Where You’ve Seen Them Before: The Revenant

Posted on January 8, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and his cast spent months in remote, frozen locations in Ontario, standing in for the frontier of the United States in the early 1800’s. Underneath the beards and fur, you’ve seen many of the actors before.

Leonardo diCaprio is one of the world’s biggest stars, appearing in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Titanic,” “The Departed,” and “Inception.” He’s been acting since he was very young, with an Oscar nomination for his first significant film role as a developmentally disabled boy in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” opposite Johnny Depp.

Tom Hardy played Bane (behind an oxygen mask) in “The Dark Knight Rises” and the title character in “Mad Max: Fury Road” (much of it behind a mask in that one, too). He also played both of the Kray brothers in last year’s “Legend” and spent an entire film in the driver’s seat in “Locke.” Be sure to see his neglected gem of a performance in “Warrior,” as an MMA fighter in a winner-take-all battle with his estranged brother (Joel Edgerton).

Domhnall Gleeson has had a busy year. You can currently see him as General Hux in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” with his “Ex Machina” co-star Oscar Isaac and in “Brooklyn” with Saoirse Ronan, for once, both of them getting to use their real Irish accents.

Will Poulter played a young filmmaker in “Son of Rambow.”

And he was very funny in “We’re the Millers.”

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Where You’ve Seen Them Before: the Cast of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Posted on December 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Of course we all know Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). But do some of the other cast members of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” look familiar? Here’s where you’ve seen them.

Daisy Ridley plays Rey. Here you can get a very quick glimpse of her in “Mr. Selfridge” (beige hat with green floral trim) which was broadcast in the US on PBS.

John Boyega plays Finn. He starred in the sci-fi/horror comedy “Attack the Block.”

Adam Driver plays Klyo Ren. He appears in “Girls” and earlier this year we saw him in “While We’re Young.”

Lupita Nyong’o plays Maz Kanata. She won an Oscar for her breakthrough role as Patsey in “!2 Years a Slave.”

Andy Serkis (Snoke) is the master of motion capture performance. You have not exactly seen him but you have witnessed his performances as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings,” Caesar in “Planet of the Apes,” and Ulysses Klaue in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Here’s a rare look at him appearing as himself, with Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in “13 Going on 30.”

Domhnall Gleeson plays General Hux. He appeared with Oscar Isaac in “Ex Machina” earlier this year and starred in “About Time.” He’s also in “The Revenant” with Leonardo DiCaprio, opening December 25, 2015.

Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron, appearing with his “Ex Machina” co-star Domhnall Gleeson and his “Inside Llewyn Davis” co-star Adam Driver.

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Where You’ve Seen Her Before: Juliet Stevenson

Posted on December 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Juliet Stevenson gives a performance of haunting beauty as Mother Teresa in this week’s film, “The Letters.” She is one of my favorite actors, and if you have not seen her in these films, now is a good time to check them out.

Truly Madly Deeply is one of the finest films ever made about grief and loss. Stevenson is radiant as a young widow who is at first thrilled when the ghost of her husband (Alan Rickman in a rare romantic lead role) returns, and then has to learn that life is for the living.

Bend it Like Beckham Stevenson plays an ultra-feminine mother of a soccer-loving daughter (Keira Knightley).

The Politician’s Wife Long before “The Good Wife,” Stevenson played the wife standing with the frozen smile behind a politician at a press conference, apologizing for a dalliance with another woman. This British miniseries has a very satisfying twist.

Emma Four of the best dimples in the movies are on display as Stevenson and Alan Cumming play husband and wife in this version of Jane Austen’s novel.

She is also a superb narrator of Audible books.

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MVP of the Week: Amy Ryan

Posted on October 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Our MVP this week is one of my favorite actresses, Amy Ryan. I have been a huge fan since I saw her in “Gone Baby Gone,” where she played the mother of the missing child.

And she was wonderful with Paul Giamatti in “Win Win.”

I was fortunate to be able to interview her about “Jack Goes Boating,” co-starring and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Here she talks to Vanity Fair about her role in “Birdman.”

This week, she appears in two very different films, “Goosebumps,” as a recent widow moving to a new town with her son, and “Bridge of Spies,” where she is the devoted but concerned wife of Tom Hanks’ character. Coming soon: “Infiltrator” with Bryan Cranston.

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Where You’ve Seen Them Before: The Cast of Ant-Man

Posted on July 19, 2015 at 10:36 pm

“Ant-Man” has great special effects and a fun storyline but its real strength is the cast, several of my favorite performers.  They may look familiar.

Paul Rudd has been one of the most appealing actors in Hollywood since “Clueless” came out 20 years ago this week.  He is most often thought of as a likeable comic actor in films like “Anchorman” and “Role Models,” and as a light leading man in romantic comedies from the awful (“Dinner for Schmucks,” “Wanderlust”) to the ambitious but not entirely successful (“How Do You Know”).  He is game for just about anything, as shown in micro-budget and experimental films like “Prince Avalanche” and the web series parody of reality dating shows, “Burning Love.” He appeared in “Romeo + Juliet” as Paris, the guy Juliet’s parents wanted her to marry, and as Nick Carraway in the TV version of “The Great Gatsby.”  He was outstanding in the challenging role of an insecure but very sincere man who is transformed by a manipulative art student in “The Shape of Things.”  I think his most neglected gem is “I Could Never Be Your Woman” (horrible title), a very smart romantic comedy with Michelle Pfeiffer.

Evangeline Lilly spends a lot of time in “Ant-Man” wanting to get in on the action.  Not surprising given her earlier role in “The Hobbit,” where she is a full-on action heroine.

I’m a huge fan of Corey Stoll, who plays the villain in “Ant-Man.”  I first noticed him as Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” a performance of great wit and verve.

He played a compromised but not evil Congressman in “House of Cards” and a sympathetic administrator of a jobs program for refugees in “The Good Lie.”

Michael Douglas is Hollywood royalty, a two-time Oscar winner (for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and acting in “Wall Street,” husband of an Oscar winner (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and son of an Oscar winner (Kirk Douglas).  His career took off with the 1970’s television series “The Streets of San Francisco.”

This speech is not only an icon of movie history, it is a telling prediction that if anything understated what was ahead in the financial markets.

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