It’s a weird thing to openly root for a movie that you find yourself not enjoying. This is how I felt while watching Bill Murray in ‘St. Vincent’ on the second day of the Toronto International Film Festival. I can’t be the only one who does this, right? It’s a situation in which you deeply admire the actors in a movie – in this case, Murray and Melissa McCarthy – and for the first, say, 45 minutes, you’re trying to convince yourself what you’re watching is “good.”
A few weeks ago, I was in a local drug store by my apartment in New York City. Near the back of the store, there’s a discount rack where everything is 25 percent off its the original price. Mixed in with overstocked seasonal items was a LEGO set for the 2010 movie ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.’ Included in the set was a mini LEGO figure of Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s riding an ostrich. As I stared in disbelief at LEGO Jake Gyllenhaal riding an ostrich, it was like staring into an alternate future where these were the kind of movies that Gyllenhaal was still making … instead of a glorious movie like ‘Nightcrawler.’
There’s a scene in ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ where Val (Kristen Stewart) is trying to vouch for the popularity of a troubled, hellion of a starlet named Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Moretz). Maria (Juliette Binoche), a veteran and acclaimed actor who may star alongside Ellis, is the person who needs convincing. In Ellis’ defense, Val, Maria’s assistant, mentions that Ellis is very popular among pre-teens. Maria laughs at this statement before Val cuts her off and says, “Watch out, there are a shit-ton of them.”
‘Maps to the Stars’ is not a very good movie – but there’s a difference between a bad movie and an interesting bad movie. ‘Maps to the Stars’ is the latter. It is certainly interesting. And it’s apparent that Toronto’s favorite son, Cronenberg, does not care too much for Hollywood -- but that’s such a tired sentiment, and beating it over our heads that everyone is terrible doesn’t really bring anything new to anything. ‘Maps to the Stars’ portrays itself as edgy and weird, but it just all feels so obvious.
This was my second time watching with ‘Whiplash,’ Damien Chazelle’s film about basically two sociopaths and their terrible relationship. One of these sociopaths (I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much) is played by Miles Teller as an up-and-coming jazz drummer trying to make it at the best school in the country. The other is played by J.K. Simmons, his jazz instructor. Both of these people are assholes. Both of these people hate each other. Both of these people kind of need each other, but in the process, both do awful, awful things to each other. There’s no real reconciliation for these two. ‘Whiplash’ will never have these two characters put apart their differences and form a friendship. The dynamic between these two assholes is just what makes ‘Whiplash’ so incredible to watch.
On Thursday, the Toronto International Film Festival kicks off and this marks (along with Venice Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival) that, yes, Oscar season just fired its starting gun. I will be headed to Toronto to cover the festival for ScreenCrush and, well, it's a little overwhelming. There are a lot of good movies! There's Benedict Cumberbatch playing WWII code breaker Alan Turing in 'The Imitation Game'; and Jake Gyllenhaal as a sleazy freelance photographer in 'Nightcrawler,' and Jon Stweart's directorial debut, 'Rosewater'; and the Cannes darling, 'Foxcatcher,' starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. And two -- count 'em -- TWO Adam Sandler movies that just might signal his long-awaited return to, let's say, well reviewed films with 'The Cobbler' and Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children.'
Anyway, I can't decide on my own, so we enlisted the help of a slew of respected film journalists who are also headed to TIFF and asked them what it is they are all looking forward to seeing.
It’s Labor Day weekend. The good news: You most likely have a three-day weekend ahead of you. The bad news: Movies are terrible. Anyway, there a new movie called ‘As Above/ So Below’ that comes out this weekend. You might be tempted to see it because it’s new. New isn’t always better. Sometimes it is! But not this time. As a service to no one, really, because you are already enjoying your long weekend, we answer every question that you could possibly have about ‘As Above/ So Below.’
Yes, I did have a morbid curiosity in regards to ‘Jersey Shore Massacre,’ a new movie produced by Jennifer “JWoww” Farley who is best known for her participation in the MTV reality television series, ‘Jersey Shore.’ She is not best known for producing movies. When ‘Jersey Shore Massacre’ was released into theaters last week, it wasn’t playing anywhere near where I live – but, now, it’s available for all on VOD. So, on Thursday morning, I purchased 'Jersey Shore Massacre' and watched it in the comfort of my own home. While watching, I kept a running diary. Here’s how that all went:
August. It’s the worst, right? It’s hot. Also, the movies are historically not great. The last few weeks, multiplexes have been filled with movies with titles like ‘Let’s Be Cops,’ ‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’ and ‘The Expendables 3.’ This weekend brings us ‘The November Man’ and ‘As Above, So Below.’ It’s not pretty.
Back in April, David Letterman announced that he was retiring as host of ‘The Late Show.’ Almost immediately, the Internet flooded with speculative lists on Letterman’s possible replacement -- which eventually turned out to be Stephen Colbert – and retrospectives on Letterman’s career, with almost all of them focusing