15 items from 2014
Written and directed by Jake Paltrow
If ever you should find yourself needing to explain the difference between a film being “well-shot” and “well-directed”, Exhibit A should be the new indie release Young Ones. Writer-director Jake Paltrow has created an intriguing world and spared not one cent out of his indie-sized budget to make it beautiful, but he doesn’t direct it well enough to avoid some storytelling problems.
Paltrow (yes, he is Gwyneth’s brother) imagines a near future in which droughts like the one currently ravaging California have become so intense that the rule of law itself has begun to break down in the American Southwest. In this world Michael Shannon plays a father trying to raise two children, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Elle Fanning, against the specter of his wells running dry and the intrusive advances of a local man played by Nicholas Hoult. »
- Mark Young
At 78, William Friedkin is experiencing a new lease on life, career-wise. Most enticingly, when we spoke with the genial, anecdote-laden, Oscar-winning director at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, he let drop that he's in contention for what has to be one of the choicest TV gigs on offer: season 2 of “True Detective.” But that possibility is just one of many that have opened up for him over the last couple of years, a factor, we’d suggest of two main elements. Firstly, Friedkin’s last two feature films “Bug” and “Killer Joe,” both based on source material from writer Tracy Letts, have seen the director pick up some of the best notices of his post-’Exorcist’ career (and nabbing a peri-McConnaissance McConaughy for the latter can't have hurt). And secondly, his years-long battle to see “Sorcerer” restored has culminated in a triumphal series of festival screenings and widespread critical reevaluation. »
- Jessica Kiang
The 3rd July 2013 saw the release of Disney's The Lone Ranger, its larger-than-life western starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. Its theatrical debut marked the end of a lengthy and difficult production, stories from which had been hungrily served up by the media - the previous summer was dominated by news stories of its spiralling budget, which was thought to have crossed $250m. Nevertheless, the 2013 blockbuster season should, in theory, have marked a fresh start for Disney, as it spent a reported $150m on marketing The Lone Ranger. But the House of Mouse hadn't counted on the popularity of another film launched on that exact same day in July: Universal's animated sequel, Despicable Me 2.
The Lone Ranger, a film with an »
William Friedkin will forever be known for crafting one of the best of the genre in The Exorcist, and was also more recently featured in our 'Best Movie You Never Saw' column with the masterfully directed Sorcerer (check out the article here). Friedkin has been playing it pretty low-key lately, having directed Killer Joe (2011) and Bug (2006), respectively, but he still has a hell of an opinion on the industry. In a recent interview, he spoke out against the 35mm format and directors of this »
- Sean Wist
If you've made very serious films like The French Connection, The Exorcist, Sorcerer, To Live and Die in L.A., Bug and Killer Joe, then you'd be justified in casting a rarified eye on everyone around you, but as I recently sat down for a long chat with director William Friedkin ahead of two revival screenings of his movies at the Alamo Drafthouse, I discovered he's not the intimidating, cold presence you may assume based entirely on his movies. Friedkin is jovial, warm, incredibly intelligent and every answer of his feels like it could spin off into 20 different stories you'd be dying to hear. If anything, he's all the more interesting because he's not what you'd expect from a filmmaker with his background (he's also directed dozens of...
- Peter Hall
Killer bug and insect invasion films are some of the most challenging to really nail in a memorable manner. I honestly believe that’s why so few directors and production companies will even entertain the idea of approaching the critters.
They’re typically goofy flicks, and most who would consider themselves “serious” filmmakers (whatever that is) probably wouldn’t waste a scoff at the thought of creating one. But every once in a while something special arrives and leaves its mark on our psyche.
Perhaps it’s an over-the-top exploitation piece that happens to piece the puzzle together properly. Maybe it’s a film so astonishingly complex and multi-layered that one cannot avoid the intrigue of a grand mind fuck. It doesn’t matter why bug flicks work or how bug flicks work. What matters is that when the truly innovative minds out there set out to make a film of this nature, »
- Matt Molgaard
The weekend of the Tonys has finally arrived, and EW will be your shepherd through the entire night, with reports from the red carpet and Radio City Music Hall, and senior editor Thom Geier and myself hosting a live blog of the entire ceremony, beginning at 8 p.m. Et when it airs on CBS. Host Hugh Jackman must already have his eyes on a prize for next season when he returns for Jerusalem playwright Jez Butterworth’s three-person drama The River, and other starry productions are slowly finding homes for next season. Glenn Close, John Lithgow, and Martha Plimpton will »
- Jason Clark
Since the hubbub of Oscar season has finally died away and we can look past the strategy of campaigns, August: Osage County arrives on Blu-ray for reexamination. Perhaps distance and time will finally melt those rosy-tinted glasses so many seem to have donned for the experience of the film, as multiple viewings only enhance its creaky strokes of forced melodrama. As with her nomination for 1999’s Music of the Heart, her unnecessary accolades for this appear to be overwhelmingly kiss ass. It’s a mode we’ve seen Ms. Streep in before, that of the highly nuanced harpy with complicated and convoluted depth; only it all feels so incredibly constrained and affected that it’s difficult to believe a single minute of it.
When something sounds too good to be true, it often is, and while John Wells certainly wasn’t the most inspired choice to helm the adaptation of »
- Nicholas Bell
Red Eye Media
"Cheap Thrills" is a nasty little piece, a black comedy that's both bleakly nihilistic and pointedly diabolical.
Taking a thought experiment to its most radical extremes, it's the kind of genre film that uses moments of humour and violence to provide withering critiques of its characters' behaviour. Whether this tale of dares gone too far is an indictment of our voyeuristic tendencies, a diatribe against increasing class divisiveness, or simply the logical extension of certain network game shows, "Cheap Thrills" is the opposite of its ironic title -- a rich, illuminating and at times incriminating look at the extremes of human behaviour.
Moviefone Canada spoke with the film's director E.L. Katz via Skype from what appeared to be either his lair or his arbitrary hotel assignment deep somewhere in Northern Europe.
Moviefone Canada: This is your debut feature, and it's a hell of a flick. How did the project come your way? »
- Jason Gorber
I have a special surprise for you NYC-area readers whose actressexuality extends beyond the silver screen to the stage. I have one pair of tickets for the March 12th dress rehearsal of the new Broadway play The Realistic Joneses to give away. It stars Toni Collette, Michael C Hall, and Marisa Tomei. I've seen all of them perform live and they're every bit as good on stage as they are onscreen (not something that can be said of all film actors!).
"How well do you know your neighbors?" The Realistic Joneses asks.
...a new play about love and life, friends and neighbors.
Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Will Eno and directed by Sam Gold (Fun Home, Seminar), it's an outrageous, inside look at the people who live next door, the truths we think we know and the secrets we never imagined we all might share. Hailed by The New York Times as "a tender, »
- NATHANIEL R
August: Osage County, 2013.
Directed by John Wells.
A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
Sometimes a script comes together which functions solely to allow a star studied ensemble to chew scenery, shout, scream, and cry at each other and generally get the chance to show their acting range. Is there anything wrong with that? Not as far as I’m concerned, and that’s why August: Osage County is a rousing success.
- Gary Collinson
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Two of Tracy Letts's stage plays have already been brought to the screen, both by director William Friedkin. While the southern gothic jet-black "comedy" Killer Joe is more widely known, Bug remains the finer movie, largely because Friedkin attacks it like a full-blooded horror film, a screaming descent into paranoid terror. Crucially, both works are profoundly cinematic – functioning as films first, stage adaptations second.
The same cannot be said of August: Osage County, a typically ripe play transposed to the screen in uninspired fashion by ER stalwart John Wells. Shedding around an hour of the play's running time, Wells's adaptation is notable primarily for its A-list ensemble cast, all of whom relish the chance to sink their teeth into Letts's bilious dialogue. »
- Mark Kermode
Review Mark Harrison 24 Jan 2014 - 16:20
This adaptation of a Tracy Letts play desperately wants some awards, but if Mark has anything to do with it, it won't get them...
In the age of torrents, the screener discs that are sent out to critics and members of awards voting bodies during Oscar season have a tendency to turn up online. If you ever see a dodgy copy of one of these screeners, you'll presumably have your viewing experience briefly interrupted, every now and then, by an on-screen graphic with either a copyright notice or a “For Your Consideration” banner.
I saw August: Osage County in the cinema, upon its UK release date this weekend. Cinema releases are free of such digital graphics, but trust me - this is a film that has got “For Your Consideration” written all over it, and in no good way.
Based on a screenplay by Tracy Letts, »
Tracy Letts has adapted his Pulitzer prize-winning play for the screen. The actor and writer talks about fighting to keep it faithful to the original
When Tracy Letts accepted the Tony for best play in 2008, he finished his speech with a bitter kicker. "They did an amazing thing," he said, in reference to the backers of August: Osage County. "They decided to produce an American play, on Broadway, with theatre actors."
Those theatre actors who made Letts's mammoth play a sensation in Chicago, on Broadway and then in London have now been swapped for movie stars in the film version. The producers this time round, including George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein, have also done an amazing thing: produced a foul-mouthed and dark movie for grownups, maintaining the bulk of Letts's riotously funny but brutal three-hour play. The film has had varying degrees of Oscar buzz since the first trailer debuted – horse-race chatter that irritates Letts. »
- Katey Rich
The Sundance Premieres section is “A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated dramatic films of the coming year.”
Written and directed by Jake Paltrow
It’s always a mix of delight, discomfort, and teeth-grinding tension when Michael Shannon (Bug, Take Shelter, The Iceman) takes center stage. His exacting performances often subtly build upon instability and transfix the audience as a countdown to imminent emotional combustion begins. This sci-fi drama by Jake Paltrow (The Good Night) is set to showcase Shannon and rely on his strong air of deeply held convictions to boldly deliver the film’s gritty premise of humanity’s struggle in a future deprived of water. The rest of the acting ensemble are coming of age as promising talents that may complement Shannon’s gravitas. Elle Fanning shined in Ginger & Rosa while »
- Lane Scarberry
15 items from 2014
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