Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Theaters: "A Dangerous Method"

David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method is a film that grows upon reflection; even considering the filmmaker's more austere recent efforts, it is a picture that the viewer keeps waiting to ignite, and never quite does. But it nestles itself into the mind, where its quirks and complexities continue to reverberate long after the credits have rolled. The filmmakers clearly could have chosen to shoot the works, to ratchet up the raunchiness and high drama; instead, the picture is drawn in finer strokes, and its closing shots cause the viewer to reevaluate all that has come before. It is not the film you expect, but it sticks with you.

In Theaters: "My Week with Marilyn"

"Shall I be her?" asks Marilyn Monroe, and you see how she changes--she tarts it up, putting her hand behind her head just so, moving in that distinctive way, playing up the persona of Marilyn that was, it seems, quite removed from the real person in there, the damaged girl named Norma Jean who wrestled her entire short life with crippling insecurities and terrible addictions. The dichotomy between the person and the image has been explored memorably before (most obviously in the cable movie Norma Jean and Marilyn), and that split is the key to Michelle Williams's brilliant performance in My Week with Marilyn.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Theaters: "Rampart"

The first hour or so of Owen Moverman’s Rampart is so strangely compelling, so utterly uncompromising and enigmatic, that you figure out right away that there’s no way they can pull it of all the way through, and you’re right. Its first half gets our attention; its second tries our patience. This is not to imply that the picture isn’t worth seeing—merely that you should know what you’re getting into.

In Theaters: "Hugo"

Damnit, Martin Scorsese. How are we supposed to fight the good fight against the corruption of American cinema presented by the encroachment of the 3D fad if you’re going to go and use it to create a film as utterly delightful as Hugo?

In Theaters: "The Muppets"

When Mary (Amy Adams), Gary (Jason Segel) and his puppet brother Walter (Peter Linz) visit the Muppet Studio early in the new Muppet film (titled, sensibly enough, The Muppets), they find it in cobwebbed, abandoned disrepair. The image of that forgotten space is a none-too-subtle metaphor for the current state of the Muppet film series, which has been the object of occasional attempts at reinvention and reanimation, in film and on television, but has never been able (in the honorable Star Wars tradition) to even approach the magic of the “original trilogy.” In a move so edgy and loaded with disaster potential that it remains shocking that Disney made it, Segel and Nicholas Stoller—who worked some puppet-based humor into their R-rated romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall—were hired to write a Muppet movie that could jump-start the languishing franchise. And what is most remarkable about The Muppets is that, from the sweetly nostalgic opening sequence forward, they absolutely nail it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some Links, Then

From the Maddow Blog:
Atlas shrugged it off (File under "whoops.")

For the product of a creator as humorless as Ayn Rand, that “Atlas Shrugged—Part I”movie has certainly provided us with plenty of chuckles this year. First there is the film itself, which was greeted with reviews only slightly warmer than “Jack and Jill”’s (“Not all books should be made into movies, and this is one of them-- Boston Phoenix; “The tinhorn film version of ‘Atlas Shrugged: Part 1’ fails to rise even to the level of ‘eh’ suggested by Ayn Rand’s title-- Chicago Tribune). Then came its theatrical release on April 15 (GET IT?), when—in spite of the tireless efforts of such renowned cinematic publicists as FreedomWorks and John Stossel—it tanked, failing to earn back even a quarter of its $20 million budget. The perils of the free market, am I right?

From Flavorwire:
Open Thread: Did Johnny Depp Step in It?

The facts are these: Last weekend, The Guardian ran an interview with Johnny Depp, promoting the European release of his Hunter S. Thompson adaptation The Rum Diary. Decca Aitkenhead’s profile begins with the line “In the weeks leading up to this interview, I began to think there must be some law that makes it illegal not to love Johnny Depp,” which has turned out to be an ironically specious statement, since this very piece has ended up pissing off an entire Midwestern city.

Reader’s Choice: 10 More Definitive Cinematic Music Cues

Any time you have the gumption to pose a list of the ten definitive anything, you’re going to get some pushback. But because Flavorwire has the greatest readers in the world (/blatant sucking up), our post last week of The Most Definitive Music Cues in Film History prompted very little venom, and several excellent additions (including a few that had been on our first, wildly overambitious draft). The concept, once again, is that certain films use pop music cues so well that the movie and the song get inextricably bound together in your head; when you think of the movie, you hear the song, and when you hear the song, your see the film in your mind’s eye. We’ve picked our ten faves from the addendums offered by you, the reader, after the jump; feel free to add more of your favorites in the comments.

Our Favorite Diane Keaton Movie Moments

Diane Keaton’s memoir, Then Again, is out today, and that’s about all the excuse we need to sing the praises of one of our all-time favorite leading ladies. In 50 films over the course of 40-plus years, Keaton has assembled a body of work that is unique in today’s cinematic landscape: she’s crafted a distinctive and memorable onscreen persona, without repeating herself or wearing out a tired shtick. After the jump, we’ve selected ten of our favorite individual moments—a scene, a conversation, even a look—from her career; add your own in the comments.

DVR Alert: Epic Woody Allen Doc Begins Sunday

Love him or hate him (and we mostly love him around here), one can’t deny the lasting influence and importance of Woody Allen—or his astonishing productivity, knocking out a film a year as writer/director (and sometimes star) for the past, oh, forty years. The sheer volume of his output makes it less than surprising that American Masters’ new profile of the venerable filmmaker, Woody Allen: A Documentary, is a bit of an epic affair: it totals three-and-a-half hours and is running in two parts on PBS. Check out the preview and some surprising clips after the jump.

Trailer Park: ‘Haywire’ > ‘Hunger Games’

Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. We’ve got seven new trailers this week, including, yes, Hunger Games; check ‘em out after the jump.