Tag Archives: cinema

THE AMERICAN (2010)

You cannot deny the existence of hell. You live in it. It is a place
without love.

Ok, so I will watch any movie with George Clooney in it. I even suffered thru Leatherheads (2008) and that was painful! But no such experience with The American, which is based on the novel “A Very Private Gentleman” by Martin Booth. This is a stylish and artsy thriller. The plot is quite simple and the pace is slow at times. There is lots of coffee drinking and gun building and not that much dialogue. But the acting is stellar and the movie is gorgeously shot and directed by Anton Corbijn, whose background in photography shines thru.

I am no good with machines

Jack (George Clooney) is an assassin with a burnout and a newfound respect for life. His last job did not end well. Because of the “no friends” policy, it ended even worse for his Swedish lady friend. Now he is on the run hiding from gun-toting Swedes with vengeance. Jack’s contact in Rome, Pavel (Johan Leysen), suggests hiding in an Italian hilltop town while the Swedish problem is taken care of. Jack is determined to quit his killing ways, but agrees to take a last job building a custom-made assassin rifle. He obviously missed the memo, which said that it is always bad when somebody tells you to consider something as your last job. Jack heads for the hills. While having secret rendezvous with a mysterious assassin Mathilde (Thekla Reuten) about the last job, Jack manages to have heart-to-hearts with a local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and use the services of the local brothel. Jack becomes drawn to another lost soul, the gorgeous prostitute Clara (Violante Placido). They fall in love. That’s when the past and the angry Swedes catch up with Jack. Thankfully the rifle is finally ready and delivered to the buyer, so Jack gets ready to move on. But are Jack and Clara able to find peace together or was Jack right to be suspicious about the purpose of the rifle?

   It’s Jack

This movie was filmed in the gorgeous Abruzzo region of Italy. In Castel del Monte the town’s dentist closed his practice and had a message on his answering machine explaining that he was “unavailable, due to his appearance in a Hollywood film.” When shooting the market scene in Sulmona the actor playing the cheese lady got a lesson from the real cheese vendor how to sell cheese. This proud vendor did not care that the crew was in the middle of shooting the scene; she saw that the actor was doing it wrong and walked into the scene to give directions.

The American provides a new harder look for George Clooney. A loner who is suffering long-term consequences of his past life – a role he has not played before. Anne Carey, who is one of producers of The American, says that audiences trust Clooney. She also points out that Clooney is an iconic actor and audience trust was very important with this character.

One step too many

Anton Corbijn directed this movie in a style of a western, with influences from Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone. Corbijn was attracted to the screenplay because it deals with seeking redemption and morally changing your life. How a gun chances a man was also an interesting theme to Corbijn.

Violante Placido (Clara) has said that she finds the ending endearing. She thinks that all of us can come to a point when we think our life cannot change, so in that’s sense the characters can give you the possibility to realize that you can free yourself.

Come away with me

I found The American to be a sad story about a man who wants to change, but at the end the universe is against it. The lesson of this movie might be that while the past is past and you can change, sometimes you are like Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights and just cannot catch a break.

Cuby and the Blizzards – Window of my Eyes

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THEY JUST DON’T MAKE MOVIE STARS LIKE THAT ANYMORE

Paying homage to Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – 2011)

                                                                                 

“My Mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days when I was born but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.”

Sadly after a long battle with serious health issues Dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away yesterday. This truly is sad; she was an icon – movie star in the true meaning of the word.

                                                               “Nobody tells me who to love, or not to love, who to be seen with and who not to be seen with”

She will be well-remembered for her long career that included 54 movies and 2 Oscars. We will also remember her for her turbulent private life – her eight marriages, battles with alcohol, drugs and weight. But also for being a true fashion icon with ever-changing looks and style. Camera just loved her!

Elizabeth Taylor was born in Hampstead, London in 1932. She was only 12 years old when National Velvet (1944) made her into a movie star. Her other memorable silver screen highlights include Father of the Bride (1950), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Butterfield 8 (1960), Cleopatra (1963), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and her final big-screen appearance in The Flintstones (1994). In the 50’s she was voted The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

With Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor was the first actress to have full control of her own image in the movies. Before studios could release any publicity stills, they had to be approved by her. She could also approve her own make-up, hairstyles and costumes.

When she was filming Cleopatra in London in the 60’s she stayed at the Dorchester and had the following food items flown to her: chilli from Chasen’s in LA, stone crabs from the coast of Florida, smoked salmon from Barney Greengrass in New York, steaks from Chicago, shrimp creole from New Orleans, spare ribs from St Louis, white asparagus from the French countryside and fresh linguine from Genoa, Italy. What a meal, I say!

                                                         With Montgomery Clift on the set of A Place in the Sun

Elizabeth Taylor remained close friends with many of her costars. She even married one of them. She also saved Montgomery Clift’s life in 1956, after he left a party at her house and smashed his car into a telephone pole. She removed his shattered teeth from his throat, thus prevented him from choking.

Elizabeth Taylor did a multi-episode appearance on General Hospital, which she was a huge fan of, in 1981. I love this blooper reel of her scenes. It shows her as a grande dame, but also as a person who can make fun of herself.

It’s ELIZABETH TAYLOR!

Elizabeth Taylor will also stay in our memories as of one of Hollywood’s earliest and most vocal advocates and fundraisers for AIDS and HIV patients. She started to raise awareness of the disease after her Giant costar Rock Hudson died from AIDS in 1985.

                                                           With Rock Hudson, James Dean and George Stevens on the set of the Giant in Marfa, Texas

Debbie Reynolds remembers Taylor, “She was the most glamorous and sensuous star of our generation. No one could equal Elizabeth’s beauty and sexuality. Women liked her and men adored her — my husband included — and her love for her children is enduring. She was a symbol of stardom. Her legacy will last….”

                                                          With Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher in Las Vegas during the early 1958

Michael Wilding (Elizabeth Taylor’s son) said in a statement after her passing away, “We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.”

“I’m a survivor. I’m a living example of what people can go through and survive”