Posts Tagged ‘Bryce Dallas Howard’

‘The Help’ works with sharp humor, excellent acting

Friday, August 12th, 2011
Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in "The Help" Skeeter (Emma Stone), left, befriends “The Help” — Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) and Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) — so she can write an expose on the snooty, racist white women in a Southern town during the Civil Rights era.

Set in Mississippi during the violent Civil Rights era, “The Help” uses lots of crisp humor and sharply drawn, well-cast characters to empathize with the plight of black women working as house servants for self-centered, racist white women.

Tate Taylor’s movie, based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel, focuses on a white, wannabe journalist named Skeeter (played by Emma Stone) who interviews these black women and records their revealing, personal stories in an anonymously written book titled “The Help.”

It doesn’t actually change anything, but it apparently makes everyone feel better.

Adopting a light, comic approach laced with serious turns (“Steel Magnolias” comes to mind), “The Help” comes dangerously close to becoming another one of those white savior movies in which a noble and just white character selflessly fights for the rights and dignity of minorities unable to help themselves.

Here, the black women are quite adept at survival tactics to get through the daily injustices heaped upon them by the South’s continuing slave culture and the childish behavior of their employers, socially elite white ladies.

Although Skeeter serves as the main character who draws together the unheard stories of the invisible help, the real hero is Aibileen Clark, a black woman who puts her income and safety on the line to tell Skeeter the truth about her life and the insensitivity of the Southern culture. (Read more…)

Lives intersect in Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Matt Damon and Cecile de France in "Hereafter" George (Matt Damon) meets a French TV journalist (Cecile de France) during a book tour in Clint Eastwood’s supernatural drama “Hereafter.”

This movie may be as close to “Sleepless in Seattle” as Clint Eastwood ever gets.

His spiritual drama “Hereafter” begins with a harrowing act of God a tsunami wipes out an entire island village and closes with a subtle, gentle touch of hands, just the opposite of what we’d expect in a regular Hollywood film.

Leave it to Eastwood to direct a movie about the hereafter that’s mostly about the therebefore.

“Hereafter” seesaws between moments of moist tenderness and utter heartbreak, occasionally sandwiched between languorous scenes stretched to test the most durable of derrieres.

Eastwood, now 80, combines old-school storytelling with Peter Morgan’s New Agey script, and it reads just a little like M. Night Shyamalan on Prozac.

A beautiful French TV journalist named Marie LeLay (Cecile de France) becomes swept up in the tsunami in one of the scariest, best-rendered natural disaster sequences ever put on film.

Violently struck by debris, she drowns and becomes transported to a mystical place of bright lights and shadowy human figures.

But two Good Samaritans revive her. She continues to live her life, but nothing like she did before.

In London, inseparable twin brothers Marcus and Jason (George McLaren and Frankie McLaren) have been covering for their alcoholic mum so Child Services doesn’t take them away from her.

A terrible accident occurs, and young Marcus is ill-prepared to face a world tortuously alone and frightened.

George (Matt Damon) lives in San Francisco. He possesses a gift for communicating with departed loved ones, and no longer can bear the psychological burden of making money with his talent. (Read more…)

All the parts come together in ‘Eclipse’

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" Bella (Kristen Stewart) is torn between two inhuman lovers (Taylor Lautner, left, and Robert Pattinson) in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.”

Her mouth says yes, I will marry the vampire.

But her heart says wait, let’s not count the werewolf out.

In “Eclipse,” the third film based on the popular supernatural romance books by Stephenie Meyer, poor Bella Swan could literally be torn between two lovers at any moment.

The first “Twilight,” directed by indie filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, set up a straightforward, low-budget romance between morose high school student Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her undead classmate, shimmering Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) with a sparkly set of golden peepers.

The sequel, “New Moon,” directed by Chris Weitz, took a downer turn into soap operatic mush with lots of teen angst emanating from Bella, who wants to become a vampire, and from Edward, who at 109 years old really isn’t a teen, and doesn’t want to “bite” Bella until they are properly married. Who knew?

“Eclipse” comes from director David Slade, who gave us “Hard Candy,” an edgy thriller about a tough little girl (a pre-“Juno” Ellen Page) who traps a pedophile and sets out to neuter him with kitchen utensils. Right away, you’d expect “Eclipse” to be shade darker and nastier than its predecessors. It is.

Slade never lets the inherent silliness of “Eclipse” stop him from throwing everything into this project, which is part epic, part teen romance, part war movie, part comedy and as violent as a PG-13 movie can probably get.

Bella has real trouble following through on her plan to spend an unhuman eternity with Edward. She keeps leading on poor Jake Black (Taylor Lautner), the shirtless hunk of lupine beefcake who wants her for himself when he’s not in werewolf form. (Read more…)