Robert here with your weekly review of new movies. As Toronto ends, the award season unofficially kicks off. But we still have a few weeks before most heavyweights come our way. Still, this week sees the release of a few movies you've just recently been hearing a lot about, courtesy Tiff.
The Informant - Say what you will about Steven Soderberg (and some do), the man's films are always interesting. What strikes me about The Informant is how Hollywood would have most likely turned the story into another glossy (and by glossy I mean intentionally gritty) corporate thriller. Only Soderberg knows that the corp. thriller genre has finally come to a place where a wink and a nudge are more than welcome. Can Damon's bad hair sporting, paunch packing performance grab him an Oscar Nomination? [rotten tomatoes / metacritic]
Jennifer's Body - There probably won't be many who'll feel much sadness at the critical »
Sep 18, 2009 Guillermo Arriaga's The Burning Plain is a dull dirge of a film, a movie that employs the same circling narrative structure that the writer used far-more-effectively in Babel, Amores Perros, and 21 Grams, but ends up feeling like nothing more than a very well-made soap opera. I honestly believe that if you took apart the criss-crossing narratives of Arriaga's earlier films and made them run chronologically there would still be intriguing, interesting stories to tell. The flashback/flashforward structure of those films actually added to the storytelling, especially in Babel, where one of the subjects of the film is difficulty in ...Read more at MovieRetriever.com »
Matt Damon's laugh trek.
Matt Damon in "The Informant!"
Photo: Warner Bros.
It's October of 1992, and Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a hotshot executive at Archer Daniels Midland, the giant agricultural conglomerate, is going about his job. He has a full plate at the moment — some mysterious virus is screwing up the company's corn-syrup operation. Did you know there's corn syrup in everything — orange juice, maple syrup? It's true.
So Mark has a lot on his mind. Or at least that part of his mind that's not buzzing with a whole other swarm of odd fixations. Like ... sushi. "I wonder who went first on that one?" Mark wonders. "The guy without the grill?" There's also the threat of poison-winged butterflies. And ... polar bears! Do you realize that polar bears would be impossible to spot in their snowy Arctic habitat if it weren't for their black noses? It's true. Do you »
Charlize Theron on the reassembly line.
Photo: Magnolia Pictures
I think everybody likes a good Wtf movie — remember "Memento"? But director Guillermo Arriaga, who specializes in this sort of thing as a screenwriter ("Babel," "21 Grams"), has scrambled the narrative of "The Burning Plain," his first feature, to no very interesting purpose. It's a beautifully made film, with a couple of arresting performances; but it's so solemn it almost puts itself to sleep, and so pointlessly disjointed you kind of wish it would take a nap.
There's a nice tingle of inscrutability right at the beginning, when we meet Sylvia (Charlize Theron), the manager of a sleek cliff-top restaurant on the Oregon coast. Sylvia is clearly dragging around a heavy burden of woe, which she attempts to lighten by sleeping with any man who comes within hailing distance, and occasionally by gouging her thigh with jagged stones. »
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Just as he's about to rip the beautiful Jennifer's tightly bound body to shreds with a knife, hunky young Nikolai tries to tell her why. Nikolai is the lead singer of an indie band called Low Shoulder. They're desperate to make it big — to be the next Maroon 5! But the world is awash in indie bands, so it's hard. "There are so many of us," he says, "and we're all so cute. ... Satan is our only hope." In the group's quest for diabolic new management, Nikolai has downloaded a Satanic ritual off the Internet. All that's required is a virgin sacrifice. Unfortunately, he's picked the wrong girl: Jennifer's days of sexual innocence are far behind her. ("I'm not even a backdoor virgin," she later admits.) So the ritual goes seriously wrong. »
A plethora of new releases hit multiplexes this weekend, from the 3-D animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the horror-comedy Jennifer's Body starring Megan Fox, to Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! starring Matt Damon and the Jennifer Aniston/Aaron Eckhart rom-com Love Happens. In select theatres we also have Jane Campion's period romance Bright Star and Guillermo Arriaga's drama The Burning Plain, which I loved last year at Tiff although not many others seemed to care for it. Are you planning on checking out any of these flicks? Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs  The Informant!  Jennifer's Body  Love Happens  Bright Star  (limited) The Burning Plain  (limited) Paris  (limited)  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844471/  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1130080/  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1131734/  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0899106/  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0810784/  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1068641/  http://www. »
Guillermo Arriaga has a hard time with chronological structure. With screenplays like ‘21 Grams,’ ‘The Three Burial of Melquiades Estrada,’ and ‘Babel’ under his belt, he appears more as a quilt-maker than a writer of film. All of his films are made up of several, different strands connected by either some, underlying theme or overlaying event, and, in some cases, the nature of the beast is the most interesting element of the screenplay. With ‘The Burning Plain,’ Arriaga steps behind the camera on one of his own screenplays, and, despite the film’s superb cast and lush camera-work, its heavy-handed focus and predictability end up amounting to little more than trivial drama.
Laid out in a two-prong fashion, the film follows two women, played by Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger. Set up in nondescript times or places (specifically nondescript, the basic nature of the “where” and “when” can be sorted out »
When a screenwriter sits down to write a script, he or she is probably considering the audience. A top priority is ensuring that moviegoers can follow the story and understand the characters. situations. Guillermo Arriaga approaches film in a completely different manner. People don.t tell their stories in a chronological manner, so why should a screenwriter? After sitting down and talking with Arriaga about his latest film, The Burning Plain, I couldn.t speak to anyone without examining the way I conveyed my information. Sure enough, Arriaga is right. I didn.t tell my friend I went to interview an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter then ran back to my apartment before meeting her for coffee. I had to throw in that I ran back to my apartment because I went out the night before and left my wallet in a different bag. We expect out movies to be told linearly »
Charlize Theron was perfectly on trend in her hot blue dress at the NY premiere of The Burning Plain last night. She's been looking fantastic promoting her film all over including a stop by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon where she beat him in a game of beer pong. She also talked to USA Today about how she thinks about her nude scenes, upcoming sequels and what she learned about relationships as she grew up. Here are highlights: On nude scenes: "I'm not some exhibitionist. I think people think I just love walking around naked. When you start making it about yourself, you stand in the way of doing your job. I have to sit in an editing room with (director) Guillermo Arriaga and a bunch of execs, and if I had to sit there and think about myself and these men watching me, I think that would make me insecure. »
Tennis fan Charlize Theron is avoiding turning on the TV or reading any newspapers - because she doesn't want to find out the results of the U.S. Open finals.
The Hollywood star was spotted in the audience in the earlier rounds of the New York championship tournament last week (ends11Sep09), but she has yet to watch the men's final between Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro.
The match was due to take place on Sunday but heavy rain pushed the game back to Monday - when Theron was in Los Angeles to promote her new film The Burning Plain.
So she's steering clear of all news until she can sit down and catch up on her sporting passion.
She says, "I'm a huge tennis fan but don't tell me what happened in the finals. The men's finals I haven't seen because it rained and then they pushed it a day and then I had to go to L.A. and I had to do press so I didn't get a chance to watch it." »
Somewhere in Guillermo Arriaga’s three-film run with director Alejandro González Iñárritu—2000’s Amores Perros, 2003’s 21 Grams, and 2006’s Babel— Arriaga’s achronological, everything-is-connected screenplays lost their originality and surprise, and started to become more like shtick. Now absent Iñárritu’s considerable filmmaking chops, Arriaga’s directorial debut, The Burning Plain, sinks into full-on self-parody, slogging through themes of guilt and redemption with joyless, artless determination. Arriaga always rankled at the credit Iñárritu received for their collaborations, but Arriaga’s leaden touch behind the camera is a reminder of how much I »
The time shifting interwoven character drama, in which multiple discordant storylines merge into a coherent whole, is the primary characteristic of the films of Alejandro González Iñárritu and longtime collaborator Guillermo Arriaga. Together, the men perfected the form in Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Its potency waned in Babel, the film that appears to have irreparably fractured their relationship. With The Burning Plain the form can be pronounced to be, if not officially dead, on its last bit of life support. What once seemed like a fresh and exciting method of storytelling, an offshoot of a mode popularized by Robert Altman and others, has become impossibly trite. Written and directed by Arriaga, the film cuts back and forth over more than a decade, weaves its way through two concrete settings and winds up at a place heavy on symbolism and melodrama but empty on ideas. Charlize Theron stars as Sylvia, proprietor of a high-end Portland restaurant and a »
- Robert Levin
When so many other Hollywood actresses are doing everything possible to look good, Charlize Theron seems determined to buck the trend by playing more rough-around-the-edges female roles. Her turn as the decidedly unattractive serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster shocked audiences but earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. She followed up that role by playing a victim of sexual harassment in North Country, which also earned her an Oscar nomination. Theron is once again set to play an unglamorous role in The Burning Plain.
Directed by Guillermo Arriaga, the award-winning writer of Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores Perros, The Burning Plain is a non-linear tale in which Theron plays a sexually promiscuous, suicidal character who is forced to confront the sins of her past. While it sounds like playing a character with such heavy baggage would weigh an actor down emotionally, Theron says that it's just a job.
I love what I do, »
- BrentJS Sprecher
Charlize Theron was up bright and early today to pay a visit to Good Morning America in NYC. She's promoting The Burning Plain before it opens Friday, and Charlize has already started working the red carpet at premieres. The actress opened up about feeling honored every time she portrays a complicated character, also revealing her mom's prediction that she'd one day have a large family with five boys - check out the video below. View 5 Photos › To see the video of Charlize's interview just read more. »
Charlize Theron is not "an exhibitionist." The "Burning Plain" actress - who appears naked in the first scene of the movie, and has also stripped off in "Monster" and "The Devil's Advocate" - insists she only flashes flesh on film if it is integral to the storyline.
She explained: "I'm not some exhibitionist. I think people think I just love walking around naked."
"When you start making it about yourself, you stand in the way of doing your job. I have to sit in an editing room with the director and a bunch of execs, and if I had to sit there and think about myself and these men watching me, I think that would make me insecure. I'm just like every other girl out there. I would cringe."
The 34-year-old actress added making "The Burning Plain" - in which she stars as Sylvia, a woman who found out her »
MoviesOnline had the pleasure of sitting down recently with Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and director/screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga to talk about their new movie, “The Burning Plain,” a romantic mystery about a woman on the edge who takes an emotional journey back to the defining moment of her life. The film is the directorial debut of the Oscar-nominated screenwriter. Oscar-winner Charlize Theron plays Sylvia, a beautiful restaurant manager whose cool, professional demeanor masks the sexually charged storm within. When a stranger from Mexico confronts her with her mysterio »
Guillermo Arriaga didn't invent nonlinear storytelling, but he's made it something of a specialty in his work. In his scripts for director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu on films such as Amores Perros,Babel and 21 Grams, Arriaga sliced and diced narrative in a variety of ways - from Amores' retelling of the same story from different perspectives to 21 Grams' jigsaw-puzzle intensity. So it's no surprise that he would do something similar with his directorial debut, The Burning Plain. In perspective drawing, parallel lines appear to converge in the distance; so it is with Arriaga's storytelling. Moving back and forth in time and from locale to locale, Arriaga quickly makes it apparent that seemingly parallel lines - from different times and locales - will actually intersect before the film is over. All of his storylines deal with women - specifically, with mothers and daughters. »
- Marshall Fine
Before diving in with the coming week's releases, let's take a quick look at last week's. I think the poll results usually paint a pretty telling picture of who is reading this blog. The weekend's big box office winner, Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," failed to pick up a single vote in the poll. "Sorority Row" took top spot in the poll (70% of your votes), followed in a distant second by "Whiteout" and "9," which were basically tied, at 15% and 13% respectively.
My takeaway is that you readers are on the younger side -- ie below 30, or at least not yet parents -- and that you prefer spectacle to schmaltz. That's definitely an overly broad generalization, but I do find the fact the weekend's biggest earner, by quite a wide margin I might add, didn't even pick up one vote in last week's poll. Now, let's take »
- Adam Rosenberg
With the Venice Film Festival having just concluded and Toronto now underway, the award season's wheels begin to roll with big name players, both indie and arthouse, making a showing, with Steven Soderbergh and Jennifer Aniston keeping things light at the multiplex.
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"35 Shots of Rum"
While Claire Denis' latest film, "White Material," is in the midst of a prestigious festival run that will take in Venice, Toronto and soon London, fans of the French filmmaker's work can enjoy this delicate domestic portrayal of tenderness and devotion from last year that begins a small theatrical run here in New York. Set in a nondescript Parisian neighborhood, Denis' film casually unfolds the dynamic of unspoken trust and mutual support played out between a stoic widower Lionel (Alex Descas), his daughter Joséphine (Mati Diop), and the »
- Neil Pedley
Welcome back to another edition of Insert Caption -- the game that burns and yearns for your attention like the little toddler that it is. Last week we asked you to spit out a funny caption for the new animated flick 9, which hit theaters earlier this week. Congrats go out to our three winners -- none of whom I would trust to save us during a robot invasion.
1. "Alas, the Muppet version of The Fugitive didn't fare too well at the box office." -- Drew B.
2. "And this is why every time you do the laundry, you lose at least one sock." -- Carol S.
3. "Are you sure this is the same hole that Alice fell down?". -- Mallory G.
See full image and all captions
- Erik Davis
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