Entries tagged with “Woody Allen”.


Just imagine this shaped like an Oscar statuette. Wouldn't that be something?!

Imagine this shaped like an Oscar statuette. Wouldn’t that be something?!

Tonight’s the big show in L.A. where Hollywood honors its own, and while The Lint Screen doesn’t have a clue how the statues will be dealt, this is a quick round up of what we (I) liked.

Best picture: Philomena. A movie that’s got a great, true story with wonderful performances. Judi Dench can rip your heart out with one eye tied behind her back. It’s got heart, big heart. Close runner up: Wolf of Wall Street. Yeah, it shows greed, drugs, sex, overindulgent narcissistic pricks on parade. We’re talking Wall Street, dammit! The script by Terrence Winters is the best. Three action-packed hours with nary a wasted scene. Oh, and this Marty Scorsese fellow, well, let’s just say the guy’s got a future in film.

Also in the top tier: Nebraska. Bruce Dern and Will Forte bring a colorful strained family relationship to life in this black and white beauty. A damn fine film.

Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey and Leto are probably locks for Oscars, and they deserve it. This is a moving movie made sadder by the fact that it’s mostly true.

Inside Llewyn Davis. Hollywood and the public didn’t give this flick much love, but it’s a rich story of the struggles of the artistic journey. Think art sells itself? Think again. The Coen brothers once again deliver the goods, and T. Bone will have your toes a-tapping.

American Hustle. Yes, the performance are a feast. A fun film that’s confusing at times, and a satisfying ride. But when it’s all over, well, there you are. A must see, but not one for the ages.

Here is a drive by of other major films.

Captain Phillips is gripping and Hanks and Barkhad Abdi own their slabs of silver screen. But the Cappy’s backstory feels forced. And we all know the ending. Good film, but not great.

Gravity is an incredible film for technical whizbangery, and the acting’s fine, but the dialogue and the story are pretty thin. (Probably also not a good idea to see this film with a N.A.S.A. engineer, like I did, who explained all the logic and physics flaws.)

Her is a film that I liked quite a bit. Actually, I like the idea of the film better than the film itself. It makes some very good points, societal commentary while you wait, but it’s somewhat labored and repetitive after awhile. It is frightening to see our future with Sans-a-belt slacks up to our bellybuttons. Still, this is a movie worth watching for the ideas and performances.

Oh, how I wanted to love 12 Years a Slave. If ever there was a subject more ripe for moving one emotionally, this was it. But, the movie missed. Again, it’s a very good film, but not a great one. A pity. Something was off.

Saving Mr. Banks was surprisingly good. Emma Thompson is terrific, and the story is engaging, entertaining and compelling. Hanks as Disney is fun, too. Give it a go.

Ron Howard’s Rush is also a film to seek out. A very interesting true story about Formula 1 racing in the 1970’s is a wild ride. It’s well-told, well-acted, well-shot. Well, see it already!

And then there’s Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a film that’s fun with a character who is hard to take. A good flick.

I also liked Lee Daniels’ The Butler, well worth renting for Forest Whitaker’s performance and lots of fine cameos. Interesting tale and true. Plus Oprah, who never once asks us to look beneath our seats.

That’s it. A pretty great year for film. Now, let’s see what the industry recognizes.

Some film guru once stated that there are two types of movies: those stories about the human condition (timeless tales), and those that show you something you could never see otherwise (special effects extravaganzas).

Right now, you can see two prime examples of these movie types, each a standout in its particular weight class. For the human condition genre, we have the always scrappy Woody Allen weighing in with one of his best films of the past few decades: Midnight in Paris. And in the opposite corner, representing state of the art heavyweight special effects and 3-D whizbangery, Mr. over-the-top perennial heavyweight Michael Bay and his Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Both are worth seeing for different reasons.

Woody directs humans in a human story.

I am a fan of the timeless tale human condition genre, and the simple premise of Midnight in Paris is one with real sticking power. Owen Wilson plays Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter who is miserable with his lot in life. He loves Paris, rainy nights and the romantic dream of writing the great novel. He yearns to be like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and the posse of 1920’s artistic ex-pats who made Paris their home and playground. Gil is engaged to Inez, played by Rachel McAdams, a woman who was born into the finer things of life. Her parents are in Paris to help the couple make their wedding plans. Inez and her folks represent conformity, pragmatism, be-happy-with-what-you’ve-got-and-get-your-head-outta-the-cloudsism. They are the cold boot of reality kicking upside Gil’s silly romantic notions-filled head.

One night, Gil is alone on a contemplative stroll through the Paris streets. A clock strikes midnight, and a 1920’s auto rolls up and stops. The back door opens and Gil sees people in 1920’s dress slurping cocktails and laughing gayly. They invite him to join, and he does.

Off Gil goes to live it up with his heroes: Ernest, F. Scott, Zelda, Cole, Gertrude, Salvador, Pablo and more. He lives magically in his ideal period, the man out of time who finally finds his time. After a wild night, he is back to modern times and his modern life and modern problems. Like a junkie, once he’s had a taste of his pleasure-filled escape, he returns again and again to his midnight strolls that transport him back to his romanticized time.

Along the way, he falls in love– never a good idea for time travelers. And the happy couple have their own physics bending adventure with ironic and illuminating outcomes.

I’ll say no more than this is a charming, magical and lasting movie that uses imagination and the human condition as special effects to make a simple, yet profound point. And Owen Wilson is certainly not the Owen Wilson we saw in Marley & Me. Thank God.

Chalk one up for the Woodman and the human condition timeless tale with a dash of magic thrown in for good measure. This is a terrific film.

Michael directs human props in a special effects story.

Which brings us to Transformers: Dark of the Moon. But before I get started, let me disclose my prejudices right up front.
1. I’m not a Michael Bay fan. His commercial work was great, his features work overblown.
2. I’m not a fan of big stupid special effects movies. For the most part, the stories are lame and the effects don’t stick in my memory banks.
3. I’m not a big fan of Shia LaBeouf. The guy doesn’t have much gravitas, soul, screen presence. He can act, but he’s like diluted vanilla.
4. Don’t much care for Transformers. This could be a result of having stepped on too many of the damn things when our kids played with them– a time when Transformers littered our house ready to transform from toys into implements of painful death.
5. I think most 3-D movies are gimmicks not worthy of the upcharge for the silly glasses required to view them

All these prejudices aside, I’m glad I saw this film. It was the coolest 3-D movie I’ve ever seen, and Michael Bay has some amazing camerawork. In a weird way, what makes Bay obnoxious in two dimensions makes him pretty spectacular in three. It’s like icing on top of frosting that somehow works for a visual feast worth attending.

The plot? Well, yeah, there’s a plot: an alien spacecraft crashes on the moon, N.A.S.A. alerts the White House and the next thing you know, J.F.K. initiates the space program to get a man on the moon to investigate before the Ruskies do. We all thought the moon mission was for pride, but it was to investigate the crashed alien spacecraft– why must our leaders always deceive us?

Yada blah blah yada and here we are in the present or near future and Autobots are helping our government and evil Decepticons (nasty Transformers who need a good talking to so that they’ll maybe straighten up and fly right!) want to take over our planet and the key to the whole shebang are some special rods that were on that spacecraft that crashed into the moon and well, Yada blah blah yada.

Yeah, there’s a plot and there’s some talented actors trapped in the plot: John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich and Dr. McDreamy himself. Shia LeBeouf has him a hot new girlfriend, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Michael Bay is more than happy to show us why she’s a star in the Victoria’s Secret catalog. The script does not develop her character any further than commentary from all perspectives that she’s a hottie. It doesn’t really matter, the humans serve only one purpose in this film: give some puny scale against which the mighty Transformers might dominate and intimidate.

And that’s where this film shines. The effects work is stunning. The 3-D shot composition, especially in master shots with tiny humans in foreground and massive Transformer and breathtaking vistas in background are what make this film worth forking over the extra bucks for the glasses.

If you cheap out and see the film in 2-D, be warned– you’ll only be magnifying the silliness of this affair.

The movie clocks in at over two and a half hours. It could have easily lost a half hour or forty-five minutes, but when you’re guorging yourself, what’s some extra cheese?

All in all, this film is worth sitting through for the amusement park adventure of the spectacular destruction of Chicago and some famous landmarks. Don’t expect much more than that, and you’ll enjoy your long, noisy ride.

Osama bin Laden had unfulfilled wishes before he kicked it.

In the stash of info and porn gathered from Osama bin Laden’s crib/compound on May 1, a rare insight into the madman was released today: his official personal bucket list.

In a world exclusive, The Lint Screen is pleased to present it in its entirety. (NOTE: The original list was in the angry kook’s handwriting, which was atrocious, on note paper that had leprechauns riding unicorns beneath vibrant-colored rainbows.)

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S SECRET BUCKET LIST
TOP SECRET!!!
DON’T READ– THIS MEANS YOU!!!!
SERIOUSLY, DON’T READ THIS!

1. To play Nathan Detroit in a Broadway production of “Guys And Dolls” or Tony in “West Side Story.” I know I can nail “Somewhere.”
2. Enroll in DeVry and get that degree in neuroscience or vinyl repair.
3. Eat 24 White Castles.
4. Get some killer porn– something with Debbie Reynolds maybe.
5. Start a new terrorist club: The Carefree Kidz
6. See the Grand Canyon. Blow it up.
7. Get a better driver’s license picture, one that doesn’t make me look so fat.
8. Appear on “Dancing With Stars,” tango like there’s no tomorrow.
9. Guest host for Leno.
10. Direct a feature.
11. Shake hands with Bono, sing “Pride: In The Name of Love.”
12. Defy gravity just once.
13. See Eiffel Tower. Blow it up.
14. Learn some bitchin’ guitar licks, shred like crazy.
15. Cut off this damned beard. Itches like fiberglass insulation with itching powder in it.
16. Find a wounded bird. Step on it.
17. Play the slots at Wynne, catch Garth Brooks, eat a steak and don’t even count calories!!!
18. See all the wonders of the world. Blow them up.
19. Work with Woody Allen or Adam West.
20. What was that noise I just heard? Is there someone in the house? It’s the middle of the night for pete’s sake. Are those soldiers? What are they doing here…

 

Careful Analysis Pays Dividends For You

My Careful Analysis Pays Dividends For You

Four movies for your two eyes, two ears.

“Burn After Reading”– You need to manage your expectations on this one, people. It’s being marketed as a comedy. If you walk in, sit down, fold your arms and say “O.K., clown-boys, make me laugh!” you won’t enjoy this movie as much as you should. Yes, there are some laughs in “Burn”.  Some laughs. But mostly it’s a quirky character-driven intricately plotted web of intrigue, vanity and stupidity. 

This is the latest offering from Joel & Ethan Coen (who some call “The Coen Brothers”, I call them “Those Kooky Coen Kids”). They’re hot off the Oscar-heavy success of “No Country For Old Men” and here they definitely toss a change up from the heavy drama of that jewel.

I’ll eagerly to see anything the Coens make, after all they’ve made some of the most interesting and enjoyable films of recent times:  “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “Miller’s Crossing”, “The Big Leboski”, “Fargo”, “Raising Arizona”, “Blood Simple”, “Barton Fink” and more).

In “Burn After Reading”, you’ve got star power galore with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich. You’ve got nepotism with Frances McDormand playing a lead (she’s the wife of Joel Coen, but she’s always terrific and probably doesn’t need the inside connection). You’ve got great character actors in Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and J.K. Simmons. You’ve got a free-wheeling story that just keeps spinning inter-connected plot lines and catapults the story along to a conclusion that is fulfilling, believable and as arbitrary as life itself.

I did miss Roger Deakins, who has been the director of photography for just about all the later Coen films. “Burn” does not have the cinematic grandeur and camera movement as previous Coen flicks, but it does keep you moving and guessing and enjoying the ride, so what the hell, enjoy your time off Mr. Deakins… but please come back soon. I miss you.

“Tropic Thunder”– There’s a reason this film is doing some serious box office business: it does what a comedy is supposed to do, give your lungs a healthy workout. This is one seriously funny movie.

But even if it wasn’t funny, it’s a pretty good action-adventure film thanks to some beautiful cinematography by two time Oscar winner John Toll and excellent directing by Ben Stiller.

Stiller co-wrote this yukfest with actor Justin Theroux and the incomparable Ethan Coen (moonlighting while Joel slept with wife Frances).

The premise of the movie is the making of a big budget movie based on a  best selling book about the Vietnam War called “Tropic Thunder”.  

The main attraction is Robert Downey, Jr., playing 5-time Oscar-winning Australian actor Kirk Lazarus. Kirk is the ultimate method actor so for the role of an African-American sergeant, he has a controversial skin- tinting procedure. Downey plays it to the hilt as brother fighting for The Man. But a white dude playing black does not play well with fellow actor Alpa Chino, who really is black, played superbly by Brandon T. Jackson. 

This is the year of Robert Downey, Jr. With this role and playing the lead in “Iron Man”, he stars in two of the best movies of the year, with another promising one (“The Soloist”) on the horizon.

Ben Stiller gobbles his scenes as the Sly Stallone-like mega-action-fading-star Tugg Speedman. His obsequious agent is ably played by Matthew McConaughey (who amazingly plays the entire role shirted).

Jack Black plays a drug addicted co-star who’s made his fame in a series of successful ‘fart films’ (can you say “Eddie Murphy”?) and now wants to be taken seriously as an ACTOR

And the big buzz of the film is Tom Cruise playing an obnoxiously overbearing ball-busting studio head. Cruise has great make-up, rage and screen presence, and you can tell he loved every minute of playing this outrageous jerk.

This movie is decidedly politically incorrect, raunchy, sophomoric and foul– so if you’re easily offended rent “The Sound of Music”, eat taffy and pray for a gentler world. But if you’re up for some good laughs and fun pyrotechnics, grab a chair and kiss a couple hours goodbye. It’s well worth the trip.

“Vicky Christina Barcelona” — Woody Allen is a machine who’s been churning out movies for 42 years. He earned his chops as a master of comedies, defiantly made a series of soberingly depressing dramas and has bobbed about with light dramas, comic capers and interesting character studies. This movie is one of his human stories.

Vicky is played by the beautiful Rebecca Hall. She’s a confident woman engaged to a Mr. Conformity in NYC. She is more pragmatist than poet. She believes she knows herself and her destiny.  She marches through life with firm footed certainty.

Christina is played by the luminous Scarlett Johansson. She’s a flighty insecure woman who is looking for love in all the wrong places but remains a hopeless romantic. She is open to possibilities and growth, unsure of every step she takes but knowing it will lead to something that could be better. She is an artist on her journey of discovery.

Vicky and Christina are enjoying a summer holiday in guess where– Barcelona (boy, the movie’s title gives away the entire story). They encounter an egocentric artist named Juan Antonio, wonderfully played by Javier Bardem (it’s hard to believe this is the same dude who lugged around the bovine-skull-crushing air gun in “No Country For Old Men”). He is on a hedonistic bender, on the rebound from a toxic relationship with his ex-wife, Maria Elena (played by Penelope Cruz).

Juan Anotonio proposes a threesome to Vicky and Christina. He loses that proposal, but gets involved with each beauty individually. He and Christina become an item, his unstable ex enters the scene, more things happen and then some other things happen, too.

I’ll say no more except this movie is a must-see for anyone who ponders the human condition and enjoys adult stories that make your brain contemplate life. Good on you, Woody.

“In Bruges”– You’ll have to rent this puppy, but go ahead and get it in your queue today. This tale of two hired killers in the Belgium resort Bruges is a fun romp well acted by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell (his performance here is almost good enough to wipe away the stench and sin of starring in “Alexander”). Ralph Fiennes is their irate boss back in the U.K., and as you probably guessed, there is a racist dwarf (sorry, little person). 

It was written and directed by celebrated Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. This is an impressive debut for an incredible talent. It’s beautifully shot with a hauntingly beautiful musical score. Don’t even get me started on the impressive work of the Best Boy.

Give it a go. You’ll love being In Bruges, and won’t soon forget the trip.