Talking Movies, Episode 6: Safety Last! (1923), The General (1926), City Lights (1931) ... Talking Movies, Episode 5: The Last Picture Show (1971), Mean Streets (1973), The Conversation (1974) ... Talking Movies, Episode 4: Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Easy Rider (1969), The Wild Bunch (1969) ... TALKING MOVIES, EPISODE 3: MARTY (1955), THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957), BEN-HUR (1959) ... Talking Movies, Episode 2: The Lost Weekend (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) ... Alfred Hitchcock – The 39 Steps (1935) ... Talking Movies, Episode 1: ‘The Third Man’ (1949) ... Akira Kurosawa – ‘Ran’ (1985) ...
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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Willis’

Tuesday November 27th, 2012

‘Looper’ Director Rian Johnson Discusses Creative Process, Influences, Heightened Reality

By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist

***

They say the third time’s the charm, and that appears to be the case for writer-director Rian Johnson.

Looper, Johnson’s third and most ambitious feature , opened on Sept. 28 and quickly became one of the year’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful releases. The story of a man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) assigned to kill the 30-years-older version of himself (Bruce Willis) after time-travel is discovered, it’s a rare blockbuster that’s both creative and smart. It has thus earned Johnson comparisons to fellow filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky.

Oh, and Looper is also immensely profitable: made on a mid-range budget of just $30 million, it grossed $66 million at the U.S. box-office and another $97 million abroad. How many other 2012 films can compete with those profit-margins?

Looper marks the second large collaboration between Johnson and star Gordon-Levitt, who worked together on Johnson’s first feature, the 2005 high school drama Brick, a $475,000 neo-noir that caught a lot of people’s attention after it played at Sundance and went on to gross over $3 million internationally. Gordon-Levitt also made a cameo in Johnson’s second film, The Brothers Bloom, a $20 million film that was rejected by critics and ignored by moviegoers upon its release in 2008.

I recently caught up with Johnson, of whom I am admittedly a big fan, over the telephone to discuss his life and career.

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Tuesday November 13th, 2012

The Top 10 People Who Should Host ‘Saturday Night Live’

By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist

***

For more than 35 years, NBC’s Saturday Night Live has reigned as TV’s best live sketch show.

During this time, comedians have broken out into stars, musicians have found stardom, and celebrities have shown audiences a different side of themselves — all from appearing on one stage.

Though the regular cast brings viewers back week after week, the musical guest and particularly the host help lure in new or casual audiences. This season, the show’s 38th, has seen the likes of Louis C.K. (FX’s Louie), Daniel Craig (Skyfall) and, last week, Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) tackling hosting duties.

Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) is set to host this week. Considering such entertaining guest stars, I thought about who else I’d like to see take the stage.

Here are my choices for the top 10 celebs I want to host SNL this season:

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Monday October 15th, 2012

‘Should They Or Shouldn’t They?’ An Imperative Question In TV Relationships

By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist

***

This year is the fifth season of ABC’s dramedy Castle, and one thing makes it stand out from the rest: Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic), after four seasons of romantic tension, are finally together.

“Will they or won’t they?” is the TV equivalent of “What came first: The chicken or the egg?” — everyone asks it, and no answer is for sure. But the question that should be asked more frequently in TV is, “Should they or shouldn’t they?”

Most series approach this crossroads. And many consequently fear the Moonlighting curse, which references the ABC’s 1980s crime drama and its decline in popularity once leads Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis got together.

NBC’s The Office seems to have recently faced the curse. Though the comedy still did well in the ratings following Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam’s (Jenna Fischer) marriage in season six,  it became a bit of a bore afterward — and even more so once Michael (Steve Carell) left in season seven.With the main couple married and having two children, and with its former lead gone, The Office hasn’t had much on which to focus. It appears audience members are starting to notice, too, as the season nine premiere was down 46 percent in the ratings from last season’s debut.

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Thursday September 6th, 2012

TORONTO 2012: ‘Looper’ blends film noir with twisty sci-fi

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywood News

***

It’s an age-old question: If you could travel through time and murder Adolph Hitler – possibly preventing the dictator’s atrocities – would you have the nerve to complete the deed?

That moral dilemma is but one of the many, many open-ended questions noodled over by writer-director Rian Johnson in the fuzzy (to borrow one of its own terms) time-travel thriller “Looper.” The movie opens this year’s Toronto International Film Festival by reuniting Johnson with his “Brick” lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And while the collaborators maintain the shadowy, malicious air of the crime noir genre – which they perfected back in 2005 – they shift gears and embrace a whole new field: Futuristic science-fiction.

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Friday April 13th, 2012

‘Looper’ Trailer Makes Its Debut

By Rachel Bennett

After three teasers and a long wait, the first trailer for Looper has premiered on iTunes. What’s the verdict? It seems to me that Looper may turn out to be director and writer Rian Johnson’s (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) best film to date – and one of the best of 2012.

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Tuesday January 24th, 2012

Is Sundance Film Festival 2012 a Bust?

By Roger Friedman

I was sorry to miss this year’s Sundance Film Festival–my first absence in eons. But from all reports it’s kind of a fizzle, with most of the films not working out they were expected. So far sources tell me “Abritrage,” Nick Jarecki’s film with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon has done well. It will probably be the only big studio purchase, based on its names and production values. “Robot and Frank” with Frank Langella is said to be charming but no blockbuster. Joe Berlinger’s “Under African Skies,” about Paul Simon’s “Graceland” reunion, has nice reviews.

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Monday November 22nd, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 11/22/10

  • 60 Minutes: Lara Logan profiles the actor/producer Mark Wahlberg, who she says “has made a career of reinventing himself like no one else in show business,” just a few weeks before the release of “The Fighter,” a film that he produced and stars in as his childhood hero. He takes her back to Boston and opens up about his “reckless youth,” including an assault that he committed at the age of 16 that left a man blind and resulted in him serving 45 days in jail. That harrowing experience, he says, gave him the drive to make something more of his life — first as a rapper, then as a model, and now as an Oscar-nominated actor and producer who is on the brink of unveiling his “proudest achievement” yet.
  • Gold Derby: Tom O’Neil claims that certain members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association “absolutely love” the recent blockbuster thriller “Red” and says that we should “expect it to bag noms for best comedy/musical picture, actor (Bruce Willis) and maybe even supporting actor (John Malkovich as a conspiracy-minded LSD tripper) and supporting actress (Helen Mirren as a machine-gun-toting Rambo).”
  • New York Times: Brooks Barnes adds to the mounting expectations of “Tangled,” the 50th animated film from Disney, which reportedly cost $175 million to make and “will carry global marketing costs in excess of $100 million.” Disney’s chief creative officer John Lasseter, who has spent over three years working on the film since the 2006 Disney-Pixar merger left him in charge of the studio, tells Barnes: ““This film is as good as a Pixar film, but it’s classic Disney, and I love that: heart, humor, beauty, music, wonderment, the love story.”
  • The Big Picture: Patrick Goldstein highlights one of the most glaring omissions from the recently released list of films eligible for this year’s best documentary feature Oscar: Werner Herzog’s visually stunning 3-D doc “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” He was previously snubbed five years ago for his critically-acclaimed doc “Grizzly Man” (2005), but was nominated three years ago for “Encounters at the End of the World” (2007).
  • Awards Tracker: Susan King reports that best actress hopeful Nicole Kidman (“Rabbit Hole”) will receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s 2011 Vanguard Award following a career tribute on February 5. According to the festival, the award was created to annually recognize “an actor who has forged his/her own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film.” Previous recipients have included Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Christoph Waltz.
  • Imageworks: As part of the no-holds-barred Oscar campaign for “Alice in Wonderland,” the special effects firm Sony Pictures Imageworks has invited select journalists to have tea with the visual effects and animation team responsible for the film, as well as to have “an individual opportunity to sit at an Avid at Sony Pictures Imageworks with one of our editors and a member of the visual effects and animation production team” for a demonstration of some of the work that went into the production of the film’s “nearly 2500 visual effects and animation shots.”
  • Los Angeles Times: Mark Olsen profiles the 24-year-old writer/director/actress Lena Dunham, who has made a big impression with “Tiny Furniture,” her debut film, and is now being “courted by Hollywood.” As Dunham puts it, her story could be succinctly described as: “girl makes movie about being a loser and then gets un-loserly things to happen to her.”
  • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells confirms that director Steven Spielberg will indeed adapt a still-to-be-written Tony Kushner script about Abraham Lincoln into a feature film, and that the 16th president will be played not by the Irish actor Liam Neeson, who was the rumored frontrunner for the part, but rather by the British actor Daniel Day-Lewis. Cinephiles largely cheered the casting of the two time best actor Oscar winner (who traveled on Friday to Springfield, Illinois and received a tour of relevant historical sites from Lincoln historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.) The film is due out in 2012.
  • The Film Experience: Nathaniel Rogers chats with the 37-year-old actress Juliette Lewis, who was nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar nearly two decades ago for “Cape Fear” (1991) and is hoping to be nominated for it again for this year’s Tony Goldwyn’s “Conviction.” She has only two brief scenes in the film, but, as Rogers writes, audiences can’t take their eyes of her when she’s on screen, and it seems likely that they will lead to other, more substantial acting roles for her in the near future.

Photo: Mark Wahlberg in “The Fighter.” Credit: Paramount.

Thursday October 14th, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 10/14/10

  • Variety: Andrew Stewart notes that Julian Schnabel’s “Miral” isn’t the only film from The Weinstein Company with a release date change this week. According to the studio, Ben Affleck’s “The Company Men” has also been pushed back — but, unlike “Miral,” not out of this year’s race — from October 22 to December 10. No reason for the move was provided.
  • Deadline Hollywood: Nikki Finke passes along the Academy’s announcement that it has chosen eight short subject documentaries (from a list of thirty that were eligible) for its short list of contenders for a 2011 Academy Award, three to five of which will receive actual nominations and one of which will take home a statuette.
  • New York Times: Maureen Dowd calls “Fair Game” — the story of Valerie Plame Wilson (Naomi Watts) and Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) — “a vivid reminder of one of the most egregious abuses of power in history,” noting, “They were the Girl and Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, and we should all remember what flew out.”
  • The Film Experience: Nathaniel Rogers spots the fun stat that Jesse Eisenberg would bump Matt Damon off the list of the top 10 youngest nominees for the best actor Oscar if — as he is widely expected to — he receives a best actor nomination for “The Social Network.” Eisenberg would be 27 years old, as was Damon when he was nominated for “Good Will Hunting” (1997), but 14 days younger.
  • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells writes that Rosamund Pike “easily gives the most arresting performance” in both “Made in Dagenham” and “Barney’s World,” portraying “elegant, well-educated wives of character and principle” in both, and urges Academy members to look beyond those films’ flaws and nominate one of her performances for best supporting actress. (Scott agrees.)
  • The Washington Post: Tim Craig and Bull Turque report that Michelle Rhee, the no-nonsense chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools (who is featured prominently in Davis Guggenheim’s doc “Waiting for ‘Superman’”), has resigned from her post after 3.5 years. The city’s “presumptive mayor-elect” (who, in a recent primary, ousted the mayor who appointed Rhee) said it was a “mutual decision” to part ways, but Rhee described it as “heartbreaking.”
  • The Wrap: Steve Pond reports that Bruce Davis, the Academy’s executive director and “highest-ranking salaried employee,” will be retiring after 30 years spent overseeing some of the most monumental shifts within AMPAS. In an email to his staff, Davis wrote, “Organizations and individuals both benefit from periodic shifts in perspective.”
  • The Playlist: Oli Lyttelton believes there are “plenty of viral Internet comedy shows out there competing for your procrastination time,” but “none of them have managed to be as consistently funny and generally excellent” as Zach Galifianakis’s “Between Two Ferns” on the Funny or Die site. In the latest installment, Galifianakis sits down with “Red” star Bruce Willis, and hilarity quickly ensues.

Photo: Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck in “The Company Men.” Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Wednesday October 13th, 2010

YOUR DAILY FIX OF OSCAR: 10/13/10

  • Awards Daily: Sasha Stone passes along the latest ratings from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which tend to predict fairly accurately the films that stand the best shot at Oscar nominations. As of yesterday, Pixar’s animated “Toy Story 3” held the top spot with a score of 97, just ahead of “The Social Network” at 95.
  • The Playlist: Kevin Jagernauth wonders why Paramount’s marketing campaign for “Morning Glory” — a comedy starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, and Diane Keaton that is slated to open in four weeks — has been virtually “non-existent.” The film, he writes, “was originally slated for a summer release… [but] was pushed back amid word that the studio was eyeing some kind of dark horse comedy entry in the awards season race,” but such a scenario now seems unlikely.
  • Deadline Hollywood: Pete Hammond obtains a leaked copy of the Academy’s color-coded screening schedule of foreign language films, which he explains and summarizes, noting that 65 nations submitted entries this year and that Iceland’s “Mamma Gogo” and Israel’s “The Human Resources Manager” will be the first to screen for voters, on October 18.
  • Hitfix: Drew McWeeny describes the action-comedy “Red” as “uneven” and “fairly familiar stuff,” but still calls it “one of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen this year” and highly recommends it. I’ll admit that it’s hard to argue with a cast that includes Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Mary-Louise Parker!
  • The Odds: Steve Pond notes that the aforementioned Morgan Freeman hasn’t given a performance that will make him a part of this year’s awards discussion, so “the American Film Institute has stepped in to pick up the slack” by announcing that they will be presenting the 73-year-old with their Lifetime Achievement Award at a dinner in June.
  • Speakeasy: Jen Yamato reports that “The American” star George Clooney and President Barack Obama met in the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Darfur, which the actor has studied and visited on numerous occasions. Clooney reportedly called on Obama to do everything in his power to prevent a north-south civil war in the aftermath of January’s vote on southern independence, noting, “We’re not policy makers, we’re just megaphones.”
  • Movie Line: Chris Rosen writes that last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring comedian Andy Samberg as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg found an unlikely fan in “Zuck” himself, who posted on his Facebook page, “I’m a big Andy Samberg fan so I thought this was funny.” Facebook staffers: permission to laugh!
  • Hollywood Elsewhere: Jeff Wells previews “Committed,” the latest film from the Oscar nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”), which focuses on the experiences of several directors at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival and will soon appear on the AMC television channel.
  • Cinematical: Alison Nastasi passes along “Hatchet 2” director Adam Green’s response to a blogger’s inquiry about what has become of his gruesome film in the aftermath of it being pulled from all AMC theaters last week.

Photo: President Obama and the young subjects of “Waiting for ‘Superman’” visit in the Oval Office yesterday. Credit: The White House.

Thursday July 22nd, 2010

WHEN BADASSES UNITE…

The upcoming release of Sylvester Stallone‘s “The Expendables” (8/13, Lionsgate) — which features a who’s who of action-movie stars from the past 30 years including Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Jason Statham, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin — got me thinking about other guy movies with big ensemble casts composed largely of badasses. The pick of the litter, in my view, are these…

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