Tag Archive: michelle williams


The Appeal of Emma Stone

Born Emily Jean Stone the young actress took on the name Emma when registering with the Screen Actors Guild due to there already being an Emily Stone registered. That’s a nice little fact not many people will be too aware of. Anyway, Emma Stone is just one of a new wave of actresses who are currently winning critics over and gaining fans with every performance they put in. In this category I place Stone with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan among others. But there is something different that sets Emma Stone apart from the rest; she has a very distinct and intriguing appeal.

Emma Stone got her first leading role in 2010’s Easy A, a film which focusses on the novel A Scarlet Letter and parallels that with the main character’s life: Olive, played by Emma Stone. I believe that Stone’s performance here is a clear example of just what a wonderful actress she is to watch. Olive is caught up in a web of lies after just trying to shut her friend up by telling her that she has lost her virginity, when in fact she has not. All of this gets out of hand and pretty much ruins Olive’s life. But the way the story is told is from Olive’s first person perspective, already giving us Stone’s narration. As well as this the film uses the narrative device of Stone talking into her webcam (which becomes the screen). This makes Stone’s performance just seem incredibly relaxed and natural and allowing the audience to see her in this way brings us a lot closer to the character and, in effect, Emma Stone herself. Her performance is full of vibrancy and sarcastic humour, outshone only by the frankly quite incredible Stanley Tucci.

Before Stone’s Golden Globe nominated performance in Easy A she was already making a name for herself in the comedy genre. Stone’s first film role was in Superbad, a film that began a new era of comedy films. After Superbad she appeared in a few, shall we say interesting films: The Rocker, The House Bunny and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (but let’s not judge her) before getting back on the right track with Zombieland. Also worth noting, Stone actually auditioned for the role of Claire Bennett in Heroes but obviously lost out to Hayden Panettiere who really impressed casting directors: I would have much preferred to have seen Stone in the role though. But anyway…

Emma Stone’s career has continued to go from strength to strength and she has proven that she is not just a one trick pony, despite being more than comfortable and one of the funniest women in comedy film at the minute. She had supporting roles in Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love (where she would work with Ryan Gosling for the first of quite a few times over the next couple of years) before joining The Help. The Help features an ensemble cast of actresses, not one of whom puts a foot wrong in terms of their performance here. Stone joins the likes of Jessica Chastain (another relatively new actress who is just exceptional at her craft), Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis. Stone’s performance helped The Help win many nomination and awards for it’s cast’s performances.

With The Amazing Spider-Man, Emma Stone became the latest actress to join the superhero film genre. However, unlike the latest incarnations of Pepper Potts, Lois Lane and Rachel Dawes we have seen, Stone’s Gwen Stacy was not the typical damsel in distress as she could more than hold her own; standing up to Flash, being incredible stubborn in an attempt to save New York that could have seen her killed as well as smacking The Lizard over the head during a fight with Spider-Man. Then Stone joined a much more testosterone fuelled ensemble in Gangster Squad, joining Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie. She recently lent her voice to the prehistoric animation film from DreamWorks: The Croods.

I think you would have to go a long way to find any young actress working today with the combination of talent and on screen charisma that Emma Stone has. She has a wonderful presence on screen with a beautiful charm about her and her career shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Next year will see her reprise her role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Birdman (from the director of 21 Grams and Babel) is in pre-production. She is also signed on to star in Guillermo Del Toro’s exciting Crimson Peak which is snapping up a superb cast in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain.

Hopefully we will get to see Emma Stone taking the lead in more and more films over the next few years but for now I am happy enough seeing her play supporting roles if she continues to be as good as she is right now!

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1939 saw the release of arguably the most iconic film of all time: The Wizard of Oz. Since then, no film has really managed to touch audiences as much as this and influence pop culture in such a fashion. The red slippers, the yellow brick road, the Wicked Witch of the West, the cowardly lion, tin man without a brain and a scarecrow without a heart are all easily recognised and associated with The Wizard of Oz. So why on Earth have Disney decided to try and even come close to the original with Oz: The Great and Powerful.

It should be noted that Oz: The Great and Powerful is not a direct prequel to the 1939 film. It is in fact a prequel to the original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz due to some complicated copyright business. James Franco is Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a small time magician/con artist who is transported to the magical land of Oz, where he meets three witches and is said to make the prophecy come true and become the king of Oz.

James Franco is an actor who seems to love trying to add strings to his bow, however as any good huntsman will tell you one string is all a bow needs. Fantasy is the latest in a long line of genres Franco has had mixed success in along with comedy, drama, science fiction, superhero films. And it has to be said that fantasy is not a genre Franco looks at all comfortable with. Based on this performance alone I would be surprised if anyone ever let him loose with CGI again; his vision and hands and everything else was all over the place. His performance was elevated thanks to actual on screen actresses in his presence and when this happened (particularly in the scenes with Michelle Williams) Franco actually looked like a professional actor.

The beginning of the film, set in black and white and pushed back into a smaller frame in homage to the original film, is poor at best. Supposedly set in 1907 the dialogue and persona of the characters really lets Oz down. I found it hard to get into the film with poor performances for the first fifteen minutes or so and Oz being quite frankly, a very hard character to like.

As the film goes on Oz: The Great and Powerful does appear to get better but it has more ups and downs than Oz’s hot air balloon ride that got him there. The problem with this being a prequel is that the audience already know where the story leads, but in this case it feels as though the producers of the film have no idea where it is going. On the surface, though, there is a lot to enjoy thanks to incredibly well put together CGI displays and the intricate work done on the flying baboons is fantastic.

The supporting cast does very little to help the film with the exception of Michelle Williams and Joey King who both perform their roles as well as they could. This isn’t a performance that Mila Kunis or Rachel Weisz can be proud of and either with their characters being rather poorly written and just firing information at us as if they were telling us every single thought which we really do not need to hear. Zach Braff as Oz’s first real friend Finley the monkey provides a few much needed laughs but there are a lot of jokes that really miss the mark… by a lot.

There is already a sequel in the works but it is going to need a much better script, much better performances and any sign of a sense of direction because you won’t find that in Oz: The Great and Powerful.

My Rating: 5/10.

What a fantastic month for films. You’re going to have some tough decisions to make when deciding what to go see in the coming weeks!

 

Arbitrage – 1st March

Arbitrage sees a Golden Globe nominated performance from Richard Gere as a powerful magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire whilst trying to cover up a horrible accident that puts his career and life at risk. Gere is supported by a fine supporting cast including the likes of Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and Brit Marling.

 

Stoker – 1st March

Here we have a bit of a creepy looking horror/thriller film featuring Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska. Stoker is the last film to be produced by the late Tony Scott and the script was ranked number one on the list of the best unproduced scripts doing the rounds in Hollywood back in 2010. And who is the script written by? Wentworth Miller!?! Yes, Prison Break‘s very own Michael Scofield.

 

Oz: The Great and the Powerful – 8th March

Despite apparently being the third choice for the role as the title character early reports suggest that James Franco is the perfect man to lead this journey into Oz. Accompanied by three witched played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams (two very good actresses) this looks to be an epic and beautiful journey.

 

Side Effects – 8th March

There’s not a lot to say about this. It features two very successful stars at the minute in the forms of Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara accompanied by the improving-with-age Jude Law. Side Effects looks like one of the most exciting films to hit the screen so far this year.

 

Jack the Giant Slayer – 22nd March

Bryan Singer is returning to the X-Men series for the next installment but this is his latest CGI clad film based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. This is Nicholas Hoult’s first attempt at being a leading man in a big budget Hollywood flick but whether he has what it takes or not I am unsure.

 

The Host – 29th March

We didn’t have to wait too long for a Twilight replacement to come around as Stephanie Meyer’s other novel The Host is now adapted with one of the best young actresses around, Saoirse Ronan, in the lead role. An alien invasion film with a difference.

UK Release Date: 8th March 2013.

Stars: Sam Raimi (director), James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff.

Plot: Oscar Diggs, small time circus magician, gets hurled into the wonderful world of Oz where he meets three witches who are not convinced that he is the great wizard they have been expecting. Oscar is drawn into the epic problems facing Oz and must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late and transform himself into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.

Oz: The Great and the Powerful (or just Oz for short) is the prequel that nobody needed and nobody wanted but here it is anyway.

The trailer is actually rather clever in my opinion. The film itself is obviously a prequel to the wonderful classic film Wizard of Oz and the trailer acknowledges it’s ancestory (something which will hopefully be true of the film as well) by starting in black and white for the ‘real world’ and then making the transition to bright and vibrant colourful scenes upon landing in Oz. There is even a hint that the Wicked Witch may appear at the end of the trailer so keep watching for that.

James Franco is always a good performer despite his choice of films being sometimes questionable but it seems as though he is just a guy who wants to have fun with his career so he always puts in his best which is great and I think that he is a fantastic choice for the role of the Wizard. Mila Kunis seems to be the big female lead of this vehicle and seems to be very prominent in Hollywood these days although whether that’s down to her acting abilities or the fact she has been named ‘sexiest woman in the world’ still remains to be seen in the long run.

I’m not quite sure who the audience for Oz is; it looks too mature for kids but too ‘teenagery’ for adults… are today’s generation even interested in The Wizard of Oz? I guess, come next year, we will find out.