Reviews for the Ayn Rand adaptation 'Atlas Shruged'
I'd heard about the flaws of this movie before it opened, and even saw postings that predicted the Ayn Rand opus would become the next "The Room." And yet, alas, it sounds like it's not bad enough to be that interesting. Just boring. (Of course I will need to judge this for myself.)
There's plenty of negative reviews to be found at Meta Critic, but I enjoy the great P.J. O. Rourke's review at The Wall Street Journal.
A pan straight from a Randian:
"The rest of the movie’s acting is borrowed from 'Dallas,' although the absence of Larry Hagman’s skill at subtly underplaying villainous roles is to be regretted. Staging and action owe a debt to 'Dynasty'—except, on 'Dynasty,' there usually was action.
"In 'Atlas Shrugged–Part I' a drink is tossed, strong words are bandied, legal papers are served, more strong words are further bandied and, finally, near the end, an oil field is set on fire, although we don’t get to see this up close. There are many beautiful panoramas of the Rocky Mountains for no particular reason. And the movie’s title carries the explicit threat of a sequel.
"But I will not pan 'Atlas Shrugged.' I don’t have the guts. If you associate with Randians—and I do—saying anything critical about Ayn Rand is almost as scary as saying anything critical to Ayn Rand. What’s more, given how protective Randians are of Rand, I’m not sure she’s dead."
Looking back at some seriously great "Scream" moments
With "Scream 4," the genre-bending, influential horror series that effectively used scares, humor, high school angst and cleverly wrapped movie-within-movie references is back from the dead. Yes, it’s been 11 years since "Scream 3" was released. Scary. So what to do, take a look at some great moments in the history of "Scream," which I did for Movies.com.
Since the last two Screams never held up to the original, and the Scream series has even been blamed for making horror movies less scary, we’re curious how time, reflection and all the other waves of horror (from the "Ring" movies to "Hostel" to even the "Scream" joke films, "Scary Movie" etc.) will factor into the newest nightmare.
What follows are 8 great moments in the franchise. And yes, almost all of them contain spoilers and one of them involves Jiffy Pop. Is Jiffy Pop even around anymore?
Here's the first. Casey's Call:
Well, this one is obvious. No matter what you think of all the ensuing Scream movies, the first picture’s opening, with a wonderful hat-tip to "Psycho" (killing off the blonde beauty early) is now iconic. While popping that Jiffy Pop before settling into a movie, lovely Drew Barrymore answers an especially distressing phone call. Her initially amused and playful response turns into abject horror when she realizes a psychopath is on the other line. And worse, a psychopath donning an Edvard Munch-looking mask (another iconic image, and a Halloween mask for years to come). This was truly unexpected, and genuinely scary, not losing any momentum by leaving poor Drew stabbed and strung up in a tree! Sure, we knew we’d be laughing with this movie, but nervously so. What was going to happen next?
Clooney's new, timely film
Here's more from Huffington Post:
"George Clooney is set to produce -- and perhaps direct -- '700 Billion Man,' a new film about the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent government bailout of troubled financial institutions, Variety reports.
"Clooney's film will be based on a 2009 Washington Post feature on Neel Kashkari, the former Goldman Sachs executive who put together and helped administer the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A gloomy portrait of a man under pressure from the government, Wall Street, the media and the public at large, the article finds Kashkari in a cabin in Northern California, having resigned after putting the maligned package together."
Baldwin, Eisenberg, Cruz and Page will film in Rome
But, with Allen, quality is not always up to standards.
Here's the news via Hitfix:
"Ellen Page ('Juno'), Jesse Eisenberg ('The Social Network') and Alec Baldwin ('30 Rock') will join Penelope Cruz ('Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides') in Woody Allen’s upcoming untitled film project scheduled to shoot in Rome this summer, reports Variety. As usual, Allen is also writing the screenplay. Cruz, who Woody Allen directed to an Oscar in 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona,' announced last week that she'd appear in the film.
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.