Tag Archives: Kate Winslet

Brian’s Review – “Heavenly Creatures”

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson helms this chilling true-life drama set in 1950s New Zealand about an obsessive friendship between two girls — introvert Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and self-confident Juliet (Kate Winslet, in her film debut) — that led to murder. The two become increasingly inseparable, retreating to an imaginary world, until their relationship invites opposition from their families that ultimately begets blood.


Rating- 9 out of 10

Disturbing, loving, creative, imaginative, and glorious are all perfect descriptions to sum up the amazing Heavenly Creatures.  It’s hard to believe it was only the fourth full length feature film that Peter Jackson had directed and the first for actresses Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey.  Jackson’s work here is nothing short of extraordinary.  His camerawork, the performances he gets from the entire cast, and his progression of the story through the intertwining of both the real and imagined is exacted nearly flawlessly. Both Winslet and Lynskey deliver what would be career defining performances for any actress.  Heavenly Creatures, is at its core, a love story.  The setting, being in the 1950’s (with terrific period detail), and them being two women, make for an interesting backdrop and situation but this is a familiar tale of love at all costs.  Juliet (Winslet) and Pauline (Lynskey) are madly in love with one another and you can truly feel that as a viewer.  It’s not a sexual love but a true and deep love where one girl truly completes the other.  That’s why it is made all the more tragic when we know that their need to be with one another, while stronger than anything, clouds their judgment and causes them to make a fatal error that ends up separating them forever.

For anyone who likes films where you ride the wave of emotions with your main characters, this is the film for you.  It’s rare to find a movie where the acting and filmmaking come together so flawlessly to tell a ripping good yarn.  If there’s anything that holds it back from perfection is that this is a film that could have benefitted from a longer running time.  While it’s a solid 99 minutes, it would have been nice to extend it by another 30 minutes to bring us closer to the supporting characters, particularly Pauline’s mother.  That minor complaint aside, this is a very special film.






This Oscar-nominated drama profiles the notorious Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush), a provocateur so addicted to words that he used an uncommon ink — his own blood — to write salacious stories while locked away in an insane asylum. Although the outraged Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) tries to prevent the Marquis from writing, a young worker (Kate Winslet) takes his dictation and stirs the passions of the asylum’s abbot (Joaquin Phoenix).

Rating: 5 out of 10

Quills is two different movies all coming at you at the same time.  One is a movie about character interaction in an interesting setting which is terrific and the other is a meandering mess about free speech that goes nowhere.  The character interaction works so well because the three main performances by Geoffrey Rush (Academy Award Winner), Kate Winslet (Academy Award Winner), and Joaquin Phoenix (2 time Academy Award nominee) are stellar.  In fact, they feel so fleshed out (no pun intended considering the subject matter) that we feel we know these people by the end of the story.  It’s great when a film can do that because no matter where the story turns, we’re hooked.

Unfortunately, for all the positive aspects these brilliant actors bring, the script is a befuddled mess with no clear message or intent.  Do we really need to see characters tortured in order to sympathize with the Marquis De Sade?  I know a lot of this is based on fact but for the sake of the storytelling process, fine tune your focus.  It makes zero sense to place a film within a claustrophobic setting and then have all these plot lines going on.  A great film like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” understood that.  It stripped the story down to nurse verse patient and added colorful characters.  “Quills” wants to be a sex romp, a free speech message, a period piece, an artistic statement, and a love story all at the same time.  It just doesn’t work.

Films that define us

All of us have particular movies we’ve seen, whether as an adult or child, that stay with us in a way others hadn’t before. They’re special experiences we hold onto, whether it was because you saw them with a close friend or the film connected with your life in a personal way. These are movies that define us, and we’re breaking down each by genre. Each week, one of our contributors will list the movies that defined them.


Comedy: As I am back to school now, I can’t help but think about Real Genius. This is one of the movies I grew up watching and always laughed at Val Kilmer’s performance as the brilliant goofball Chris Knight. As I got older, though, I began to take away some of the philosophy presented by Chris. His character taught me that if you take some things in life like education or your career too seriously, it could consume you.

Action/Adventure: “If it bleeds, we can kill it.” Ahhhh man, such dialogue! Predator is the one movie I’m glad my dad made me watch over and over with him when I was little. I’m not a huge action movie lover but there is something about this film that tickles my fancy. I think it might be the idea of how a group of professionally trained and experienced soldiers react to being hunted, much less the fact that an alien is hunting them. I don’t think there’s anything more manly in a film than seeing a montage of a soldier using basic survival and defense skills to defeat an adversary.

Science Fiction: The Matrix came out when I was in the sixth grade; I thought it was my favorite science fiction film ever… until I saw Equilibrium. Personally, I thought the plot was more appealing, particularly how the society’s hand-to-hand and defense and shooting offense is all based on physics and statistics. Also, this film was the first taste of (grown-up) Christian Bale’s acting capabilities.  

Drama: Without a doubt, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is, and always will be, my favorite film from the drama genre. What digs down deep inside me is how realistic Jim Carrey’s and Kate Winslet’s relationship is portrayed; how we all start out giddy and very interested in your partner and how it can decay into just two people who live and bicker with one other constantly. The visuals were also very unique; using simple, yet effective techniques and some forced perspective shots. The climax is definitely a tearjerker for me.  

Horror: Since my dad introduced me to the action film that defines me, my mother definitely introduced me to this horror film that defines me. Halloween was the first horror film that I watched that scared me psychologically, but without using gore. Halloween has a blend of mystery, suspense, musical score and photography that fit so beautifully together to make a great horror film.


Family/Children: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was and is my absolute favorite children’s film when I was a child. I loved watching this movie and never got sick of it. I loved it so much that I would constantly make the infamous shrinking machine using my tinker toys and Legos. Aside from the idea a machine that could make things bigger or smaller, the idea of going on a dangerous adventure in my own backyard excited me. Sliding down a leaf of grass, eating a gigantic oatmeal cookie or riding on an ant didn’t seem impossible to do… when you’re five at least.

Movies we completely disagree on

Brian and Matt have very similar taste in film, but every once in a while we completely disagree on a movie. Each of the Movie Brothers will list three three movies we disagree on and rip on each other in the process. Enjoy!


Hulk (Ang Lee version from 2003)

This film is an abhorrent failure on every conceivable level.   The special effects make the Hulk look like a fake plastic doll, Eric Bana is lifeless in the lead, Nick Nolte seems like they grabbed him from a  totally different movie and Ang Lee’s direction is rudderless, flat, and uninteresting.  This was even more apparent when the movie studio pretended they got a do-over and released the much better “Incredible Hulk” in 2008.  Matt always told me he liked the more cerebral aspects of the film.  To this I say:  “Yeah, I enjoyed the really ‘cerebral’ moments as well, like when Hulk smashed some cars and fought mutated dogs.  Wow, so deep……”

Matt’s rating: 7 out of 10
My rating: 2 out of 10

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This one isn’t as awful as Hulk but it’s damn near close.  I remember sitting in the theater after this chunk of mule shit started and thought: “This is what all the hype is about?  Are you fucking kidding me?”  All those readers who enjoyed the book (including my brother) told me it was awesome and I’d love it.  What is there to love?  A stupid robot with Alan Rickman’s voice?  A plot that meanders around with little or no explanation?  Characters that pop in and out of the story with no dramatic arc or sense of purpose?  Matt loves the books and is just kidding himself that the film isn’t bad.

Matt’s rating: 8 out of 10
My rating: 3 out of 10

Kids in Hall: Brain Candy

I was never a huge fan of Kids in the Hall but I did catch their show once in a while and though it could be pretty funny.  But, this movie is one of the biggest pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen.  It makes no sense, looks and feels exceptionally low budget and cheap, and is just plain unfunny.  The actors go in and out of characters that belonged in bad five minute sketches and not 90 minute films.  If any of the original creators ever happen to run into this blog, I just want you to know that your film single-handedly turned me off to the Kids in the Hall forever.  Yes, it’s that bad.

Matt’s Rating: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 1 out of 10



Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

I’m sorry, but Hunter S. Thompson is a hack. He used his whole career to shape “gonzo journalism,” and what bothers me more than his fake journalism is that people believed him. Would you really rely on the work of a journalist who loads up on cocaine before heading into the office? And that’s precisely why this script fails. It is moronic. Terry Gilliam‘s visual style works for this movie, but what’s so great about seeing alligators playing poker? I have friends who’ve tripped on acid and they say they’ve never seen anything like that. It’s hard to say Johnny Depp over acted, since that was a requirement for the role, but it was just annoying. The whole movie was a flop.

Brian’s rating: 8 out of 10
My rating:
3 out of 10


I remember when my brother came up to me, beyond excited, exclaiming that “Titanic” was the greatest movie ever made and that he’s never seen anything like it. He insisted on going again and taking me. He explained that it was of vital importance that I see this movie. It was one of those movies that would change my life. Instead, I was forced to endure more than three hours of the corniest dialogue and acting I had seen in a long time. Look, the third act is powerful, but there’s a reason for it. It’s all action. The actors can’t trip over the terrible dialogue and each others’ wooden performances. Director James Cameron knows special effects and little else. There are some truly laughable moments, like when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is handcuffed to a pipe and Kate Winslet goes to look for something to cut him free, and he says, “I’ll be right here!” Where the hell else was he going?

Brian’s rating: 10 out of 10
My rating: 4 out of 10

The Devil’s Rejects

This movie should have been called “The Devil’s Retards.” This is another one of those movies where Brian approached me with bounding enthusiasm. He literally said: “Rob Zombie is the future of Hollywood. He will represent the next great generation of directors.” That’s a huge endorsement. And no, I’m not joking when I quote him.  He really said that. So I ran to rent “The Devil’s Rejects” expecting to see the next Kubrick or Kirosawa. Instead, I sat through 109 minutes of pure crap. Wretched acting (he needs to stop putting his wife in all his movies because she can’t act), laughable dialogue, and special effects that look like a high school audio-visual club pieced it together. On top of that, this movie is a sequel! Lions Gate dished out $7 million on this piece of crap — which is nothing, I know. But Rob Zombie is the last guy I’d give $7 million. This is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Brian’s rating: 8 out of 10
My rating: 1 out of 10

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