Posts Tagged ‘Julianne Moore’

Julianne Moore, Ellen Page

Julianne Moore, Ellen Page


“FREEHELD” My rating: B-

103 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

A great tale trumps — just barely — mediocre delivery in “Freeheld,” a fictional version of the same story told in the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary of the same name.

Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a police detective in Ocean County, NJ. She’s a tough, creative and much-honored cop, admired by her peers and especially her womanizing (so we’re told) partner, Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).

Laurel is also a closeted lesbian, so worried that her career will stall if her sexual orientation becomes public that she has virtually no personal life.

Then she meets tomboyish Stacie Andree (Ellen Page).  Love blossoms, although the very out Stacie has a hard time dealing with Laurel’s secretive ways.

When Laurel is diagnosed with late stage cancer, she goes public with her sexuality by asking the Ocean County Board of Freeholders (basically the county commission, which runs the local police) to assign her pension benefits to her partner Stacie, who will at least be able to keep the house they have purchased and rennovated.

But all this takes place a decade ago, at a time when local pols weren’t about to set a precedent by giving a gay employee rights normally reserved for married heterosexuals.  So begins a long and painful legal and public relations process as Laurel becomes ever more frail.



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Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

“MAP TO THE STARS” My rating: C

111 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There have been plenty of great movies about Hollywood.

“Sunset Boulevard.”

“The Bad and the Beautiful.”

“The Player.”

David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” is not one of them.

It’s got a terrific cast (including recent Oscar winner Julianne Moore) and offers many observations about the pathetically fragile egos of those caught up in the celebrity/career cycle, and of the moral vacuum in which the entertainment industry operates.

What it hasn’t got is one character — just one — who isn’t either homicidal, mental, or otherwise set apart from the rest of us average folk. Now this may be a perfectly accurate reflection of life in LaLa Land,  but it makes for an uninvolving movie experience.

The screenplay by Bruce Wagner (“Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills”) follows the template of a classic Robert Altman film.  Take an evocative setting (Hollywood, Nashville, a wedding, a health food convention) and toss into it a dozen or so characters whose trajectories intersect at various points.

It begins with the arrival in L.A. of Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a fresh face from Middle America seeking her future and fortune in the city of angels. Did I say she had a fresh face? Not pecisely. Agatha has a huge scar on her left cheek and wears old-fashioned over-the-elbow lady’s gloves to hide what she says are burn marks.

She hires a limousine driver (Robert Pattinson, late of the “Twilight” franchise) to give her a tour of the sights and of celebrity residences. He’s actually an actor, he says, and is contemplating Scientology. “I was thinking about converting. Be a good career move.”


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Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

“STILL ALICE” My rating: B+

101 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“Still Alice” deals with such a disturbing topic — early-onset Alzheimer’s — that most of us will decline to watch it, and those who do will take their seats with the butterflies of trepidation in full flight.

It is well, then, that a big reward awaits those who take the plunge.

Julianne Moore has won the best actress Oscar for her performance in Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s drama, and it takes only about 10 minutes to see why. She delivers a brilliant turn that buoys “Still Alice” just when it seems too much to bear.

Moore plays Alice, who at age 50 seems to have it all. She’s a professor of linguistics at Columbia University and the author of a respected book. She has a husband (Alec Baldwin, doing a 180 from his frequent sleazeball portrayals) who clearly adores her.

The couple have two overachieving offspring: a lawyer (Kate Bosworth) and a doctor (Hunter Parrish). Their third (Kristen Stewart) blew off college to become an actress — not that anyone is paying her to act.

It is while guest-lecturing at a West Coast university that Alice suddenly loses her train of thought. After a tense moment she recovers nicely (“I knew I shouldn’t have had that Champagne”) and continues.

A moment of forgetfulness, nothing more.


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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johanssen

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johanssen

“DON JON” My rating: B+ (Opening wide of Sept. 27)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Former child actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has displayed his grown-up chops in recent years in everything from big-budget sci-fi tent pole pictures to edgy indie fare.

His feature writing/directing debut, “Don Jon,” falls into the latter category if only because of the subject matter.  Basically, it’s a comedy about masturbation.

It’s raunchy.  Also very, very funny. And beneath the lewdness, “Don Jon” has something like a heart of gold.

Gordon-Levitt appears in just about every shot as Jon, a cocky Jersey Shore Guido with a formidable reputation with the women. He’s got the look made famous by MTV – ripped torso and a ‘do that’s borderline skinhead on the sides, while the hair on top is combed straight back and gelled into a tornado-proof finish.

You might view Jon as this generation’s Tony Manero (the John Travolta character in “Saturday Night Fever”) with one major exception:  Jon has access to the internet, which means he can watch porn any time he likes. Which is pretty much all the time.

As Jon explains early on in voiceover narration – and he’s just being honest here – while he loves doin’ the ladies, he’s never quite at ease in the sack. He’s too conscious of the need to please, too uptight about the stuff he doesn’t want to do (cunnilingus, which disgusts him) and too disappointed about the stuff many girls won’t do (fellatio).

Which is where porn comes in. Snuggled all warm and naked in front of his computer, Jon can get his rocks off to just about any sexual scenario he can think of, and he doesn’t have to cuddle afterward. This guy buys Kleenex in bulk.


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“CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE” My rating: B- (Opens wide on July 29)

118 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 

“Crazy, Stupid, Love” isn’t just about cheating. It IS  a cheat.

But if you can buy its improbable premise, its jarring and sudden shifts in tone and its desperate desire to be all things to all people, you may find moments of real substance here.

It helps that this romantic comedy from directors Glenn Ficarra and John  Requa (“I Love You Phillip Morris”) features an astonishingly strong cast with several breakout performances.

Suburban husband/dad Cal (Steve Carell) is blindsided when Emily (Julianne Moore), his wife of 24 years, announces she’s been having an affair with a co-worker and wants a divorce.

Sad sack Cal finds himself sitting night after night in a bar bemoaning his fate and watching other people score. An expert in that pursuit is the suave, slick, self-assured Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who goes home every night with a different woman. (more…)

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Carla Gugino and Timothy Olyphant in "Elektra Luxx"

“ELEKTRA LUXX” (Now available)

I’ll watch Carla Gugino in anything (“Spy Kids” movies excepted); apparently I’m not alone in this.

Which may account for the straight-to-video success of 2009’s “Women in Trouble” and now this sequel, “Elektra Luxx.”

Both comedies feature Gugina — ravishing in blond wig and cleavage-challenging fashions — as Elektra Luxx, a legendary porn star. This new entry finds Elektra retired from the skin game and pregnant with the baby of a recently deceased rock star.

The films — both directed by Sebastian Gutierrez — are story thin and smarm rich. Basically they’re a series of loosely-related comic episodes (more…)

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