Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

Option C: Driving Miss Daisy

By Brian Slattery

 

Driving Miss Daisy in car

 

With Kevin’s choice of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, I was slightly unsure of what movie to pair with it. I chose another movie directed by Daniels in Precious. The other film I could have chosen is Bruce Beresford’s Driving Miss Daisy.

Starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy tells the story of a black man hired as the driver of an elderly white woman in 1950s Atlanta. The relationship between the two begins rocky at first, but they eventually form a friendship over their 20 years together.

The film won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1989 as well as the awards for Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Makeup.

As a comedy/drama the film plays on your heart strings in several different ways. The rapport between Tandy and Freeman can make you laugh, and the way the two experience extreme racism during their trip to Alabama not only provides direct ties to Daniels’ film but also firmly cement the friendship between the two leads.

Driving Miss Daisy is a great film and would have been a great pairing with The Butler.

—–

About the author:

Brian was just a lovable street rat, one whose worth lies far within, who ventured into the Cave of Wonders in search of his fortune. Unfortunately, his monkey touched the wrong thing and the cave collapsed, forcing him to have to listen to Robin Williams tell jokes for the rest of his life. His favorite films include Office Space, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction. Also, he designed Buried Cinema’s cool logo.

Why I’m worried about “The Dark Knight Rises”

By Tom Kapr

 

Like any good movie nerd, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of The Dark Knight Rises since Batman escaped into hiding during the final scene of The Dark Knight in 2008. That’s four years ago. In this day and age, that’s almost an eternity to wait for the next chapter in whatever epic saga one is currently into. And Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (as it is now known) is the epitome of the modern epic saga. In fact, this is a first for the comic book superhero genre. Bryan Singer is the only other filmmaker to approach this success, in artistic terms, with the first two X-Men movies. Unfortunately, he decided to forgo directing the third one in favor of helming Superman Returns, leaving X-Men 3 in the hands of Brett Ratner. (Wow. I think I actually felt you shudder.)

This actually brings me to my first point in why I’m worried about The Dark Knight Rises. Traditionally, if the first two films in a series are great, the third will tend toward a huge drop-off in quality. This is especially true in the superhero genre. I’ve already mentioned X-Men: The Last Stand, which was frustratingly close to good, but only because it had a handful of great scenes surrounded by some truly dreadful ones. Spider-Man 3 was nowhere near the quality of Sam Raimi’s first two, which is a pity since everyone was really looking forward to Spider-Man fighting his great arch-nemesis Venom. Superman III doesn’t belong in the same category as Superman and Superman II. And when it comes back around to Batman, while I am no fan of the excessively unpleasant Batman Returns, it almost looks like a masterpiece compared to the cartoonish Batman Forever. I’m even going to throw Return of the Jedi into this, because while it will forever be a childhood favorite, if I look at it objectively, it’s not nearly as good as its predecessors.

 

This is actually the LEAST of my problems with JEDI.

 

Hey, Batman Forever is a stupid name for a movie, isn’t it? Superhero movies, and blockbuster sequels in general, tend to generate some stupid movie titles, usually because, rather than just slapping a sequential number on the title, they’re trying to go for something that stands out a little more. I could launch into a long tirade about stupid movie titles, but let’s stick with Batman. While it may not be as dumb as Batman Forever, The Dark Knight Rises is a stupid title. The Dark Knight Returns might have been a more fitting one, but then it would be the same title as Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel, which, while clearly having inspired Nolan’s vision of his trilogy, tells a much different story (involving Two-Face, Green Arrow, Selina Kyle as the madame of an escort service, a metaphorically castrated Superman, a female 13-year-old Robin, and the Joker going so far as to — SPOILER ALERT — chemically annihilate a Boy Scout troop). But hey, Batman Begins is an even worse title, and that was a great movie, so I’m just splitting hairs here.

I think the thing that worries me the most is that this follows The Dark Knight, which is possibly the greatest superhero movie ever made. (I personally think The Avengers beats it, but I have to at least put Dark Knight in a Top 3 of all time with that and X-Men 2.) And while it has some flaws, The Dark Knight isn’t just a phenomenally superior superhero movie — it’s one of the best thrillers ever made, period. It will rival any great crime thriller or psychological thriller you can put up against it. And this is largely due to the presence of the Joker. The Joker, as written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer, and as performed by the late Heath Ledger, is the best depiction of this iconic villain ever put on the screen. Not only is this one of the greatest and most memorable characters in the history of film, I would argue that Heath Ledger gave one of the all-time greatest performances of any genre, ever. That’s a lot of superlatives, I know. But while The Dark Knight is a good movie, it’s really the Joker, more than any other ingredient, that makes it great.

 

 

How can Nolan follow that? This isn’t necessarily a matter of topping oneself, but he has to at least be up to the standard that he himself created. While I can envision Rises being of the same general quality as The Dark Knight, what I can not envision is anything coming anywhere near the performance and the overall presence of Heath Ledger’s Joker. No disrespect to Tom Hardy, an actor I admire, nor to Bane, the formidable villain he portrays in Rises, nor even to the writing and directing talents of Nolan, who’s probably the greatest director of complex epic thrillers of the past decade. But just, how could he possibly live up to his own quality?

 

Then there's this. Whatever this exactly means for Batman, it indicates some degree of tragedy, and it is extremely difficult to make tragedy dramatically satisfying.

 

I guess I just have to hope for the best. And as I said, that is what Nolan is — the best. He has a better track record over his career than any other director I can think of. Memento, The Prestige, and Inception, the underrated Insomnia, and including of course Batman Begins and The Dark Knight – the man has never made anything less than a good movie. And with the exception of his much quieter and more difficult-to-love first film Following, he has never made a film that has been anything less than awe-inspiring.

I have to put my faith in Nolan’s abilities. I know that if I go in expecting another Joker, I’m going to be disappointed, so I have to limit myself to expecting, at least, another engaging villain and another engaging plot. I do have enough faith to know that Nolan will not re-tread what he has already done in the first two films. Every film he makes is its own film, and engages me in unique ways, so that is what I will be expecting from Rises. Take into account the established pillars that are Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine, as well as the considerable talents of Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and what you have is a cast at least as formidable as that of either of the first two films. (If you subtract Heath Ledger, of course.)

 

I also have this to look forward to.

 

At the very least I expect nothing less, but nothing more, from Christian Bale, who I sometimes forget is even in these movies.

10 reasons why I’m looking forward to September (part 1)

By Tom Kapr

On September 2, sci-fi thriller Apollo 18 finally will be released. This “found footage” film about the “truth” of NASA’s moon expeditions has been pushed back a few times since it was originally slated for release this past March. Truly good found footage films are rare since the genre essentially began with The Blair Witch Project back in 1999 (Cloverfield is a towering exception, and Paranormal Activity is not too far behind), but I am always drawn to the genre for its pure visceral experience. Here’s hoping for a good one–in space.

September 9 sees the release of the newest team-up between director Steven Soderbergh and headliner Matt Damon. The premise of Contagion is nothing new–the threat of a potential deadly worldwide pandemic (see Wolfgang Peterson’s Outbreak or any number of much cheaper films)–but it’s never been done with Soderbergh’s personal style or with a cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, and John Hawkes. The trailer gives away one of the film’s most shocking moments, but somehow it only makes me want to see this more.

September 16 has what is possibly the most exciting film of the month. The plot of Drive may sound like a Jason Statham film–”A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong” according to the film’s IMDb page–but the director is a well-respected if not well-known creator of some gritty, intense films; and the cast is headed up by Ryan Gosling, one of the most interesting and exciting actors of the past decade. Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks–this is an amazing cast. This could be the indie film to put to shame most Hollywood action-thrillers. And it already has a rating of 9.0 from more than 1,200 viewers on the IMDb. I cannot wait for this film.

September 23 has yet another exciting, low-profile action film in Machine Gun Preacher, which at first sounds ridiculous until you realize that it is a biographical account of, again according to IMDb, “Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers.” And that it’s directed by Marc freaking Forster, whose every film is a complete departure from the last and has a track record of quality that any director would kill for, including Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction, The Kite Runner, and Quantum of Solace. Lead Gerard Butler could finally break free from his own less than stellar record.

Also being released on 9/23 is a more family-friendly film, but one that could actually be really good. Charles Martin Smith directs Morgan Freeman in Dolphin Tale in “a story centered on the friendship between a boy and a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap” (IMDb). I’m looking forward to seeing a well-made inspirational tale. Plus, dolphins are awesome.

September 30 also has two major releases I’m having trouble choosing between, in terms of which I’d rather see. One is 50/50, a comedy/drama in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character deals with his cancer diagnosis with the help of his friend, played by Seth Rogen. With talented beauties Bryce Dallas Howard and Anna Kendrick in the mix, and the reliable presence of Anjelica Huston, this is a cast I am truly anticipating.

On the other hand, In America director Jim Sheridan directs Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz in a mystery-thriller about a family that moves into a house with a violent past. Dream House is not a horror, but has potential to be truly horrifying in its more down-to-earth mystery plot.

In a couple days, I will write about limited releases Restless, Take Shelter, and the delightful-sounding Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

 

 

A True Hollywood Story: From the set of “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”

An inside exclusive by Tom Kapr

Director Kevin Reynolds sits beside the camera. “Okay everyone,” he says, “quiet on the set! Rolling film. And… ac–”

“Hang on,” Kevin Costner interrupts.

“What’s the problem?” asks Reynolds.

“I’m not ready,” replies Costner.

“But we’ve been prepping for hours for this one scene of dial–”

“Okay, I’m ready. Action!” Costner shouts.

Reynolds looks at the ground dejectedly. “Action,” he mutters to the cast inside his head, where Robin Hood is played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Morgan Freeman is looking at Reynolds. He then looks over at Costner, who has his face bent toward the ground, his eyes tightly closed, obviously trying very hard to be English.

Freeman rolls his eyes, takes a deep breath, centers himself, and speaks: “Christian!”

“What?” says Christian Slater, standing just off-camera.

Everybody looks at Slater, who is focusing on Morgan Freeman, one eyebrow cocked, waiting. Freeman looks at Slater and nods subtly toward Costner, who still has his eyes closed. Slater cocks an eyebrow in Costner’s direction. “Oh, right,” says Slater. “My bad.”

Reynolds sighs. “Cut!”

“No, no, it’s okay,” says Costner. “Keep rolling, we’ll go again.”

“Let’s try it again,” mutters Reynolds. He has a brief flashback to the set of Fandango. His eyes twitches.

Morgan Freeman is still looking at Christian Slater. He then looks back at Costner, who is again concentrating on the Saxon warrior within. Freeman takes another deep breath, trying again to center himself. It’s a bit harder this time, but suddenly he has a vision of a tall man on a beautiful Mexican beach fixing a boat, and is overcome with peace. He opens his eyes, full of Moorish fire, and bellows: “Christian!”

“Hm?” says Christian Slater, cocking an eyebrow toward Freeman. Costner keeps his eyes closed. Freeman desperately clings to his vision of tropical paradise.

Reynolds sighs. “It’s alright, just keep ‘em roll–”

“Cut!” yells Costner. He walks off to nearby line of trees.

“Ah… it happened again, I’m sorry,” says Slater. “Maybe Kevin’s character should have a less confusing name? Hm? Are the writers on-set?”

Costner is gazing into the distance, imagining rolling plains covered with millions of the majestic tatanka.

Reynolds is unconsciously muttering to himself about a post-apocalyptic world in which all the glaciers have melted and covered the world in water. Surely, he thinks, that would be better than this.

Freeman has his eyes closed, and is back on the Mexican beach. He again sees the tall man working on the boat. The man stops his work and smiles at him, then transforms into a small golden statue, as the sand turns into velvety red carpet. Freeman smiles a big, toothy grin. Suddenly, a strange man in shorts and sneakers, with long scraggly facial hair and a red baseball cap, comes jogging across the beach. He jogs past Freeman, stops, turns around, and says, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.” He grabs the golden statue and jogs back from whence he came. The smile disappears from Freeman’s face.

Slater has one eyebrow cocked, looking around at the other actors for validation. “Right?” he says. “Less confusing names?”

Reynolds snaps out of his hallucinatory state, takes a few seconds to remember why he is in a medieval forest, sees Costner is nowhere to be found, and is overcome with happiness. “Alright, let’s take five! We’ll get it when we come back.”

Morgan Freeman sighs. “I hope.”