Indie Trailers Spotlight: Main Street, Oranges & Sunshine, and Toast

Woo hoo, TGIF! I usually don’t post trailers on a Friday but tonight is our monthly Girls Movie Nite with my girlfriends, which had been on hiatus all Summer, and we’ll be watching a British indie called Starter For Ten. It’s a coming-of-age comedy starring James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall and Benedict Cumberbatch. I love the cast so I’m excited to see this one. So in honor of independent films, here are three trailers that caught my interest when I saw Midnight in Paris last Friday.

Main Street

Several residents of a small Southern city whose lives are changed by the arrival of a stranger with a controversial plan to save their decaying hometown. In the midst of today’s challenging times, each of the colorful citizens of this close-knit North Carolina community, will search for ways to reinvent themselves, their relationships and the very heart of their neighborhood.

All right now, I’ve got to admit the premise doesn’t immediately grabbed me but the cast surely does. Two British heartthrobs Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom attempting their best Southern accent, even that alone is worth a rent. I read somewhere that his natural accent is South East English, but he’s got a distinctive nasally voice that’ll always going to sound like Colin Firth no matter how hard he tries to alter it. Bloom’s American accent seems a bit more effortless though he’s not that convincing as a cop IMO, but we’ll see.

Another reason to see it is the fact that this is Horton Foote’s final screenplay before he died in 1995. He’s a Pulitzer as well as Oscar-winning playwright and writer who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies.

Oranges and Sunshine

ORANGES AND SUNSHINE tells the true story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham, who uncovered one of the most significant social scandals in recent times: the organized deportation of children in care from the United Kingdom to Australia. Almost single-handedly, against overwhelming odds and with little regard for her own well-being, Margaret reunited thousands of families, brought authorities to account and worldwide attention to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice.

When this trailer finished playing at the theater, I nudged my hubby and said ‘I have to see this one!’  I love films inspired by true stories so that alone is compelling enough, and this one kind of reminds me of Veronica Guerin and in some ways Sam Childers (the real Machine Gun Preacher) in that Margaret felt compelled to take up a cause and made it her own problem when others turn a blind eye. The story is based on Humphrey’s book Empty Cradles, and directed by Jim Loach, son of director Ken Loach (Wind That Shakes The Barley, Looking For Eric). This is Jim’s first feature film debut.

The mix of British and Aussie cast is fantastic, too. I LOVE Hugo Weaving and Emily Watson, and David Wenham should be getting more roles as he’s a pretty talented actor. I figure he’d be a good Aussie import alternative besides Sam Worthington?

Anyway, this looks really good. I hope I can catch this at the local cinema in the next couple of weeks.

Toast

Based on the award-winning book by Nigel Slater, TOAST tells the story of how the young Nigel falls in love with food as a little boy. It’s the ultimate nostalgia trip through everything edible in 1960’s Britain.

Oh my, Freddie Highmore’s now grown up! You’ve perhaps remembered him as the little tyke in Finding Neverland, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, or August Rush. This time he plays a boy who’s in love with food and this is the kind movie that’ll leave one desperately craving for pie when the end credits roll!

This looks like a heartwarming British comedy. It’s nice to see Helena Bonham Carter playing someone who looks ‘normal’ for a change and not so dark. She’s quite a comedienne so I reckon it’ll be fun to watch her colorful and playful character as the cleaning lady who bewitches Nigel’s widower dad.


What do you think folks? Any of these look good to you? If you’ve seen one of these films, please share your thoughts.

The Flix List: Five noteworthy young actors (under 30)

Talk about perfect timing. I had been jotting down this list when I saw yesterday’s assignment from Castor’s 31DBBB event is to make a list post! It’s day 2 of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project a bunch of movie bloggers are doing together in an attempt to improve our blogs and help each other become better bloggers.

Inspired by my recent ‘discovery‘ of Robert Pattinson’s talent, it got me thinking what other actors under 30 who’ve caught my attention. So inevitably he made the list, along with four other young male actors who’ve made an impression on me in the past decade:

  1. Robert Pattinson (24)
    I never thought of including this London-born actor on this list until I saw Remember Me. Sure, Twilight made him astar and gained him a bazillion fans, but acting-wise the franchise doesn’t do him any favors. Thankfully he seeks out understated rolesin smaller movies to showcase his acting chops. Let’s hope he continues to mix things up and learn from people like Leo DiCaprio who successfully shed his matinee idol image and become a formidable actor.
  2. Jamie Bell (24)
    The English actor first won me over in the acclaimed dancing drama Billy Elliot, he even beat Tom Hanks (Cast Away) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator) at 2001’s BAFTA! Since then been playing mostly under-the-radar roles: King Kong, Jumper, Defiance. Yet, even in supporting roles, it’s clear Bell is one talented young man. I haven’t seen Jumper but my husband who saw it kept saying how he stole every scene from Hayden Christensen, who got the movie’s top billing. He also won raves in the little-seen Hallam Foe, but hopefully his next movie, Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson’s The Adventures of Tintin will rightfully put him on the Hollywood map.
  3. Daniel Radcliffe (21)
    I had just recently discovered Harry Potter, which was an entertaining franchise to catch up on (all six movies in 2 weeks!). The movies are well-written and well-acted, mixing complete unknowns with award-winning thespians. Radcliffe obviously had the formidable job of portraying such a beloved literary character, and I think he pulls it off quite well, growing more comfortable as an actor as the franchise went on. He’s been known to take some risks in his roles as well, probably hoping to shed his innocent-boy image so he can have a fruitful career post HP. He took on the bizarre role in the play Equus, playing a boy with a pathological fascination with horses, even willing to strip nude on stage! He’s set to star in a Hammer horror flick Woman in Black. After that, he reportedly plans on going back to theater in a Broadway play How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Pretty versatile guy I’d say.
  4. Shia LaBeouf (24)
    Probably known most as the Transformers boy who’s the envy of every adolescent boy for getting to snog Megan Fox, I actually think this guy can act. He was rather good in Disturbia, which was a decent thriller, though its similarities to Hitchcock’s Rear Window got the studios in some legal troubles. Spielberg reportedly was quite taken with him, hence casting him in the sequel that should not have been made. Obviously the inept script didn’t give him a chance to do much of anything in that movie. Hopefully his next movie, which happens to be another sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleep, will fare better.
  5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (29)
    Gordon-Levitt is pretty much in a whole different league amongst his 20-something peers, having proven his craft in solid roles one after another: The Lookout, Stop-Loss, Brick, and the refreshingly-smart rom-com (500) Days of Summer. The phenomenal success of Inception will no doubt help his career even further. Though with talent like his, he hardly needs a blockbuster to get us to notice. The best thing about Gordon-Levitt is that he’s reliable, we can always expect an excellent performance out of him and not be disappointed.

Honorable Mentions (added 8/11):

  • Henry Cavill (I talked about this guy quite a lot, so it’s simply an oversight for not mentioning him. Thanks Dez!)
  • Freddie Highmore (He may only be 18, but this kid’s resume is impressive. He’s done some great work in Finding Neverland, A Good Year, and August Rush, among others)
  • Rupert Friend (Won me over in The Young Victoria)
  • Ben Wishaw (Bright Star didn’t blow me away, but can’t deny Wishaw’s acting chops)
  • Andrew Garfield (I confess I haven’t seen any movie of his, but I’m making an exception as he’s impressed me in three trailers: The Red Riding trilogy, The Social Network and Never Let Me Go. No doubt we’ll be hearing more about this kid in the future, especially now that he’s been cast as Spiderman).

Ok folks, your turn. Which young actor(s) have impressed you lately?

DVD Picks: Slumdog Millionaire & August Rush

I wrote these reviews before I decided on the Britastic blog series, but they work just fine because they’re both British-related. Slumdog Millionaire is directed by talented British director Danny Boyle, and Freddie Highmore who plays the title role in August Rush was born in London. They both also share a similar fairy-tale element in the storyline, but obviously these are two very different films.

Slumdog Millionaire

I finally got a chance to view the 2009 Best Picture Winner, and I’m glad to say that this one does live up to the hype. British director Danny Boyle paints a compelling and heart-wrenching rags-to-riches story that tugs at your heart right from the start.

The film centers on an unlikely teen, Jamal Malik, who grew up in the slums of Mumbai. He somehow defies all the odds to win the highest prize of the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and the story of how he got there and knew all the answers is told in flashbacks as he’s being interrogated on suspicion of cheating.

Though the one of the endorsements on the dvd cover says, ‘The feel-good film of the decade,” Slumdog Millionaire is actually tough to watch at times. Boyle doesn’t pull any punches in presenting the stark contrast between the haves and have-nots, and it’s fascinating to see how movie stars there are worshiped as if they’re immortal gods. The length Jamal took to get an autograph from one of them — who arrives on the slum via a chopper no less — is bizarre and devastating at the same time. There’s also scenes of unimaginable tragedy that these two boys have to endure that force that to survive on their own.

Dev Patel & Frieda Pinto

The heart of this fairy-tale is an unfaltering love story between Jamal and Latika, who also manages to escape the massacre in their village. Somewhere along the way they get separated, but Jamal refuses to give up on his long-lost love up no matter what the cost.

Played by three different actors, all of them portray Jamal with such heart and charm, though the older they get the lesser the resemblance between the two brothers (tricky casting I presume). Dev Patel as the older Jamal captures the essence of a young man who’s seen too much too soon, yet somehow retains that seemingly-uncrushable buoyant spirit. Gorgeous Frieda Pinto is enchanting as Latika, and the two share a believable chemistry even with so little words spoken to each other.

On top of all the great points I’ve mentioned above, this movie looks and sounds good as well. The cinematography is exuberant and colorful, and the music by A.R. Rahman compliments the urban realism nicely with its high energy and edgy beat. Kudos to Boyle for creating such an extraordinary film. His versatility is quite impressive, but whether he’s tackling a zombie thriller flick (28 Days Later) or sci-fi adventure (Sunshine), he rarely disappoints.

….

August Rush

“I believe in music like some people believe in fairy tales,” Evan Taylor tells us in the beginning of the movie.

From the time the movie opens in the lush wheat field, it sets the fairy-tale tone of the movie. This is the kind of movie cynics need not bother, as it insists that you simply surrender to its sweet energy and let it touch your heart. Really, once the music starts playing, whether it’s a refined symphony or the ‘music’ of the hustle and bustle of every day life, I was ready to be swept away. Predictable? Yes. But the journey is worthwhile to watch.

The story basically revolves around Evan Taylor, an outcast in an orphanage who never stops believing that somehow, somewhere, his parents miss him as much as he misses them. That dream and the music around him keeps the lonely boy company and helps him cope with the harsh reality. The movie is none too subtle in revealing that the young dreamer’s got an extraordinary musical gift, and he knew it’s the key to finding his parents.

Highmore and Robin Williams as 'Wizard'

The rest of the movie goes back and forth between Evan’s journey to New York — which also reveals the significance of the title August Rush — and the flashback story of how music is definitely in his genes. Throughout the movie, music plays an integral part, the blending of classical, hard rock and ‘street’-music was phenomenal. In fact, the music is a tremendous factor in what make the movie so enjoyable. So clearly the filmmaker is as passionate about the music as Evan does.

Freddie Highmore — one of the best young actors working today — first caught my eye in Finding Neverland. As the title role, the 18-year-old actor who was 15 at the time looks believable enough as an 11 year old, and he is affecting with his wide-eyed tenacity and sincere longings, even without much words spoken. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Kerri Russell as the estranged parents have a nice chemistry together, though is it just me or does Rhys-Meyers looks like he’s about to cry in every single scene? Robin Williams as ‘Wizard’ is not as over-the-top as he usually is, though his character isn’t fully developed and we never really know what his real motive is.

Beautiful parents: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers & Keri Russell

This movie is a real tearjerker so have a bunch of Kleenex handy as it was hard keeping my eyes dry throughout the movie. I find this movie far more touching than another musical-themed movie The Soloist, for sure this one is far less tedious. The cinematography of places like Central Park and close-up shots of instruments being played are beautiful, though in some of the close-up shots of the Evan playing the guitar, it’s clear that it’s a mature adult’s hands, ooops!

If you appreciate music of any kind and don’t mind a little schmaltzy-ness and grand happy endings, this is a movie for you.