It's interesting that Cole Smithey would evoke the name of Nicolas Cage when commenting on Liam Neeson's recent fondness for genre pictures that would seem beneath his talents. In his review of Unknown, which opens here at 12:01 a.m. tonight, Smithey says, “How Liam Neeson went from being that rare thespian animal of a leading-man character actor to a full-on action star while still keeping his artistic integrity is a mystery. It's certainly more than Nicolas Cage could do.”
While the latter is hard to argue against — though I'm not giving up hope on Cage just yet (see 2009's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) — I'm not so sure the former is still accurate.
Curious about where Sacha Baron Cohen, the Andy Kaufman-esque comedic genius behind Borat and Bruno, might set his satirical sights next? Wonder no more, as we now know the identity of his next character: climate change skeptic Lord Monckton.
Many people have complained in recent years (including Scott Renshaw in his review of Everybody’s Fine below) that Robert DeNiro is not the actor he used to be. Maybe, maybe not.
On the morning of Feb. 28, 1958, a school bus carrying 48 elementary and high school students ran over an embankment and plunged into the Big Sandy River in Prestonsburg, Ky. Twenty-six kids and the bus’ driver lost their lives in the crash, forever altering the small, close-knit Floyd County town’s inhabitants.
Michael Crisp’s appropriately somber documentary, The Very Worst Thing, meticulously re-creates the events surrounding the accident via vintage radio recordings and photos and modern-day interviews with people — from a survivor of the accident to those who want to keep the victims’ legacy alive — connected to that day more than 50 years ago.
George Clooney's The Ides of March opens today. Given the avalanche of local press its already received (mostly by the endlessly smitten Enquirer, but also via hordes of social-media geeks), need much more be said about the behind-the-scenes aspects of Clooney's political thriller? (If you answered “yes” to that question, read my interview with Ides of March actor Max Minghella here.)
The burning question now is whether The Ides of March is any good.
Oliver Stone has been out of sorts ever since he gave people an aneurysm with the over-the-top, frenetic football extravaganza Any Given Sunday (1999).
Now that I think about it, U-Turn (1997) blew, too. In fact, it’s been since the underrated (and under-seen) Nixon (1995) that Stone had me fully engaged.
Recent years have been especially tough on the onetime provocateur: World Trade Center (2006) seemed a naked attempt to prove he could make a standard studio picture after the unqualified disaster that was the bloated, thoroughly disjointed Alexander (2004). How far had Stone fallen? I didn’t even bother to catch World Trade Center or Alexander during their theatrical run — an unthinkable occurrence back when even his less successful films were at least intriguing in their mix of testosterone-laden spectacle, pungent dialogue and formal dexterity.
All that said, I can’t wait to see what Stone does with W., his take on the presidency of George W. Bush (as played by what looks to be an inspired Josh Brolin).
The movie opens Oct. 17
Here are a few trailers to tide you over.
We've got another thin week for new movie releases — unless you're excited about the latest Narnia film, which I'm not. Even the new Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie thriller — which I was initially eager to check out despite the warning sign its studio raised by not screening it in advance for critics — is getting thoroughly trashed by those unlucky enough to have seen it. That leaves Wild Target, another film its distributor (the indie outfit Freestyle) didn't screen in advance, as the lone possible saving grace. No pressure.
I came across this picture of Joaquin Phoenix today, which triggered a memory of my lone interaction with him. I ran into Phoenix at a film festival party a few years ago. I remember thinking at the time that no one could possibly be less suited for the intense Hollywood glare than this guy.
I try to stay away from movie trailers as much as possible — either because they rarely give you an accurate idea of what a movie is truly about or because they reveal the entire thing in two minutes. (On the other hand, I suppose I'd rather spend a few minutes with something like Tron: Legacy or The Tourist than sit through two mind-numbing hours.)
An example of the first reason is on display in the difference between the theatrical trailer version of No Strings Attached (which is set to open wide Jan. 21) and its much racier red band version.