Away We Go

Away We Go is the 5th film from Director Sam Mendes. Known for American Beauty, Road to Perdition and last years Revolutionary Road which are very dark in tone and content, this is a step away from the norm from him and frankly is a breath of fresh air. Away We Go is the story of Burt, played by John Krasinski (The Office, Leatherheads) and Verona, who are a mid-thirties couple who find out they are going to have their first child. Burt’s parents played by Jeff Daniels (Gettysburg, Speed) and Catherine O’hara (Best in Show, Beetlejuice) decide to move to Belgium a month before the baby is born. Burt and Verona, having no ties to their home town any more, go exploring for the perfect place to raise a family. visiting lots of friends and family across  the country, it is a fun adventure of possibilities.

The performances in the film are all pretty good, but the one surprise performance that stands out is that of Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary). She plays Burt’s cousin and takes the idea of being close as a family to a whole new level, to the point of being creepy. Her performance is spot on as she delivers her lines with complete confidence without batting and eye as she talks about sharing a bed with her husband….and her kids! She is so good in this role, I could see her getting a Supporting Actress nomination.

Overall I don’t think this is Sam Mendes best film as the movies mentioned previously are very powerful films, but this is a very light, intelligent and delightful film. I would recommend seeing this movie, it is something fresh and not the usual rehashing of a story line you have seen twenty times already. Worth watching for sure!

Gettysburg

053939613926Any person that is into military history or the civil war should see this film. Although it has a whopping running time of roughly 4 hours and 21 minutes. Even at that length there are still lots of details about the battle of Gettysburg and the days preceding it that were omitted. Still, a very in depth look at Gettysburg and seeing the battle unfold in the end takes about an hour in itself. The final battle was massive in scale as far as soldiers, yet probably did not come close as to how large of scale it really was. Over the three day period, more men were lost at Gettysburg than the entire Vietnam War.

This film has many characters, but only a few really hold together well as characters in the film itself. I would have loved to have seen more about General George Pickett played by Stephen Lang. That is just a personal preference though. In my opinion Jeff Daniels (Speed) gives the best performance. He also had the most “moving” material to work with, with having a brother under his command and the the key figure in the battle at Little Round Top. Tom Berringer (The Gingerbread Man) also gives a nice performance as General Longstreet, who stays true to character in his beliefs of taking a defensive strategy and is even remorseful about giving the command at Gettysburg, knowing it will be an ill fated attempt. Martin Sheen (The Departed) makes a good General Lee and others have notable performances….Richard Jordan, Sam Elliot and Kevin Conway to name a few.

A salute needs to go out to Ted Turner for making this film happen. From What I remember, it was originally going to be made for TV until they realized they had something special. It is truely a specticle to see. Even if it takes two nights to take this film in, it is well worth it.

Marcia Gay-Harden and Jeff Daniels autographs

harden           jdaniels

Again, two more successes from the same playhouse! Marcia Gay-Harden winner of a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Pollock, and Jeff Daniels from The Squid and the Whale and Fly Away Home. Living in Dallas, I love how Marcia Gay-Harden signed the photo…to a fellow Texan! She currently lives in Southlake, Texas. Have tried getting Jeff Daniels several times, finally with a success!

God of Carnage, Bernard B Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., NY, NY, 10036