4 items from 2011
Catherine Keener has been a supporting actor for years, with a reputation for being interesting in valuable, offbeat pictures
Catherine Keener is a beloved figure among the several million who are always hoping for the best from American independent pictures. She promises feeling, humour and a sense of life as it is really lived, plus a nice acidity. Keener has been attractive without threatening outright beauty or glamour. Her persona springs from ironic intelligence and that's what any wise man or woman should be searching for in life. The trouble is that in America, women actors are often supposed to be knockouts who dominate their pictures just by virtue of standing there and letting themselves be photographed.
So Keener has been a supporting actor for more than 25 years, with a reputation for being different and interesting in valuable, offbeat pictures. Indeed, she has often been taken as a talisman and even a guarantee. »
- David Thomson
Now that everyone has woken up to the genius that is Jeff Bridges, perhaps it's time to give John Heard his due. By the mid-1980s, after starring in a brace of films by Joan Micklin Silver, Paul Schrader's Cat People remake and pulp horror C.H.U.D, he looked all set for leading man status. But it never happened; instead he turned into one of those character actors whose presence never fails to cheer you up. It didn't help that the release of Cutter's Way, which gave him the role of his career, was bungled by United Artists, which saw it as a failed thriller instead of the noirish character study it was. It faded into obscurity, trailing a few rave »
- Anne Billson
The matching megastars have gone from matinee idols to serious actors; now they face each other as father and son in a film that has set pulses racing in Hollywood
As films go, the ambition of The Tree of Life is hardly small. The eagerly awaited epic from enigmatic auteur director Terrence Malick aims to explore the very meaning of existence in its two hours and 18 minutes run time. News that it is showing at the Cannes film festival has set pulses racing among Hollywood's great and good. But it's not just Malick's lushly artistic directorial style that has people excited. It is the identity of the male leads: Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.
Tree of Life will showcase the acting skills of two of modern Hollywood's biggest stars, appearing in a movie together for the first time. It is a classic piece of casting. "I'm eager to see these two work together, »
- Paul Harris
Film-makers usually come off badly when films get made about them. François Truffaut is the honourable exception
It speaks well of film-makers that movies about movies are usually black comedies. Our industry is so detestable – so filled with lies, thefts, backstabbing, blacklisting, drug dealing, and the occasional murder – that one would expect a tendency to cover things up. Instead, almost all the films I can think of which deal with the film-making process portray it in the grimmest possible light.
Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a classic instance: a dark comedy in which a failed screenwriter (William Holden) attempts to gain fame on the back of a faded silent-movie star (Gloria Swanson): she ends up mad, he, shot and drowned. Even the good-hearted comedy Singin' in the Rain (1952) conversely, depicts a hierarchical system dominated by the talentless, in which people who are actually good at something (in this case dancing) are ritually humiliated, »
- Alex Cox
4 items from 2011
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