Category Archives: Drama

“An Education” Trailer Review: A Young Girl’s Heartbreaking Journey into Adulthood

Trailer Review: An Education is an elegant coming-of-age drama based on the memoir of Lynn Barber. At the heart of the film is Jenny, a clever but impressionable suburban teen, whose older beau and life guide easily lures her away from the ennui of suburbia into a thrilling world full of adventure and glamour. The film stars Carey Mulligan along with Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, and Rosamund Pike.

Set in London in 1961, An Education explores lessons of youth versus maturity. Jenny (Mulligan) is bright beyond her years and on her way to study at Oxford. Yet, as Jenny spends much of her time lost in reveries about living in Paris, she can’t help but wonder if perhaps she could gain more from life outside of university.

an educationHer opportunity to explore this vacillation comes along during a chance encounter with a man named David (Sarsgaard). Even though he is twice her age, David is a smooth operator, the kind of guy who could talk a dog off a meat wagon, so Jenny, as well as her parents, quickly falls under his spell of urbane charms. David whisks Jenny away into an exhilarating world of cocktails, jazz clubs, and Parisian weekend getaways. Jenny positively thrives in this new environment, learning many things about life that she could never have learned in a classroom. This exceptional education does not come without a price, however, as the threads of David’s sensational world begin to unravel.

As An Education is a coming-of-age piece, the primary aim of the trailer is to foster an understanding of the protagonist so as to set up her growth arc. In the trailer’s opening scenes, Jenny’s character is established as precocious but with a tender, rebellious streak. When the silver-tongued David enters the picture and transports Jenny into a scintillating new dimension, she is left starry-eyed and wanting more. Wearing her plaid, school girl dress, Jenny at first appears to be very naïve and vulnerable in her new surroundings. At the same time, however, the trailer does an excellent job of portraying Jenny’s innate sophistication so she does not entirely seem like a fish out of water.

Ripening in measured steps from fledgling vulnerability to ever optimistic world weariness, relative newcomer Carey Mulligan is outstanding in her portrayal of Jenny, a performance that garnered her an Oscar nomination. The trailer is very adept at choosing clips and dialogue excerpts that effectively showcase Jenny, and concurrently Mulligan’s powerhouse talent, at each of the key stages of her maturation process, creating a simultaneous vibe of ecstasy and heartbreak. 

Check out the trailer for An Education below. What do you think? 


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Filed under Drama, United Kingdom

Pick or Pan of the Week: “Atlas Shrugged Part I”

Atlas ShruggedPAN Atlas Shrugged A drama directed by Paul Johansson, starring Taylor Shilling, Edi Gathegi, and Matthew Marsden which tells the story of Dagny Taggart, the powerful and courageous owner of the U.S.’s largest remaining railroad company, who is struggling to keep her company afloat as her most capable workers steadily depart.

Based on the 1957 novel by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged completely drops the ball, falling miles short of living up to Rand’s ode to laissez-faire fundamentalism. The film is low-budget, and it shows; plus, the acting is utterly lackluster. What’s more, this is only part I; there are two more films in the works…oh brother. Well, I guess on the bright side, parts II and III can’t possibly get any worse. Or, if they do, not only will Atlas be shrugging, he’ll be full on burying his head in shame.

Check out what Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune has to say. What do you think? 

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Pick or Pan of the Week: “Meek’s Cutoff”

Meek's CutoffPICK Meek’s Cutoff A dramatic western directed by Kelly Reichardt, starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, and Will Patton which portrays the meditative story of three families who enlist the help of Stephen Meek, a bearded mountain man, to guide their wagon train across the Cascade Mountains. Meek, however, proves an unreliable leader, getting the travelers lost and putting their survival skills to the test. When the group encounters a Native American drifter, they must choose between continuing to follow the grizzly Meek and putting their trust into a man who has always been viewed as a natural foe.

With Meek’s Cutoff, Reichardt creates an austere, minimalist kind of film that packs poignancy and grip into the most minute details. The landscape, which is more so the focus than are the characters, is both visually and emotionally harsh, creating a haunting, surreal atmosphere that audiences will be able to really lose themselves in.

Check out what Rope Of Silicon has to say about Meek’s Cutoff. What do you think?


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Pick or Pan of the Week: “Honey”

Pick The Adjustment BureauPICK HoneyA drama directed by Semih Kaplanoglu and starring  Bora Altas, Erdal Besikcioglu, and Alev Ucarer which tells the tale of Yusef, a young boy with a stutter who lives with his parents in a remote mountain area. Yusef and his father share a very close bond, and Yusef greatly admires his father’s masterful beekeeping skills. So, when Yusef’s father must embark on a treacherous mission to save his family’s livelihood, young Yusef is torn apart with worry, and as a result, he sets out on a quest to find his father and bring him back home.

There is very little dialogue in Honey, and it has no score other than the beat of domestic habits and the pulse of nature’s majesty. This is by no means a detraction to the film, however, as the pace and rhythm flow beautifully, resulting in a story that is magically serene and imbued with tenderness and soul.

Check out what From the Front Row has to say about Honey. What do you think?

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Filed under Drama, Turkey

“Beastly” Teaser Trailer Review: A Modern Take on the Classic “Beauty and the Beast”

Beastly trailer reviewTeaser Trailer Review: From Daniel Barnz, the director of The Cutting Room, comes Beastly, a souped-up retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. The film stars Alex Pettyfer and Disney cash-cow Vanessa Hudgens and is set to be released March 4th 2011.

Pettyfer plays the attractive, smart, well-heeled Kyle Kingson, who sounds like a pretty dreamy fellow until his unadulterated dirt baggery is taken into account. As a guy whose favorite past-time is debasing his more unfortunate looking classmates, Kyle decides to hone his knack for nastiness on a Goth student named Kendra, whom he invites to a school soiree as his date. Kendra accepts Kyle’s offer, but his malevolence is quick to strike, and he ends up blowing her off. What Kyle does not know, however, is that he has just messed with the wrong gotharina. To get back at Kyle, Kendra retaliates by casting a spell that transforms him into…yep, you guessed it…a beast.

Now, the only way for Kyle to break Kendra’s spell is for him to find someone who will love him in spite of his new, hideous appearance. This task is much easier said than done, however, seeing as Kyle’s own father can’t even stand the sight of him and has him exiled to Brooklyn. As Kyle tries to come up with a solution to his ugly predicament, an opportunity arises with a drug addict,  in which Kyle assures freedom and security to him and his daughter, Lindy (Hudgens), in exchange for Lindy’s assent to live with Kyle in Brooklyn.

Beastly trailer reviewThis trailer for Beastly is only a teaser so not a lot of the film is revealed. However, the little bit that is shown is unsuccessful at capturing the viewer’s attention, unless you are a teeny-bopper for whom the universe revolves around cute boys and High School Musical. The teaser trailer starts by presenting a couple of close-up shots of Pettyer’s handsome face, followed by a quick flash of Hudgens’ adorable mug. It then cuts to Pettyer’s transformation from pretty Ken doll to bald, disfigured beast and leaves the viewer with this quote, “Who am I? I’m you at your ugliest, inside out.” In the teaser trailer, no real mood is established, nor is there any significant character elucidation. The only audience that this teaser trailer even has a chance of reaching is the members of the Twilight loving crowd who prefer their male pin-ups a little more blond and tan.

Check out the teaser trailer for Beastly below. What do you think?

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Pick or Pan of the Week: “Poetry”

PICK Poetry – A drama directed by Chang-dong Lee and starring Jeong-hie Yun, Da-wit Lee, and Nae-sang Ahn which tells the poignant tale of a woman approaching the twilight of her life who is faced with a dementia diagnosis and the discovery that her grandson has been involved with a heinous crime. To cope with the tragedies in her life, the woman enrolls in a poetry class, which helps her find new purpose and fortitude.

With a lyrical performance from Jeong-hie Yun in the lead role, Poetry is an inspired film  that speaks both as a condemnation of male privilege and an homage to the gracious strength of a woman in pain.

“Ms. Yun’s performance [is] a tour de force of emotional complexity that builds through restraint and, like Mr. Lee’s unadorned visual style, earns rather than demands your attention.” ~Manohla Dargis

Full Review – New York Times

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Filed under Drama, South Korea

Pick or Pan of the Week: “Country Strong”

Pan Country StrongPAN Country Strong – A musical drama directed by Shana Feste and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, and Tim McGraw which tells the hokey story of a brigade of country stars and hopefuls who set out together on a career resurrection tour. In the mix, there is a rising singer-songwriter, a fallen country star, a husband/manager, a beauty queen turned singer (and a partridge in a pear tree). Throughout the tour, backstage romances and personal demons threaten to overthrow the whole honky-tonk affair.

Country Strong features some great songs, and if its chief goal is to prove that Gwyneth Paltrow can sing, then you can consider my straw hat tipped. However, if it’s trying to be an actual movie, ya know, with things like a moving plot and well-developed characters, well, then it falls flat on its biscuit. In a word, Country Strong is hee-hawful.

“Boozing, cheating, weeping, backstabbing, pill-popping — Country Strong plays more like a honky-tonk jukebox than a movie.” ~ Kevin Williamson

Full review – Jam! Movies

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