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“Welcome to the first live screening of ‘The Interview!’”
So teased Jason Reitman at the start of Thursday’s live reading of “The Empire Strikes Back” held in downtown Los Angeles. The event, part of Film Independent’s Live Read series, was moved from its previous home at Lacma to the larger Ace Hotel Theatre due to audience demand.
“We needed a few more seats for this one,” quipped Reitman, who directs the events.
Costumed characters dressed as Stormtroopers and X-Wing Pilots entertained fans outside the historic theater, while a fully-motorized R2-D2 posed for photos inside the lobby as John Williams’ classic theme music played in the background.
But it was the surprise appearance of beloved Star Wars icon Mark Hamill, reading the roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Emperor, that brought the audience to its feet for a spontaneous standing ovation.
“I hope I pass the audition,” Hamill joked as the applause continued. »
- Matthew Chernov
Let's say you're an actress who has just landed one of the key roles in a new "Star Wars" trilogy. Before that, you had turned some heads as a kid in "Leon: The Professional," and had small appearances in films by directors like Michael Mann ("Heat") and Woody Allen ("Everyone Says I Love You"). But "Star Wars" was your key to the big time, and the future looked bright. But that's not quite how it turned out for Natalie Portman. And she reveals that the late, great Mike Nichols was the one who saved her career from a possibly skidding off the rails before the entire trilogy had hit theaters (Portman later starred in his 2004 effort "Closer"). " 'Star Wars' had come out around the time of [her performance in 'The Seagull' in Central Park], and everyone thought I was a horrible actress. I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s Top Five takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. Top Five digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today—holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, Top Five is an original and radically new kind of American movie.
- Movie Geeks
My first impression of Katherine Waterston in person was surprise at just how tall she is. I stand 6'2", and when we were introduced, we were eye-to-eye. It was the night of the New York Film Festival premiere of "Inherent Vice," and we were at the after-party at Tavern On The Green. My review had gone up already, and by the time I made it to the party, several of the people involved in the film had seen the review. That included Waterston, who seemed excited to finally be able to discuss the movie with people, and thrilled that people seemed to like it. While we spoke, I was also introduced to her father, the iconic character actor Sam Waterston, and he couldn't have seemed more proud of her work in the film. Since that night, I've spoken with her two more times about the film. The first was a »
- Drew McWeeny
Magic in the Moonlight I found Magic in the Moonlight to be middle-of-the-road Woody Allen. I liked the performances from Emma Stone and Colin Firth and a lot of what Allen was exploring, but the end just left me cold. It felt like a cop out as if one Woody Allen made the first two-thirds of the film and a completely different person wrote the final third. You can read my full review right here.
The Maze Runner I have not see The Maze Runner, which means I'm probably completely out of the game when it comes to the franchise that will soon be turned into a trilogy of films. Oh well, you can't see 'em all.
This is Where I Leave You Looked »
- Brad Brevet
This week: Michael Bay does Turtles, Woody Allen's misguided Moonlight, and a sensational second season of The Americans. ► Existing purely for nostalgia, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly what you think a Michael Bay-produced Tmnt movie would be: Cold, over-the-top, sterile to the point even kids might get bored. A CGI pillowcase of summer junk food designed, directed and crapped out as product, far removed from Kevin »
- John Law
Long before he morphed into one of the most celebrated American filmmakers in history, Woody Allen got his first taste of fame as a stand-up comedian working in the clubs in New York's Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Those formative experiences are captured on the forthcoming The Stand Up Years, a two-disc set that captures some of Allen's finest jokes and onstage moments. »
- Kyle Anderson
Last night’s episode of The Comeback would’ve been a great one for Valerie Cherish to break out her terrible Woody Allen impression. Because last night it seemed that Val finally learned the value in not wanting to belong to any club — in this case, the successful-showbiz-people-who-are-self-serving-and-full-of-shit club — that would have her as a member.“The reviews are in! The reviews are in!” Val begins the episode, doing that thing where she hides off-camera and asks Jane if she’s ready to start rolling, then promptly makes a boastful a-hole of herself. So right from the start, our heroine’s got her work cut out for her before she undergoes what I think is her most compelling metamorphosis toward a more authentic self. I know that sounds Oprah-y, but that’s exactly how I see it: Val standing up for herself, but only as much as she needs to (meaning, »
- Rose Maura Lorre
So Aaron Sorkin? As Claude Rains said at the end of “Casablanca,” “As I suspected, you’re a rank sentimentalist.” Then again, anyone who has stuck with “The Newsroom” through its three interesting, exhausting, at times aggravating seasons — or for that matter, “The West Wing” in its heyday — won’t find that to be a major surprise, or always a bad thing.
Yes, the writer rails against the failings of the modern media, but that’s because of his faith in the nobler aspects of the calling. Yet in romanticizing the news, his fictionalized work didn’t just preach, capitalizing on the benefit of hindsight to illustrate where journalists have fallen short, but too often rang hollow.
Those excesses, for good and ill, were evident throughout this finishing six-episode arc and Sunday’s series finale (and Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched), which followed the sudden death of news »
- Brian Lowry
Prior to Chris Rock’s new film Top Five, my favorite of his scattered (sometimes sadly corny and embarrassing) big screen efforts has been the writer-director’s illuminating documentary Good Hair where he played himself: genial, witty, and inquisitive. Most of his movies underestimate Rock’s range of influences: his stage persona the dominant perception in everyone’s mind. But unless you’re Rodney Dangerfield, seldom does a stage act translate well in features. The wacky inspirations of Louis Ck and Rock’s Pootie Tang were tamed by studio fools; CB4 is just a series of bits. When he does settle his rhythms for a good indie role (2 Days in New York, Nurse Betty), Rock is affable but lacks the confidence shown in concert or a club. Finally perfecting the formula, Top Five is Rock’s triple-hat artist’s statement on fame, culture, relationships, New York City, stand-up, hip hop, »
- Gregory Fichter
North Korea can rest easy: America comes off looking at least as bad as the Dprk in “The Interview,” an alleged satire that’s about as funny as a communist food shortage, and just as protracted. For all its pre-release hullabaloo — including two big thumbs down from Sony hackers the Guardians of Peace — this half-baked burlesque about a couple of cable-news bottom-feeders tasked with assassinating Korean dictator Kim Jong-un won’t bring global diplomacy to its knees, but should feel like a kind of terror attack to any audience with a limited tolerance for anal penetration jokes. Extreme devotees of stars James Franco and Seth Rogen (who also co-directed with Evan Goldberg) may give this Christmas offering a pass, but all others be advised: An evening of cinematic waterboarding awaits.
Rogen and Goldberg, who made their combined directorial debut on last year’s shrewdly funny Jewish apocalypse romp, “This Is the End, »
- Scott Foundas
With the holiday season approaching, there are a lot of movies out there vying not just for attention from awards voters this December, but from audiences too. And over the next couple weeks, there's something for everyone at the box office, from family films to the annual Oscar bait to Ya action to the final chapter in a certain juggernaut fantasy franchise. But if you haven't already, you should go ahead and add Chris Rock's "Top Five" to your December movie wishlist.
In the film (which he also wrote and directed), Rock stars as Andre Allen, a formerly beloved comedian trying to make the transition to "serious actor" status with his latest movie, a failed Oscar-bait retelling of the Haitian Revolution. At the same time, his reality-star fiancée (Gabrielle Union) plans their made-for-tv wedding and a New York Times reporter (Rosario Dawson) attempts to interview Allen about the reason behind his sudden career shift. »
- Rick Mele
Chicago – Chris Rock wants you to take him seriously, so he has made a comedy with inconsistent laughs, and a nod towards the weird fishbowl lives that today’s celebrities endure. It’s a rare film where the last part is stronger than the first few acts, a mishmash that is “Top Five.”
Rock writes, directs and stars in the film, his attempt to do a Woody Allen-esque inner exploration of his character’s roots and dynamics. It’s a thinly veiled autobiography, if Rock were in a parallel world where he is a recovering substance abuser and settles on popularity rather than talent. The dialogue is stiff, but the statements are sound, Rock just needed a bit more truth to accomplish what he wanted to say, which is the “path to freedom is paved in love.” The repeat of this shopworn theme – passed through a fairy tale »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Written & Directed by Chris Rock
Chris Rock’s new tour de force, Top Five, is so cleverly written that you don’t even realize it’s a romantic-comedy until the deed is nearly done. By that point, even the coldest, most cynical man is powerless to resist its charms. Smart, nasty and frequently hilarious, there is more than enough substance to compensate for the occasional missteps. Between this and Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, comedians are flexing some serious cinematic muscle in 2014.
Rock gives a stellar performance as comedian-turned-actor Andre Allen. Andre’s dubious claim to fame comes from playing a crime-fighting, live-action teddy bear named Hammy. Similar to Riggan in Birdman, three blockbuster Hammy movies have left Andre hell bent on earning some respect for his acting chops. Respect is hard to come by, however, when your marriage to a reality television star (Gabrielle Union) is more »
- J.R. Kinnard
When a big milestone approaches it’s common for most of us to look back and reflect on our lives and career. With the big 5-0 looming, Chris Rock, one of the smartest and funniest stand-up comedians, has done just that with Top Five (not a reference to the B-day, but a quick listing of favorite music artists used as an ‘ice breaker’, like “Where’d you go to school?” here in St. Louis). Oh, and this is the third feature film he’s directed (he wrote this one, too). Mr. Rock has been part of the national comedy scene for nearly 25 years since he was one of the cast members of TV’s “Saturday Night Live”, with a few movie bit roles under his belt (Beverly Hills Cop 2). He’s gone from cocky kid with a mike to screen veteran, so now what does he want to say about »
- Jim Batts
(photo credit: Collette Lash Photography www.collettelash.com)
Known for her recurring role as Dora Mae Dreifuss on HBO’s Carnivale (amongst countless other projects), Amanda Aday has surely proven herself as much more than “Meat Loaf’s Daughter.” An actress and writer, Aday has recently taken the leap to try her hand at directing, with her new horror flick Painless. Icons of Fright was fortunate enough to have a chat with this jack-of-all trades about the industry, dream projects, and directing while female.
Icons: I know you have been acting for a very long time and you’ve developed a pretty nice career out of it, what made you decide to direct?
Amanda Aday: I think it’s always been in the back of my mind. Even when I was little during class projects, instead of making dioramas or writing papers, my friends and I would always make movies. »
- BJ Colangelo
As is our annual tradition we like to peruse the credits of the SAG Ensemble nods to see who got left out despite their film's nomination. The Film Experience started this kind of analysis ten years ago when The Aviator had some really dumb exclusions and inclusions but lots of other sites now cover the injustice. We never get credit for starting this line of Norma Rae righteous anger but, that said, at least a lot of people have it now.
Did SAG think her face looked like she'd licked a homelessman's ass?
If you aren't familiar SAG uses a system whereby only actors with solitary title cards are official nominees for the Cast category. This means if you are famous in a bit part and have a good agent you are more likely to be an official nominee than the unknown who delivered a better performance in possibly a »
- NATHANIEL R
It feels that Chris Rock has waited his entire career to make a film as pointed and explosively funny as Top Five, his third and best directorial effort to date. He takes a couple of cues from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Stardust Memories and some of the daring, more experimental techniques of Louis C.K.’s FX series, without losing much of the vicious wit that defines his stand-up routines. Not all of it works, but Rock is willing to take risks and put his insecurities about fame, fortune and being funny out there for audience consumption in a way that is as wild and accomplished as anything he has ever done.
Rock plays Andre Allen – his friends call him Dre – a comic and film star having one of the strangest Fridays of his life. He has a new film opening in which he portrays a Haitian revolutionary. However, »
- Jordan Adler
"The heart wants what the heart wants." Whether you're talking about the Woody Allen quote or the new Selena Gomez song (though credit where credit is due: Emily Dickinson coined this), it's probably not the best line to trot out in front of Hannah Horvath when you're attempting to be sincere. Too bad Jessa didn't get the memo. Hannah: "You do know who you're quoting, right?" I bet she doesn't. Here's the trailer for "Girls" Season 4, which premieres Sunday, Jan. 11 on HBO. »
- Chris Eggertsen
Wamg has your tickets to Tuesday evening’s (Dec. 9) screening in St. Louis at 7Pm!
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Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s Top Five takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. Top Five digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today—holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, Top Five is an original and »
- Movie Geeks
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