Review: The Good German

By: LR Simon

The Artist is not the only film in recent history to try to replicate an early style of film while attempting to maintain some relevance to current times. In 2006, Steven Soderbergh directed The Good German, starring George Clooney as Jacob Geismer, a reporter covering the peace process after World War II in Potsdam, Tobey Maguire as his driver, Tully, and Cate Blanchett as the mysterious Lena, who has a hold on both men.

Stylistically, the movie looks very much like a throwback to the movies of the 1940s: it’s black and white, with a reliance on light and shadow to convey mood; the actors did an excellent job of performing the way film actors did in those days; the score, by Thomas Newman, was reminiscent of some of Bernard Herrmann’s film scores. There’s even a scene that’s visually very similar to a scene in Casablanca, even though the content was vastly different.

The Good German makes some concessions to the 21st century. Specifically, it does away with much of the Hays Code. The language is much grittier and more realistic than would have been allowed 60 years ago, and while the sex scenes are hardly explicit, they would not have passed muster with the Code.

Paul Attanasio’s script (from the Joseph Kanon novel) is a maze of secrets and reversals that will keep you guessing about specifics, but the final reveal is easily anticipated. That said, it still packs an emotional punch, which is not attributable solely to the performances. Attanasio has a good deal of experience writing scripts with convoluted plots for Homicide: Life on the Street (television) and Donnie Brasco.

The Good German is not an easy movie to recommend. It maintains high production values throughout, but it suffers for its attempt to revive a bygone film style. It will have some interest for fans of older movies, but it doesn't have broad appeal.


Academy Awards: The Artist

Of all the films nominated for Best Picture (2012), The Artist was the only one filmed entirely in Hollywood. It's also the only (mostly) silent film to win the Best Picture Oscar since Wings in 1927. The Artist is essentially director Michel Hazanvicius's love letter to the movies, and it draws on a wide variety of sources. We recommend some of the film's influences:

42nd Street (1933): Romance and show business

The Jazz Singer: Al Jolson makes the transition from silent to talkie

Singin' in the Rain: Gene Kelly makes the transition from silent to talkie

Some Like It Hot (1959): Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag, with Marilyn Monroe; Directed by Billy Wilder

City Lights: Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece

A Star Is Born (1954): A movie star helps a young actress launch her career, even as his declines.

Michel Hazanavicius listed these directors as influences on The Artist: Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch, F.W. Murnau and Billy Wilder.

This post was written by LR Simon and Howard Allen as part of our ongoing series on the 84th Academy Awards.


Premiere: The 3 O'Clock



CoyoteMoon Films has taken the next step toward feature film production in southern Arizona with this new comedy. All of Tucson is invited.

Come see the first screening of The 3 O’Clock, written by Phoenix writer and nationally known playwright Michael Grady and starring Tucson talents: Mike Yarema, Betsy Kruse Craig and Bill Hubbard.

This 30 minute comedy follows the release of our valentine to Tucson, the short film Se Habla Espanol, still available on our website with fun DVD extras like “Even a Gringa Can Make A Tamale.” See www.CoyoteMoonFilms.com

Lyrical Lifestyle

Lyrical Lifestyle interviews Tracy Lawrence, who talks about his career and performs three songs. Lawrence likes the interview enough that he links to it on his own website.

Also, read the interview with country duo Thompson Square, who will be performing at Country Thunder in Florence, AZ in April.

Coming up on Lyrical Lifestyle are interviews with Jason Aldean and Christian Kane.


Roger Ebert: Bully and the MPAA

Roger Ebert has written a piece on the new documentary "Bully" and the challenges it's facing regarding its rating. Bullies like to use the word "fuck" and the documentary shows teenagers using the word repeatedly, earning it an R rating from the MPAA. PG-13 films are not supposed to use the word more than four times. The film's director and producer are making the case that this documentary is important for teenagers, and the R rating makes it more difficult for the target audience (which includes the teenagers shown in the film) to see it.

There was some discussion of possibly removing some of the objectionable language, but that tends to diminish the severity of the problem:

If a director wants to make a film against bullying, it is not for a committee of MPAA bean-counters to tell him what words he can use. Not many years ago, the word rape was not used in newspapers, on television--or in the movies, for that matter. But there is a crime, and the name of the crime is rape, and if you remove the word you help make the crime invisible.

Go to Ebert's blog and read the whole piece. This should be interesting to watch.

Academy Awards: Jean DuJardin

Jean DuJardin won the Academy Award for Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of a silent film star who struggles to make the transition to the talkies. Lead Actor was a strong category this year, and a strong case could be made for any of the nominees to have won. (I personally would have preferred Gary Oldman to win, but that's no reflection on DuJardin.)

DuJardin's George Valentin starts out as a major film star in Hollywood, leading what appears to be a charmed life, with the exception of his marital situation. His fame seems to have gone to his head, and his wife seems disillusioned. Valentin's fortunes change dramatically when he bets that talkies won't last. DuJardin takes his character from the top of Hollywood to the lowest depths of despair; finally, he returns to form with the help of a starlet whose career he helped launch. Their relationship is complicated and touching.

Most of DuJardin's films are French; most of my experience with non-English-language films is with German and Japanese films, so I am going to rely on rottentomatoes.com for recommendations of other films starring DuJardin:

The Clink of Ice (Le Bruit Des Glacons)

OSS 117: Rio ne répond plus (Lost in Rio)

OSS 117: Le Caire Nid d'Espions (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies)

Little White Lies

Upcoming films:

Les Infidèles

Le petit joueur (pre-production)

Möbius (pre-production)

Read an interview with DuJardin here.

This post was written by LR Simon as part of our ongoing series on the 84th Academy Awards.


Academy Awards: Christopher Plummer

At age 82, Christopher Plummer won his first Academy Award (Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role) for his portrayal of Hal Fields, the elderly father of Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor) in Beginners. After spending the majority of his life married to a woman, Hal comes out as gay and starts to have the time of his life. This late beginning inspires his son to try to change his ways. It's a simple idea for a story that's complicated as much by the characters themselves as by any plot twist. Beginners could have been sentimentally saccharine or cloying, but the cast keeps the audience interested, and Plummer is responsible for most of what's best about this small, lovely film.

Plummer has been a busy actor for his entire career, and some of his films have become classics (even if his opinion of a given film is lower than the audience's). Here are some of his films:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Last Station


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


Nicholas Nickleby

A Beautiful Mind

Twelve Monkeys

Malcolm X

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Somewhere in Time

The Man Who Would Be King

The Return of the Pink Panther

The Sound of Music

According to imdb.com, Plummer has two films in pre-production:

Muhammed Ali's Greatest Fight

Five Good Years

This post was written by LR Simon as part of our ongoing series on the 84th Academy Awards.

Academy Awards: Octavia Spencer

Octavia Spencer was awarded the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Minny Jackson in The Help. Playing Minny gave Spencer challenges faced by any actor in a role that includes characteristics bordering on stereotype—finding the humanity where archetype seems prominent. It could have been easy to lose that sense of humanity, especially in the main storyline involving the writing of the tell-all book. The subplot involving Jessica Chastain’s character, Celia, who hires Minny as her maid, is where the humanity in both of those characters shines through.

Spencer also won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for the role of Minny.

She has been working in the film industry for years, sometimes as a casting director for extras, and sometimes in small parts in television and movies. You have likely seen her before, possibly in one of the following films:

A Time to Kill (1996)

Seven Pounds (2008)

The Nines (2007)

Bad Santa (2003) (See our review.)

Spider-Man (2002)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

She also made the most of her brief role in Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (2005), starring Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, and John Goodman.

Spencer has several projects in the works for this year:

Smashed (2012)

The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife (2012) (post-production)

Lost on Purpose (2012) (post-production)




Se Habla Español in Film Festival

CoyoteMoon Films' first short film, Se Habla Español, has been selected to screen at the 2012 Arizona International Film Festival (April 13-29).

We will update when we know the screening times.


Academy Awards: Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs stars Glenn Close and Mia Wasikowska. It is the story of a man, or more accurately a woman, that deals with the exceptionally difficult challenge of getting by in the world. This really is the story of a woman in a man's world. Albert finds it easier to go about life as a man, though there is nothing easy about his life.

Mia Wasikowska's character is that of a maid who works in the same hotel as Albert. She becomes involved with a man close to her very young age and drama ensues. She makes very classic mistakes regarding her life just as any young woman would do. The introduction of Joe, played by Aaron Johnson, complicates her life and forces her to start making quick decisions to cover up her mistakes.

Albert's story increases in interest when he meets Hubert Page, played by Janet McTeer. Albert comes to realize that his situation in life is very similar to that of Mr. Page and for the first time in his life he feels as if he could have a companion. There is so much good “stuff” between Albert and Hubert. The onscreen chemistry of Close and McTeer is riveting and by far the best part of the film.

The overall story was fantastic and the characters had many layers. The movie is just shy of two hours, though it felt a bit rushed. There are times when the audience is confused about the timeline and how much time has really passed between scenes. Rodrigo Garcia's directing was acceptable, but certainly nothing to gush about. This may sound like I didn't enjoy the movie, but I assure you I did. The fact that Glenn Close did not win an Oscar this year is astounding. Her portrayal of not only a man, but a man as complex at Albert Nobbs, is like nothing I've seen. For the first time ever Mia Wasikowska played a less than desirable character and she pulled it off incredibly well.

I urge any avid movie goer to watch this film. It has all the elements that make a movie great. The pacing is just a tad slow, but hang in there. It's certainly a performance and a film that you'll never forget.

Watch the trailer here.

This post was written by Teresa Skibinski as part of our ongoing series on the 84th Academy Awards.


Oscars Broadcast

This year's Oscar presentation wasn't the best I've seen, but it certainly wasn't the worst. I think we call all agree that last year's telecast was by far the worst ever. It really couldn't have gotten any worse. The nominations weren't surprising this year and the winners were virtually the same.

The person I feel the worst for is Michelle Williams. I have yet to see My Week With Marilyn, but I have no doubt that her performance was stellar. That truly was a role of a lifetime and it's surprising that it took this long to do a movie like this. It all really comes down to an actress that can pull off the role and from what I've seen Michelle did that effortlessly. This is a huge compliment coming from me because I'm not generally a fan of hers.

Another person that I felt deserved a nod was Leonardo DiCaprio. I don't know what is up with the Academy, but they really don't like that guy. Even when he does get nominations he knows as well as everyone else that he doesn't have a chance at winning and that's sad. He's an amazing actor and if you look at his overall career you will see that he is one of the best project decision makers.

Billy Crystal was funny and it was nice to see him for his ninth appearance at the Oscars. I won't fault Billy for the overall lackluster evening because it really had nothing to do with him. I think the overall consensus is if you didn't see The Artist or Hugo you might as well have not even watched the telecast. I personally saw neither of them and I felt left out of all the excitement. My high point of the evening was the back and forth between Emma Stone and Ben Stiller. It was by far the most entertaining element to the night and she looked amazing.

Overall, I feel like this year's Oscars had more downs than ups, but that won't stop me from watching them in the future. I'm an avid movie watcher and I'm always excited to see the actors we love getting recognition for the work that we do. Good job everyone and here's hoping for a better Oscar season next year.


My Week With Marilyn Trailer

The Artist Trailer

Hugo Trailer

This post was written by Teresa Skibinski as part of our ongoing series on the 84th Academy Awards.


Academy Awards: Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep exploded into our film consciousness with Kramer Vs. Kramer and she's been a star and critic's darling ever since. Though she was noticed in a Woody Allen movie (Manhattan) and The Deer Hunter before. It helps that she is a brilliant theater-trained actor who can give a role more dimensions than most actors even know exist. In that first big role, she created a woman so sympathetic in her subtext that we cared about a character who would have been simply unforgivable in the hands of another performer.

Imagine a young actress jumping from New York Theater to Hollywood in the 1950s instead of the late 1970s. They wouldn't even have let her keep that name. Now she defines three decades of actresses.

While she got the Oscar for great work in The Iron Lady, I like to think she's generous enough (and there were indications at the SAG Awards) to admit even she voted for Viola Davis from The Help (and Streep's brilliant co-star in Doubt). Watch either one of them for a master class in acting.

While Streep will be remembered in movie history for the amazing Sophie's Choice and Out Of Africa performances, I think people need to give her credit for triple-threat acting, singing, dancing in Mamma Mia! (a campy piece of fluff without Streep) and the same in Postcards From The Edge.

Two of my favorites in films with less Giant Demographic Marketing potential are Heartburn and Adaptation. She can do it all, including characters with completely different physical presences and accents in their speech.

This post was written by Howard Allen as part of our ongoing series on the 84th Academy Awards.