December 15, 2006 |
Among the inalienable rights promised in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, happiness is the only one not guaranteed. We are theoretically assured of life and liberty, but happiness we are left to pursue on our own. "The Pursuit of Happyness," a routine domestic drama starring Will Smith, is the story of one man's unwavering pursuit for a better life (and presumably happiness with an "i") against long odds.
December 18, 2008 |
The holiday movie season is filled with high-stakes showdowns -- will Adam Sandler's "Bedtime Stories" topple Brad Pitt's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" on Christmas Day? -- but few December matchups can compare with Friday's face-off: Will Smith versus Jim Carrey. The actors' movies couldn't be more different. Smith's "Seven Pounds" is a challenging adult drama about an emotionally scarred man on the verge of making a personal sacrifice as a profound act of atonement.
December 13, 2006 |
Big names, big pictures THIS year's Oscar race for best director could use some serious direction. It's all over the place! There's a legendary helmer overdue for recognition (Martin Scorsese, "The Departed") squaring off against major emerging artists (Bill Condon, "Dreamgirls"; Todd Field, "Little Children").
January 4, 2008
If you think it's too early to start sizing up the 2008 Oscar season, consider that it already began in the fall -- at the Telluride and Toronto international film festivals. That's where small specialty films like Sony Pictures Classics' "The Counterfeiters" and Larry Charles and Bill Maher's documentary "Religulous" made their North American debuts. Granted, many of the 2008 contenders have yet to be released, much less promoted by Oscar campaigners.
October 18, 2006 |
The high-concept Jim Carrey projects "Used Guys" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" imploded, at least partially, over their excessive budgets. But the comedy "A Little Game Without Consequence," which had Carrey re-teaming with Cameron Diaz and was scheduled to start shooting Thursday, fell apart two weeks ago ostensibly over that most essential of filmmaking tools: the screenplay.
October 18, 2007 |
"Viva Laughlin," which premieres tonight on CBS, is a show in which the characters sometimes sing and dance to pop songs, as if they were suddenly in a musical. It is based on a British miniseries, broadcast here by BBC America as "Viva Blackpool," which in turn took its central conceit from the Dennis Potter-penned avant-TV classics "Pennies From Heaven" and "The Singing Detective" (remade here as films).
December 10, 2008 |
Arguably the most important Oscars reward those people who write the words we hear in movies, shoot the visual images we see on the screen and weave those together with the actors' performances. There's a lot of real drama in the writing, cinematography and directing races this year. Could a woman be nominated for cinematography for the first time? Could Batman and Iron Man break down other Oscar barriers? DIRECTOR Favorites Darren Aronofsky, "The Wrestler" Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire" Stephen Daldry, "The Reader" Jonathan Demme, "Rachel Getting Married" David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon" Baz Luhrmann, "Australia" Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight" Sam Mendes, "Revolutionary Road" John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt" Gus Van Sant, "Milk" Spotlight: Oscar voters love art-house darlings who cross over to prove they can helm popular hits.
September 15, 2006 |
"The Last Kiss" is directed by Tony Goldwyn and written by Paul Haggis and based on the Italian movie "L'Ultimo Bacio." Unlike the Italian movie, this one is set in Madison, Wis., which has never looked more elegant or more temperate, or less Midwestern and fringy and bohemian than it does here. When a character mentions quitting his job at the cheese factory, I thought for a second he was referring to a cute gourmet shop.
March 11, 2003 |
One scene of "Tears of the Sun" calls for Monica Bellucci to furiously slap Bruce Willis and spit in his face. The Italian actress was apprehensive, but Willis encouraged her to go for it. "Maybe many women would love to have this honor and I'm the one," Bellucci says, smiling. "I came up with my Italian passion and I did my work." Willis quips, "I get the feeling that she might have slapped somebody before. I don't know." She counters that after a few takes, "he liked it."