6:00 PM, 5th November, 2011
Fun fact: Monte Carlo was originally meant to star Nicole Kidman, as one of four middle-aged women from New Jersey who decide to spice up their European holiday by pretending to be wealthy heiresses and go off in search of rich husbands.
Hollywood, however, decided to take a more ‘youthful’ approach and instead cast Selena Gomez – Disney Channel mainstay, pop singer and Justin Bieber’s current squeeze – in the film’s lead role, alongside a couple of other TV-friendly faces, including “Gossip Girl” star Leighton Meester and Cory Monteith from “Glee”. And, instead of middle-aged women from New Jersey, we get three young women in Paris on a disastrous vacation who, in a case of mistaken identity, are launched into the world of the rich and famous, courtesy of a British heiress who happens to look exactly like Gomez’s character (also played by Gomez, sporting an interesting attempt at a British accent).
The end result is a film that should please the tween in all of us. Okay, so maybe not everybody at the Film Group still watches “Saturday Disney”… but the recent marriage of a certain royal couple will have no doubt primed us all to believe that far-fetched tales of everyday girls becoming princesses are, if not possible, then at least a little more plausible. Worst case, you can just enjoy the scenic backdrops of Paris, Budapest and Monaco, and perhaps even get inspiration for an adventure of your own.
8:00 PM, 5th November, 2011
Thomas McCarthy’s previous films – The Station Agent and The Visitor – cemented him as an independent writer and director with a humanist touch and a heart-warming sense of character-driven humour; Win Win is no exception.
Paul Giamatti plays Mike Flaherty, a struggling New Jersey attorney whose life is dragging on. He’s trying to keep his office open, his family happy and his extracurricular high school wrestling team from continuing on their current losing streak. Through some questionable business practices, Mike stumbles upon troubled teen Kyle (Alex Shaffer), who happens to be a great athlete and an amazing wrestler. Just when things are starting to look up for everyone, however, Kyle’s mother emerges from rehab, flat broke and demanding her son back.
In the same offbeat tone as Little Miss Sunshine, and with actors like Jeffrey Tambor and newcomer Shaffer rounding out the cast of wonderfully rich characters, the film is an emotionally uplifting affair with a tough edge and thoroughly devoid of sappiness – a refreshing change from most comedies. While at its heart is a story often told, it’s told here with a radical energy, humour and warmth that elevates Win Win to a true winner.