An actor – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.
Look what just entered and then jumped to the top of my list of most anticipated films of 2014. This had me at a haggard, unrecognizable Michael Keaton strolling toward the screen while a slowed down version Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” plays over the unmistakable sound of a bird screeching in the background.
I read a description of this film somewhere awhile ago and wasn’t too impressed, but this trailer is so colorful, imaginative, and overall intriguing that I’m a little bit amazed. Leave it up to director Alejandro González Iñárritu to create a movie to play with your senses and emotions. I have been a huge fan of his ever since the monumental films 21 Grams and Babel; looks like Birdman will keep me in awe of him.
A new year, new movies to look forward to. Are you excited? I am. Here are the upcoming films to be released in the next few months I am most looking forward to and/or what I recommend. Many of them represent the reunion of director-actor or actor-actor teams from well-known and successful past projects. Also included are related media and blog posts you may be interested in:
Gangster Squad: You know I’m a sucker for Ryan Gosling films and this one, a 40s/50s throwback to a time where smooth-talking gangsters ruled the streets, reunites him with Emma Stone and is one not to be missed. Anticipate This.
Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow has found a sweet spot with combining acting talent with stories of war. This one, focused on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, seems like it will even surpass her Oscar win (first female director in history) for The Hurt Locker.
What’s good for the weekend? I just landed a couple of hours ago in Los Angeles where I will be spending the better part of my weekend for business and pleasure. I have a friend that just moved here so we are probably going to hang out on Saturday night and get into some trouble. ;) I love L.A. I had some really great times here in the past and you never know what movie star or celebrity you’re going to run into. Have a good one, everyone. I’m leaving you with a short list of some film-related posts I came across the web this week…
I’ve been out of the country for a week at a time when I am anticipating many movies being released so I have some catching up to do. Expect many more posts on double features this week because of this. In honor of the 4th of July, I did two of my favorite things - watched movies in the early afternoon and ate a whole lot of great BBQ (and burgers, and mac & cheese, and pork & beans… you get the point) with friends in the evening. Where movies were concerned, I wanted to mix it up so I picked one family drama sure to pull at my heart strings (People Like Us) and then the quintessential comic book movie with some action (The Amazing Spiderman). Read on for my thoughts on them…
Do See:People Like Us (Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Pfeiffer) I never claimed I wasn’t a sucker for sentimental films, and this one rightly appealed to me. I absolutely loved this movie which follows Chris Pine’s character Sam, a slightly sleazy yet totally lovable saleman whose troubles have come to a head - he is in terrible debt, he has made a huge mistake at work that could cost him his job, and he has just discovered that his estranged father has died. He is a guy that makes a habit of running away from his problems but situations forces him to deal with the fall out that arises from his father death - the discovery of his father’s secret family that includes an alcoholic sister named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and nephew that he never knew about, uncovering his mother’s involvement in these past secrets, and decisions on how to move forward in his relationship with his girlfriend (Olivia Wilde) and fully let her into his life. We are right there with him as he becomes “more of a person”, developing a relationship with his sister and nephew (without her knowledge of who he is) and coming to understand his mother and her motivations of wanting to protecting her family with secrets. The most beautiful part of the movie is watching the siblings interact and bond and learning about their separate but eerily similar situation of being their father’s children. The movie is crafted so that we come to want them to be in each other’s lives, that these were two people that really need and bring out the best in each other. It is the father who we never see but who seemingly pulls all the strings as his actions and decisions so impacted the lives of everyone on the screen. Yep, I teared up alot at this one, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would also like to say that Chris Pine is on my short list of underrated and under-appreciated actors that are really versatile and amazing to watch, and this film further proved that for me. I saw him in a play The Lieutenant of Inishmore out in L.A. a couple of years ago which he was excellent in; that was when I really looked at him as a great actor, and I hope he continues with a few more independent movies in order to show his acting range.
Do See:The Amazing Spiderman (Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone) This short review has a caveat. Do see this film… if you haven’t seen or didn’t like the last franchise with Tobey Maguire (to which I ask, what is wrong with you?!?!?). Otherwise, you don’t really need to bother with it so much. I know alot of folks about there feel the same way that I do, that this movie came too soon after the last franchise. I think I went in to this alittle biased; I loved the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire versions (sans the third movie which was God awful. The second one made up for it though which I consider one of the best contemporary superhero movies), and I thought this one was alittle unnecessary. Is it a prequel? A remake? That feeling stayed with me the whole time I watched. Don’t get me wrong - I adore Garfield and Stone, two of the best young actresses we have right now (see: Boy A and The Social Network for proof for Garfield’s talent, Easy A and The Help for Stone’s) and they did some pretty great work here (though was all that great acting wasted for this movie? I wonder…) For me the chemistry between Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy was some of the best I’ve seen between love interests in superhero movies. It bordered on sexy. I loved it. Stone and Garfield both brought their characteristic lovableness that I enjoyed in all of the small moments they had on screen together. Other than that I didn’t love or was excited about this version of Spiderman. Peter Parker at many times came off too arrogant which didn’t for me meld with him being a nerdy outsider. The quest of discovering his destiny and his living up to his responsibilities, though core to the Spiderman story, was nothing really innovation from what we had already seen in the Sam Raimi version. The villian, The Lizard, wasn’t villian-y (is that a word?) enough for me. There was no real bravado or sense that he matched the wits and abilities of Spiderman. The action sequences? Yawn. Some some moments got me to sit up alittle straighter in my seat but that’s it. All in all, I’m not seeing the improvement on the last franchise that explains the quick reboot. What I will say about it is that I laughed so much at Stan Lee’s cameo in this one; it was so cute and funny. I love Marc Webb; he has given me one of my favorite movies (500 Days of Summer) and maybe because of his experience with that, the relationships between the lead characters were so good. I think they it suffered from not being original enough when it set out to be original. It would have been better off if it was a straight up prequel and ended where the 2002’s Spiderman began. What I want to know now is, what is going to happen to the only great thing about the movie (Garfield + Stone) when they kill off Gwen Stacy (if they follow the comics)?
So yeah, maybe I’m too old to still actively seek out and watch the MTV Movies Awards (I’m 30; is that really too old??!?!). But I do. This is an award show that has given me some great movies. Who could forget the Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams Best Kiss win? Or the Jim Carrey’s beaded speech for Best Male Performance? Or even when Tom Cruise as Les Grossman gave Robert Pattinson career advice? These are the memorable moments that I love.
Yeah, MTV isn’t as great as it use to be, but I still find myself drawn to the Movie Awards. The first thing I did when I got home from my business trip yesterday was to watch them on my DVR. Yes, it’s primarily used as a vehicle to promote the latest blockbusters but sometimes it will still showcase a wonderful moment that is both funny and enduring (see the examples above). This year, it was all about Emma Stone. Stone was the first honoree of MTV’s Trailblazer Award for her work those far and for what is to come, an award I think she very well deserves.
Below you can watch the introduction to the award presentation, a montage of celebrities talking about Emma Stone.
Followed by her very heartfelt speech that I’m not ashamed to admit, made me tear up alittle.
“But the only thing I can hope that an award inspires is originalitybecause the trailblazers I’ve looked up to and been inspired by are people like Gilda Radner and Bill Murray and John Candy and Charlie Chaplin and the Beatles and J.D. Salinger. Lorne Michaels, who reminds me the importance of comedy, and Cameron Crowe, whose work consistently reminds me of why I want to be an actor.”
Emma always comes off so genuine; I love her. Favorite Emma Stone movie? Easy A hands down. I saw it twice which says alot because most comedies do not hold up for repeat viewings in my eyes. I also totally dig what she says about originality. What artist would you way embraces their own originality with their work?
The Descendants: So, I guess I’m the only one in the world who thinks this movie is overrated? I will have to say that I had less than zero interest in ever seeing this movie. I decided to possibly watch it if it won Best Picture at the Oscars this year (but luckily it lost to the very worthy The Artist). But I found myself on a long international flights this week with not much of a selection of films on my personal monitor, so… The Descendants. The movie wasn’t a bad one at all; I just found it nothing super special. Yes, it was a solidly good story of a man coming to grips with his wife infidelity when he doesn’t have the benefit of confronting her as she is in a coma. Additionally, he is dealing with a decision about his family land that will affect his future and those around him forever. We witness some really touching moments between him and his kids and the closer he needs with his wife. I just have the impression that if George Clooney wasn’t in this movie, if someone else was in the lead role, this movie would have flown under the radar. Or maybe I’m missing something?
Big Fish: Yeah, it’s true. I had never seen this until this week. Another movie I saw while on an international flight back to the States. As I continue my exploration of Ewan McGregor movies after he stole my heart in last year’s movie Beginners, I just had to watch this one which has been touted as one of his best performances. The story follows a write (Bill Crudup) as he relives the stories, myths and tall tales of his dying father. What an very very odd (not surprising since it is a Tim Burton film) but very very good film. I actually saw alot similarities between Beginners and Big Fish - a moving exploration of a father-son relationship where the son comes to fully understand his father as a person right before he dies. McGregor switches roles between the two movies (playing the son in Beginners and the father at a younger age in Big Fish) but he succeeds in providing much of the heart in both. I’m not ashamed to admit that this movie made me cry.
This week (and the one before it) has been really hectic for me as I’ve been trying to NYC and Europe so this sound is fitting to represent my state of mine for the week. I’m finally home for awhile and can relax so I’m excited about that. Traveling takes alot out of you!
Movie Trailer of the Week:
Gangster Squad: You don’t know this about me but I am currently boycotting any film that Anthony Mackie is in. Why? Well, because he kinda ignored me (twice) when I saw him at Sundance, lol. Well, Mr. Mackie is smart. He jumped in a film of one of the only actors whose movies I can’t deny - Ryan Gosling (I kinda love him). Very smart man, indeed. I love that Ryan Gosling is going gangster. He has the looks for it, the swagger. The trailer has it all - a (scary) sinister Sean Penn, a reunion of Emma Stone and Gosling post-Crazy, Stupid, Love, the romanticism of the gangster era. I’m getting more excited by the minute.
Pop Culture Randomness:
o In perfect casting news, Andre 3000 will be stepping in as Jimi Hendrix in an upcoming biopic though apparently, as of right now, the film can’t use any original Hendrix music o Apparently, Quentin Tarentino is having trouble keeping a cast together for his upcoming film, Django Unchained; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell, and Sasha Baron Cohen have all dropped out of the project. Knowing QT though, he’ll pull it together o Joss Whedon, the creator behind awesome TV shows like Buffy and Firefly and now the director of the record-breaking Avengers movie, lists his favorite Buffy episodes
Film-Inspired Fashion Moment:
A new photo for the upcoming film Ruby Sparks hit the internet this week and with it, we get to see more what will sure to be a very cute, sweet, and whimsical movie (can’t wait). I’m loving the bright orange dress with the auburn hair on Zoe Kazan; it comes off as very striking and something that I’m sure tells us alot of about Ruby’s character.
I have to say I have only seen one maybe two movies in the theaters in the last two months or so, an absolute rarity for me. It have been pretty much due to the lack of new movies I have been interested in enough to see. Well that is all about to change next month with the slew of summer releases that are on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier. Actually, I’m ecstatic. Thanks to the good people over at EW who continue to publish awesome movie calendars so people like me can plan their theater outings. With almost 15 movies between May and August, this will be my busiest summer yet:
The Avengers: Yep, I’m planning to assemble with some friends and see this. I will just miss seeing it at Tribeca and will but in Europe on opening weekend but I’m rushing back to see this. If you are like me and missed some of the origin movies like Thor, AMC theaters are running a Marvel movie marathon on May 3rd!
Killer Joe: When a debt puts a young man (Emile Hirsch)’s life in danger, he decides to hire a contract killer, Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to kill his evil mother in order to collect the insurance money. No trailer yet but this dark indie comedy premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival to good reviews, and I think it would be worth seeing.
Safety Not Guaranteed: This is my sweet and genuine comedy pick of the summer. The film is actually inspired by a real internet meme of a newspaper classified ad by a person seeking a companion for time travel (so how can this NOT be funny?). In this, three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed this classified ad. One of my favorite up-and-coming actors Mark Jake Johnson (New Girl) stars.
To Rome With Love: The next Woody Allen movie focusing on people’s experiences in Rome starring Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: A magical story of a 6-year old girl who lives with her father in a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. When her father contracts a mysterious illness which threatens the balances of nature, Hushpuppy goes on a quest to find her mother.This was not a film on my radar at this year’s Sundance as I usually avoid anything remotely close to fantasy films but after it won the big prize there, I have to check it out.
Update (5/5): The trailer is here, and its beautiful fantasy film indeed:
Magic Mike: Male strippers without shirts but with plenty of dreams in Steven Soderbergh’s latest starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey
The Amazing Spiderman: I still think its too early for a spiderman reboot (or is this a prequel? really?) but I can’t fault them. They had my money at Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
Savages: I think Oliver Stone is on the right track with this new crime drama starring Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Benicio del Toro.
The Dark Knight Rises: I have to see the next and last entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise. It doesn’t hurt that Inception castmates Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-stars. Am I the only one still not 100% sure of Anne Hathaway at Catwoman? Watch the official trailer or see a (much better, in my opinion) fan-made trailer. A new official trailer is suppose to premiere before The Avengers so keep an eye out for it!
The Bourne Legacy: In this 4th Bourne film, there is more to the Treadstone project: Jeremy Renner!
The Odd Life of Timothy Green: This is my family film pick of the summer. A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. This characteristics are personified with the appearance of Timothy Green, but all is not as it appears. I’m curious to see the gentler side of Joel Edgerton (have you seen some of his past films?).
Premium Rush: A NYC bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city. I actually don’t think this is going to be anything more than just a cool looking action movie on a bike but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it… so… you know… gonna go see it. I actually stumbled across the film set last year so curious to see what they do with it to give it some substance.
Lawless (formerly The Wettest County): Three brothers (two of which are played by Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy) find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. No trailer yet but I’m already pulled in by the cast which also includes Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain.
Update (4/24): The trailer has just been released and it looks pretty damn good. I barely recognized Guy Pearce. Anyone thinks like I do that Shia LaBoeuf was born to play an outlaw?