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|Index||106 reviews in total|
Art Linson's memoirs are a reminder of what a sad place Hollywood really is. We got closer and more original glimpses in films that go from Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" to Altman's "The Player". Bernard Rose's "Ivansextc" also comes to mind not to mention Blake Edwards's SOB. Here the prototypes are well known even by people who have nothing to do with the film industry so one gets a bit impatient waiting for this fresh look from a prominent, still active, Hollywood producer. No such luck but there are other elements that make the film fun to watch if nothing else. To see Robert De Niro play "a character" that it's not in any way a semi parody of the films that made him famous is a welcome surprise in itself. Barry Levinson shows that he's as sharp as ever and the rhythms that he finds to tell the story keeps the tired tale not only alive but almost gripping.
I just got back from an AFI screening of Barry Levinson's satirical
comedy, "What Just Happened?", an inside look into the movie business
and big studio politics. Robert De Niro was in attendance along with
director Barry Levinson and screenwriter Art Linson. Although I tried
to get a photo of De Niro, sadly, I was never close enough to get a
Based on producer Art Linson's book, "What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line", the film version tells the story of a successful Hollywood producer, Ben, played by Robert Deniro, as he juggles his personal and professional crises. This film has an impressive cast including Robin Wright Penn as Ben's second wife, Kelly; John Turturro as Dick, the stereotypical shifty agent; Stanley Tucci as Scott, the blocked screenplay writer; Michael Wincott as Jeremy, the temperamental director; Catherine Keener, as Lou, the hardcore studio exec; Bruce Willis as the demanding movie star; and Sean Penn as himself.
This mildly funny expose of modern-day Hollywood, was entertaining, but a little disappointing. The message is supposed to shock and outrage the viewer about how the film industry ruins art by turning it into pure commerce. But there have been plenty of Hollywood satires like "The Player" that have done this genre better. Although the source of the material is authentic and despite an outstanding cast (who all give great performances), "What Just Happened?" ultimately has nothing new to say besides the fact that Hollywood is a devious place to work. As a gimmicky farce, it works, but as a satire it was a limp and familiar insider's movie that lacked sharp irony, humor and novel characters.
This film won't appeal to everyone, but it does have some good one liners and funny moments. However, the combination of these actors working together in a comedy may be worth the cost of admission alone.
Director Barry Levinson hasn't had much luck lately- after Bandits,
which was a good though not anything very noteworthy comedy caper, he
had two colossal duds in a row- Envy and Man of the Year- which,
despite an otherwise impressive host of films (i.e. Diner, Rainman,
Sleepers, even Toys) could have threatened to throw him off track ala
Rob Reiner. But in a way What Just Happened was relatable for Levinson,
despite it being the stories of Art Linson, semi-famous producer who's
had hits and misses throughout his career, and at the same time gave
him some ample material for some sardonic, spot-on satire of the
industry. It's not the Player, don't get me wrong, but it gives its
winks and nods to the egomania, the preciousness of directors and
stars, and how personal lives get caught up in the mix without getting
too smug with us common moviegoers.
Probably the funniest, as sort of a near running gag, is the latest film that producer Ben (De Niro) is being test-screened for audiences; a rough cut of "Fiercly" starring Sean Penn (who, as with Bruce Willis, plays "Himself" in the film) disturbs the audience because, on top of a bleak end for its hero, a dog is killed on screen (this, for all the wrong reasons, is hysterical funny, if only for the deadpan reaction from DeNiro to the insanely negative response cards). The director, however, a British hipster (brilliantly played by Michael Wincott), doesn't take it lightly that he doesn't have final cut. This brings around what seems like a moment of levity midway... and then back to the start when it comes time for Cannes. On top of this is Willis's 'plot-line' involving a beard he won't shave off. It's almost like a slight reprisal of his part in Four Rooms, only put to a much bigger, aggrandizing maximum. Both of these, much like seeing certain characters in a Christopher Guest movie, elicit laughs anytime they're on screen.
And the rest of the movie is... still very good. Aside from some scenes where Levinson decides to rush things along via the speedy transitions, he provides a style that suits the feel of the material, of Ben trying to balance his personal struggles (an ex-wife he can't totally let go of, and his rebellious teen daughter with a secret) with the eternal BS of getting work done in an industry concerned, a lot more often than not, with the final dollar over artistic integrity. It's not quite reality TV, but it has that unpredictable, on-the-fly hand-held feeling all the same, which is a method much more effective used here than in Man of the Year. And De Niro is also surprisingly good (maybe not a surprise to some, but considering some of his hit-or-miss turns in recent fare), as he doesn't lay too low-key in the part. One can probably see De Niro having studied producers- not just Linson himself but others- for long stretches to get the right steps for each deliberate step in ego-maniacal Hollywood.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy some near classic self-conscious satire on an industry that deserves anything those in it can dish back out (if that makes sense).
The film is certainly enjoyable, and has several laugh-out-loud moments. However, like the film within the film, What Just Happened? feels too long. As a filmmaker myself, I really enjoyed this film, but I am afraid that much of the appeal will be missing in a general audience. A producer trying to change Bruce Willis' mind is pretty funny, but how funny is it to a non-producer or a non-Bruce-Willis? The performances, are, of course, outstanding. The entire cast is composed of nearly uncriticizable actors who are superb in any role they attempt. If you have an interest in how films come to be, this is a fun little flick. If you don't care about the behind-the-scenes, you may want to sit this one out.
Strange feeling for a French person to sit at a Hollywood movie theater to watch a movie about Hollywood. People around me laughed more than me because, presumably, the joke touches a lot of local nerves. The story is introduced by a score resembling the Nino Rota of "La Dolce Vita" but the similarities with "La Dolce Vita" end there. There is nothing new here other than Robert De Niro's performance, the first in a long time in which there is a notable commitment. I found the characters tiresome and far too familiar. I couldn't care less about any of them. The predicament of De Niro's Ben (a thinly veiled producer, writer Art Linson) left me cold. Living the times we're living, to concern myself with this was too much to ask.
When I read some of the other users' comments I could hardly believe we
watched the same movie. Wasted 2 hrs of my life!? This is, simply put,
ridiculous, this movie does not require moral or surprise, it is quite
enjoyable and powerful as it is.
Superb acting, intelligent writing, characters you can sympathize with as well as good steady rhythm.
It is a beautiful movie centered around a producer and how his life evolves around a series of regular down to earth events. It is a little like entourage minus the girls and absurdity as it is centered around Hollywood but you do sympathize with the lead character a lot on his reactions to events.
I had no expectations from this movie and it turned out to be quite a gem, I believe this is one of those movies that will be rated more highly in the future. If there was any hype around this, if people expected a blockbuster, well it is their fault. It is more like an independent movie and a very good one at that I must add.
It certainly feels like De Niro very much enjoyed acting in this one, this is by far the best I have seen him in years. Turturro, Wincott, Penn Willis all saw something in this script and they were right. ( To be honest with you Turturro did overdo his part a little)
I have been to much more boring movies than this and they were rated much higher by IMDb crowd, no it does not move at a snail's pace, no there are no big psychological dramas or a big story, and yet all those are OK and their absence is what makes this movie perfect.
This film was very boring and a perfect example of the current state of
things in Hollywood. They think that just by bringing big stars in the
movie will have to be a hit.
The actors are not the problem. They did their part. The problem is in the script or rather lack of it. The script is better suited for a 45 minute episode than for a whole movie. That's probably why the movie needed to be padded with long scenes of traveling. Also, the pace is too slow.
My advice to everyone is to avoid this movie. Watching paint dry is equally amusing and you might even get it for free.
I can applaud the effort here, it really wants to say something, I'm
just not certain that the director had the balls or the producer the
guts to give it both barrels! Which I suppose is ironic given the
subject matter! (Though I don't think intentional) Robert De Nero plays
an ailing producer on the decline in the business, he has two ex wives
and stress from egotistical stars and their demands, whether it be high
maintenance directors or attention seeking actors.
The core of the problem I have with the film is that the main character is completely unsympathetic.
You'll hate him, he's shallow, selfish, egotistical and devoid of any passion. Whilst this may be the point of the character, and I think it is, it doesn't make for a good film! I went away from the film thinking that they were trying to tell me that Hollywood is full of artists, but that the system breaks them down into nothing more that monkeys who turn out dross films that appeal to the mass market because focus groups tell them too.
Well if the artists are going to produce films like this then maybe there should be some editorial control, away from the hands of the artists because this missed, in my opinion, on just about every level.
The film that this will be compared to most is The Player by Robert Altman, a much better film and I highly recommend, the main difference between these two films however is in The Player everyone is in on the joke, Altman never speaks down to the audience and has fun with the story.
Tim Robbins (in The Player) is just as much of a shallow and hollow character and you'll dislike him as much as De Nero in this but because you are included in the joke, because you can see how distanced from reality he has become, by being a part of the Hollywood system, you can feel sorry for him.
Sadly for De Nero in this I couldn't.
I can't recommend this title to anyone but the dedicated film fan who will see a lot of the in jokes about Hollywood, everyone else should give it a miss.
I love DeNiro, and expect a lot from this film. The movie started out
nicely, with great acting, but became incredibly predictable. I just
flat out predicted the ending. The movie ended without any conclusion,
to any of the plots. And each subplot was more incomplete than the
Bruce Willis subplot was absurd, just a bunch of commotion about his beard and then the result and then what? Nothing. It was all about the beard.
The wife and the main character are apparently divorced; we don't see any real chemistry between them. We don't get anywhere with that either except that the two are less intimate in the end. Wow, that was so important to know.
The movie has no moral, no big surprise, no story. It's almost like a fragment of an episode of Entourage, without actually getting to know any of the characters.
What was the point of this movie? Don't trust some Hollywood people? Or that Hollywood is tough? Or that people that get divorced don't get back together?
A producer(DeNiro) with two ex-wives and families tries to get a British artsy director(Wincott) to change the ending of their most recent film, and Bruce Willis to shave off a beard(he's also gained weight, but no one seems to worry about him losing *that*) before he stars in a movie. The clock is ticking on both, and it's astounding just how little we care. Oh, and yes, that actually is the entire story. It certainly isn't enough for a feature. Maybe this should have been a TV pilot? There are several subplots, one more unresolved and utterly pointless than the next. I haven't read the memoirs that this is based upon. The acting is good, with the possible exception of Tucci(not sure what happened there). We've got real talent, but they can't reanimate the dead material they're given. There is barely anything funny in this at all. The handful of jokes are drawn out endlessly. Granted, Robert talking with Robin and "trying to be understanding" is amusing, and this can make you smile every now and then. On the whole, the punchline is that Hollywood is full of sex with underage girls, drugs and personal problems. Newsflash: We know. And it isn't delivered in any kind of fresh way. Maybe part of the issue is that these are in-jokes... we don't get them. This has been called indulgent and arrogant, and I completely agree. Why make a big flick that won't appeal to anyone not in the business? This is slow-paced and incredibly boring. It's too bad, because the editing and cinematography(with some hand-held camera) aren't bad. This is meant to be a satire... I'd go for S1m0ne over it any day. It's the worst I've seen by Levinson. There is a bunch of strong language, a bit of moderate, bloody violence and disturbing content and brief nudity in this. The DVD comes with a trailer. I recommend this only to the most forgiving of potential viewers. 5/10
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