15 items from 2015
One film I've had my eye on in the upcoming season is Stephen Frears' "The Program" (formerly "Icon"). It's the story of journalist David Walsh, chief sports writer of the Sunday Times, who was hot on the trail of cyclist Lance Armstrong's fall from grace amid his performance-enhancing drugs scandal. A sharp trailer gives us our first glance at what we're dealing with here. Chris O'Dowd is playing Walsh opposite Ben Foster as Armstrong. The latter appears uncanny in his depiction, really getting under the skin of a character who will do anything to succeed, will cut corners to achieve a result, will sell himself out if it means gaining any sort of edge in the marketplace of professional athleticism. Those are themes that stretch beyond that world, of course... There is no domestic distributor on the Working Title production yet, which is surprising. I imagine it will »
- Kristopher Tapley
Chicago – John Cusack has never rested on his laurels, which are many in his film career, nor stood still as an artist or an actor. His latest film is the magnificent “Love & Mercy,” in which he portrays music legend Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys as a middle aged man, trying to break free of the circumstances in his life.
Written by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner, and directed by Bill Pohlad, “Love & Mercy” – derived from a Brian Wilson song title – is the story of two crucial phases in the songwriter’s life. The younger phase, portrayed by Paul Dano, checks in with Wilson as he puts together The Beach Boys’ album masterpiece, “Pet Sounds.” At this point, the dissolution of Brian Wilson as Rock Star is beginning, and as a result the older phase of his life comes into view.
And it is John Cusack who takes over »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty on the Oscars' Red Carpet Best Actress nominee Annette Bening and husband Warren Beatty Smiling radiantly, Best Actress Academy Award nominee Annette Bening and husband Warren Beatty are seen above as they arrive at the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony, held on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre, located in the world-renowned (but locally not all that prestigious) Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood. Annette Bening was in the running for her performance as a lesbian companion/wife to Julianne Moore and mother/adoptive mother of Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson in Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right. Bening lost the Best Actress Oscar to Natalie Portman for her mentally unbalanced ballerina in Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. See also: Pregnant Natalie Portman on the Oscars' Red Carpet. Annette Bening: Four Oscar nominations The Kids Are All Right was Annette Bening's fourth Academy Award nomination. »
- D. Zhea
Jennifer Lawrence in a long, red dress at the Oscars Jennifer Lawrence at the Academy Awards Stunning in a red dress, Jennifer Lawrence arrives at the 2011 Academy Awards held on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Lawrence was a first-time Best Actress Oscar nominee for her first major film role: a near-destitute, young Ozark woman looking for her missing drug-dealing father in Winter's Bone, Debra Granik's generally well-received indie drama. Winter's Bone also earned nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini; based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell). Jennifer Lawrence's competitors in the Best Actress Oscar race were: Annette Bening for Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right. Michelle Williams for Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine. Nicole Kidman for John Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole. Natalie Portman, the eventual winner, for Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. »
- D. Zhea
A woman on the run, a last-chance motel and a lonely stretch of desert highway set the stage for “The Frontier,” an appreciably moody but dramatically stilted crime drama that exudes a certain retro appeal before collapsing into a series of empty neo-noir poses. The debut narrative feature for Israeli-born Oren Shai shows much affection for all things pulp, but a less steady hand with performance and pacing. Some modest festival play should follow the film’s SXSW premiere, before it disappears into that vast American indie abyss known as VOD.
The central figure here is Laine (Jocelin Donahue), a classical femme fatale in the “Psycho”/”Gone Girl” mold, who turns up at the Frontier, a dust-caked motel on the outskirts of Phoenix, with deep bruises on her neck and blood on her hands, looking for a place to clean up and maybe lie low for a while. The TV »
- Scott Foundas
Annette Bening's varied career of screen roles -- the cunning moll in "The Grifters," the exasperated real estate agent in "American Beauty," the alcoholic lesbian mother in "The Kids are All Right" -- is especially remarkable because almost every character she plays makes us think, "I know that woman." And maybe we don't, but Bening's knack for finding the humanity in a character is a magnetic and constant part of her work. In "Danny Collins," Bening plays a hotel manager who wearily takes a shine to the titular star, a washed-up rocker played by Al Pacino. We caught up with Bening to discuss the charm of Pacino, her most difficult roles, and how you get into a role you don't find relatable at all. "Danny Collins" hits theaters March 20. »
- Louis Virtel
Johanna Bennett’s and Mandy Ward’s third annual celebration of first time filmmakers concluded on March 9 with a tribute to no one other than Harvey Weinstein. The festival, one that puts forth newly formed filmmakers with the audience they deserve, makes sure that all aspects of filmmaking are met and that the aspiring filmmakers know what to do with their next film. Weinstein, of the famed The Weinstein Company, along with his brother Bob, has shown himself over the years to have supported first time filmmakers when no one else would. And his trust in these filmmakers have only proven themselves to be some of today’s best directors, writers, actors, and more.
In many ways, Weinstein’s support of such filmmakers has created them. Quentin Tarantino would not be a household name had Weinstein not decided to produce Reservoir Dogs, the same goes for Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, »
- Catherina Gioino
In Focus, Will Smith's first film since 2013, the superstar plays Nicky, a long-time conman who is planning his last big score, but ends up reuniting with a con woman who he trained years before.
The film, which performed mildly at the box office in its debut this weekend, joins the ranks of Hollywood's long love affair with the art of the con.
In celebration of this newest entry in the grifter genre, here are nine of the best conman movies ever made.
(Note: This list doesn't include movies about heists that happen to involve conmen -- i.e. Ocean's Eleven or The Heist -- just films that celebrate the age of tradition of swindling.)
9. Matchstick Men (2003): Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell play con artists who are planning one of the biggest scams of their careers. Things get complicated when Cage's teenage daughter shows up and »
In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.
The fundamental problem with films like Focus lays in how many similar films like Focus you may have seen. You know exactly what you’re in for (namely, a con) but the fun is always in how the con is pulled off and how the film can gain the confidence of the audience only to trick us at the end. Unfortunately, even if you’ve seen just one similar film chances are it’s far better than this.
When I think of all the best con artist movies I »
- Gary Collinson
Big Willy’s latest big screen outing makes its way to the multiplex this month. In Focus, Smith plays the consummate con man, a smooth operator who liberates people of their wealth with the help of a Margot Robbie-shaped femme fatale.
The duo of tricksters aren’t the first con artists to grace the silver screen however. So from pool sharks and grifters to tricksters, card cheats and American hustlers; here’s our rundown of the most memorable con artists in movie history.
One of the finest fraudster films to ever grace the multiplex; The Hustler stars Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson, a pool shark intent on toppling legendary cue-man Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). With its smoky sets, stunning black and white cinematography and superb performances from Newman and Gleason; the film is just as good today as it was on its release more than 50 years ago. »
- Daniel Bettridge
The Conversation is a new feature at Sound on Sight bringing together Drew Morton and Landon Palmer in a passionate debate about cinema new and old. For their second piece, they will discuss Stanley Kubrick’s film The Killing (1956).
Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (1956) is not my favorite work by the visionary director. In fact, the film probably wouldn’t even make it onto a list of my top five Kubrick films. Yet, with a career that included such amazing films as Paths of Glory (1957),Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964),2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Barry Lyndon (1975), and The Shining (1980), that’s not an indication that The Killing is a film of poor quality but an indication that Kubrick’s body of work comes the closest to cinematic perfection than any director I can think of. Thus, while The Killing »
- Landon Palmer
He’s been a Hollywood star since his teens, when he starred in Class, Sixteen Candles and The Sure Thing, but thankfully John Cusack was never like the characters in David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars. A brutal satire about the players, wannabes and has-beens of Hollywood, Cusack plays Stafford Weiss, a self-help guru who peddles his therapies to the weak-minded. Father to the foul Benjie (Evan Bird), a rehab-hopping teen star of the ‘Bad Babysitter’ franchise, Stafford is just one of the soulless ghouls that haunts the Hollywood Hills in what is the Canadian Cronenberg’s first real foray into Tinseltown terrain.
For Cusack, it represents yet another impressive notch in a career that’s seen him work with Stephen Frears (The Grifters, High Fidelity), Woody Allen (Shadows and Fog, Bullets Over Broadway), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), Terence Malick (The Thin Red Line) and Clint Eastwood (Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil »
- Phil Wheat
Chicago – In a year where shoots with perpetual photo fashionistas like Cindy Crawford and Sarah Jessica Parker still failed to crack the Top Ten list of biggest celebrity photo-ops, you know 2014 was a very good year for HollywoodChicago.com and myself, Joe Arce, as Senior Staff Photographer.
Narrowing down the 182 celebrity subjects that posed for my lens last year to a mere ten favorite portraits is not an easy task. Nonetheless, here are my Top Ten picks for biggest celebrity shoots of 2014. I based this on a combination of star power wattage of the subjects, the artistic results and the degree of difficulty in landing the quarry – for those iPhone carrying budding celebrity stalkers who may wish to play along at home.
10. Anjelica Huston
Backstage at the Chicago Humanities Festival, November 14th, 2014
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
Not only an Oscar winner, but the daughter »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
For most of the four decades of his career as an actor, Jeremy Piven played That Guy. As in, “Oh look, it’s That Guy who played the cousin with anger issues on the 1990s sitcom Ellen!” Or, “Oh look! It’s That Guy who played the awful check-out clerk in the film Singles!” Or, most of all, “Oh look, it’s That Guy who always plays John Cusack’s obnoxious friend” (Piven has appeared alongside his childhood friend Cusack in Say Anything, The Grifters and Grosse Pointe Blank).
It’s not easy to be That Guy, to stand out when relegated to a bit part and surrounded by other, starrier players, as Piven seemed doomed to be. »
- Hadley Freeman
You've probably seen all the '90s movies, like "Pulp Fiction," "Clueless" and "Wayne's World" that Netflix has to offer, but there are also plenty of lesser-known gems available to stream. Sit down and enjoy these indies, first films by famous directors and some other great '90s movies you might have missed.
1. "Big Night" (1996) R
A great movie (co-directed by stars Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott) about two Italian brothers in 1950s running an unsuccessful restaurant who go all out when a celebrity's visit promises to save their business.
2. "Boys Don't Cry" (1999) R
Hilary Swank won her first Best Actress Oscar for her searing portrayal of a woman who lives life as a man, until her secret is found out by her redneck friends.
3. "Clueless" (1995) PG-13
How many times have you seen Alicia Silverstone make over her friends and try to play matchmaker? Not enough!
4. "Croupier" (1998) Nr
The movie »
- Sharon Knolle
15 items from 2015
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