10 items from 2014
This Kate Winslet-starring, wholly unconvincing tale of a fugitive who turns out to be husband material is pure housewives' kitsch
All the signs pointed to Labor Day being a failure: the shamefaced January release, the place where Hollywood buries its dead; the trailers that laboriously gave away its entire story; a unanimous critical pile-on reminiscent of a biker stomping; and the presence at the helm and behind the typewriter of over-promoted adapter-director Jason Reitman, proof positive of the tyranny of good taste.
Based on a novel by Joyce Maynard (who also wrote To Die For), Labor Day gives us Adele, a depressed, agoraphobic single mother (Kate Winslet), seen from the perspective of her devoted 13-year-old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) via a fatal overdose of portentous voiceover by Tobey Maguire as the adult Henry. At the supermarket they're accosted by an injured man who's just escaped from a prison hospital after an appendectomy. »
- John Patterson
Spike Jonze's techno-love story Her, which is released in UK cinemas this week, centres on a sharply observed leading performance from Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls gradually in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Last year's Oscars saw Phoenix nominated for The Master, though the film itself was unjustly overlooked, and this year Her made it into the Best Picture race while Phoenix was shut out from the Actor category. We have a sneaking suspicion, though, that Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice could see him back in the running next year.
In the meantime, we take a look back over five of Phoenix's most significant screen roles.
To Die For (1995)
You'll be hard-pushed to find a Phoenix character one could describe as well-adjusted, and his breakthrough performance was as a disturbed - though genuinely good-hearted - teenage sap who falls hard for Nicole Kidman's conniving weather girl. »
Back in August, "Labor Day" was shaping up to be one of the most eagerly awaited movies of the year-end awards season. Most of that had to do with the film's classy pedigree, consisting of stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, "Up in the Air" director Jason Reitman, and literary source Joyce Maynard, the "To Die For" novelist. Buzz was building, suggesting that the film might be both a big hit among discerning adult moviegoers and a potential Oscar winner in various categories.
Fast-forward six months, and "Labor Day" suddenly looks like an afterthought, dumped unceremoniously at the end of the dumping ground that is January. Having failed to secure any Oscar nominations or much appreciation among critics, it opened this weekend opposite the Super Bowl and another romance-minded film ("That Awkward Moment"). Pundits predicted a weak opening of around $7 or $8 million, but it earned only an estimated $5.3 million. Debuting in seventh place, »
- Gary Susman
Kate Winslet is a Real Woman. And Josh Brolin is a Real Man. And yet, they cannot be together. That's the tragedy of the new drama, Labor Day (based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, who also wrote the source book for Gus Van Sant's To Die For). And make no mistake, that's drama read "melodrama", as in Douglas Sirk-ian 1950s level yarns, so unapologetically awash in far-fetched dysfunction and hot-house volatility amid gloriously stretched-thin plausibility. Such is the melodramatic intent and vibe of director Jason Reitman's new uncharacteristic film. (Reitman being the maker of snarky stylish comedies of the now, always about troubled individuals, such as Juno and Up in the Air.) Much of the attention focused upon Labor Day has been about how absurd...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Set in a quiet New Hampshire town, Labor Day is the story of single mom Adele (Kate Winslet), her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), and Frank (Josh Brolin), a fugitive that the two initially house against their will. As they begin to see more of his true character, he starts to fill in the role of husband and father. Based on the 2009 novel by Joyce Maynard, the film is written and directed by Jason Reitman.
With her novel “To Die For” previously adapted into a film by Gus Van Sant, Labor Day marks the second adaptation of Maynard’s work. She was recently seen discussing her relationship with J.D. Salinger in the 2013 documentary Salinger, which she has also written about.
I sat down with Maynard in a roundtable interview to discuss her perspective of the film adaptation, how the original story came to her, her love for New Hampshire, and more. »
- Nick Allen
Chicago – She has had two of her books adapted by top modern directors – Gus Van Sant directed “To Die For” (1995), and Jason Reitman is just about to release “Labor Day,” starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. But the journey of author Joyce Maynard extends even beyond these accomplishments, affecting literary history.
From an early age, Joyce Maynard knew she was a writer. After winning several student awards while as a teenager, and writing regularly for “Seventeen” magazine, Maynard was featured in 1971 on one of “The New York Times Magazine” most famous covers – “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life.” This caught the attention of another author, the reclusive J.D. Salinger (author of “Cather in the Rye” and other classics). The then 53-year-old literary legend wrote Maynard 25 letters, and they eventually had a live-in relationship that lasted about a year. Salinger broke up with Maynard when she published her first book, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet and Academy Award® nominee Josh Brolin join Academy Award® nominated director Jason Reitman for the gripping drama Labor Day, based on Joyce Maynard’s best selling novel of the same name.
As Labor Day weekend approaches, thirteen-year-old Henry Wheeler and his mother Adele venture to the store to buy Henry clothes for the upcoming school year. Life has not been easy for Adele, a divorced, single mother, who rarely ventures further than her house these days.
Wandering the aisles, Henry encounters an injured man named Frank, who solicits Henry and Adele’s help. He is charismatic and intimidatingly persuasive. Reluctantly, Adele agrees to take this stranger home. In so doing, she sets in motion a series of events over this fateful holiday weekend that will make them confront their past and define their future, forever changing their lives.
(c) Mmxiv Paramount Pictures Corporation and Frank’s Pie Company LLC. »
- Movie Geeks
Post-O.J. Simpson, we know that mass media coverage of a case can seriously affect its outcome. But in 1990, when attractive young Pamela Smart was on trial for persuading three teen boys to shoot her husband, and her case became the first televised trial in history, this was all unmined territory.Is there such a thing as “innocent before proven guilty” when a scandalous case has been splashed all over tabloids and television screens -- before it even reaches trial? As filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar points out in his incisive documentary “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” which premiered January 17 at Sundance, Smart’s case had a sinfully delicious narrative that an entire nation couldn’t help but be, well, captivated by: The gorgeous woman who seduces innocent younger men into a nefarious plot. As author Joyce Maynard says in the film (Maynard fictionalized Smart’s tale into the novel “To Die For, »
- Beth Hanna
“Captivated” revisits the case of Pamela Smart, a young New Hampshire woman currently serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for conspiring to kill her husband — a sentence considerably harsher than was handed down to those who actually carried out the deed. Jeremiah Zagar’s second feature documentary (following 2008′s “In a Dream,” about his artist father, Isaiah) argues that Smart’s trial, the first ever broadcast in its entirety, was seemingly judged by the media, prejudicing public opinion as well as, possibly, police and court actions. But the pic makes that point so strenuously and repetitiously that it becomes a tad exhausting. Further editing down to the 90-minute mark could help this HBO presentation score additional tube sales.
On May 1, 1990, Greggory Smart was beaten, then shot to death at home, having seemingly interrupted a break-in burglary. But anonymous tips soon led police to the “bad” side of town, »
- Dennis Harvey
One of the more fascinating pre-Oscar nominations races as far as I'm concerned is the race for Best Actress. It's more-or-less a foregone conclusion Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) is going to win, but the nominees aren't as cut and dry... at least not the final nomination. Last night Blanchett walked home with a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) alongside Amy Adams who won Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) for her work in American Hustle, beating Meryl Streep (August: Osage County). That is unless you considered Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) or Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said) serious competition. So now we come to predicting who will end up celebrating an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category come Thursday morning and as far as I can tell, Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Judi Dench (Philomena) and Sandra Bullock (Gravity) are going to make the »
- Brad Brevet
10 items from 2014
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