Cinematography: Declan Quinn; Editing: Wyatt Smith
Production Design: Stuart Wurtzel; Set Decoration: George DeTitta Jr.
Costumes: Ann Roth; Score: Mark Wolfson
Stars: Meryl Streep (Ricki Rendazzo), Kevin Kline (Pete), Mamie Gummer (Julie), Rick Springfield (Greg), Audra McDonald (Maureen), Sebastian Stan (Joshua), Nick Westrate (Adam), Ben Platt (Daniel), Charlotte Rae (Oma), Rick Rosas (Buster), Gabriel Ebert (Max), Joe Vitale (Joe)
Ricki and the Flash should have been so much better, perfectly encapsulating as it does many of the recurring themes that director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Diablo Cody have consistently gravitated to over the years. Cody, whose been amusingly open about her freewheeling past as a stripper before reinventing herself as an upstart intellectual and Oscar-winning screenwriter, has always stood out as something of a scandal even amid the less than provincial Hollywood community, the way Clara Bow did in the Roaring Twenties and Marilyn Monroe in the conservative ’50s.
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki; Editing: Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione
Production Design: Kevin Thompson; Set Decoration: George DeTitta Jr.
Costumes: Albert Wolsky; Score: Antonio Sánchez
Stars: Michael Keaton (Riggan Thomson), Emma Stone (Sam), Edward Norton (Mike Shiner), Naomi Watts (Lesley), Zach Galifianakis (Jake), Amy Ryan (Sylvia), Andrea Riseborough (Laura), Lindsay Duncan (Tabitha), Merritt Wever (Annie)
Given the advance word of mouth, award accolades and promising premise, with Michael Keaton as a has been superhero movie star trying to reestablish himself as a serious actor by staging a Broadway play, I was expecting to like Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s surreal satire far more than I was ultimately able to. Perhaps I set my sights too high, persuaded by critical consensus (“The only opinion that matters is the critic.”) which seems to have accepted the film’s artistic pretensions at face value. Given the movie’s brutal representation of their own breed, reviewers appear motivated by a desire to prove what good sports they are, but there is such a thing as being too tolerant.
The way I happened across this Tina Fey-Paul Rudd romantic comedy about a Princeton admissions officer whose life turns upside down after the baby she gave up for adoption nineteen years ago reappears as a flaky, alternative undergrad applicant, was by comic mishap itself. I had gone to the movies planning to see the 3D re-release of Jurassic Park, but was handed a ticket for the wrong theater. Rather than rudely walking out when the mistake became apparent, I figured I’d give it a few minutes and make my exit when Admission became too intolerable and the audience too absorbed in proceedings to notice the departure. But fate works in mysterious ways. Once the moviehad wrapped I found myself not only having forgotten about T-Rex, but wishing Hollywood had been overrun by a herd of Tina Fey. Continue reading →
Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman; Editing: Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
Costumes: Mark Bridges
Score: Ludovic Bource
Stars: Jean Dujardin (George Valentin), Bérénice Bejo (Peppy Miller), John Goodman (Al Zimmer), James Cromwell (Clifton), Penelope Ann Miller (Doris), Missi Pyle (Constance), Uggie (The Dog), Malcolm McDowell (The Butler)
The Artist is a gentle, sincerely felt homage to silent movies blinded by its love of the art form. If this story of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), the fading silent star who falls in love with Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), the new sound actress he helped groom for stardom only to find himself supplanted by her in the hearts of the public, seems unduly familiar it’s because director Michel Hazanavicius and his predominantly French cast and crew are showing their love not just for silent films but for golden age Hollywood in general, by saluting other iconic American classics along similar lines.
Screenplay: David O. Russell; based on The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi; Editing: Jay Cassidy & Crispin Struthers
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler
Costumes: Mark Bridges
Score: Danny Elfman
Stars: Bradley Cooper (Pat Solitano), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany Maxwell), Robert De Niro (Pat Sr.), Jacki Weaver (Dolores), Chris Tucker (Danny), John Ortiz (Ronnie), Julia Stiles (Veronica), Anupam Kher (Dr. Patel), Brea Bee (Nikki)
If laughter is the best medicine, then Silver Linings Playbook is the panacea for what’s been ailing kitschy romantic comedy of late. A first for him as far as I‘m aware, director David O. Russell’s foray into untried turf actually returns him to the darker, more acerbic edge of such earlier comedies as I Heart Huckabees and Spanking the Monkey. Likewise populated by existential oddballs and emotionally troubled outsiders, Russell, who usually writes his own scenarios, has translated Matthew Quick’s novel into a non-conformist romantic comedy about non-conformity. By which I mean it marches to its own drummer rather than trying to fit itself into the pat conventions of the genre. This movie is a square peg in a round hole. Continue reading →
Screenplay: Michael Bacall; Story: Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill; based on 21 Jump Street (TV) created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell
Cinematography: Barry Peterson; Editing: Joel Negron
Production Design: Peter Wenham; Set Decoration: Bob Kensinger
Costumes; Leah Katznelson; Score: Mark Mothersbaugh
Stars: Jonah Hill (Morton Schmidt), Channing Tatum (Greg Jenko), Ice Cube (Cpt. Dickson), Brie Larson (Molly), Dave Franco (Eric), Ellie Kemper (Ms. Griggs), Rob Riggle (Mr. Walters)
Nostalgia seems to come in generational waves. In the self-indulgent 70’s, out of it audiences were nostalgic for the more straight-laced 50’s, with Grease lubricating box office coffers and Happy Days making viewers feel all warm and fuzzy toward The Fonze on TV. In the 90’s it was the 70’s (The Brady Bunch, Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch), and in the second decade of this brave new century we seem to have worked our way straight through the outer edges of the 80’s and to be standing on the cusp of a renaissance of interest in the early 90’s. 21 Jump Street joins the ranks of other big screen adaptations of 80’s ratings hits like The Dukes of Hazzard, Miami Vice and The A-Team and since it’s the only one of those mentioned whose series run bridged two decades, it may very well be in the vanguard of the next made-from-TV wave. Big screen parodies of TGIF titles for the Y2K generation seem imminent and inevitable. Continue reading →