Review: Carol to Attract Oscar Attention With Tale of Forbidden Love

carolWhile strides have been made over time concerning the acceptance of same-sex relationships, the new film Carol takes us back to a time when the world was not as understanding. The movie stars Cate Blanchett, turning in Oscar-caliber work as the titular character, an upper class woman who upon first look seemingly has it all — that is everything but the chance to live the life she was meant to live.

It’s 1950s-era New York and Carol and her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) are estranged, still bonded together by their love for their daughter Rindy (KK Heim) but torn apart by the frequent time spent by Carol with “Aunt Abbie” (Sarah Paulson). A suspicious Harge hopes that things have and can still change while Carol seems resigned to who she is and where the relationship is going.

One wintery day, Carol wanders into a department store where she meets a young shop girl named Therese (Rooney Mara), and a chance interaction finds the two of them bonding over a train set that Therese suggests as a gift for Carol’s daughter. There’s a spark of wonder for both, as Therese sees Carol as the bold, independent woman she’s hoping to be while Carol is attracted to the innocence and enthusiasm of a young girl with her whole world ahead of her and still trying to find her place in life. When Carol leaves her gloves behind, Therese takes the initiative and mails them back to her, which leads to an invite to lunch.

Where Carol seems very composed and aware of what her life is, Therese is more of a work in progress. She lives in an apartment that often needs the stove to keep things warm. She has an interest in photography, but has never pursued it. And she has a nice enough beau (Jake Lacy) who is mapping out the path to their marriage, but not one that she’s sure that she wants. The meeting with Carol shows Therese what life could be. It’s as if when the pair are together, they speak an unspoken language and when Therese is witness to a particularly brutal fight between Carol and Harge, she realizes that the world she envisions Carol having is not what it seems.

As the holidays approach, Harge is incensed after finding the strange young girl with Carol, sensing something is amiss. So he files for divorce and asks for full custody of their daughter and thanks to a morality charge in the filing, Carol’s world begins to crumble. Unable to spend the holidays with her daughter, Carol decides to get away from everything and asks Therese to join her on a road trip. Though witnessing the horrible scene between Harge and Carol, rather than run she decides to accept, and it’s there that the bond grows stronger and the roles begin the two women begin to change.

Carol’s the one less self assured, while Therese comes into her own, standing up for what she wants. Carol and Therese go from being kindred spirits to lovers, but as with most relationships of the forbidden kind, there are obstacles that stand in the way, with the ultimate will-they, won’t-they ending ahead, with the viewer left to interpret the ending.

Blanchett is all but a shoe-in for a Best Actress Oscar nod, but the better chance for Oscar gold may actually come from Mara, who expresses so much not only in her words but also her facial expressions, it’s as if you can almost see every experience emboldening her all the more. The bigger question will be whether Mara will be viewed as a co-lead or as a supporting actress. If it’s the latter, you could see her snagging her first Oscar for this meaty role, while a co-lead may split the two actress’ chances.

As for the film, Blanchett and Mara are both given well-drawn characters within the Phyllis Nagy screenplay and Kyle Chandler makes what could have been a closed-minded big bad somewhat sympathetic in parts. Even Paulson turns in solid work as Carol’s onetime fling and longtime friend. If there’s one flaw, it’s being hit over the head with certain symbolism — in particular the usage of steamy, raindrop-filled car windows that will make you think that every single car came with those panes installed at creation. It goes from a cool visual look to something that could be a drinking game by the time the film is complete. But that’s one minor flaw in what is an otherwise stellar movie.

Carol will be a familiar name come awards season. And you can look for both Blanchett and Mara to be gracing many a red carpet in honor of their roles.

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Posted by AC

‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ Trailer Tackles “The Truth”


The Divergent Series: Allegiant hits theaters March 28, 2016, and Lionsgate recently released a new trailer for the franchise’s third installment. In the film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) leave their family and city behind and encounter a whole set of new truths that culminates in a battle beyond the walls of Chicago. Humanity lies in the balance in this epic battle, as the courageous Tris faces her biggest sacrifice to date.

Though Divergent was released in 2014, the franchise’s stars have seen their careers skyrocket in less than two years. Woodley and Elgort received acclaim for their work in The Fault In Our Stars and Miles Teller proved he’s leading man status thanks to Whiplash (Fantastic Four, unfortunately, was roundly drubbed). The series may not be as popular as The Hunger Games, but Allegiant should be a box-office success when it hits theaters in spring (Insurgent made over $297 million worldwide).

Robert Schwentke, who helmed Insurgent, returns as Allegiant’s director. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!!

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Posted By: Greg Srisavasdi

‘Mississippi Grind’ With Ryan Reynolds Hits Blu-Ray In December


Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn play gamblers who go on a road trip to lay it all on the line in Mississippi Grind, a comedy-drama which hits Blu-ray and DVD via Lionsgate Home Entertainment on December 1. Released theatrically by A24 Films, the picture premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and also had a limited theatrical run this year.

Though pairing up Mendelsohn (Netflix’s Bloodline) and Ryan Reynolds (upcoming Deadpool) is one of the many reasons to catch this engaging film, the project is also aided by the self-assured filmmakers behind the cameras.

Writer/director duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden have amassed a wonderful body of work in their respective careers, which started off with a bang thanks to their 2006 feature Half-Nelson (the film which served as a turning point for Ryan Gosling’s career). Their follow-up movies Sugar and It’s Kind of a Funny Story were just as powerful, and the pair are adept at infusing compelling narratives in whatever genre they cover.

Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions come with the featurette “Two of a Kind: On The Road with Mississippi Grind.”

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Posted By: Greg Srisavasdi

‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ A Source of Inspiration For Director Kent Jones


Hitting theaters December 4, Hitchcock/Truffaut is a documentary which delves into the friendship between directors Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut. An avid fan of Hitchcock’s body of work, Truffaut was a budding auteur in his own right when he interviewed the Master of Suspense for Hitchock/Truffaut, a widely praised and educational look at how Hitchcock crafted his movies. The documentary, directed by Kent Jones, contains original recordings from their meeting as well as interviews with directors David Fincher, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Linklater and Martin Scorsese.

A lifelong cinema buff and filmmaker, Jones was immediately influenced by the book. “It didn’t exactly dismantle everything and say, ‘Hey, it’s really simple, all you have to do is this,” said Jones. “But it said, ‘These are the building blocks, these are the tools.’ So it really opened my eyes in that way. I know (it had the same effect) with David Fincher and a lot of other people as well.”

In the clip below, Jones talks about how Alfred Hitchcock’s career continues to be a source of inspiration for him (he also mentions Vertigo and Notorious as two of his personal favorites).

For more info on the documentary, go here.

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Posted By: Greg Srisavasdi

Sylvester Stallone On ‘Rocky’ Longevity & ‘Creed’ For The Future

Opening November 25, Creed may initially be seen as a continuation of the Rocky franchise thanks to the involvement of Sylvester Stallone, but now a generation of fighter has emerged in Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). With the Fruitvale Station pairing of director Ryan Coogler and Jordan for Creed, an entirely new chapter has begun.

Of course, none of these narrative would have ever taken shape if Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed didn’t enter the ring for their fateful battle.

“Everything I have leads to the genesis of Rocky,” said Stallone. “What’s amazing is this character in this story has stayed around without any special effects, any car chases (and) without blowing anything up, which is what I usually do.”

Click on the media bar below to hear Stallone talk about the success of the Rocky films and the hopeful new direction of the Adonis Creed’s continuing story:

Creed also stars Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad.

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Posted By: Greg Srisavasdi