Film Review: THE QUEEN OF SPAIN (Spain 2016)

THE QUEEN OF SPAIN.jpg
The misadventures of a Spanish crew during the filming of an American movie in 1950’s Spain.

Director: Fernando Trueba
Writer: Fernando Trueba
Stars: Penélope Cruz, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin

Review by Gilbert Seah

THE QUEEN OF SPAIN arrives after its Gala Selection at Berlinale 2017. The film is the sequel to Fernando Trueba’s 1998 drama THE GIRL OF YOUR DREAMS which also starred Penelope Cruz in a story set during the Spanish Civil War with Josef Goebbels falling in love with Macarena Granada. The film, though not many are familiar with in North America won seven Goya Awards including best film and best actress for Cruz. But what is more well known, is that Cruz and director Trueba worked together on the 1992 film BELLE EPOQUE which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar. With that, THE QUEEN OF SPAIN aroused sufficient interest to get commercial distribution.

The film is not as good as the other two, and in fact quite a disappointment, considering the film’s setting and its ambitious political intentions. Trueba injects lots of comedy and melodrama and the kind of goings-on during the filming of a movie. The film is fun to watch but could have developed into much more.

There are many stories – in fact a few too many on display in the film. The most important of all is to the one considering Cruz’s character but a film director, Blas Fontiveros (Antonio Resines) that has got into a lot of political trouble in the past. He suddenly appears at the start of the film, like a ghost as everyone though him dead, but is arrested. With so many people in the new film that he has helped in the past, they decide to spring him. The new film that is made is an American Hollywood film shot in Spain by director John Scott (Clive Revill) who is so old, all he can do is shout ‘action’ or ‘cut’ between his naps. The main star from Hollywood is Marcarena Granada (Penelope Cruz) who falls in love with a grip (Chino Darin) on the set. Other subplots include the dandy American actor, Gary Jones (Cary Elwes) and an assorted Spanish crew including a couple (a lesbian and gay man) who marries for convenience.

The setting is the nostalgic age where Hollywood came to Spain. Clearly director Trueba hates politics and Franco for that matter and has a sort of love/hate relationship with Hollywood as depicted in the film. The McCarthy witch hunt in which screenwriters were banned from working in Hollywood is given a nice touch in the film. One such writer arrives in Spain and works under an assumed name.

THE QUEEN Of SPAIN is a well intentioned film which has taken too much on its plate. It still is an entertaining romp – a tribute to the nostalgic filmmaking times of the 50’s – a film in a film. Following its premiere in Berlin, which was met with a long standing ovation, the film was nominated for five Goya Awards held this past March, including a nomination for Cruz as best actress.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VfVvAlyeJ4

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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TV REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 07 – EPISODE 06

beyond_the_wall_1.jpgEpisode Titled: Beyond the Wall

Jon and his team go beyond the wall to capture a wight. Daenerys has to make a tough decision.

Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: David Benioff
Stars: Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington

Review by Mary Cox

As predicted, Jon Snow’s northbound traipse has ended in absolute disaster. Not only is Daenerys down a dragon, but now, the Night King has added Viserion to the ranks of the White Walkers. Killing the Undead is hard enough as it is! Real talk: why did Dany take all three dragons up North in the first place? When her Dothraki Horde went up against the Lannister Army, she only brought along Drogon.

The only clear explanation is that Dany’s got a crush on a certain boring brooding bastard. Daenerys’ conversation with Tyrion regarding naming an heir for her kingdom is yet another sign that the plot of this season is clumsily stomping towards a hookup between Jon and Dany.

This was an episode that proves that nobody in this show ever learns anything. Sansa, who somehow can’t seem to remember how this situation ended up for her father, is sending Brienne of Tarth to her death by making her respond to a summons at King’s Landing. Sansa’s poor strategic and leadership skills are starting to get a little exhausting.

Once again: what the hell does Littlefinger want, other than to stir the pot? In past seasons, his motivations have been a little clearer, as it’s established that he carried a serious torch for the previous Lady of Winterfell, but ever since Catelyn’s downfall at the Red Wedding, Littlefinger has been slouching and scheming around the Seven Kingdoms with no Modus Operandi other than a vague
interest in boning Sansa.

Predictions for next week’s season finale: at least one of our important major characters is going to die.

Knowing how this series works, there’s no way all of these characters are going to live until next year’s premiere. My money is on Brienne when she goes to King’s Landing, or possibly Cersei at the hands of Jaime. The White Walkers, armed with their new dragon, are going to successfully attempt to storm the
Wall. Sansa is going to continue making irresponsible decisions, and Littlefinger is going to lurk menacingly around a corner.
 
beyond_the_wall_2.jpg

******
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TV REVIEW: TWIN PEAKS – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 15

twin_peaks_13Episode Titled: There’s Some Fear In Letting Go””

Director: David Lynch
Writers: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Jay Aaseng, Joe Adler

Review by Mary Cox

After much theorizing about coffee and cherry pie, the key phrase that woke up Dougie Coop ended up being Gordon Cole’s name. Is Cooper trying to reenter the White Lodge through an electrical means? If so, is he finally going to get his shoes back? Who will protect him from the Mother now that Naido is on Earth?

Speaking of Naido, the collection of individuals in the Twin Peaks holding cells seems completely intentional. However, what possible situation could require an East London strong arm, an eyeless creature from another dimension, a corrupt cop, a drooly man who is heavily suggested to be Billy, and the number one falsetto songsmith in all of Twin Peaks? Fingers crossed we’re getting some kind of Josie and the Pussycats spinoff series. We also finally got confirmation that Audrey is the mother of Richard, but that’s hardly a surprise. What is weird is his acknowledgment that Audrey still has photographs of Agent Cooper in her home.

This series has a very unique way of replacing actors who couldn’t be in series or didn’t want to be.

We’ve already seen Sheriff Truman’s role rerouted, and The Man From Another Place/The Arm has been recast as a gigantic neuron, most likely due to his controversial comments and accusations towards Lynch. There have also been workarounds because of the deaths of characters, which we saw tonight with Phillip Jeffries being played by a gigantic tea kettle.

While a lot has been revealed directly in this episode, there’s still a ton of information right under the surface that you need to unpack in order to really understand. Remember the Jumping Man from Fire Walk With Me? That’s the guy with the long nose who appears inside the Convenience Store along with Bob and The Man From Another Place. In tonight’s episode, we got another glimpse of this character in a brief flash when Bad Coop is talking to Phillip Jeffries. If you revisit this footage and take some stills from it, you’ll discover that the blurred images of the Jumping Man are actually pictures of Sarah Palmer! Seriously, go check it out! This would perfectly explain Palmer’s odd behavior this season, along with her “unmasking” last week.

This theory also points to Sarah being the little girl who swallows the space bug in “Part 8” of the series. If we revisit the dates from the flashbacks of the show, everything matches up perfectly.

According to Mark Frost’s companion book, The Secret History of Twin Peaks, Palmer was born in 1945, which was the same year as the nuclear test in White Sands. The scene with the bug and the Woodsmen happens in 1954, when Palmer would have been nine years old, which matches up with the girl in the flashback. This makes more much more sense than the previous theory of Sarah being Bob
himself.

There were other cute moments in this episode, such as the conclusion of the drama between Big Ed, Norma, and Nadine. There were also more seemingly pointless banter between Audrey and Charlie.

Most importantly, Lynch gave us the heavy, tearful goodbye to the Log Lady that now deceased actor Catherine Coulson truly deserved.

The Body Electric

******
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TV REVIEW: RICK AND MORTY – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 05

rickandmorty1Rick and Jerry go on an adventure.

Director: Juan Jose Meza-Leon (as Juan Meza-León)
Writers: Justin Roiland (created by), Dan Harmon (created by)
Stars: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer

Review by Mary Cox

“The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy”

As predicted, Beth is visibly struggling with both being single and single parenthood. Her morbid horse hoof statue is indicative that Beth is not thriving in her post-Jerry world. Much like Seinfeld’s Festivus holiday, this season’s seems to be centered around the notion of the Airing of Grievances. Rick finally
gets the chance to directly confront Jerry about “ruining” Beth’s shot at a good future by knocking her up in high school.

As much as I’m loving every episode being a (sometimes literal) therapy session for our characters, using a mid-battle heart-to-heart as the backbone of every episode is getting a little old.

Despite the episode being focused primarily on Jerry and Rick, the understated star of the episode was Morty. We learn that Morty is the mastermind behind the whole premise of the Rick and Jerry episode just because Morty wanted Rick to get off his back for a minute. Morty’s confrontation of Ethan was downright sinister. We’ve seen Morty transform this season from an unwilling and helpless sidekick to a powerful protagonist.

The real question is: what is Morty going to do in future episodes with his newfound power and prowess?

******
“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

Film Review: THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK (USA 2017)

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK.jpgAdrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress.

Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Allan Loeb
Stars: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Nixon, Kiersey Clemons, Tate Donovan, Wallace Shawn

Review by Gilbert Seah 

 It has been 5 years since the announcement of the making of this movie and its completion after many delays and re-casting. Surprisingly, THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK turns out not that bad, but it is a far cry from the director’s first and excellent debut, THE (500) DAYS OF SUMMER.

The lead young actor, Callum Turner of THE ONLY LIVING BIY IN NEW YORK appears to be a clone of Joseph-Gordon Levitt in SUMMER, not only in looks but in certain mannerisms. Turner is not bad, charming, while portraying both the strength of a budding writer and a vulnerable player in the artistic world. The casting director seems unable to resist the casting of Wallace Shawn as a talking artist in one of the family’s famous artist dinner parties.

The script by Allan Loeb feels at times like a Woody Allen one, with multiple relationships going on at one time. No one appears capable of keeping a monogamous less honest relationship without sleeping with another and then substantiating it as all right afterwards. Unlike an Allen film, the guilt comes more into play in this story with each lover trying to right a wrong.

When the film begins, a recent college graduate, Thomas Webb (Turner) is given the news that the girl whom he has been seeing and has fallen in love with, Mimi Pastori (Kiersey Clemons) is leaving him to go abroad. They still love each other as they profess, which really means nothing in a film that tries to be as smug as this one, from the very beginning. Thomas ends up sleeping with his dad, Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan) mistress, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), while the poor mother Judith (Cynthia Nixon) looks on. It turns out that mother is not that innocent after all, as will be revealed later on in the story (no spoiler to be revealed here.) In the process of all this, Thomas meets, though too coincidentally, a neighbour stranger named W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges) who turns out to be his mentor helping him out both in his love affairs and life.

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK is a likeable film and director Webb (who also did the SPIDER-MAN movies) knows how to make a likeable film. Love triumphs in many ways and always does. Everyone in the script also ends up with his or her own little happy ending.

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK, which turns out to be the title of the book a character writes, will be inevitably compared to a Woody Allen movie for its look on the New York art scene and relationships.

This is the difference between Loeb’s script, Webb’s direction and Woody Allen’s works. Life does not always turn out to be happy endings. Allen’s characters suffer more, for their cheating in their love affairs and in general in how things in life eventually turn out. Life is not all plain sailing that turn out well. That is the reason Allen’s films are more endearing and realistic. And Allen knows how to put in more humour and sarcasm into his works as well. This film ends up a too smug arty fairy tale.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkjhAeF3b1g

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
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Film Review: BUSHWICK (USA 2016)

bushwick.jpgWhen a Texas military force invades their Brooklyn neighborhood, 20-year-old Lucy and war veteran Stupe must depend on each other to survive.

Directors: Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott
Writers: Nick Damici, Graham Reznick
Stars: Dave Bautista, Brittany Snow, Christian Navarro

Review by Gilbert Seah
 

 BUSHWICK is a working-class neighbourhood in the northern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighbourhood, historically a community of Germanic immigrants and their descendants, has been predominantly Hispanic in the late 20th century. The neighbourhood, formerly Brooklyn’s 18th Ward, is now part of Brooklyn Community Board 4. It has been the scene of extreme looting during the 1977 blackout. This low income working-class venue has been chosen as the setting for directors Murnion and Milott apocalyptic tale of destruction, chaos and survival.

When the film opens, directors Murnion and Milot prompts the audience to evaluate their most dreaded fears. As 20-year old Lucy (Brittany Snow) chides her boyfriend for being scared of being in the dark while leaving the underground (subway), he replies that he should get some incentive for not being scared As they converse, they notice that they see no one else. The place is deserted. Then appears from nowhere a man screaming as he is inflamed. The two run to the street level where the boyfriend is shot and she left alone. Lucy then meets Stupe (Dave Bautista) and the two newly met companions bind together to figure out what is going on. The script does not reveal the answer till half way through the film.

The film, written by Nick Damici and Graham Reznick is well shot by Lyle Vincent with an atmosphere of the end of the world scenario. The trouble is that audiences have seen all this before in a dozen or so films of this nature. With only two main characters, the film becomes not only more minimal but hardly credible. How and why has so much happened in the so few minutes that Lucy is in the underground? Do the audience really care? There is hardly any excitement created as no one really cares about these two characters. Also, any reason for this has been already put together in one movie or other.

The script is devoid of humour. The only funny part appears to be the name of the main character – Stupe. The film is quite violent in terms of wounds see on screen like Lucy’s shot-off finger and Stupe’s wound.

Actors Bautista and Snow do their upmost best to keep their characters interesting. The scene where Stupe has to pull out chard of metal from his leg, with Lucy looking on while burning it with red hot metal for at least 5 seconds to kill the germs, seems to be put there to gross out audiences but still with little effect.

The film is nothing more, than running around, shootings, more running around and even more shootings. More people get killed, then more running around and shootings. The film contains a lot of false hopes One is the search for Father John in a church.

Another appears to be evacuation by helicopters at a park. But when the climax comes, nothing much makes much sense. This film is clearly as the saying goes, a film with no head and no tail.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKvNp0PEkHY

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

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Died Today (August 20th) Jerry Lewis, Comedy Legend, Dead at 91

jerry lewis.jpgBorn: March 16, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, USA
Died: August 20, 2017 (age 91) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Married to:
SanDee Pitnick (13 February 1983 – 20 August 2017) (his death) (1 child)
Patti Lewis (3 October 1944 – 27 January 1983) (divorced) (6 children)

QUOTES:

I get paid for what most kids get punished for.

The doc told me I had a dual personality, then he lays an $82 bill on me. So I give him forty-one bucks and say ‘Get the other forty-one bucks from the other guy’.

Every man’s dream is to be able to sink into the arms of a woman without falling into her hands.

[on Stan Laurel] His magic was, he loved the regular man. He loved plain people, and he loved being one of them. He enjoyed participating in the art of going out into the world and getting in trouble.

My dad used to say if you don’t get nervous, you don’t care. When I hear that first applause, my heart spreads across my chest, and I’m as happy as a pig in s..t!

[on the 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor] I have such respect for Eddie, but I should not have done it. What I did was perfect the first time around and all you’re going to do is diminish that perfection by letting someone else do it.