Conventional wisdom says Hollywood doesn’t have as many true movie stars as it used to, with the brightest stars’ wattage trending down ever since the days of Humphrey Bogart. Even in the 21st century, however, when devastatingly-good looks and charisma meet in one earthy vessel who makes good career choices, tickets get bought. A lot of tickets. These ten beautiful people’s films have generated over two billion apiece at the box office.
Don’t get freaked out by the title of this chapter – it’s not everyday that Christina Aguilera and a pre-wigged out Amanda Bynes can be referenced at the same time! But seriously, with the exception of Auti, who is married to the perfectly be-dimpled Eric, our girls are all looking for that special someone who will knock their wheels off.
And you don’t have to be a Calvin Klein model to catch their eye. Grab your chemistry set, put some Aretha Franklin on and have some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: a report from the frontline of WORLD WAR Z, the vanishing movie audience and Terrence Malick gets caught on film (but almost gets away).
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week: Tribeca starts, Cannes prepares to close, and a filmmaker goes “D’oh!” over a deer.
Folks, we’ve got a number of ensemble films out at the moment – big casts with big names. One, J.C. Chandor’s MARGIN CALL, a first feature that attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood, surprised even the most cynical of cinephiles. That’s a no-no in most industry circles, the prevailing wisdom being, “a new director just can’t attract the talent.” Go J.C. Chandor! Bring us back to the 90s! Other ensembles recently in theatres include TOWER HEIST and…HAPPY FEET TWO, which I would argue is the most ensemble-y of them all…
Are you about to saunter leisurely into this Bennett Miller blockbuster, as thousands of Americans have done already? Should you have even an ounce of baseball knowledge before seeing a film about baseball strategy? Well, maybe. It ain’t ANY GIVEN SUNDAY (Oliver Stone, 1999), a family drama that requires only the most basic understanding of football. MONEYBALL is slightly different. Watching Brad Pitt act his heart out as Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland A’s, is much more satisfying if you understand how and why players are traded and the ingrained culture that preceded Beane and his Assistant GM’s innovative method for evaluating undervalued players. But are there other factors at work to keep you engaged just in case you’re a baseball-ignorant heathen? Yes…
I recently posted on THE TREE OF LIFE, the Terrence Malick lush-fest that has been blowing minds – like explosions in space – since its recent release. I wrote about the film and parenting, a subject that comes up infrequently if you Google the two terms together. After a few conversations with friends, I’d like to follow up. And yes, full disclosure, I’m a parent of two boys (7 and 2), and a filmmaker too (SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS), so both are equally relevant. (Did I just equate my love for my children to my love for movies? The parent police should be at my door momentarily.)
I saw THE TREE OF LIFE last night at the Sunshine Theatre in New York, and no surprise here – I loved it. As an urbanite at heart and decades-long Malick fan, I went in expecting to like it, and this epic look at life through lenses both broad and narrow did not disappoint. Here’s one revelation: if a twenty-something newbie director had paired dinosaurs with the intimate story of one Texas family, I very well may have balked. But I’ve been in a relationship with Malick for years now, and I trust him. I’d go anywhere with the guy, so cuts between sunshine-drenched babies draped in gauzy white to (next shot) an exploding star deep within space seem amazing, not pretentious. The scope of the project and its ability to move between things small and large feels truly groundbreaking. The one thing I was not expecting from the film was its specific meditation on parenting. In detailing small moments in the daily lives of the adoring-playful Mother and the adoring-stern Father (Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt), Malick paints a stark contrast between child-rearing approaches but is never overtly critical. As a friend said, it was the most patient and thorough examination of the small trials of parenting that she’s seen on the screen (and the day after with her own kids was more or less a misty-eyed affair), as the film ultimately asks us to cherish the living through all the small struggles and heart aches – especially if they happen to be our progeny.
The release of Terrence Malick’s latest film, THE TREE OF LIFE, has been accompanied by so many years of secrecy and anticipation that as both a critic and a Malick devotee it feels somewhere sacrilegious not to give into wholehearted praise and adoration. While THE TREE OF LIFE is nothing short of masterful, it is by no means a perfect film. New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane puts it well: “…no less perilous, however, is our assumption that merely because a movie…was pondered and kept secret for a lengthy period it must tower above its more precipitate peers.”
It was about midway through the opening titles when I stopped taking INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS seriously. Why does Tarantino insist on changing the font half a dozen times? More legitimate problems with the film itself arose after a promising opening scene (with Christoph Waltz, whose ability to pull off an SS officer fresh from a Hollywood backlot speaks to his talent as an actor) when Brad Pitt saunters onscreen as Basterd-leader Aldo Raine. Raine maintains a look of constipation throughout the entire film, but what is supposed to be a cocky smirk, along with a thick Tennessee accent (funny!) and a scar that wraps around his neck, is all the backstory we get on him and his eight Jewish minions, and it’s hardly enough to give them and their killing spree any credibility. They remain strangers; All we’re able to grasp about them is their brutality.