Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) are divorcing. They have been based in New York, but Nicole is from LA and returns there with their son. The film goes through their separation and the lead-up to their divorce. We don’t see any real back-story, only the characters interpretations of what their relationship was and how it ended up where it was. Once you add in lawyers, things start getting ugly.
I didn’t mind this, it was fine. I guess it showed that relationships can sour and how tricky things can get once the law and children are involved. It felt like so much of the story could have been bypassed if the characters took the time to actually listen to each other, and in this way, it’s really reflective of the real world.
Marriage Story was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Scarlett Johansson), Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Adam Driver), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Laura Dern) Best Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score). It won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Laura Dern) and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Scarlett Johansson), Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Adam Driver), Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Noah Baumbach), Best Original Score – Motion Picture and Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has cloned dinosaurs from DNA captured in amber and created a theme park on an island. Before he opens to the public, he does a test run with several experts including Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie (Laura Dern) and Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), along with his two grandkids. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go to plan.
I remember seeing this in the cinema back in 1993 and I was petrified. I’m not great with scary films, and I had an unopened Chupa Chup which I dropped during the trailers and whenever things got too scary for me, I’d get on the floor and go hunting for it. Re-watching it on the TV recently, I can totally see why. In particular, the kitchen scene. Oh my goodness.
Cheryl (Reece Witherspoon) has had a tough life – single mother who died quite young, going off the rails, drugs and sex and a failed marriage – and so she walks across American on her own to find herself. That sounds a bit glib, but that’s kind of it.
There will be people who find this inspiring. Apparently, the book is amazingly inspiring. I thought it was good. The problem was that it’s almost impossible for a film of nearly two hours to properly capture such a big event. Yes, I got that she was tired and made mistakes and was injured and was alone and had a terrible life, but I didn’t really feel it. The way the flashbacks were cut in was nice, kept the flow. I think it is a very good movie. I just didn’t really like it.
Wild was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Reese Witherspoon) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Laura Dern), for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Reese Witherspoon) and a BAFTA for Best Leading Actress (Reese Witherspoon).
Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a hardworking tradie who’s been hit hard by the financial crash. He ends up evicted from his family home along with his mother, Lynn (Laura Dern) and son Connor (Noah Lomax) when the bank forcloses. They move into a hotel, but before too long through a kind of odd series of events, he ends up working for realtor Rick Carver (Michael Shannon), the very man who evicted him. He starts to see how to make things work for himself.
There were a few major flaws that I struggled with – I could believe that Nash would take the job – he is desperate. I couldn’t see why Carver would offer it. There’s that old line – you remind me of me at your age – but it just doesn’t fit. However, it is certainly a good first step at looking at the financial crisis – what is most distressing it to think that the situations in this film are the good end of things; everything became more corrupt, more ugly and so much worse. Terrible.
Sam (Sean Penn) is a mentally retarded man living in New York who has fathered a small girl (Lucy). The mother has disappeared and he is left to raise the baby. Seems implausible, but the scripting is so strong that it is totally believable. It is also believable that when Lucy is seven, she is taken into custody and Sam must fight for her. And somehow, the overworking lawyer-who-ignores-her-own-son character of Rita (Michelle Pfeiffer) ends up taking his case.
This is another film that totally challenged my prior expectations. To be fair, I had this film recommended to me by someone who also recommended The Butterfly Effect, which I truly believe to be one of the worst films ever made. I am Sam is an excellent film that was nominated and won a whole heap of awards, and rightly so.
Nick Halsey (Wil Ferrell) is an alcoholic who has lost his job and, upon arriving home, finds his wife has thrown all of his belongings on the front lawn and has left. In denial, he starts to live on his lawn until an unlikely friendship with a black teenager, Kenny and a direct conversation with his new, pregnant neighbour Samantha leads him to start taking action.
I don’t know why it seems that so many of the films that I have seen recently have been these slow-moving character pieces with someone having to deal with major negative life changes where not much happens but eventually things start getting better. They are probably good films, but when you see several in a short period of time, any potential impact is lost. What’s more, in this as in several other films, the character’s turnaround comes from very little, and seems to be quite definite and final.
Wil Ferrell is very believable as this broken man. I think many comic actors can be quite good in serious roles – think Adam Sandler in Punchdrunk Love, or Jim Carey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Or Robin Williams in several of his serious roles (not all, though. He does have a tendency to get a bit too earnest). Wil Ferrell can definitely do it too – he was fabulous in the much under-rated Stranger Than Fiction. By all means, so for more serious roles, but I reckon go for films that have a bit more plot.