Category: Reviews

“Big Little Lies” EW Review

The women of Big Little Lies present lives of fulfilling motherhood, and they work overtime to make themselves believe it. They reside in sun-kissed Monterey, California, an oasis of serenity and progressiveness, with majestic homes overlooking a churning ocean that speaks to a yearning and tumult they can’t bear to fathom.

Nicole Kidman is Celeste, the envy of everyone, a former attorney who gave up work to raise her twins, married to a suave family man (Alexander Skarsgård) with terrible demons. Reese Witherspoon is Madeline, a helicopter mom and queen-bee busybody hooked on high drama. Shailene Woodley is Jane, a single parent devoted to a boy born of sexual violence; she seeks a new beginning, but she isn’t ready for it. Each is a ticking time bomb, and their mounting stress affects everyone in their cloistered village. When the deadly explosion comes, there’s no shortage of suspects.

Big Little Lies is Desperate Housewives: Prestige Cable Edition, a soap-noir about postfeminist identity and post-community idealism — satire over slapstick, serious themes over fun-time escapism. Adapted from Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild), the seven-episode miniseries continues the gold rush of starry event TV (see: The Night Manager, The Night Of), though its heaviness may discourage obsessiveness. Celeste’s arc, a tough story of cyclical abuse, grows dark over time.

Both she and haunted Jane burn slowly, maybe too slowly, toward breaking points. Still, Vallée’s fluid storytelling — a lovely, dazed naturalism spliced with flashes of troubling memory — casts a spell. His juxtaposition of trapped, frozen souls and the iconography of California dreaming — the warmth, the beach, the expanse of ocean — is full of meaning. Kelley’s writing grabs you with whodunit? intrigues (a mysterious death, victim unknown, frames the season) and balances the heavy with salty levity. Police interviews with judgy, jealous townspeople function as both unreliable narrator and catty Greek chorus. A subplot involving Avenue Q amuses, because, you know, puppets.

Kidman and Woodley deliver moving portraits of still-life women, paralyzed by trauma and avoidance. Witherspoon is marvelous in a rare role that allows for comedy and drama. Her character recalls two career triumphs: the spark of Legally Blonde‘s Elle Woods trapped inside a retrograde version of Election‘s Tracy Flick. She flails for significance through her kids and grudges against a hard-charging working mom (a sparky Laura Dern) and her ex-husband’s new wife, a neo-hippie yoga instructor (Zoë Kravitz).

Just when you worry the show is a pageant of ugly clichés about female rivalry, it gives you a poignant, nuanced scene to deepen the whole. Can the whodunits offer anything more interesting than just shocker payoffs? TBD after four eps. Big Little Lies invests you in mysteries and the renewal and re-liberation of its women. Hopefully it can transcend to big little truths, too. B+

Big Little Lies debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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“Big Little Lies” Review: Moms Fight Dirty in HBO’s Wicked (Good) Miniseries

It’s tempting to take one look at the multimillion-dollar homes and luxury cars the characters have in Big Little Lies, and ask: “How can these people have any problems?” But as one character says, “You can’t make a perfect world. No matter what, s—t happens.”

S—t most certainly does happen in the star-studded HBO miniseries (debuting Sunday, Feb. 19 at 9/8c), including a grisly homicide that sends shockwaves through the seaside community of Monterey, California. But the great thing about Big Little Lies is: The murder is almost beside the point. The vicious battle for power and status waged between the Monterey moms is gripping enough, and serves as a showcase for some fantastic female performances.

Monterey is a town of big fake smiles and passive-aggressive politeness, and its filthy-rich moms take the term “helicopter parent” to a whole new level. (As one neighbor puts it, they’re more like “f—king kamikazes.”) That includes Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), a hard-charging “super mom” whose parenting isn’t all that super, and Celeste (Nicole Kidman), whose picture-perfect marriage is developing some cracks around the edges. The sense of place here is excellent, immersing us in a pristine yuppie utopia where these alpha moms rule with an iron fist.

The arrival of Jane (Shailene Woodley), an unpolished single mother with a checkered past, sparks a savage rift between the moms — with their kids getting caught in the crossfire. And we know someone ends up dead, with flash-forwards to a crime scene and nosy neighbors eagerly telling cops all the local gossip they’ve overheard. But the four episodes screened for critics not only don’t reveal the killer; they don’t even reveal who died. And it’s actually a brilliant storytelling choice, because you start to look at everyone as a potential suspect and victim.

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Reviews for How Do You Know

You that haven´t watched How Do You Know film, can read some reviews here. And for you who have seen, may give your vote for the movie too. It has too many reviews so I selected only two. How Do You Know boasts a quartet of likeable leads — and they deserve better than this glib, overlong misfire from writer/director James L. Brooks. And you can read the complete reviews clicking here.

Keith Cohen:

Brooks seems to have lost touch with reality and has clearly run out of ideas. The boring story does a poor job of creating a romantic triangle. It also fails as a comedy, generating few laughs.

The screenplay would have been worked better on the stage since the scenes fit the format of separate acts in a play. The movie is void of any effervescence and doesn’t have the forward momentum that holds your interest. Witherspoon is a real cutie who lights up the room with her mere presence, but is woefully miscast as a female jock. Rudd tries to inject some humor. Witherspoon and Rudd deserve to be together in a better movie. Wilson just wants to have fun and could play this role in his sleep. Nicholson acts like he is making a guest appearance on a talk show.

Dana Stevens:

How Do You Know definitely falls into the latter category, in the grand James L. Brooks style. Primarily known as a creator of classic television (The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Simpsons—do I really need to adduce further credits here?), Brooks has made only six movies in his long career, some good (Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment), some lousy (Spanglish). But all of them have shared a certain generosity of spirit, featuring neurotic, long-winded characters who are allowed to speak their piece even if it slows down the plot. When you remember a James L. Brooks movie, what comes to mind are the speeches: Albert Brooks in Broadcast News describing the many disguises of the devil to Holly Hunter, or Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets patiently and compassionately explaining to Jack Nicholson why he’s way too crazy to get involved with. The fact that her character ends up with him anyway is one of that odd movie’s many weaknesses. That romantic ending in the bakery still makes me mad.

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How Do You Know: Simply Irresistible

A truly great romantic comedy is hard to come by these days. All too often we’re subjected to tired cliches, overused personality types, and slapstick comedy in the place of a predictable but uplifting movie about love. With that said, How Do You Know is the rare gem of a love story that has all the right moves: big laughs, enchanting characters, and a sweet aftertaste.

The latest from writer/director James L. Brooks (As Good as it Gets) centers on Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) and George (Paul Rudd), as they each face a road block in their thirty-something lives. Lisa, an aging softball player who believes strongly in age-old affirmations, has just been cut from the national team and is struggling to figure out how to spend her time, and more important, whom to spend it with. George, a goofy good guy, thinks he has it all together until he’s subpoenaed at work for suspicion of stock fraud and is facing the real possibility of facing jail time for a crime he didn’t commit.

Check out the video review from BuzzSugar!

To find out why this film is worth seeing, just read more.

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Reactions from the media to the Water for Elephants Trailer

I found some reviews and expectations to the WFE trailer. I´ll also add pictures from How Do You Know Premiere and new Official Wallpapers of WFE soon.

Entertainment Weekly

Robert Pat­tin­son looks like a man in the adap­ta­tion of Sara Gruen’s best-seller Water for Ele­phants, act­ing oppo­site Oscar win­ners Reese With­er­spoon (the beau­ti­ful per­former his char­ac­ter, a vet­eri­nary stu­dent in charge of car­ing for a trav­el­ing cir­cus’ ani­mals, falls for dur­ing the Depres­sion) and Christoph Waltz (Witherspoon’s hus­band, the troupe’s ani­mal trainer). Direc­tor Fran­cis Lawrence seems to be chan­nel­ing Tim Bur­ton, and it works. The music lures you in, as does the always affect­ing Hal Hol­brook, who plays Pattinson’s aged char­ac­ter recall­ing the story of “the most famous cir­cus dis­as­ter of all time.” The finest com­pli­ment you can give a trailer for an adap­ta­tion is that it makes you want to read the book. This one does it for me.


People Magazine

For­get Bella! Robert Pat­tin­son woos Reese With­er­spoon in the new trailer for the film adap­ta­tion of Sara Gruen’s best­selling novel Water for Ele­phants, which is due in the­aters in April 2011. Pat­tin­son plays Jacob, a vet­eri­nary stu­dent who joins a trav­el­ing cir­cus dur­ing the Great Depres­sion. He falls for the show’s sul­try star Mar­lena (played by With­er­spoon), who’s involved with the Ring­leader, played by Christoph Waltz. “You’re a beau­ti­ful woman, you deserve a beau­ti­ful life,” Jacob tells Mar­lena, but the Ring­leader seems deter­mined to keep them apart. Sounds like a love tri­an­gle of Twi­light pro­por­tions!

Thanks ThinkingOfRob

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