The website for the Tribeca Film Festival has finally put up video from the Q&A session that followed its closing-night presentation of The King of Comedy, but, alas, it's just an excerpt. I was hoping that the discussion — which included the film's director Martin Scorsese and its stars, Robert De Niro, venerable comedian and filmmaker Jerry Lewis and (briefly, via pre-taped video) Sandra Bernhard — would run in its entirety, because, even after 30 years, the creative tensions that contributed to the film's greatness were still evident. more »
Let’s face it: The Big Wedding was more fun when it was fat and Greek — or loud and French, in the case of this adaptation of Gallic laffer Mon frere se marie. Writer-director Justin Zackham awkwardly blends feel-good pablum and raunchy sex jokes with the expected nuptial ingredients: something old (just look at that cast), something new (the groom is an adopted Colombian with three moms to manage), something borrowed (Nancy Meyers called, she wants her ideas back) and something blue (handjobs at the rehearsal dinner, etc.). It’s all catnip for the easily pleased, suggesting possible sleeper success amid louder early-summer studio fare.
Skewing older than other recent R-rated wedding comedies such as Bridesmaids and Bachelorette, The Big Wedding all but ignores the happy couple in favor of the “bigger” sixtysomething names in its starry ensemble: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Susan Sarandon. As in Jean-Stephane Bron’s 2007 original, the grownups’ childish antics threaten to upset the whole event.
Misleading title aside, young Missy and Alejandro’s union is a relatively small affair, held in the groom’s backyard and consisting of only about 100 guests. The vanilla bride (Amanda Seyfried, who’s been down this road before in Mamma Mia!) and her swarthy husband-to-be (British actor Ben Barnes, Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia series) have known each other since childhood. What makes their engagement interesting is the fact that Alejandro was born in Colombia and raised by an upscale Connecticut couple with two kids of their own.
Naturally, Alejandro wants his birth mother, Madonna (Patricia Rae), to attend, but he doesn’t have the nerve to tell the conservative Catholic woman that his adoptive parents, Don and Ellie Griffin (De Niro and Keaton, a million miles from The Godfather: Part II), have been divorced for the past decade. Instead, he begs Don to stash his new g.f., Bebe (Sarandon), and pretend that everything’s still rock-solid between him and Ellie — the sort of arrangement that must seem all too familiar to The Birdcage star Robin Williams (unusually restrained as the ceremony’s Irish priest).
Surely The Big Wedding’s paucity of genuinely inspired moments is due less to Williams’ involvement than its other officiant, Zackham, who has captured the bright, hyper-sunny look of Nora Ephron and David Frankel movies (simply by using d.p. Jonathan Brown) without grasping those helmers’ gift for comedy. The film isn’t so much funny as it is merely amusing — a laundry list of inappropriate and potentially embarrassing moments that strive mightily, but never quite manage to land the laugh.
The awkward situations begin with Ellie’s arrival at her former home. Letting herself in, she accidentally walks in on Don going down on Bebe (who was once Ellie’s best friend and, evidently, still manages to excite the man she stole 10 years earlier). After the three grownups agree to Alejandro’s charade, Ellie turns the tables, enjoying a 40-minute morning-sex session loud enough to convince not only Madonna but everyone else within a two-mile radius that she and Don are still compatible.
Meanwhile, the Griffins’ two biological children show up with plenty of their own issues. Lyla (a high-strung Katherine Heigl) has just broken up with her long-time b.f., has unexplained barfing spells and faints at the sight of a maternity ward. You don’t have to be an obstetrician to recognize the symptoms, though her slow-on-the-uptake brother Jared (Topher Grace) inexplicably diagnoses her as having a mild concussion. Unlike the rest of his hot-blooded family, Jared has sworn to wait for sex until marriage, but at 29, he’s having second thoughts — and the first available female to cross his path is sister-by-adoption Nuria (Ana Ayora), who stayed behind in Colombia when Alejandro moved to the States.
In the French version of such a scenario, one wouldn’t be surprised by the ensuing sexual antics, but all that rumpy-pumpy seems rather inappropriate in the remake’s upper-crust East Coast milieu. Presenting De Niro’s character as a recovering-alcoholic sculptor only goes so far to explain his licentious nature: He turns up drunk in one scene, reveals all the family secrets, and then sobers up immediately. Otherwise, he’s the pic’s go-to guy for delivering too-eloquent speeches, which occur with regularity whenever the script requires a heart-tugging moment. Such emotional ploys come more naturally to Zackham (who hit it big with The Bucket List script) than comedy does, offering a much-needed dose of charm to the otherwise formulaic festivities.
An eight-minute alternate ending to David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook has landed on the Internets, and though it wraps up things a little too neatly (with virtually all of the main characters), it's fun to watch. It also yields a quick-and-dirty recipe for braciole, those seasoned skirt-steak roll-ups that Jacki Weaver always seems to be making in the movie. more »
This Wednesday kicks off the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, and I got the chance to sit down with festival co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal to talk shop. Now while all film festivals have plenty of business going on behind the scenes, Tribeca puts it front and center with events like its Future of Film LIVE talks which focus on film distribution. According to Rosenthal, the festival is geared to reflect the hot topics of conversation in the film industry today: "We have to look at how the business is changing and how you create is different because of technology...so it's that merging together of that dialogue."
The mailing of the final Oscar ballots this week signals the final stage of what has been the most volatile and tumultuous Oscar race in years. Between the snubs and the snark (that Anne Hathaway spoof has topped 500,000 hits), this year’s races rival for drama Frank Fane’s ruthless pursuit of Best Actor in The Oscar. At this late date, several races are still very much up for grabs. Let’s go to the Gold Linings Playbook to see how the major Oscar categories are shaping up this week. more »
Early Thursday morning, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced its Golden Globe nominees, and, as you might expect, there were some surprises. Thanks to the Academy's decision to unveil its Oscar nominations on Jan. 10, three days before Globe winners are revealed on Jan. 13, today's nominations will have less bearing than usual on Oscar jockeying. But don't let anyone kid you. Academy voters may have nothing in common with HFPA members, but they aren't impervious to the media's perception of who's hot, cold or no longer in the running. more »
Martin Scorsese turned 70 on Nov. 17, which makes it an ideal time to look at some of the best cinematic gifts he's given to the world. This list could go on well past the eight clips I've chosen. For instance, Joe Pesci's chilling "Do I amuse you in some way?" scene in GoodFellas could easily be included, but I wanted to feature one clip for each of Scorsese's seven decades (and, in birthday tradition, one to grow on) without repeating any films.
It speaks to just how good David O. Russell is at portraying raw, high-strung sincerity that Silver Linings Playbook is able to walk a line between likable and tolerable despite a premise the reeks of quirky bullshit. In addition to its frequently cutesy treatment of mental illness, the movie features a love interest who instantly latches onto and pursues the film's mess of a hero like she read the script in advance and was assured things will eventually work out. more »
Bradley Cooper says it wasn't a stretch to call Robert De Niro "Dad" in Silver Linings Playbook. The Hangover actor plays Pat Solitano, the bipolar son of De Niro's extremely OCD Pat Solitano, Sr. in the film; and at the New York premiere party, Cooper told us that his prior working-relationship with De Niro on Limitless blossomed into a friendship, making it easy to channel that familial bond with the Taxi Driver actor. more »
D'you mind if he puts his Adamantium claws around you? Twentieth Century-Fox has released the first official photo of an extremely lean and ripped Hugh Jackman in James Mangold's film adaption of Frank Miller and Chris Claremont's 1982 limited comic series classic, The Wolverine. more »
In her new memoir My Mother Was Nuts, actress-comedienne-filmmaker Penny Marshall writes of her remarkable life: Growing up the youngest of three in The Bronx, she had a daughter followed brother Garry into showbiz, got famous as one-half of Laverne & Shirley, got married twice, got divorced twice, opened her home to friends like John Belushi, Carrie Fisher, Steven Spielberg, and Robert De Niro, and became the first female director to break the $100 million mark with 1988's Big, also notching films like Awakenings, A League Of Their Own, Renaissance Man, and The Preacher's Wife along the way.
Ringing Movieline to discuss her baldly honest, often hilarious memoir — which also reveals darker times, recreational drug use, an abortion, an on-set miscarriage — Marshall explained why she set out to write her life story to begin with: "You want to set the record straight on certain things, because there are so many rumors."
My Mother Was Nuts Book Excerpt: How Robert De Niro, Not Tom Hanks, Almost Starred In Penny Marshall's Big
Actress and funny lady Penny Marshall made her name in television (Laverne & Shirley) before making an unexpected leap into directing with 1986's Jumpin' Jack Flash. But it was her sophomore feature, a fantasy about a boy transformed into a 30-year-old by a wish, that launched a career behind the camera — and made her the first woman director to gross $100 million. But as Marshall tells it in her wry, vivid memoir My Mother Was Nuts, everyone in Hollywood had passed on Big, Tom Hanks included — until, that is, an unlikely actor threw his hat into the ring: Robert De Niro.
Orwa Nyrabia is free. The Syrian filmmaker, whose Aug. 23 abduction by military security there prompted a long list of filmmakers to call for his release, was freed on Wednesday in "strong and good spirits," according to his family.
Red Lights, the new film from Buried director Rodrigo Cortés, weds an earnest, simplified exploration of the nature of faith with a goofy, gussied-up B-movie plot about a pair of academics who travel around debunking extrasensory phenomenon. As marriages go, it's a troubled one, but it certainly makes for some interesting fights across the dinner table.
Also in this morning's news briefs: Disney picks an unknown prince for Maleficent, another summer indie hits a specialty box-office milestone, and more...