Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Author(s): Ben Miller
Location: Canyon, Texas


Directed by Mike Newell
Written by Richard Russo & Robert Benton
Produced by Joe Roth

Principal Cast:

Bruce Willis as Mark Williamson
Catherine O’Hara as Denise Williamson (Mark’s Wife)
Shia LeBeouf as Lucas Williamson (Mark’s Son)
Emily Browning as Katelyn Williamson (Mark’s Daughter)
Brittany Snow as Lauren Cox (Katelyn’s Friend)
Adam Brody as Brad Battle (Lucas’ Friend)
Mos Def as Marvin Sinclair (Mark’s Co-worker/Friend)
Gabriel Union as Nicole Sinclair (Marvin’s Wife)
Cliff Curtis as Mohammad Al-Shabbas (Mark’s Boss)
Jonathan Ahdout as Zahid Al-Mohad (Young Kuwaiti)

Tagline: “It’s not home…and it will never be”

Synopsis: The Williamson’s aren’t much different from a normal American family. The children Lucas, 17 and Katelyn, 15 enjoy their lives as does their mother, Denise, and the father, Mark. Mark is a successful regional manager of a major oil company and does right for himself and his family.

One day, Mark is offered a job overseas in the small Middle-East country of Kuwait. On consulting with Denise, Mark takes the job and three weeks later, the family is in Kuwait. While encountering a few bumps, Mark and Denise adapt to their environment, but the same can’t be said for their children. Lucas is devastated to be taken out of his American setting that he is accustomed to and enjoys while Katelyn welcomes the environment but believes that her social troubles she experienced in the states will translate into similar results in the Middle East.

Despite being loners for the first couple of days, Lucas and Katelyn venture out to meet the other high schoolers in the compound in which they live. Lucas meets a boy his age named Brad. Brad has just moved to Kuwait also but has grown up overseas. Katelyn meets a girl Lucas’ age named Lauren. Lauren has lived in Kuwait for three years and is well-oriented in everything a teenager needs to know to get by. Later that day, all four converge and begin to bond. Despite the meeting of friends, Lucas still does not enjoy his situation and falls into depression. Katelyn begins to hang out with Lauren on a regular basis, despite their age difference.

Mark is back in the office, constantly busy. He meets a younger man named Marvin who has been in Kuwait for six months and tells Mark what to expect. Upon further conversation, each man suggests that their wives should meet. Marvin’s wife, Nicole, begins a friendship with Denise which spreads to their children. The entire family is met with challenges when September 11th occurs while they are in the Middle East. They have trouble deciding when and where to be patriotic and what the repercussions may be.

The story continues with the various emotional difficulties the family faces. Lucas confronts Mark on not including Katelyn and himself in the decision to move, while Katelyn confronts Denise on her true intentions of agreeing to move in the first place. Mark confronts his boss concerning his racism toward Marvin, the children occupying their time with various “questionable” activities, Lucas confronts a young Kuwaiti concerning remarks about 9/11, and all the teenagers accidentally catch Marvin and Nicole’s bedroom activities.

Despite some fond memories, both children look back on their time overseas with contempt, believing their parents ruined their best years. It proves the hypocrisy of the children as they spout nothing but laughter and stories of their time overseas but bash it with little feedback while the parents regret nothing about their time spent abroad.

What the press would say:

There have been many films dealing with the plight of Middle Easterners living within the United States but this one takes a different turn with a story of an American family adapting to Middle East life. Bruce Willis plays the patriarch of the family and is the reason for the move in the first place. He conveys such silent intimidation from his children but is tender and caring when the time calls. Catherine O’Hara plays the mother and provides a delicate hold for the rest of the family to grasp. O’Hara sways from her comedic roles and delivers nuance and undelivered guilt for the plight of her children. The son and daughter roles are played brilliantly by Shia LeBeouf and Emily Browning. Browning is more of a balls-out type and almost plays the role like a older sibling instead of the baby of the family. Her powerful performance plays well with the screenplay’s strong points. LeBeouf conveys suppressed anger as well as innocence. For one scene, he can be kind and selfless while the next be screaming at his father or at an Arab student who forgets to choose his words. The incredible performance may seem uneven on paper, but when translated onto the screen, the young actor never deviates. Mos Def also provides fantastic supporting work as a co-worker of Willis’ character who is not only a friend to the family, but fights his own fights against his boss’s racism. This film points to all the juxtaposition in the world about race, creed and social standing but refuses to be political. It would be simple to turn this film into a puff piece about the evils of the US in the Middle East, but it refuses and becomes something so much greater.

For Your Consideration:

Best Picture
Best Director: Mike Newell
Best Actor: Bruce Willis
Best Actress: Catherine O’Hara
Best Supporting Actor: Shia LeBeouf
Best Supporting Actor: Mos Def
Best Supporting Actress: Emily Browning
Best Original Screenplay: Richard Russo & Robert Benton

All's Fair in Oven Wars

Author(s): Ryan
Location: New Jersey

“All’s Fair in Oven Wars”

Directed by David Frankel
Written by Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman, and Tina Fey
Music by Alex Wurman

Principal Cast:

Juliette Lewis (Brooke Davis)
Matt Damon (Henry Davis)
Kelly Ripa (Jane Biggs)
Tina Fey (Lil Traston)
Sarah Silverman (Jackie Glason)
Rebecca Romijn (Cassie Neilson)
Taye Diggs (Matt Ladey)
Jennifer Tilly (Gina Hitsen)
Dane Cook (Leo Shef)
Ben Stiller (Chris)
Wanda Sykes (Janet)
Chevy Chase (Christopher Friedman Sr.)
Robin Williams (William Blancherd Junior the V)
Rachel Ray as Herself
Gordon Ramsey as Himself
Emeril Lagasse as Himself

Tagline: “The Kitchen Just Got a Whole Lot Hotter” 4/20/07

RATED PG-13 on appeal- for language and sexual content

Synopsis: Brooke (Juliette Lewis) and Henry Davis (Matt Damon) are a happily married couple for five years. Henry owns one of the top celebrity hot-spot, classy restaurants in New York called Epicure. However, Brooke’s friend and used-to-be business partner, Jane Biggs (Kelly Ripa), surprises her and opens up there old hot-spot restaurant, Silk, however, it is right across the street to her husbands restaurant Epicure! Now Henry’s staff, Su-Chef, Matt Lady (Taye Diggs), hostess, Jackie Glason (Sarah Silverman), and manager/best friend, Leo Shef (Dane Cook), must sabotage and duke it out between Brooke’s staff. Brooke’s staff is Su-Chef, Lil Traston (Tina Fey), hostess, Cassie Nealson (Rebecca Romijn), and manager, Gina Hitsen (Jennifer Tilly). With side-splitting small roles from Ben Stiller, Wanda Sykes, Robin Williams as a food critic and Chevy Chase as a health department employee. Also with chefs Rachel Ray, Gordon Ramsey, and Emeril Lagasse. But how much of a toll will this take their marriage?

What the press would say:

“Two thumbs up!”-Ebert & Roeper
“One of the Best Comedies since There is Something about Mary!”- People
“A+! I keeled over laughing throughout the movie! A funny comedy with depth.”-Entertainment Weekly
“Looks like a plain cake but tastes like chocolate. A metaphor meaning there is a lot more than you’ll expect. A lot!.”-Rolling Stone Magazine
All’s Fair in Love In War is a hilarious film about a husband and wife who open up high-end restaurants right across the street from each other. With an all star comedic cast and hilarious cameos as customers and food inspectors played by Wanda Sykes, Ben Stiller, Chevy Chase and Robin Williams. Juliette Lewis gives her best performance since Natural Born Killers and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Matt Damon gives a terrific comedic performance worthy of Syriana and The Departed. Jennifer Tilly, Tina Fey, Taye Diggs, Sarah Silverman, Dane Cook, Rebecca Romijn, Robin Williams, Chevy Chase and Kelly Ripa are at there comedic bests and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a spin-off on each of their characters.

Best Picture
Best Director: David Frankel
Best Screenplay: Sacha Baron Cohen, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, David Zuker
Best Original Score: Alex Wurman
Best Actor: Matt Damon, Dane Cook
Best Supporting Actor: Taye Diggs
Best Actress: Juliette Lewis, Kelly Ripa
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Tilly, Sarah Silverman

The Art of Love

Author(s): Pierre Davis
Location: Columbus, Ohio

“The Art of Love”

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by: Pedro Almodovar
Written by: Pedro Almodovar and Paul Haggis
Produced by: Paloma Picasso, Clint Eastwood and Stephan Spielberg
Score by: Hans Zimmer

Principal Cast:

Joe Pesci as Older Pablo Picasso
Gael Garcia Bernal as younger Pablo Picasso
Catherine Zeta Jones as Paloma Picasso
Gwen Stefani as Olga Khokhlova
Chloe Sevigny as Marie-Thérèse Walter
Jennifer Connelly as Françoise Gilot
Rachel Weisz as Dora Maar
Hilary Swank as Jacqueline Roque

Rated R: For language, nudity, abuse and sexual content.

Filming Locations: Paris, France and U.S.A

Tagline: “Art led him to Love but Love inspired his Art"

Running time: 2 hours and 33 minutes

Synopsis: From one of the greatest minds of our time comes a fantastic biography about one of the world’s greatest painters and his many affairs with women he fell in love with over the years. The film begins with Paloma Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s daughter, walking down the hallway of his house on April 6th 1978. Her and her father never really had a good relationship and sees this as her only chance to connect with her father before his death.

Pablo Picasso talks to his daughter about his days as a young painter in France beginning at his wedding to his first wife Olga Khokhlova. He tells her how she introduced him to the life of the rich and famous and many other details. The two had a son by the name of Paulo who Paloma never really had a chance to connect with. The story goes on to 1927 when he meets 17 year old Marie-Thérèse Walter and began a secret affair with her after him and Olga Khokhlova clash over his bohemian lifestyle and her insistence on social proprierty. Marie was the nurse of his family. Olga knew nothing about the affair until Marie became pregnate and one of Olgas friends inforemd her. A scene show Marie committing suicide 4 years after the death of Picasso after her living in vain for Picasso not wanting to marry her. That is when Palomas brother is born. After that Pablo becomes tired and Paloma returns home.

At Palomas home we see that she is a smart business woman with a fashion sense. She is very close with her mother and her mother begins to tell her the story of how she met her father in 1944 when she was 21 and he was 62. She explains how deeply she did love him. And tells her the reason she left her father is because of abusive treatmeant and Picasso cheating on her.

On the next day which is April 7th 1978 Paloma show disgust towards her father because of the way he used to treat her mother. Pablo tells her in a teary scence that he apologizes and that he never knew what love was. He says the day that her mother left him was a huge blow to his heart. He expalins how then began realizing how he was growing older and older. That is when he tells her the only reason that he married his now wife Jacqueline Roque is for revenge on her mother. They both cry together as they realize what they had been missing. At the end of the movie Picasso asks Paloma if she is coming to the party tomorrow and she says that she would try to. She then finds out that her father died at that party. At the end of the movie at her fathers funeral she see the children of her father and tells them that life is too short to not learn about your family.

What the press would say:

This has to be one of the greatest biography movies of all time due the fantastic direction by Pedro Almodovar in his first American Movie. He really captures the lost relationship between the two main characters in Joe Pesci and Catherine Zeta Jones who are starring in what has to be their greatest roles. They were even better than their Academy Award winning ones in Goodfellas and Chicago. The movies flashback scenes give the movie even more and it never lets the movie lose any steam. Gael Garcia Bernal is a fantastic young Pablo Picasso and deserves an Academy Award Nomination. He brings the young Picasso to life through not only his words but his facial expressions. He even gained weight to get into this role similar to what Jamie Foxx did for Ray. The woman are no fluke either as the breakout star is Chloe Sevigny who brings pain and disparity for not being loved the same way she loves Pablo Picasso similar to the fantastic love story in Brokeback Mountain. Jennifer Connelly brings another brilliant portrayal as a grieving lover. Hilary Swank and Gwen Stefani rounds out a fantastic cast that is sure to gain Award nominations from left and Right. This could also be the first time since Titanic that two actors playing the same role be nominated for an Academy Award. There is a brilliant crew also that deserves appreciation for bringing this movie to life.

“Two Thumbs through the roof” Ebert and Roeper
“Similar to his previous movies Pedro Almodovar he brings the audience into this brilliant movie” Peter Travers
“Easily the movie of the year, Joe Pesci is completely unrecognizable” Roger Ebert
“Chloe Sevigny and Gael Garcia Bernal show us why they are cinemas future stars” Richard Roeper
“In his first American Movie Pedro Almodovar proves he is one of the world’s finest directors” Time Magazine
“A screenplay to rival Casablanca’s as two of the greatest writers of this decade team together for this epic” New York Times

Possible Nominations:

Best Motion Picture of the year: Pedro Almodovar, Clint Eastwood and Stephan Spielberg
Achievement in Directing: Pedro Almodovar
Best Original Screenplay: Pedro Almodovar and Paul Haggis
Performance by an Actor in a leading role: Gael Garcia Bernal
Performance by an Actress in a leading role: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Performance by an Actor in a supporting role: Joe Pesci
Performance by an Actress in a supporting role: Chloe Sevigny and Jennifer Connelly
Achievement in Costume Design: Arianne Phillips
Achievement in Art Direction: John Myhre (Art Direction); Gretchen Rau (Set Decoration)
Best Dramatic Score: Hans Zimmer
Best Original Song: Gwen Stefani for “Art of Love”
Achievement in Film Editing: Michael Kahn
Achievement in Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski

As I Lay Dying

Author(s): Brett
Location: Wisconsin

“As I Lay Dying"

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Written by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Novel by: William Faulkner
Edited by: Christopher Tellefsen
Music by: T-Bone Burnett
Art Direction by: Gord Peterson
Cinematography by: Roger Deakens

Principal Cast:

Anse Bundren: Chris Cooper
Addie Bundren: Sissy Spacek
Cash Bundren: Matthew McConaughey
Darl Bundren: Ryan Gosling
Jewel Bundren: Heath Ledger
Dewey Dell Bundren: Evan Rachel Wood
Vardaman Bundren: Cameron Bright
Vernon Tull: Albert Finney
Cora Tull: Kathy Bates
Dr. Peabody: Tom Wilkinson
Brother Whitfield: David Strathairn
Lefe: Jake Gyllenhaal

Tagline: “My mother is a fish”

Synopsis: Addie Bundren is on her deathbed. She's frail, sickly, and slipping closer to the hands of god with every shallow breath. With her heavy eyes slowly closing, Addie makes her final request: to be buried far away from her Yoknapatawpha County homestead in her birthplace of Jefferson, Mississippi. With her grief stricken family gathered around her, she makes her final goodbyes. And then, she takes her penultimate breath…As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner's famed sardonic masterpiece, is the biting story of the Bundren family's hap hazardous pilgrimage across the lonely 1920's Mississippi backcountry. Filled with complex characters and a rich storyline, it gets a fresh breath of live from visionary director Bennett Miller and the Coen brothers, uniquely told through several different first person narratives. The story centers around six main characters, each with their own miseries, each with their own heartaches. First, there's Addie's husband Anse. A bumbling, toothless idiot, Anse is relieved with the death of his wife, and eager to make the trek into town so he can get himself a new pair of teeth. There's Cash, the painfully silent carpenter, assigned to the daunting task of constructing his own mother's coffin. Darl, Addie's second son, is the most ubiquitous center of the tale. Struggling with his own inner pain and agony, we see the Bundren world most uniquely through his tear filled eyes. We also meet Jewel, the bitter, profane black sheep who makes every attempt possible to separate himself from the rest of the family. Unbeknownst to his own father, Jewel is the product of Addie's sinful affair with the town pastor, Brother Whitfield. We also meet Addie's only daughter, Dewey Dell, who carries a painful secret. At just 17, Dewey Dell has her own ambitions for making it into town: to get an abortion. And finally, we meet the tragic Vardaman, Addie's mentally retarded 13 year old son, who becomes so grief stricken with his mother's death that he gets her confused with none other than a dead fish.

And so begins the journey. With coffin in toe, the Bundrens make their disastrous and strangely comedic trek through roaring rivers, dustbowls, and the occasional fire on their old broken down wagon. And throughout their dysfunctional journey through Mississippi, each character takes their own personal journey inside themselves, examining the relationship they had with their mother, and what will come to define them without her.

What the press would say:

Director Bennett Miller and the famed Coen Brothers team up on his sophomore film for William Faulkner's ode to southern humor in a tale of family, secrecy, and sin in depression era Mississippi. With As I Lay Dying, you are really experiencing six films of insurmountable comedic tragedy all intertwined into a single tour de force. With the sultry and sweeping art direction and masterful cinematography, the 1920's south is painted ever so perfectly across the silver screen. Each character, immortalized through the years, is flawlessly brought to life by the stunning performances given. Darl, played by the horribly underrated Ryan Gosling, brings truth and hope to this otherwise cynical and blackened dramedy with his eye opening leading role. Chris Cooper is wonderful as the despicable patriarch of the family with a hidden agenda. Also, look for the fantastically hilarious supporting roles by Heath Ledger, Matthew McConaughey, Kathy Bates, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Tom Wilkinson, Jake Gyllenhaal, and especially young veterans Evan Rachel Wood and Cameron bright, who despite their age portray their multifarious roles with the greatest of ease. The greatest performance, however, may just be by Sissy Spacek, playing Addie Bundren herself. Although her role is merely a sporadic array of flashbacks and missed memories, you will no doubt await her next appearance throughout the film. Her cinematic feat is ethereal, touching, and overall, a grand magnus opus within itself. This film is a brilliant, marvelous modern take on a famed American classic that will move you in ways you'd have never thought possible. With this film, you'll reconnect with America's first dysfunctional family all over again, and love every minute of it.

For Your Consideration:

Best Picture: Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Director: Bennett Miller
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ryan Gosling, Chris Cooper
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Cameron Bright, Matthew McConaughey, Heath Ledger
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Sissy Spacek, Evan Rachel Wood
Best Original Score: T-Bone Burnett
Best Art Direction: Gord Peterson
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakens
Best Editing: Chris Tellefsen

Balton Productions

Author(s): Brian
Location: Arizona

“Balton Productions”

Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Thomas Meehan
Lyrics by Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman
Music by Marc Shaiman
Produced by Laurence Mark and Martin Brown
Choreography by Susan Stroman

Principal Cast:

Harry Connick, Jr. (Dan Travis)
Christina Applegate (Julia Yates)
Minnie Driver (Wendy Albertson)
Jeremy Irons (Taylor Balton)
Tom Hulce (Frankie Balton)

Tagline: “All They Want is Showmanship"


Musical Numbers (In Order of Which they are Sung):

1. Showmanship (Company)
2. That’s What’s Wrong with Him (Taylor & Frankie)
3. This or That (Dan)
4. Showmanship-Reprise (Dan)
5. Start my Break off Big (Julia)
6. I’m Climbing up to a Star (Dan)
7. Little Favors (Julia)
8. But He Has Charm (Wendy)
9. Showmanship-Reprise #2 (Dan)
10. It Must Be Love (Dan, Wendy & Julia)
11. Out of my Sight (Taylor, Frankie, Dan & Julia)
12. Never Again-Dan’s Lament (Dan)
13. But He Has Charm-Reprise (Wendy)
14. It Must be Love-Reprise (Dan & Wendy)
15. Showmanship-Reprise #3 (Dan)
16. I’m Climbing up to a Star-Reprise (Dan)
17. Raise the Curtain (Wendy & Julia)
18. Patience is a Virtue (Company)
19. Natural Talent (Dan & The Chorus)
20. Showmanship-Finale (Company)

Very loosely based on the story of the Shubert Brothers, “Balton Productions” is about Taylor and Frankie Balton, two brothers that are the biggest Broadway producers alive. They have a slew of hit musicals, and are referred to as the greatest team of producers in Broadway history. They just happen to hate each other. So, to avoid contact with one another, they communicate through their agent, Dan. Dan is a kind man, but too accepting for his own good. Whatever Taylor and Frankie want, he delivers it to them. Dan puts up with their ridiculous demands and incredibly rude personalities mainly because he has always wanted to be an actor on the Great White Way. He figures that getting on the expert’s good side is a good thing. What he doesn’t realize is that he is starting to become the only one doing real work, as Taylor and Frankie spend much more time telling him why the other person is responsible for everything that has gone wrong. In need of a hit, Dan is responsible for finding a surefire musical sensation, which he thinks is in “Essence.” “Essence” is a spectacle about the rise of neon in the 20th century…told from the point of view of the neon. Taylor and Frankie adore it, and begin casting the next day. Or, at least they have Dan begin casting the next day. At the auditions, Dan sees Julia Yates. Julia is not particularly talented, nor likeable, but Dan has always been madly in love with her. He blindly gives her the role, and gives the incredibly beautiful, talented Wendy Albertson a simple role in the chorus. In order to get some prestige, Julia fakes falling in love with Dan, but secretly does the same with Taylor and Frankie. Wendy begins to fall for Dan, but Dan won’t pay any attention to her, or her constant requests to read the musical she wrote. Her show is called “Natural Talent,” and is about a group of Vaudeville performers. Though it is clearly ten times better than “Essence,” Dan is letting Taylor, Frankie and Julia live his life for him. He thinks that everything is going perfectly, until he catches Julia with Taylor and then Frankie. But, when he tells them that she has not been loyal to them both, they fire him. All of Dan’s hopes are crushed, until Wendy finds him and introduces her play to him. He agrees, and the two attempt to conquer the Baltons and Julia at their own game, and produce “Natural Talent” in the same year. Who will have the more successful show? Who will walk away with the Tony? And will Taylor and Frankie ever reunite? All of it unfolds in “Balton Productions.”

What the press would say:

“Balton Productions” is not the best movie of the year. It is not a life-changing experience. It won’t bring you to new emotional heights. What it will do, though, is give you two hours of solid, fun entertainment, along with some brilliant musical numbers. This musical comedy, directed by Mike Nichols, is not only the home to over 10 excellent songs, but also to five fine performances. Tom Hulce and Jeremy Irons play Frankie and Taylor Balton, the biggest Broadway producers in the history of the stage, but arch rivals. They are excellent, humorous and unique in these roles. Christina Applegate plays the cheap Broadway actress Julia Yates, and masters the role, delivering some of the biggest laughs of the year, and is even better than her exceptional co-star, Minnie Driver. But, the show stealer here is Harry Connick, Jr. who already proved his acting chops in “The Pajama Game” on Broadway, and does it again as Dan Travis, the struggling agent who is determined to put on a better show than his bosses. I simply cannot think of an actor better fit to play this part. So, if you are looking for a barrel of laughs, the catchiest of songs, the best of performances and all the excitement of a Broadway show, “Balton Productions” is the best choice out there. Also, it could easily become the feel-good Oscar contender of the year with a strong campaign in the following categories…

Best Picture (It’s not a Best Picture winner, but a nomination is well in its grasp)
Best Director (Mike Nichols)
Best Actor (Harry Connick, Jr.)
Best Actress (Christina Applegate)
Best Supporting Actress (Minnie Driver)
Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hulce & Jeremy Irons)
Best Original Screenplay (Thomas Meehan)
Best Original Song (“Showmanship” is the frontrunner, but any of the songs in this film have a shot)
Best Film Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction (expect this eye feast to clean up in this category)

Beach House

Author(s): Connor Campbell
Location: Carrollton, Texas

“Beach House"

Directed by Alexander Payne
Written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne

Principal Cast:

Ellen Burstyn- Patsy Turner
Blythe Danner- Betsy Carroll
Bill Paxton- Eddie Turner
Frances McDormand- Susan Turner
Kevin Spacey- Pat Turner
Felicity Huffman- Jodi Turner
Jamie Bell- Michael Turner
Evan Rachel Wood- Katherine Turner
Paul Dano- Andrew Turner

Tagline: “Fear the Love”


Patsy- “When you’re getting the shrimp, make sure it’s gulf shrimp. I don’t want any of that Vietnamese crap.”
Andrew- “How do you know if it’s Vietnamese?”
Susan- “They have slanted eyes!”

Synopsis: Patsy Turner hasn’t talked to her children since their falling out do to an argument during their last family vacation to the gulf cost. Patsy was a heavy smoker and a racist. She remembered that vacation vividly. The house that Patsy stayed in was called the Blue Marlin, despite the fact that it was bright green. There was a gigantic room in the middle of the house, which was bordered by two bedrooms. On the right, Patsy’s son Pat, his wife Jodi & kids Katherine and Michael stayed. On the left, Patsy’s other son Eddie, his wife Susan & their son Andrew slept & Patsy and her dog Diego slept in the common room. The house was a dump, despite the fact that you could run laps in the shower. Susan was never well liked by Patsy, and desperately sought her approval. Patsy was an uptight woman, the kind that won’t let you sleep on the couch because it was too dangerous. She even made a curfew of 11:00 in fears that her grandchildren would be molested in the tiny town of Jamaica Beach, population 1,500. One night, while everybody was visiting with Betsy, Patsy’s younger sister who owned a house just down the street, Andrew decided he would stay there for a little while longer.

Andrew walked through the door at 11:10 and Patsy raised hell. She threw things across the room and screamed so loud the neighbors could hear. Then Andrew showed her his nipple=piercing and called her a bitch. All hell broke loose. When Katherine tried to defend her cousin, her own grandmother called her a bitch and went outside to smoke. She went through eight packs and then came back inside as if nothing had happened. The next morning when Patsy blew the air horn to wake everybody up, they were gone. Betsy explained that they left in the middle of the night. Patsy got in her car and had a melt down. She drove home and quietly went back to work. That was a year ago. Patsy has been excluded from every family event. She sold Diego and drew a bath. 10 minutes later she got in…with a toaster. She was at peace again.

What the press would say:

Ellen Burstyn gives a captivating performance as the bitter old Patsy Turner. Her portrayal is so spot on that the academy can’t ignore her. Blythe Danner gives a lovely performance as Betsy, Patsy’s polar opposite sister. Betsy in the wrong hands is just an awkward character that doesn’t belong, but Blythe brings warmth and makes her lovable. The film could not work without her. Bill Paxton is wonderful in this film and he and Kevin Spacey look eerily similar. Frances McDormand is wonderful as the sharp, intelligent Susan Turner. She is so believable and I see her 5th Oscar nod coming from this film. Felicity Huffman is also great and has a wonderful accent that is perfect for this role. The children are also spectacular. Paul Dano and Evan Rachel Wood give great performances as the rebellious children and Jamie Bell is great as the laid back child. Alexander Payne’s direction is sub=par. Payne and Taylor have done it again, from writing two of my favorite films, Election & Sideways, they have managed to write yet another masterpiece.

Best Picture
Best Director- Alexander Payne
Best Actress- Ellen Burstyn
Best Supporting Actor- Bill Paxton
Best Supporting Actor- Kevin Spacey
Best Supporting Actor- Paul Dano
Best Supporting Actor- Jamie Bell
Best Supporting Actress- Melinda Dillon
Best Supporting Actress- Frances McDormand
Best Supporting Actress- Felicity Huffman
Best Supporting Actress- Evan Rachel Wood
Best Original Screenplay


Author(s): Brian
Location: Minneapolis


Distributed by New Line Cinema
Director – Ryan Fleck
Original Screenplay – Ryan Fleck
Production Design – Richard Hoover
Cinematography – Rodrigo Prieto
Original Score – Gustavo Santaolalla

Principal Cast:

Dana Carlson – Rachel McAdams
Patrick Kowalski – Ryan Reynolds
Lori Carlson, Dana’s mother – Helen Hunt
Peter Carlson, Dana’s father – John C. Reilly
Paul Kowalski, Patrick’s father – Dustin Hoffman
Cathy Kowalski, Patrick’s mother – Sissy Spacek
Kristen Jones – Maggie Gyllenhall

Tagline: “Once you come, you never want to leave”


:::Lori::: “Dana, you need to get out of here and finish your degree. Why don’t you just leave Patrick and get out of Bismarck?”
:::Dana::: “I wish I could, mom. This place is like a black hole. I try, but I just can’t seem to get out of here.”

Synopsis: Dana Carlson (Rachel McAdams) turns 27 this year. She is the mother of Sam and Ella, 21 and 2 months old, respectively. She lives in a dumpy apartment with her fiancé, Patrick Kowalski (Ryan Reynolds), the father of her children, in their hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota, depending heavily on their families for financial support and child care. Patrick is a crystal meth addict, and therefore cannot hold a job to support his family. Their life is close to shambles.

In momentary flashbacks, Dana remembers her life before meeting Patrick. She was a graduate of a prestigious arts high school, attending the University of Minnesota to earn a biochemistry degree. She was on the path to financial and emotional success. Then she began dating Patrick, who charmed her with his charisma, but slowly dragged her down into habitual drug use – first marijuana, then cocaine, then crystal meth. She dropped out of school. Despite consistent efforts to leave, Dana could not escape her relationship with Patrick. He was abusive, lazy and demeaning. The family was soon forced to move home and live on Dana’s parent’s (Helen Hunt and John C. Reilly) charity. Then came an unexpected child. Then another. Patrick’s addiction grows much worse, affecting his temper and demeanor. She loves Patrick, yet yearns for a life of her own, out of Bismarck. She wonders what her life may have been without him. One night, in a drunken, high rage Patrick beats Dana.

Then one day in the mailbox there are plane tickets for Dana and her children to Seattle from Dana’s old friend Kristen (Maggie Gyllenhall)… Dana has a choice – leave the life she knows and start over on her own, or remain in Bismarck. The repercussions of her decision echo through her family as she stands at the brink of a life-changing decision.

What the press would say:

Rachel McAdams gives the performance of her career in “Bismarck.” Her heartbreaking portrayal of Dana Carlson is absolute perfection, capturing her essence perfectly. Within Ms. McAdams’ characterization, we see the intelligence and potential of Dana, yet completely understand her difficulty leaving her present situation. She is certainly in the running come awards season. Her role is heart-wrenching and meaty, giving plenty of scenes for her to show the raw emotion this character lives through. She also plays the “de-glam” card, putting on nearly 40 pounds for this role. (In the flashback scenes, however, we see the lovely Ms. McAdams we are accustomed to!)

The supporting cast is terrific. Ryan Reynolds makes us understand why Dana loves Patrick Kowalski despite his awful actions. He plays the character to its fullest potential, creating a completely believable character of a meth-addicted man stuck in the rut of his hometown. Helen Hunt has a beautiful performance as Dana’s mother, Lori. She shows true love and compassion for Dana while expressing her views that Dana needs to leave Patrick and start her life over. John C. Reilly is terrific as Dana’s hard-nosed father. Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek are lovely in small roles as Patrick’s parents who refuse to acknowledge Patrick’s drug addiction. Maggie Gyllenhall shines as Kristen in her few flashback scenes at college with Dana.


Best Picture
Best Director: Ryan Fleck
Best Original Screenplay: Ryan Fleck
Best Actress: Rachel McAdams
Best Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt
Best Supporting Actor: Ryan Reynolds