Computer-generated effects, 3D, surround soundâ€¦. Itâ€™s hard to believe there was a time when the biggest challenge in filmmaking was incorporating the sound of characters talking. The 1952 classic Singinâ€™ in the Rain pays homage to that task while showcasing some of the greatest song-and-dance of its era. Why would anyone want to return to such a time, when it was clear, even back then, there was no market for silent films? Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius, the writer/director of The Artist, presents a compelling response and […]
Mixed Martial Arts is often used inside the squared circle to throw off an opponent in a match. It includes many styles, such as boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, muay Thai, kickboxing, karate, and judo. But for this Smackdown, in this ring, we get a whole new style of combat: dance.
Two titans of dance-flick franchises, Footloose and Dirty Dancing, are squaring off. […]
Warning: this Smackdown is not your typical 15-rounder, with a decision coming after only a few hours of fighting. No, this stretches far, far longer… several decades, in fact. That’s because both our contenders span over 20 years in the lives of their central couples. Two long-term relationships outside marriage, each lasting a day at a time, annually, over the decades. Both survive personal shakeups and societal upheaval, but only one can survive this Smackdown. […]
Is it better to give than receive? Before you answer, the questionâ€™s not asking about sex or birthday gifts but relationship advice. Newly liberated Office-mate Steve Carell finds himself on both sides of that equation in our Smackdown between a couple of romantic dramedies, Crazy, Stupid, Love., opening this weekend, and 2007â€™s Dan in Real Life.
Crazy, Stupid, Love., with its period at the end that causes my auto-correct fits, is probably the most grammatically irritating film title since Precious: Based on the Novel â€˜Pushâ€™ by Sapphire. Carell portrays boring, straight-laced Cal Weaver, who gets dumped by his wife and taken in as a charity project by Ryan Goslingâ€™s barfly/man/god, Jacob Palmer. In Dan in Real Life, itâ€™s Carellâ€™s Dan Burns dispensing the advice in a newspaper column with the same name as the film, while trying to raise three daughters in various stages of meltdown after the death of their mom and Danâ€™s wife a few years earlier.
Two depressed guys, two lost wives, two sets of three quirky kids, and two comedies based on a Steve Carell characterâ€™s ability to roll with the romantic punches. So it comes down to Cal versus Dan, and it should come as no surprise that no matter whoâ€™s giving the advice, love makes a fool of them both. […]
Ashton Kutcher has led a charmed life. Since breaking out as a sitcom star with That â€˜70s Show in 1998, he married Hot Babe Brat-Packer-Turned-Actress-Turned-Celebrity Demi Moore and produced and hosted a veritable buttload of mindless but lucrative reality shows. Now, the undisputed Twitter king and anti-child-pornography crusader, he’s been recruited to fill the puke-stained shoes of Charlie Sheen on sitcom cash cow Two and a Half Men, leaving America relieved that Sheen did not, despite concerns, do enough cocaine to kill two and a half men, but at the same time alarmed by the potential disruption this will cause to Ashton’s film career.
Yes, Kutcher has also starred in several movies, the lion’s share of which were broad comedies largely ignored by America, fortunately for Kutcher (and America). Earlier this year, however, it seemed like he was dipping his toes into the water of more mature projects such as No Strings Attached, a fairly realistic comedy/drama/romance, which featured no less than two Oscar winners as well as that Indian chick from The Office (Mindy Kaling).
With Kutcher set to (temporarily at least) abandon filmdom for TMZâ€™s favorite sitcom, itâ€™s time to evaluate his still-young career once and for all: Is Kutcher a major movie talent whose agents having trouble finding him the right projects, or did his film career peak early with Dude, Whereâ€™s My Car, essentially a rehashing, so to speak, of his success on That â€˜70s Show, thus making his U-turn back to sitcom-land a wise career move?
If thereâ€™s anything that sounds less appealing than watching the mental anguish of a blocked writer, we canâ€™t imagine what it is. In fact, we canâ€™t even begin to visualizeâ€¦ hold on a secondâ€¦ getting my thoughts straightâ€¦ just have to play some Spider Solitaire while I, umâ€¦ trying to focusâ€¦ Huh — I didnâ€™t know we had Cheetosâ€¦.
Fifteen hours later:
Right, where were we? Oh yeah, writerâ€™s block — itâ€™s not pretty. Not cinematic either, until Charlie Kaufman came along and sweated blood for three years, cracking the code of how to translate to film his own innermost creative struggle in a deeply personal, throw-out-the-rulebook kind of way. His resulting screenplay for Adaptation became the Holy Grail of screenwriter movies, and under the brilliant direction of Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are), earned a slew of Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Adapted Screenplay. […]
Given that most single guys would be thrilled to have Ginnifer Goodwin as their girlfriend, you have to wonder why Hollywood keeps casting her as the woman who has a hard time finding a decent relationship. She got famous as the immature “sister-wife” Margene in the creepy HBO polygamy series, Big Love. Then she played the girl who can’t find love no matter how desperately she dates around in 2009’s He’s Just Not That Into You. And now she’s back in Something Borrowed as the third corner in a romantic triangle. I have no idea what her personal life is like but we can only hope it’s better than the parts she plays.
Both our films are ensemble rom-coms, chock-full of familiar character traits: earnest, self-absorbed, scoundrel, ironic, clueless, and so on. Some of these are main characters and some are the obligatory wacky friends. There are enough people running around in both films coupling and uncoupling that there seems to be a lot going on even when there isn’t. The idea is to cut from one storyline to another, keep the pace up, get some laughs, find some sympathetic moments, get a few more laughs, and tie up things more or less neatly before they run the credits. Everybody seems to have jobs that don’t really interfere with their pursuit of love and sex. Ah, paradise… […]
Money’s tight. Jobs are hard to find. Relationships disappoint. Such is the world as we know it. You say recession, I say depression. Let’s call the whole thing off. We go to the movies to forget our troubles, to drown our sorrows, to watch others make sense of this whole sorry mess. Romantic comedy provides a welcome refuge, a few hours in the welcoming darkness where we can rest pretty well assured that no one will die and nothing untoward will befall our hero and heroine, safe in the knowledge that they’ll wind up together at the end no matter how tangled the web of misunderstandings, regardless how high they stack the hurdles. We sit and wait for our happy ending and return again to our little lives at the end, sated and ready for the mundane and the stress life hands us. […]
It had to happen. Sperm Donor Dads: The Film Genre. Only slightly ahead of the zeitgeist culture curve, two relatively charming comedies duke it out for the hotly contested Smackdown title.
Mark Ruffalo’s shaggy roue blissfully ignorant seed guy of two (that we know of) takes on Jason Bateman’s neurotic and knowing father of one.
Lesbian moms Annette Bening and Julianne Moore up the ante just a bit on the A-List class-project The Kids Are All Right, and rom-com too-regular Jennifer Aniston depreciates indie-spirited The Switch a tad.
Jason Bateman plays Wally. Jennifer Aniston plays Kassie. With a K. That’s just about the most interesting thing about her. Wally loves her. He always has. But he’s her best friend. And her clock is ticking. And it would be too awkward to have a baby with her best friend. So â€” here comes the movie logic â€” hold onto your hats. She finds a married, too-good-to-be-true stranger and coaxes him into donating a cup of his best stuff. Not awkward at all. Are you with me so far? Because I know this sounds awful. But it’s not. Stuff happens to the stuff and paternity hijinks ensue. Here’s the thing though. You care. […]
I am not a thirteen year old boy. I do not read comics. Sorry. Graphic novels. I do not play video games. I am a dinosaur. Still, faced on Friday with a couple of hours to kill and choice of watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Eat Pray Love, I reflexively embraced my inner middle-schooler and turned my back on Oprah’s minions, setting the estrogen fest aside for a Saturday matinee.
Summer strikes me as the perfect time for stylish twaddle, and I enjoy defying expectations. (Not enough that I’d entertain the thought of seeing the meathead offering The Expendables.) I know that I’m the target for a movie about a middle-aged woman on a quest. Hell, I’m the effing bullseye on the target. Plus Julia Roberts is a bona fide movie star, and I love looking at that divine face on the big screen every chance I get.
On the other hand, Michael Cera is a guy who gets to star in movies, lots and lots of them, for reasons that don’t quite resonate for me. A little of Cera goes a mighty long way, and a lot of him wears super duper thin. One-trick ponies amuse and even delight the first few times they go through their paces, but eventually, the audience clamors for more. […]