Friday, October 31, 2014

Julianne Moore tells Kristen Stewart "I feel like I can't find myself" in Still Alice

You can take all the scary Halloween horror films in the world and stick them in a witch's cauldron; for me there's still nothing more horrifying than the nightmare of Alzheimer's disease. We're still waiting for the Still Alice trailer (I'll just keep using that stupid pun until they give us a trailer, already!) but Yahoo movies has released an exclusive new Still Alice clip for the film based on Lisa Genova's book. (Which I loved! Read my take here.)

Still Alice stars Julianne Moore as Alice, the brilliant professor stricken with early onset Alzheimer’s, Kristen Stewart who plays her daughter, Lydia, an aspiring actress and Alec Baldwin as her husband.

There's been nothing but Oscar buzz for Moore and Stewart since the film premiered at TIFF this past September, prompting Sony to release the movie this December for a short Oscar-qualifying run. I can't wait, in fact the film is screening at the AFI film fest here in a couple of weeks: my ticket printout is waiting on the fridge for my hot little hand to snap up. I'll let you know what I think after I've seen it but I'm very, very excited.

Add this to the brief scene I posted in mid-September and I think I'm pretty safe in saying I should bring tissues. 

Here's the clip in which Lydia asks her mother what Alzheimer's feels like. Alice's answer is as articulate as you might expect from a linguistics professor, as heartbreaking a conversation a mother and daughter have ever had, especially as it's so low key. There's nothing over-reaching here as Alice explains, quite articulately, but in a very restrained, almost detached way, how it feels. 
“On my bad days, I feel like I can’t find myself,” says Alice. “I’ve always been so defined by my intellect, my language, my articulation, and now sometimes I can see the words hanging in front of me, and I can’t reach them, and I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know what I’m going to lose next.” 
If the video isn't working, you can link directly to the clip here:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hack Attack: George Clooney Turning the Spotlight of British Tabloid Journalism

George Clooney didn't take much of a honeymoon. Gorgeous George — he really is that old timey definition of handsome ala Cary Grant (in fact, I'd love to see him in a biopic based on that star's life)  — is going to direct the screen adaptation of Hack Attack, written by The Guardian reporter, Nick Davies. Published this past summer, Davies' book drills down on the way the British tabloids hacked the heck out of everyone they wanted a scoop on, from celebrities like Hugh Grant, to cops, royalty and even innocent victims of terror attacks. They denied it of course; you may remember Rupert Murdoch and his son squirming ever so slightly in the spotlight as the 168 year old News of the World was forced to go out of business. Needless to say, we don't practice those scurrilous techniques here in the states. Hahahahahahaha! Do you really believe that because I can dig up some swampland for sale if you're interested? 

The newest news is that Andrew McCarten, currently getting tons of attention for penning the screenplay for the Stephen Hawking story The Theory of Everything, has been signed to write the adaptation. This sounds like it may be a bit of a passion project for Clooney whose father is the longtime and respected journalist Nick Clooney, and who showed his own zeal for the news business when he directed the Edward R. Murrow portrait Good Night and Good Luck. According to Deadline, Clooney wants to make a film in the All the Presidents Men mold; I'm hoping that includes an onscreen role for Clooney as well. 

George Clooney with dad, Nick. Er, that's George on the right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hailee Steinfeld considers The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

And said yes! Deadline broke the news that Oscar winning Hailee Steinfeld has agreed to play Hadley in the screen version of Jennifer E. Smith's YA romance.

What begins as a really lousy day when Hadley misses her flight to London for her father's second wedding, then gets stuck at JFK (at least it's not Newark), brightens up considerably when the cute girl meets a cute British boy with a cute British name. I wonder what 'the Statitstical Probabiltiy' of meeting a boy named Oliver are in 2014? Anyway in the whole 'meet cute' rom-com trope, the two are seated together on the plane and that long flight to London is over in the blink of an eye. Somehow the pair lose track of each other in the disembarkment chaos - what is the statistical probability of that happening, I wonder - but it sounds like it all turns out all right in the end. I love how the description for the Jennifer E. Smith book hypes Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it. You know it's true love because it passed the 24 hour test of time. Did I mention it's YA?

I wonder which cute Brit boy will co-star as Oliver? Hopefully not Asa Butterfield who starred in both Enders Game and the upcoming darker YA project Ten Thousand Saints with Hailee Steinfeld. I say hopefully not, not to be snarky - I think the two make a really cute couple which they are, or were anyway, in real life, - but because while they say 'the third times the charm, honestly isn't twice enough? It was for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence who paired up successfully for The Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle but are getting panned for their third timer, Serena. Here's Steinfeld and Butterfield in Ten Thousand Saints and Ender's Game. Can we get a change of face here, please?

Time to round up the usual suspects; who's on your British boy list?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Clearly SONY has taken a very realistic approach to the poster for Still Alice. And with the solo shot of Julianne Moore looking both vague and vaguely frightened, it's clear the film is all about Alice. BUT Kristen Stewart fans - they are a hugely loyal and passionate bunch - take heart as word is the movie will get a qualifying OSCAR run here in Los Angeles in December with the intention of definitely putting Stewart up for a Best Supporting Actress nomination with Ms. Moore being promoted for a Best Actress nom. 

The film got the highest praise when it ran in Toronto, with both Moore and Stewart getting nothing but raves. The small clip we've seen doesn't give us too much to go on, surely we'll get a trailer soon?
This is one of my most highly anticipated films, like many of the fans of Lisa Genova's book, I've got a personal connection to the destruction and havoc the disease causes. My mother lived with Alzheimer's for over 15 years after her initial diagnosis and seeing the unraveling of her mind was a slow, horrible and painful experience. I'll never stop wondering what it was like for her living within the nightmare. I can't imagine I won't be torn apart by the movie but we'll see. 

You can have a Life of Crime with Jennifer Anniston today

Life of Crime, the adaptation of Elmore Leonard's The Switch, comes out on Blue Ray, DVD and Digital HD today - that's October 28th. I found this behind the scenes exclusive over at IndieWire; the video features Jennifer Aniston, Isla Fisher and screenwriter-director Daniel Schechter (Get Shorty) chatting about getting into character and adapting the Elmore Leonard novel.

As we talked about this past June, (there are some good pictures at the original post) Aniston plays Mickey Dawson, a suburban housewife married to wealthy philanderer Tim Robbins. Robbins, who is carrying on an affair with Isla Fisher (she played the  isn't the least bit bothered when a gang of ex-cons kidnaps his wife for ransom. But that's going to change, oh yeah, that's going to change. Mickey will get her revenge!

Just like Jennifer Anniston will get hers, Living well IS the best revenge, don't you think?

Here's a trailer to refresh your memory. Following that, the behind the scenes peek.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Have Broom Will Travel

Sorry book to movie fans, there's no book to movie post today. If you're in the mood for a change of pace from me, I'd love you to give this Halloweenish piece a read. 

Have Broom Will Travel

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Into the Woods: Be Careful What You Wish For, Meryl Streep

Good morning! Today's Slacker Sunday post, a featurette for Into the Woods is really nothing more than a great big commercial for the movie based on Steven Sondheim's genius musical starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Chris Pines, James Corden and Johnny Depp. While I'm no fan of Disney's greed - must they plunk their name atop everything they do? - I have to admit this adaptation looks pretty fetching. I didn't see the Broadway production starring Bernadette Peters as the witch but I did see Cleo Lane's acclaimed performance in the part of the witch here in the Los Angeles production way back when. (Okay, it was the eighties) Meryl, I'm sure, wouldn't dream of comparing herself to Bernadette Peters or Cleo Lane in their glory days but I'm equally sure most Sondheim fans will admit to being more than intrigued. I know I am. And Chris Pines as the prince. He sings? 

Into the Woods opens Christmas Day!

Here's that featurette and following that a clip of Peters singing Stay with Me from the show. I couldn't find a good clip from the production of Cleo Lane but if you've ever heard that gorgeous, gravelly voice you know it can not be duplicated. Streep, the smart, super star actor is no copycat and will forge her own path Into the Woods, I'm sure. Because I couldn't bear to see the great Streep ripped apart by the critics like some in the cast of Les Miserables (poor Russell Crowe) were.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Long Way Down: My take on the movie starring Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Pierce Brosnan and Aaron Paul

Oh, so heartbroken! I've finally managed to see A Long Way Down on Netflix (we just installed a ROKU which took care of slow streaming and freezing problems)- I blogged and blogged and blogged and blogged about the book, I loved it sooooo much - and, yes, it IS a long way down. A hard flop down, I would say. I was prepared to be disappointed as the lack of a real release date here in the states was a pretty big clue the adaptation of Nick Hornby's book was a dud. And then those initial pesky reviews

The problem with the movie though, isn't how bad it is, it's how good it could have been. The material was dark, and edgy and bitingly funny; that laughing through the tears kind of funny. The movie was a weird melding of I don't know what, snark, sap and lacking in gritty recognizable authenticity, with director Pascal Chaumiel seemingly encouraging the cast to overact like they were in a high school play. There's a total lack of trust in the actors to tell the story, and the audience to get it. Instead there are plenty of obvious, dig-in-the-ribs moments. The relationship between JJ (Aaron Paul) and Jess (Imogen Poots) is so nuanced in the novel, we feel, rather than see a push/pull attraction; the movie plays it out in the open, with Jess draping herself all over him, pretty much as you see it in the poster above. Their rom-com ending is NOT what I was looking for at all.

The script by Jack Thorne misses the mark completely; we really don't get to see the utter hopelessness that would drive four souls to the top of a building to throw themselves off, and the sheer bungling and dawning realization of the gravity of the situation that stops them. The cast is incredibly talented in other films and tv shows but here are given a shallow script that never delves into who these people really are. As a person with creative leanings I was especially disappointed that we didn't get to know J.J. better. He was probably my favorite character in Nick Hornby's novel - the tortured musician who knows there's nothing he can do in life except make his music - in the film he's reduced to a caricature and rom-com bad boy. Pierce Brosnan's TV host Martin Sharp was okay; I was actually surprised how well they handled the underage girl aspect, believing in fact that she really did look 25 vs Martin being a dirty old perv. Rosamund Pike  so incredible in Gone Girl, comes off as fake as Martin's former broadcasting partner. Sam Neil is fine as Jess's dad, if wasted in the part.

On the good news front, I believe one can never have too much Toni Collette, and she's just as watchable here as Maureen as she always is. Also I've become an overnight fan of Imogen Poots - her character is supposed to be over the top and she plays it balls to the walls - and really hope she gets more effectively directed as Dee Moray in the screen adaptation of Jess Walter's luminous Beautiful Ruins. Oh God, I hope they don't botch that too!

Dan Tallerico, in his review over at puts it pretty well, enumerating the problems in his review, quoted in full here.
There are moments of tenderness and honest human emotion buried in the frustrating “A Long Way Down” but one has to work far too hard and give far too much credit to the over-qualified cast to grab at them. Based on a hit book by Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity,” “About a Boy”) that contained an emotional minefield maudlin enough that the film took nearly a decade to come into existence even though the Hornby bandwagon was full in the ‘00s, “A Long Way Down” is a textbook case of over-direction. Characters laugh too hard; the score by Dario Marianelli alternates between wispy guitar strumming and heartstring-pulling piano tinkling; the suicidal characters literally dance to “I Will Survive” at one point. You get the idea. Honest emotion falls victim to poor filmmaking again. 
Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) wants to kill himself on New Year’s Eve. He has tumbled from the height of popularity after a sex scandal with an underage girl destroyed his family and sees no reason to go on if he’s not famous. He climbs to the roof of the Toppers Building, a notorious suicide spot; so notorious that he runs into three other people on this frosty, fateful evening. Maureen (Toni Collette) has a severely disabled son and can’t go on. Jess (Imogen Poots) is heartbroken and J.J. (Aaron Paul) tells his new mates that he has brain cancer. The four agree to delay their life-ending until Valentine’s Day, keeping tabs on each other over the next month-and-a-half and, of course, forming a unique bond. 
When the “Topper House Four” is outed in the press (it turns out that Jess’ dad is a famous politician, making her bait for tabloid headlines), they become semi-celebrities. To escape the attention, they jet off to a resort, frolic in the surf, grow closer, learn the importance of life, get a tan, etc. 
“A Long Way Down” is a film that’s afraid of its subject matter: suicidal depression. One never senses any actual danger or urgency in the plight of these characters to battle their demons before they kill them, and the lack of any sense that these people might actually end their lives drains the piece of drama. Their depression is merely a plot device. J.J. was once the frontman for a band called Gepetto and he laughs about one of the hackneyed lines that he wrote: “I don’t mind the pain, it’s the hope that kills me.” Writer Jack Thorne and director Pascal Chaumeil present the line as a bit of humor about a wannabe grunge band that never was but it’s indicative of the problem with the film. The movie never minds the pain. It doesn’t pay attention to it. We don’t feel it. Well, most of the time. The always-great Collette somehow finds a way to make the most maudlin and manipulative character arc of the quartet hit most of the right beats. The film's greatest value is further proof that Collette makes everything she's in better. 
To be fair, Poots is quite good here as well, but both actresses are weighed down by a director who didn’t trust them. Jess lying on her bed singing the BeeGees classic “Tragedy” should be done with a wink, not with a treacly score underneath. When the foursome realizes they’ve written their non-suicide pact on the back of Maureen’s suicide note, the actors have been directed to laugh in response in an exaggerated, overblown way. It sounds picky, I know, but “A Long Way Down” never registers emotionally because it is constantly reminding you it’s a movie. And it’s not a very good one.