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Elijah Wood

Grand Piano (2013)

DIRECTOR: Eugenio Mira

CAST: Elijah Wood, John Cusack, Kerry Bishe, Tamsin Egerton, Allen Leech, Alex Winter

REVIEW:

A Spanish production with an English-language cast (despite being set in Chicago, all interior sets were filmed in Spain, though some outside scenes were filmed in Chicago), Grand Piano had the most limited of theatrical releases, screening briefly at only one New York City theater, though for anyone interested (or anyone who even heard of its existence), it was available for online streaming.  Those who check it out will find a diverting but slightly silly little Hitchcockian-esque thriller which zips along with enough slickly-crafted style to be engaging in the moment, even if it ultimately builds up too many plot holes and flimsy elements. Continue reading

Everything Is Illuminated (2005)

DIRECTOR: Liev Schreiber

CAST: Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz, Boris Leskin

REVIEW:

One could see how actor Liev Schreiber’s directorial debut might strike a cord with him personally (like the film’s protagonist, Schreiber is Jewish), but while Everything Is Illuminated might mean something to Schreiber, that doesn’t mean it translates that meaning to a mainstream audience.  An adaptation of the same-named book by Jonathan Safran Foer, a semi-fictionalized account of his real-life quest into his family’s Holocaust-era background, Everything Is Illuminated has earnest intentions and some humorous and poignant moments, but the overall experience is too muted and too obtuse to reach the illuminating profundities it aims for.  There are bright spots in 110-minute journey, but more tedium to contend with for insufficient rewards. Continue reading

Green Street Hooligans (2005)

DIRECTOR: Lexi Alexander

CAST:

Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani, Marc Warren, Leo Gregory, Geoff Bell, Henry Goodman, Terence Jay

REVIEW:

‘Football Hooliganism’ dates back to the late 1800s, with gangs of overzealous football (soccer to us Yanks) club supporters- who came in Britain to be known as firms- intimidating or attacking rival players and clashing with opposing firms. Continue reading

Sin City (2005)

DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez

CAST:

Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Jaime King, Rosario Dawson, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Carla Gugino, Nick Stahl, Michael Clarke Duncan, Elijah Wood, Alexis Bledel, Devon Aoki, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe, Tommy Flanagan

REVIEW:

Sin City is an adaptation of three stories in a series of ultra-violent, hyper-stylized graphic novels by Frank Miller set in the crime-ridden metropolis of Basin City, dubbed Sin City by its inhabitants. Continue reading

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

CAST: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Karl Urban, Brad Dourif, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis

REVIEW:

New Zealand director Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema took a big risk with 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the first installment of their colossal film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings.  Fortunately, not only did The Fellowship of the Ring pay off, it went on to become one of the biggest box office smashes in recent history and one of the most acclaimed motion pictures of the year, winning four Academy Awards (though not the coveted Best Picture) and setting a new standard for epic fantasy adventure.  But therein lay a new danger.  With the first film being deservedly acclaimed, what if the second didn’t live up to the now high expectations?  The first installment was one of the great films of 2001 or any other year, but even the most enthusiastic viewers had room for some doubt.  This would not be the first time a solid film was followed by an inferior sequel.  The Two Towers would also have the unenviable position of providing the middle act, advancing events from the first movie while leading into the third, incomplete on its own.  Fortunately, if it’s not quite as flawless a film as The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers is no slouch, continuing to paint on an epic, immersive, and enthralling canvas, and builds to one of the most tremendous battle scenes yet committed to film. Continue reading

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

CAST: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis

REVIEW:

The origins of this epic film trilogy date back to the early 1930s, when a British scholar named J.R.R. Tolkien began writing an equally epic series of books.  The first to be completed and published was The Hobbit in 1937, but Tolkien had a more ambitious story in mind.  Originally setting out to write one enormous novel, he ultimately realized that such a tale as he was spinning was too vast to be contained in one book, and instead formed it into a trilogy.  Parts one and two, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, were released in 1954, followed by the climax, The Return of the King, in 1957.  Together, the trilogy was known as The Lord of the Rings.  The significance of this fantasy series cannot be understated.  Tolkien’s books were adored by millions the world over during his time, and since his death in 1973, they have remained a beloved and integral part of the fantasy literature genre.  With such a following, it was inevitable that film versions would at least be attempted, but few filmmakers had either the inclination or the means to tackle such a daunting production.  Mediocre animated versions of both The Lord of the Rings and its prequel The Hobbit were made—and flopped—in the 1970s, with the poor quality of the animation and various story omissions rankling fans.  Two more decades passed, and finally New Zealand director Peter Jackson has taken on the ambitious task of bringing Tolkien’s epic trilogy to the big screen with the backing of New Line Cinema’s investment of nearly $300 million for the package deal of all three installments.  Those worried about whether it is even possible to translate The Lord of the Rings intact to the screen can breathe a sigh of relief, at least if this first installment is any indication.  Jackson and his cast and crew have succeeded on every level, and the result is not only a definitive film adaptation of part one of one of the most popular fantasy stories ever written, not only a majestic, enthralling adventure in its own right, but itself a pinnacle in filmmaking, one of the most colossal film productions ever made, and raising the meaning of “epic filmmaking” to a whole new level.  In the future all epic fantasy adventures—including its own sequels—will have a high bar to hurdle. Continue reading

Deep Impact (1998)

DIRECTOR: Mimi Leder

CAST:

Téa Leoni, Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, Leelee Sobieski, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, James Cromwell, Ron Eldard, Jon Favreau, Laura Innes, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, Blair Underwood, Dougray Scott, Betsy Brantley, Denise Crosby, Mike O’Malley, Kurtwood Smith, Charles Martin Smith

REVIEW:

An asteroid on a collision course with Earth, threatening the very existence of mankind. Any number of movies have examined this theme, most of them forgettable. Deep Impact, director Mimi Leder’s take on this scenario and a product of Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks Pictures, came out almost back-to-back with Armageddon, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer’s action flick. The basic premises were similar- humanity launches a desperate mission to destroy an approaching asteroid large enough to wipe out all life on Earth- but the filmmakers’ ways of approaching it were not. Continue reading

Paradise (1991)

DIRECTOR: Mary Agnes Donoghue

CAST: Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, Elijah Wood, Thora Birch, Sheila McCarthy, Eve Gordon, Louise Latham

REVIEW:

Paradise is one of those quiet little low-key films that slips through among the summer blockbuster action-adventure flicks and romantic comedies without hardly attracting anyone’s attention.  A thoughtful, deliberately-paced drama, it fell largely under the radar despite featuring popular—at least at the time—stars Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith.  But for those who happen across it, Paradise is not a “great film”, but a nice little story about four people, two adults and two kids, who grow emotionally through their relationships with each other. Continue reading

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