It’s with a lot of sadness that I write this post. Granted, it’s sadness mixed with excitement, but sadness all the same. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Bennett Miller is still in the process of completing his third feature film, Foxcatcher, which was originally slated for release on December 20, 2013. Great buzz circulated the film to begin with due to its true crime plot and atypical casting, plus Miller’s involvement behind the camera named it a potential Academy favorite well before a film premiere or even a teaser trailer had been released. This past Thursday, it was announced that Sony Pictures Classics has decided to postpone Foxcatcher’s release until some time in 2014, which is ironic in that the announcement coincided with the film’s teaser trailer debut. With a trailer like this, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we’re going to have to wait even longer before it hits theaters.
As a proud Jersey Boy, I’ve gotten use to seeing how film and television ridicules and mocks my wonderful state. It makes sense that we get made fun of since we’re perhaps most famous for our large population of “Guidos” and what the Jersey Shore lovingly called “Juiceheads”. Jersey almost always gets a bad wrap and, for the most part, it’s because of those groups. This is why I was somewhat skeptical going into Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, which tells the story of such a “Juicehead”, who, after years of casual pick-ups, falls in love. Upon first glance, I was expecting all the usual shtick: the bad accents, the greased hair, and the stereotypical “bro” lifestyle. If that’s your kind of thing, then don’t worry, you’ll get all that, but also an incredibly human and heartfelt story about finding love and growing up.
If there’s one thing Academy Award winning director Ron Howard loves, it’s rivalry. And a good true story too. Be it the clash of intelligence between John Nash and Martin Henson in A Beautiful Mind, or the Depression-era battle between boxers James Braddock and Max Baer in Cinderella Man, or the interview based war of words between Richard Nixon and David Frost in Frost/Nixon, Howard’s films often showcase how fear, pressure, and competition bring out the best of one’s abilities. Luckily, Rush, about rival Formula One racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), has all the makings of a good Ron Howard movie at its core – a riveting true story with a scorching rivalry – and therefore it’s the director’s most exciting and thematically alive effort in years.
I really wanted to love Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. The 2009 original, loosely based on the classic children’s book by Jodi and Ron Barrett, was a surprise box office smash ($243 million worldwide) thanks to its energetic voice cast and frenetic, nutty humor. Think The Day After Tomorrow if director and disaster-master Roland Emmerich were an 8 year-old with Cartoon Network edge. This inevitable sequel – about inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his friends’ mission to clean up the town of Swallow Falls – keeps the same loveable zaniness that made the first a winner but unfortunately doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It tastes good for the most part but will hardly leave you full.
Romantic comedies are a strange breed. People love to complain that they’re nothing but unoriginal schlock that mind washes women into believing that a man is only worth it if he runs through the rain to stop them from boarding an airplane or makes impassioned speeches about love and devotion during the World Series, or at weddings, or at middle school graduations. Though rom-coms are easily some of the most criticized and condemned movies around they are simultaneously some of the biggest earners for studios. Since they’re so cheap to produce and have a built in audience, studios are able to churn out romantic comedy after romantic comedy like clockwork, with at least one or two poised for release every Spring, Summer, and Fall per studio. This type of approach towards filmmaking is obviously going to lead to more duds than successes but when the money’s this good the studios simply don’t care about quality. It’s the bottom line that matters. However, every once in a while a gem pokes its head out of the torrential flood of schlocky romance thanks to sweet, relatable characters, and a heartwarming love story.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over three months since one of TV’s all-time greatest actors passed away. While tons of articles have been written about the late-great James Gandolfini, we here at Reel Reactions have yet to contribute to the remembrance of this great actor. With Enough Said, one of his final films, on the eve of release we figured there’s no better time than now to throw our hat in the pile and reflect on the many achievements of this beloved and dearly missed actor.
Ron Howard is one of the original actors turned directors. His early acting work on The Andy Griffith Show as well the numerous seasons of Happy Days immortalized him as an acting touchstone of my parents’ generation. As he migrated into motion picture work, like George Lucas’ American Graffiti, he soon took the next evolutionary step and relocated his interests to behind the camera. With the 1970s nearing a close, he began to pick up work as a director, knocking out I’m a Fool, Grand Theft Auto, and Fire on the Mountain before finding a real piece of success with Night Shift, starring Michael Keaton. Before long, hits with professional backing, like the George Lucas-produced Willow, the family drama Parenthood – the basis for the present-day NBC show of the same name – the period piece Far & Away, starring soon-to-be-romancers Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and the under-seen The Paper (I, too, haven’t seen it) were being donned “A Ron Howard Film” by posters and movie teasers alike.