December 2012 Archives
How do you follow up a pop culture phenomenon like The Sopranos? Well, if you're David Chase, you take a healthy chunk of time off and then return with a small, intimate and semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story about a '60s New Jersey teenager (John Magaro) who is inspired by the British Invasion to start his own rock outfit. Unfortunately, fame and fortune prove elusive as he contends with inter-band tension (especially with the jealous lead singer, played by Jack Huston), as well as an angry father (James Gandolfini). On the other hand, he does win the heart of his high school crush (Bella Heathcote), so a career in music does come with some benefits. As strong as Chase's script and the performances by the young actors are, the real star of Not Fade Away has to be its incredible soundtrack (assembled with the aid of Chase's old Sopranos colleague Steven Van Zandt), which is packed with familiar '60s songs and a few deep cuts. On a recent press tour through New York, Not Fade Away's cast and crew discussed the process of bringing that era to life.
Let's make this clear right from the jump: The Guilt Trip is not a good movie, at least not in the "Oh my god, what did I just see -- I want to see it again right now" sense of the term. But it's perfectly passable in the "Hey, it's better than surgery!" spirit of holiday filmgoing. (For an example of a movie where surgery would be the preferable option, see -- or better yet, don't -- Billy Crystal in Parental Guidance.) Directed by Anne Fletcher, who specializes in entirely disposable, but not completely unenjoyable schlock like 27 Dresses and The Proposal, The Guilt Trip is a mother/son road comedy starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen as a matriarch and child, respectively, that meanders merrily along for 95 pain-free (and, honestly, mostly laugh-free) minutes before arriving at its entirely predictable destination. En route, however, the film makes a few detours and pit stops that actually qualify as entertainment. Here are the guiltiest pleasures of The Guilt Trip:
It's hard not to watch Zero Dark Thirty without drawing comparisons to Homeland and not just because both Kathryn Bigelow's new movie and that hit Showtime drama both revolve around a doggedly determined, socially awkward female CIA agent (Jessica Chastain's Maya on the big screen and Claire Danes' Carrie on the small) dedicating herself to bringing down America's most wanted terrorist, no matter the personal and professional cost. Beyond that, both the film and the series are shot through with a profound ambivalence -- and even skepticism -- about the way the nation's chief counter-terrorism agency operates, not to mention the moral compromises individual agents make in service of what they perceive to be their duty. But at the end of the day (and as the Season 2 finale made abundantly clear), Homeland is first and foremost a skillfully written soap opera, which uses the War on Terror as a backdrop to the twisted love story at its center; the show's "realism" exists entirely within quotation marks. Zero Dark Thirty, on the other hand, aspires to near-complete authenticity; while the decade-long CIA manhunt for Osama bin Laden almost certainly didn't proceed in precisely the manner that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal present here, it's the closest we're probably going to get without being granted clearance to review the Agency's classified files.
A superstar in the world of crime fiction, the new action film Jack Reacher introduces moviegoers to the titular soldier-turned-nomadic-investigator, who stars in a best-selling series of crime novels by British author Lee Child. Written and directed by The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie, Reacher stars Tom Cruise as Child's creation and dispatches him to Pittsburgh, where he helps an in-over-her-head lawyer (Rosamund Pike) attempt to save a man from Death Row -- a case that pits him against morally ambiguous cops (David Oyelowo) and shadowy villains (Werner Herzog). In addition to trying on the outfit of an anti-hero, Jack Reacher also affords Cruise the chance to show off his behind-the-wheel skills, as he did all his own driving for the big car chase that comes midway through the movie. McQuarrie touched on that scene -- as well as the hotly contested decision to cast Cruise as Reacher -- during a recent press visit to New York, where he was accompanied by Child, Pike and Oyelowo.
Rush, rush -- hurry, hurry JGL come to us.
It's been almost a decade since the One Ring was cast into the fires of Mount Doom, rescuing Middle-earth from the scourge of Sauron. In the wake of that triumph, Aragon reclaimed his throne, Frodo sailed off to the Grey Havens and Sam returned home to his wife and daughter with an earnest, "Well, I'm back." As for Peter Jackson -- the unlikely filmmaker who brought J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings to life onscreen in a trio of much-loved blockbusters -- he's gone from being a New Zealand-based cult favorite to a reigning master of Hollywood spectacle, alongside directors like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
Looks like it's Argo versus Zero Dark Thirty at the Golden Globes this year.
Seth MacFarlane directs My Dinner With Ted.
It's not even in theaters yet, but Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to The Hurt Locker, is raking in the same kind of awards love bestowed on her earlier film. Several critics' groups have named the film 2012's Best Picture, including the New York Critics Online, of which Television Without Pity's Moviefile is a voting member. Other winners at the 2012 NYFCO awards meeting, which was held on Sunday, December 9, included Bigelow and ZDT's Mark Boal for Director and Screenplay respectively, as well as Michael Haneke's Amour for Foreign Language Film. In the acting categories, Amour's female star, Emmanuelle Riva, won Actress, while Daniel Day-Lewis triumphed in the Actor category for Lincoln -- the same award he's likely to win come Oscar night. A full list of NYFCO's 2012 awards are below.
Bill Murray goes from Caddyshack to the White House in Hyde Park on Hudson. Also, our reviews of In Our Nature, Yelling to the Sky and more indie titles.