A Solemn Farewell to Paul Walker

Paul Walker as Brian in Furious 7 "Born to Ride"
Paul Walker as Brian in Furious 7 “Born to Ride”

In his final appearance for the screen Paul Walker gives a lasting performance in Furious 7 as the tough ex LAPD officer turned rogue. From the beginning of the franchise as Dom Toretto’s main man to the heartwarming finish looking out the side window of his car and delivering his last line “I knew you wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye” Walker has entertained fans worldwide.

In Furious 7 he shows the grit that had brought him the fame he deserved on his way to accomplishing the dream he sought. Walker has over 41 film credits to his name starting in 1986 with a small horror movie calledMonster in the Closet. Along the way Walker picked up parts that included playing Lance Harbor inVarsity Blues (1999), Caleb Mandrake in The Skulls (2000) costarring Joshua Jackson, then the very next year landed the role of Brian O’Connor in Fast and Furious (2001). The Fast and Furious franchise had been his mainstay, although appearing in such films as Joy Ride (2001) with Steve Zahn, Into the Blue (2005) opposite costar Jessica Alba, getting a solo starring role as Joey Gazelle in Running Scared (2006) and an inspirational role starring in the indie Hours (2014).

Although we were not personal friends, I will miss him greatly having spent a day with the nice man when he was a young 25-year-old while promoting the film Meet the Deedles. I was fortunate to accompanying him on behalf of Disney for a day at Disney World. Along with going on the “tower of terror” 5 times and cajoling with Steve Van Wormer and A.J. Langer their hands and feet were imprinted in cement during a special ceremony.   

The Sondheim Collection comes to home video

STEPHEN SONDHEIM COLLECTION

      Into the Woods, Company, Sunday in the Park With George, Follies in Concert, Sweeney Todd and Sondheim: The Birthday 

On April 14th the home video market will be treated to some of the most popular concerts and musicals that were only available on stage and in the legitimate theatre.  Coming to DVD the collection will feature the following selections of one America’s foremost composers and lyricists.

THE BIRTHDAY CONCERT will feature musical stars Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Neil Patrick Harris, David Hyde Pierce, Jon Cryer, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone, Adolph Green, Anika Noni Rose, Audra McDonald, Barbara Bryne, Barbara Cook, Charles Kimbrough, Chip Zien, Christina Hendricks, Craig Bierko, Dana Ivey and many more.

INTO THE WOODS  A baker and his wife journey into the woods in search of a cow, a red cape, a pair of golden slippers and some magic beans to lift a curse that has kept them childless. The filming of the original play with feature Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason and the rest of the original Broadway cast.

COMPANY  The 1970 musical comedy is set firmly in, and often about, New York,  follows five married, once married, or soon to be married couples and their mutual friend, Robert, a 35 year old bachelor who has been unable to connect in a long-term relationship. The original Broadway play received a record setting 14 nominations for a Tony Award and won 6.

sunday in the park copy

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE The Pulitzer Prize winning musical drama centers on famous painter George Seurat and the people in his famous painting “Sunday in the Park”. While the painting depicts people gathered on an island in the Seine, the musical goes beyond simply describing their lives. It is an exploration of art, of love, of commitment.

FOLLIES IN CONCERT  The incomparable Stephen Sondheim brought his sensational Follies to the stage in 1971 where it was hailed as “monumental theater” by The New York Times. Fourteen years later, the magic was recreated by an unparalleled gathering of stage and screen luminaries performing with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center for a wildly enthusiastic audience. This one-night-only performance became a legendary event in Broadway history!

SWEENEY TODD: THE DAEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET  a musical thriller of revenge and romance set in Victorian England, features Broadway diva Patti LuPone as Mrs. Lovett and veteran stage actor George Hearn in the title role. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical on Broadway in 1979.

SONDHEIM: THE BIRTHDAY For the master composer and lyricist’s 80th birthday, many of musical theater’s brightest stars gathered to perform more than two dozen sensational numbers from Sondheim’s illustrious career. Many of these enduring songs are rarely heard and several are performed by the original Broadway cast members. David Hyde Pierce hosts this magical event with Stephen Sondheim’s longtime collaborator Paul Gemignani conducting the New York Philharmonic.

 

 

“The Obscure Spring” takes MIFF Grand Jury Award

MIFF logo

 

The 32nd Miami International Film Festival announced the winners of the competition films with The Obscure Spring (Las oscuras primaveras) taking the Grand Jury Prize. The sexually charged film starring José María Yazpik and Irene Azuela impressed a jury that included producer/director Phil Lord, British screenwriter Amma Asante and producer/actress Mercedes Gamero. The Award was presented Saturday night at the Gala Awards ceremony at Miami’s Olympia Theater at Gusman Center by James L. & John S. Knight Foundation Vice President of Arts Dennis Scholl. Read more

Zootopia, Disney Animated Film a Year Away

ZOOTOPIA 2016 DisneyZootopia will arrive in theaters one year from today, and in anticipation Walt Disney Animation Studios released this image and a synopsis of their 55th feature-length animated film.

 

The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde, to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Zootopia, a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (Tangled, Bolt) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It RalphThe Simpsons) and co-directed by Jared Bush (Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.

The 87th OSCAR Results are in…Who did you Pick?

My predictions for what the OSCAR voters would choose was off by a few, but I was pleased with most all the choices.  I published my choices two days prior to the awards night and came up with 17 right out of the 24 possible.  It was a lot of fun guessing who and what film would be honored for the actors, producers, directors and crew of the selected films.  Maybe next year I will improve to 18 of 24, the score my son achieved to win the night.

Michael Keaton in Birdman
Michael Keaton in Birdman

Here is a list of “and the Oscar goes to”:

What I guessed the Academy voters would choose last night: (published in ACED magazine Friday February 20th, 2015 and My Facebook)

BEST PICTURE: “Birdman” (Won)

BEST ACTOR: Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything” (Won)

BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” (Won)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash” (Won)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood” (Won)

BEST DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater for “Boyhood” (Went to Alejandro G. Inarritu for “Birdman”)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Went to “Birdman”)

ANIMATED FEATURE: “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Went to “Big Hero 6”)

COSTUME DESIGN: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Won)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: “Citizenfour” (Won)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: I only saw the trailers (“White Earth”) (Went to “Crisis Hotline:…” )

FILM EDITING: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Went to “Whiplash”)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Ida” (Won)

MAKE-UP & HAIR STYLING: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Won)

MUSIC Original Score: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Won)

MUSIC Original Song: “Glory” from the movie “Selma” (Won)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: “Interstellar” (Went to “The Grand Budapest Hotel”)

SHORT FILM Animated: “Feast” (Won)

SHORT FILM Live Action: I only saw the trailers (“The Phone Call”) (Won)

SOUND EDITING: “American Sniper” (Won)

SOUND MIXING: “Whiplash” (Won)

VISUAL EFFECTS: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (Went to “Interstellar”)

WRITING Adapted Screenplay: “The Imitation Game” (Won)

WRITING Original Screenplay: “Birdman” (Won)

 

“BIRDMAN”, OSCAR’s CHOICE FOR BEST PICTURE?

Academy_Award_trophy

 

It comes down to the last day before the reveal of who will take home the Oscars for best in motion pictures. I actually didn’t wait this long to make my choices of who should win the coveted statues as my mind was made up months ago when the list was first published. I believe in entertainment in movies. You know, it’s about who will like a movie and walk out of the theater knowing they invested in a good feeling, whether it be a romantic moment, a belly laugh, a blast from the past, a look at the future, a wild ride or a historical event, from what is depicted on the screen. It’s the films that are worth seeing and each one of us has our favorites. The following are my picks from the films the Academy of Arts and Sciences saw fit to choose for their 2015 “BESTS” that moved me, made me happy, created excitement, told a story I could remember, brought a tear to my eye, took me on a journey and in general, entertained. Read more

The Top Ten Films of 2014

TOP 10 artChoosing the best films for 2014 got a little difficult this year because I liked several in each of the categories of Action/Adventure/Sci-fi, Drama, Animation and Comedy. While I did not choose a Documentary in my top 10, the most revered this past year is Life Itself, the story of film critic Roger Ebert. The foreign film category had a couple of stand outs like Ida and Two Days, One Night, but unless you attend film festivals or have a local art house that shows foreign films, you possibly would not have seen many this past year. Read more

Upcoming films look for an Oscar

The Oscar race is getting ravenous with a number of films opening for the holidays looking to get an edge on this year’s awards.

Already out on a limited release slate is The Theory of Everything a film about genius Stephen Hawking who an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, England.  Lead actor Eddie Redmayne who plays Hawking and actress Felicity Jones who plays his wife Jane will probably get a nod for major awards.

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) in The Imitation Game
Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) in The Imitation Game

Opening next week with a major public buzz is another movie about a genius called The Imitation Game.  The star of the film is Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Alan Turing who was credited for breaking the Nazi German communications code to help win WWII.  Also look to Keira Knightley as a supporting actress for the same film.

Interstellar has already been release a couple weeks ago and it’s visually a stunner.  It’s the frontrunner for several cinematography awards and maybe a supporting actress award for Mackenzie Foy who plays young Murph the daughter of Matthew McConaughey‘s character in the film.

Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) in Gone GirlGone Girl a film about the disappearance of a woman that opened in October to get a jump on the season has excellent performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike so the two actors should be available when their numbers are called for nominations.  Neil Patrick Harris  in a surprise support performance that should garner him a nod by the MPAA as well.  Best Picture should also be considered.

Bill Murray who plays an outspoken war veteran in St. Vincent.  The role may get him a nod for his second chance to win an Oscar.  The sweet film should not be missed.

Jake Gyllanhaal as Louis in Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllanhaal as Louis in Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler that opened recently has an outstanding performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as a demented accident chaser.  The very dark story has all the trappings for a dark horse nod at Best Picture.  Look for a nomination for Rene Russo for supporting actress.

While I am not a big fan of the film, Birdman, a weird film with a superb performance by Michael Keaton who plays a washed-up actor, may slide in for a Best Actor nod.

Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal), Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Norman (Logan Lerman) and Trini "Gordo" Garcia (Michael Pena)
Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal), Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Norman (Logan Lerman) and Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena)

Finally if you are a fan of war films the movie Fury featuring sold acting, cinematography and story should not be missed.

 

 

 

That’s all for now. I welcome comments and suggestions at jdelia@acedmagazine.com