As I did a man crush post on Monday, it seemed only natural to do one for Woman Crushes on Wednesday. So to all the lovely ladies out there, which famous female do you have a crush on? I would love to hear all of your answers.
1990's, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Edwards, Comedy, Dennis Quaid, Drama, Ellen Burstyn, Gena Rowlands, Gillian Anderson, Jay Mohr, Jon Stewart, Madeleine Stowe, Playing by Heart, Ryan Phillippe, Sean Connery, Willard Carroll
Playing by Heart
- Sean Connery as Paul
- Gena Rowlands as Hannah
- Angelina Jolie as Joan
- Ryan Phillippe as Keenan
- Gillian Anderson as Meredith
- Jon Stewart as Trent
- Ellen Burstyn as Mildred
- Jay Mohr as Mark
- Madeleine Stowe as Gracie
- Anthony Edwards as Roger
- Dennis Quaid as Hugh
A drama of relationships peppered with comedy, excellent writing and an all-star cast, Playing by Heart brims with emotional clarity, great dialogue and touching but witty insights into the various facets of love.
Playing by Heart focuses on the various kinds of loves, heart breaks and relationships of a seemingly disparate group of people living in Los Angeles. There is older married couple Paul and Hannah, who are approaching forty years of marriage and renewing their vows. There is the matter of Paul being diagnosed with a brain tumor, but this doesn’t dampen his spirit though it worries his wife. They must also deal with a present from the past as Hannah finds evidence that suggests that Paul may have been unfaithful during their marriage. Wildly dressed extrovert and wannabe actress Joan is found in the land of night clubs, living life to the absolute maximum. One night after dumping her boyfriend, she meets handsome but standoffish loner Keenan. Joan likes the guy, but he is cold and distant from her, which puzzles her. Sure enough, she begins to break through the barriers he has put up with her charisma and exuberance. Theatre director Meredith has all but given up on love after being hurt do many times and chooses to remain single. Yet this doesn’t stop affable architect Trent from pursuing her in a genuinely romantic way. Organised Mildred is forced to come to terms with the fact that her gay son Mark is dying of AIDS and attempts to mend their fractured relationship before it is too late by being honest with him for once in her life. Gracie, a married woman who is bored, is having an affair with Roger, who wants more out of the relationship than just sex. And finally there is the mournful Hugh, who travels from bar to bar, reeling off his tragic stories to women that will listen. Yet, his tales seem to change rapidly from night to night. Little by little, we begin to see the way that each seemingly separate story is connected in some way or another.
Writer/director Willard Carroll fashions a multi-stranded mosaic on the topic of love and the different ways it is expressed between people. Love is a subject that is more than well covered on films, but Carroll manages to give something to it with the multiple stories and characters. His script mixes tragedy, comic moments and blossoming romance with excellent results. It’s great to listen to his witty dialogue that captures the changing fortunes of the very different characters going through various kinds of love. Playing by Heart may not offer much in the way of being the most original movie, but that doesn’t make it any less good or accomplished. With a nice visual style of night-time Los Angeles, we feel the longings, passions and losses of these people. This is further given strength by a minimal but impactful score of trickling piano, tinged with jazz from the legendary John Barry. Playing by Heart is a well paced movie where something is always happening. Some of the middle half drags due to one uninvolving story thread, but the breadth of the other tales brings it back to greatness. There is something so natural about the way this movie explores relationships, I can’t explain it but it just feels so well done. I really liked watching how all the stories eventually connected, it was really orchestrated well through little things.
The marvellous ensemble cast is a real treat and adds significant amounts of talent to their respective parts. Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands have a winning chemistry as an older couple overcoming the hurdles that present themselves. These two actors are such pros and you see the twinkling in the eye of Connery and the warmth of Rowlands in every scene. Stealing the show throughout the movie is Angelina Jolie as the energetic and wild Joan. Imbuing the character with chatty verve, unusual dress sense and a quick, over the top humour, she is utterly delightful in the part that could have become annoying, but becomes instead lovable due to the presence of Jolie. Ryan Phillippe contributes some of his best work as the emotionally shut off Keenan, who gradually comes out of his shell because his attracted to Joan. There is Gillian Anderson who marvellously conveys the feelings of distrust in relationship that begin to wither when someone genuine takes an interest. Jon Stewart is that someone and he has a real madcap sense of humour to add to the mix. The always talented Ellen Burstyn is an emotional marvel as the mother trying to reconnect with her son and her scenes with Jay Mohr are really emotional highlights of the film as they are both able to be frank with one another. The one story that I didn’t find that involving was the one featuring Madeleine Stowe and Anthony Edwards having an affair. This isn’t the fault of the actors who are both well cast, it’s just that their story is a bit stale. Thankfully, Dennis Quaid makes up for that with his strange turn as the drunken Hugh, who switches his stories every night. It is a great showcase for Dennis Quaid as an actor.
Warm-hearted, funny and moving at many times, Playing by Heart brings a talented cast, colorfully drawn characters and exceptional dialogue together with care and sense of depth.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Jan de Bont
- Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft
- Gerard Butler as Terry Sheridan
- Ciarán Hinds as Jonathan Reiss
- Christopher Barrie as Hillary
- Noah Taylor as Bryce
- Djimon Hounsou as Kosa
The Cradle of Life is a weak sequel to the first Lara Croft movie. While the first one may have not been flawless, it was still a hell of a ride and executed well. The same can’t be said of this film which feels dull and recycled to say the least. A few sequences are good and Jolie is amazing as ever, but this film is just a mess from the start.
Lara is uncovering what seems to be the Lunar Temple, which is underwater and because of an earthquake slightly risen in the sea odd Santorini. Unfortunately once she gets in, she is ambushed by warlords who take a mysterious orb from the temple before Lara can claim it. Lara manages to escape just barely as the ruins collapse behind her. Back at home following that opening adventure, she is researching the origins of the orb and what it could mean or in fact be. Through extensive research and her knowledge of mythology, she deduces that the orb is in fact a map that once deciphered can lead to the mythical Pandora’s Box, which resides in the hidden cradle of life and once opened will emit all the sorrows of the world and bring forth disease. Soon enough, MI6 comes around and tasks Lara with finding the orb before it falls into the wrong hands. The hands in question belong to a scientist turned bio-terrorist named Jonathan Reiss, who wants to make money of the discovery and spread destruction in his wake. Enlisting the help of disgraced former soldier Terry Sheridan because of his knowledge of the warlords she encountered, she infiltrates a crime syndicate in China that Reiss is using to transport the weapon. With danger around every turn of her globetrotting, it’s just another day at the office for the intrepid and sexy Lara as she races against time to stop evil from being unleashed upon the unsuspecting world.
In terms of directing, Jan de Bont knows how to do action effectively, but here he seems all at sea and doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Cradle of Life seems to suffer from a lack of imagination and feels like something of a repeat of the first movie, just with different settings and not done as well. There is a story in here somewhere, it just doesn’t come off as riveting or even exciting. Saying that, there are some great locations and a couple of good sequences, but nothing quite lives up to the first one. And while the first movie had a lack of coherence, it still managed to be intriguing, which Cradle of Life fails to do. I just feel like this movie is such a let down when it could have been so fun and enjoyable. Only a pulse-pounding score manages to inject a sense of movement into the film and stop it from being completely unwatchable.
Angelina Jolie is probably the best thing in this movie and once again brings prowess, sex appeal and strength to the title character. Without Jolie in the role and in this film, it would be wholly unwatchable. Gerard Butler does what he is required to do as the rogue Terry, who shares moments of sparky chemistry with her. Now I must say I like Ciarán Hinds as an actor, but he is saddled with a less than engaging role as the main villain. The writing of his character just feels lazy and not even the talents of Hinds can fix that. I felt that Christopher Barrie and Noah Taylor were extremely underused as Hillary and Bryce, considering the witty humour they brought to the first movie. Djimon Hounsou doesn’t fare well here and is not given enough to do in the role of a tribal man who helps Lara out.
Cradle of Life is a lazy sequel that sucks the life out of what the first film did, and only for the music and presence of Angelina Jolie is it at all watchable.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
- Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft
- Iain Glen as Manfred Powell
- Noah Taylor as Bryce
- Christopher Barrie as Hillary
- Daniel Craig as Alex West
- Jon Voight as Lord Croft
It isn’t going to go down as a work of cinematic high art, but Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is one of the better video game adaptations out there. If you can ignore the incoherence of the plot and some flimsy dialogue, it is a hugely enjoyable popcorn movie of the highest order with action in bulk and a feisty heroine.
Lara Croft is the thrill-seeking daughter of Lord Croft, who just like her late father is an explorer for ancient and fabled artifacts. She is the kind of girl who isn’t above getting herself into dangerous situations for the sake of recovering treasure of mythological renown as she can fight, has a wide knowledge of history and is skilled with an arsenal of weapons. She is aided in her ventures by cyber geek Bryce and loyal butler Hillary. The main plot of the film revolves around Lara’s discovery of a clock that her father hid away, which inside contains a unique key that can harness great power when it is placed in position during a planetary alignment. Once in position, the mythical two pieces of a triangle that has the power to manipulate time can be used. Yet both halves of the triangle are located vast distances apart which sets Lara off on an adventure, starting in Cambodia and ending up in Siberia to make sure the triangle isn’t activated by the wrong person. Standing in her way is the slimy Manfred Powell, a member of a secret organisation wanting to use it for their own gain and Alex West, a former lover of Lara’s who is just in it for the money. Locked head to head in a quest to find it, Lara knows it will be dangerous. But when it comes to danger, Lara is more than adept at facing it and the challenges that come her way.
Director Simon West shoots the film with agile pacing that make the action sequences immensely good and help paper over the cracks in the story. This isn’t going to go down as the best action movie ever, but Lara Croft is sure as hell entertaining. It boasts some stunning locations and nifty special effects to show the mythological aspects at play in Lara’s quest to recover the triangle. There is a real sense of movement in the film that keeps it going at a lively pace till the end as Lara does battle with foes. The writing in this film is quite laughable and unconvincing as well as the plot that is pure hokum. Yet somehow this movie emerges as very entertaining and superbly awesome in the best way described as guilty pleasure viewing. A thundering kinetic score of techno beats and drums also lends a hand to the action of the film in a very effective way.
Angelina Jolie is ideally cast as the eponymous heroine and gives her all to the part. With feline eyes, lithe athleticism and witty retorts, Jolie is a marvel at portraying this woman of adventure who isn’t afraid to venture into the lion’s den to get her glory or thrills. As well as being physically perfect for the part, Jolie invests Lara with an independence, resourcefulness and an all round sense of fun. It’s safe to say she owns the part. Iain Glen does his best slimy villain act and does it very well indeed. Noah Taylor and Christopher Barrie are a hoot as two of Lara’s trusted helpers; their comic timing is very enjoyable because of the opposite nature of their personalities. Daniel Craig may not nail an American accent, but he plays the shifting loyalties of his character excellently. And in a small but pivotal role, Jon Voight portrays Lara’s father in flashbacks with authority. The casting here is very interesting because Voight is Jolie’s father in real life and some of that really enters their scenes together.
So while it’s not exactly an action masterpiece, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider delivers the goods and a sizzling turn from Angelina Jolie.
After reading a post over at Zoe’s featuring images of actors in suits for the female population to drool over, it gave me the idea to do a post about ladies in suits for the guys out there. A woman in a suit can be something of immense beauty and sexuality, and so without further ado, here are images of some stunning actresses rocking a suit.
First we have Angelina Jolie, showcasing her toned body with edge and sex appeal.
Italian siren Monica Bellucci is a vision of sophistication and earthy sexuality in this number.
Stunner Charlize Theron brings carefree but sexy strength to this suit with a nonchalant pose and steely eyes.
The delightful Emma Watson brings some old-school glamour to this, with just a hint of sexiness beneath it.
Milla Jovovich is a seductive sex kitten in this revealing suit, that puts the sex appeal into suits.
And with all these beautiful women for the guys, I had to include a photo of a handsome guy for the ladies out there. Prepare to drool my blogging sisters. I’m feeling generous again ladies so here’s another guy to fight over in all his masculine glory. In case any of you are wondering who it is, I believe his name is David Gandy, a male model who from what I’ve heard sends the pulses of women racing everywhere.
A Mighty Heart
- Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl
- Dan Futterman as Daniel Pearl
- Archie Panjabi as Asra Nomani
- Irrfan Khan as Captain Zubair Mahmood
- Will Patton as Randall Bennett
- Denis O’Hare as John Bussey
Based on the true story of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and eventually killed by terrorists in Karachi in 2002, A Mighty Heart focuses on the attempts of his pregnant wife Mariane to secure his release. Directed with a documentary feel by Michael Winterbottom and boasting a powerful performance by Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart is a gripping, tense and poignant account of a woman trying to remain strong in the face of unimaginable shock.
The year is 2002, Daniel Pearl and his wife Mariane, who is also a journalist arrive in Karachi, Pakistan. Daniel is investigating a link to Al-Qaeda and is to meet a powerful sheikh for an interview. It is on the way to this interview that he is kidnapped. When Daniel doesn’t return home, Mariane begins an investigation to find him. Helping her in this tense and desperate investigation are Asra, a co-worker of Daniel’s, a Pakistani security Captain Zubair Mahmood, American agent Randall Bennett and John Bussey, a writer at the Wall Street Journal. Throughout the subsequent investigation, we see how Mariane held on to hope that Daniel would be found and focuses on the inner strength of this woman facing unbearable circumstances. Well-performed and evocatively scored, A Mighty Heart emerges as a searing drama that never sugar-coats or exploits the true story, but instead lets us see the efforts that went into trying to secure Daniel’s release and the unwavering courage of Mariane.
Visually, A Mighty Heart drives to the hard of its subject matter by use of hand-held camerawork and rapid editing. Through this, we as an audience, are thrust into the whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty that engulfs the case and witness as Daniel’s release is attempted by various parties. Although we know the outcome of the story, the film is still unbearably tense as we see the various parts of the against the clock investigation. The overall documentary style of filmmaking adds to the intimacy of the story of Mariane’s courage and shows us the many grim realities of Daniel’s kidnapping.The bustling and winding streets of Karachi become a metaphor for the twisting case and the hardship faced by Mariane as she attempts to remain strong in the face of adversity. Sonically, the movie features an evocative score of Middle Eastern percussion and voices to highlight the setting.
In terms of acting in the picture, everyone delivers. Out of the supporting cast Archie Panjabi and Irrfan Khan are solid as a journalist friend and the security chief attempting to obtain Daniel’s rescue. Will Patton and Denis O’Hare also perform admirably as two other members of this tense investigation. Dan Futterman in the pivotal role of Daniel Pearl is exceptionally cast and credible. But the acting honors in A Mighty Heart have to go to Angelina Jolie. She inhabits the character of Mariane with a subtle intelligence, passion and quiet power. For those who only think of Jolie as a kick-ass babe, watch this movie and witness her moving delivery of a strong woman in a time of unimaginable pain. Even when Jolie isn’t saying anything, she radiates emotion as her hope never dies and her spirit remains strong. For my money, this is one of Angelina Jolie’s best performances in her career. Michael Winterbottom with a documentary style immediacy that shows us the amount of work that went into the case and how it impacted on those closest to Daniel Pearl.
Evocative, tense and searing, A Mighty Heart is an excellent film. Whether seen as a thriller or a drama/biopic, it works either way. Boasting an all round great cast, headed by the powerfully moving performance of Angelina Jolie, it is a true testament to one woman’s strength in the face of the horror around her.