Tag Archives: Annette Benning

Danny Collins

Danny Collins (played by Al Pacino) has the world at his feet. His audience has aged with him and they’re still just as loyal as ever. They loved his songs in the 70’s and Danny became a huge pop star – and that’s all they want to hear now, so he delivers it for them, night after night. Danny’s lived the high life every day since his hey-day  … heck, he can afford it, so why not? But he’s done it to the detriment of his personal life – after three failed marriages, the latest to blonde-bombshell Sophie (by Katarina Cas), his only real friend is his manager, Frank Grubman (by Christopher Plummer). Frank dutifully books big tours for Danny, his audiences attend in their droves and the money rolls in. Then one day, Frank reveals a 40 year old letter that John Lennon wrote to Danny, which was unknown until a few months ago. This sparks a need in Danny to seek out his estranged family and try to make amends for decisions he made in his life – perhaps also to discover who Danny Collins really is?

This is a sweet movie – made more so because it’s based on a true story … well sort of, it’s actually about a letter to Steve Tilston. But the audience is clear about that from the outset – in a nod to the Cohen Brothers’ way of opening a movie. I found it a bit bizarre to see Al Pacino in a singing role, but once I got over that I found the actual story very nice. As Danny Collins, Al Pacino is the right fit – a hard drinking, hard living, drug taking, rough-around-the-edges kind of guy with a warm heart. His manager, Frank Grubman is beautifully played by Christopher Plummer and the young Donnelly family – father Tom (by Bobby Cannavale), mother Samantha Leigh (by Jennifer Garner) and little Hope (by Giselle Eisenberg) are all great. The gem in the movie is Annette Bening – as the demure and straight-laced Mary Sinclair, the foil to Danny Collins’ garish persona, she is lovely. It’s not a block-buster, nor is it a deeply emotive drama, but it’s a nice movie.

Made in 2015. Directed by Dan Fogelman.

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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Movies


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Marquise de Merteuil (played by Annette Bening) is a bored french aristocrat who gets greatest delight when she interferes in the lives of others. She is mentor to Cecile (by Fairuza Balk), the innocent, convent-educated 15 year old daughter of her rich friend, Madame de Tourvel (by Meg Tilly). Unbeknown to Cecile, her mother has promised her in marriage to the fifty-something society gentleman Gercourt (by Jeffrey Jones) and the Marquise must now help her learn about life and prepare for the imminent nuptials. Vicomte de Valmont (by Colin Firth), another bored aristocrat, spends his time womanising around Paris and lazing about as an idle french nobleman. Just for fun, the Marquise conspires with Valmont to bring ridicule on Gercourt by ensuring Cecile is “deflowered” long before the wedding night. The Marquise dares Valmont with the task, but he is far too arrogant to take on such an “easy” target and sets his sights on much bigger challenges. But … as the scheme plays out, emotions run hot, jealousy and revenge take hold, other innocent people get involved and lives are destroyed in the process …

This is the third adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos‘ classic novel “Les Liasons Dangereuses”, which was released only a year after the more famous version “Dangerous Liaisons” by Stephen Frears. Whilst the costumes and styling are far more exquisite in Frears’ version, I find this one a much more enjoyable movie. The characters are more sociable, accessible and watchable. As you would guess by the title, the focus here is on Vicomte de Valmont, rather than the Marquise, which gives the very fresh-faced Colin Firth some great early exposure. The heaving chests, stiff bodices, desperate emotions and ruthless jealous acts are all here and this story is a good one.  The naive and totally innocent Cecile is beautifully played by Fairuza Balk, along with her deep love Danceny (by Henry Thomas). Annette Benning is marvellous as the Marquise, she looks beautiful, her body is great and her demeanour is perfect for this treacherous role – the balance of sweetness, cunning and utter revenge she portrays is very well done.  She is the best here.

Made in 1989. Directed by Milos Forman

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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Movies


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The Kids Are All Right

Sometimes the label of “comedy” really mystifies me when it is applied to movies. This movie is an example.  Nic (played Annette Benning) and Jules (by Julianne Moore) are a long-term lesbian couple who each conceived one of their two children from the same anonymous sperm donor.  Nic is a doctor, she is an older, more practical and controlling partner in the relationship, whereas Jules (who has not yet settled into a career direction) prefers a less structured approach to life.  At 15, their son, Laser (by Josh Hutcherson), decides he wants to meet his biological father and persuades his 18 year old sister Joni (by Mia Wasikowska) to go through all the legal steps to find him. They have success with this and meet their Dad, Paul (by Mark Ruffalo), a still single restaurateur. The two women later meet him and they tentatively form an uneasy new group.

The film explores the relationships between all these characters – it includes betrayal, anger, pain and poignancy. I do question the presence of “comedy”, some of it is quite tedious – but I suppose it could be found laced through the realistic relationship between the totally different personalities of the women, the challenges of parenting and miscommunication with their teenagers and the the single 50 year old biological father caricature.  The performances are all great – the women play out the foibles of their relationship perfectly, the teenagers are typical and the father is a believable type of guy.

Yes, I’d say this movie is Alright.

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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Movies


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