Happy Anniversary: Jimmy Fallon — From Taxi to The Tonight Show

by Ethan Alter February 19, 2014 12:16 pm
Happy Anniversary: Jimmy Fallon — From <I>Taxi</i> to <I>The Tonight Show</i>

Monday night marked the beginning of Jimmy Fallon's career as the host of NBC's venerable The Tonight Show, a job that -- based on his predecessor -- he'll either have for three decades or nine months. In an amusing bit of timing, Fallon's promotion to late night's top spot arrives exactly ten years after his bid to become an A-list movie star. That's right, 2004 was the year Taxi zoomed into theaters… and then zoomed out again just as quickly, effectively ending Fallon's big-screen career. In case you don't recall (and honestly, why would you), the wacky buddy comedy cast the then recent-Saturday Night Live refugee as a bumbling cop with a deep-seated fear of driving who teams up with a road crazy taxi driver (Queen Latifah) to take down a crew of smoking hot bank robbers… because that's what happens in wacky buddy comedies. To mark the occasion of Fallon's new gig, I watched Taxi and his maiden Tonight Show episode back-to-back to see how they stacked up against each other.

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash Go Way, Way Back

by Ethan Alter July 1, 2013 3:35 pm
Nat Faxon and Jim Rash Go <i>Way, Way Back</i>

What a difference winning an Oscar makes. Friends and collaborators Nat Faxon and Jim Rash started writing the film that became The Way, Way Back (due in theaters on Friday) eight years ago, and continued to refine it and search for backers even as they became recognizable faces on the big and small screen as actors in shows like Community and films like Beerfest. But it was their roles as the co-writers of the 2011 much-lauded George Clooney drama The Descendants, for which they each received a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar alongside co-writer/director Alexander Payne, that finally helped them bring their own script to cinematic life as first-time directors. Set over the course of a typically hot East Coast summer in a beachside town, the movie depicts the turbulent coming of age of quiet teenager Duncan (Liam James), his mother Pam (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell), an alpha male who experiences a severe personality clash with the more reserved Duncan. During a recent press tour swing with New York, Faxon and Rash spoke with us about turning the erstwhile Michael Scott into a villain, how they adjusted to being behind the camera as well as in front of it and their turbulent seasons on television.

Cloud Atlas: Time Enough For Love

by Ethan Alter October 26, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Cloud Atlas</i>: Time Enough For Love

Too many cinematic adaptations of popular novels make the mistake of trying to replicate the book almost word-for-word onscreen, either due to a failure of imagination on behalf of the filmmakers or out of fear that story's fans will reject even the slightest change. (A fear that's not entirely off-base, by the way; for example, a sizeable chunk of Harry Potter fans still haven't forgiven Alfonso Cuarón for the liberties he took in the film version of The Prisoner of Azkaban.) But you can't accuse the formidable filmmaking trio of Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski of playing it safe with their adaptation of David Mitchell's gem of a novel, Cloud Atlas. While the movie is recognizably the book that Mitchell wrote, the writer/directors have shaped and molded the text in a way that reflects their own specific interests and sensibilities. Both the film's greatest strength -- as well as, ultimately, one of its weaknesses -- is that it's a true act of interpretation, not simply recitation.

American Reunion: School’s Out Forever

by Ethan Alter April 6, 2012 6:01 am
<I>American Reunion</i>: School’s Out Forever

It might have been easier to feel more enthusiastic about American Reunion if this was the first time we had seen Jim, Stifler and the rest of the American Pie crew since the first movie became a breakout hit back in 1999. Thirteen years on, the original holds up quite nicely; dated soundtrack aside (the fact that both "One Week" and "Flagpole Sitta" are blasted without any hint of irony clearly makes it a late '90s period piece), the jokes still land, the characters remain endearing and there's a genuine sweetness beneath the raunch that gives the film heart as well as humor. A sequel to that movie would be most welcome, in the same way that Richard Linklater took his time following up Before Sunrise with Before Sunset. Unfortunately, in between American Pie and American Reunion, the brand name was tarnished by two mostly terrible sequels (2003's American Wedding was particularly dire) and a line of flat-out awful direct-to-DVD spin-offs (which, to be fair, didn't feature any of the original cast, with the exception of Eugene Levy). As a result Reunion arrives in theaters appearing less like a triumphant homecoming than the last gasp of a flatlining franchise.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

by Ethan Alter March 13, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No kids allowed...

Animators Turned Live-Action Filmmakers: From Tim Burton to <i>John Carter</i>‘s Andrew Stanton

With the sci-fi blockbuster John Carter, which opens in theaters on Friday, Pixar wizard Andrew Stanton (who has two Best Animated Feature Oscars to his name, for Finding Nemo and Wall-E) makes the leap from directing cartoon characters to live-action heroes. It's a path that has been followed by a handful of filmmakers, some of whom made the transition seamlessly while others... well, didn't. We'll find out soon whether John Carter will be a one-off for Stanton (pictured here with the movie's star, Taylor Kitsch) or if he'll be adding more live-action features to his filmography. In the meantime, here's what happened to some of his predecessors:

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

by Ethan Alter January 31, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hey girl, Ryan Gosling wants to drive your car.

Need A Good Cry? Eternal Sunshine Now Streaming On Hulu

by Lauren Gitlin June 18, 2008 3:17 pm
Need A Good Cry? <i>Eternal Sunshine</i> Now Streaming On Hulu

Is there anyone on the planet who has not watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and sobbed copious tears and thought, "If only it were possible to erase [fill in the blank] from my mind so I could move on and have an adult relationship and accomplish menial tasks like the folding of laundry or the washing of my hair"? Well if there is, that's about to change because Hulu posted the entire movie for streaming on their site today. [Thanks to Videogum for tipping us off.] Here, in no particular order, are five reasons (out of infinity) why EsotSM is the most brilliant and beautiful and heartbreaking movie in the history of the world, like, EVER. And this is NOT hyperbole you guys, at ALL.

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