Posts Tagged Abbie Cornish
Limitless: film review
Posted by Amy Steele in Film on March 21, 2011
When a drug called NZT enables a writer to kick-start his life, he quickly becomes addicted to the intense power it allows him. Once Eddie Morra [Bradley Cooper] takes one pill, he’s frenetically productive and accesses 100 percent of his brain. This gives him a photographic memory, the ability to pick up new languages within hours and amass all types of other knowledge. It’s addictive. How could it not be? It makes him a better, more interesting, more successful person than the struggling writer he used to be. He has idea after idea to make money and just can’t slow down. Eddie relies more and more on NZT and fails to consider what would happen if he runs out of the drug or stops taking it. When his drug connection gets killed, Eddie grapples with the startling side-effects of the unapproved super-drug.
Cooper excels as a smart guy who becomes brilliant, envied and unstoppable. You really root for him to succeed. He’s likable as a scraggly humble writer and with more confidence; his character only becomes that much more appealing. As the newbie and the seasoned executive, Cooper and Robert DeNiro trade plenty of snappy dialogue and provide plenty of twists. The delightful, talented Abbie Cornish turns in a refreshing performance as Eddie’s on-and-off-again editor girlfriend. And Anna Friel? Try to even recognize her. I didn’t. Neil Burger provides sharp direction that keeps the film tight and moving at a steady clip the entire time. Limitless is the best film I’ve seen this year.
Women’s History Month: some of my favorite films by women
Posted by Amy Steele in Film, Women/ feminism on March 16, 2011
Grace of My Heart 
written and directed by Allison Anders
–Loosely based on the tumultuous rise of singer/songwriter Carole King, Grace of My Heart is a tour-de-force and one of my favorite films ever. Starring Illeana Douglas, Grace of My Heart takes viewers through the music biz from the famed Brill Building to communes and the hip 60s and beyond as one woman strives to find her own voice in a male-dominated industry.
written and directed by Adrienne Shelly
–a charming and heart-warming film about an independent, spirited small-town woman [Keri Russell] determined to leave her abusive husband and make it big on her own.
Monsoon Wedding 
directed by Mira Nair
Away from Her 
written and directed by Sarah Polley
–a graceful love story about a woman with Alzheimer’s
Searching for Debra Winger 
directed by Rosanna Arquette
–documentary on women in film, which includes amazing and very honest commentary from stars from Gwyneth Paltrow to Whoopi to Vanessa Redgrave to Salma Hayek to Charlotte Rampling to of course Debra Winger. It’s great that these women feel comfortable with age but sad to see the frustration and that there still is the issue of great roles for women over 30.
Broken English 
Written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes
— story of Nora [formidable, immensely talented Parker Posey], a 35-year-old who seems stuck in a rut—both personally and professionally. Nora has become complacent and settled at her hotel job. She is beginning to delve into the Bell Jar after years of seeming to know what she wanted and now being at the age where she feels she should already be there.
The Namesake 
directed by Mira Nair
–the story revolves around Gogol [Kal Penn], a mid-twenties architect who has been fighting against his traditional Indian family and heritage. He gets pulled back in by an unforeseen family crisis and it changes his outlook and future forever.
Bright Star 
written and directed by Jane Campion
–wondrously languid, romantic and exquisitely filmed. It tells the story of the tender and tragic love affair between poet John Keats [Ben Whishaw] and his muse and love Fanny Brawne [Abbie Cornish] as told through her eyes.
Come Early Morning 
written and directed by Joey Lauren Adams
–a woman [Ashley Judd] who struggles with alcoholism tries to get her life on track
written and directed by Deepa Mehta
2 Days in Paris 
written and directed by Julie Delpy
–an American and a Parisian talk a lot, fight a lot
written and directed by Karyn Kusama
–focus on female boxers
written and directed by Sofia Coppola
–a wayward actor [Stephen Dorff] and his heartfelt relationship with his daughter [Elle Fanning]
The Parking Lot Movie 
directed by Meghan Eckman
–three years following the ins and outs of the attendants at a parking lot in Virginia. truly riveting. really.
written and directed by Laurie Collyer
–after serving a three-year prison sentence, Sherry [Maggie Gyllenhaal] returns to New Jersey to try to re-establish family ties, including one with her daughter
The Hurt Locker 
directed by Kathryn Bigelow
–heart-pounding thriller about the guys who diffuse IEDs in Iraq
The Kids Are All Right 
co-written and directed by Lisa Chodolenko
–the teenage children of lesbian parents decide to contact the sperm donor and meeting him has implications on the entire family
Please Give 
written and directed by Nicole Holofcener
Winter’s Bone 
written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
directed by Debra Granik
–a teenager [Jennifer Lawrence] searches for her father in dangerous, bleak meth-country
Has Bradley Cooper finally found a “Limitless” showcase for his talent?
Posted by Amy Steele in Film on February 22, 2011
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel
A copywriter [Cooper] discovers a top-secret drug, MDT-48, that enhances intellect and other abilities. As his life rapidly changes and improves, he also considers the drug’s questionable origins.
in theaters in March.
Overlooked Films on DVD: Bright Star and In the Loop
Posted by Amy Steele in DVD, Film on October 14, 2010
Bright Star, written and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano) is wondrously languid, romantic and exquisitely filmed. It tells the story of the tender and tragic love affair between poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his muse and love Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) as told through her eyes. She lives with her mother and two younger siblings. Quite popular among men, Fanny is known as a flirt and she has yet to settle into an arranged marriage like many of her peers. Love seems much more important to Fanny than money, even though her family is not a rich one. Fanny meets Keats when he and his boorish benefactor, Charles Brown (Paul Schneider), rent rooms at Fanny’s family home. At first, she’s unsure about Keats and even the value of poetry. She reads his first book of poems and finds that the young man has some promise. The more time the two spend together, the more fond they grow of each other. Unfortunately, Keats has no fortune and makes no money from his poetry. Fanny’s friends tell her that she should not spend so much time with Keats but the two complement each other and she’s already fallen for his charming demeanor and virtuous nature. Their pure and honest love gently grows and the bond between the two becomes powerful and enviable. In Bright Star, as Fanny, Cornish portrays nearly every emotion and it is a revelatory, refreshing and devastatingly stunning performance. Fanny is an independent woman, for that era, who needs no man to be happy yet finds the love of her life right in her own home, right under her own roof. Fanny sews her own clothes and is quite the fashionista among her circle of friends. She knows that she could even sell her clothes if she needed to make money. Fanny alternates between being achingly supportive and gently provocative. She remains extremely devoted to her family (her younger brother and sister often accompany Keats and Fanny on outings) despite the ongoing relationship. In his portrayal of Keats, Whishaw (Brideshead Revisited) turns in an introspective, yet commanding performance. His Keats is eyes and voice and empathy. Cornish and Whishaw have simmering chemistry. Campion has created an idyllic, artistic film which appears as beautiful as a watercolor painting. Each scene is so carefully executed and painstakingly acted that the audience shares in Fanny’s genuine journey with Keats. Bright Star is a serene, perfectly crafted film about the power of love.
U.S. Government staff filled with a “Master race of highly gifted toddlers.”
Hysterical, witty, brash British comedy the imagines the days behind closed doors at Downing Street and in other offices of the British and U.S. government leading up to the Iraq War. Basically the U.S. President and the British Prime Minister are gung ho [as history shows] to go to war but not everyone working for them is in agreement or in such a hurry to send the troops into harm’s way. In the Loop is about politicians who appear to be self-composed and put together and full of the perfect sound bites and then they collapse under pressure or are completely different away from the public and media. In the Loop is fast-paced and provides an insight into British politics as well as a bit of a viewpoint into what the Brits think of Americans [we are Rock Stars! in their eyes apparently]. Directed by Armando Iannucci and written by Jesse Armstrong and Simon Blackwell. An impressive cast includes: Peter Capaldi [Skins, Torchwood], Tom Hollander [The Soloist, Valkyrie], James Gandolfini [The Sopranos, The Mexican], Gina McKee [Atonement], Steve Coogan [Hamlet 2, Tropic Thunder], Anna Chulmsky [all grown up star of My Girl, Blood Car].
film review: Bright Star
Posted by Amy Steele in Film on September 22, 2009
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.
Bright Star, written and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano) is wondrously languid, romantic and exquisitely filmed. It tells the story of the tender and tragic love affair between poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his muse and love Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) as told through her eyes. She lives with her mother and two younger siblings. Quite popular among men, Fanny is known as a flirt and yet has not settled into marriage like many of her peers. Love seems much more important to Fanny than money. Fanny meets Keats when he and his boorish benefactor, Charles Brown (Paul Schneider), rent rooms at Fanny’s family home. At first, she’s unsure about Keats and even the value of poetry. She reads his first book of poems and finds that the young man has some promise. Fanny is an independent woman, for that era, who needs no man to be happy yet finds the love of her life right in her own home, right under her own roof. Fanny expresses her artistic sensibility through beautiful, elaborate dresses with detailing such as pleats or a “triple mushroom collar.” Perhaps this is why she and Keats strike up a harmonious connection. The more time the two spend together, the more fond they grow of each other. Unfortunately, Keats has no fortune and makes no money from his poetry.
In Bright Star, Abbie Cornish, (Stop Loss) portrays nearly every emotion and it is a revelatory and devastatingly stunning performance. Fanny alternates between being achingly supportive and gently provocative. She remains extremely devoted to her family (her younger brother and sister often accompany Keats and Fanny on outings) despite the courtship. Their pure and honest love gently grows and the bond between the two becomes powerful and enviable. In his portrayal of Keats, Whishaw (Brideshead Revisited) turns in an introspective, yet commanding performance. His Keats is eyes and voice and empathy. Cornish and Whishaw have simmering chemistry. Campion has created an idyllic, artistic film which appears as beautiful as a watercolor painting. Each scene is so carefully executed and painstakingly acted that the audience shares in Fanny’s genuine journey with Keats. Bright Star is a serene, perfectly crafted film about the power of love.
film review: Stop Loss
Posted by Amy Steele in Film on May 12, 2008
One of the guys in Stop Loss, just back from Iraq and out drinking with some friends says what many Americans are probably thinking: “All we need to do is drop a bomb instead of this urban combat bullshit.” Stop Loss tries very hard to show all the emotional distress this war has caused for those fighting and those at home.
The film opens in Iraq with an attack on a check point, a chase, and guns, bombs and blood… The frenzied cameras, gritty cinematography provide the adrenaline and also serve to provide the background story for the main characters in Stop Loss. The boys are soon home for a leave. Back in Texas where a parade welcomes them home.
Brandon [introspective and handsome, without being a pretty boy Ryan Phillippe] receives a purple heart. He’s happy because he’s out. He’s been the squad sergeant and everyone looks to him to lead the group and keep everyone on target and together. He served his duty and did his job. He went to Iraq after 9/11 for all the right reasons and now he’s disillusioned by the carnage he’s witnessed in the Middle East. After being told of his stop loss order, Brandon soon goes AWOL with the foolish plan to visit a U.S. Senator who told him to “drop by Washington if you ever need anything.” The themes of this film can only work in a state like Texas where so many are invoved in the military. In Massachusetts, for instance, there are no parades. Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) drinks a lot and cries quite a bit but desperately wants to stay in the military, despite his conflicted thoughts. And Steve (Channing Tatum) is the Hoo-rah, all or nothing, lifer. Although he has a quick flip out when he gets back where he fights with his girlfriend Michelle (Abbie Cornish) and digs a foxhole and spends the night in it fully armed and in his underwear. The three boys are the id, ego and superego for the war in Iraq. Tommy is the id, Steve is the ego and Brandon is the superego. Each guy’s story could really be a separate film.
It’s complicated and innerving to return from a war where when you left you knew, beyond a doubt, why you were fighting and for what and for whom. On return to have that sense of purpose flipped on its side must be devastating. There is little explanation for our involvement in Iraq at this point. The fighting is not being done to protect Americans but to keep a region stable that we made unstable. It’s really a tragedy that some many troops are dying for this.
By addressing Stop Loss, writer/director Kimberly Peirce [Boys Don’t Cry] who has a brother serving in Iraq, draws attention to a little known war time occurrence. As there is no draft in the United States (as long as John McCain does not win the election), by executive order, soldiers can be Stop Loss. This means that they can be sent back for additional tours of duty. More than they had originally planned on. In Stop Loss, Peirce tends toward being too ambitious in showing every possible angle imaginable (including an upbeat blind amputee at a Veteran’s hospital—one of the squad Brandon led). This diffuses the issues and concerns instead of making them powerful moments in the film.
Unfortunately the film attempts to tackles too many war-related themes and it causes confusion and disparity and makes the film wander. Trip to the military hospital and then the scene where someone who has been dishonorably discharged and commits suicide gets a full military funeral. I don’t think so. The bold imagery provides an emotional connection but it just does not fit. I know why, as a filmmaker, Peirce chose certain scenes. She wanted to tell the story of the war from all possible angles and in doing so needed these powerful images of coffins and pomp and military bravado. Surely Peirce means well and I wanted to cry and really love this film.
Stop Loss delves into the psyches of those involved in war and also provides mediation on the war’s effects both physically and mentally on those directly and indirectly involved. Unfortunately the film lacks levity and depth to make it truly memorable and relevant. I wanted to be able to tell everyone to run out and see it in the theater but I can’t. It’s well worth putting in your Netflix queue and that’s unfortunate because Peirce is a heartfelt talented filmmaker and there certainly are stories to tell about Iraq that focus on humanity.
STEELE RECOMMENDS: NETFLIX IT!
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