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Entries in Side Effects (5)

Wednesday
Mar122014

There Are No Small Parts. Beauty from the Margins

One of my favorite activities each year is compiling a list of actors who really nailed their brief but not necessarily coveted roles. Oh sure sometimes a small part is a true get and key to the narrative. There's no way to watch 12 Years a Slave, for example, and miss the importance of "Mistress Shaw", so perfectly rendered by Alfre Woodard. And some tiny parts are designed as cameos for stars: think Jean DuJardin and Matthew McConaughey in The Wolf of Wall Street. But the bulk of small roles each year in any actor's medium, go unnoticed with the actors adding depth to the ensemble and colors to the director or writer or showrunner's palette. Me, I love looking at the peripheries and seeing which actors are hungry, which find ways to maximize their tertiary characters or simply inhabit them so well that you get everything you need in that one scene or, if they're lucky, two scenes.

There are few things more unexpectedly satisfying than feeling like you could follow a minor character off into their own movie just this side of the screen. It makes the movie you're watching that much richer. 

Consider David Dastmalchian who plays the key suspect "Bob Taylor" in Prisoners. The actor pops up from time to time in sinister roles (he recently played a serial killer on "Almost Human"). I suspect this is the result of lazy amateur physiognomy happening in casting offices: Angular Face = EVIL! But he was so weirdly sympathetic but "off" and damaged in this role that I kept wanting to recast the movie in my head, and give him Paul Dano's role instead. More please.

Sometimes the face is more familiar but as far from ubiquitous as its possible to be. There's a lot to be said for casting directors that don't rely on whichever character actors happens to be all the rage to plug in to any movie here or there.

Remember Polly Draper from thirtysomething? I was happy to see her pop up in Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects but I figured it would be a disposable part. In lesser hands, maybe. All aspiring actors should watch roles like this. Lead roles are very hard to come by but there are no small parts. If you get one, texture it. Serve the narrative but give it enough specificity that we could follow you right out of the scene.

It was difficult to narrow down my "Best Limited Role / Cameo" category this year. Eventually I settled on ten players ranging from little known talents like Hilary Baack (The East), to sitcom stars Kaitlyn Olson (I can't tell you how much I love that "Tatiana" scene in The Heat) and treasured characters actors like Robin Bartlett and F Murray Abraham (both from Inside Llewyn Davis) and yes, even movie stars. They're much less shy about doing "small parts" than they once were.

And, no, you're not even safe from the McConaissance here...

Begin your chest-thumping chants and read on...

Thursday
May022013

The State of the State of Cinema

Hey everybody, it’s Tim, here to add my two cents to what has been, incontestably, the film story of the last few days: the sprawling, self-described “rant” delivered by Steven Soderbergh as his keynote speech on the State of Cinema at the San Francisco Film Festival on April 27. The San Francisco Film Society has made the video of his entire speech available, accompanied by a not-quite-accurate transcript; it’s worth checking it out in either form, though I found it easier to puzzle out what the director was getting at in the text version.

By all means, it takes some puzzling. I yield to no-one in my love of Soderbergh, but there’s no denying that his speech is very much a rambling, discursive piece, meant to be enjoyed as conversation, rather than analyzed closely for a structure it very much does not possess. It’s pure stream-of-consciousness (it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to find out that it was predominately improvised), and that’s okay: anybody who has listened to one of Soderbergh’s DVD commentaries is well aware that when he gets to rambling, some very keen insights on the nature of the art form tend to come tumbling out...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb142013

Podcast: Side Effects & Oscar Symptoms

Have you ever sleepwalked? Joe, Katey, and I (Nathaniel) discuss this creepy phenom and a wide variety of other things that Steven Sodebergh's Side Effects brings to mind in this spoilery discussion including 'best in show' acting honors and which thrillers it reminds us of.

For those who'd like to see the movie fresh, the Side Effects discussion takes up the last half of the podcast. The podcast begins with very brief words on A Good Day To Die Hard (which just opened for Valentine's Day Weekend) before we move on to Oscar theories like "which Oscars can Lincoln and Amour win?" and "Who the hell will win Best Director?" as well as pressing Oscar-Obsessive-Only Worries like "will winning the Oscar kill Jennifer Lawrence's drive as a young actress?"

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the end of the post. 

 

Side Effects & Oscar Symptoms

Sunday
Feb102013

Melissa McCarthy Robs the Box Office Blind

It was a big big weekend for Melissa McCarthy, who capitalized on that big Bridesmaids breakthrough with her first huge headliner opening of the year in Identity Thief. I use the word "first" because clearly there'll be a second. Her buddy comedy with Sandra Bullock The Heat opens in just two months time. Here's why I knew Identity Thief would be big: three of my friends -- two of whom are rarely seen inside movie theaters (the last thing they saw was Skyfall) -- both told me they wanted to see it. 

box office chart repurposed and photoshopped from boxoffice.com

Critics were not kind to the comedy. And that's before we even get to the subject of Rex Reed who notoriously called McCarthy a "female hippo" in his review prompting outrage 'round the web (i.e. more name-calling only this time directed at Reed and his age instead of McCarthy and her weight). But I liked Gawker's take. If the movie is seriously as bad as people are saying, shouldn't McCarthy who is obviously talented and truly funny, bare some responsibility? Why do reliably funny actors so rarely star in actually hilarious movies? (I remember being shocked while watching Date Night and Baby Mama that the movies were not half as funny as Tina Fey is as Tina Fey.) Is the problem that funny people are asked to be the entire joke?

Other Box Office Stories...

  • Side Effects opened to a non-stellar non-embarrassing $10 million
  • Argo went wide again to capitalize on Oscar buzz and rejoined the top ten
  • Top Gun got a 3D conversion earning just under $2 million (and a new limited edition 3D Blu-Ray)
  • Silver Linings Playbook continues to inch toward the $100 million Best Picture Nominee club which is very crowded this year.

What did you see this weekend? I finally watched Yossi but otherwise it wasn't a movie weekend for me.

Monday
Nov052012

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Side Effects"

Some directors make a movie every five years. Some every two. Steven Soderbergh makes so many lately that he seems intent on creating a whole new filmography to go with his previous one. Here's a thought, Stevie: Don't retire! Stop rushing. There are plenty of movies to be made and you're only 49 years old.

The Happy Couple Chan & Rooney. Or are they....?

His new thriller Side Effects starring Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara now has a trailer. Let's break down it down with a yes no or maybe so right here...

 

Click to read more ...