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Posts Tagged ‘based on a magazine article’

Hustlers

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

HUSTLERS is a true crime movie with some grit and some emotion and some style. It stars Constance Wu (ALL THE CREATURES WERE STIRRING) and Jennifer Lopez (ANACONDA) as the center of a ring of dancers (they don’t call themselves strippers, according to the source material) who started hanging out with rich guys so they could drug them and run up their credit cards. Wu’s character Destiny tells the story from seven years later, when she seems to have settled down, and is cautiously, suspiciously answering questions for a magazine writer (Julie Stiles, SAVE THE LAST DANCE).

When Destiny starts working at Moves she’s green, rubbing up on guys all day and going home with less money than that’s worth. There’s a great introduction to the place where the camera follows her and the other new girls from the back, out onto the stage to be introduced and down a ramp onto the floor where some asshole gets her attention by calling her Lucy Liu. Reminded me of one of my favorite shots in CREED, when it follows him to the ring and makes you feel like you’re there in his entourage, practically giving you stage fright. This has a similar feeling. You feel like you’re her, as much as a movie can do something like that.

Then she sees Ramona Vega (Lopez) entering the room like a pharaoh, dropping every jaw in the room, leaving the stage looking like it snowed one dollar bills. The Michael Jordan of the pole. Later, Destiny takes a rooftop smoke break at the same time as Ramona, who’s up there laid out like she’s doing a calendar shoot, and introduces herself. Destiny is in lingerie and it’s cold, so Ramona has her come curl up inside her big fur coat. I felt this was maybe a love story, but if so it always stays at or below this level of unacknowledged sexual chemistry. So they might just be friends who cuddle. (read the rest of this shit…)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Monday, December 9th, 2019

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD has been promoted as a Fred Rogers biopic, and it it is true that Tom Hanks (THE LADYKILLERS) tackles the challenge of portraying the famously gentle Neighborhood of Make-Believe resident. But it’s not his life story, or even the smarter kind of biopic that focuses on one period as a microcosm of his life. Instead it makes him a supporting character in the story of a journalist coming to terms with his estranged father while working on a magazine profile of Rogers. I guess it’s kind of like SAVING MR. BANKS, where Hanks played Walt Disney as co-lead with a highly fictionalized P.L. Travers, but it’s probly more comparable to if MILES AHEAD was mostly about Ewan McGregor’s character dealing with family issues and Miles Davis occasionally gives him good advice that he rejects until the end of the movie.

So it doesn’t matter much that this is coming on the heels of a popular documentary (WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?) that it could never equal – it’s not the same thing at all. They do manage to work in a few re-enactments of famous moments (a couple seconds of his congressional testimony) and remixes of scenes from the documentary (a crowded cafe – and therefore the theater you’re sitting in – goes silent when he asks our protagonist to stop and think about “the people who loved you into being”). But if I remember right the documentary had a part where writer Tom Junod said that writing a profile on Rogers for Esquire changed his attitude toward life, and this is mostly extrapolated from that idea, with Rogers as guest star guru to writer Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys, TITUS). (read the rest of this shit…)

The Mule

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

Well, it’s a new year, and I’m keeping my tradition of kicking things off with a Clint Eastwood review. I think Warner Brothers may know about this practice, because they keep releasing his new movies at the end of December. (It’s not for Oscars – I heard they didn’t even screen this one for critics.)

Clint has been directing for almost 50 years. You don’t think of him as a guy who changes with the times, but he’s doing something to stay relevant at least some of the time. Here’s a guy from a couple eras ago still working while we have a cultural movement toward taking stock of our pop culture heroes, in some cases realizing that they were assholes the whole time, or worse. We find out about some horrible shit they’ve gotten away with or they say some shitty thing that makes us reconsider our respect for them.

This accountability is a good thing. Nobody should get away with abusing others just by being a movie star or rich or whatever. Personally I try not to have an itchy trigger finger on the “cancel” button though because I think there needs to be room for context and growth and making amends, if and when possible. But if you start to think some movie star has been a toxic force on the earth maybe it’s harder to enjoy watching them, say, appear in a weirdly titled Chinese propaganda movie starring Mike Tyson. I understand separating the art from the artist, but I can’t always do it. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Bling Ring (2013) vs. The Bling Ring (2011) (plus Spring Breakers)

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

tn_blingringIt’s a crazy story, and it really happened pretty much like this: a group of well-off high school kids in the Valley, obsessed with celebrities and their clothes, decided to start robbing them. Using Google to find their addresses, and TMZ and Twitter to find out when they were out of town to host a party or attend an awards show, they’d show up at their mansions, let themselves in, then have the run of the place like it was the mall in DAWN OF THE DEAD. They stole clothes, handbags, jewelry, cash and (they say) cocaine. They chose Paris Hilton as their first victim because they thought she was “dumb” and might leave a door unlocked – sure enough they say they found the key under the welcome mat. Others (Lindsay Lohan, Brian Austin Green, Orlando Bloom, some reality show people I never heard of) left doors or windows unlocked. These kids chose celebrities whose fashion they admired, and they happened to be people with so much shit that they didn’t even notice when it was gone. Not until more experienced criminals got involved and knew to take the most expensive jewelry. (read the rest of this shit…)

Argo

Monday, January 7th, 2013

tn_argoARGO is based on an amazing true story, recently declassified and told in this great Wired article. During the Iran hostage crisis, it turns out, the CIA managed to rescue a group of stranded American workers using an unusual cover story: they were part of a Canadian film crew scouting exotic locations for a STAR WARS inspired sci-fi fantasy epic. John Chambers, the genius makeup artist behind the PLANET OF APES series (and played by John Goodman here), had done “some contract work” for the CIA according to the article (let’s hope he gets a whole series of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE style thrillers) and helped to set up real Hollywood producers and offices for the fake movie. The now-worshipped-by-nerds comic book artist Jack Kirby (seen only in a cameo here, played by DEATH WISH V’s Michael Parks) provided the artwork that they used as pre-production set and costume designs.
(read the rest of this shit…)

American Gangster

Monday, February 18th, 2008

I haven’t been big on Ridley Scott post-ALIEN, but when I saw he was doing the real-life gangster epic starring Denzel Washington – the one I already wanted to see when it was Antoine Fuqua that was supposed to direct it – man, I was excited. And the trailer looked great. And then it came out and without exception everybody I knew who saw it said “yeah, it was… pretty good.” Suddenly there was less urgency to see it, and I watched other movies, wrote some stuff, maybe took some naps, ate some food, and then it was gone.

Well, maybe it was for the best. Now I watched it with lower expectations, in its 20-minutes-longer UNRATED EXTENDED CUT (4 minutes shy of 3 hours) and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I see your “yeah, it was… pretty good” and raise you a “it was… pretty fuckin good.” I am proud to review it alongside such other great American films as AMERICAN PIMP, AMERICAN PSYCHO and AMERICAN NINJA. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Fast and the Furious

Friday, June 22nd, 2001

There are many arbitrary ways to divide filmatists into two groups. Today I’m gonna separate out the ones who have an obvious vision/theme/style/obsession (good or bad) that can be seen throughout most of their works. For example you can look at your Alfred Hitchcock or your David Lynch or your Roger Vadim and you can usually tell who is responsible for this business. I mean even a Michael Bay or a Kevin Smithee, the lowest of the low, has a signature style. Or you can at least see what the dude was going for there.

Then in the other group we have the commercial or “hack” filmatist who goes from one project to the next just looking for something that might be successful, or that seems cinematic, or that might capture that fuckin zeitgeist thing the germans are always so interested in. Some of these guys might even be decent at the directation of films but they just don’t put that strong of a personal stamp on them. For example you got your John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Dracula [1979], Short Circuit, Point of No Return) or your Randal Kleiser (Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Grease, The Blue Lagoon, Big Top Pee-Wee, Honey I Blew Up the Kid). Occasionally they make a good picture like Saturday Night Fever but you still have no idea what these clowns are trying to do artistic-wise. They’re just doing a job, like plumbing or washing windows or passing out pizza coupons and gum samples on the street corner. They punch the clock and then they go home. (read the rest of this shit…)