A lot of people have way more free time on their hands than they used to (for very poignant reasons), plus there are more ways to watch movies than ever before, so the nostalgia pit has been beckoning with a treacherous appeal of scary new magnitude. And there are plenty of classic indies that lend themselves to watching them over and over for nuances — or just for their culty essence. But I’m here to urge you to stay away! Don’t get addicted to viewing old indies!
The 50th New York Film Festival is bookmarked by two films in which disasters lead to personal awakenings. The opening movie on September 28 is Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI, a 3D adventure tale about an Indian boy’s antics with various wildlife after a shipwreck sets them adrift on the ocean. The closing night attraction is Robert Zemeckis’ FLIGHT, about a pilot, played by Denzel Washington, who saves a plane — if not necessarily his life — from crashing.
Last year, Andrew Haigh’s WEEKEND proved to be a low-key drama about a gay hookup that lasted as long as the title, with bittersweet results. The film was sincere and likable and once again sent out the message that indie cinema bravely goes where Hollywood rarely dares.
Indie films are usually small-scale labors of love compared to all those soulless blockbusters and sequels — but does that mean the stars of these films promote them with any more elan?
Celebrities have been coming out in droves lately, in most cases either quietly or posthumously. (You don’t even have to be alive anymore to become out of the closet!)
As someone who’s always fought for truth in celebrity reporting and honesty on the part of big-name subjects, I’m thrilled at the avalanche of people saying they’re gay and it’s OK. It’s helped create an atmosphere where homosexuality and bisexuality aren’t dirty secrets anymore; they’re perfectly reportable aspects of public figures’ biographies. In a world where celebs talk at length about their private lives — and the media scrutinizes them even more — it always seemed absurd to leave that one glaring aspect out of the picture, as if that’s where the privacy line should be drawn for taste’s sake.
Matthew McConaughey has successfully burst out of his rom-com treadmill and made his mark in some dark and fascinating projects this year. In BERNIE — the Richard Linklater true-story film in which mortician Jack Black kills rich lady Shirley MacLaine but pretends she’s still alive — McConaughey had fun as the heat-seeking D.A. thrust into the case who makes things even more strangely comical. In MAGIC MIKE, he was Dallas, the owner and MC of a male strip club, a guy for whom squeals and screams are the preferred soundtrack of life. And now, he gets his most offbeat role of all in KILLER JOE, the William Friedkin-directed adaptation of the Tracy Letts play that centers on white trash at each other’s throats, with McConaughey’s character calling the dirty shots.
The AMERICAN PIE series hasn’t exactly been Shakespeare — so far — and even when Jason Biggs has branched out into a Woody Allen movie (ANYTHING ELSE), it turned out to be one of Woody’s weakest, before the neurotic auteur magically found inspiration again. So it’s good to see Biggs doing a fine job in GRASSROOTS, a shaggy new movie based on the true story of a fired alternative weekly writer (Biggs) who helped his friend the music critic run for Seattle City Council in 2001.
The world’s funniest crabapple, Joan Rivers, goes to see movies now and again – no doubt to get ammunition for her monologues – and what she usually finds is discomfort, rudeness, and total annoyance. And not just on the screen.
In her new book, I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me, Rivers declares war on those who make cinema an experience in anxiety. Says she, “I hate people who go to the movies and act like they’re watching Netflix in their den.” Hallelujah!
I’m not versus LOLA VERSUS. I basically found it engaging. But even a freewheeling labor of love like this can have an occasional run in its pantyhose.
In addressing the comedy—about a woman about to turn 30 who gets dumped by her fiancé and requires a complete lifestyle revamp–I’ll start with the negatives, just to get them out of the way.
Does wearing a pink ribbon automatically help cure breast cancer? Well, a bold and moving new documentary argues that it might actually be detrimental to the cause.
Lea Pool’s PINK RIBBONS, INC. shows how the ribbon—which started decades ago as an activist gesture—became coopted by corporate America and was sold to the masses to instill them with hope and inspiration.
Not that sequels prequels, slapstick comedies, superhero flicks, and action/adventure thrillers can’t be intelligent, lol. But still, can we expect anything a cut above? Yes! Some warm-weather flicks are filtering in made by actual artistes with real aspirations, at least judging from the heady descriptions. Some of them are even coming before summer’s official start date. Here are some of the most promising looking options for your summer cinema plans:
When Hollywood is angling to drum up some easy box office returns, they invariably raid an old TV series for a remake that they can pull off with higher production values and bigger stars, if not always larger amounts of vigor and imagination.
Most recently, 21 Jump Street joined the legacy of TV-to-movie epics like Mission: Impossible, The A Team, Charlie’s Angels, The Mod Squad, The Flintstones, and a whole bunch more, the results ranging from sheer escapist fun filled with misty memories of shows that helped shape our characters to sheer torture that should have stayed in the tube, where it died a gruesome death long ago.
Dogs have always made great screen icons because they get an automatic “Awww” reaction from the vast majority of moviegoers. (Except for me, that is. I find them annoying and generally don’t even want them in the same room. But enough about me.)
TITANIC is not just a movie—it’s a phenomenon, an event, and a colossus—but it could have easily swerved in another direction. I vividly remember the period right before James Cameron’s wildly expensive 1997 epic about the legendary luxury liner tragedy came to shore. Amidst all the hype and speculation, a lot of pundits were predicting a whole other type of disaster than the one the film documented: A bomb!
America’s ‘90s sweetheart, Julia Roberts is entering a sort of grand dame phase, which is interesting as she unexpectedly ages into character-actor territory.
Once the fresh-faced star of dramas and rom-coms—and the loveliest prostitute in ages in 1990’s PRETTY WOMAN—Roberts was an appealing ingénue with a smile that brightened any screen and a fascinating ability to laugh and cry at the same time. I always thought she was a good actress—not just a good movie star—and was beside myself when she won the Oscar for 2000’s ERIN BROCKOVICH, playing a fiery legal assistant with cleavage and chutzpah.
No, not yours! Your phone should be hidden somewhere so far away you wouldn’t even be able to find it until the film’s long over.
But when other people pull them out and use them—and they do—it’s time for some serious ego whooping worthy of the action star you paid to see.
Last year’s Academy Awards telecast awkwardly tried for laughs, but most critics felt the only real joke was that the show got on the air at all. Well, it’s a whole new year, with fresh chances for button pushing and laugh grabbing. And bravely returning for his ninth hosting gig, Billy Crystal is just the man who can save the extravaganza from having to add a laugh track.
Billy’s always been a regular riot—but just in case he needs a little help with his material, I’m here to provide a bunch of topically hilarious one-liners completely gratis, to guarantee that he uncovers comic gold rather than step in tragic ick. All I ask in return is a gift bag and five tickets to the after party. All right, four.
That’s an easy one: You don’t!
Your chances of getting a show on the air are as slim as those of finding Willie Wonka’s golden ticket in your mail or chomping down on the Hope Diamond in your lo mein.
Oh sure, once in a blue moon an unsolicited pitch can lead to something—but when was the last time you saw a blue moon except for the SMURF movie? I’ve even done pitches with big people—household names, I swear–who actually had development deals with networks, and they went nowhere faster than a BUCKY LARSON sequel!
This year’s Oscar telecast (set for February 26) has been on a hopeful track ever since they announced that an actual comic was going to be the host.
But even Billy Crystal can only do so much. All the stuff around him needs to be spruced up pronto to ensure that the whole Oscar machine doesn’t become as obsolete as silent movies (except for THE ARTIST, of course).
And I know the answer.
For a lifeline, the producers need to venture into New York’s wildest nightclubs and learn some valuable lessons about how to put on a show.
The illustrious Oscar nominations will be announced on January 24, which gives the choosers ample time to read my urgent plea for them to not leave out some of my favorite people!
After all, I care about the Oscars more than life itself, so ignoring my longings would be as sadistically ill-advised as some of the performances that are already locks.
So now that I have the nominators’ attention, I’ll step up and scream the following:
Traditionally, January is the time when studios dump their loser movies into the recycling bin of the public’s consciousness, tossing ill-fated action flicks with monosyllabic actors or woebegone romantic comedies with badly matched C-listers into theaters because people are too cold to leave the house anyway.
By January, the Oscar rush has come and gone, and it’s the time to cut one’s losses and release some of those less golden efforts in hopes that they might find an audience despite it all, even if it’s just angry people who get off on yelling epithets at the screen to impress their passive-aggressive dates.
When I was a pale young thing growing up in Brooklyn, cigarettes were extremely alluring. Movie stars glamorously smoked them on the big screen, people elegantly puffed away on them in airplanes, and classy New York restaurants saw chain smoking as the height of sophistication. Taking my cue from all the hype, I once snuck into the cellar as a kid and took two hits off a Parliament I’d gotten my hands on, then filled the room with Wizard to make sure there was no trace left of my incredibly intoxicating indiscretion. All while coughing and choking my guts out.
Jump ahead a whole bunch of decades and it’s lucky I never had an addictive personality because I haven’t touched a cigarette since then, and by now that kind of thing would be considered the devil’s work! It’s unhealthy, uncouth, and all around unpopular.
In Steve McQueen’s much buzzed about SHAME, Michael Fassbender is a New York professional who’s focused on scoring more than on sharing, and who will hook up with almost any dame he sees, as long as he doesn’t get to know her first.
But this is hardly the first screen treatise on the hollowness of sexual anonymity…
Be thankful you’re not in a wildly popular film franchise. It can be career suicide! Yes, you get to be incredibly famous and make tons of money—as long as you stay safely within that franchise and keep delivering the same role to a young audience hungry for the repetition. Just as younger LORD OF THE RINGS cast members have had a hard time striking gold outside that series of lucrative adventures, so have the TWILIGHT gang been finding that not only do vampires suck, but out-of-the-box career ops can too.
With THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN Part 1 poised to make trillions starting November 18, it has to be bittersweet for the cast, who’ve struggled to break the dawn for themselves by scoring with non-Twilight projects (and they’re gonna need some really soon).