy from Oz"

Directed by Frank Oz
Written by Mark Sherman
Produced by Martin Brown
Based on the Musical “The Boy from Oz”

Main Cast

Hugh Jackman (Peter Allen)
Ashley Judd (Liza Minnelli)
Patrick Wilson (Greg Connell)
Susan Sarandon (Judy Garland)
Ed Sanders (Young Peter)
Geoffrey Rush (Dick Woolnough)
Judy Davis (Marion Woolnough)

Tagline: "From Down Under to Over the Top"

Synopsis: Australian singer/songwriter Peter Allen once said his songs were his biography. “The Boy from Oz” proves that he was, indeed, correct. The film begins when a young Peter Allen is touring Hong Kong with his somewhat aggressive stage parents Dick and Marion, who have turned him into a somewhat well-known act, where he sings quirky, cabaret-style songs. Peter, however, wants more. He wants to be able to write and perform his own songs, have his own record label, and sell out concerts. And in one night, that becomes within his grasp. As he performs to a medium-sized venue, the iconic Judy Garland, who was in Hong Kong for press-related reasons, hears his voice, and believes that she can make him a superstar. Peter happily accepts her proposal for him to make a guest appearance on her show, and before he knows it, he’s a regular.

Also while working for Garland, he meets her rising-star daughter, Liza Minnelli. Peter, now in his early 20’s, is beginning to realize his intense homosexual feelings. Peter, alarmed, begins dating Liza, and within only a little more than a year, they are married. Both Liza and Peter’s careers are growing at exponential rates daily. Therefore, the two are apart for a large portion of the time. While apart, Peter develops an attraction for his assistant, Greg Connell. Both Greg and Peter know the feelings are mutual, however, Peter refuses to act on his feelings, being a married man. He compensates for them by overworking, and by having secret, . Peter has now written songs for stars such as Olivia Newton-John, Peggy Lee and Dusty Springfield, and his own singing career is starting to pick up as well. However, things between him and Greg are more fervid than ever. No longer able to deny his feelings, he comes out to Liza, and then to the world through his song “Not the Boy Next Door.” He and Liza divorce and he moves in with Greg. The problem now, however, is that his once on-fire career is expected to come to a halt. He doubts that the world will be able to accept a gay man as a singing sensation. That mindset changes, however, when he releases his signature song “I Go to Rio.” The song, a flamboyant, energetic tune, climbs up the charts overnight, and he becomes an international sensation. And soon enough, his entire act becomes over-the-top, campy night-on-the-town performance. And for Peter, that was enough.


1. The Lives of Me
2. When I Get My Name in Lights
3. When I Get My Name in Lights (Reprise)
4. Love Crazy
5. Waltzing Matilda
6. All I Wanted Was the Dream
7. Only an Older Woman
8. Best That You Can Do
9. Don't Wish Too Hard
10. Come Save Me
11. Continental American
12. She Loves to Hear the Music
13. Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage
14. I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love
15. Not the Boy Next Door
16. Bi-Coastal
17. If You Were Wondering
18. Sure Thing Baby
19. Everything Old is New Again
20. Everything Old is New Again (Reprise)
21. Love Don't Need a Reason
22. I Honestly Love You
23. You and Me
24. I Still Call Australia Home
25. Don't Cry Out Loud
26. Once Before I Go
27. I Go to Rio

What the Press would say:

“The Boy from Oz”, the acclaimed adaptation of the 2004 Broadway musical of the same name, is unquestionably one of the best films this year. Some of it is hilarious, some of it is captivatingly dramatic and some of it is a little bit of both at the same time. However, at any given time, you can expect two things. One: the always entertaining songs of Peter Allen, and two: the best musical performance of all time. Read that last phrase again. The best musical performance of all time. I would like to say that that’s an exaggeration, but it simply is not. Hugh Jackman reprises his Tony Award winning role as the eccentric Peter Allen divinely, for lack of a better word. Certainly the best performance this year, it often feels as though Jackman has three roles in the film. The first is an ambitious young man determined to make his dream come true. The second is a married man struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality. And the third is a flamboyant, overly energetic singer. He plays each of these sub-parts very differently, but we still believe that he is the same person throughout the film; just one who is changing. If you were to tell me that Jackman was, in reality, Peter Allen himself, I would not doubt you for a second. I suppose the only real criticism I can make about Jackman’s performance is that he will make the Best Actor race at this year’s Oscars boring. He is nothing short of a lock.

Another great thing about Hugh Jackman’s performance is that he does not at any time upstage his co-stars, which leaves room for Ashley Judd and Patrick Wilson to give some of the best performances this year as well. Ashley Judd beat out dozens of A-list actresses for the role of Liza Minnelli, and all I have to say is thank God she did. Judd captures the singer/actress’s persona perfectly: ambitious and self-centered, but ultimately understanding and forgiving. She, too, can expect to pick up her statuette as well come Oscar season. Finally, Patrick Wilson takes on the role of Greg Connell, Allen’s lover for nearly 20 years. Wilson claims to have spoken with gay men who have been in, or are in, relationships with closeted men, and that is evident throughout his performance. Wilson shows total understanding of such a unique, emotionally turbulent time. He, too, is a strong contender for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

“The Boy from Oz” is a fascinating, tuneful film featuring clever direction, an emotional and humorous script and, of course, the performance of a lifetime. The film can expect Oscar nods (and a few wins) in the following categories…

Best Picture
Best Director (Frank Oz)
Best Actor (Hugh Jackman)
Best Supporting Actress (Ashley Judd, however the studio has announced that she will be run in Best Leading Actress [Musical or Comedy] at the Golden Globes)
Best Supporting Actor (Patrick Wilson)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Film Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design

The Character of Marcia

Author(s): Hugo Manso
Location: Spain

"The Character of Marcia"

Directed by Tamara Jenkins
Written by Michael Hoffman
Editing by Jay Cassidy
Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey
Music Score by John Williams

Main Cast

Lisa Kudrow ... Marcia Cost
Winona Ryder ... Lina Johns
Skeet Ulrich ... Henry Fisher
Edward James Hyland ... Lawrence
Milo Ventimiglia ... Matt

Tagline: "The best character of your life might be yourself"

Synopsis: From that third line seat he was contemplating the wondeful acting skills of Marcia Cost. He was nobody, he was just one of many people from the audience that fell every night in love with that marvellous actress. It was the year 1925. Marcia Cost was one of the most valuable and respected stage actress of her time. She still remembered when the theater was filled of people weeks and weeks in a row awaiting for her. Those good all times. Now the growing film industry was putting and end on her profession. Marcia knew the theatre was dying.

Marcia Cost was known for possessing a great intelligence. Things were pretty clear, if she wanted to keep her status she would have to make a big step: She would have to leave the stage for a cinematogarphic studio.

Lawrence, her agent, was in love with her since the very moment she knocked at his door looking for representation, twenty-five years ago. That sixty-something man didn’t had the contacts enough anymore to force a way for her through the industry. Marcia knew that if she wanted to make it she would have to get rid of her old agent. Soon she found a young and energetic one, Matt. Thanks to that boy contacts, Marcia got a supporting role in a movie starring the young and lovable actress Lina Johns.

Soon Marcia started to win the love of Lina. That wonderful actress was like a nanny for her. It was her who Lina told everything to. It was her who gave her advice and listened to her worries. After one night where Lina was ridiculized by another respected actress and Marcia stood up for her, they became best friends.

Little by little, Marcia started to take advantage from her influence over Lina. Henry, Lina’s boyfriend, tried to open Lina’s eyes trying to make her understand that she was being used but... all in vain. Marcia knew that the moment had arrived. Lina was dissatisfied with the director. Marcia persuaded her to object and she let her know that if it was required she would leave the film with her. Decided Lina went to the director’s office. She demanded stuffs that he would not concede. She gave up, but Marcia didn’t. Marcia stood against her. Once Lina was fired Marcia got the leading role.

What the Press would say:

What a powerful compelling movie. It tells the story of a respected actress who will do anything to make her a way in a bussiness that requires intelligence. She will even play with the feeling of a young actress in her benefit. Lisa Kudrow performs one of the most memorable characters of the year. She has built an incredible woman and plays it with strength and passion. We are talking about one of the most important performance of the year. Just perfect. Then we have Winona Ryder making her big comeback as the fragile, lovable Lina. The first half of the movie you see Lina as a diva, always smiling, always happy with her boyfriend (perfectly performed by Skeet Ulrich). But when Marcia comes close to her we get to see her vulnerability and insecurity. We get to feel sorry about her. When she discovers that she was used by Marcia, feelings start to flow. Winona has made the character utterly hers. Another breathtaking performance is Edward James Hyland’s. This quite unknown actor has made a powerful performance as Lawrence, Marcia’s old agent. He gets to feel one of the worst feelings: to love and not being loved. The grief and impotence will make Hyland his way to gold. Milo Ventimiglia and Skeet Ulrich show their acting skills with grace and magnificient with limited time screen. The score by John Williams pitchs perfectly with the tone of the movie. A beautiful cinematography along with the smart editing makes this movie a masterpiece.


Best Picture
Best Director (Tamara Jenkins)
Best Original Screenplay (Michael Hoffman)
Best Actress (Lisa Kudrow)
Best Supporting Actor (Edward James Hyland)
Best Supporting Actress (Winona Ryder)


Author(s): Kieran Scarlett
Location: GA


Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Cinematography by Robert Elswit
Edited by Dylan Tichenor
Music by Jon Brion

Main Cast

Jeffrey Wright as Ivan Somerset
Ellen Page as Tenacity Hargrove
Edward Norton as Thomas Jacoby
Amy Ryan as Lynn Jacoby
Ryan Simpkins as Crystal Jacoby
Clifton Collins Jr as Nicholas Randone

Tagline: "Pray for the lost people.."

Synopsis: Ivan Somerset (Wright), a renowned religious studies professor at Yale University has been fired amidst suspicion of his deteriorating mental health following very controversial statements he made regarding the state of organized faith in the world. His recently published books denounce all religions, especially Abrahamic faiths, and preaches a series of tenets by which to live and grow, known simply as "The Way." He soon develops a devout following greater than he ever imagined as men, women and children, all lost and aimless in their lives, begin to flock to him in droves, prepared to do as he preaches...

Tenacity Hargrove (Page) is a young singer/actress whose personal troubles are constantly under a microscope. Feeling adrift in the world of empty, meaningless fame, she nearly hits rock bottom until she stumbles upon Somerset's teachings and becomes one of his biggest followers, much to the dismay of her manager Nicholas (Clifton Collins Jr.) The teachings of "The Way" begin to affect Tenacity in ways she could have never foreseen, as she soon finds herself completely submissive and obedient to Ivan Somerset...

Thomas Jacoby (Edward Norton), a naïve, but troubled Congressman is dealing with a very nasty and public divorce with his wife Lynn (Amy Ryan), who is falsely accusing him of infidelity. Trying desperately to recover his public image, Jacoby turns his attention to putting a stop to Ivan Somerset and followers of "The Way," who are being linked to kidnapping, extortion and violent crimes. He is relentless in his desire to take down Somerset, trying to prosecute him and stop the group, who seek tax exempt status as an official religion. His pursuit of Ivan Somerset leads him down a dangerous road, with very dire consequences...

Cloth is a criss-crossing narrative that examines the cult mentality, and how it is dangerously and irreversibly set into motion. The film follows these three characters as they encounter one another, from Connecticut, to California, and eventually to the deserts of Mexico, where Ivan Somerset and his followers relocate, leading to a shocking and tragic conclusion.

What the Press would say:

Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie Cloth is a look into the hope that religion often offers people, and the corruption of that hope by a select few. The film is no doubt polarizing in the way that it presents these ideas, but ultimately feels evenhanded. It is not an attack on organized religion, rather an examination of the fallibility of humans, especially those in power. Anderson's screenplay and direction expertly frame Somerset and Jacoby as two of the same—men mad with power and driven by the notion that each is right and moral. Anderson directs this ensemble with skill and precision that rivals some of his best work.

Much of the film's success can be attributed to character actor Jeffrey Wright, who amazes with his note-perfect characterization of cult leader Ivan Somerset. In a performance that could have so easily been loud and showy, Wright plays it quiet and understated, never getting it wrong and fully in control of his gift. Wright will go down with Daniel Day-Lewis as yet another great performance expertly directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. He is the winner of this year's Oscar for best actor, if there is any justice.

Even more surprising is Ellen Page, who quells any doubts about her range by stepping so wholly and effectively out of her comfort zone to play a troubled young starlet who couldn't be further from herself. You feel every inch of her sadness and her imprisonment, never doubting her motivation as she makes one unwise decision after another. And last, but definitely not least, there is Edward Norton, who reduces Thomas Jacoby to pure intensity and determination in what may well be the actor's finest performance to date. He makes you feel for an often-times detestable and maddening character, making the film's final act all the more heartbreaking.

The cinematography by Robert Elswit is top-notch, as is Jon Brion's haunting and repetitive score. There will be much talk and controversy regarding the similarities between the events portrayed here, and the Jonestown Massacre. However, Anderson never denies that his film is a composite of his observations and research about cult activity around the world. This is one of the year's best films, and will certainly be a best picture nominee.


Best Picture
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Jeffrey Wright
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Edward Norton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Ellen Page
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson
Best Original Score: Jon Brion
Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit
Best Achievement in Editing: Dylan Tichenor


Author(s): Maia
Location: CA


Written and Directed by Richard Shepard

Main Cast

Jon Voight as Sandy Thunder
Paul Schneider as Jimmy Marcel
Kim Director as Lola Kaminski
Seth Rogen as Rocco Matthews
Matt Dallas as Danny Bird
Aaron Yoo as Bob Kwan
Jessica Lucas as Calinda Brown
With Jay Mohr as Jerry Burwick
& Ricky Gervais as Arthur Valentine

Tagline: "Some events are far more than advertised"

Synopsis: A look at the effects of product placement in our society as seen through the eyes of different employees at a popular Comic Book convention:

Prolific, free-spirited artist SANDY THUNDER (Voight) founded Thunderbolt Comics more than thirty years ago. Since then; his small NY-based studio quickly turned into one of the most profitable graphic art publishers in America. Millions of fans worshipped his creations and he had happily served as the company’s chairman and spokesperson… until last fall.

For college freshmen (and hardcore Thunder fans) DANNY BIRD (Dallas) and BOB KWAN (Yoo), there was only one thing on their calendar for the upcoming weekend: Thunder-Con 2008. The widely known “pop culture” convention showcased the latest in comics, films, animation and video games so for two guys like Danny and Bob; working as volunteers during the three-day event was more a free, backstage pass to Sandy Thunder’s world than work itself.

Ruthless; plus occasionally whiny and demanding, marketer JIMMY MARCEL (Schneider) had been a huge success in the branding division of Thunderbolt Comics for the last two years so when he was named coordinator of the company’s highly lucrative Thunder-Con by Sandy Thunder himself, nobody was surprised. It came as a shock, though, the board’s decision to withdraw Thunder from his leadership position and leave him only as the company’s spokesperson. Rumors claimed Thunder, at age seventy, didn’t take it well ( even if his last two years as chairman hadn’t been the best) but Jimmy Marcel only cared about keeping the news out of the spotlight.

Rising star CALINDA BROWN wasn’t a bitch but simply, she wasn’t nice either. She had not slept her way to the top but she knew she had slept it at least to the middle. “Golden Amazon” was set to make her a household name and now she just needed certain “key” demographics to watch her flick. Her last promotional duty before the film’s release was a press conference at Thunder-Con 2008 with the apparently well-known creator of her character and her costars.

LOLA KAMINSKY (Director) had had it. Her boss, a self-absorbed douche named Jimmy Marcel, was driving her crazy (although he was spending most of his time talking to the famous panelists like that it-girl Calinda Brown), her authority as staff coordinator of Thunder-Con 2008 was being disrespected by a bunch of kids who only cared about the exhibition stands and to complicate things even further, the legendary Sandy Thunder had yet to show up.

Contractually obligated to promote “Golden Amazon” during Thunder-Con and other public events, “eccentric” character actor ARTHUR VALENTINE (Gervais) knew he could sacrifice some of his prestige in return for a nice paycheck. Playing the villain in a comic book adaptation was not his usual work but according to his snotty agent JERRY BURWICK (Mohr), providing the voice for the CGI-creature fighting the title heroine would increase his popularity among younger audiences. He was wrong…

Struggling artist ROCCO MATTHEWS (Rogen) was on his late twenties and still waiting for his breakthrough. Since his idol Sandy Thunder “made it” when he was over thirty, Rocco was hopeful. Thunder-Con was the right place to display his work but just like many other exhibitors had realized before, smaller publishers like the regularly stoned Matthews couldn’t compete with Thunderbolt’s branding.

An hour before closing night’s main event, the auditorium was packed with both fans and media. It was pretty obvious they were not there for Calinda Brown and that’s when Jimmy Marcel knew he was in trouble… How would people react to Thunder’s absence? How would this affect the company’s reputation, their new movie and mostly; his job? But even worse, what would happen if Thunder actually showed up?

What the Press would say:

Decisions… There’s a price to pay for each one we make and as "The Matador" director Richard Shepard’s clever dark-comedy Convention so distinctively expresses, there’s always a lesson to learn from each one too. A world controlled by marketing, reputation and perception is carefully analyzed by Shepard’s witty screenplay as his tragicomic characters interact with each other in the most casual (yet appropriate) setting we could think of: a comic book convention...

Starring as the renowned artist Sandy Thunder, Jon Voight is a dominant presence (even if he is not on screen most of the time). All characters are directly or indirectly affected by him and the specific way he is seen by each of them (from iconic artist to aging hippie) makes his last fifteen minutes on screen pivotal to the film’s satisfying conclusion. When the half-drunk/half-pissed off Thunder finally shows up to the press conference and sets the record (very) straight, we just don’t want him to disappoint his loyal fanbase or to ruin his solid reputation. Voight is simply a treat for the audience and thanks to his humorous and ultimately touching performance, it’s simple to understand why the man and artist Sandy Thunder (not his real name by the way) was surpassed by his larger-than-life brandname. Voight brings the house down!

The rest of the ensemble is also memorable. Paul Schneider, not your typical leading man, succeeds as the unpredictable Jimmy Marcel. Schneider adds a lot of physical comedy and (delicious) sharp-tongued malice to his portrayal and the result is one of the most accomplished on-screen antiheros of the year. Additionally, supporting turns by young actors Matt Dallas and Aaron Yoo contribute to the pic’s optimistic nature and the recognizable Seth Rogen provides an enjoyable look of an actually depressing scenario. An extended cameo by Jay Mohr as a critical agent who enjoys dissing everyone around him reminds the viewer that what or "who" could seem particularly important during the convention could not be it to the outside world.

Kim Director is particularly empathetic as the only character actually doing some work on the convention. Thanks to the blue-eyed beauty, we feel for her character’s unfair treatment but we also like her even more when she finally puts everyone in place, including the annoying Jimmy Marcel. In contrast, Jessica Lucas’ amusing portrayal of a pampered, self-centered celebrity shows how hollow people, fictional or not, can be (although the final payoff when her character discovers she isn't "Sandy Thunder" big is definitely worth watching).

Ricky Gervais steals the show as the “peculiar” Arthur Valentine. An award-nominated actor seduced by money and the chance of a career boost. Gervais makes Valentine an sympathetic personality and him, just like director Shepard, is not afraid to push the envelope when needed (like that memorable scene where Gervais meets Rogen’s character to weed-friendly, hilarious results).

Thanks to Shepard’s engaging direction, his refreshing screenplay and the colorful ensemble; Convention becomes an event moviegoers simply can’t miss this year and one AMPAS members already should be planning to attend.

For Your Consideration

Best Picture
Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical (HFPA)
Best Ensemble (SAG)
Best Director (Richard Shepard)
Best Actor (Jon Voight)
Best Supporting Actor (Ricky Gervais)
Best Supporting Actor (Paul Schneider)
Best Supporting Actress (Kim Director)
Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Lucas)
Best Screenplay (Original)
Creativity Awards

Dark Blue

Author(s): Evan
Location: NY

"Dark Blue"

Written By: Michel Gondry
Directed By: Michel Gondry

Main Cast

Cody – Kelly MacDonald
Ryan – Robert Downey Jr.
Detective Wilson – Colin Firth
Alice – Angela Bassett
Narrator: Julie Christie

Tagline: "you can make a billion dollars, but you might lose yourself"

Synopsis: On the outskirts of Seattle, in a small white house with a red Spanish shingled roof, Cody Corning (MacDonald) and Ryan Larson (Downey Jr.) meet as they both reach the latrine at the same time. Neither of them has ever seen the other, but she offers for him to go first and he does, slamming the old oak door in her face. That night they eat their dinner together and never once talk. The next morning, when Seattle police agency secretary Alice (Bassett) receives a call from the asylum saying that Cody is gone, and that there are no traces of where she went, she quickly informs her boss.

Ryan and Cody, though, are already in a small paddleboat, starting off across the channel between Vancouver and Victoria. They reach a small island and get off, pulling their dingy into the bushes. The two venture inland through the thick, lush, temperate forest and find a small shack. They go inside and find a small round room with a thin window going around the entire shack, so that you can see outside of every angle. The two slept, curled up on the floor, and were happy. Detective Wilson (Firth) was very cross. He had been trying to find these two whackos for two days and it seemed as if they had disappeared. They were both distinctive and yet nobody had seen them. Alice, his secretary was scared because her boss seemed to be taking this case very personally indeed, and with a lot more fervor than his previous few cases. Soon, Wilson got the lead he needed, a letter apparently, and, with Alice, he set off to Vancouver.

Cody was very sad because she misses her songbirds and begins to cry on a large log on the beach. Ryan tried to comfort her in the misty air but it doesn’t seem to do much good. He just walks away after a few minutes. There is nothing he can do. When he comes back an hour or so later she, and their dingy are gone. He runs down the beach as a speedboat is speeding along the shore, riding the backs of the crisp blue waves. In that boat are Detective Wilson and Alice. They knew but he didn’t know them. As he ran he began to realize that he may not actually love Cody.

He slows down and turns and walks into the forest, disappearing behind the foliage. The two police officers soon come across a small dingy. Inside it, Cody is lying down and smiling. She sits up and looks into Wilson’s eyes. “My wife…” he says, with a tear in his eye. She smiles at him and begins to row her boat back towards the island. She lands and pulls the dingy out of sight. She sets off into the woods to find the shack.

After looking for hours and hours, around the entire island, she gives up. It isn’t there. She goes back to the beach to find the boat, but it’s gone. She is scared and curls up in the cool soft sand. When she feels someone shaking her, she opens her eyes. She is lying on the beach and Detective Wilson is stroking her hair. She is happy as the aurora borealis lights up the night sky around them… a dark blue.

What the Press would say:

Director Michel Gondry is well known for the quirky, almost childish aspects to his films. There is no lack of these in his new film “Dark Blue.” “Dark Blue” is the story of two people who are in a mental asylum. They fall in love and escape, running away together to a shack on a small island in the Pacific Northwest.

Based loosely of off the song by Jacks Mannequin, “Dark Blue” explores the way the two see each other, the world, and people in general. Kelly Macdonald gives an emotional powerhouse performance as Cody, a women suffering from severe bi-polar disorder. Her screen presence dazzles the audience with an authenticity that hasn’t been seen in recent years. Robert Downey Jr. also gives a clever performance as an insane man who sees things that aren’t there at all . . . and who may not be there himself. Over the course of this modern character study we really come to understand the reasoning behind their love, and how real it seems.

The film covers a lot of ground in it’s brisk 95 minute running time, and leaves the audience feeling blown away by how murky everything remains, despite the clarity that seems to present itself in the basic plot. “Dark Blue” is an amazing film, about finding love, and tranquility inside ones self.


Best Picture
Best Director – Michel Gondry
Best Actress – Kelly MacDonald
Best Actor – Robert Downey Jr.
Best Supporting Actor – Collin Firth
Best Supporting Actress – Angela Bassett
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Cult Bait
Best Tagline
Best Online Awards Campaign

The Elysium Dream

Author(s): Tony
Location: PA

"The Elysium Dream"

Written and Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Lawrence Turman
Music by Clint Mansell
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki

Main Cast

Cillian Murphy as Noah
Liam Neeson as Dr. Thomas Vexler
Emily Blunt as Tessa
Elias Koteas as Father Everett
Ed Sanders as Thomas Vexler Jr

Tagline: "Is there a way to be saved?"

Synopsis: "They say when you die your whole life flashes before you. I've felt my heart beating for so long, but I've been dead for years. Whose fault was it? This contemporary society that thrives on the blood and helplessness of others? Is it mine....or was it his? I admire this isolation room, the bed sure is comfy, but as far as this near catatonic state...well, I've been there many times. Wait...I remember now."

Society has taken the next step in advertising, senseless laws, and unbearable crimes. Noah reaches for his needle and turns off his television, it only made him more disgusted. He was a political radical and a demanding heroin addict. He's heard rumors of Dr. Vexler for months now. He's a wealthy man with the solutions, he runs a secret underground organization, drug related. Noah is in search of Dr. Vexler and eventually locates him. Vexler was a political and religious demagogue and the father of Thomas Jr, a mute child. He see's Noah is vulnerable and special, something that could help his revolution. He was a genius at manipulation and brainwashing techniques. He would give Noah a fix a day if he did what he was told, he thrived on his addiction. His plan is brilliant in its simplicity, assassination and replacement.

Noah is now Vexlers assassin, his docile puppet. Vexler knows that the human mind can be very unbalanced. Therefore, he brings Noah to his best friend Father Everett, a corrupt priest, and his assistant Tessa. At only eighteen, Tessa was a prostitute-turned-nun, saved from the streets by Everett. Months have gone by, Noah and Tessa have a growing affection towards each other. Although he is convinced his mission will save the world, Noah was drowning in guilt. He sees Tessa as his only means to salvation. Tessa gives him solace in the church to absolve his sins. They're in a candle light room where Noah is musing on all the people he has killed. He lights a candle for each hit and by the end of the solace he's sits in a room full of candles.

Thomas realizes the dangers Tessa provides to his experiment. He orders Noah to kill Tessa and Everett but the two want to leave the project. Vexler reminds him of his fix, thus changing his mind. He confronts Tessa but fails to comply with the command to murder her. She knows he killed Everett who was a father figure to her. His actions made her memories come flooding back. Years filled with men who had used her, degraded and beaten her, and driven their hatred and coldness into her heart. She had left Noah. Days later, high on his fix, Noah visits the church to see Tessa hung by her rosary. Vexler had murdered her, or Noah fulfill his mission without remembering, or did she take her own life? The police barge through the door to see Noah frozen on the ground.

"The gun they found on me will certainly match the one used in the string of recent killings. I must escape and avenge her death. My drug is wearing thin and there's a window. I find Vexler at the church with Jr, the spot where they killed Tessa. He insists I don't rip his heart out in front of his son, and questions me who really did kill her? Jr cries in disbelief, I tell him it will all be over in a minute. Months have gone by and I feel as empty as ever now since I killed my master. Tessa's ghost appears again and angrily exhorts me to kill myself, am I imagining this? There's a gun and a noose in my room. There's also the very thing that drove me to this point, the needle, it cries out to me. I inject the lethal dosage as my spirit is reunited with Tessa, together we reflect the only times we were happy. Unfortunately I know this not to be real, in fact my last illusion before I'm gone. Did I kill you? Save me.."

What the Press would say:

The wildly imaginative Darren Aronofsky returns with his lately triumphant masterpiece, "The Elysium Dream". Like most Aronofsky films, the plot is extremely thick, one that tackles the situations we have still going on today. Whether its drug relations, religion, politics, murder, manipulation, this film focuses on it all in one big 2 and a half hour feature film. It's almost too hard to grasp it all in the first viewing. Surprisingly, the film isn't too violent. Most of our lead characters murders are shown in a drug induced form with excellent camera angles that don't reveal much, thus making the scenes more powerful. With beautiful, yet haunting cinematography and an amazing score, most of the films credit can go to the acting ability. Cillian Murphy is our lead, the soul of the film. It is the mutilation of his life, his whole character that takes center stage, ending in a satisfying climax of gargantuan proportions in which he gives the audience more than their money's worth in his power-packed performance. Whether he frightens you with his murderous antics or comforts you with his soft words, Murphy is solid and the front runner for major awards to come. Liam Neeson shines as the soft spoken, yet informative role as Dr. Vexler. His words are vital to the scripts point, every time he opens his mouth we are engaged in his dialogue. A role that's scary to some, admirable, or disturbing. A character of power demands an actor with no remorse, Neeson fits it perfectly. And lastly, Emily Blunt, who plays Tessa. It's hard to believe a character at this magnititude could be involved with such hate mongrels, she knows her position, but she's grateful for everything. Her heart is pure even if her actions aren't admired. Her and Murphy have a satisfying chemistry that only builds the intensity and emotion scene after scene.

Of course, "The Elysium Dream" refers to the last scene, where Noah and Tessa are bound together in happiness. A happiness they wanted to have but it was inevitable they wouldn't in a society such as this. Reality hits hard for some, and that's one of the many lessons to be learned from this epic. Not recommended if you're easily shocked, squeamish, or upset. It is recommended for those who want to see a movie that will completely overtake you and involve you emotionally. Find a baby-sitter for this one, and get ready for a mind blowing experience that you'll never forget.


Best Picture - Darren Aronofsky, Lawrence Turman
Best Director - Darren Aronofsky
Best Actor - Cillian Murphy
Best Supporting Actress - Emily Blunt
Best Supporting Actor - Liam Neeson
Best Original Screenplay - Darren Aronofsky
Best Original Score - Clint Mansell
Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Editing
Best Art Direction

Golden Gate

Author(s): James Somerton
Location: Canada

"Golden Gate"

Directed by: Mike Nichols
Written by: Alan Ball
Score by: Gustavo Santaolalla
Produced by: Celia D. Costas

Main Cast

Charlize Theron as Danielle Steel
Hugh Jackman as John Traina
Peter Sarsgaard as William Toth
Daniel Radcliffe as Nicholas Traina
Emily Blunt as Vickie Bane

Tagline: "Romance was her work... Heartbreak was her life"

Synopsis: A young journalist named Danielle Steel has been writing fluff pieces for The San Francisco Chronicle for two years now and she's growing tired of it. Finally she given a real piece of journalism to work on. She is to interview a series of convicts being held at a maximum security prison. Here, after three days of interviews, she meets William Toth; "A bank robber with a heart of gold", she describes him to her editor. After the article is published, Danielle becomes a semi celebrity in San Francisco. Even being given a book offer from a small publisher. She gladly takes the offer but what none of these society people know is that Danielle is still visiting William Toth in prison. And falling in love with him. Soon they have a prison yard wedding that leads to Danielle becoming pregnant.

During her pregnancy Danielle keeps her marriage to William very hush hush. He will be in prison for another five years before he's up for parol, so why not use this to her advantage? She tells everyone she knows that the father ran out on her when she became pregnant so now she's left to raise the child on her own. In her time away from the high class scene, she sits alone in her apartment writing her book. A story encapsulating Danielle's own fears of being rejected from her new life because of the man she married. After finishing the book she goes to see William and tells him that the marriage cant ever work but that she will still let him see his son. William is shaken but Danielle has never felt better. Within weeks she has the marriage annulled, and gives birth to a healthy baby boy. Before his first birthday she becomes a bestselling author.

Danielle spends the next several years writing at a feverish pace. She is hailed by many as the best romance novelist in the world, but professional critics eat her work alive. This hurts but she keeps it private. She is a loving mother to her son, Nicholas, and a thriving voice at the posh clubs and parties of San Francisco. Its at one of these parties that she meets John Traina, a millionaire shipping tycoon. He falls for her immediately. She's taken by his good looks and his fortune. With a little work, she could probably love him. He's even taken by her young son; probably the deciding factor. Her marriage to Traina, unlike her last marriage, is a big, lavish event. Now, just one problem. In order for Traina to adopt Nicholas, as both he and Danielle wish, William Toth will have to relinquish his parental rights. After he refuses, Danielle takes the matter to court. Her reasoning? William Toth is a convicted felon and should have no part in Nicholas's life. The motion is granted and Nicholas Toth becomes Nicholas Traina. From this time forth, no one even speaks of William Toth. Not even his own son.

Years pass by in a blur of parties, children, and best selling novels. Danielle and John buy a massive estate just outside San Francisco that is more a castle than a house. Danielle's fortune now rivals her husband's and, together, they are the richest couple in San Francisco, but always careful to keep their private affairs private. But her public image is about to be shattered do to a tell-all biography, entitled "The Lives of Danielle Steel", being published without her permission. The writer, Vickie Bane, has been digging into Danielle's private life for a long time. In it she tells the story of William Toth and how Nicholas is really his son. Details about her, less than perfect, childhood are also sprayed across these pages. Danielle fights the publishers as hard as she can, even taking the matter to court but, for the first time in a long time, she fails to come out on to. All of her adoring fans will now know her true story.

All of this turmoil has lead to Danielle being distracted from a growing problem; Nicholas. Now in his late teens, he has begun falling out of reality. Bipolar Disorder and Depression have been plaguing him since his early teens, and drugs like Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil haven't been able to help. Cocaine has been helping though. He's been keeping it hidden from his parents well enough but his mother's discovery of the habit leads to rehab and even more therapists. But he's lost now. His father can see it and so can his siblings, but his mother refuses to. She can't lose again. Especially not this fight. Of any fight, not this one. But she does lose. Nicholas Traina ends his own life at the age of nineteen.

Not long after the funeral, John Traina tells Danielle that he's leaving her. Her fortune has grown well beyond his and he can't handle being with a woman more powerful and influential than himself. The children join him, at least until Danielle is mentally fit to care for them. Nicholas's death has shaken her to her absolute core. Now she sits alone in her palatial estate, writing. Always writing. Weaving tales of romance, riches, and perfect lives. The life she used to live.

What the Press would say:

Romance and Love. These are the things I expected when going into "Golden Gate". Instead I was surprised to see a movie more driven by ambition than any heartfelt notions. This is the story of Danielle Steel, a woman who yearns to succeed and will do whatever it takes to do so. She is a woman born of the 1960's that eventually joins the societal elite that she once rebelled against. Here, Charlize Theron gives the performance of her career. Loud and opinionated, Danielle is able to force her way into any situation. This ability leads her to meeting a man that will change her life forever. He isn't the first, and won't be the last, though. Danielle has an ex-husband we hear of only in passing. It was this man that convinced her to leave New York and come to San Francisco. Danielle is spontaneous in the early parts of the film, rarely giving a second thought to anything she does. Her love affair with a prison inmate leads to a marriage that barely exists, and a secret she fights to keep hidden. But later on in the film she becomes more calculating; leaving one man for another just because the new beau can help her social standing. Here we get to see her grow richer and richer with the release of every new book, attending gala parties and even meeting the president. Theron's performance throughout the film is near perfection, but about near the end of the film we see her reach heights that very few before her have been able to attain. Its here when she loses her son, first to drugs and finally to death itself. This woman who we have seen crush people in order to go further, is suddenly humbled. Her eyes are empty now as the most important person in her life leaves her forever. Theron's greatest moment in this film is at the funeral, where she completely ignores the socialites that she so yearned to be like. Now, she won't even listen to their words. She simply stands over her son's body. She does not weep but her eyes hold a thousand tears. Her son, Nicholas, is played Daniel Radcliffe in a steep departure from his most famous role. Here is a dark teenager, delving into drugs and hiding himself more and more from his family. At first its shocking to see Harry Potter snorting a line of coke off his bathroom sink, but Radcliffe becomes Nicholas Traina so quickly that you forget his past roles. He is only on screen for a little over a half hour but, in that short amount of time, he draws you in so completely that it seems like he's always been there. No matter how many other men enter her life, Nicholas is Danielle's only true love. Her other men in the film are played by Hugh Jackman as a compassionate millionaire, and Peter Sarsgaard as the convicted felon she falls for early in the film. Jackman does a fantastic job as Steel's second husband in the film and he's quite charming throughout, with the exception of his final scene, but Sarsgaard's performance is magnificent. His William Toth is both frightening and sympathetic. You feel sorry for him when his own son is ripped away from him forever but, at the same time, you feel uneasy. Sarsgaard creates an air of paranoia around his character that leads the audience to believe that he may, or may not, return to crime when he leaves prison. Emily Blunt gives a very to-the-point performance as Vickie Bane, a sleuthing journalist whose unauthorized biography of Steel creates havoc near the end of the film. She's slightly venomous but always likable, keeping in mind that she simply wants the public to know the truth. Mike Nichols' directs "Golden Gate" with a quiet flare. Early on the film is full of life and vibrant ambition as Danielle works toward her goals of wealth and fame. But near the end of the film, after she has achieved her goals and lost her son, the film becomes dark and quiet. The massive rooms of Danielle's estate, that we had seen earlier packed with people at her many parties, now stand empty. She walks quietly throughout her grand palace, all alone. A force to be reckoned with throughout the entire film, she is now just a tiny speck within her own world. She walks through the home she had made and looks at the memories with a distant gaze. Nichols tells the epic story of this woman with perfect precision. This is a long film but we're never bored. He takes us from the gritty streets of San Francisco in the 1970's, to the grand hallways of Danielle's palatial estate, and never hits a single bump along the way. We are treated to beautiful wardrobes and sets that ring back to the golden age of Hollywood. An infinitely strong female character that fights and fights to get what she wants; a modern day Scarlett O'Hara. "Golden Gate" is a love story about one person. A person too strong to love anyone but herself and her child. In the final moments of the film, after all the parties, and the people, and the riches, and the heartbreak; we see Danielle doing what she wanted to do in the very first scene of the film, where she fought with her news paper editor. She wanted to write. And here we see her doing just that. Not letting all the heartbreak stop her from being a storyteller. A storyteller whose own life could eclipse any of her own works. "Golden Gate" is her life.

Possible Nominations

Best Picture
Best Director - Mike Nichols
Best Actress - Charlize Theron
Best Supporting Actor - Peter Sarsgaard, Daniel Radcliffe
Best Supporting Actress - Emily Blunt
Best Original Screenplay - Alan Ball
Best Costume Design
Best Original Score - Gustavo Santaolalla
Best Cinematography

The Great Ordeal

Author(s): Chris M.
Location: NJ

"The Great Ordeal"

Miramax Films
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Adapted by Julian Fellowes
Cinematography by John Toll
Film Editing by Steven Rosenbaum
Costume by Ann Roth
Art Direction by Steven Lawerence
Set Direction by Jill Quertier
Original Score by Patrick Doyle

Main Cast

Sean Bean as Jean de Carrouges
Vincent Cassel as Jacques Le Gris
Emma Watson as Marguerite de Carrouges
Supporting Cast:
Rafi Gavron as King Charles VI
David Tennant as Adam Louvel
Joseph Fiennes as Jean Le Coq
Bonnie Wright as Queen Isabeau
Maggie Smith as Dame Nicole de Carrouges

Tagline: "They had everything to gain and everything to lose"

Synopsis: In 1386, the day after Christmas, a huge crowd gathers at a Paris monastery to watch two men fight a duel to the death to prove which man is right in God's view. The dramatic true story of the knight, the squire, and the lady unfolds during the devastating Hundred Years War between France and England, as enemy troops pillage the land, madness haunts the French court, the Great Schism splits the Church, Muslim armies threaten Christendom, and rebellion, treachery, and plague turn the lives of all into toys of fortune.

Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight returns from combat in Scotland to find his wife, Marguerite inconsolable and distressed. Marguerite accuses Jacques Le Gris, her husband's old friend and his fellow courtier Adam Louvel, of brutally raping her. The knight takes his case before the teenage King Charles VI, the highest judge in France. Amid Jacques Le Gris's vocal claims of innocence which are attested by his lawyer Jean Le Coq and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite's charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a "trial by combat" a duel. The 'duel' only dimly reflected the solemn grandeur of its medieval golden age, when angry nobles challenged each other and threw down the gauntlet, then sheathed themselves in armor, swore heavy religious oaths before priests, and spurred their warhorses onto a walled field to fight it out before thousands of witnesses with lance and sword and dagger, putting at risk their word and their honor, their fortunes and their lives, and even the salvation of their immortal souls. This trial by combat leaves Marguerites fate, too, in the balance; for Marguerite if her husband and champion lose, she will be put to death as a false accuser, and shall be burned at the stake. The world was not to see the like of such spectacles ever again.

What the Press would say:

Shekhar Kapur’s latest production brings to life a dramatic, tumultuous film with unforgettable characters who are caught in a fatal web of crime, scandal, and revenge. It is at once a moving human drama, a captivating detective story, and an engrossing work of historical intrigue. Kapur does not shy away from the brutality of this story, and his direction astutely goes for realism in the climactic battle scene, which is certainly gruesome, but handled to generate maximum suspense without descending into the exploitative. The collaborative efforts of Shekhar Kapur and Oscar winning scribe Julian Fellowes delivers in a way that should electrify critics and mainstream audiences alike. Fellowes smart adaptation of Eric Jager’s historical novel has created an engaging screen play that has created interesting characters that will stay with audiences long after viewing this film.

Sean Bean leads this stellar cast, as Jean de Carrouges, a respected knight who learns of the heinous crime committed against his wife by his one time friend. This leads Carrouges, to challenge Jacques Le Gris to a duel, which was the culmination of years of bitterness and rivalry between the two men. Sean Bean is the noble knight who ends up fighting for his life. Beans’ Jean de Carrouges is a complete creation, a strange and complicated individual rendered palatable and fascinating by a sensationally good actor. Sean Bean gives a performance with such ball-of-fire intensity, and enormous emotional force that he will be too hard to be overlooked for this stunning acting achievement.

Emma Watson makes a commanding impression on film goers in what is a beautiful departure from the children’s films she has become known for. In her first adult role she commands the screen with something subtler and more mysterious, playing Marguerite, the teenage wife of Jean de Carrouges who becomes the subject of rumor and gossip. Watson is volatile, sexy, challenging, and fearlessly inventive. Watson looks moviegoers straight in the eye and dares them to look away. It is a wonderfully complex creation, a wary survivor who’s both proud of her sex appeal and slightly uncomfortable with it. Marguerite may be shallow, but Watson makes her rarely unsympathetic. This is the performance that introduces Emma Watson as a serious actress.

The juiciest role in The Great Ordeal, Jacques Le Gris, belongs to Vincent Cassel. Cassel plays the suave Jacques Le Gris, a well respected Frenchman who over time gains a reputation as a hero and womanizer, who eventually loses control and commits the most heinous crime against his one time friend’s young wife. Cassel is enthralling, he makes the role the personification of brilliant, hypnotic evil, and the screen jolts with electricity whenever he is on. Much has been made of Cassel’s' mesmerizing Jacques Le Gris; this is, without doubt, his most effective film appearance to date.

The Great Ordeal is the event you’ve been waiting for.

For You Consideration:

Best Picture – Saul Zaentz
Best Director - Shekhar Kapur
Best Actor – Sean Bean
Best Actress – Emma Watson
Best Supporting Actor - Vincent Cassel
Best Adapted Screenplay – Julian Fellowes


Author(s): Michael
Location: OK


Directed by Rob Marshall
Adapted by Bill Condon
Distributed by Miramax Pictures
Additional Music by Stephen Sondheim
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood
Art Direction by John Myhre and Gordon Sim

Main Cast

Michelle Pfeiffer- Mama Rose
Amanda Seyfried- June
Kristen Bell- Louise
Victor Garber- Herbie
Curtis Holbrook- Tulsa
Parker Posey- Tessie Tura
Nia Vardalos- Mazeppa
Veanne Cox- Electra

Tagline: "You gotta get a ticket.."

Synopsis: Vaudeville was the only thing that Rose could ever imagine for her children. It was their calling in life and Rose was going to make sure they were on the Orpheum Circuit, the top vaudeville circuit of the day. Having no success at being discovered in kiddie shows, Mama took her star, June and her backup dancer, Louise on the road to get in bigger shows. After picking up a few other boys to dance backup with Louise, Rose met talent agent Herbie, who begins to represent the talented young group. As the years pass, the kids are now teenagers and still doing a little kid show, but finally after a lot of waiting, they are discovered and put on the Orpheum Circuit.

The Circuit brings out everything that Rose has dreamed for her daughters, but problems arise soon. Louise and Tulsa, who is a backup dancer in along with her, are quickly finding love with each other, but Tulsa is just playing the innocent young woman. He and June are planning their own duet act and within days they leave Rose, Louise, and Herbie all by themselves. Louise is of course distraught, but Rose mistakes this for being upset that the act is over and forces Louise into her own act.

Without the top notch act that they once had, Louise’s act is now performing from tiny theater to tiny theater and once by accident, they end up in a strip club. It is there that Louise learns and masters the art of the striptease with the help of the low class and unenthusiastic strippers, Tessie Tura, Mazeppa, and Electra. At first, Rose is aghast at the notion of her daughter stripping, but soon warms up to the idea. Herbie, disgusted, leaves Rose and Louise alone by themselves. Together, they decide to put Louise on tour, from club to club and she soon becomes the biggest striptease act in the nation. However, Louise soon grows to be weary of only stripping and leaves Rose by herself. It is then after so many years of pushing people, that Rose discovers why she is by herself in the world.

What the Press would say:

Most Broadway critics agree that Gypsy is perhaps the best American musical ever written. So why is it that the classic has never been properly adapted to the big screen? Never fear, Rob Marshall creates his own classic on the big screen with his latest achievement of “Gypsy”. It’s the triumph of the year and the best movie musical that has been released in the last 40 years. Filled with wonderful music and a compelling plotline, Gypsy tells the story of neurotic stage mother Rose (often referred to as Mama Rose or just Mama) who pushes her children into show business which ultimately turns into burlesque dancing. Rob Marshall clearly had a strong vision for the iconic film and was the perfect choice to helm the material. To him, film is an art form and that shows in all aspects of the motion picture. It was also very apparent that Marshall gave the actors fantastic direction as well because all of the performances are top notch. Michelle Pfeiffer is phenomenal in her rendition of the iconic role of Mama Rose. Her performance is one that will be talked about for years to come and surely will not ever be forgotten. Her acting chops are shown in so many spectacular scenes where she shines above the rest of the stellar cast. Particularly in the show-stopping scene with the song “Rose’s Turn”, Pfeiffer shows that she is an extraordinary artist that can master any genre, medium, or character. Among the class act performances is the excellent Kristen Bell who holds her own in a cast of talented veteran screen actors, deserves all of the accolades that are coming to her. Although, she hasn’t done a lot of film work, you could never tell with the emotion she provides and the unforgettable way she takes on a character that can often be very dull. Bell brings such life to the role and transforms the character in a person that is extremely easy to sympathize with. By far the best supporting performance of the year is given by this performer that has a bright future indeed. Amanda Seyfried is delightful in a smaller role in the film and is perfect for the peppy “more talented” June. While she is outshined by the powerhouse performances of Pfeiffer and Bell, she is still remarkable in her role. Victor Garber gives a fantastic performances as the semi-love interest/agent Herbie. He and Pfeiffer were perfect for the roles and have such amazing chemistry that is truly a wonder to behold. However, newcomer Curtis Holbrook is really the male standout of the film. Having very little prior experience, he delivers a delightful debut performance that fits in flawlessly with the feel of the film.

Bill Condon writes yet again a great screenplay that is to die for. He’s added even more humorous quips that are sure to get your sides hurting in no time. He provides more depth to characters that are explored more and brings improvement to something that was almost perfect in the first place. Ever aspect of the film is just pure brilliance and deserves every acknowledgment out there. From Acting to Art Direction, Gypsy is by far the best film of the year and a movie musical that will live on forever, with performances that will never be beaten.


Best Picture
Best Director- Rob Marshall
Best Actress- Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Supporting Actor- Victor Garber
Best Supporting Actor- Curtis Holbrook
Best Supporting Actress- Kristen Bell
Best Supporting Actress- Amanda Seyfried
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design
Best Editing
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing