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Entries in Emma Stone (34)

Monday
Dec222014

Red Carpet: Best Looks of 2014

Year in Review. Two yummy look backs each day!

Jose here. With awards season underway, and a whole new roster of red carpet superstars about to be born (Felicity Jones, we salute you), it's time to celebrate the absolute best red carpet looks of the year that was, which have us revisit a few familiar faces and welcome the return of old fashioned, ridiculously grand Hollywood glamour!

2014's Best Red Carpet Looks


10. Lupita Nyong'o in Ralph Lauren 
Nyong'o was the breakthrough star of 2013 with each of her looks besting whatever it is she had worn to the previous event and the celebration continuing on through Oscar night. The MVP was this red column gown with sewed in cape that she wore to the Golden Globes, which made her look like a true fashion superhero.

9. Emma Stone in Thakoon
While pink is usually a big no-no on the red carpet (only SJP and Gwynnie have succeeded in pulling it off in the last couple of decades) leave it to Emma Stone to not only wear two contrasting shades of pink, but also pull off a bare midriff, a side braid and silver accessories (!!!!) effortlessly. Kudos for sticking to a young brand and showing starlets that you can be sexy while remaining almost practically covered. 

Felicity Jones, Fan Bingbing, and perennial chart-topper Cate Blanchett come after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov252014

Stage Door: Emma Stone in "Cabaret"

Jose here. Earlier this year I reported back from the Kit Kat Club to share my impressions about Michelle Williams’ performance as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cabaret. Last night I went back to see what Emma Stone (Spirit-Nominated this morning) brought to the part...

Halfway through the first act of Cabaret, Sally Bowles realizes that life with her naive, new lover Cliff (Bill Heck) might be exactly what she needs. She sits with Cliff on a chaise lounge and for a moment she sees herself living the life of a wife and mother, satisfied with keeping home and raising her child. Suddenly, the Emcee interrupts this precious moment by bringing a microphone, its allure too powerful for Sally to resist, and drawn towards it as if under a spell, she performs “Maybe This Time”.

Onstage, the heartbreaking irony of this moment (Sally selling her soul to showbiz, while fooling herself into thinking she’s doing the opposite) is hard to detect if the actress playing her is too eager, or not eager enough; a delicate balance which I’m thrilled to report was beautifully achieved by Emma Stone.

Having already proved to be a truly magnetic screen presence, Stone brings her unusual sensuality to Sally Bowles by subverting the quirkiness that makes her so much fun to watch in movies. Gone are the traces of the goofy girl from Easy A, or the naivete of her Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. If anything, she’s taking on the introspective self-destructiveness of her Sam from Birdman, the same volatile qualities that make her appealing and scary. Her Sally is a teenager who has convinced herself she can fool others into thinking she can play with the grown-ups. Her levels of delusion are such that she fails to notice she hasn’t really fooled anyone but herself.

Stone is also smart enough to know that in the stage version, Sally isn’t the star, she’s part of the ensemble. To a certain degree she's also a memory conveyed by Cliff who “writes” the show as it goes by looking back at his Berlin experiences. Stone’s Sally, while not the star of the show, is so seductive that we miss her whenever she’s not onstage, partly because we want to see her again, and partly because we are afraid of what will happen to her when we’re not looking after her. The audience develops caretaker feelings towards her, combined with sexual desire, making for Stone’s most mature performance to date.

And can she sing you ask? While she is obviously no Liza (then again who is?), Stone successfully delivers her numbers, bringing a raspy, sensual quality to them. (She often sounds like Lindsay Lohan did in her pop star moment!). Stone knows that singing isn’t her (or Sally's) true forte, so she lets this be an essential part of the performance, delivering the last third of the title song completely out of pitch, furiously fighting against the notes coming from the band. If a man can’t restrict her, why does this song think it can?

 

Wednesday
Nov052014

The Way Big Hero Looks in the Moonlight

As you read this I am en route to L.A. to join Anne Marie & Margaret at the AFI this week so expect coverage of A Most Violent Year and The Gambler premieres, a sneak peek at Selma, a Sophia Loren tribute, and more. But before that all start, and as I fly over some of you, brief thoughts on...

THREE SCREENINGS

THE WAY HE LOOKS 
Opens November 7th in limited release
Glenn has already smiled upon this Brazilian coming-of-age film in our ongoing Oscar foreign film race coverage but I wanted to offer my own thumbs way up, too. Like all niche audiences, LGBT people are sometimes too forgiving of bad movies so long as they meet their particular niche needs. But you can love The Way He Looks without any of the guilt that sometimes accompanies pleasure because it's very good.

This affecting high school drama is a love triangle of sorts that plays, smartly, more like a friendship triangle... since all three of its leads are still feeling their way toward their own futures, figuring themselves out. That's particularly true of Leonardo, who is blind and painfully aware that that limits his options. He still dreams of moving out of his parents house and really wants to do a foreign exchange program. His two best friends are Gabriel, a new boy in town who immediately puts him at ease, since he's unphased though sometimes a bit confused about the blindness, and Giovana his best girlfriend since childhood who walks him home every day from school and is so protective that she's become entirely codependent. Giovana resents Gabriel's growing place in Leo's life and nobody ever understands quite what anybody else if feeling. They're all immediately bruised by each other but still walking tightly arm in arm which makes for a hugely sympathetic totally relatable tale of first loves, young friendships and heartbreaks. It's endearing and, like Big Hero 6 (discussed next) it admires the good natures of its characters and their capacity for kindness and love. I don't mind sounding Pollyanna about this: I love seeing basically decent loving people dramatized on film.  That seems to be out of fashion in film and television characters so it's a special treat now when you see it, like a unicorn. B+

BIG HERO 6
Opens November 7th
Daring the long long shadow of The Incredibles, one of the best animated films and one of the best superhero films of all time, this initially very charming movie is about a genius robotics nerd named Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) whose older supremely good-natured brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), also a tech wizard, convinces him to develop his skills at college instead of wasting them on robot fights. Take that Real Steel! Tadashi's best invention is that white inflatable marshmallow like A.I. you've seen in the trailers named Baymax. A fateful series of events, which I won't spoil though I'm betting the trailers I haven't watched already did, changes everything and suddenly Hiro is furiously reconfiguring Baymax with armor and jetpacks and taking him far from his original purpose as an inhome nurse. Hiro teams up with his new college friends (hence the plurality of the title) to fight off a supervillain in a kabuki mask. The second half of the movie is quite a deflation, sadly. You can feel the pandering for all demographics and senses of humor and like so many visual effects movies the climax is just a mess of OVERLONG NOISY ACTION SETPIECE without much character weight, steering this movie towards "fun but predictable/disposable action-comedy".

But, you know, the things it does well are awfully hard to shake. And boy does that initial brotherly bond stick in the heart. The movie is decidedly pro education (nice to see in a movie), the animation is beautiful, and it's nothing short of wonderful to see a blockbuster family movie led, unambiguously, by people of color. They even used Asian actors for the voices. Well done.  B


MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT
Coming to DVD/BluRay in December
I had remembered this getting relatively mild reviews, inspiring neither loving nor loathing, so it was a surprise to discover a quite emphatically bad movie dully staring back at me. I didn't buy one single moment of it from Emma Stone's strangely lackluster star turn, to Colin Firth's mannered fussiness to the various relationships and plot "twists". I amend: I didn't buy one single moment of it that didn't involve Eileen Atkins as "Aunt Vanessa" who is the film's sole bright light, totally charming and authentically aunt-like both emotionally involved and appropriately removed from whatever is ailing her incorrigible celebrity nephew's heart and soul. That's really too bad because the core idea of the movie is "fun" if you will and there's a whole slew of good actors standing around with nothing good to play with. What's more the real life magician its riffing on, an Englishman who was globally famous, not as himself but in yellowface as a Chinese illusionist named Wei Ling Soo, is also richly fertile ground for a screenplay. It's easy to imagine a pretty great movie emerging from that historical figure and obviously several pretty great movies have emerged in the romantic comedy genre by pitting competing agendas against each other in the form of a man and a woman for whom falling in love is a gigantic inconvenience. But it doesn't remotely work, the romance especially (Firth & Stone have zero chemistry) and the smothering atmosphere is one of laziness... like no one is trying at all (particularly Stone & Allen) or like they're trying too hard (Colin Firth, Hamish Linklater) sensing the inconsequential piffle around them or like they're standing around wishing someone would ask them to try at all (Marcia Gay Harden). D

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...

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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...]

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