One of the films I most wanted to see this summer was JUNEBUG. It was the first film by Phil Morrison, a very talented music video director (he directed most of Juliana Hatfield’s videos and many others). I missed it during its brief art house run, but it is now on DVD.
The film is very good, following a Chicago art dealer (Embeth Davidtz) as she heads to visit her husband’s family in North Carolina. Very nicely done, with a lot of great details about Southern life. And not done in the typical condescending style of a lot of films.
But the real reason to see the film is one of the performances, by Amy Adams.
Looking over her filmography, I had seen her a few times before. She appeared in the Spielberg film CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (which I really did not like, even though I remember looking in the credits for her name, as I did like her in the film). And recently, she has even appeared in a couple episode of THE OFFICE, playing Jim’s girlfriend.
In JUNEBUG, from the moment she walks onto the screen, giving this sort of excited monologue, waiting for her new sister-in-law to arrive (“Will she be pretty?”), a star is born. This is, without question, the best performance, by any actor or actress, in 2005. For the past several years for that matter.
She is absolutely amazing in the film. Like a little puppy dog, she latches onto Davidtz, questioning her, trying to befriend her, it is just an amazing performance.
And oh yeah, she is pregnant and about to have her baby at any moment. This leads to the very emotional finale in which her character goes through an emotional roller coaster.
Roger Ebert recently wrote that if Amy Adams doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, the Academy isn’t doing their homework. There can really be no excuse for anyone who sees this film, and is voting for the Oscars, to not nominate her.
Her performance has been compared to that of Ashley Judd in RUBY IN PARADISE. Another breakout performance in a small, Southern film. I would agree with that, and RUBY is one of my all time favorite films.
The DVD has a great extra, a 15 minute videotaped casting session, with Adams practicing that opening scene of hers with the director. A fascinating insight into the acting process.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 9:08 PM
Friday, January 06, 2006
I guess you can say I’m a movie person who watches a lot of TV. In the past, TV was fun, but I took films a lot more seriously.
However, in the last few years, TV has been far superior. I don’t know if TV has just gotten better or films have declined, or a mixture of both, but at times, there is no difference in quality.
In 2005, there really was no question which was stronger. If a single episode of the top five series on my list were released theatrically, they would make the top of my film list as well.
And not only that, while I have yet to find 10 movies to compile a film list, I am having trouble cutting my TV list down to 10. I even cheated a bit.
So, here is my list:
10. WACKY COMEDIES (tie): Stealing from EW’s Dalton Ross with this combination, several different shows.
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADEPHIA: This FX sitcom, renewed for a second season, was a huge surprise. A group of friends running a bar, one review called it the first great Gen-X sitcom. I’d agree.
STELLA: This Comedy Central sitcom, from members of the sketch comedy group THE STATE. Great stuff.
WONDER SHOWZEN: An MTV2 comedy show, called Sesame Street on LSD was at times so over the line in its humor, I seriously took note of what companies advertised during it. What sort of demented program was this and how could they support it??? Then, at other times, it was the most experimental comedy show since Andy Kaufman. One episode was extremely dull, unfunny. So how do they get themselves out of it? Have a written apology on the screen for how dull it is, say “Let’s rewind this and forget it ever happened”. And then they actually show the entire dull first segment AGAIN, running backwards. Just brilliant.
FAMILY GUY: First off, I am not one of those guys. I HATED the original incarnation of THE FAMILY GUY. I was GLAD that Fox finally cancelled it. I thought it went on too long. But, I tuned in this season and what did I see? A FUNNY SHOW!! With some “Oh my God! I can’t believe someone else remembers that!” pop culture references.
9. THE SIMPSONS: Some people are saying “What is this show still doing on? Cancel it already”. You are missing out. The show is still at times as great as it ever has been. Besides, you really don’t know how good an episode is for five or ten years, when you have seen it countless times in reruns.
8. WEEDS: The Showtime series starring Mary Louise Parker as a pot dealing single mom was so much smarter and funnier than DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, you realize that no one must have Showtime since no one talks about it. With a great supporting cast as well, Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Nealon among them.
7: PROJECT GREENLIGHT: Once again, another great season, following the making of the horror film FEAST (which has yet to open).
6. MY NAME IS EARL: Zero expectations for this one, yet it turned out to be one of the funniest and most original comedies in a long time.
5. EXTRAS: Ricky Gervais’ follow-up to THE OFFICE was another funny show, especially because of the cameos. Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet, and Patrick Stewart have never been funnier.
4. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: What else can be said about this one? Ron Howard’s narration? Replacing Henry Winkler with Scott Baio? Bob Lablaw? Please, someone save it!
3. GILMORE GIRLS: The season of the big fight has been one of its strongest, and it has never really had a weak season.
2. THE OFFICE: I was all set to hate this show, or even worse, not watch it at all. I caught the first episode, didn’t hate it, but then also didn’t watch any of the subsequent episodes (because of the time slot). But, then I got the DVD of season 1, and absolutely loved it. Watched all of this season, don’t think I could love it any more. The cast is so good, I watched the Gervais version again (one of the greatest series in TV history) and for a while, was seriously thinking if some of the US cast might be even better than the original UK cast.
1. VERONICA MARS: I wrote a lengthy piece about this a few weeks back (scroll down to read). The only bad thing I can say, it has been in repeats for almost a month.
So, that’s the year. And I left out a lot of great shows, KING OF THE HILL (when it airs, and isn’t pre-empted by football), GREY’S ANATOMY, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, THE AMAZING RACE, AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL (the most addictive of the reality shows which had another fun season), and GHOST WHISPERER.
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 7:41 PM