TORONTO - Over the course of her four previous pictures, Nicole Holofcener has proven to be one of the most observant and insightful American filmmakers working today. Her latest endeavor, "Enough Said," would be noteworthy just based on the fact that its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, hasn't appeared in a live action movie since 1997's "Deconstructing Harry." Sadly, what has put the film on the radar of many moviegoers is the fact its features one of the last performances of the late, great James Gandolfini.
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VENICE - Bernardo Bertolucci proved one thing this evening: he still has the power to surprise us. Tonight's Venice Film Festival awards ceremony was the most surprise-laden (at this festival, or any other) in recent memory. In the press room, where I was watching it, the swiftly announced winners induced one gasp after another from the crowd -- along with a smattering of boos -- until the crowning stunner: the Golden Lion for "Sacro GRA," an Italian documentary about a famous Roman highway from Gianfranco Rosi that was surely one of the most little-seen films in Competition. (I missed it too, and will be catching up with it tonight.) Hot Best Actress favorite Judi Dench missed out, though her "Philomena" co-star Steve Coogan was rewarded for his screenplay. I'll have more analysis later; for now, the full list of winners is after the jump.
When I said in yesterday's predictions piece that "Philomena" was the most broadly well-liked film of the festival, I wasn't kidding. Stephen Frears' gentle dramedy, widely tipped to win Best Actress for Judi Dench at tonight's Competition awards ceremony, handily leads the way in the festival's vast array of preliminary awards from alternative juries. Its eight wins include Best Film from the festival's Youth Jury, an INTERFILM award for "promoting interreligious dialogue," even a Cinema for UNICEF mention. No one's singled it out yet for walking on water, but it's only a matter of time.
TORONTO - Joe Hill has got to be feeling good tonight.
Before the world premiere of Alexandre Aja's "Horns," adapted from Hill's second novel, several members of the cast joined the author onstage to introduce the movie. Seeing Hill, there's always that jolt at first where I'm struck my how much he looks like his father at that age. At this point, Stephen King is probably numb to the idea of movies based on his work. For Hill, though, this is brand-new territory, and based on how closely the film hews to his book, he must be pleased.
Unfortunately, screenwriter Keith Bunin's fidelity to the novel means that the book's problems are now the movie's problems, and while I liked much of "Horns," I do think it has a few major issues. If you didn't read the novel, the set-up is pretty simple. Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) and Merrin Williams (Juno Temple) have been in love since they were kids, which makes it all the more difficult to understand what happened when Merrin's dead body is discovered, her head bashed open. Immediately, Ig becomes the only suspect in the case, and he finds himself having to cope with his own crippling grief even as the media and the law fall on him like a ton of bricks.
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Airs:Mondays at 10 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "He's like Chuck, only without that pesky nerdiness. And likability."
Quick Response: Josh Holloway's character in "Intelligence" is like Chuck Bartowski except that his Intersect is more of an in-brain dial-up modem giving him access to all of the world's networked data, but when it comes to the physical side of things, he has an advanced military record already. That means that the character has no charming awkwardness, because he was already a cocky Alpha before he got his enhancements, leading to a guy who would be really unappealingly smug except that he's played by Holloway and may be unappealingly smug despite being played by Holloway. This could just be a personal preference thing. As a kid, I loved "Greatest American Hero" and was less interested in "Six Million Dollar Man" -- I like the humility of a person who gets improvements he may not necessarily be prepared to handle, as opposed to a efficient killing machine who just gets new powers. And those new powers are already well-established when the series begins. It's a mistake of point-of-entry perspective, since we don't get to see Holloway's character adapt and the only character coming into this high-tech world for the first time is Meghan Ory's secret service agent, who doesn't seem especially shocked by anything she's discovering. If nobody on-screen is impressed, it's harder for people in the audience to be impressed. [You'll recall that "S.H.I.E.L.D." has three point-of-entry characters, which I said was maybe too many, but at least the pilot doesn't lack for people being in awe.] But I guess this is the way CBS likes it. This is cold and impersonal stuff, paying lip-service to the idea of an ongoing mythology, but delivering a pilot that's mostly perfunctory exposition -- "We gave a human the kind of power that had previously only been found in a machine. We created a man who was the first of his kind, an advanced intelligence agent." -- and belabored procedure, which I think will play just fine for a CBS audience. I suspect that that's not the audience that reads my blog and that the audience that likes the kind of TV I like will wonder why, other than Holloway's gruff sarcasm, the pilot is so devoid of incredulity-defusing humor and why the chemistry-free chatter -- it's not even up to the level of "banter" -- between Holloway and Ory is expected to be enough to instigate the Will-They/Won't-They investment that the show needs to thrive (even if all suggestions are that it won't be an immediate thing). Nothing in the "Intelligence" pilot was straight-up bad, but the visualization of the main character's skill-set is lackluster, the action sequences are weakly choreographed and the long-term plot is tough to care about. So it comes down to: Do you like Holloway, Ory and Marg Helgenberger? Are you willing enough to watch a show with them to see if "Intelligence" ultimately has higher aspirations than what the pilot sets out? Shrug.
Desire To Watch Again: "Intelligence" comes across as a less-interesting version of "Person of Interest," which even in its dreadful pilot seemed to have bigger things on its mind. I stuck around with "Person of Interest" and there were five or six episodes last season in which I felt that patience was rewarded. I'll at least give "Intelligence" one or two more episodes. Honestly, I think I liked the pilot more before watching it a second time at Comic-Con. Lots of pilots -- including "S.H.I.E.L.D." -- really aren't designed for rewatching, they're clunky engines meant to blast you into regular viewing. This wasn't much of a blast.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show'
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
TORONTO - In hindsight, no one should be surprised that Jason Bateman turned out to be a very smart and talented movie director. The Hollywood veteran has had a lifelong lesson in what works and what doesn't whether it was on the set of TV's "Silver Spoons" when he was a teenager, amongst the creative ensemble of "Arrested Development" or any number of hit comedies he's starred in over the past five years such as "Identity Thief" or "Horrible Bosses." And did we mention he's been directing TV sitcoms since he was 20? With "Bad Words," which premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival Friday night, Bateman will make many wonder if some of his recent flicks might have actually been even better if he'd been behind the camera instead of just in front of it.
There will be a bunch of new faces on the Billboard 200 next week as up to five acts debut in the Top 10.
Pop singer Ariana Grande’s “Yours Truly” is in the lead for the top spot going into the weekend, but only by a slim margin over Tamar Braxton’s “Love and War.”
Hits Daily Double projects that “Truly” will sell up to 115,000 for No. 1, while “Love” will post numbers around 110,000, for No. 2, but it’s still too close to call.
Debuting at No. 3 will be Nine Inch Nail’s “Hesitation Marks” with sales of up to 95,000.
The other bows in the Top 10 are likely to be John Legend’s “Love In The Future” at No. 6 (55,000-60,000) and Jaheim’s “Appreciation Day” at No. 7 (45,000-50,000).
Filling in the rest of the top 10 will be Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” at No. 4 (70,000-75,000), Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” at No. 5 (65,000-70,000), this week’s No. 1 title, Avenged Sevenfold’s “Hail To The King” at No. 8 (40,000-45,000), Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” at No. 9 (35,000-40,000) and Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” at No. 10 (35,000-40,000).
"Michael J. Fox" gets parents: Candice Bergen and Charles Grodin
They've been tapped for a potentially recurring role on the NBC sitcom.
TORONTO - I think it's safe to say that "Prisoners" is the best police procedural since "Se7en," and it works as a grim, ugly companion piece to that film in the way it is meticulously plotted without ever truly telegraphing its intentions. The difference is that "Prisoners" also focuses on the way grief drives us mad in the long haul, and just how fragile parents are when it comes to the notion of anything happening to their children.
I've certainly seen a number of films that cover similar thematic ground to "Prisoners," but Aaron Guzikowski's script takes its time, laying out its various tricks and traps very carefully, so that when it decides to hurt you emotionally, it does so with maximum efficiency. The film begins with a Thanksgiving celebration shared by two families. Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and his wife Grace (Maria Bello) take their kids down the street to share the day with Franklin Birch (Terrence Howard) and his wife Nancy (Viola Davis). Ralph (Dylan Minnette) and Eliza (Zoe Borde) are the teenagers in the families, and they also both have little girls, Anna (Erin Gerasimovich) and Joy (Kyla Drew Simmons).
VENICE - We're almost at the finish line. 11 days have passed, 20 Competition films have been screened, and tomorrow evening we'll find out what this year's eclectic jury, led by Oscar-winning Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, believes is the best of them. And if it's harder than usual to call this year -- and it's usually pretty damn hard -- that's because the only point of consensus among those remaining on the Lido is that this year's Competition slate hasn't been one of the festival's finest.
I reviewed season 3 of "Luther" earlier in the week, and promised I'd put up a second post to allow for full discussion once the entire season had aired in America. Well, it's all done, so let the spoilers fly, ladies and gentlemen. How'd you feel about the portrayal of either of our two killers? Given the limited use of Ruth Wilson, did you feel this was the right limited use of her? Did you feel any sympathy for the internal affairs investigators, or were they clearly strawmen for Luther to knock down? Did you agree with me that the vigilante story was a missed opportunity to actually discuss Luther's ethics? Did you invest at all in the romance with Sienna Guillory's Mary, or did that just feel like an acknowledgment that Idris Elba's a sex symbol and should be used as such? And how did you feel about what happened to Justin?
Have at it. What did everybody else think?
Earlier in the week, Cinemax announced that they'd finally be airing the original British-only season of "Strike Back" under the title "Strike Back: Origins." Tonight's episode of the Winchester/Stapleton version of the show, meanwhile, was notable for a few reasons, and I have some quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I call you Braveheart...