Tag Archives: George Clooney

Review: Gravity

Gravity_Poster1You may never get to fly off to space, but “Gravity” is the next best thing.

Sandra Bullock leads as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer about to wrap up her first shuttle mission. While making some seemingly routine repairs, her ship is hit by a vicious storm of debris. When the air clears, Dr. Stone and longtime astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are the only two left. With no connection to Earth, it’s up to Stone and Kowalski to navigate the blackness and silence of space on their own in order to find a way home.

“Gravity” isn’t just an outstanding movie; it’s a groundbreaking achievement. Considering the odds of most of us leaving the earth’s atmosphere are quite slim, this film could be as close as you’ll ever get. Alfonso Cuarón takes the concept of transporting a viewer to a new time and place to a new level by combining pitch perfect visuals, absolutely outstanding sound design, and one particularly moving performance to make you feel what it’d be like to experience such a nightmare.

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SDCC 2012: Batmobiles Through The Years

Just before heading into The Hilton Bayfront for the “Twilight” press conference, I spent a few minutes with six truly wicked rides. You’d think seeing the Tumbler and Bruce Wayne’s other whips merely parked on the grass rather than zipping around Gotham City would be a bit of a drag, but these things are just as incredible stagnant, in the flesh.

Check out some photos as well as official descriptions of the collection below.

Adam West’s 1955 Lincoln Futura. Designed by George Barris, this original Batmobile was featured in the cult classic television series and 1966?s Batman, the Movie.

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Interview: The Descendants’ Shailene Woodley

With ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager heading towards a fifth season, it’s safe to say that the show’s star, Shailene Woodley, has made quite the name for herself. However, as much success as the actress has found in the television industry, she admits, “Features is where my heart is.” Well, turns out her heart is leading her in the right direction because not only is her first big screen effort an Alexander Payne film starring George Clooney, but Woodley is downright fantastic in it.

She plays Alexandra King, Matt King’s (Clooney) eldest daughter. While she’s away at school, her mother gets into a terrible jet skiing accident that leaves her in a coma. Complicating matters further, it turns out Alexandra didn’t leave home on the best terms. She caught her mother cheating and now, considering the state of affairs, she figures it’s time to tell her father the truth after which she, her younger sister Scottie (Amara Miller) and her boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) join Matt on a hunt for his wife’s lover.

While promoting The Descendants at the New York Film Festival, Woodley took the time to sit down and talk about the degree of passion she had for the project, her experience shooting in Hawaii and learning about the culture, working with Payne and Clooney and much more. Check it all out for yourself in the video interview below and keep an eye out for The Descendants, which is due out in theaters on November 16th.

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Interview: The Descendants’ Judy Greer

It’s most certainly not a surprise to see Judy Greer in yet another movie, as the actress tends to keep particularly busy, but Alexander Payne’s The Descendants? As my fondest memories of Greer include here iconic comedic performances in films like Jawbreaker and 13 Going on 30 as well as her TV show Miss Guided, which left us far too soon, seeing her pull the reigns on what comes so naturally to her and amp up the drama wasn’t just a nice surprise, but a notably successful effort, too.

The Descendants stars George Clooney as Matt King, a Hawaii resident who’s shocked to discover that his beloved wife is in a coma after a terrible jet skiing incident. To complicate matters further, Matt also learns that his wife was cheating on him with Matthew Lillard’s character, Brian Speer. Turns out the romance was adulterous on both sides and Brian had been cheating on his wife, Judy Greer’s Julie Speer.

While The Descendants definitely belongs to Clooney as well as Shailene Woodley who plays his eldest daughter, when Greer’s character turns up, you feel it. In honor of The Descendants’ November 16th release, Greer sat down to talk about the entire filmmaking process from the honor of being cast in an Alexander Payne film to switching gears and getting dramatic as well as her hopes to continue working within the genre in the future.

As this interview was done in conjunction with the film’s run in the New York Film Festival, it was recorded roughly a month ago and, as you’ll hear during the tail end of this video, at the time, Greer had high hopes a new TV project of hers would get the go ahead, and, according to Deadline, it looks as though she got her wish!

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Review: The Descendants

There are two types of tearjerkers, the kind that merely tug on the typical heartstrings using formulaic tactics and the kind that earn the emotional reaction not by resorting to methods that guarantee watery eyes, rather by creating a situation that’s endearing simply because it feels real. The Descendants treats its tender subject matter with the utmost care and while the result may be a sadness that’s tough to shake, the film also offers a stirring degree of hope, leaving you with something The Descendants prides itself on from beginning to end, the power to see the best even in the worst of times.

To most, Hawaii is simply vacation bliss, somewhat along the lines of Disney World; it’s immune to real life problems. Well, that most certainly is not the case and The Descendants‘ opening scenes and Matt King’s (George Clooney) voiceover prove it. We meet Matt after his wife has a horrific jet ski accident that leaves her in a coma. Hopeful her condition will improve, Matt goes about his business as best he can which now includes taking care of their 10-year-old daughter, Scottie (Amara Miller). However, when his wife’s health takes a turn for the worse, Matt’s got to make some life changing decision both for himself and his daughters all while under the pressure of a King family situation, the responsibility of deciding what to do with a priceless piece of land handed down through their royal Hawaiian heritage.

In need of a confidant, Matt picks up his older daughter, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), from school, but, even when she sheds a bit of her rebellious attitude, things continue to intensify, as she has no choice but to break some bad news; her mother was cheating on Matt. Now, while preparing for his wife’s departure, Matt takes on the task of hunting down her lover, taking Alexandra, Scottie and Alexandra’s surfer dude boyfriend, Sid (Nick Krause), along for the ride.

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Review: The American

When someone sneezes during a movie and another theatergoer a few seats away actually says, “God bless you,” it’s never a good sign – for the movie. You know what else isn’t a good sign? The man scratching his head incessantly in front of me, the four people who walked out, the woman a few seats over constantly checking the time on her phone and the man next to me counting the remaining Twizzlers in the bag as though they’re the last pieces left on earth and he’s got to make them last, all of which were monumentally more exciting than The American.

George Clooney is Jack. Well, he’s Jack to some, but to others, he’s Edward. While in Sweden Jack gets too cozy with a woman and when his cover is blown, he has no choice but to flee. His boss Pavel (Johan Leysen) insists Jack lay low in a small mountain town. That’s where he adopts the name Edward to use amongst his new acquaintances, a priest, Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli), and a local prostitute, Clara (Violante Placido).

Soon after his arrival, Pavel contacts Jack about one last gig to keep him busy while he’s hiding out. He covertly meets with a woman who slips him the details of the gun she’s hiring him to construct. On top of completing the job, managing his budding relationship with Clara and having heart-to-hearts with Father Benedetto, Jack must elude a team of Swedish assassins aiming to take him out.

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Oscars 2010: Forget Who Should Win, This Is Who I Want To Win

Even if a film is the clear favorite in the eyes of the Academy, it doesn’t mean that you want it to take home the Oscar. The Academy Awards Ceremony is about honoring films that achieved a high degree of excellence, but excellence doesn’t always represent the film’s entertainment value. If the Academy awarded the statue to the film that’s most likely to be watched over and over again, the screenplay that has the most memorable one-liners or simply to the most inspiring underdog, it might look something like this:

Best Picture: Inglourious Basterds

Not only is this my favorite film of the year, every time I watch it, it gets better. Everything about this film is spectacular. I’ve had endless arguments with myself about my favorite scene. Yes, I had an argument with myself.

I’ll Be Pissed If This Wins: The Blind Side

This is a lovely feel-good movie, but an Oscar contender? I’m angry enough The Blind Side nabbed a nomination; if it steals a win from a more deserving film (like any of the other nine nominees), I’ll never forgive Sandra Bullock. (Sorry Sandy, I know it’s not your fault, but the blame inherently falls on you.)

Actor in a Leading Role: Jeremy Renner

Perhaps my support for Renner stems from the fact that he’s the clear underdog, but anyone who has seen The Hurt Locker knows he puts on a stellar performance.

I’ll Be Pissed If He Wins: George Clooney

He’s good, but he’s still the actor George Clooney. Clooney passes as Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air not because of the power of performance, but because the film, as a whole, is fantastic.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz

Screw the underdog here. Waltz has nabbed every award out there for his performance in Inglourious Basterds and deserves to top off his successful run with the Oscar.

I’ll Be Pissed If He Wins: Stanley Tucci

Sorry Mr. Tucci, but I can’t forgive Peter Jackson for destroying one of my favorite books, The Lovely Bones. Tucci works with what he’s given, but is incapable of putting on an award-winning performance because a shoddy screenplay makes it impossible.

Actress in a Leading Role: Gabourey Sidibe

This award better go to one of the young’ins in the running. I’d be thrilled to see either Sidibe or Carey Mulligan nab the award, but I’d prefer to see Sidibe make her first feature film performance an Oscar-winning one. Some say Sidibe wasn’t acting in Precious. Did these individuals not see the film? What about Sidibe’s numerous appearances on talk shows? This girl is the polar opposite of her character. She’s cheery, hilarious, humble and totally deserving of this honor.

I’ll Be Pissed If She Wins: Sandra Bullock

I could keep it simple and tell you to refer back to the Best Film section, but I can rant about The Blind Side issue all day. Sandra Bullock for Best Actress? What the @#$%? Not only is the film not worthy of an Oscar nomination, but neither is Bullock’s performance. On top of that, her spot should have gone to Avatar’s Zoe Salanda.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’Nique

Both the supporting actor and actress categories are no contest. Mo’Nique’s performance as Mary in Precious is downright chilling. Come to think of it, she’s more of a villain than Waltz’s Hans Landa.

I’ll Be Pissed If She Wins: Penelope Cruz

How is Nine eligible to win anything? This film is terrible. Cruz’s performance isn’t even particularly notable. If anyone from Nine got a nomination, it should have been Marion Cotillard.

Animated Feature Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Call me crazy but I didn’t enjoy Up nearly as much as the majority of moviegoers. Call me heartless, but not once did I get the urge to shed a tear. Fantastic Mr. Fox, on the other hand, was an absorbing and immensely enjoyable experience. Everything from the voice work to the animation is brilliant.

I’ll Be Pissed If This Wins: Coraline

This movie just rubbed me the wrong way. It doesn’t know what it should be, a children’s film or a horror film, and gets lost in the mix.

Directing: James Cameron

Avatar wasn’t my favorite film of the year, but it did make it to number three on my list. I’m going with Cameron not because he excels in comparison to his competition, but because he deserves it. He spent fifteen years developing the project, pumped in about $300 million and delivered big time. You don’t make the top grossing film of all time and not get an Oscar for it.

I’ll Be Pissed If He/She Wins: Nothing.

I have a preference for whom I’d like to see win, but every individual is deserving of their nomination and I’ll be glad to see anyone take home the statue.

Writing (Original Screenplay): Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino is a damn genius. You know how there are always particular portions of a film you look forward to? Well, I’m thrilled about every second of this one. Everything is perfectly timed and presented with each word in the screenplay serving a purpose.

I’ll Be Pissed If This Wins: Anything But Basterds

I refuse to budge on this category. Inglourious Basterds must win or I will not be happy.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Up in the Air

This is a tough one. Precious is an excellent book-to-film adaption, but the manner in which Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner manipulated Walter Kirn’s novel is especially impressive. Up in the Air the film is far different from the book, yet respects the original elements necessary to maintain the story’s sense of heart and effectively expresses it on screen.

I’ll Be Pissed If This Wins: In the Loop Continue reading


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Interview: Up In The Air’s Jason Reitman, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick and Walter Kirn

UpInTheAirPlease fasten your seat belt, put your seat and tray table into the upright position and prepare to enter air world. For most, traveling by plane is a hassle. You’ve got to pack up all your stuff, go through security and spend hours on a stuffy plane. On one trip, Walter Kirn came across a ‘new creature,’ a person who lives to fly. This chance encounter inspired Kirn to write Up In The Air.

The novel tells the story of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a corporate downsizer who considers himself a resident of the skies. He spends the majority of the year traveling the country firing people without remorse, just looking forward to getting closer to his goal of acquiring ten million frequent flier miles. Ryan thrives on his simplicity but when out of his comfort zone and off the road, he’s as complex and troubled as they come.

Kirn passed that complex story over to Jason Reitman who not only related to Ryan’s situation himself, but knew exactly what to do to adapt Kirn’s book to film. Along with actresses Vira Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, Kirn and Reitman give insight into the movie you’ll be eager to see once it lands in theaters in December.

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It’s Time To Grow Up: Books To Read Before Seeing The Movies

I hated reading in high school. In fact, I don’t think I ever read a book assigned in its entirety. It wasn’t that I was rebelling against being forced to read a particular book; I was a good student and almost always did what I was told. I could have picked up a book in my spare time, but I had better things to do. It wasn’t until I had nothing better to do with my free time, that I gave reading a chance.

My first job after graduating from college was a News Assistant at NY1 News. Being a News Assistant is an extremely physically demand job – I’m a small girl who was carrying 60 lbs. in camera equipment ten hours a day – but there’s also a ton of down time. One day, I waited over four hours for a perpetrator to be escorted from a prison to a waiting car. (Yes, capturing a perp walk is that important in local news.) I was desperate for entertainment and that desperation was sated by the medium I despised most, books.

I didn’t do a complete turnaround and become an avid reader. There’s one rule to my book selection process: the book must be in the process of being adapted to film or optioned for adaption. Clearly my passion is film. Combine the entertainment of reading a book with a passion and you get the ultimate source of pleasure. Even beyond the immediacy of the entertainment derived from reading, having read a book before seeing the film adaption is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever experienced.

The whole process is fascinating; to see who’s cast, what they look like in full costume, seeing the story unfold on screen, even assessing what portions of the book are translated and what parts are removed. When you read a book without accompanied imagery, you’re creating a world using your imagination. Yes, a good author will provide a detailed narrative so the reader can properly assemble the environment the writer strives to convey, but every reader’s world differs to a point. Then, when you see that world come to life on film, the wheels in your mind spin nearly out of control. You’re not just a spectator; you’re part of the film. It’s not just the author’s story being brought to life, it’s yours too.

Most of you will get this experience when you check out Where the Wild Things Are on October 16th, but there’s a whole bunch of movies coming out soon that find their origins in fantastic books. Here are a few you might want to read before seeing the movie.

ShutterIslandCoverShutter Island
I currently have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Shutter Island. Not that I don’t expect the film to be any good, I’m just bitter that I have to wait so long to see it. The film adaption of Dennis Lehane’s novel was due to hit theaters this month, but recently was pushed back to a February 2010 release. Maybe I’ll just have to read the book again. It’s about two U.S. Deputy Marshals, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, who are sent to Shutter Island to investigate a missing persons case. This isn’t just any missing person; Rachel Solando is a patient at Shutter Island’s Ashecliffe Psychiatric Hospital, home of the criminally insane. This book makes your head spin so much you’ll feel like an Ashecliffe patient yourself.
(In Theaters February 19th, 2010)

Derby Girl
You’re probably more familiar with the name of the feature film version of this book, Whip It. The book is about a young girl named Bliss Cavendar who’d rather get rowdy on the roller derby track than participate in beauty pageants. Knowing her parents will not approve of her new hobby, Bliss sneaks off to the Doll House to kick some ass as Babe Ruthless of the Hurl Scouts. The character Bliss screams Ellen Page. Think a non-pregnant Juno with athleticism. A fun side note, the author of Derby Girl, Shauna Cross, is a member of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby league. She also wrote the screenplay for Whip It. The movie already hit theaters, but Derby Girl is a quick read and still worth checking out post-film.
(In Theaters October 2nd, 2009)

UpInTheAirCoverUp In The Air
With all of the Oscar buzz surrounding Up In The Air, reading the Walter Kim novel the film is based on is a must. George Clooney plays the lead character, Ryan Bingham, a guy who travels the country working as a career transition counselor. Simply put, he flies around the country firing people. Ryan’s somber line of work and lack of a social life are of no concern to him. He has something much more important to worry about, earning one million frequent flyer miles. After reading the book it was very hard to imagine it being successfully translated to film. It has a plot, but it doesn’t seem strong enough to drive a feature length film. I guess when you have Jason Reitman behind the lens and George Clooney in front of it, anything is possible.
(Limited Release on December 4th, 2009. Opens Wide on December 25th, 2009)

TheLovelyBonesCoverThe Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones is one of the most moving pieces of literature I’ve ever read. By the time you finish it, you’ll have gone through an incredible range of emotions. It’s about a young girl named Susie Salmon who’s brutally murdered on her way home from school. From there we see her watch over her family from heaven and how her passing changes their lives. While the book may be perfect for film, it’s also a very temperamental piece. Depicting heaven on the big screen can go one of two ways; it can be completely rejected or wholeheartedly embraced. Based on the trailer and early buzz about the film, Peter Jackson will not disappoint. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for Mark Wahlbeg. Thanks to his performance in The Happening and Andy Samberg’s portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live, it’ll be difficult to take his performance seriously.
(Limited Release on December 11th, 2009. Opens Wide on January 15th, 2010)

Now this is a film that deserves much more attention than it’s been getting. Not only does Twelve have a fantastic cast, but the book that it’s based on is phenomenal. It was written by Nick McDonell when he was just 17-years-old. It’s about a bunch of kids, mostly wealthy, living in Manhattan and the impact drugs, sex and violence have on their lives. Chace Crawford will play the main character, White Mike, an extremely bright student known for selling the best marijuana money can buy but never indulging in any alcohol or drugs himself. I certainly wasn’t picturing White Mike to be as pretty as Crawford, but I’ll sacrifice my imagination to be able to look at Crawford for a couple of hours. Another unusual casting choice is Rory Culkin. I think he’s a fantastic actor, but for obvious reasons, I just don’t see him playing a tall basketball player. Anyway, the best part of the book is the climax. You become so absorbed with the characters that when that grand ending comes you’ll be in a serious state of shock. Seriously.
(In Theaters 2010)

YouthInRevoltCoverYouth In Revolt
If you read any of these books before seeing their film counterparts, Youth In Revolt by C.D. Payne should be the one. A movie with a cast including Michael Cera, Justin Long, Zach Galifianakis, Ray Liotta and Steve Buscemi sounds like a guaranteed success, but it can also turn the tale from a humorous yet meaningful coming-of-age story into a comedic absurdity. Cera plays Nick Twisp, a kid who takes teenage rebellion to the extreme. He starts out as a guy who isn’t thrilled with the parents he’s been given and turns into a wrecking crew when his love for a girl he meets on a family trip drives him insane. With the help of his alter ego, Francois Dillinger, Nick is willing to do just about anything to win Sheeni’s heart. Removing portions of a lengthy book to turn it into a movie is necessary but can be detrimental. Taking out particular parts of Youth in Revolt can easily strip the story of its warmth and turn it into any old teen comedy.
(In Theaters January 15th, 2010)

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