New Year, New Venture.

Well…2012 hasn’t brought about a grand amount of writing, just yet. This is mostly due to the fact that for the past two weeks or so I have been busting my balls and rapidly firing on all cylinders to complete graduate school applications and schedule auditions. Oy. Really, no excuse. I need to be writing at least twice a week, hand down – that is what needs to be done.

One that note, I’ve always said that a dream job of mine would be that of a film critic (preferably for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and the likes….ah, dreams). While I’ve never considered a career in film as an actress, I did got to acting school and like to think I’ve always had an exceptional eye for the arts. My feet may remain planted to the stage but I have always enjoyed the genre of film for inspiration and entertainment. With that in mind, I set off on my amateur efforts to accomplish this via blog. The blog shall still be sprinkled with the occasional poetic attempts but I’m excited to venture into new territory

First stop: The Help, starring Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Emma Stone, Sissy Spacek and others.

The husband and I rented this movie mostly because our friend and fellow actor, Melissa Cline was a featured extra. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting to like this movie, at all. I don’t usually go for this sentimental-Oprah-Book-Club-esque crap, because the film was certainly marketed as such by the trailers. After viewing the film, I find myself asking, WHO MAKES THESE TRAILERS. The movie I was met with was something far beyond the usual stay-at-home mommy-Lifetime-sentimentality. The Help was a lovely film depicting a story of strength and sentimentality – in the best way possible.

I think the leading components of this film were the story, the directing, the character work accompanied by a few stand-out performances.The Help follows a young post-grad writer (played by Emma Stone) struggling to find a story that will elevate her career and personally inspire her. Set in the 1960’s amidst the civil rights movement, the young writer decides to seek out the stories of the African American maids who work for the white families, in the Southern town where the story takes place. Due to the dynamic political atmosphere this is not accomplished with ease. The outcome of this journey produces a film that is both inspiring and heartfelt.

With every film review – the good and the bad must stand alongside, but the scales are kind for The Help. While there remains something quirky and lovable about Emma Stone, her performance in The Help was inconsistent, though I do not believe that he actress is entirely to blame. My biggest argument with Emma Stone is that she is just so young; she looks young and acts young. I did not immediately believe that Stone was a post-college grad or a girl transitioning into a woman. Stone often lacks a certain depth which is demanded in the more dramatic storylines of the film, including sections of her own. However, placing her next to astounding actors such as Viola Davis and Allison Janney did challenge Stone’s abilities and force her to elevate her performance and tap in to a more authentic and mature side of her acting. Due to these moments, I’m not giving up on Stone just yet – I’ll give her a couple years to really turn it out.

The storyline of The Help, while star on its own, is brought to life with astounding performances by the ever impressive Viola Davis, Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer.

Viola Davis caught my attention and the attention of The Academy back in 2008 in the film of Doubt – she’s been on everyone’s radar since. Ms. Davis always delivers a performance that is as strong as it is vulnerable – she truly shines in the realm of the dramatic. The Help allows audiences to see a fuller range of Ms. Davis’ skills, which I hope will continue to dazzle audiences for many, many years. Davis’ performance was one of complete honesty, strength and inspiration. Viola Davis is the kind of actress we all long to be.

I must also pay mention to Ms. Allison Janney, a lovely actress who never manages to disappoint in comedy or drama. Janney’s performance as Stone’s sick, Southern mother is one of great versatility, sincerity and heart. Janney’s electric energy within the frame of this frail, sick woman still explodes on the screen and delivers a powerful performance of vulnerability and gentility. Janney shines, always.

So how am I to grade this overall surprisingly touching and entertaining movie? On what scale? I suppose….in line with my truly academic spirit..I shall stick to letter grading? The star system is nice, but can vary…let us stick to a system we are all familiar with.

I offer The Help an B+, for excellent storyline execution by director Tate Taylor, outstanding lead performances by Viola Davis and Allison Janney and a delightful supporting younger cast of actress that are sure to turn out excellent work in the future, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and others.

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One thought on “New Year, New Venture.

  1. Yet another telling reason why we need to see each other again: Once upon a journalism degree, I too dearly wished to be a film critic. What you realize while sitting through your free press screening of “Captain Ron” to review for your college paper is that your lovesongs for the cinematically exceptional become the rare minority in the face of the cowpile of commercial pablum and tax write-offs the major studios have to make to stay in business. You ask who cuts the trailers? It’s the marketing branches of those studios who aren’t concerned with advancing art, only with up-selling their product to the lowest common denominator for opening weekend ticket receipts. Still, I look forward to you living out our mutual dream on here, and anticipate your verbal razing of Hollywood.

    Maybe to put off the inevitable negativity you could do a Top 10 for each genre so your readership knows your standards. Being the most important expression, you should start with Horror. Do tell of the delight in fright, Lil’ Miss, and save a danse macabre in your snug velvet coffin for me.

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