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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elizabeth Banks Has A Night Of Bad Decisions In The Red Band Trailer For 'WALK OF SHAME'

Oh come on, you mean to tell me you've never tiptoed out of your one-night stand's apartment in the middle of the night wearing a spandex minidress, got your car towed and been mistaken for a hooker? Then you haven't lived.

Just kidding (kinda). As you will see from the red band trailer (below) for WALK OF SHAME, Elizabeth Banks experiences one helluva evening in the new comedy heading to theaters and VOD on May 2nd. The actress stars as an ambitious reporter who may be on the brink of landing a coveted new position (if she can only make it home first). More in the synopsis:

The outrageous comedy WALK OF SHAME stars Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden of Anchorman 2) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money - and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career.

From Lakeshore Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, WALK OF SHAME also stars Gillian Jacobs (Community), Sarah Wright Olsen, Kevin Nealon, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, and Willie Garson (White Collar). Written and directed by Steven Brill, the movie is produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, and Sidney Kimmel. The executive producers are Eric Reid, Ted Gidlow, Jim Tauber, Bruce Toll, Matt Berenson, and Peter Schlessel.

After watching the trailer, I take "outrageous" as code for "ridiculous," but I am a big Elizabeth Banks fan, so I am interested to watch it for her. Also, it's kinda funny that James Marsden has built an entire career out of playing the bad good guy (the guy you want to hate but he keeps winning you over). I should warn you note, however, that Steven Brill's track record is not so great (this is the man who brought us Movie 43 and Without a Paddle), so...yeah.

Watch the new red band trailer:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trailer Watch: Oscar Winner Jessica Wu Explores The Issue Of Population Growth Across The World In Her New Doc, 'MISCONCEPTION'

I am just hearing about Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Jessica Wu's (Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien) new film MISCONCEPTION, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20th, and I wanted to share it with you because I love her directorial work on Parenthood (she's directed three episodes of the series).

I actually didn't realize she was an Academy Award winner until I did some research on her after noticing her name in a few articles I've read spotlighting Asian-American filmmakers. She's been in the industry since 1993 and is mostly known for her TV work for series including Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and The West Wing. Having caught the attention of Hollywood bigwigs, Wu is following up her success with a new doc that explores the issue of population growth in and outside of the U.S. More on the film in the synopsis below:

For almost 50 years, the world's population has grown at an alarming rate, raising fears about strains on the Earth's resources. But how true are these claims? Taking cues from statistics guru Hans Rosling, Misconception offers a provocative glimpse at how the world—and women in particular— are tackling a subject at once personal and global. Following three individuals, director Jessica Yu focuses on the human implications of this highly charged political issue, inspiring a fresh look at the consequences of population growth.
What I loved about the trailer, which you can find below, is that it tackles the idea of population moderation from the varied point of views of a 29-year-old man in China looking for a wife amid a dwindling female population, an African journalist who works with abandoned children, and a Canadian pro-life activist--all of whom likely have very unique perspectives on the issue.

Narrated by actress Kyra Sedgwick, MISCONCEPTION will be shown in a number of screenings at Tribeca this month. Check their website for exact listings.

Watch the new trailer:

John Turturro Looks For Love In All The Wrong Places In The Unremarkable Indie Drama, 'FADING GIGOLO'

John Turturro is one of those actors that, despite delivering wonderful performances in critically-acclaimed movies (Quiz Show, Do the Right Thing, The Big Lebowski), has yet to earn a role that catapults him from awesome supporting star to leading man (a category of which only a few selected thespians--like George Clooney--have been able to boast).

So in that respect it's great that Turturro has challenged himself by directing his own projects (like 2005's Romance and Cigarettes), some in which he's the star. Having acted in nearly 100 movies, he's clearly acquired a coveted rolodex that allows him to enlist in such talent as Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet for his films. Which brings us to FADING GIGOLO, his fifth and latest directorial effort that reunites him with Woody Allen, who directed him in Hannah and Her Sisters. Turturro plays Fioravante, a Brooklyn florist who finds himself as a male prostitute after his friend Murray (Allen) proposes an offer to him that he can't refuse--pimping out his self-assessed wilted sexual charm to available and willing women, coincidentally in order for him to experience love again. A not-so-unfamiliar concept that at its best reveals the film to be a romantic comedy, FADING GIGOLO's meandering plotline is what ultimately does it in.

For what it's worth, the beginning of the film is genuinely engaging. It's when we learn about this unusual proposition posed by Murray in a rambling discourse (made more entertaining by Allen's natural onscreen quirkiness). Fioravante is tranquilly clipping flowers at the shop, when Murray shows up with his unconventional idea that will not only get Fioravante back into the dating game (albeit in not the most orthodox way), but will also make them both some money (Murray has figured that he would take a cut of Fioravante's earnings--40, maybe 50 percent). Fioravante is hesitant at first, even revealing to Murray that he doesn't consider himself to be a good looking man, certainly not a woman magnet. Murray convinces him that this is nonsense and not every woman is after the same type. This propels interesting yet brief commentary about romance after a certain age and the subjectivity of sexuality. Seeing as though Turturro himself is a 57-year-old man, I was hoping that the movie would go deeper in this direction of a mature romance.

But it doesn't. The film's rather basic progression floats along without exploring some of its more important themes: aging, dating in the millenial age and even inter-religious relationships. I have a feeling if Fioravante was a woman, this would have gone in an entirely different direction. Unfortunately, inter-religious romance is something that is approached in a comedic way after a recently widowed Jewish woman (Vanessa Paradis) named Avigal enters Fioravante's life once he's accepted his new position as a middle-aged hustler. The two are unexpectedly drawn to each other, despite their arrangement--compelled by their respective loneliness. But they must contend with a similarly devout--yet silly--neighborhood watchman (Liev Schreiber), who may or may not be in love with Avigal, and a collective of men who wag their fingers at the relationship between Fioravante (who doesn't claim a religion) and Avigal. Meanwhile, Murray is being chased down by a separate but related set of officers who are convinced--with reason--that he is involved in the unlawful hookup of Fioravante and Avigal. (I have trouble believing this is something that is indicative of the culture, and Turturro creates a rather clumsy depiction of it).

FADING GIGOLO is a ridiculous little romp that while it flirts with the idea of an "average-looking" prostitute who's also a gentleman, it neatly bypasses a few interesting plotlines along the way. For instance, Sharon Stone's portrayal of a bitter wife could have been more intriguing had Turturro delved into her character a bit more. Dr. Parker (Stone) is relegated to a marginal role as a frisky wife who falls in lust with Fioravante, while she subconsciously analyzes him. Sofía Vergara's oversexed Selima is not written any better; she is merely Dr. Parker's sexy associate who's focused on a ménage à trois. They're clearly fluff. It would have been more interesting had the film presented the idea of an "average," middle-aged man searching for love in the oversexed and disconnected age of millenial dating. Or even the challenge of a heterosexual man like Fioravante choosing not to date under the judgmental microscope of society. 

As it is, FADING GIGOLO bounces from scene to another without connecting with the audience. Even Murray's flighty interaction with his African-American romantic companion, Cee Cee (Jade Dixon) seem hurried and glossed over, as well as the awkward racial commentary that emerges as a result. Are we to assume that the takeaway is that none of these characters can have much of a connection with their significant others in the unreliable and dizzying nature of New York City? We don't really get to know any of these characters long enough to come flatly to that conclusion. Plus, the film's more delicate (and best) moments between Fioravante and Avigal, seem to paint a different picture. While FADING GIGOLO has potential, the delivery makes it a wholly frustrating watch.

Rating: D+

FADING GIGOLO is in select theaters Friday. Watch the trailer:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Trailer For David Fincher's 'GONE GIRL' Is Effectively Haunting

OMG I HAVE TO WAIT ALL THE WAY UNTIL OCTOBER 3RD TO SEE GONE GIRL!?!! Okay, I had to get that out because when I realized it was only April and we are months away from watching one of my most anticipated films of the year, I cried a little inside. But for now, the good folks at 20th Century Fox have broken me off a little piece of the film in the below minute and a half teaser clip that is enough to placate me for a while. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was more than a little concerned with some of the casting in the film (namely Rosamund Pike and Tyler Perry as the snaky criminal attorney), but the effectively ambiguous new teaser trailer has eased some of my worries. Director David Fincher seems to have recreated the eeriness captured in author Gillian Flynn's unsuspecting suburban mystery. From Affleck's perfectly forced half smile down to the ever-so-sweet tune of "She" by the Psychedelic Furs (a cover of singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour’s 1974 song of the same name), you instantly get a sense of romance mixed with dark fear. The only thing I am worried about at this point is Flynn's mention that she changed the ending of the story from the book (which I loved) for the film. All I can say is, in David Fincher and Gillian Flynn I must trust.

Here's the full synopsis of the film:

GONE GIRL – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

In looking over the press release I've received, I had no idea that Reese Witherspoon co-produced the film, which is a great look for her. Hopefully she'll continue to back more interesting projects and take on edgier roles. Now that I think about it, she actually could have also been a good fit for the role of Amy, but I digress. 

Watch the trailer:

GONE GIRL is in theaters October 3rd. 

"This Is Part Of Our Cultural Heritage And No One Knows About It:" Watch The New Featurette for 'BELLE'

We've talked about BELLE, next month's 18th century epic set in England and starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (TV's Undercovers, Jupiter Ascending) a few times on Cinema in Noir, and you may remember I wasn't so excited to see yet another period film dealing with racial strife. But after watching this new featurette (shown below), I have to say I am now eating my words because it looks like the film, inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, will highlight a story that we rarely see in film. Rather than broadly show the institution of racism as many other films have before, it will focus on a personal and sociological struggle told from a woman's perspective outside of the U.S.

The stunning ensemble cast is led by Mbatha-Raw, who is joined by Matthew Goode (who plays her father), Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, and Emily Watson among others. Read more on the film in its synopsis below:

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

It will be interesting to see if some of the same societal and racial complexities we encounter in the U.S. is reflected in Dido's story, and the unique issues she faced in England (and how much, if anything, has changed today). 

Mbatha-Raw and some of the rest of the cast (including Watson and Wilkinson) highlight the importance of the story in this new featurette:

Directed by U.K. filmmaker Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay (best known for the 2005 TV film, Their Eyes Were Watching God), BELLE is slated to hit theaters May 2nd. 

Check out a few images from the film:

I'm psyched. Anyone else?

Monday, April 14, 2014

"I Hate That You Learned English From Pornography:" Why VEEP's Sue Wilson Throws The Best Shade

You know a character is great if you are still laughing at something they said on an episode you watched a week ago. That's how it is for me with Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw) on VEEP (one of the best shows on TV that you are probably not even watching). While the HBO comedy (now in its third season) is an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent and classic one-liners led by the always hilarious Julia-Louis Dreyfus, there is something particularly refreshing about Sue's character. As secretary to the Vice President (Dreyfus) and only African-American on her staff, she has managed to quietly but assuredly become the curt voice of reason in an office where the incompetence is staggering. Without losing an ounce of her comedic flair.

Keenly avoiding the "angry black woman" trope so prevalent in pop culture, Bradshaw's Sue has mastered the art of looking at her office cohorts and through them at the same time as a way of reminding them of their unimportance. As capable as they sometimes are, Amy (Anna Chlumsky), Gary (Tony Hale), Dan (Reid Scott) and Mike (Matt Walsh) rarely have their sh*t together. Which provides the basis of the comedy that pokes as much fun at the world of high-stakes politics as it does office politics. Instead of assimilating into the loopy nature of her fellow office workers, Sue instead found a way to make fun of them without even noticing that she is.

Whether it's because they're too preoccupied with the mild but toxic fires they have to put out on a daily basis or their own personal trivialities, these cutthroat yet lovable characters have overlooked the fact that not only is Sue always five steps ahead of them, but even when she does create a small mess of her own it's extinguished before anyone can even get on her about it. She may not have the time to coddle pesky reporters, engage in mindless small talk or euphemisms, but she is always available for a quick eye roll, ego-diminishing retort and reality check. All with a cool temper, of course, because Sue is nothing if she isn't extremely professional (but in an office environment so entrenched in shade being thrown this way and that by everyone on the hierarchical ladder, her blunt approach is simply means of survival).

As the "Lean In" culture continues to march on, we can all rest assured that Sue Wilson will not be left out in the cold. Even outside the office she is still master of her domain.

VEEP airs Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blog Relay: 10 Iconic Movie Characters

I can't wait to hear what some of you have to say about this list of iconic characters. My fellow movie blogger over at My FilmViews recently compiled a list of their favorite iconic characters, and invited several of us to add our own favorites. Trouble is, we can only replace one of the characters mentioned with our own single nomination. Which means the final list will look a bit schizo, inspired by our varied personalities and how we define the word "iconic."

Brittani over at Rambling Film passed the baton to me so now it's my turn to stir the pot. Here are the rules:

A list of 10 iconic movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think it should not be on the list) and replace it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments here and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post.

And here's the list of characters I'm okay with keeping:

Rocky Balboa

James Bond
Ellen Ripley
Michael Myers


Disclaimer for the following three mentions: I haven't seen any of their films (maybe I'll get around to it one day) and wouldn't have included them had I been able to substitute more than one character. Besides, there's a fourth character that I'll get to afterwards who I think is far more deserving of a replacement. Anyway, here they are:

Indiana Jones

Darth Vader

Mary Poppins
So here's the moment when I add my nomination. Unfortunately it's only been on the list for a split second since it was my predecessor Brittani's nomination: 

Buzz Lightyear

Sorry, girl, but I'm going to have to get rid of Buzz Lightyear. We already have two faceless/non-human characters on the list and we really don't need a third. Granted, in a few more years this precious plaything may be inducted into some kind of hall of fame. But I'm not starting that trend in 2014. 

Without further ado, here's my pick to replace Buzz (drumroll, please):

Cher Horowitz

Despite the fact that I probably recite a quote from Clueless every day, there were several other characters that also popped into my mind as I considered who to add here. From Pam Grier's Coffy to Jon Cryer's Duckie in Pretty in Pink, they transcended era, genre, race and gender. But it ultimately came down to a film I've seen so many times that I can clinically be declared an addict of it, a movie that I can watch no matter what mood I'm in, which has a lead character that is simply too bubbly, moronic yet utterly genius to not love. 

So that's it, kids, pick away at the list and leave any gripes/comments in the box below! 

I'm passing the baton to Shala over at Life Between Films. Tag, you're it!

Here is everyone that has participated so far:

Nostra from My FilmViews
Keith from Keith and the Movies
Ruth from Flixchatter
Andrew from A Fistful of Films
Manon from The Movie Scrutineer
Sati from Cinematic Corner
Alex from And So It Begins
Josh from The Cinematic Spectacle
Brittani from Rambling Film
Candice from Reel Talk

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