16 items from 2014
: Witty, articulate and reminiscent of several talented directors who no longer mean so much to today’s kids, Noah Baumbach’s latest stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as husband-and-wife filmmakers who “adopt” a mid-20s hipster couple as friends. Though not as broadly appealing as a Judd Apatow picture, Baumbach’s own acutely observed this-is-life laffer features his most relatable characters yet. Marketed right, it stands to considerably outperform his other pics, which tend to top out around $4 million.
Like the Woody Allen character in “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” Stiller’s Josh Srebnick frets that the talky, noncommercial documentary he’s been working on for the past decade may never get done. Looking back, he and wife Cornelia (Watts) can’t seem to figure out when they stopped being young and ambitious, and instead became a pair of middle-aged disappointments, though their choice not to have kids — more nature’s decision than their own, »
- Peter Debruge
Bill Hader has come a long way since his stint on Saturday Night Live, creating many popular characters and impersonations such as Stefon, Vincent Price and CNN’s Jack Cafferty. He is one of the highlights in such films as Adventureland, Knocked Up, Superbad and Pineapple Express, and so it is easy to see why author Mike Sacks interviewed him for his new book Poking A Dead Frog. In it, Hader talks about his career and he also lists 200 essential movies every comedy writer should see. Xo Jane recently published the list for those of us who haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. There are a ton of great recommendations and plenty I haven’t yet seen, but sadly my favourite comedy of all time isn’t mentioned. That would be Some Like It Hot. Still, it really is a great list with a mix of old and new. »
Andrew Garfield has been locked up in “Spider-Man” world for quite some time now, but he’s used his down time judiciously. He acted alongside the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway, something he’ll likely never forget, but since he was cast as the cheeky webslinger, Garfield’s only acted in one film. And he’s chosen well with “99 Homes,” the fifth feature-length effort by indie director Ramin Bahrani. Cherished by the late Roger Ebert and Werner Herzog (who voiced his 2009 short, “Plastic Bag”) Bahrani went slightly mainstream with 2013's drama "At Any Price," an imperfect but still compelling "Crimes And Misdemeanors"-esque tale set in the heartland of America starring Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham no less. And while it was his first movie with a name cast, the filmmaker’s intentions were still much the same (and it was easily »
- Edward Davis
‘Love Is Strange’ movie review: Gay romantic drama is ‘beautiful in every way’ (photo: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in ‘Love Is Strange’) Love Is Strange is beautiful in every way that a film can be beautiful, and unabashedly so. Yet, despite its willingness to gild the lily for love of ethereal, aesthetic beauty in all its forms, it is a film that reaches for the truth — the deepest truths of what we often call “the human condition.” For all these reasons I love Ira Sachs’ movie as much as it wishes we would love each other. I love the artistry of it. I love what it has to say and that it’s something seldom said. I love that it is forgiving. Without hyperbole, I tell you that Love Is Strange is the stuff of Jean-Luc Godard (Notre Musique and In Praise of Love), Vittorio De Sica (Umberto D. »
- Tim Cogshell
(Note: This piece reveals details about the ending of “Magic in the Moonlight.”)
Amid this unusually busy season for faith-based cinema — or whatever we should call 2014’s bumper crop of Christian-themed and/or spiritually inclined movies, from “Son of God,” “Noah,” “God’s Not Dead” and “I Origins” to the still-forthcoming “Left Behind” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” — the arrival of one of the year’s more prominent anti-faith movies should not go unnoticed. I’m talking about “Magic in the Moonlight,” the latest sun-drenched romantic travelogue from that fitful cinematic genius and self-styled nihilist philosopher, Woody Allen.
Fittingly enough for a story about professional magicians and wily con artists, the film unfolds against the French Riviera in 1928, a setting ripe with all manner of enchanting and seductive possibilities. But don’t let that title fool you: Earnest as it may sound, it actually begs to be read sarcastically. Allen »
- Justin Chang
Although Woody Allen’s latest, 1920s-set romantic caper Magic in the Moonlight, is just opening this week, news about the prolific helmer’s next project is already emerging. We had previously learned that the untitled film would be set in modern-day Rhode Island and be a “contemporary story” that centers on “academics, graduate students, and middle- and working – class folks.” Additionally, it was revealed that the cast would include Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley.
Now that Allen is rolling cameras on the pic in Rhode Island, some more news about the project has broken. According to the film’s executive producer Ron Chez, who spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times about working with Allen, the new movie is “a murder mystery, set on a college campus.” The Chicago Tribune added that it is a “serious-ish drama.”
So, are we looking at something similar to Match Point? Or »
- Isaac Feldberg
Woody Allen has directed so many movies, it’s hard to pick just one favorite. At the L.A. premiere of his latest, “Magic in the Moonlight,” at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study on Monday, the attendees had some trouble even narrowing it down.
“Well, I’ve got about 12,” said Jacki Weaver, who plays Grace in the film. “I’ll always have a soft spot for ‘Zelig.’ And I love all the usual things. I love ‘A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy,’ and more recently I love ‘Match Point.’ I’m crazy about ‘Broadway Danny Rose’ and ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo’ and ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’ and ‘Hannah and Her Sisters.’”
- Sebastian Torrelio
Blu-ray Release Date: April 8, 2014
Price: Blu-ray $29.95
Studio: Twilight Time
Starring, written, and directed by Woody, Broadway Danny Rose offers a variation on the filmmaker’s patented schlub character: this time, he’s the eponymous good-hearted talent agent who represents not just the worst, but the most pathetic acts in show business. Among these is Lou Canova (Nick Apollo Forte), a corny lounge singer saddled with a drinking problem and a temperamental mistress, Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby). When Lou asks Danny to be his beard with Tina, the wimpy agent suddenly finds himself dealing with the Mob—and with the feisty Tina, herself.
The film is beautifully rendered in black-and-white by cinematographer Gordon Willis—and it’s sure to »
Here's your Martha Stewart-esque craft tip for the month, physical media lovers: Did you know that a scratched DVD can be polished with just a dab of toothpaste? Stay away from extra-whitening product (you don't want to bleach your Criterions!), but when mixed with water and wiped clean with a microfiber cloth, a smudge of Colgate will make your discs sparkle and Sandra Bullock will stop freezing before she's torn apart by space wolves at the end of "Gravity." Sorry, was that a spoiler? We'll be more careful in the February podcast below... Podcast Intro Music: Mogwai, "Hungry Face" Special Guest #1: Chuck Klosterman on "The Pervert's Guide to Ideology" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" Intro Music: Los Straitjackets, "My Heart Will Go On" Chuck Klosterman is a bestselling author and culture critic who currently serves as "The Ethicist" for the New York Times Magazine. His latest book is a »
- Aaron Hillis
Members of the press were given a yummy first-hand look at the food and décor of this year’s Governors Ball, which will immediately follow the 86th Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 2, in the Ray Dolby Ballroom on the top level of the Hollywood Highland Center.
Thursday morning’s preview was a deluge of all the senses and proved why the Governors Ball is Hollywood’s most glamorous post-Oscar party in town.
Nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, John Legend, will perform for the Ball’s 1,500 invited guests of Oscar winners and nominees, show presenters and other telecast participants.
Everyone will feast on signature favorites such as smoked salmon Oscars, chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles, and mini American Wagyu burgers with aged Cheddar and remoulade, incorporating local produce and sustainable seafood.
Now that’s a party!
Modern presentations such as crispy lobster shrimp dumplings with five spice and bites »
- Michelle McCue
Blu-ray Release Date: May 27, 2014
Price: Blu-ray $39.95
Bill Murray (Lost in Translation) stars in Wes Anderson’s (Moonrise Kingdom) quirky 2004 comedy adventure The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which makes it’s Blu-ray debut on the venerable Criterion label.
Internationally famous oceanographer Steve Zissou (Murray) and his crew—Team Zissou—set sail on an expedition to hunt down the mysterious, elusive, possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark that killed Zissou’s partner during the documentary filming of their latest adventure. They are joined on their voyage by a young airline copilot (Owen Wilson, Hall Pass), a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine), and Zissou’s estranged wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston, Crimes and Misdemeanors).
Criterion issued Steve Zissou on DVD in 2005 and has ported over that edition’s bonus features for the Blu-ray edition. »
Woody Allen Golden Globes 2014 tribute: Diane Keaton remembers ‘friend’ (photo: Woody Allen directing Cate Blanchett in ‘Blue Jasmine’) Accepting from presenter Emma Stone the 2014 Cecil B. DeMille Award for absentee Woody Allen, Diane Keaton (Sleeper, Love and Death, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan, Manhattan Murder Mystery) was a likable presence at the January 12, 2014, Golden Globes ceremony, but her reminiscences about Allen were clearly PG-rated, going on about their "friendship" as if the two had always been just pals. Was that lullaby she sang moving or would Woody Allen have been right in yelling, "get the hook and get her off the god damn stage"? You decide. Now, in all fairness, Diane Keaton’s Woody Allen tribute wasn’t all PG-rated treacle, as she was twice bleeped by the censors. Apparently, NBC — and the ludicrous FCC — believe television audiences should be treated as if we were all three-year-olds. (See also: “Golden Globes »
- Andre Soares
Golden Globes 2014 winners (photo: 2014 Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe winner Jennifer Lawrence in ‘American Hustle’) Scroll down to check out the full list of Golden Globes 2014 winners. This year’s Golden Globes ceremony took place earlier this evening, January 12, with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey back as hosts. (Here are our fearless — and somewhat accurate — Golden Globes 2014 Predictions and our equally fearless — and mostly accurate — 2014 Golden Globes Predictions - The Nominations.) The 2014 Golden Globe nominations were announced by Aziz Ansari, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde exactly one month ago. Among the surprises was the inclusion in the Best Picture - Drama category of Ron Howard’s domestic box office disappointment Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Best Supporting Golden Globe nominee Daniel Brühl, and the exclusion of The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Martin Scorsese from the Best Director roster. Also, Julie Delpy and Greta Gerwig were both in the running »
- Steve Montgomery
Blu-ray Release Date: Feb. 11, 2014
Price: Blu-ray $29.95
Studio: Twilight Time
A rare combination of character study, film noir and black comedy, the film is about an esteemed New York ophthalmologist (Martin Landau, Cleopatra) whose affair with a flight attendant (Anjelica Huston, The Grifters) puts the careful construct of his life in jeopardy.
As he contemplates a permanent solution to his problems, another story is weaved into the narrative, this one about another kind of moral crisis: a struggling documentary filmmaker (Allen) considers selling out by making a doc about a Hollywood jackass (Alan Alda, Tower Heist), with the situation further complicated by the appearance of an entrancing TV producer (Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby).
Highlighted by cinematography from the incomparable Sven Nykvist »
WGA Awards 2014 nominations: Woody Allen, ‘American Hustle’ in; ’12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ ineligible (photo: Cate Blanchett and Woody Allen on the ‘Blue Jasmine’ set) The Writers Guild of America has announced the nominees for the 2014 WGA Awards. The lists — adapted and original screenplay, documentary screenplay — mostly feature the expected titles, in addition to a handful of surprises chiefly because several of this year’s top contenders for screenplay awards have failed to meet the WGA’s strict eligibility rules. Among the out-of-contention screenplays for the 2014 WGA Awards were John Ridley’s 12 Years a Slave, Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope’s Philomena, Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix’s Blue Is the Warmest Color, William Nicholson’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Peter Morgan’s Rush, Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12, and Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. The winners of the »
- Steve Montgomery
Mixing mainstream and specialty titles, the Writers Guild of America has nominated Tracy Letts for “August: Osage County,” Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for “Before Midnight,” Billy Ray for “Captain Phillips,” Peter Berg for “Lone Survivor” and Terence Winter for “The Wolf of Wall Street” for its adapted screenplay award.
The WGA selected Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell for “American Hustle,” Woody Allen for “Blue Jasmine,” Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack for “Dallas Buyers Club,” Spike Jonze for “Her” and Bob Nelson for “Nebraska” for top original screenplay.
- Dave McNary
16 items from 2014
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