Welcome to "Saturday Night at the Movies," a weekly feature in which I recommend an older title that you can go watch, right this very minute (provided you have Netflix Instant).
Here’s a research project for you: find one review of Sophie Barthes’ Cold Souls that doesn’t mention Charlie Kaufman. Good luck! They are, admittedly, pretty easy dots to connect; Barthes’ story, in its broad strokes, mixes the pseudo-celebrity themes of Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich script with the medical/psychological concepts of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But what’s important to note is that Cold Souls is no mere copycat, no proto-Kaufman Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead; it is a film with its own particular style and ideas, and, at its best, is just as strong as the pictures it is so readily connected to.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
As I'm sure you all know--what with all the websites and their countdown clocks--today is Yogi Bear day, when at long last Warner Brothers unleashes their thoroughly hatable 3-D grab for CG-animated holiday money (or, as its called in Hollywood board rooms, "Chipmunk Cheddar"). The reviews have been, well, somewhat less than kind. But at least one man has positive things to say about the film: supporting player T.J. Miller.
Miller's work as Ranger Jones, whose nefarious attempts to wreck Ranger Smith's gig as head ranger are apparently motivated by his desire to drive the park go-kart really fast (don't ask me, I dunno), was neither memorable enough nor unfortunate enough for me to even bother mentioning him in my review. But the young actor is beating the drum loudly for the picture, most notably in a Movieline interview that must be read to be believed.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Let’s begin with a public service announcement: If you attend the new big-screen incarnation of Yogi Bear, you will, at one point, see the titular character shake his big, CG-animate bear ass to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” I implore you: do not subject yourself to this. It’s kind of like The Human Centipede; once you’ve seen it, you cannot un-see it.
The thing about the Jack Abramoff story is not that a great film could be made of it, it’s that one already was: Alex Gibney’s thrilling, brilliant, angry documentary account, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, released earlier this year. The most depressing element of the late George Hickenlooper’s dramatization—which carries the simpler title Casino Jack—is that it will presumably be seen by a much larger audience, by sheer virtue of the fact that it is not a documentary and that it features actors you’ve heard of, like Kevin Spacey and Kelly Preston. But it’s a messy, lumpy affair which somehow takes the opportunity to streamline and dramatize the Abramoff story and instead gets all tied up in narrative knots.
Surviving Christmas, or Paycheck, or that cameo in then-girlfriend J-Lo’s music video), and some of it wasn’t, but Affleck did just about the smartest thing he could’ve done—he went under the radar. Onscreen, he limited his appearances to compact character roles; off-screen, he cast an eye towards the future, co-writing and directing the critically-acclaimed 2007 adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Gone Baby Gone.
Perhaps out of understandable guilt and shame about going off and doing another one of those goddamn Fockers movies, Robert DeNiro is talking more about The Irishman, his upcoming mob movie, directed by Martin Scorsese, co-starring Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. Oh, and maybe Harvey Keitel too. Ya know, if they feel like it.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
So what’s an even bigger rip-off then packaging a bunch of incomplete, badly edited Tonight Show episodes into a big, seemingly definitive box set? That’s easy—break out a bunch of those incomplete episodes and sell them individually. How’s 13 bucks sound for a 37-minute truncation of a mid-level episode of Tonight? Quite a bargain, eh? The May 4, 1977 edition finds Carson welcoming a pair of very funny men (Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor), but the results are somewhat mediocre; of the three, only Pryor really brings the funny.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Conventional Hollywood wisdom held that True Grit, Somewhere, and maybe The Town would pull down some kudos come awards season, so thank God we've got the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to be all, "Hey dudes, how about Burlesque? And Red? And did you see The Tourist? It's got Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in it, and boy are they easy on the eyes, eh? Hey, did Johnny Depp do anything else we can nominate him for?"
Monday, December 13, 2010
Amelie with the well-made but underwhelming (and somewhat downbeat) A Very Long Engagement five years back. It’s an utterly charming picture that takes a dark tale and puts a whiz-bang spin on it.
Boogie Nights and Magnolia, about a decade ago when we all started to become aware of this oddly extraordinary actor.