Give Me a Break: MPAA Rating

I just bought “Nine” last night, and I looked while driving and looking at the back of the DVD, I looked at the rating and saw it was PG-13.  I can see that, it is pretty heavy on sexual enuendo.  Want to know what else it’s rated PG-13 for?  Smoking.  It literally says “Smoking”.

As a smoker, I had a prompt reaction, I sat in my living room, lit six candles and had three air neutralizer cans ready, watched “Nine” and smoked a half a pack of cigarettes.

I am a little befuddled, I was actually hoping to sue Rob Marshall, Mirimax, Daniel Day-Lewis and the MPAA when I get lung cancer.  But since it specifically says “Smoking” on the back of the box, I guess I can’t.

Give me a fucking break!

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Top 25 1/2 Performances of the Decade

I intended on making a list of Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (I did start with Supporting Actor). But I thought it would be better to lump them all into one solid and concrete list. I’m sure there is going to be much disagreement. So, let me know what you guys think.

25. – Richard Gere as Billy Flynn in “Chicago”

I honestly think Gere gets a bad rap – he’s an extremely talented actor who began the second act of his career with “Chicago”. They found the most unbelievable actor to sing and dance – and he knocked it out of the park. Gere supports this film on his shoulders and completely holds it together. His performances in this film paved the way for his roles in “The Hoax”, “I’m Not There”, and “Brooklyn’s Finest”. And what’s with “rom-coms”? Can people stop fucking saying that? It’s so annoying.

24. – Anne Hathaway as Kym in “Rachel Getting Married”

I didn’t see this film until about a couple of months ago. I don’t know why I strayed away from it for so long. I’ve always had this love for Jonathan Demme (even though I think “Silence of the Lambs” is grossly overrated and “Manhunter” is a far superior film). The way Hathaway breaks out of her typecast and breaks our hearts is wonderfully painful to watch. A quick note: I love the movie a lot, but the part I find most distracting (no, it’s not the wedding montage, I liked that part) is the actor who plays the best man of the wedding is like this shitty hybrid of George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Weird.

23. – Ray Liotta as Henry Oak in “Narc”

Ray Liotta has made a whirlwind of shit. He’s always enjoyable for me, even if he is walking through his role in “Wild Hogs”. I can’t help but always be captivated by him, I think he’s an incredible actor and has this way of commanding your attention. His performance in “Narc” is just fantastic. He plays the clichéd rage induced cop who’s seeking the killer of his partner. Liotta gained about 40 pounds for his role – and what adds to the gaining of weight, is the realism of the flashback sequences where Liotta’s character appears fit and trim. If you haven’t seen this film, do so soon.

22. – Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery in “Zodiac”

This seems like an easy sell, Downey, Jr. playing an alcoholic, drug addicted and charming beat reporter. But this was really the first role that he got to sink his teeth into since he’s troubled past. With his past experience with drugs and alcohol I feel as if Downey, Jr. could really play this character that spirals out of control to full authenticity.

21. – Mickey Rourke as Randy the Ram in “The Wrestler”

This is one of the best performances I have ever seen. What keeps this from getting higher on my list is the fact that I’m not sure how much actual “acting” Rourke does. I think he took elements of his personal life and mimicked them to Randy the Ram’s life. I know some people disagree, but I think that Penn’s winning his second Oscar for “Milk” was the correct performance to reward. Without “The Wrestler” Rourke would have fallen back to Eric Roberts land.

20. – Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream”

The fact that Burstyn lost to Julia Roberts makes me sick. I like Julia Roberts, she’s cute, funny, and has an amazing sparkle in her eye. That being said: she’s not an Oscar winning actress (although more so than Bullock or Berry). Ellen Burstyn gives the performance of her career in this film. This film may be the roughy of all roughies – and due to her performance this film will stay in my mind forever.

19. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack Slavin in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

Day-Lewis gives a remarkable performance in his most flawed film. He balances inner rage and compassionate love for his daughter Rose. You find yourself loathing his character due to his selfishness and incest riddled relationship with his daughter – yet you find it in your heart to forgive him, and to understand his true love for Rose.

18. – Paul Newman as Jack Rooney in “Road to Perdition”

Newman should have won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in this film. I felt that Cooper winning was his make-up Oscar for not even being nominated for “American Beauty”. I feel that Newman gives one of his most subtle performances in this film. He’s the loving father figure to Tom Hanks, but has to chose between his own son (Daniel Craig) and Tom Hanks. One of the most heartbreaking scenes ever filmed is when Tom Hanks finally catches up with Newman.

17. – Daniel Craig as James Bond in “Casino Royal”

This is how you reboot a franchise! I am a James Bond super freak and I own them all. I’ve had a liking for each individual Bond (even George Lazenby). I’ve felt that the producers have always gotten it right for 007. I remember being pissed when they signed Craig, I was a strong supporter of Clive Owen (who I still think would have been a great Bond – check out ANY BMW Films add on Youtube and you’ll see my point). Daniel Craig gives us the perfect James Bond. He’s a stone cold killer. The way James Bond should be.

16. – Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho”

I want to be Patrick Bateman (well…not the homicidal serial killer part). But deep down inside, don’t we all have an element of ourselves that is Patrick Bateman? Don’t we all from time to time get filled with disgust and greed? Or is it just me?

15. – Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in “Notes of a Scandal”

Blanchett is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and she’s one of the greatest ACTORS ever. She’s just remarkable in everything she’s in (well…maybe not that last Indiana Jones movie). As Sheba Hart she engages into an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old student of hers, which is both erotic and haunting. What she’s doing is wrong, but what gets done to her by Judi Dench is ten times worse.

14. – Alec Baldwin as Juan Tripp in “The Aviator”

Baldwin is remarkable in the way he’s rebuilt his career over the past decade. The guy went from being a tabloids wet dream. His personal life took a tremendous toll on his profession career, but with an Oscar nominated turn in “The Cooler” it spring boarded him into working with Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and his staple, “30 Rock”. As Juan Tripp he’s one of the most menacing corporate villains, standing second only to Gordon Gekko.

13. – Sean Penn as Paul Rivers in “21 Grams”

This is one of the most heartbreaking performances ever. How he won for “Mystic River” over “21 Grams” is bullshit. Probably because it was a Clint Eastwood film.

12. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in “Gangs of New York”.

Day-Lewis single handily saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been. If he wasn’t in this film to counteract the terrible performance of Cameron Diaz and the miscasting of the decade of Leonardo DiCaprio – this film would have been a sheer train wreck of a great director’s most personal project. How he lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist”, I’ll never understand.

11. – Ted Levine as The Warden in “Shutter Island”

Levine was only in three scenes in this film. He had only one scene that last about ten minutes with dialogue. This is the perfect example of less is more; by showing us everything about this character without telling us one thing about him. Levine is absolutely jaw dropping in this role. He shows us what a great, great actor he really is. This film should pave the way for meatier roles on the horizon for Levine.

10. – David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, Good Luck”

I think there is always hesitation when an actor takes on the role of an icon like Murrow. David Strathairn has always been one of my favorite character actors – from his roles in “Eight Men Out”, “The River Wild” and “LA Confidential”. In “Good Night, Good Luck” he finally becomes the leading man that he deserves to be. He’s absolutely amazing as Murrow and gives the performance of his career.

9. – Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Enis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain”

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about his performance as the Joker. I guess the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar said all that there could be said. And for “Brokeback”, he was overshadowed by PSH for “Capote”. What a shame, a real shame. It’s hard for me to pick which performance of his is better? Sometimes I lean towards The Joker, and other times I lean towards Enis. Face it, they’re both perfect.

8 ½. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini in “Nine”

Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor I have ever seen. I will challenge anyone who claims that someone is better. Sure, you can throw around Bogart or Brando or DeNiro. But I will stack his performance in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood” against any Brando or DeNiro performance. In “Nine” Day-Lewis talks with a genuine Italian accent, and sings (though he’s no Dean Martin) in an Italian accent. He is brilliant in this film, just fucking brilliant.

8. – TIE: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in “Doubt”

This is truly a team effort. The entire film is a battle of showmanship between Streep and Hoffman. The way they fight each other is as epic as Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader. The display of their acting craft is monumental, and will bring anyone to their knees. Watch this if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing to watch.

7. – George Clooney as Bob Barnes in “Syrianna”

Clooney completely broke his typecast in this role – more like fucking shattered it. He became an artist that year, actor, producer, director and writer. He’s a marvelous talent. This film is truly an ensemble piece that doesn’t have a lead actor – oil is the main focus and character of the film. But George Clooney brings the house down in his final scene. It floods me with overwhelming emotion every single time I see it.

6. – William Hurt as Richie Cussak in “A History of Violence”

This is the biggest example of less is more. The little screen time that Hurt is given, he uses it to the extreme. He’s absolutely unbelievable, and I think his character is much like that of Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”, he’s the final trial of the main character’s journey to return home to his family. His performance is burned into my brain. There are very few actors with raw talent like William Hurt.

5. – TIE: Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds” and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”

This is much like Ledger’s role in “The Dark Knight”. There’s nothing more I can say about their PERFECT performance. There is a reason both of them swept critics awards, won the SAG, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscar. This was their major introduction to American audiences. That’s one helluva break through! To be honest, I do have to give the edge to Waltz. He’s amazing.

4. – Julianne Moore as Charlie in “A Single Man” and for Cathy Whitaker in “Far From Heaven”

Academy, please give her an Oscar already! I don’t care if it’s for a lifetime achievement award! Just someone, do something! She’s absolutely brilliant. ‘Nough said!

3. – Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.

Colin Firth gave a performance like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never see a performance that is so…empty. He’s unbelievably touching and gives a beautiful performance that brings me to my knees each time I see it. We need to see more Colin Firth. Now.

2. – Jeff Bridges as Ted Cole in “The Door in the Floor”

This is hands down Jeff Bridges finest performance. If you ever want to see an excellent, perfect, mind boggling performance, try and seek out Tod Williams’ “The Door in the Floor”. Bridges is heartbreaking, just plain heartbreaking. Ted Cole will stay in your heart forever.

1. – Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”

This is the biggest tour-de-force performance ever on screen.

A Review: “Nine” 2009. Dir. Rob Marshall With Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Fergi, Judi Dench and Sophia Loren.

I had been waiting to see this film for years.  Ever since it was announced that Daniel Day-Lewis was to play the lead of Guido Coniti, the famed Italian director who was the bedrock of Italian cinema.  “Nine” is an accomplished Broadway play, and has been for years.  Raul Julia played the lead of Guido during its long run in the 1980s.  The basis of “Nine” is a musical adaptation of Fedreico Fellini’s masterpiece, as well as Italy’s landmark in world cinema, “8 1/2“.  Rob Marshall was the obvious choice to direct this film adaptation of the Broadway hit since his debut film “Chicago” was so well received by critics and audiences and garnished Marshall a Best Director nomination as well as the film winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards.  “Nine” isn’t as good of a film as “Chicago”, but I found it more – enjoyable.

“Nine” takes us to Guido, he’s ten days away from shooting his ninth film.  He’s Italy’s hottest and most prestigious director, thou his last two films were “flops”, his long time producer is promising an epic film about Italy entitled “Italia”.  A film so gigantic, a film so monumental it will change cinema forever.  It stars Guido’s longtime muse and international movie star Claudia Jessen (Nicole Kidman).  The problem?  Guido doesn’t have a script.  The film starts out beautifully, Guido is walking slowly inside an empty studio, the lighting is dark, his hair is unkempt and he is brilliantly smoking a cigarette.  He sits down in his directors chair and stares at the set in front of him, it’s a Colosseum where he’s about to shoot his “new” film.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido and the women that make up his life.

He sits, running his hands through his hair and trying with all his might to come up with, at least, the first page of the script.  Brooding music begins to play, he looks up towards the set, straining his eyes as Claudia (Kidman) walks from the darkness up to Guido, she bends down and gives him a kiss.  Many other women faceless women begin to walk around the stage.  Then comes Guido’s wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), and she’s so very beautiful in her modest black dress, her hair is up.  She’s beautiful without having to try.

As Guido rushes up to meet his wife, and the other faceless women move beautifully choreographed all around him, Judi Dench emerges, smoking a cigarette and looking down at Guido with a smug and loving smile.  Guido’s mistress (Cruz) then appears scantily clad and rushes over to Guido as his wife walks away.  Kate Hudson then rushes out and begins to dance with Guido.  As Hudson, Kidman, Cruz and Cotillard walk in a slow and very sexy circle around Guido – his mother appears.  Guido rushes over and grabs the hands of the beautiful Sophia Loren, he kisses her on each cheek.  Guido becomes overwhelmed by all the women as they all kneel around him and rub his body, they then all stand up and pick Guido up.  They carry him away.

What really worked was the setting of the film, early 1960s Italy.  It allowed the film to be ultra stylized, allowing the fashion, the sets, the cars, everything be so vintage; so beautiful.  The costumes in the film were as flamboyant as some of the characters in the film.  Each character wore something specific to themselves, something unique that showed us a lot about the character, instead of being told about them.  Kate Hudon’s

Day-Lewis and Marion Cotillard as Guido's wife, Luisa.

character was an American journalist for Vogue, and her fashion sense was that of the Jackie Kennedy era.  The way she wore her hair, the makeup she had applied all pointed to the signs that she is one very salacious American girl in love with Italy, and in love with Guido Coniti.  The way that Cotillard is always wearing something so modest, as to show us that she’s not a glamorous girl, she’s an average girl who was swept up in all the chic of being an Italian socialite.  Sophia Loren is so breathtakingly beautiful as Guido’s Mother who is passed away, and only shows up in flashbacks.  Kidman’s fashion is nothing less than pure Hollywood.  Her dresses and her hair is on par with the stars and styles of the time.  Cruz is always dressed in red, or some sort of sensual color – making her even more pleasing to the eye.

Daniel Day-Lewis delivers to perfection as he usually does, but this performance is different.  He’s performance is unique to the roles that he has previously taken on.  In “Gangs of New York” and “There Will Be Blood” Day-Lewis was filled with rage, he was exploding with violent energy and emotion, always spewing bile at everyone he spoke too.  He was a charging train that would stop at nothing, he would tear everything else down around him to be the last man standing.  Day-Lewis

Guido Contini fending off reporters while asking him about his new film.

shows us he weak side in Contini, he is vulnerable and he’s more subdued in his performance.  Guido is bursting at the seams as everyone is bugging him for a script he doesn’t have, a script that he can’t write.  With all this pressure he’s holding inside of him, Guido uses Cruz’s character to release it, but what really allows Guido to channel his inner rage are the two musical numbers he has.  It’s strangely odd and exciting to see Day-Lewis sing (with his Italian accent) and dance around the stage.  He never misses beat, and never skips a tune.  But how could he?  He’s Daniel Day-Lewis.  Day-Lewis was nominated for the Golden Globes Best Actor in Musical/Comedy but I don’t know if he’ll win.  The Screen Actors Guild ignored his performance and Oscar may as well.  Day-Lewis is too good in this film to be ignored since he gave one of the most dominant performances of the year second only to Colin Firth.

The rest of the cast is very good.  There’s five previous Oscar winners that star in the film, Day-Lewis, Kidman, Cruz, Dench and Cotillard.  Aside from Day-Lewis giving a pitch perfect delivery so does Cotillard and Dench.  Loren is exceptional as well as Hudson and Cruz.  Kidman’s performance wasn’t that impressive.  It felt as if she walked through the role, essentially playing herself.  Dench plays the costume designer of all of Guido’s films.  It’s as if she’s the surrogate mother for Guido, since his passed away.  Dench is so feisty and fresh in her role and is the solid rock that Guido can always depend on.

The lacking aspect of “Nine” wasn’t the fault of the stars or of Marshall.  The direction was perfect to the film, it didn’t seem to drag, nor did it feel like it was missing much.  The problem with the film were the musical numbers.  Even though every performer gave a good performance during their musical number and the musical numbers were well shot and choreographed, not missing a

Kate Hudson as Stephanie.

beat, but the songs weren’t as catchy as that of “Chicago”.  “Be Italian” performed by Fergie was the best actual song in the film, but the best musical number was that of Kate Hudson’s  “Cinema Italiano” is the only original song in the film, it will more than likely be nominated for an Academy Award.  Hudson gives this glittery go-go style performance during “Cinema Italiano” snapping her fingers and waving her arms in the air.  Hudson is so ravishing, so beautiful in the way she glides on the stage, the way she slides around, singing about the Italian cinema to Guido.

This remains to be one of my favorite films that I have seen this year, as well as one of the best films I have seen.  This film will defiantly make it’s spot in my top ten list, and Day-Lewis will in my acting list since he gave the second best performance of the year.  This is a remarkably stylized film that is getting a very bad rap from critics as well as audiences.  If this film would have been Marshall’s debut, this would be the film winning all the Oscars this year.

Review: 8 1/2 out of 10.