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Happy Birthday Evan Rachel Wood

One of my favorite actresses, Evan Rachel Wood, turns 27 today. So in honor of her birth, I will review the movie that made me first fall in love with this quirky young actress.

Thirteen

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Written and Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed

Thirteen could have easily become a melodramatic lifetime movie special but instead is an honest look of a young girl’s struggle to assert her independence and be seen as cool. Evan Rachel Woods gives a phenomenal, gut-wrenching performance as Tracy. How she uttered the words, “no bra, no panties” are seared in my brain forever. The music and soundtrack matures and darkens the more Tracy is lost in her new world of sex and drugs. The low-budget cinematography is apparent but doesn’t distract too much due to the strong script and performances. This is a powerful story lead by an extraordinary young talent and small but great supporting cast.

 

9.5/10

 

Other great and favorite performances  from Ms. Wood:

Kimberly Joyce in Pretty Persuasion see review here

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Stephanie in The Wrestler

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Harriet Frankovitz in Digging to China

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Veda Pierce in Mildred Pierce

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Emily Lindstrom in  Little Secrets

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The Identical

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Directed by: Dustin Marcellino

Written by: Howard Klausner

Starring: Blake Rayne, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd

 

It took everything in my willpower to not walk out of the theater while watching The Identical as it had no redeemable qualities. It’s even more disappointing because they could have taken so many directions with the separated-at-birth songster brothers but choose the most preachy clichéd route instead of choosing to do parallel storylines of how both boys grew up and how the poor one became famous while the preacher kid only dreamed of fame. The script was painful to the ears and for some reason had the character farthest removed from the main action narrating the story, which was irritating especially because she said nothing of value or importance. The knock off Elvis songs were bland and just confused me to as why wasn’t the famous Drexel Hemsley just an Elvis impersonator, since he’s obviously embodied after him. Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd were horribly miscast, while Judd tried her best to be charming, Liotta figured yelling every line with a constipated face is how you portray a preacher. This movie became a chore to watch and felt I should have been paid to endure the longest hour and a half of my life.

 

1/10

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Foreign Movie Friday

Ida

Still playing in some theaters around the USA.

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Country: Poland

Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski

Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Starring: Agata Kulesza & Agata Trzebuchowska

 

Understated, beautiful, dark and surprising. Ida tells the story of a nun in the 1960’s who embarks on a journey before taking her vows. The story is intriguing, genuine, and heartbreaking at times all shot in black & white cinematography that did tend to linger longer than necessary. The juxtaposition between Ida and her Aunt Wanda, as well as life in convent versus outside is executed with tremendous finesse. And oh my God, Agata Trzebuchowska’s eyes, even in black & white, conveyed every nuanced emotion the young nun was going through. I don’t want to divulge too much because part of the enjoyment for me stemmed from knowing it was only a story about a nun, but this Polish film deserves any and all praise it receives.

 

9.5/10

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Throwback Thursday Review

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Extract

Original Release: September 4th, 2009

Written & Directed by: Mike Judge

Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig

 

Mike Judge delivers his normal dry satirical humor in Extract, but the overall flavor falls flat. The beginning showed promise but the further into the movie the more it began to drag. Judge tried to add so many small plot points to add humor but it overloaded the script and didn’t garner any laughs from this viewer. Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Wiig play their roles well but they’ve all had better roles. The standout from Extract was Beth Grant, a small-part  veteran actor, who shined as crabby line person, Mary.  People looking for the next Office Space should look elsewhere.

 

7/10

 

 

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Holiday Movie Review

 

It’s Labor Day so it only makes sense to review a movie about the holiday, well set on the holiday weekend.

 

LABOR DAY

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Written & Directed by: Jason Reitman

Starring: Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin

 

Although led by strong performances from Winslet and Brolin, the snails pacing of Labor Day left something to be desired. I’m not a fan when scenic shots blind me, so the over-the-top let’s prove it’s a hot summer’s day cinematography was annoying. What saved this movie from being a let down is the score. I was completely enchanted by each eerie yet sweet melody as each note set the mood perfectly. Also Winslet, as I hinted earlier, gave another brilliant performance that left me reeling while Brolin left me swooning as he played the escaped felon with a heart of gold. Pacing and cinematography aside, I still found Labor Day an enjoyable tale of love and longing.

  

8/10

 

 

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