By Karl J. Paloucek What makes a great action film? A lot more than just a bunch of costly, effects-laden sequences. The best pull together great characters and a compelling plot into which the expected explosive scenes fit seamlessly. In 2008, Robert Downey Jr.’s career got an incredible jolt with Iron Man, as the long-troubled actor met the perfectly fitted part of eccentric inventor and weapons contractor Tony Stark. The film blended wit, glamour, spectacle and a lot of really cool gadgetry into one of the best superhero action films in a decade that’s been full of them.
“There’s a certain kind of movie that has no other reason to exist other than it’s funny,” says MacGruber producer Lorne Michaels. “I’ve never been bashful about how much I like that kind of movie. It’s like a confection. When you want it, you want it.” Michaels is also the legendary creator of Saturday Night Live, which was the springboard for the character of MacGruber (Will Forte) several years ago. The mullet-sporting, gadget-savvy action hero became a fan favorite and seemed destined to become a film character too after a successful appearance in a Super Bowl commercial in 2009. “The […]
By Elaine Bergstrom Russell Brand’s portrayal of rock god Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall made such a strong impression on the film’s director, Nicholas Stoller, that he brought Brand back for an encore performance in Get Him to the Greek. Here Brand experienced life as an out-of-control star. “I’ve been plunged into water for seven hours. I’ve had to hang off a building on a wire, had to mimic having broken bones and been covered in vomit. I’ve been in sexually compromising positions, and I’ve had to take all manner of ‘narcotics.’ I’ve performed live rock ’n’ roll. I’ve […]
By Elaine Bergstrom The first stories of Robin Hood date to the ninth century. The tales became ballads in the 15th and 16th centuries, and a children’s novel some 400 years later. With the advent of movies and television, the action, romance and nobility of Robin Hood resulted in dozens of films and series. And while another telling of the popular story would certainly attract viewers, Ridley Scott, director of the most recent film adaptation of Robin Hood, chose to look at how the legend may have begun.
In October 1955, poet Allen Ginsberg intoned his poem Howl at a gathering at Six Gallery in San Francisco. He seemed, some listeners reported, rather drunk, but his reading mesmerized his audience. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti was in the audience, and later published the poem as part of his Pocket Poets series, which brought out first editions of serious literature and sold them at the City Lights bookstore. In 1957, undercover police purchased the copy of the hallucinatory ode to the beat generation, and promptly arrested Ferlinghetti and the bookstore manager on the grounds of obscenity. The store manager’s charges were […]
Zoe Saldana has had a marvelous recent career — first playing the young Uhura in the 2009 Star Trek and soon after as Avatar’s beautiful Na’vi, Neytiri. In The Losers, she plays Aisha, a mysterious woman who helps a commando group track down an enemy affiliated with the CIA who double-crossed them and left them for dead. As in Avatar, the role was physically demanding. But Saldana, who has a background in dance and had trained in martial arts for her role as Neytiri, was a natural choice to play Aisha. “When we started discussing the role of Aisha, I […]
By Elaine Bergstrom The film Me and Orson Welles, as well as the book on which it is based, looks at the controversial 1937 production of Julius Caesar at the famed Mercury Theatre in New York City. Caesar was the first stage play at the Mercury and secured Orson Welles’ reputation as a director. It also took place less than three months after the dilapidated theater was purchased. As a result, along with rehearsals, the company had to work on restoring the theater.
By Karl J. Paloucek Movie remakes can be a crapshoot. Not all are Psycho-clone disasters, but just announcing the do-over of a popular film can abrade the nerves of the original’s fans and set a wave of sentiment against the new project from the start. In such circumstances, the best thing a filmmaker can do is to make it his or her own and pursue the vision in a totally new way. That’s the good news about director Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans — though telling essentially the same story, it bears little resemblance in tone, pace or color […]
By Elaine Bergstrom Cop Out is the story of two partners in the New York Police Department on the trail of a rare mint-condition baseball card stolen from one of them, just before he plans to sell it to pay for his daughter’s upcoming wedding. It’s the sort of buddy story that Bruce Willis, who plays Jimmy Moore, the card’s rightful owner, is perfectly at home with. His partner, Paul Hodges, is played by Tracy Morgan, whose comedic flair is perfect for a film blending comedy and action. The story takes place in Queens and Brooklyn, where the police are […]
By Elaine Bergstrom Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning have been spending a lot of time together in the last few years, appearing together in two Twilight Saga films, and they are scheduled to appear in a third. The two also play punk rock stars Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, of the ’70s all-girl band The Runaways, in the film of the same name. Stewart cut off her long hair and dyed it black for the role, which necessitated wearing a wig for some of her scenes as Bella in Eclipse. She also spent time on the set with Jett, who […]