It’s kind of like staring at the sun or sniffing gasoline, this short but powerful clip of John Cusack, at the press day for Grace is Gone, having to try hard to convince a young, bimbo interviewer that he’s not actually in American Beauty. But my God, it’s still funny, just for the way he moves back in his chair, and the fact that you know he shared the story with both his sister and Jeremy Piven the next time they talked.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association made its selections for the 2007 Golden Globes today, picking 12 Best Picture nominees instead of its usual slate of five apiece in the bifurcated Best Drama and Best Comedy/Musical categories. Director Joe Wright’s Atonement led the honored films with seven nominations, including best acting honors for Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.
Alongside Atonement in the Best Drama category for the 65th annual Golden Globes were the crime sagas American Gangster, Eastern Promises and No Country for Old Men, Denzel Washington’s inspirational college drama The Great Debaters, the legal drama Michael Clayton and writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s California oil-boom epic There Will Be Blood. Nominated for Best Comedy/Musical, meanwhile, were the Beatles musical Across the Universe, the foreign-policy romp Charlie Wilson’s War, the period piece Broadway adaptation Hairspray, the idiosyncratic teen-pregnancy comedy Juno and Tim Burton’s bloody adaptation of the throat-slitting musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Surprising omissions in the Comedy/Musical category were two films in which man-of-the-moment Judd Apatow had a hand — Knocked Up and Superbad, each of which were significant box office hits that also came with a critical embrace.
Nominated actress performances were comprised of the aforementioned Knightley, Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart, Jodie Foster for The Brave One, Julie Christie for Away From Her and Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age in the Drama category. In the Comedy/Musical category, the nominees were: Amy Adams for Enchanted, Nikki Blonsky for Hairspray, Helena Bonham Carter for her work opposite Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd, Marion Cotillard for her work as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose and Ellen Page (Hard Candy) for her breakthrough performance in Juno.
Nominated actors in the Best Drama category included George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Daniel Day-Lewis, James McAvoy and Viggo Mortensen, all for performances in nominated films. Getting unfortunately hosed was Frank Langella, whose performance as a tightly coiled intellectual anchors the impressive indie Starting Out in the Evening. In the Comedy/Musical category, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Savages) and John C. Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) comprised the nominee slate. For a complete list of other nominations, click here.
Spanning two-plus decades and a couple continents, director
Marc Forster’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner tells a culturally specific émigré’s tale
that still manages to locate the universality of the long shadow of adolescent
Unfolding in flashback fashion, the story covers three discrete
time periods. In 1978
12-year-old Amir’s friendship with Hassan, the son of his father’s most
faithful servant, dissolves in the wake of an act of ethnically-motivated
violence and the shameful silence that follows. A decade later, after relocating
Soviet invasion, the now adult Amir (Khalid Abdalla, above left), an aspiring writer, meets
and marries Soraya (Atossa Leoni), the daughter of another Afghan expatriate, in
an old-fashioned courtship. Another decade on, Amir’s successful life is thrown
into disarray when he discovers that the now-deceased Hassan had a young son
(Ali Dinesh, above right) who is now an orphan. The still-guilt-ridden Amir travels to
in order to rescue the boy and bring him to
David Benioff’s script strips the movie of a first-person
narrator but otherwise artfully condenses a difficult tale, and Forster’s
direction is for the most part wonderfully understated; particularly affecting
are the film’s adolescent performances. The homestretch run of Amir’s visit to
war-torn Kabul offers up melodrama and some dubious twists, and the setting and
subdued nature of the material additionally make this film a tough sell beyond
the upscale lit-market crowd that made a bestseller out of Hosseini’s tome. Still,
if one submits to the quiet rhythms of this slightly overlong tale, there is certainly
some measure of reward to be found, particularly in a time when smart
cross-cultural audits are important as well as enriching. For the slightly redacted capsule review, from CityBeat, click here. (Paramount Classics/DreamWorks, 123 minutes, R)