Who bothers us the most?
From actors to directors, we take a look at who bugs us most. Here's my contribution -- Nancy Meyers:
Of all the cinematic offensives to choose from — and there are many — you may wonder, why pick on Nancy Meyers? She has directed stars as large, laudable and likable as Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black and, for heaven's sake, Jack Nicholson! How could this writer-director qualify as one of the most taxing presences in filmdom? After all, she didn't direct "Sex and the City 2" (there's a special place in a shoeless, bargain-basement hell for that one). She's writing and directing comedies, I suppose, refreshingly, about older people, or "women of a certain age," for audiences weary of youth-obsessed rom-coms (which are not all terrible, of course) and frequently depressing gross-out comedies, which have become so commonplace that we're not grossed out anymore. (I'll take the gleefully transgressive "Jackass" 1, 2 and 3, thank you. And I'll be more enlightened in the process but that's another story.)
So again, why?
Well, to quote one of her movies, "It's complicated."
Here's the thing: I don't want to dislike Nancy Meyers. I want her to make the great romantic comedy. I want her to channel her inner Ernst Lubitsch and wow us with something actually complicated. I want her to hand her more-than-capable actors a script that allows them to not just delight, but deepen. And yet, with movie after movie, from "What Women Want" to "Something's Gotta Give" to "The Holiday" to "It's Complicated," I find myself, grumpily ... disliking her.
I have to say one thing: I do admire her for casting a then-63-year-old Nicholson and a 57-year-old Keaton to headline 2003's "Something's Gotta Give," a move its first studio reportedly rejected. Who wants to see a couple of oldsters fret over aging, discuss turkey necks and, gulp, have sex with each other? Plenty, it turned out, and the picture became a surprise hit. But a hit doesn't mean a classic and, instead, Meyers relied on standard "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" tropes in which older men, particularly slithery, wealthy Casanovas, have the ability to still nab the younger gals, while aging women, no matter if they're successful playwrights who walk on their beachfront property clad in white turtlenecks and flowy pants, can't nab anyone. Now, indeed, this can often be true, especially in Hollywood, but please, Ms. Meyers, extend on this premise. Reflect beyond the horror of an aging woman's body and her continually neurotic flip-outs. And, perhaps, understand for at least a second that the older man/ younger woman dynamic isn't always skeevy (after all, the younger woman in this scenario, Amanda Peet, plays Keaton's daughter). And acknowledge your moralistic hypocrisy. Case in point: When the much-younger Keanu Reeves enters the picture, smitten by Keaton, well ... you go, girl! That's empowerment!
What bothers me is that while Meyers is traipsing around these potentially rich and smartly humorous ideas, and with charming actors who beef up the material (Nicholson is nicely understated, and Keaton is vulnerably funny and often touching), she comes off as emotionally dishonest, and worse: cold, corporate and pandering. Like we've just had our Starbucks, listened to their in-house music and shopped at the Pottery Barn. The middle-age mall.
The same goes for her other star-studded midlife soufflé, "It's Complicated," in which Streep plays a divorcee who starts an affair with her ex-husband, Baldwin, who's cheating on his younger wife (Lake Bell, a gold digger yearning for a baby. Damn 30-somethings!). Things get "complicated" when another suitor (Steve Martin) is added to the mix and we have to root for ... oh, we don't even care at that point. Once again, aging flesh is funny, and elder sex can be dangerous for the heart (literally) and ... look at my beautiful house! I am older woman; hear me roar ... my recommendations for the right kind of eggbeater!
Romantic comedies come from an inspired tradition: "The Awful Truth," "The Lady Eve," "Bringing Up Baby," "It Happened One Night" and "Adam's Rib" are beautifully written, soulful, glamorous, funny works of art. Woody Allen, Albert Brooks and James L. Brooks have directed some modern classics. Rob Reiner (with screenwriter Nora Ephron) made "When Harry Met Sally." Judd Apatow, Nicole Holofcener and even Michel Gondry (with Charlie Kaufman) have added unique twists to the genre. And the greatest women's pictures are being made by a man: Pedro Almodovar. Nancy Meyers, alas, for all her traditional aspirations, surrenders her work to the dreaded appellation of "chick flick" or perhaps, in her case, "hen-ertainment."
Do filmmakers know what a cameo is anymore?
This news has been blasting around the web for a few days, as if it's some big deal but, here's the thing.
It's a damn cameo. Who cares?
Also, since when are cameos so greatly reported on? If the cameos are cast so openly (first it was Mel Gibson, then Neeson) then they no longer become cameos. Right? Aren't we supposed to be surprised by a cameo? Aren't they usually un-credited?
And Nick Cassavetes is an interesting filmmaker and all, but how does he work as a cameo? He's not exactly a face recognition star. No one watching "The Hangover" will know who he is. Well, they will now, since it's been reported on.
Ugh. Why not just hire Scott Baio, not report it to the press, and get it over with. That's a cameo.
It might actually happen
Here's the details from EW:
"The news only gets better for fans who are anxiously awaiting the return of Jack Bauer: Uber-producer Brian Grazer recently tweeted that he’s on board for long-gestating 24 movie.
'Got off the phone Keifer yesterday and we are very excited about producing the 24 movie for next year,' he tweeted. Grazer’s involvement makes sense since Imagine Entertainment, the company he co-owns with Ron Howard, produced the long running action drama for Fox.
Take the gorilla and run
Italian director nabs esteemed prize at upcoming Cannes Film Festival
Here's more about it:
"The organizers of the Cannes Film Festival say they will honor Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci with an honorary Palme d'Or at the opening ceremony of this year's 11-day-long cinema extravaganza.
"The Palme d'Or is the festival's top prize, usually awarded by the jury to one of the films in competition. But honorary Palmes d'Or have been bestowed upon 'important filmmakers, whose work is authoritative' but who've never won the award, including Woody Allen in 2002 and Clint Eastwood in 2009.
"Cannes organizers said in a statement Monday that Bertolucci, director of 1978's "The Last Emperor" and 1982's 'Last Tango in Paris,' will be presented the award during the May 11 inauguration.
Check out Joseph Gordon Levitt in 'Hesher'
But what of these stills? Well, they give you a look at the character of the movie, Hesher, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt (I love that everyone in the above image is doing what everyone would be doing -- staring) with long locks and home-made tattoos -- basically a look you'll see hitting every college campus in about two months (which will be refreshing). And the story? It sounds like a unique twist on the "magical character who enters everyone's lives" idea, this time, a strange metalhead with aggression issues who shows up one day and begins living with a grief stricken father (Rainn Wilson), his bullied son (Devin Brochu) and their tuned-out, elderly grandmother (Piper Laurie). If you've seen the trailer, you'll get the idea that the wisdom "Hesher" espouses involves setting things on fire and throwing stuff (again, also refreshing), which might be exactly what the family needs. Natalie Portman also appears.
Check out more stills (Gordon Levitt with director Susser and another with Portman and Brochu) after the jump. I, for one, am stoked to see this.
The medieval stoner comedy amuses few
Here's a few bad ones:
The Chicago Reader's J.R. Jones writes:
"Unwatchable-and, thanks to its high-decibel action sequences, barely listenable-this misbegotten medieval fantasy/stoner comedy marks a new low for David Gordon Green."
Variety's Peter Debruge writes:
"That skunky smell emanating from Your Highness ain't pot; it's the stink of miscalculation that surrounds an inside joke gone awry."
And finally Rolling Stone's Peter Travers (who usually likes everything) simply says:
"Nothing works. Nothing."
Will Ben Stiller bring 'Walter Mitty' to life?
Ben Stiller might turn out to be the Mitty for the job.
Here's more from Huffington Post:
"Finally, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" will be exposed before the entire world.
According to Deadline, Ben Stiller is set to make the long-gestating film, based on the classic 1939 James Thurber short story, his next film. Stiller will star as the suburban man who daydreams himself into tales of heroism and adventure.
"One of Thurber's best short stories, it was made into a 1947 film starring Danny Kaye.
"A number of stars, including Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell, have been rumored to be interested in the part; Sacha Baron Cohen was most recently rumored to be in talks for the part, in April 2010.