Review: At Middleton

At Middleton

A College film for adults, At Middleton is about the complexities of post-graduate life. Though far too heavy handed to be a great film, its performances and sentimental script elevate it above simple mush. It’s sweet and touching, and altogether enjoyable.

Two parents are escorting their children to Middleton College for a campus tour. Edith Martin (Vera Farmiga) is the verbose and cautious mother of Audrey (Taissa Farmiga), a teen obsessed with language and glued to her phone. George Hartman (Andy Garcia) is the ironically named Cardiologist father of Conrad (Spencer Lofranco), a presumably aimless teen who never seems to appreciate George’s efforts. As their tour begins, Edith’s peculiar trepidation becomes palpable, both intriguing and annoying George. As her questions stray into the mortifyingly morose, Edith and George separate from the group to give their kids the embarrassment-free tour they’ve been aching for.

As Edith and George wander the campus, they gradually begin to relive their own College days. A tangible sense of nostalgia penetrates their experience of the campus, suggesting the missed opportunities and regrets that stem from hesitation and poor judgment.

At Middleton is stock schmaltz with sporadic injections of character and chemistry that elevate it above vapid feel-good status. It’s cute and quaint in spite of its propensity for heavy handedness. Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Higher Ground

 
 

I have always liked Vera Farmiga, although I came late to her party, only noticing her riveting performance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, planted in a love triangle between Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. While I am always a bit indifferent to directorial debuts (I’ve sadly skipped debuts from Helen Hunt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ruffalo and many others) but I guess I’m always drawn to the question of when and why people turn to god/religion/spirituality. Even though this is most definitely a Sundance type of films (home to many an actor debuting as a director) the interesting supporting male cast – John Hawkes, Bill Irwin, and Joshua Leonard – along with an interesting lead performance by Ms. Farmiga (if you haven’t guessed yet, she also directed the film) are enough to make me keen on seeing Higher Ground – as long as there is no Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the soundtrack. I don’t expect it to be Todd Haynes’ Safe, but few films are…

A coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of the Sixties, when feminism reached its zenith, the film depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community. Inspired by the resonant memoir from Carolyn Briggs (who also wrote the screenplay) the film is a study of one woman’s internal struggle with the primary love relationships in her life.

The trailer is tucked under the seat.
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Duncan Jones’ “Source Code” Trailer is Here

Welcome to Friday Night Videos here at RowThree. Tonight we’re featuring Duncan Jones’ sophomore effort, Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but two things strike me right away. 1) awesome. 2) looks like a slight variation of “Quantum Leap” meets Groundhog Day with Tony Scott’s Deja Vu replacing Punxsutawney Phil.

The premise appears to revolve around a military installation that is able to send a person into the shoes of a man who died in a train explosion over and over again until he is able to discover who the bomber is. Check out this fairly interesting trailer below…

 

 

UPDATE: Hurt Locker Still Leading Critics’ Awards. By a Long Shot

UPDATED: (01/05)Continuing into the new year, critics all across the country are placing their votes and announcing the “winners” of their picks for outstanding achievement in film in all of the usual categories. These are all precursors of course to the Oscars, with the pinnacle of those being The Golden Globe nominations which were announced in December.

Other than The Hurt Locker taking the spotlight in almost every case by a huge margin, early indications are not really all that surprising. George Clooney, current front-runner for a leading man Oscar leads mentions while Christophe Waltz is not surprisingly completely running away with it for his breakout role in Inglourious Basterds. Carrie Mulligan and Mo’Nique are also top winners so far in the leading and supporting actress categories respectively. Oh and even more surprising (at least to me, who hasn’t seen the film (update: I have now)), NY Critics give the best picture award to Avatar! Interesting.

Of course it’s still early, but other than The Hurt Locker taking home so many wins for best picture and best director, I’d say this is about as an exact replica of the Oscar ceremony as you’re going to see – at least for the five major categories.

Below are the Indiewire links to many of the critics choice awards around the country with the full results from the Boston and L.A. critics awards just for reference below that. Take a look below. See anything shamefully overlooked or is this about right? Does the uber-love for The Hurt Locker surprise anyone?

AWARDS and NOMINATIONS announced so far:
African-American Film Critics
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Austin Film Critics
Boston Film Critics
British Indie Awards
Broadcast Film Critics Awards
Chicago Film Critics
Cinema Eye Honors
Dallas-Fort Worth Critics
Detroit Film Critics
European Film Awards
Florida Film Critics
Golden Globes
Golden Satellites
Gotham Awards
Houston Critics
Int’l Doc. Assoc.
Indiana Film Critics
Las Vegas Film Critic
London Film Critics
Los Angeles Film Critics
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics
New York Film Critics Online
Online Film Critics Society
PGA Awards
Phoenix Film Critics
San Diego Critics
San Francisco Film Critics
Screen Actors Guild Awards
Southeastern Film Critics
Spirit Awards
St. Louis Film Critics
Toronto Film Critics
Utah Film Critics
Washington D.C. Area Critics

 

 

Best Picture:
The Hurt Locker 11 wins (NY, LA, NSFC, Las Vegas, Austin, Satellites, Houston San Francisco, Boston, Gothams), 13 mentions (PGA, Globes, London, Online, BFCA, Utah, Southeastern, St. Louis, Detroit, African-American, NBR, Washington, NY Online)
Up In The Air 7 wins (Dallas, Florida, Southeastern, Utah, Indiana, NBR, Washington) 12 mentions (PGA, Globes, London, Online, Chicago, Dallas, African-American, BFCA, St. Louis, LA, Satellites, Detroit, NY Online)
Inglourious Basterds 3 wins (Toronto, Phoenix, San Diego) 14 mentions (PGA, Globes, BFCA, NSFC, Online, Chicago, Utah, Dallas, Southeastern, Detroit, NBR, Washington, NY Online)
Precious 1 win (African-American Critics) 10 mentions (PGA, Globes, Dallas, BFCA, Southeastern, St. Louis, Spirits, Washington, NY Online, Satellites)
Up 1 win (Detroit) 11 mentions (PGA, BFCA, African-American, Online Southeastern, Dallas, St. Louis, NBR, Washington, NY Online)
Avatar 1 win (NY Online) 5 mentions (PGA, Globes, London, Dallas, BFCA)
Moon 1 win (British Indie)
Hunger 1 win (Toronto)
A Serious Man 9 mentions (BFCA, Southeastern, Online, Chicago, NBR, Dallas, Gothams, NY Online, Satellites)
(500) Days of Summer 6 mentions (Globes, Southeastern, St. Louis, Spirits, Detroit, NBR)
An Education 6 mentions (PGA, BFCA, Dallas, St. Louis, NBR, Satellites)
The Messenger 4 mentions (Southeastern, NBR, NY Online, Satellites)
Fantastic Mr. Fox 4 mentions (Dallas, Southeastern, Indiana, NY Online)
Invictus 4 mentions (PGA, BFCA, St. Louis, NBR)

Best Director:
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker 14 wins (NY, LA, NSFC, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Southeastern, Houston, Satellites, NY Online, Washington, Las Vegas, Austin, Toronto) 6 mentions (BFCA, London, Online, St. Louis, Globes, Detroit)
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air 3 wins (Utah, Florida, Dallas) 7 mentions (Globes, Chicago, London, BFCA, Southeastern, St. Louis, Detroit, Washington)
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds 2 wins (Phoenix, San Diego) 6 mentions (Globes, Online, Chicago, BFCA, St. Louis, Detroit, Washington)
Lee Daniels, Precious 1 win (African-American) 4 mentions (BFCA, Spirits, Satellites, Washington)
Clint Eastwood, Invictus 1 win (NBR) 3 mentions (Globes, BFCA, Washington)
Spike Jonze, Where The Wild Things Are 1 win (Indiana) 1 mention (Chicago)
Andrea Arnold, Fish Tank 1 win (British Indie)
Pete Docter, Up 1 win (Detroit)
James Cameron, Avatar 4 mentions (London, Online, Globes, BFCA)

Best Actor:
George Clooney, Up in the Air 9 wins (NY, Dallas, Phoenix, Indiana, Florida, NBR, Houston, Southeastern, Washington) 9 mentions (Globes, Online, Chicago, SAGs, London, BFCA, St. Louis, Detroit, Satellites)
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker 5 wins (NSFC, Las Vegas, Chicago, Satellites, Boston) 8 mentions (SAGs, Online, Utah, Southeastern, Indiana, BFCA, St. Louis, Washington)
Colin Firth, A Single Man 4 wins (Austin, Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco) 7 mentions (Globes, SAGs, BFCA, LA, Spirits, Washington, Satellites)
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart 2 wins (LA, NY Online) 10 mentions (SAGs, Chicago, NSFC, Online, London, Globes, BFCA, St. Louis, Spirits, Satellites)
Morgan Freeman, Invictus 2 wins (African-American, NBR) 5 mentions (SAGs, Globes, BFCA, St. Louis, Washington)
Viggo Mortensen, The Road 1 win (Utah) 2 mentions (BFCA, Washington)
Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant 1 win (Toronto) 1 mention (NSFC)
Tom Hardy, Bronson 1 win (British Indie)
Matt Damon, The Informant! 4 mentions (Globes, Chicago, Detroit, Satelllites)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer 3 mentions (Globes, Spirits, Detroit)
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man 1 win (Satellites) 3 mentions (London, Globes, Chicago)

Best Actress:
Carey Mulligan, An Education 9 wins (NBR, Toronto, Dallas, San Diego, Utah, Chicago, Washington, Indiana, British Indie) 9 mentions (Globes, SAGs, London, Online, BFCA, St. Louis, LA, Detroit, Satellites)
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia 7 wins (NY, San Francisco, Phoenix, Boston, Satellites, Southeastern, NY Online) 12 mentions (Globes, BFCA, SAGs, NSFC, Online, Chicago, London, Indiana, St. Louis, Detroit, Washington)
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious 3 wins (Detroit, Florida, Las Vegas) 9 mentions (Globes, SAGs, Chicago, BFCA, Online, Southeastern, St. Louis, Washington, Spirits)
Yolande Moreau, Seraphine 2 wins (NSFC, LA)
Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds 1 win (Austin) 1 mention (Online)
Nicole Beharie, American Violet 1 win (African-American)
Shoreh Aghdashloo, The Stoning of Soraya M. 1 win (Satellites)
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side 4 mentions (SAGs, Globes, BFCA, Washington)
Abbie Cornish, Bright Star 4 mentions (Chicago, NSFC, London, Satellites)
Maya Rudolph, Away We Go 4 mentions (Chicago, Utah, St. Louis, Washington)

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 148 – Top 10 Actresses of 2009; Avatar

Episode 148:

SPOILERS ALERT!
Anticipated for many months now, James Cameron’s Avatar is finally upon us and all we can muster up is a lot of bitching. Maybe not fair to a guy we have grown up with and loved over the years or to a movie that is not based on a video game, remake or previous existing property, perhaps. The criticism is as valid as the heap of praise for the last monster-sized blockbuster of 2009. We switch gears from negative to positive rather abruptly with our top ten picks of best female performances in 2009 and even reminisce on some Mike Judge and other DVD releases this week. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below and by all means post your own top ten. We’d love to see it.
Thanks for listening!

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To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://www.rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_09/episode_148.mp3

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67th Annual Golden Globe Nominations

I know that the thumbs snubbed at the Golden Globes each year is just something I have to deal with, but honestly, there are things to really like about this award ceremony. One, it splits up the acting awards into two groups: drama and musical or comedy. The ceremony itself is rather short and to the point which I rather like and maybe most importantly to us bloggers/readers, it’s the award show that most clearly gives us an indication of what to expect from The Academy.

So with all that in mind and still expecting the vitriol in the comments below, here are the nominees for the 2009 Golden Globe Awards. Not too surprisingly, Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air takes the cake with 6 nominations and NINE comes to the table with 5 nods.

Who do you think got snubbed and who shouldbn’t be here? I might make the case that the great Meryl Streep competing against herself is at least discussion worthy, if not kind of cheap. Presentation of the awards will be telecast live on NBC at 8pm EST on Sunday, January 17th.

MOVIES

BEST MOTION PICTURE, DRAMA
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up in the Air

BEST MOTION PICTURE, MUSICAL OR COMEDY
(500) Days of Summer
The Hangover
It’s Complicated
Julie and Julia
Nine

BEST DIRECTOR
Katherine Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

BEST DRAMATIC ACTOR
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Tobey Maguire, Brothers

BEST DRAMATIC ACTRESS
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

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Cinecast Episode 146 – Born to Douche

Episode 146:

SPOILERS ALERT!
National Board of Review gave their highest honor this year to Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. The boys in the third row along with Matt Gamble managed to catch this latest effort starring George Clooney and we’ll let you know what we thought with another full-fledged spoiler review. Also, after checking out the confusing trailer from Jim Sheridan’s remake of Brothers, we weren’t quite sure what to think. We do now and we’ll let you know what that is. We’ve got some DVD discussions and a long overdue top five list.

Thanks for listening!

Click the Audio Icon below to listen in:


show content


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To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
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Review: Up In The Air

UpInTheAir-tiffStill

George Clooney has come full circle in his stardom. Getting a romantic and engaging ‘time-out’ with Jennifer Lopez after she blows off a couple of traveling corporate types flirting in the lounge, his character in the latest Jason Reitman comedy, Ryan Bingham, is exactly one of those transient and boring corporate drones. Being George Clooney (particularly in a suit) he still manages to find a willing and no-strings-attached lady friend in the gorgeous and mature Vera Farmiga. But I am getting ahead of myself here, Ryan makes a living downsizing employees for corporations timid (for personal or legal reasons) of doing the dirty work (involuntary severance packages). This means a lot of time on the road between auto companies and banking institutions, you know the places hit the hardest in late 2008.

Bingham has also downsized his own life, whether because of the emotional toll his job takes (albeit is is damn good at it), or for other less clear reasons, to become the self-described “wealthiest homeless man in America.” No long term relationships and little connection with his extended family, he is happy to only spend a small fraction of the year in his tiny barely adorned apartment. Instead his existence is all transience and freedom; in hotel suites, courtesy lounges and other travel-holding zones across America. All the while collecting loyalty points. Lots and lots of Loyalty points. It is not the money or the ability to travel around the world several times on his accumulated tally, it is the status of the thing. He is proud and confident to skip airport and check-in, to board and exit airports in the most efficient manner possible rewarded by his status, but also has the goal of hitting a point total that earns him a recognition only 7 other people have achieved in their lifetime (“less than have walked on the moon”) and he is well under 50.

Much like his life, his baggage is smallest of carry on bags packed efficiently with neat, anonymous suits and toiletries. Rolling smoothly along from town to town he also gives paid talks on how to be the most efficient business traveler, using an empty backpack as a metaphor for mobility and movement as a metaphor for life. Material things like a house or a car weigh you down, and relationships are the heaviest, he pontificates to the other road warriors. The philosophy he spouts in his ballroom seminars is practically a pithy and institutionalized version of Tyler Durden’s 20th century ‘freedom-from-stuff monologues’ in Fight Club. Ironic that Bingham (the shiny mirror image of ragged Durden) is often wearing that cornflower blue tie to match his pressed suits. Philosophy is so malleable these days.

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TIFF 09 Review: Up In The Air

UpInTheAir-tiffStill

George Clooney has come full circle in his stardom. Getting a romantic and engaging ‘time-out’ with Jennifer Lopez after she blows off a couple of traveling corporate types flirting in the lounge, his character in the latest Jason Reitman comedy, Ryan Bingham, is exactly one of those transient and boring corporate drones. Being George Clooney (particularly in a suit) he still manages to find a willing and no-strings-attached lady friend in the gorgeous and mature Vera Farmiga. But I am getting ahead of myself here, Ryan makes a living downsizing employees for corporations timid (for personal or legal reason) of doing the dirty work (involuntary severance packages). This means a lot of time on the road between auto companies and banking institutions, you know the places hit the hardest in late 2008.

Bingham has also downsized his own life, whether because of the emotional toll his job takes (albeit is is damn good at it), or for other less clear reasons, to become the self-described “wealthiest homeless man in America.” No long term relationships and little connection with his extended family, he is happy to only spend a small fraction of the year in his tiny barely adorned apartment. Instead his existence is all transience and freedom; in hotel suites, courtesy lounges and other travel-holding zones across America. All the while collecting loyalty points. Lots and lots of Loyalty points. It is not the money or the ability to travel around the world several times on his accumulated tally, it is the status of the thing. He is proud and confident to skip airport and check-in, to board and exit airports in the most efficient manner possible rewarded by his status, but also has the goal of hitting a point total that earns him a recognition only 7 other people have achieved in their lifetime (“less than have walked on the moon”) and he is well under 50.

Much like his life, his baggage is smallest of carry on bags packed efficiently with neat, anonymous suits and toiletries. Rolling smoothly along from town to town he also gives paid talks on how to be the most efficient business traveler, using an empty backpack as a metaphor for mobility and movement as a metaphor for life. Material things like a house or a car weigh you down, and relationships are the heaviest, he pontificates to the other road warriors. The philosophy he spouts in his ballroom seminars is practically a pithy and institutionalized version of Tyler Durden’s 20th century ‘freedom-from-stuff monologues’ in Fight Club. Ironic that Bingham (the shiny mirror image of ragged Durden) is often wearing that cornflower blue tie to match his pressed suits. Philosophy is so malleable these days.

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Up In the Air Promises to Be Great

UpInTheAirMovieStillI was impressed by the first clip from Jason Reitman’s Up In the Air. It suggested a fun film about a guy (Clooney) who lives out of his bag. A travelling salesman of a sort that, rather than selling, makes a living by firing people.

The first teaser for the film has surfaced and it doesn’t simply suggest that this is something to watch out for, it squarely cements Reitman’s newest effort as a must watch. Perhaps the trailer is misleading (Thank You For Smoking had a fantastic trailer and though the film was good, it wasn’t great) but Clooney’s feel good speech accompanied by images from his life doesn’t necessarily say much about the story but it clearly outlines what we can expect: a smart, well written drama about a man putting his life in order.

Up In the Air opens on December 4th.

Teaser trailer is tucked under the seat!

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