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Entries in Jesse Eisenberg (10)

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: Eco-Thrills in "Night Moves"

Tribeca coverage with Glenn on the latest from Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy)

“Reserved, even by Kelly Reichardt’s standards.” That was the line I used to describe this Portland director’s latest, Night Moves, after its screening at Tribeca. Having premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, it’s understandable that it didn’t make all that much noise in the intermediate months given it’s such a quiet, guarded film despite its eco-thriller roots and name cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. Like all of Reichardt’s films, however, it is that very low-key ingredient that makes it memorable. While it doesn’t soar to the breathtaking heights of Meek’s Cutoff, which just like Night Moves took a genre prone to testosterone-filled violence and twisted it into a elegant mood piece, her latest is a surprisingly thrilling experience even when its director seems to be actively trying to go against those genre instincts.

Eisenberg and Fanning star as Josh and Dena, young environmental activists with an unclear history. He works at an organic farm while she works at a women’s retreat and spa while attending meetings big on ideas but low on execution. Despite not being terribly friendly to one another they are off purchasing a boat and joining Sarsgaard’s Harmon in a location out of the city. The three plan on blowing up a dam that was built to allow people to “play their iPods non-stop” and killed native species in the process. They are environmentalists, but others will call them terrorists. In fact, one of the very best moments in the film is a lingering shot of an armed police guard at a rural farmer’s market. Society has always looked upon the environmentally conscious with a suspicious unease – consider why green political parties can never truly rise up against their more capitalist competition despite most people agreeing that two party systems are corrupt and terrible either way you cut it. Maybe that’s just me getting carried away, however.

What I found so interesting about Night Moves is the way Reichardt handles the thriller elements. She uses silence and performance to spike tension. An extended scene where Dena purchases fertilizer, using her baby-faced (how does she now look younger than her sister Elle?) to manipulate and disarm the garden store employees, casually throwing in a blunt-forced nudge to the sexism that is still alive and well – “You’d sell it to me if I looked like those guys.”  She allows her actors faces to guide the audience. When the detonation occurs, her camera remains tightly focused on Eisenberg, Fanning and Sarsgaard; their reactions being the audience trigger rather than overbearing orchestral demonstrations and pyrotechnics.

This take on the material is to be expected from, say, a film about a woman and her dog or a desolate Oregon Trail western, but I imagine many audiences will bump heads with the way she handles it here. It reminded me a lot of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, choosing to take a somewhat impressionistic approach rather than the sensationalist one that the material could typically result in. I appreciate that and these are always the type of films that tend to stick in my head longer than, say, Zal Batmanglij’s The East from last year. I didn’t too much like the way Fanning’s character devolved, especially given the way the screenplay by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond had developed the feminine elements of the story, but even then the keen eye of Reichardt and cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt allow for an overcast beauty throughout.

There’s little here that Reichardt non-devotees will find to sway them, but for me she remains a brilliantly talented name in modern film. I would easily rank her alongside the likes of Aaron Katz (whose Land Ho I reviewed at Sundance and is also playing at Tribeca) and Sofia Coppola as one of the most interesting American voices working in today. Night Moves is reserved, but is grounded in a reality that is more thrilling than most of what Hollywood throws our way.

Wednesday
Feb052014

Link Mommy, Link!

Vanity Fair interviews director John Hillcoat (Lawless, The Road) on his controversial Superbowl ad for Coke. I personally loved it. The right-wingers hate its reminder of America as melting pot.
NPR Jehane Noujaim's The Square, nominated for Best Documentary, is having trouble getting screened at home in Egypt 
Theater Mania interviews the great Charles Busch (Die Mommy, Die!) about his career and new play "The Tribute Artist" in which he does impressions of Marilyn, Bette Davis, and Katharine Hepburn among others. (I met Mr Busch at the anniversary Cabaret screening last year and he was so sweet)

Gothamist Alfonso Cuarón's Oscar campaign hits Lincoln Center soon for screenings and discussions of Children of Men and Gravity here in NYC. Ah c'mon Lincoln Center. Throw in Y Tu Mama Tambíen (still his best picture) and we'll totally be talking!
Pajiba on the whitewashing of Egyptian mythology on screen. Why not cast people of color. Joel Edgerton as Ramses? Gerard Butler as an Egyptian god? Ummmm
LA Times Spike Jonze acceptance speech at the WGA's for Her 

Coming Soon.
Mookie provides us with a list of the most exciting Chinese films coming this year. Lots of auteur epics and stars: Chang Chen, Tang Wei, Gong Li, and Takeshi Kaneshiro
Empire Russell Crowe's next drama Fathers and Daughters is from Italian director Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness) is loading up on starpower.Also cast: Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Quvenzhane Wallis, Octavia Spencer and Diane Kruger. 
THR Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe will costar in Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees about two suicidal men
Empire Alicia Vikander (yaaaasss) and Kit Harrington (well, he pretty) to co-star in World War I drama The Testament of Youth directed by James Kent. Incidentally Kent has had a long career in TV films but this will be his first feature.
Deadline an update on Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) and his third film The Lobster 

 Finally...
You have undoubtedly read in several places that Jonah Hill & Leonardo DiCaprio are both now attached to a film about the Olympics bombings of 1996. This time Hill will play Lead and Leo supports. It's based on this Vanity Fair article American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell so we assume it will be called American Nightmare in release (or something else) since that's more generic and that they'll pretend it's not based on anything if the Original Screenplay category looks like an easy get in 2015. (Why am I so cynical?). Certainly the two worked well together in WoWS. Can they recapture the magic and double Oscar nods again? The Wire wonders which movie duo they're aiming to be. 

And in case you missed it at Funny or Die... here is "Jesse Eisenberg's" leaked audition tape for Lex Luthor in Batman vs. Superman. I LOL'ed the most at the little pantomime of breaking Batma... well, I'll let you watch it.  

 

Saturday
Sep072013

TIFF: Boogie Nights Revisited as Radio Show

Jason Reitman's Live Reads have long since gained "event" status on the West Coast and occasionally here in Toronto. Last year's TIFF event, a live reading of  American Beauty won so many raves that I knew I had to be there for the live read of Boogie Nights, another 90s classic and one much dearer to my heart. ... My crotch? Somehow Boogie Nights played much dirtier read aloud which got me to appreciate the unbelievable balancing act of the movie all the more. Somehow Mark Wahlberg's dumb sweetness, Julianne Moore's eager-beaver maternal warmth, Melora Walters and Don Cheadle's lost soul puppy love and the entire cast's totally committed work in Paul Thomas Anderson's classic elevate the material (already great to begin with of course) into something both stylized and authentic and totally endearing.

This time through without the visuals what I appreciated most was the comic glories of its dimwitted poetry.  Like this from Dirk:

You don't know what I can do! You don't know what I can do, what I'm gonna do, or what I'm gonna be! I'm good! I have good things that you don't know about! I'm gonna be something! I am! And don't fucking tell me I'm not!

Or literal dimwitted poetry like this from Reed...

I love you, you love me | Going down the sugar tree |  We'll go down the sugar tree, and see lots of bees: playing, playing |  But the bees won't sting, because you love me

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Sunday
Jun022013

Box Office: Little Willie Style

Absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder. Will Smith quit headlining movies very abruptly 5 years ago. He stuck a toe back in box office waters last year for another Men in Black but the one-time king of summer movie blockbusters couldn't even beat a Jesse Eisenberg ensemble picture or a 6th edition of a long-in-the-tooth franchise with no bankable stars outside of that franchise? That's some sort of wake-up call but to whom and for what? Will? The Smith Family Players? M Night?

For his next trick, he'll make Will Smith giant-sized bankability disappear

BOX OFFICE TOP TEN
01 FAST & FURIOUS 6 $34.5 (cum. $170.3)
02 NOW YOU SEE ME  $28.5 *NEW* 
03 AFTER EARTH  $27 *NEW* M Night Shyamalan's Fall
04 STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS  $16.4 (cum. $181.1) The Dumbing Down of Star Trek
05 EPIC $16.4 (cum. $65.1)
06 THE HANGOVER PART III $15.9 (cum. $88)
07 IRON MAN THREE $8 (cum. $384.7) Reviewed & Podcasted
08 THE GREAT GATSBY $6.2 (cum. $128.2) Reviewed & Dreamt About
09 MUD  $1.2 (cum. $16.8)
10 THE CROODS $.6 (cum. $180.5)

In limited release Frances Ha nearly cracked the top ten in its third week and will pass Margot at the Wedding's gross quickly. The real test will be if it can break through to Squid and the Whale levels without the aid of awards buzz since we're not in the season.  Meanwhile, Before Midnight, which in a perfect world would be a $100 million blockbuster, wasn't very aggressive in expansion in its second week. I wonder what the future will hold for it?

What did you see this weekend?
I binged (hence the lack of posting) with two oldies having big anniversaries Adventures in Robin Hood and Cleopatra - good christ but that movie is a slog to watch in one sitting! - and three 2013 offerings (The East, Mud, and What Maisie Knew) so I should write something about something soon, shouldn't I?

Saturday
Mar162013

Vintage 1983

With nothing new in theaters worth getting excited about my head has been all over the (time) map of cinema. I picked this year somewhat arbitrarily to discuss.

Were you alive in 1983? Even if you weren't do you think of it fondly? To give you a little context for the year: Ronald Reagan was POTUS and Nancy had just contributed "Just Say No" to the vernacular; M*A*S*H ended its lengthy run on television; Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was all anybody listened to; Cheers and Hill Street Blues were the Emmy champs.

Let's savor 1983's cinematic crop for a moment. Are these movies (and people) and things aging well? Is there much left to savor? 

Best Movies According To...
Oscar: The Big Chill, The Dresser, Tender Mercies, Terms of Endearment, and The Right Stuff were the best pictures nominees but they also loved Cross Creek, Fanny & Alexander, Educating Rita, Silkwood and Zelig
Golden Globe: (drama) Reuben Reuben, The Right Stuff, Silkwood, Tender Mercies, and Terms of Endearment* (comedy/musical) The Big Chill, Flashdance, Trading Places, Yentl*, and Zelig
Cannes: The Ballad of Narayama
Box Office: 1) Return of the Jedi 2) Terms of Endearment 3) Flashdance 4) Trading Places 5) War Games 6) Octopussy 7) Sudden Impact 8) Staying Alive 9) Mr Mom 10) Risky Business
Nathaniel: The King of Comedy, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Pauline at the Beach, The Return of the Jedi, The Right Stuff, Silkwood, Terms of Endearment, The Year of Living Dangerously and Yentl. I'm holding a spot in my top ten open for Fanny & Alexander or Zelig which are weirdly movies I never get around to seeing even though I am likely to worship both given the time frame in their auteur's filmography in which they land...

Adorable '83 Babies after the jump...

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