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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Emma Stone (31)

Sunday
Oct192014

Review: Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

An abridged version of this review was originally posted in Nathaniel's weekly column at Towleroad. It is reposted here, with their permission.

 

A card in the bottom right hand of the star's mirror reads:

"A thing is a thing. Not what is said of that thing." 
-Susan Sontag

Which immediately complicates or maybe simplifies celebrity and art, two major themes (among a handful) of Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's one of a kind new film experience. It's destined for major Oscar nominations and you should see it immediately. The movie has the simple and then complicated title of Birdman, Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as befits its duality perfectly. This quote is never addressed in the film but it's always stubbornly lodged there in that mirror, defying or playfully encouraging conversation about what this movie actually is. And what is film criticism or its more popular cousin, after-movie conversation over dinner drinks or online other than conversation that attempts to interpret and define?

Critics are often treated with petulant hostility in movies about show business, as if the filmmakers have an axe to grind and need to do that with grindstone in hand while their critical avatar/puppet hangs there limply, waiting to be struck with the sharpened blade. Birdman is no exception, immediately insulting its formidable theater critic Tabitha (Lindsay Duncan) as having a face that 'looks like she just licked a homeless man's ass,' before she's even spoken a line. But Tabitha is a slippery mark, portrayed as a voice of integrity in one scene and then a vicious unprofessional monster in another. This calls into question the reality of her scenes altogether

... which is not unusual in Birdman.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct182014

Meet the Contenders: Emma Stone "Birdman"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, BIRDMAN which is marvelous as previously noted.

Emma Stone as Sam Thomson in Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Best Supporting Actress

Born: Emily Jean Stone was born November 6, 1988 in Scottsdale, Arizona

The Role: Known for his sprawling (and epically depressing) Oscar-nominated films (21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful), writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu tries his hand at a more comedic film with Birdman. Don't worry, it may have laugh-out-loud humor, but it's still as satirical, dark, and complex as we would expect from the filmmaker. The film centers on a movie star, Riggan Thomson, most famous for playing a costumed superhero (played by Best Actor contender Michael Keaton) that attempts to revive his career by mounting a play on Broadway. Stone plays his resentful daughter, who was recently released from rehab and now works as her father's personal assistant. She also forms an unlikely bond with the play's egotistical leading man (Best Supporting Actor contender Edward Norton).

Previous Brushes with Oscar and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct122014

Birdman Conference & Party: Egos, Creative Challenges and "A Critical Presence"

Choosing Birdman as the closing night film of the 52nd New York Film Festival was a smart move. Premiering in the slot right after it would have been a truly humbling experience for another film. Not that I wish to inflate Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's ego any further.

Iñárritu, Norton, Watts and Amy Ryan at the premiere

In the press conference that immediately followed our screening yesterday he admitted that it's already enormous. "Inquisitor. Tyrant. Dictator" are just three of his names for his own ego and the idea for Birdman was to explore the inner struggle with ego and the creative process. Innaritu says he starts most creative projects thinking  "This is great, fantastic, very genius!" and shortly thereafter has a bipolar switcheroo "You're a stupid asshole. This is a piece of shit, no one would care about it!" He thought this creative struggle would  be a cool thing to dramatize on film though he didn't mean it to be specifically about the ego of actors. He actually thinks they don't have big egos. "Politicans have bigger egos...even my dentist!" he added spontaneously to much laughter in the room. "He's an asshole. He makes me suffer and I pay him."  

Michael Keaton's internal creative struggle takes a slightly different turn "I go through, 'Oh you're the greatest, you're wonderful. And then 20 minutes later... no, you're actually more than that Michael!"

Throughout the conference the actors found ways to keep the mood light and funny. Somehow Naomi Watts became the favorite member of the cast to tease, which was interesting because the actress she plays onscreen is riddled with insecurity. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul162014

Lukewarm Off Presses: Colin, Emma, Birdman and Thor

You might have thought you were done discussing these but I'm just getting around to posting about them, so don't shut your trap just yet. Here's five stories that we didn't get to in anything like a timely fashion but so what? Time is a flat circle

Story 1 COLIN IN TALKS
I was going to wait to post about this until it was official and not just "in talks" but since the internet moves with the speed of everything casually mentioned as fact that everyone is aware of and will be old tomorrow, it should be noted that it looks like Colin Farrell will be the leading man of True Detective Season 2 (possibly Taylor Kitsch beside him). Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey will be tough shoes to fill but as I relayed on twitter, he's a smart idea because people will be surprised when he's great because they haven't noticed that he often is. It's very Matthew McConaughey if you think about it. An actor who was always talented and then only through a unique set of career moves did people admit it and suddenly acted like he was a brand new actor. And then they overpraised but that's another topic. 

Colin has been utterly amazing a couple of times (Tigerland and In Bruges) but even in his less heralded successful or more divisive pieces where the performance arguably feels more strained (A Home at the End of the World, Alexander, Saving Mr Banks) he often feels like he's reaching for greatness. He doesn't phone it in... which is more than can be said for many actors who get paychecks that big.

Story 2 FESTIVALITIS
The Fall Film Festivals are approaching which means before too long I will be having weekly nervous breakdowns trying to keep up with all the news and discuss all the Oscar buzz. I'm waiting on my TIFF credentials now but it's exciting to hear that Venice will open with Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance starring Michael Keaton and Emma Stone. (I had never quite processed that it had a longer title than just "Birdman" though we've already discussed the brilliant trailer) Websites are already speculating on which films will show up at which festivals but I prefer not to try and guess. Half the excitement of festivals is all the "another present? for me!? ABUNDANCE!" elation that comes with discovering the goods. And since I can't afford to go to them all I don't want to worry about the films I'm missing at the other ones.

Story 3 A FEMALE THOR
It's probably worth mentioning that Marvel has announced that we'll have a female Thor for awhile (in the comics. Don't worry for Chris Hemsworth's career just yet) and she'll be wielding Mjölnir. Superheroes are replaced more often than the layman thinks within comics (and actors are replaced in movies too -Bruce Banner holla!) but it almost always reverts back to the original guy.

Besides messing up all of our favorite Thor/Dr Horrible jokes...

...this news bugs me for two reasons.

  1. A female hero (Yay!) but she'll just be a glorified substitute (Boo!) for the real thing (a man, natch). What kind of message is that sending?
  2. This is in the comics where there have been several female superheroes given their own books over time. What we need is a female superhero at the movies. That would still be revolutionary which is a pretty pathetic thing to type in 2014. Female characters have been carrying stories in virtually ever medium for as long as any of those mediums existed. And yet the studios are still assuming that female superheroes can't carry movies... don't they realize that two of our top ten grossers this year thus far are essentially female superhero movies (Divergent & Maleficent) but not by name and in entirely different genres.

 

soon every movie will be a bit expensive one episode season of a tv seriesStory 4 FRANCHISES WILL BE THE DEATH OF US ALL
There's some speculation happening in the superhero-crazed internet (when isn't there?) that Sony is rethinking that whole Amazing Spider-Man reboot thing now that the movies are underperforming and just as they were announcing a whole set of spinoff movies around them. Release Emma* & Andrew into the wild again, I BEG YOU!

"Underperforming" is a sad word when these movies should have bombed spectacularly. Shouldn't you at least have to wait for another generation to arrive before you yell "do over!"? All the movie studios want to essentially make movies into multiple TV series that release one big expensive 2 hour long episode each season so there are 22 superhero films on the way in the next 4 years and Universal is now going to try an interconnected Classic Monsters Universe. Um, none of those monsters except for the Invisible Man ever went away? Talk about long running franchises. I guess, in keeping with tradition, we should start complaining now that the Bride of Frankenstein is never going to get her own solo movie so it's another universe that will utterly fail the Bechdel Test.

Tell me something that will give me hope for the future in the comments!

* Story 5: EMMA & WOODY
Since Emma Stone was already name-checked twice in this post ... let's note that she is also filming her second Woody Allen movie in a row (Untitled 2015) before Magic in the Moonlight has even landed so expect media stories about Emma as Woody's new muse in  3...2...1...

Do you think she'll pull a Scarlett and make a third? Her romantic interest isn't Colin Firth this time.

 

 

Friday
Jun132014

Yes No Maybe So: Birdman

How did we end up here? In this dump. You were a movie star, remember?

Surely one of the year's most intriguing features in concept and casting alone, is Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu's Birdman. The director collaborating with the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (fresh off his Oscar win for Gravity) trains the movie camera on the best Batman (I'm with Seth Rogen's in Neighbors on this one) as he plays a has-been movie star famous for playing a character named "Birdman". Now he's on stage years later trying to rejuvenate his career.

Concept and casting alone were enough for a "maybe so" tilting yes. And then came advance word from test screenings that the film really delivers across the board in performance so "yes". And then came the teaser which begins with a 41 second continuous shot like its asking me to marry it. So now I'm at 'Yaaaaas! I will. I will. I do!"

Making the traditional Yes No Maybe So a more lopsided formality than is healthy after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May232014

Yes No Maybe So: "Magic in the Moonlight"

Another year, another Woody Allen. Same as it ever was. Coming off another professional high Blue Jasmine but a personal low, will people turn out? Woody films are always hard to predict, reception wise both critically and at the box office (I'm still so alarmed at how successful To Rome With Love was despite being so so terrible), from abject failures to Oscar nominees. But let's talk about Magic in the Moonlight ... or at least our futurist perception of it based on its new trailer. 

The Yes No Maybe So™ breakdown is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May022014

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Linkdown

Art of the Title has an amazing 3-part retrospective / interview with title designer Pablo Ferro. His work includes: Bullitt, Married to the Mob, Dr Strangelove, Beetlejuice, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and so many other greats
The New Yorker "why Mean Girls is a classic" even esteemed publications got into the 10th anniversary frenzy. Good piece from Richard Brody
The Dissolve Joaquin Phoenix will headline the next Woody Allen film, the one after Magic in the Moonlight. The prolific auteur isn't slowing down his one-a-year pac. Phoenix isn't slowing down either; remember how just a few short years ago, people thought Phoenix's career was over? The joke was on us.) 

 

Vulture Bilge Ebiri sticks his neck out for "Why Adam Sandler Matters"
Paper Mag 5 Most Swintessential Moments from Tilda Swinton's career. Love this though none are her actual acting & filmography which is tops. 
Playbill Idina Menzel & Julie Andrews talk FrozenWicked and The Sound of Music Live! on "Watch What Happens Live". Julie is very magnanimous about Carrie Underwood but I love the hint of 'i'm aware you all think i'm just being diplomatic' utter vagueness of "acting is acting is acting". Ha!

I thought she was great. Listen, she made it her own. But listen: acting is acting is acting."

The Wire pontificates on Emma Stone's career now that redundant superhero movie is in theaters. Shouldn't her career be so much more by now?
Cosmopolitan interviews Amy Schumer on 'sneaky feminism,' Parker Posey, plastic surgery and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck
Pajiba this is how you assemble a damn cast. On Joe Swanberg's wonderful ensembles 
AV Club is fear of TV cancellations a thing of the past? Shows with low ratings are no longer automatically doomed and fan passion counts for far more than it once did.
Gothamist wonders if James Franco is doing okay. Get out of bed! 

Today's Must Read
Cléo wonderfully provocative piece on "Samantha" in Her (now on DVD) from Angelo Muredda:

Early on, Samantha is eager to establish herself as, if not a human, then at least something more ambitious than a machine. She proudly proclaims that what makes her her is the ability to grow through her experiences. “So basically,” she says, “in every moment I’m evolving, just like you.” The latter part of that statement reads as a veiled threat to Theodore, who seems rather stalled in his moody present state as a sad man who writes other people’s love letters for a living despite being unable to sign his own divorce papers. It is a succinct expression of the film’s male smugness: that a girlfriend who begins excited about the world and her boyfriend’s witty emails is still a girlfriend who will one day leave.