Zero Dark Thirty begins in
darkness, not the pitch of night or space; rather simply, it starts with
the black frame and voices. Instantly, we recognize the voices as those
belonging to desperate callers on Sept. 11, 2001.
The “story” of Roger Michell’s new film, Hyde Park on Hudson, derives from the personal letters of Daisy (Laura Linney), the nominal protagonist who happens to have been a distant cousin of President Franklin Roosevelt (Bill Murray).
The story of a family, with Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts
as the parents, that ends up separated during a tsunami. Their struggle
to survive and reunite gets a thrillingly dramatic treatment in the
hands of Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage).
Fracking, the controversial process to used to release
natural gas for collection, drives the narrative of the new Gus Van Sant
film, written by co-stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, but the issue,
which widens the already cavernous divide between Democrats and
Republicans, never truly takes center stage.
Summing up a year’s worth of movies can
be tricky. Top 10 lists often yield more questions than answers. The
subjective nature of the endeavor inevitably reveals personal interests,
quirks and prejudices, all of which can be either intriguing or
infuriating depending on whether you agree with a given compiler’s
Television gets a bad rap for being the
poor man’s medium. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of weak and
culturally regressive programming out there, from The Bachelor to Huckabee.
But because of its accessibility and popularity, fads on television
often represent greater cultural trends.
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) sure knows how to set the
bar a notch or two higher, just to challenge himself. He follows up his
Academy Award winning film by diving headlong into an adaptation of a
beloved musical and pushes his all-star cast (featuring Hugh Jackman,
Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway) to record their vocal performances
Fluffy family friendly alert! Old school grandparents (Billy Crystal and
Bette Midler) agree to take care of their three grandchildren when
their daughter (Marisa Tomei) and her husband (Tom Everett Scott), a
high-achieving new millennial working couple, are forced to jet off to
This Is 40 is only the fourth feature film directed by Apatow (following The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People), but he has tickled our funny bones onscreen as a producer (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Superbad, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Bridesmaids) and a writer (Fun with Dick and Jane, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Pineapple Express).