Betsy Blair began her career on stage in the early 1940s and, after a break for marriage and motherhood with her first husband, dancing legend Gene Kelly, made her film debut in "The Guilt of Janet Am...
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
Released from the underworld in 1944 by evil Russian puppet master Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) and a crew of Nazis as part of Hitler's plan to use occult powers to turn the tide of World War II Hellboy is rescued and raised by kindly Professor Broom (John Hurt). Years later in present-day Manhattan the big red demon (Ron Perlman who at this point must have spent more of his life in a makeup chair than out of one) smokes cigars tosses off wisecracks and fights otherworldly baddies for the secretive Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He's joined by the water-dwelling Abe Sapien (played by Doug Jones voiced by David Hyde Pierce) and fresh-faced FBI agent John Myers (Rupert Evans) the professor's designated Hellboy handler-in-training. When Rasputin resurfaces and unleashes a horde of evil spirits on the city in an attempt to finish what he started back in the '40s Hellboy and Co. (including fetching pyro Liz Sherman played by Selma Blair) must face the dark magician in a no-holds-barred supernatural showdown that (naturally) will determine the fate of the world.
All the digital enhancements and red makeup in the world couldn't make Hellboy a sympathetic character if the actor underneath wasn't appealing. Luckily Perlman fills the bill. Whether he's indulging Hellboy's adolescent jealousy of the burgeoning friendship between Myers and Liz (the angsty brunette is Big Red's lifelong object of affection) or letting a pair of endangered kittens tug at his heartstrings Perlman creates a character who is ironically very human in his contradictions. And his knack for tossing off zippy one-liners doesn't hurt either. Evans one of those Everyman-faced actors whom you're just sure you've seen somewhere before (but since his biggest U.S. credit to date is well nothing you probably haven't) is perfect as Myers--one of those Everyman-faced comic book fellas whose job is to be as earnest as possible. Meanwhile Blair never quite makes Liz as enchanting as she should be to earn the adoration of both Hellboy and Myers; she shoots off a lot of soulful-eyed looks but that depth isn't reflected in the rest of her performance. As for the villains only Roden's evilly charismatic Rasputin can really be considered a character (creepy Nazi leader Kroenen never speaks and Biddy Hodson's scheming Ilsa has just a handful of lines) albeit an underdeveloped one.
Del Toro fans have come to expect slick moody action from the man behind Mimic and Blade II and they won't be disappointed with Hellboy. From gloomy dripping subway tunnels to stark Russian graveyards Del Toro has created a more convincing comic book world than almost anyone else who's brought a graphic novel to the big screen in recent years (Spider-Man's Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer's X-Men flicks are notable exceptions). The lines colors and composition of his shots seem like they could be lifted right from Mike Mignola's pages and Marco Beltrami's eerie/ominous score makes Hellboy's world feel all that much more dangerous. The effects aren't half-bad either. Someone on Rick Baker's creature team seems to have a grudge against squid (every one of the demonic beasties Hellboy battles is positively bristling with tentacles) but the fights are fast furious and fun. Del Toro who also wrote the script does let the film stray perilously close to Daredevil-like cheesiness in a few spots ("All us freaks have is each other!" Abe declares at one point) and the climactic confrontation stretches out a little too long but overall Hellboy is a well-paced bit of adrenaline that's guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.
Appeared in the John Sturges directed, "Mystery Street"
After second marriage, settled in England
Re-teamed with Sturges for "Kind Lady"
Appeared in Claude Berri's "Marry Me, Marry Me"
Made film acting debut in "The Guilt of Janet Ames"
Played Joseph Cotten's wife in "A Delicate Balance"' last film for more than a decade
Was understudy for role of Laura in the original Broadway production of "The Glass Menagerie"
Appeared on Broadway in support of Ethel Merman in Cole Porter's "Panama Hattie"
Returned to features in "Flight of the Spruce Goose"
Won an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her sensitive, plain schoolteacher in "Marty"
Acted in Michelangelo Antonioni's "Il Grido/The Outcry"
Returned to acting as Sister Mary Catherine in the CBS miniseries "Scarlett"
Moved to France and lived there for about five years
Joined the chorus of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, where Gene Kelly was working as choreographer
Returned to Broadway in William Saroyan's "The Beautiful People"; produced and directed by the playwright
Cast as Lady McLaidlaw in the TV remake of "Suspicion" (PBS)
Played Tom Berringer's mother in Costa-Gavras' "Betrayed"
Portrayed spinster schoolteacher who does not get her man in Juan Antonio Bardem's "Calle Mayor/The Lovemaker"
Played the daughter of an aristocratic family in "Another Part of the Forest"
Betsy Blair began her career on stage in the early 1940s and, after a break for marriage and motherhood with her first husband, dancing legend Gene Kelly, made her film debut in "The Guilt of Janet Ames" (1947). She went on to draw notice for her turn as a down-on-her-luck rich girl in "Another Part of the Forest" and as one of the mad women in "The Snake Pit" (both 1948). Blair, though, was perhaps best remembered for her sensitive portrayal of the plain schoolteacher who finds love with Ernest Borgnine in "Marty" (1955), for which she earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.<p> After separating from Kelly, Blair moved to Europe where she played another schoolteacher in Juan Antonio Bardem's "Calle Mayor" ("The Lovemaker") (1956). However, this time her character's attempts to realize a lasting romance came to naught. She acted in Michelangelo Antonioni's "Il Grido" ("The Outcry") (1957) and Claude Berri's "Marry Me, Marry Me" (1969), but for the most part remained content in a state of virtual retirement, from which she emerged periodically for projects like Tony Richardson's film version of Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" (1973), Costa-Gavras' "Betrayed" (1988) in which she starred as Tom Berenger's mother, and the CBS miniseries "Scarlett" (1994). In 2001, the flame-haired actress re-emerged once again to play a key role in the film adaptation of "The Hours," starring Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore. She died of cancer on March 13, 2009 at the age of 85.