Tag Archives: alec baldwin

Movie Reviews—IT’S COMPLICATED, BROTHERS, THE LAST STATION

With all the holiday activities going on, I’m woefully behind on everything (haven’t seen Avatar—what?!) so the following reviews will be a little abbreviated. They’ll take less time for you to read so you can fulfill your obligations, too.

It’s Complicated

In writer/director Nancy Meyers’s ultimate female fantasy, Meryl Streep plays a woman who’s lusted after by two successful, attractive men: her lawyer ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and the sensitive architect (Steve Martin) who’s renovating her house, an already gorgeous spread in Santa Barbara she’s trying to make bigger and more awesome.

The movie is a very mature, if flawed, exploration of the emotional complexities of divorce, not making anyone out to be the bad guy or completely blameless. Streep is as radiant as ever (she doesn’t age!), Baldwin has some very funny scenes, including an unfortunate Skype incident, and Martin turns in a lovely, understated performance as someone who might be falling in love but is reluctant to move forward with the bitter taste of his own divorce still fresh in his mouth.

The most refreshing element for me was seeing how the family, though damaged by divorce, is so functional. They talk things out, they’re respectful towards each other and the kids don’t seem to prefer one parent over the other. Conflicts exist and obstacles abound; the affected parties just don’t turn their affairs into a Jerry Springer episode. I’m not sure what it says about the state of our times when I was surprised, but pleasantly so, to see family members not bitching each other out on screen. Nerd verdict: Complicated but fun.

Brothers

After Marine captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) goes missing and is believed dead in Afghanistan, his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) helps his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and daughters Isabelle and Maggie (Bailee Madison, Taylor Geare, respectively) through the grieving process. Uncle Tommy gets a little too close and of course, this is exactly when Sam comes home. [Note: This isn’t a spoiler. We see him alive in Afghanistan even while the family mourns.]

Maguire does impressive work as the conflicted soldier who comes back haunted by things he was forced to do to survive, actions for which he can’t forgive himself. He’s a shadow of his former self, unrecognized by loved ones, feared by his children. He’s intense in a quiet way, which is much scarier than an over-the-top way.

Portman is more sensual and womanly than usual as a young wife and mother trying to navigate uncharted waters. Gyllenhaal is believable as Maguire’s brother but I didn’t buy for one minute that he’s some tough ex-con who just got out of the Big House. The real stars for me, though, are the two actresses who play Sam and Grace’s little girls. They have a natural, easy style that made me think they were simply being, not acting. It’s an easy concept to grasp, not necessarily to execute on camera. Drawing out amazing performances from young actresses (see In America) is a specialty of director Jim Sheridan, who makes his movies intensely personal.

I also like his way of covering heavy subject matter with a light hand. He often cuts away from a scene before its natural end because he trusts we can fill in the rest. When two military reps arrive at Sam’s house to notify Grace of his so-called demise, we see Grace approaching the open door, the horrible realization washing over her face, and the scene ends without the actual notification. Sheridan doesn’t jerk tears; this isn’t a war movie. It’s about people trying to find a way to live again after a part of them dies. Nerd verdict: Relatable Brothers.

The Last Station

I’m going to keep this one brief because I fell asleep three times while watching it. The performances can’t be faulted, except for maybe Paul Giamatti’s scenery chomping as a devout Tolstoyan who wants Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) to will his estate to the movement, much to the chagrin of the author’s wife. The movie is one long melodramatic tug of war between Giamatti’s Vladimir and Helen Mirren’s Sofya and none of it was compelling. It’s more a history lesson than entertainment and even James McAvoy’s presence as Tolstoy’s secretary couldn’t save this for me. Nerd verdict: Bypass this Station

30 ROCK’s Hilarious “Kidney Now!” Video

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There were a lot of season finales last night, some good (Grey’s Anatomy), some bad (Bones) and one hilarious—30 Rock. Gah, I laughed out loud several times. But you don’t have to be a Rock fan to appreciate the music video below.

baldwin & aldaThe background story is that Jack (Alec Baldwin) finds his real dad, Milton Green (Alan Alda), just in time for the older man to say he needs a kidney. Jack’s not a match so he decides to cash in all his favor chips to get his famous friends to collaborate on a “We Are the World”-type song, encouraging people to donate a kidney to Green.

Those who participate include Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello (so Jack wouldn’t reveal his real identity as Declan MacManus, international art thief), Maroon 5’s Adam Levine (only so he can punch Costello in the back of the head when he’s not looking), Mary J. Blige (who has her own charity raising money to locate the Loch Ness Monster), Norah Jones, Sara Bareilles, Clay Aiken, Michael McDonald, Wyclef Jean and Cyndi Lauper.

Best lines from the song:

“Listen, when someone starts talking in the middle of a song, you know it’s serious.”

“Sometimes one is better than two…if you had two dogs attacking you, you’d want just one.”

“I’m one of the drunk ones.”

“He needs a kidney, no, he doesn’t need a hand, he just needs a kidney. A hand would be an even harder thing to give…”

But don’t take my word for it. Watch the video and tell me what your favorites lines are.

2009 Golden Globes Winners

Let’s get the official winners out of the way and then I’ll give out my own awards for the best and worst of the evening (click here for my reactions). My Globes mole took this photo.

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FILM

BEST DRAMA: Slumdog Millionaire (click here for a discussion with the filmmakers)

BEST COMEDY: Vicky Christina Barcelona

BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire

BEST ACTOR – DRAMA: Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler

BEST ACTRESS – DRAMA: Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road

BEST ACTOR – COMEDY: Colin Farrell – In Bruges

BEST ACTRESS – COMEDY: Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kate Winslet – The Reader

BEST SCREENPLAY: Simon Beaufoy – Slumdog Millionaire

BEST SCORE: A.R. Rahman – Slumdog Millionaire

BEST SONG: “The Wrestler” – The Wrestler (written & performed by Bruce Springsteen)

BEST ANIMATED FILM: WALL•E

BEST FOREIGN FILM: Waltz with Bashir – Israel

TV

BEST DRAMA SERIES: Mad Men

BEST COMEDY SERIES: 30 Rock

BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TV: John Adams

BEST ACTOR – DRAMA: Gabriel Byrne – In Treatment

BEST ACTRESS – DRAMA: Anna Paquin – True Blood

BEST ACTOR – COMEDY: Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock

BEST ACTRESS – COMEDY: Tina Fey – 30 Rock

BEST ACTOR – TV MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES: Paul Giamatti – John Adams

BEST ACTRESS – TV MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES: Laura Linney – John Adams

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TV: Tom Wilkinson – John Adams

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TV: Laura Dern – Recount

What did you think of the winners? Who do you think deserved it and who just happened to coast by on popularity and/or past achievements? Leave me a comment!

Watch the Season 3 Premiere of 30 ROCK Here! (video)

Can’t wait until 30 Rock comes back for its third season next Thursday, October 30? Thanks to TV Guide, you can watch the entire episode here for free! This was worth the wait. Written by the indomitable Tina Fey, it made me laugh out loud, brings Jack back to New York and Will Arnett as Devon is more out of control than ever.

If you can’t watch the video for some reason, here’s a recap. ***SPOILERS!!***

 

The first scene is of Liz walking confidently down the street, looking and feeling good. A limo with dark windows pulls up alongside and a man calls out, “Hello, Pussycat!” Liz launches into a retort until the window rolls down and she realizes it’s Jack. The look on her face is precious—she’s like a little girl who got just what she wanted for Christmas.

Jack gets out of the limo, they do an awkward, non-hug thing and walk together to 30 Rock. Devon’s in charge of the company now but Jack is determined to get his job back. Not so fast—Devon gives him a position in the mailroom. Jack says he worked his way up through the company before; he’ll do it again and thinks it’ll only take him nine years this time as opposed to twenty-three. By mid-morning, he’s already gotten his first promotion to Head Mailroom Guy.

Meanwhile, Liz is putting on a “better than myself” facade for Bev (guest star Megan Mullally), the adoption agency rep who’s doing an in-home inspection to determine Liz’s viability for single parenthood. The inspection continues into the work place, where Liz’s staff give her not-so-helpful character references. All this dovetails with Liz trying to help Jack decide if he should just go ahead and “debase” himself by “giving his gift” to Kathy Geiss in order to get his job back. It’s for the good of the company, since Devon seems to have completely lost his sanity, planning to quadruple profits by shutting down the company so that demand for lightbulbs would rise.

Lots more antics ensue before Jack gets hired as Kathy’s private business consultant and the ep ends with a sweet moment between Liz and Jack. This mix of sweetness and zaniness is what makes the show the funniest sitcom currently on TV (the other would be Flight of the Conchords, on hiatus until next year).

My favorite lines:

  • “That information is classified, at least until Cheney dies, which is going to be a long time from now. That man’s mostly metal.” —Jack’s reply to Liz when asked how he got out of his government job.
  • “I got rid of all my Colin Firth movies in case they consider them erotica.” —Liz to Jack about how she prepared her apartment for the adoption-agency rep’s visit. “That man can wear a sweater,” Jack replies.
  • “Can I hide this box of penis pasta in your dressing room?” —Liz to Jenna before Bev the rep comes to inspect Liz’s office.
  • “She touched me in my swimsuit area.”—Jack to Liz about Kathy Geiss.
  • “Have you ever been sexually harassed? Of course not.” —Jack to Liz.
  • “Tomorrow, I’ll show up dressed as a Mexican wrestler.” —fellow mailroom guy to Jack after Jack tells him he must dress for the job he wants, not the one he has.
  • “It’s just G now, Jack. I sold the E to Samsung. They’re Samesung now.”—Devon explaining to Jack how he’s helped GE’s profit margin.
  • “I think adoption’s a wonderful thing. Three of my nine siblings were adopted and one day, I hope to find them.”—Kenneth to Bev.
  • “I first met Liz in ’93, when she was fresh out of college and I’d just broken up with O.J. Simpson.”—Jenna to Bev.
  • “Me and her go away back like spinal cords and car seats.”—Tracy giving Liz a character reference
  • “That’s the lip gloss she put on me so I could be her fancy boy.”—Jack to Liz about the humiliation he must endure with Kathy in order to get his job back.

Rating: Brilliant