Paul Giamatti

SIDEWAYS and the bitterly human comedies of Alexander Payne

Article: SIDEWAYS and the bitterly human comedies of Alexander Payne

Is SIDEWAYS, which airs tonight at 10P on Sundance Channel, Alexander Payne’s masterpiece? It’s got some competition, to be sure: Many would cite ELECTION, his bitter satire about a high school student council election, as the Payne film that continues to resonate most over the years. Personally, I always had a soft spot for ABOUT SCHMIDT, his Oscar-nominated comedy-drama about a recently widowed Jack Nicholson traveling across the country in his Winnebago. And then of course there’s THE DESCENDANTS, which netted a bunch of awards and nominations last year (and won Payne his second Best Screenwriting Oscar).

SIDEWAYS and the bitterly human comedies of Alexander Payne

Article: SIDEWAYS and the bitterly human comedies of Alexander Payne

Is SIDEWAYS, which airs tonight at 10P on Sundance Channel, Alexander Payne’s masterpiece? It’s got some competition, to be sure: Many would cite ELECTION, his bitter satire about a high school student council election, as the Payne film that continues to resonate most over the years. Personally, I always had a soft spot for ABOUT SCHMIDT, his Oscar-nominated comedy-drama about a recently widowed Jack Nicholson traveling across the country in his Winnebago. And then of course there’s THE DESCENDANTS, which netted a bunch of awards and nominations last year (and won Payne his second Best Screenwriting Oscar).

Top 10 movie meltdowns

Article: Top 10 movie meltdowns

One of the most enjoyable things about movie watching is that moment when someone loses his or her crackers, even if just for a moment, showing us a whole other shade of character. And as enjoyable as it is for the audience, we suspect that it’s probably lots of fun for the actors to let loose a little too. A compendium of raging, comic, emotional and/or heartbreaking meltdowns follows.

The wackiest sci-fi flick at Sundance: Paul Giamatti and filmmaker Don Coscarelli on JOHN DIES AT THE END

Article: The wackiest sci-fi flick at Sundance: Paul Giamatti and filmmaker Don Coscarelli on JOHN DIES AT THE END

JOHN DIES AT THE END, the latest bizarro sci-fi flick from genre filmmaker Don Coscarelli (of BUBBA HO-TEP fame), opens with a bang.

A designer drug called “soy sauce” grants users a paranormal, out-of-body experience, but also transforms them into disgusting, insect-filled zombie creatures. John (Rob Mayes) is frantic. He calls his best friend—and fellow slacker—Dave (Chase Williamson), who rushes over to his house. They soon encounter a cute, unassuming girl with a scar on her face. Before the two guys can say “soy sauce,” she explodes into hundreds of snakes that bite and tear at the two pals. John runs up the stairs to try and escape, but the door handle turns into a penis, which he refuses to turn. Then, various meats from the basement freezer—sausages, steaks, chickens, etc.—begin shooting across the floor, forming a “meat monster” with a turkey for a head who addresses the boys in a demonic voice.

Sundance Film Festival Review Roundup: WIN WIN

Article: Sundance Film Festival Review Roundup: WIN WIN

Tom McCarthy’s WIN WIN, starring Paul Giamatti as a small-time New Jersey lawyer and high school wrestling coach who takes over guardianship of one of his elderly clients, is shaping up to be an early Sundance Film Festival favorite. Marshall Fine, writing in the Huffington Post, calls the film “touchingly funny” and says it features…

Harvey Pekar Dies At 70

Article: Harvey Pekar Dies At 70

On July 12, 2010, Harvey Pekar, creator and writer of the autobiographical comic book American Splendor, was found dead at his home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  While the world may never have fully appreciated the richness of his talent, to those in the know, Pekar was one of the great American storytellers. His work focused…

THE LAST STATION

Article: THE LAST STATION

Anton Chekhov’s novella “My Life” reads like the first half of Leo Tolstoy’s life. A socially rebellious youth from a wealthy family who rejects the privileges of his class, denounces his education and sets out to make a life for himself amongst the working people. THE LAST STATION, however, is concerned only with the great man’s final days, more concerned, perhaps, than the great man himself. The film, like the ardent young Tolstoyans who hang on his every word, seeks to preserve his legacy even when Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) isn’t so sure what that is. Like Christians who follow the Bible to the letter, he is disappointed, it seems, or perhaps bewildered that his friends and believers obey ideals he once advocated for like abstinence, for example, when he himself doesn’t hesitate to make love to his wife.

The original bromance … John Hamburg’s SAFE MEN

Article: The original bromance … John Hamburg’s SAFE MEN

On the eve of a new Paul Giamatti comedy, COLD SOULS (opens 8/7), and with Sam Rockwell’s MOON in theatres now, I decided to return to an early comedy for these talented actors. It’s SAFE MEN (1998), the first film from writer-director John Hamburg, and it’s … well, it’s the Father of Bromance.

Okay, I should say the Father of Modern Bromance. A simple google search got me to the history of the bromance, wherein references to Han and Chewie and Felix and Oscar (bromance amongst all bromances) set me straight. (See IGN.com’s top ten bromance couples here.) Although – side note – they clearly understand bromance as synonomous to The Buddy Film; I understand it more as The Buddy Comedy. And Modern Bromance? 90s-inspired, Apatow-flavored man-love? The general public may think the Apatow craze spawned movies this summer like (Hamburg’s) I LOVE YOU, MAN and HUMP DAY, but I contend it all started with SAFE MEN.

Festival Updates Interview: Sophie Barthes of COLD SOULS

Article: Festival Updates Interview: Sophie Barthes of COLD SOULS

Faith Salie speaks with COLD SOULS director Sophie Barthes and actor Paul Giamatti in the Sundance Channel Studio. Presented by Honda, The Power of Dreams.