20 items from 2015
If the fake-moviemaking ploy from “Argo” were repurposed to disguise a drug-smuggling caper, it might inspire a comedy like “Very Big Shot,” a slyly amusing feature debut from Lebanese director Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya. Beginning as a hard-boiled crime drama, the movie gradually reveals a more satirical intent, commenting on what it sees as untapped potential in the Lebanese film industry. (The director Georges Nasser, whose 1957 film “Ila Ayn” is said to have been the first feature from Lebanon to screen at Cannes, briefly appears as himself.) Whether this smile-inducing but not gut-busting pic itself lives up to that breakout potential will depend on the varied critical reaction across territories.
The plot centers on Ziad (Alain Saadeh), a Beirut drug dealer; in a rough-hewn prologue that starts in medias res, his brother, Jad (Wissam Fares), takes the rap for him after a killing. When Jad is released five years later, Ziad »
- Ben Kenigsberg
Funny Ha-ha: Bogdanovich’s Pleasant Return to the Screwball Comedy
The buzz has been rather hushed concerning She’s Funny That Way, the return of 70s auteur man following a thirteen year feature hiatus (his last was the 2001 film The Cat’s Meow). An ode to the classic screwball comedies of yore, where filmmakers like Lubitsch, Hawks, and several others birthed the prized frameworks, Peter Bogdanovich doesn’t manage to successfully contemporize these antics into the frothy delight of famous predecessors. If you can forgive it these blatant and inescapable anachronistic variations however, it’s an often funny, charming, and ultimately entertaining film.
A filmmaker consistently obsessed with a particular Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday, his latest is no exception, a long gestating project once imagined as a vehicle for John Ritter. Pleasantly entertaining, it’s not so much that Bogdanovich has lost his touch—in many regards the »
- Nicholas Bell
Tony Sirico has strong-armed his way into the next Woody Allen picture. The actor who menaced as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri on The Sopranos will play Vito in Allen’s untitled feature, which is being kept under wraps but also stars Parker Posey, Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Bruce Willis and others. Sirico also appeared in Allen’s pre-Sopranos films Deconstructing Harry, Everyone Says I Love You and Bullets Over Broadway. Recent credits include Touched, Fr… »
Earlier this week Brad reported on several casting details for Woody Allen's next film, which I can only assume will be released in the summer of 2016, and today more details emerge as Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and other crew members have joined the project. Storaro is a three-time Oscar winner, taking home trophies for Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor, and he was nominated a fourth time for his camera work on Dick Tracy. While he hasn't done much of note in recent years this still represents a pretty interesting pairing, especially considering one of Allen's fan sites, Woody Allen Pages, notes Allen's next film will be set in the 1930s. Also joining Allen's crew is production designer Santo Loquasto, who has worked on numerous other Allen productions, most recently lending his hand and eye to Allen's 2013 film Blue Jasmine and nominated for Oscars on three other Woody Allen productions (Zelig, »
- Jordan Benesh
"Inside Out" is, like most Pixar films, a majestic experiment in fantasy and imagination. Unlike most Pixar films, it directly investigates what makes imagination so powerful. The newest Pixar adventure chronicles the life of a girl named Riley, whose emotional life is powered (literally, at a control station) by five brain inhabitants named Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). While all five characters enjoy moments of jubilation and panic, it's Disgust who seems to have the most fun. She smarts off and grumbles in a way that would make Lucy Van Pelt proud. We caught up with Kaling, whose show "The Mindy Project" just moved to Hulu, to discuss the thrill of voicing such a prickly character. We also grilled her about the hottest Disney and Pixar characters. Her answers may surprise you, even though you'll probably find it hard to disagree. »
- Louis Virtel
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 »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Following up on yesterday’s article on Love & Mercy, which features one of the best John Cusack performances to date, I wanted to look at his whole career and list his all time best work. As such, a new top ten list is here for your reading pleasure. This one obviously looks at Cusack’s best so far, which sadly has yet to garner him an Academy Award nomination. Hopefully he’ll score with Oscar one day, but regardless, he remains an underrated actor in Hollywood. Take a look below, and be sure to check him out in Love & Mercy this weekend, which again is one of his top notch turns. Enjoy! Here now is a look at Cusack’s ten best performances so far: 10. The Raven – Not many people give Cusack credit for this one, but he does a much better job than you’d expect, considering the silly premise. »
- Joey Magidson
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai at the Oscars Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai on the Academy Awards' Red Carpet Pictured above are Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan arriving at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony, which took place on Feb. 27 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Two years ago, an Anglo-Indian-American co-production, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire became not only one of the season's biggest sleeper hits, but also the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner. Dev Patel and Freida Pinto starred. Curiously, some have complained that Slumdog Millionaire was just a less interesting rehash of higher-quality Bollywood musicals and dramas that have received relatively little play outside South Asian communities around the globe. Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai movies The son of Indian cinema legend Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan has been featured in nearly 50 films. Among them are: Dhoom (2004). Director: Sanjay Gadhvi. Cast: Abhishek Bachchan. Uday Chopra. John Abraham. Esha Deol. »
- D. Zhea
Sony Pictures Classics have released the first picture from the new Woody Allen film Irrational Man, and apart from the fact that it confirms that Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are indeed the stars of the film, it seems that Allen isn’t giving much away. (Unless you count the highly visible Lacoste logo on Phoenix’s polo shirt, which may point to top-dollar product placement fees. Or not.)
So what do we know about Irrational Man? We know the principal cast, which includes indie-scene veteran Parker Posey and young Brit actor Jamie Blackley. Less dramatically, we also know that Allen’s sister Letty Aronson is one of the producers; she’s been part of his operation since 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway. »
- Andrew Pulver
American Ultra stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg will be reunited later this year in another project: Woody Allen's next as yet untitled feature. Bruce Willis is the third cast member whose name has been publicly announced. The source for this information is an "exclusive" report via Deadline.com's Mike Fleming Jr. So far, as Fleming explains in his brief piece, Woody Allen and "his people" haven't confirmed the casting. In other words, things could change in the not-too-distant future. See also: Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt Movie Project, also featuring Laura Dern and Michelle Williams. Unsurprisingly, no plot details about the upcoming Woody Allen project have been forthcoming. In fact, one wonders if Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, and Bruce Willis – in case they have indeed joined the fold – know what the movie is going to be about. Allen's latest collaborators – Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson – will be producing the film. »
- Zac Gille
Taking home four Oscars out of its nine nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman was the big winner at this year’s Academy Awards. Premiering last August at the Venice Film Festival (where it left with trio of minor awards), cinematography has long been the awards season lock for the film (winning Lubezki a BAFTA), and it’s picked up a pair of Golden Globes (Screenplay and Actor) and a host of critic’s choice awards. Box office has also been profitable, opening last October in limited release before expanding nationwide Mid-November to successful box office results—its Best Picture win will most likely edge it over or close to the one hundred million mark.
- Nicholas Bell
It’s Oscar time! The biggest party after the show, The Governors Ball, was revealed today for the press by The Academy.
Permeating the air with imaginative dishes, master chef Wolfgang Puck showed those gathered at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center the incredible feast he’s creating for the evening.
Puck and Matt Bencivenga, chef partner of Wolfgang Puck Catering, have drawn upon vintage and contemporary Hollywood glamour to create a menu that’s both legendary and innovative. The menu will feature more than 50 scrumptious delights, from one-bite hors d’oeuvres to small-plate entrees that will be passed throughout the evening. Guests will enjoy such signature Puck favorites as smoked salmon Oscars, chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles, and mini American Wagyu burgers with aged Cheddar.
Puck also will present classic dishes re-imagined for Hollywood’s big night, including lobster “Blt”; beet latkes with pastrami duck »
- Michelle McCue
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
Did Woody Allen suffer an attack of angst? Or was he merely feeling it was time for a change?
With his 80th birthday approaching, Woody had been shooting movies (and raising financing) in just about every country in Europe from Italy to Spain, and was running out of propitious locations. So he made a big decision: By signing a deal with Amazon a couple of weeks ago, he was not only shifting platforms, but also casting his lot with a new player in the TV universe. The last time Woody was involved in TV was when he wrote incidental dialogue for Ed Sullivan.
I admire Woody for accommodating change. The media gurus keep reminding us that the ground is shifting beneath us, but I have lately been noticing several examples of resistance to that concept at different levels of the business.
I encountered a producer friend this week who applauded »
- Peter Bart
Awards and accolades don't pay the bills. Dianne Wiest has won two Oscars in her 40-year career, but as her recent interview with The New York Times revealed, an excess of talent doesn't necessarily mean an excess of money. The Bullets Over Broadway actress, 66 — currently starring in the off-Broadway play Rasheeda Speaking — told the Times earlier this month that, despite her award-winning past, she struggles to find steady-enough work to pay her rent (presumably in New York City). "I have to move out of my [...] »
Deep in a New York Times interview with two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest and Tonya Pinkins, who are starring in the new Broadway play Rasheeda Speaking, Wiest made an unsettling admission. "I have to move out of my apartment soon," Wiest, 66, admitted. Despite winning Academy Awards for her work with Woody Allen in Bullets Over Broadway and Hannah and Her Sisters, Wiest said she was seen as "a nice mom and that's it," and that being typecast left her without her pick of parts, even after her award wins. The struggle to find jobs has left her fighting to make ends meet. »
- Alex Heigl, @alex_heigl
Two-time Academy award-winner says acclaim does not equal financial security – or increased career options
You might think an Academy Award in the cabinet should mean guaranteed financial security, with 2014 first-time winners Lupita Nyong’o and Jared Leto having since picked up paydays for the new Star Wars film and star-studded superhero epic Suicide Squad, respectively. But despite maintaining a rare status as a two-time Oscar winner, the actor and regular Woody Allen collaborator Dianne Wiest has revealed she is struggling to pay her rent.
Wiest, who won the best supporting actress prize for 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters and 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway, told the New York Times: “I have to move out of my apartment soon.” She said the only roles which followed after her dual win were those of the “nice mom”, adding: “And that’s it. That’s all that ever came, except in theatre.”
Continue reading. »
- Ben Child
“I have to move out of my apartment soon,” says the 66-year-old actress who believes she’s been typecast
Two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest says she is struggling financially and having trouble paying her rent because she can’t find enough work.
“I have to move out of my apartment soon,” the 66-year-old Wiest told the New York Times in a story published in Sunday’s print edition.
Also Read: Hey Actresses, Want a TV Job? »
- Todd Cunningham
Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes are well known: Bergman, Dostoevsky, New Orleans jazz. So too his dislikes: spiders, cars, nature, Wagner records, the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether or not these traits represent the true Allen, who’s to say? It is impossible to tell, with Allen, where cinema ends and life begins, an obfuscation he readily encourages. In the late nineteen-seventies, disillusioned with the comedic success he’d found making such films as Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), and Annie Hall (1977), he turned for darker territory with Stardust Memories (1980), a film in which, none too surprisingly, he plays a »
- Graham Daseler
Woody Allen used to joke that television was the result of how Los Angeles disposes of its trash, but now he's in the business himself. There's a lot that's fascinating, surprising, confusing, even shocking about the news that he'll be creating a TV series for Amazon. For one thing, he's maintaining the same secrecy about plot and title that he does for his movies. Still, Moviefone can try to answer your burning questions about the Allen project.
Does Allen know how to write for TV? Yes, he does. Surprisingly, no one seems to remember that one of his first jobs in showbiz was as a TV comedy writer for the great 1950s sketch comic Sid Caesar, whose legendary writer's room launched not just Allen's career but also those of Neil Simon, Carl Reiner, and Mel Brooks. He wrote for some other golden-age comedy series as well. Concurrent with his movie career over the last 45 years, »
- Gary Susman
20 items from 2015
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