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Set in the 50's Flicks: BROOKLYN and TRUMBO

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Quick Look at 2 Period Movies In Theaters

Thanksgiving Weekend BROOKLYN & TRUMBO

By Tinsel &Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

Thought I'd do a combined post on these two movies as both have single word titles, are set post-WWII, and both have strong leads torn between what's comfortable and taking risks.

BROOKLYN stars Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Grand Budapest Hotel) as Eilis a young Irish woman who can't find decent work in their small town of Enniscorthy, so her older sister who treats her almost like a daughter, even though they both live at home with a loving mother, arranges for her passage to America through a priest in New York who also secures Eilis a job in a department store and a place to live in a female boarding house.

Ronan says she felt an immediate, almost uncanny, affinity for Eilis as soon as she read the script. "Nick Hornby isn't from Ireland, yet he managed to completely capture the spirit of the country. The writing was so beautiful, and so beautifully subtle," she comments. "It felt close to my heart because it was about my people. It was the journey that my parents went on back in the '80s; they moved to New York and went through all these same things, even though it was a different era. The biggest hurdle anyone goes through in life is leaving the security of your family and your friends behind for something new." - Production Notes

I was excited by the fact that the screenplay, based on a novel by Colm Tóibín's, was adapted by one of my favorite screenwriters Nick Hornby. Most people love his screenplay for the John Cusack classic boombox of love, High Fidelity.  But my favorites are Hugh Grant in About a Boy and Carey Mulligan in An Education, I can watch both of these movies again and again.  I should also mention Hornby wrote last year's Reese Witherspoon trek along the Pacific Crest Wild. (which I saw but never got around to writing a post).

Hornby observes: "I think Eilis can see a life in America and she can see a life in Ireland, but she cannot maintain those two pictures at once. She knows you cannot square these two lives. So I think that's how she momentarily manages to love two people at once, because they are in separate worlds. But ultimately, she has to live in just one."
And this is the gist of the film, and I truly felt torn about her decision. In the beginning Eilis has no choice and must come to America, and manage through homesickness, become accustomed to new surroundings and a way of life; then just when she's at a breaking point of loneliness, she meets Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) an Italian plummer who still lives at home and has a thing for Irish girls. Their romance is played out sweetly and old-fashioned, with plenty of hand holding and respectable dates, much to the delight of Eilis's no-nonsense landlady. A death in the family takes Eilis back to Ireland for the funeral, where everything about Enniscorthy seems wonderfully the same, yet now filled with possibilities. She receives an immediate job offer and reacquaints herself with a boy from town, Jim (Domhnall Gleeson Ex Machina) who's now very eligible and very interested in Eilis. But what about the life she started and promises she made back in Brooklyn?

Bottomline: It's not going to be a movie I watch again and again like the other two Hornby penned movies mentioned above, but it's worth fitting in this busy holiday movie season.

T&T LAMB Score:3 outta 5

TRUMBO I think I first learned about the Hollywood Blacklist the first time I saw Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were, which I saw at maybe age 10 or 11 and didn't really understand that part of the movie.  I still don't understand how such a crazy thing was able to happen right here in the United States -"The Land of the Free" and that it could happen to rich people to boot! Of course if Donald Trump gets elected, we could be seeing more of this kind of dangerous thinking (not affecting rich people) but affecting people's civil liberties and completely going against everything this country stands for.

Bryan Cranston is once again outstanding. Love his characterization of Dalton Trumbo a real life Hollywood screenwriter who went from being the highest paid in the business to being Blacklisted and held in contempt of Congress under the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947, simply for not answering questions about his political views.
Brilliant, ambitious and contentious, Trumbo enjoyed exposing what he perceived as the world's hypocrisy and injustices in his films, from Academy Award-winners Roman Holiday and The Brave One - both written under pseudonyms during his 13-year exile from Hollywood - to the blockbusters Spartacus and Exodus, which revitalized his career and marked the beginning of the end of the blacklist. Production Notes

Trumbo's still living daughter Nikola who is played by Elle Fanning in the movie, says this about her father's Communist activities:
My father is still known as a communist, but people don't realize that he was actually a patriot," she says. "He was a communist in the late '30s and early '40s, when that meant you were pro-labor and anti-Jim Crow, and you fought for civil rights for African-Americans. It had nothing to do with Russia and everything to do with how an already great country could improve itself." Production Notes

Trumbo is directed by Jay Roach (Austin Power, Meet the Fockers) he imbues the movie with a sense of humor and light absurdity which keeps it from feeling too heavy. It was written by John McNamara who first heard the story of Dalton Trumbo when he was studying screenwriting under two members of the former "Hollywood 10" Ring Lardner Jr., and Waldo Salt along with Trumbo supporter Ian McClellan Hunter. McNamara saw an opportunity to create a film that could encapsulate the turbulent politics of that volatile era in American history in a personal story.

Going into the movie, I knew what it was about, but I was under the impression it was Hollywood vs The Government.  I never knew Hollywood turned on itself.  Members of the HUAC were made up of Hollywood insiders like John Wayne (David James Elliott), Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) and Ronald Reagan. Others like Edward G. Robinson (Michael Stuhlbarg) were forced to turn on their friends and colleagues or lose everything.

Bottom line: Trumbo is not only a history lesson and a tale of caution, it's got some killer witty lines. Diane Lane is stalwart as Dalton's wife Cleo and John Goodman does a good turn as a B movie producer who lucked out being able to hire Trumbo for a steal!

Tinsel & Tine LAMB Score: 4 outta 5

Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spotlight Movie Journalism At Its Best

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

I'm trying to recall what I felt January of 2002 when the story broke about the Sexual Abuse Scandal of the Catholic Church. I seem to recall not being very surprised. The idea that hundreds of priests not only molested and defiled thousands of children who trusted them, but that the Catholic Church right up to the Vatican would cover it all up for decades, should have seemed unbelievable; but I remember just thinking, I'm glad this has finally come to light. Not that I had any first, second or third hand knowledge of any of it.  I've never been associated with Catholicism or The Archdiocese of Philadelphia in any way, but I think I wasn't that shocked because there's just something about the whole Institution that's never set right with me.  That's partly why I went out of town during the Pope's visit to Philadelphia extravaganza.  I realize Pope Francis seems to be trying to tear down the old Church and build a new one, but I tend to still align with Dan Brown type novels which shows the Vatican as the throne of powerful evil, greed and secrecy.

I don't however feel celibacy is the cause of the systemic problem of priests and pedophilia. I think people who are already confused about their sexuality are drawn to the church, thinking they can hide there. As a priest they won't be expected to date or marry, so no one will need to question their sexuality, they assume it will never come up.  But of course, psychological issues always eventually raise their ugly head - pun intended.

The movie SPOTLIGHT written and directed by Tom McCarthy,  Win Win (click for T&T 2011 interview with the director) and written by Josh Singer (The West Wing” & “The Fifth Estate") does not focus on the Church or one victim, there's one repeat offending priest that gets the ball rolling, but the movie doesn't focus on him either.  Instead we get to see how the Spotlight Investigative Journalist team at the The Boston Globe handles these types of in depth pieces, which can take up to a year to research and can result in several hard hitting stories.  The team consisted of Walter "Robby" Robinson (Michael Keaton), Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Ben Bradlee Jr.,(John Slattery) Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James) and Marty Baron, (Liev Schreiber) who had just taken over as editor of the Globe when he suggested that the investigative team look into the Catholic Church.

It's another great role for Keaton following up last year's Oscar winning hit "Birdman" (click for T&T post). In "Spotlight" he plays a super likable guy with important contacts who treat him like he's a star quarterback.  Except in this case he starts to hit too close to home and a couple of higher ups involved in the scandal try to convince him to "be a team player."

You can tell Ruffalo must have studied Rezendes, creating the speech patterns, walk and mannerism of a dedicated reporter willing to work round the clock to get the information he needs.

Nice role for McAdams who looks 10 years younger, not that she was looking old, she's always gorgeous, but she looks like she's in her early 20's in this movie. It's also nice to see her looking and acting like a real person, instead of the coveted, eye catching object of affection.

Slattery is "Mad Men's" Roger Sterling in slightly less glamorous surroundings. Don't get me wrong I love John Slattery, but he so often plays that privileged white guy who's in charge, but knows very little and does very little, yet is still in the mix.

The most colorful character in the movie is Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian an eccentric independent lawyer representing a number of the victims in individual cases. Has Tucci's body of work ever been honored? It seems like it's time for him to get a Lifetime Achievement award, just think about how many different types of roles this man has played.

The Oscar buzz for Spotlight started at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Bottom Line: The film's passionate journalistic handling of such a sensitive subject matter, will definitely puts it in the Golden Globe, and Oscar running, but it's got some competition “Steve Jobs,” “Carol,” “The Revenant,” another Boston-shot movie, “Joy” and my personal favorite "Room" (click for T&T post).

T&T's Lamb Score 4 outta 5

Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog



Friday, November 20, 2015


Gripping Yet Absurd

By Tinsel &Tine Contributor Mikhail Revlock

Secret in Their Eyes is easily the most preposterous film I have reviewed for Tinsel & Tine, outranking RunAll Night and even Beyondthe Reach. It is a film in which detectives look for a suspect in Dodger Stadium and find him in the first section they search. It is a film in which a self-published comic book is held up as incriminating evidence. It is a film in which Julia Roberts crawls into a dumpster, curls up beside her slain daughter, and weeps profusely as Chiwetel Ejiofor slowly backs away.

A remake of the Oscar-Winning (and less awkwardly titled) El Secreto de Sus Ojos, this retelling revolves around the efforts of Ray (Ejiofor), Jess (Roberts), and Claire (Nicole Kidman) to find and punish the murderer of Jess’s daughter. It ping-pongs, often clumsily, in True Detective fashion, between the past and present. The effect is initially jarring and disorienting, but one eventually gets accustomed to it and starts reflexively searching each scene for indicators of time period, including hairstyles, clothing, and anthrax scaremongers.

Hair and Make-up seems to have focused most of their energies on making Roberts look as dowdy as possible. Her messy hair and sallow skin convey the cumulative weight of her daughter’s death. This is the kind of starkly unglamorous role one typically associates with Charlize Theron, and Roberts lacks the acting muscles to disappear into the character. Instead one feels like Roberts is playing ugly dress-up. It feels almost cruel, especially when Kidman, playing a district attorney, is furnished with a host of flattering angles and outfits.

Secret in Their Eyes is not without entertainment value, and I found myself becoming immersed in the plot even as its contrived mechanics became more evident. (I confess that even though I had to pee for the greater part of the film’s runtime, I stayed rooted to my seat for fear of missing a critical plot element.) The chase scene in Dodger Stadium is briskly shot and exciting, and the subsequent interrogation scene is fraught with psychosexual tension. In a mystery, it is all about the distribution of information. The solution is rarely mind-blowing, but as long as the clues keep coming at a steady clip the puzzle remains engaging. 

Billy Ray, the writer-director of Secret in Their Eyes, is a seasoned screenwriter, so it’s no surprise that the script is the strongest aspect of the film. Although he has directed a couple good films, he hasn’t sat in the director’s chair in eight years, and his rustiness is all too apparent. The actors seem ill at ease with one another, and Ejiofer and Kidman fail to generate any sparks even though they are supposed to be secretly in love with one another. The final product lacks a distinctive style and feels akin to an episode of Law & Order. And while the conclusion provides a refreshingly logical spin on the outmoded twist ending, the preceding scenes are too disjointed and bland to be redeemed by a somewhat shocking finale.

LAMB Score: 2.5 outta 5

Mikhail Revlock is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. His hobbies include bicycles, books, and food. A Philadelphia native, he lives in University City with his girlfriend and two cats. Be sure to check out past contributions: Interviews: "Dear White People" director Justin Simien and Kevin MacDonald "Black Sea". Reviews: Room Sicario "American Sniper", "Beyond the Reach", "Run All Night", "Horrible Bosses" "Jupiter Ascending" Event: Insidious Chapter 3 4 D Experience

Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine): Philly Film, Food & Events Blog


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Food n Film: CHEF

Food n Film: CHEF
Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT

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Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE

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Philadelphia Magazine » Blog » Foobooz


With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

Food n Film: WAITRESS

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In this 2007 film, Keri Russell stars as Jenna - a desolate diner waitress seeking solace in the art of pie-making. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she’s eager to escape her husband and her small-town hell and sets about to make a run for it by entering an out of town pie baking contest. READ POST


Those of us in attendance were not only given the opportunity to see Babette's Feast, the Oscar winning, Danish film, considered one of the all-time great "food films"; we also got to taste Babette's menu! READ POST

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15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

Tinsel & Tine on Paper.li

Tinsel & Tine on Paper.li
Really love this platform, you feature your stuff and other people's stuff you follow, and it all configures like the front page of a newspaper. Click to see what I mean

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Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.


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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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