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FOXCATCHER & GONE GIRL teasers...

Foxcatcher: Carrell's fake schnoz and affected speaking voice could be VERY problematic over the course of a feature film, but this is a terrific teaser and Tatum in a singlet assuages many other concerns. This is a big yes too.❞ - Roark

 I love that the Gone Girl trailer purposely keeps Amy a mysterious figure throughout -- we just get glimpses. Casting someone like Rosamund was really genius because the character is supposed to feel unfamiliar.❞ -Bia

 


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Entries in Jonah Hill (6)

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.  

 

Monday
Jan062014

Oscar Symposium: The Fifth Spot (Part One)

In which a new Film Experience tradition begins. A pre-nomination mini-symposium about fifth spot battles...

NATHANIEL R: Things that are awesome that come in sets of five: fingers, boy bands, the filmography of John Cazale, golden rings to be used for Olympics or in song, toes, Oscar nominees... It always comes back to the Oscars here at The Film Experience, don't you know?

I never thought of myself as any more averse to change than the average person but when the Academy changed the Best Picture system in 2009 and 2010 to a top ten and then to anything between 5 and 10, the magic number suddenly becoming 9 in both 2011 and 2012, it felt like a direct attack on my sanity. But Oscar categories come in fives!!! I've never stopped internally protesting and whenever anyone suggests that the acting categories should widen as well, a little part of me dies inside or reaches for smelling salts. I've taken solace in recent rule changes that bring Original Song and Visual Effects to a clean five-wide system as well and I pray that Hair and Makeup eventually goes there, too. I need the clarity of that organizing number.

This year we're starting a new mini-symposium tradition at the Film Experience in which we gather to discuss the fifth spot. There's no point in debating the locks but usually at least one spot is up for grabs. Please welcome our panel of five: Kurt Osenlund (The House Next Door), Nathaniel R (The Film Experience, c'est moi), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and You (in the comments). These "what ifs" we're discussing become moot on January 16th when the nominations are announced but they're fun while they last (10 more days!). Eventually each year's acting shortlists take on a feeling of inevitability in retrospect... even the "surprise" nominees that didn't have much support in the precursors.

Are any of you feeling bullish about a surprise nominee that you think will seem inevitable once their name is read on Nomination Morning? [Supporting Categories after the jump...]

Chris, Kurt, Nathaniel, Sasha and You

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar192012

Review: 21 Jump Street (The Movie)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

"High concept" was the hot showbiz term of the 1980s. The thinking went that if you couldn't describe your movie/tv show in one sentence, it wouldn't sell. That popular marketing wisdom stuck and High Concept itself shrank. First it devolved into This meets That, each new pitch being a mashup of preexisting hits. Today instead of one sentence pitches or previous hit fusions most new potential blockbusters are required to rely on a simple colon. It works like so… "Title of That Thing You Already Know: The Movie!"

The 1987 cast of "21 Jump Street"

This has led to all sorts of unfortunate movies based on books, games, plays and tv shows (and vice versa) many of them big hits. The danger is obvious. When you don't even have to try to make your entertainment memorable because the audience brings half the affection with them, creative laziness can often follow. But every once in awhile the audience gets lucky and Title of That Thing You Already Know: The Movie is surprisingly fun on its own terms.

Chan & Jonah in High School21 Jump Street began its life as a high concept television series...

Young-looking cops go back to high school… undercover!"

And now it's a 21 JUMP STREET: THE MOVIE (the last half of that title is silent/implied) The twist is that rather than the earnest though light-hearted procedural drama it was in its infancy when it introduced us to Johnny Depp, it's now a full fledged buddy comedy starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Continued after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar022012

Podcast: Spread the Wealth, End the War

I couldn't let the postmortem on Oscar's 84th close without inviting my ol' podcast pals Katey, Nick and Joe to join me for one last conversation of the season. We ended up talking for over an hour. See we all share this "can't stop talking Oscar!" addiction and none of us will ever go to rehab. So you get the podcast in two parts. Part two late tonight.

Here's part one where we start goofy with Octavia Spencer's ubiquity and end all serious like (well, mostly) with Viola and Meryl. Join the conversation in the comments.

Topics include but are not limited to...

  • Octavia Spencer, Angelina Jolie
  • "Cut To Camera 3. No, Camera 4. Wait, Back to 2!"
  • Spreading the Wealth. What Did They Actually Love?
  • Billy Crystal's 9th Go-Round
  • Emma Stone vs. Anne Hathaway with a side of Jonah Hill
  • Red Carpet Reveals and Lead Actor Presentations
  • CLIPS! Commercial Breaks
  • Meryl & Viola and the Narrative vs. Performance Problem

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the bottom of the post.
UPDATE: PART TWO NOW AVAILABLE AS WELL.

Post Oscar Part One

Saturday
Sep242011

Review: "Moneyball"

Moneyball is an instant contradiction, a fine humanistic film championing an innovative but dehumanizing method of team-building, reducing all star athletes to statistical equations. The film has two stories to tell, that of a middle-aged man finally making his mark on the game he was supposed to rule in his youth, and the reinvention of baseball management to achieve a more equitable playing field with or without mega-funds.

The story begins after a disheartening loss for the Oakland Athletics. The humiliation is compounded by the loss of three star players who the A's don't have sufficient money to replace. General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) butts heads with owners trying to get more money and with his own management staff who are entirely resistant to innovative thinking. Enter young economics / statistics master Peter Brand (Jonah Hill moving up to the majors?) who frees up Billy's mind with his theories on why so many players are over and undervalued. They begin to make controversial and provocative changes which mystify or anger the baseball powers that be  including their own team's manager Art (well played by Philip Seymour Hoffman).

There's a smart visual well into Moneyball's first act in which huge banners of the A's three lost stars are dropped from their places of honor crumpling as they hit the ground like the deflating egos of management. Billy takes the leap of faith with Peter and they rebuild with new players, a team of misfit toys, who are all undervalued (or not valued at all). Shortly afterwards, when we see the stadium again, there is only one banner trumpeting one of the League's oldest fan-beloved players David Justice (Stephen Bishop) whose glory days are far behind him. 

Moneyball's solid screenplay (by Oscar winners Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian) has a good joke at the expense of metaphors but I can't resist this one. For all of Moneyball's strengths, from a solid cast with vivid cameos (Reed Diamond from Dollhouse is superb in a one-scene face/off with Brad Pitt) to able and sharp direction (Bennett Miller of Capote fame) and editing (which skims veritable mountains of statistical information, old footage, and emotional backstory) it really all comes down to one star banner: Brad Pitt unfurled. 

I've been in this game a long time."

Yes, you have Brad Pitt, yes you have.

In his two decades of stardom, Pitt's best work has generally happened within three types: weirdos he attacked with gleeful creative gusto (Tyler Durden, Jeffrey Goines, Chad Feldheimer), strutting men that basked in their own golden light (J.D., Rusty and Paul McLean), and family men with wounded machismo (Mr O' Brien and Detective Mills);  In Billy Beane, all of Pitt's strengths coalesce as if he'd been in training for this one. He's loosely idiosyncratic and funny (that goofy business after a "good talk" with the humorless Art is just wonderfully endearing detail), he harnesses his potent movie star charisma with weary grace playing a man who, unlike himself, didn't live up to his golden boy promise, and in scene after scene but particularly when visiting with his teenage daughter, he lets his worried humanity show; he feels like a failure and this daring move is his last shot at glory.

Brad Pitt's shiny star turn is so good, in fact, that it neatly blinds you to the film's minor flaws. No one, including the man himself, is reinventing the wheel here and for all the star light that Pitt gives off, the film doesn't use any of it to fill in poorly lit corners. It raises but never addresses troubling side issues like what to do with the understandable revulsion that greets the dehumanization of players (exarcebated by so few of the players having distinct personalities) and it has a strange inability to flesh out the important side story of Art's insistence on managing the team in opposition to Billy's plans. The scene wherein Art finally capitulates to a different way of thinking would be a superb bit of economic storytelling in most films but here, given the underlit subplot, it feels like not enough as a wrap-up.

Billy continually worries that all of his accomplishments will be dismissed if he loses the final game of the season. The film needn't worry about the same thing. The final game here is a beautifully elongated nearly sports-free quietitude while Billy merely contemplates his options and a coda that works as a reprise of one of the sweetest earlier scenes with tenderness and even gently needling humor as the credits begin to roll. Late in the film we're told "you can't help but romanticize baseball" and it rang so true, even to me! I don't know the first thing about baseball, nor do I care to, but I was nodding my head like some dreamer in the bleachers waiting to catch that fly ball.  B+ 

 

Oscar Notes: It's rare when late August / early September hype survives intact the following February but (for now) it's looking like this may well be the golden year for Hollywood's golden god. In the past I've stated that Brad would never win until he was in his 60s (they make the adonises wait) but I'll quite happily be proven wrong since I've been on Brad's team for twenty years. Beyond Pitt's likely nomination (a third... and easily his most deserving since Oscar's idea of his "best" work is suspect.) I think you can safely bet on Moneyball's statistical scrappiness factoring into several categories barring those generally reserved for eye candy films. In short: we need to update our prediction charts