Gwen O'Donnell is a writer, an independent filmmaker, and a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, California. She's traveled far and wide to capture stories - moving back and forth from scripted work to documentary projects. Her own life has recently become a series of dramatic (and in some cases, comedic) plot twists that find her suddenly single, raising a toddler, plucked from the sun and sand of Marina Del Rey to the east coast, where she's shooting a documentary in her home town.
In addition to movie reviews, Gwen's gonna bring you interviews with filmmakers, recommendations for your next rental, and maybe even some stories from the trenches as she shoots a feature film, while juggling the responsibilities of a single Mom in the Mix!
The King’s Speech
While this excellent film – and Oscar’s Best Picture Winner for 2011– isn’t chock full of female characters, it is a must-see for Momz in the Mix everywhere because it’s a story about finding and exercising one’s voice.
Colin Firth stars as the Duke of York, Bertie — the salt of the earth son of King George the 5th. Bertie’s role as second son, as well as his crippling stammer, make succeeding his father as ruler of the United Kingdom seem quite impossible. But the perfect storm of the King’s failing health; Bertie’s older brother’s troublesome affairs with married American women; and conflict brewing in Hitler’s Germany render his stutter the only true impediment to this strong but silent man’s ascent to greatness.
Colin Firth performs an amazing feat in allowing us so deep into his character’s soul that we begin to view this rich and privileged man as a broken child we want to see healed. Helena Bonham Carter (very possibly the Best Supporting Actress of 2011) plays Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth, who ventures outside the confines of the royal circle in search of help for her husband when conventional medicine fails them. Geoffrey Rush (just when you thought he couldn’t possibly blow your mind again) inspires as controversial speech therapist Lionel Logue – a common man with an uncommon dignity that commands respect from his social superiors.
While Bertie’s journey in overcoming his agonizing disability takes center stage in the film, it’s Elizabeth’s courageous support of her husband that sets the story into motion and ultimately results in Bertie’s transformation from tongue-tied aristocrat to royal ruler. Confronted with her husband’s growing sense of impotence, Elizabeth trusts her instinct that a cure exists somewhere out there and she sets out to find it.
A Mom in the Mix before her time, Elizabeth may well have changed the course of history by aggressively seeking out the care her husband needed to develop a voice that proved critical in silencing the growing roar of fascism.
The King’s Speech is a MITM Must See! Once it’s out on DVD, pop some corn, sit back and get ready to be inspired!Keywords: 2011 Oscar Winner for Best Picture, Angelyna Martinez, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeffery Rush, Mari Deno, Momz in the Mix, The King's Speech
Actress Jennifer Aniston, whose new movie “The Switch” is about a single woman who decides to get pregnant with a sperm donor, is speaking out in defense of single mothers and non-traditional families, FOXNews.com reported Monday.
Aniston, whose own personal life has been the subject of intense press scrutiny, praised women who make the decision to have a baby when they are ready, regardless of their relationship status.
“Women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child,” Aniston said at a press conference Sunday. “Times have changed and that is also what is amazing, is that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents’ days when you can’t have children because you waited too long.”
Jennifer Aniston is speaking out in defense of single mothers and non-traditional families.
Jennifer Aniston is speaking out in defense of single mothers and non-traditional families.
Aniston added that she does not feel that there are any restrictions on what type of family can raise a healthy child.
“The point of the movie is, what is it that defines family? It isn’t necessarily the traditional mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot,” she said. “Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere. That is what I love about this movie. It is saying it is not the traditional sort of stereotype of what we have been taught as a society of what family is.”
The actress added that she still wants to be a mom, but said she won’t be going the route of her “Switch” character, who uses a turkey baster to get pregnant.FOX News, Jennifer Aniston, single moms, Sperm donations, The Switch
As oil continues to leak into the gulf amidst promises that “this will never happen again,” spoken by suited executives a world away – physically, financially and spiritually – from newly bankrupted fishermen, shrimpers and small business owners, it’s clear that Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County, USA is sadly as relevant today as it was over 30 years ago.
Harlan County chronicles the lives of Kentucky coalminers in the mid-1970’s, as nearly 200 miners strike against the Duke Power Company, protesting unconscionably unsafe conditions and low pay. Despite backbreaking labor and long shifts in the damp darkness, families lived in abject poverty without benefit of running water or indoor plumbing. This despite annual sales increases for Duke Power of 170%. Sound familiar?
Kopple won an Academy Award for the film in 1978, and deservedly so. Her instincts as a filmmaker were right on target. This strike was no mere march on a picket line. Scabs toted, and fired, guns. Union bosses murdered labor leaders’ entire families. Mines exploded, then imploded, on miners who were quickly replaced and forgotten. Set to a haunting soundtrack of Appalachian Bluegrass and traditional labor songs, Harlan County takes us into the homes and troubled hearts of people who seem more likely plucked from the 1930’s, not the 70’s!
Harlan County, USA does exactly what a documentary is supposed to do. It incites; it enrages; it inspires. Greed renders a heavy human toll. This has always been so and will continue to be, until we all stand up against it. Which is why it’s a good thing that the film is enjoying a resurgence! Look for it in a festival near you, buy it on Amazon, or order it on Netflix. And if you’ve got it in your head that documentaries are boring — witnessing a young Barbara Kopple – the ultimate Mom in the Mix – pointing and shooting her camera amidst gunfire will change this forever!
Harlan County, USA plays this weekend at the Woods Hole Film Festival on Cape Cod – a sunny gem of a fest, where a boardwalk stands in for a red carpet and flip-flops trump Manolos. Despite the casual vibe and the beachy setting, Woods Hole has become known for programming a slate of hard-hitting docs side by side with top notch indie drama and comedy fare.
Kopple will be on hand for a Q & A after the screening. Kopple’s American Dream and Shut Up & Sing, which follows the Dixie Chicks in the wake of Natalie Maines’ derogatory statement about George Bush and its resulting backlash will also screen. For ticket info (should you be vacationing on the “right coast!”) go to “http://www.woodsholefilmfestival.org”Keywords: 1978 Academy Award winning filmmaker, 19th Annual Woods Hole Film Festival, 2010 Filmmaker in Residence, Barbara Kopple, BP oil spill, celebrity moms, Gwen O'Donnell, Harlan County USA
Angelyna Martinez Weekly Film Review
Move over James Bond & Jason Bourne and make room for Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie).
As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt’s efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: “Who is Salt?” Written by Sony Pictures
Angelina Jolie portrays one hell of a C.I.A. agent in SALT. From the shocking almost unbearable opening scene and through out the entire film you can’t help but want to immediately sign up for an extreme boot camp. This movie is action packed with twist and turns, looped de loops and tons of kicking ass. Director Phillip Noyce ( The Bone Collector ) teams up again with Angelina and what an exciting film this team has created . The film takes you deep inside the world of secret spies and espionage and you keep hoping that this beautiful creature ( Jolie ) isn’t the mastermind behind all the extremely horrible happenings in the film. Jolie gives an outstanding performance as usual and is stunning to watch all the while.
The story at times was a bit far fetched, however what action packed movie does have an amazing story line? I thought the film’s cinematography ( Robert Elswit ) was moody with cool tones and beautiful to look at. Liev Schreiber whom I believe is such an incredible actor should have had some more screen time, but I guess this is Angelina’s movie after all. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a consistent super performance with his small amount of screen time as well. At the end of the day Miss Jolie gets paid the $20 million dollar big bucks with good reason, she is an extraordinary actress that consistently immerses herself into the characters she portrays on the big screen and continues to give great performances each and every time. Let’s not ignore that she is exquisitely beautiful as well, mix the two ingredients and you have one hell of a yummy recipe for a summer block buster hit.
Momz In The Mix rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ Diamonds….
Angelina is one multi -tasking mama you don’t want to mess with. Congratulations girl.Keywords: "SALT", Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Bond, Jason Bourne, Liev Schreiber, Phillip Noyce, Robert Elswit, Sony Pictures, The Bone Collector
The Kids Are All Right
Starring the amazingly talented Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, the cast was rounded out with Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska (Alica In Wonderland) and last but certainly not least, Josh Hutcherson. Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (director of High Art & Laurel Canyon) who also co wrote “The Kids” with Stuart Blumberg.
Now listen, if you enjoy movies where the beauty lies in the relationships between the characters then this movie is definitely for you!
I have to admit, it was refreshing (to say the least) to have an unconventional story line, as Annette and Julianne play a lesbian couple married for 10+ years, that takes the audience on a very real roller coaster ride as they raise their two children played Josh and Mia, who are now of age and start questioning who their father is, so they contact him (Mark Ruffalo) without their moms knowing, hence the drama pursues.
When asked how this movie came about Lisa stated, “My partner and I wanted to start a family and so we had to figure out how to go about doing that so we decided to go with an anonymous sperm donor and that’s kinda a project in itself. Making that decision is a big decision which opened up this whole world. So that’s what was going on in my personal life. In the world of art, I noticed all these stories in the New York Times, on Oprah and 60 Minutes about sperm donor kids coming of age and finding their fathers and finding their half siblings and I thought there is so much material here. There’s a great story in here and I should pick around and find the “real” in that…the “funny” in that.”
Josh admitted watching such professionals as Annette and Julianne, was simply inspiring. “For me it was amazing how naturally they slipped into their characters. It was effortless, and that effortlessness is something I hope to bring to all my characters.” Julianne joked “They learned how to keep their lines on their hands!” “People always ask how do you prepare? Well, in independent film there is no preparation time, so the one thing Annette and I brought to this was the fact we both are in long term relationships and that’s what this film is about.”
She also admitted being a working mom hasn’t changed the way she chooses projects to work with as her views have remained strong.
“As actors, I’m sure people can relate it gives you tremendous amount of flexibility. So it might be uneven and unpredictable but there are many times when you don’t work, you are around for your children, then when you do work intensely you have to juggle things a bit, but I think this a benefit of what we do.”
“For me, the fact this movie is about a marriage, a long term marriage, is extremely significant.” THAT is something you don’t see often in movies. You don’t see people who have been together for 20 years and who are struggling and really working at it and that is extremely relevant to my life since I’ve been married for 15 years.” I thought, “What a really cool thing to explore. You’re left with such positivity about marriage.”
Without giving the story away, Julianne’s character; Jules, throws us a curve ball to where I can truly say I have a deeper appreciation on being committed in a relationship. You’ll know when you see it, there is a scene where Annette’s voice goes into her lower register, (which is one of the brilliant reasons why I LOVE Annette and her incredible choices as an actor), and you feel as she does-each and every emotion to your core.
With so many headlining stories about cheating husbands and divorce after 40 years in the news on the weekly, MOMZ IN THE MIX applauds Julianne for keeping her marriage as her priority as well as being an important and positive story line on the big screen.
Be sure to see “The Kids Are All Right”, you won’t be disappointed!
PS. I dare you to ask yourself when you leave the theatre, “WHO exactly are the kids?!”Keywords: Annette Bening, celebrity moms, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Lisa Cholodenko, Mark Ruffalo, married lesbian couple story lines, Mia Wasikowska, Momz in the Mix, The Kids Are All Right