Latest Blog Posts
The end is nearing for "Private Practice," (Tues. at 10:00 p.m.) which will be heading off into the TV sunset after six seasons on Jan. 22. I'll admit I'm sad to see the show, a frequently sudsy medical procedural with unexpected emotional kick, go. Even though I came to the party far too late, having gotten hooked on the show during a trip to Brazil (the show was subtitled instead of dubbed into Portuguese, so how could I resist?), it only took a few episodes for me to get so hooked on the travails of Oceanside Wellness Center's beleaguered staff I added it to my to-do list the minute I got home.
So, I was excited to get a chance to talk to star Amy Brenneman (Dr. Violet Turner) about what's on the way. The actress, unlike her grieving character, seemed upbeat and happy to talk about what's next for her (which, so far, isn't TV) and was excited about how Violet's character arc concludes -- hinting that women who might see themselves in Violet should be as well. We discussed whether or not it's possible for the recently widowed Violet to have a happy ending, why she isn't eager to be an "actor for hire" again, and why she found the mixed-up styles of the final season to be "fun, not a challenge."
PARK CITY - Sometimes a title change -- even one necessitated by external forces -- can reveal more about a film's uncertainties than anyone involved could possibly realize. Michael Winterbottom's jazzy but scattershot biopic of London nightlife kingpin Paul Raymond, at one point declared Britain's richest man, is one such example.
Originally dubbed "The KIng of Soho," the film was made to change this straightforward title following the threat of legal action from a rival Raymond project. That's neither here nor there, but as a replacement appellation, "The Look of Love" seems so irrelevant to the subject at hand -- bar the recurring presence of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David chestnut on the soundtrack -- that one wonders whether those who chose it had any idea what the film was about.
PARK CITY - Last year, the anthology horror film "V/H/S" made its premiere as part of the midnight selections, and I was there for the first screening. I really liked "V/H/S," and I think the format for the film is the greatest part of it. It is an invitation to filmmakers, basically. A "What If?" game that any horror artist would be happy to play. I said in my review of the first film that the last segment was the one that impressed me most. "The final segment by Radio Silence feels like the brakes are off and you're flying off the mountain into the void." Well, this entire film feels like it starts at that place and then raises the stakes. The first film told the story of some rotten deaths of some people in the wrong place at the wrong time. The second film feels more like a document proving that the end of the world is underway.
Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard have spent the last few years carving a space out for themselves to play, and their fingerprints are all over this second film. The wrap-around segment is written and directed by Simon, and there is a segment written by him and directed by Adam who also stars in in. Simon appears onscreen in his own wrap-around segment. Naked. So you have that to look forward to, America. Wingard's story mines a potent notion about our increasing relationship to technology. I have joked that my kids are both cyborgs, but I'm not really kidding. They think of technology less as individual objects and more as the way the world works. Wingard is given an experimental replacement eye that also holds a recording device, and in accepting his new extension, he also has to accept access to a whole new visual realm. Wingard's house becomes a trap, and the rhythm of the piece is aggressive, new scares piled one after another.
PARK CITY - When I saw "Humpday" at Sundance, I thought it was a smart and funny little movie, and I ended up reviewing it when the film finally opened in limited release. "Your Sister's Sister" was here last year, and I was really smitten with that one. It felt like there was an exponential jump from film to film by Lynn Shelton as a storyteller, and I wasn't surprised to hear that she had a new film here this year. Sundance obviously likes her work, and why not? When her films are at their best, they represent the exact sort of adult emotional honesty that I find most appealing in a modern filmmaker.
When Judd Apatow talks about letting his cast improvise, people immediately imagine comic actors lobbing one-liners at each other in an effort to steal each scene. In Shelton's films, the improvisation is more about grounding the needs of the story in language that is natural and unforced. Shelton's work is often funny, and I think she falls in love with her characters and loves to indulge them in the choices she makes about which take to use of certain scenes. But she is also capable of crafting an emotional moment that carries a startling amount of heft, and "Touchy Feely" seems more concerned with exploring characters than generating laughs. That's a good thing and there are plenty of moments in "Touchy Feely" that are simply character observation. There is certainly a plot in the film, but it's delivered in a way that never feels mechanical. Things unfold on their own schedule, and when the film finally reaches a sort of crescendo, it isn't something you see coming.
PARK CITY - Since premiering on Friday evening, steamy romantic melodrama "Two Mothers" has been one of the most talked-about titles of this year's Sundance Film Festival -- even if it doesn't have all the critics on its side. At the screening, audience reactions ranged from stunned gasps to nervous laughter at the film's highly unorthodox relationship study.
Set in idyllic coastal Australia, the film stars Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as two lifelong best friends who, as they approach middle age, both find themselves sexually entangled with younger men. Well, that's burying the lede a little: the man in each case is the other woman's teenage son.
PARK CITY - In Jeff Nichols' "Mud," Matthew McConaughey tackles a truly charismatic spirit. A man of virtues, many of them at odds with themselves, the eponymous misfit is running from a dark, complex past and toward a brighter, idealized future in the film. He is a cauldron of opportunity for any actor, and McConaughey says that was very much what endeared him to Nichols' script in the first place.
In fact, Nichols had begun the project years ago in film school and had the actor in mind since day one. McConaughey smiles with pearly whites when asked about that fact. "I remember having a moment of going, 'Oh, I've been doing this acting thing for a while,'" the actor says, "'long enough where someone could have me in mind for an original script and write something. I like that.' And it was a side of me that I haven't ever really played. The guy's an adolescent. It's the dreamer side. I think we've all got it in us."
After over a month off, “Saturday Night Live” is back with recent Golden Globes winner Jennifer Lawrence as 2013’s first host. That month hopefully recharged the batteries of all involved in this show. In greater likelihood, it gave the writers the opportunity to craft the longest version of “The Californians” in history. Along for the ride tonight is musical act The Lumineers, whose song “Ho Hey” I heard no less than five times in my car today. It’s possible that I’ve been incepted by the neo-folk pop music scene, is all I’m saying.
PARK CITY - The past few years have seen a number of films focus on the writers of the Beat Generation and iconic writers such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Keroac. This year's entry to the growing genre is John Krokidas' "Kill Your Darlings" which debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Friday afternoon and opens the door to a historical incident which had remain mostly unchronicled for almost 60 years.
Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt's limp sex comedy 'Don Jon's Addiction' plays like 'Shame' on Jersey Shore
PARK CITY - Around halfway through "Don Jon's Addiction," a mildly amusing and more-than-mildly smarmy directorial debut from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, protagonist Jon (Gordon-Levitt himself) takes his newly acquired girlfriend Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) out to the movies. The film is her choice: a fictitious but unmistakably insipid-looking romantic comedy titled "Special Someone," starring Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum. (Well, their faces, if not their names.) As the movie-within-a-movie ends with the couple driving into the sunset, wedding veil flapping in the breeze, Jon rolls his eyes while Barbara coos with pleasure. Walking out of the cinema, she dimly wonders aloud why real life can't replicate this marshmallow fantasy.