Ed (Matthew McConaughey) is a normal guy; in his thirties, working in a video shop, hanging out with his family, especially his brother, Ray (Woody Harrelson) and his girlfriend, Shari (Jenna Elfman). Then a television station has a competition to find a face for their new reality television show, and suddenly, they are all on tv, 24-hours-per-day. It’s exciting until it starts to cause some real problems for them all.
Sometimes in culture, zeitgeist throws up things that are similar yet still different. In the late nineties, it was reality TV, with this coming up only a year after The Truman Show. Yes, there are similarities, and in their own way, both of these films work. EDtv is fun. Fun characters, tough decisions, great gags. I felt the need to watch this after recently watching the disturbing and difficult True Detective series, and really wanted to see Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson having fun. It’s not rocket science, but it is ace fun. And Jenna Elfman? Come back. I miss you.
Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) are astronauts on the Apollo 13 trip which is meant to land on the moon, only things go wrong. Back on Earth, fellow astronaut (Gary Sinese) who was supposed to be on the flight works with mission controller Gene Krantz (Ed Harris) and the whole team to find ways to bring the men in the broken ship back home to his family.
Ron Howard usually gets it exactly right. This is an amazing story, told with magnificent tension and torment. It’s a melodrama, a real melodrama, along with all of the swelling music and tight close-ups, and gee, that is wonderful. I loved it when I watched it in the cinema back in 1995 and I loved watching it on DVD just recently.
Apollo 13 won Oscars for Best Sound and Best Film Editing and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ed Harris), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kathleen Quinlan), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Best Effects, Visual Effects and Best Music Original Score.
Based on the life of mathematician John Nash, A Beautiful Mind follows the young mathematician through college and into a career working in cryptography. However, he has schizophrenia, and struggles to separate life from his delusions.
I think this is a wonderful film. I’m not a fan of Russell Crowe, but he was perfect for this role. Tormented, with a sneaky peak of a sense of humour behind the socially challenged personality. Years ago I heard this discussed on a medical show that was looking at the best and worst representations of mental illness and this was in the best category, and I reckon that’s about right.
A Beautiful mind won for Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Connelly), Best Director (Ron Howard) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe), Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Best Music, Original Score.
There are the original parents of the family; Frank Buckman (Jason Robards) and his wife Marilyn (Eileen Ryan) (oh, and one of their mothers is still around, played by the delightful Helen Shaw). They have four kids; Gil (Steve Martin), Helen (Diane Wiest), Susan (Harley Jane Kozak) and Larry (Tom Hulce). Gil, married to Karen (Mary Steenburgen) is dealing with an anxious son, a quite normal daughter and a crazy toddler and is trying to figure out how he feels about the fourth which is on the way. Helen has a son, Garry (Joaquin Phoenix) who is reclusive since his father left and a rebellious daughter, Julie (Martha Plimpton) who is dating drag- racing drop-kick Tod (Keanu Reeves). Susan is married to Nathan (Rick Moranis) who is desperate to ensure their daughter is a genius. And Larry turns up out of the blue being chased by gangsters who owe him money and with a surprise son, Cool, in tow.
A lot going on? Yup. Funny? Very. Heartbreaking? Yes, at times. Does it stand up to time? I think so. Some of the fashions are dated, but not in a bad way. I’d be interested to see how much would change if such a film were made now. Possible not a lot. It’s clever, entertaining and I totally enjoy it every time I see it.
Parenthood was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Dianne Wiest) and Best Music, Original Song (Randy Newman, I Love to See You Smile).
Niki Lauda and John Hunt were apparently famous for their rivalry as Formula One drivers in the 1970s. I wasn’t aware of this, but that’s not really surprising given my lack of interest in sport. Two men with similar backgrounds but different motivations, both wanting to be World Champion. I don’t want to give away any spoilers for those, like me, who have no idea of the events that occurred in 1976, but it makes for a very exciting story.
Yet. A bit like the Senna documentary, the rivalry interested me, but not enough to be totally engaged. When it came down to the wire, I really didn’t care who won. Perhaps it was that I didn’t really like either character. They both had the arrogance that is possibly required to be elite in a sporting arena. James Hunt, depicted by Chris Helmsworth, is reckless, hotheaded and annoying. Niki Lauda played by Daniel Bruhl, is calculated, precise and humourless (mostly. Ah, but when Lauda finds his humour, this was my favourite part of the film).
It’s definitely worth watching, and I think if you like cars and racing and especially if you are familiar with the story, you will love this film. For me, just a few too many cars.