Tag Archives: Jason Schwartzman

Tribeca Film Festival coverage

katie-holmes-tribeca-film-festivalKatie Holmes attends the Women’s Filmmaker luncheon at Tribeca Film Festival – she’s in town promoting her first feature as a director, All We Had, in which she also stars as a mother struggling to make a better life for her daughter. The film co-stars Judy Greer, Luke Wilson, and Richard Kind.

Also attending the luncheon: Rachael Leigh Cook, Jennifer Morrison, Rose McGowan. The luncheon has been a part of the festival for 14 years. A third of the feature films at Tribeca are directed by women.

Jessica Biel and hubby Justin Timberlake were on hand to attend the premiere of The Devil justin-timberlake-jessica-biel-tribeca-film-festival-ftrand the Deep Blue Sea, a movie starring Jason Sudeikis as a grieving architect who befriends a homeless teen and builds a raft to sail across the Atlantic. Co-stars Biel of course, and Maisie Williams, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser. Timberlike is credited with the score, and the supervision of the soundtrack, which really makes me wonder why they look so startledtribeca-film-festival-scott-eastwood to have this  photo taken. You got all gussied up, you must have known there would be a few cameras on hand, guys! Smile?

Scott Eastwood attended the For The Love of Cinema dinner while he was in town, a title that I’d be willing to eat free food at, had I been cordially invited. Also chowing down in the name of cinema: Kate Mara, Michael Strahan, Katie Holmes, Dev Patel. Joel McHale emceed the night, and a $50 000 prize was given out to newcomer director Matt Ruskin for his film about the wrongful conviction of a prisoner named Colin Warner.

Paul Rudd looks super duper dapper at the premiere of Nerdland. An animNerdland+Premiere+2016+Tribeca+Film+Festival+MhGMd_5M-dKlated movie (but a dirty one -not kid friendly!) about two best friends, aspiring screenwriter Elliot and wannabe actor John, whose dreams are evaporating as they approach their 30th birthdays. Desperation is lurking, but there’s more than one way to be famous, right? Features the voices of Paul Rudd, Mike Judge, Patton Oswalt, Hannibal Buress.  “It’s not a preachy movie at all, but it is kind of

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highlighting the depths that some people go to in order to get famous” says Rudd.

Jason Schwartzman looks much less dapper, and somewhat more homeless attending the premiere of Dreamland, a movie directed by his brother Robert and featuring both himself and his mother Talia Shire. It’s about a loser pianist who get himself into a tumultuous

521220436May-December romance.

Also adopting the disheveled look: Jon Stewart dropping by the premiere of After Spring, a documentary about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Also, you may remember that Chris Rock was hosting JJ Abrams for probably the talk of the century! Chris Rock kidded him for stealing the JJ nickname from a black man (Jimmy Walker), and for nepotism (Abrams’ father directed some TV movies). “So you had a big advantage,” Rock said directly. “So your dad is in film—what job did you get that you didn’t deserve? There’s got to be one!”

“I wanna say Star Wars,” Abrams deadpanned. Cue laughs – these boys sure know how to play to a crowd! And here’s a little nugget that might surprise you: Abrams’ favourite actor 3000to work with? Tom Cruise. Actually, Cruise both as a producer for his “hands-on approach” and for his willingness to be directed as an actor. That’s sounds a hell of a lot more humble than I’ve been giving Cruise credit for. Chris Rock also some great questions passed along by his brother Brian, but the one that caught the audience’s attention was this one: “Can you direct the Fantastic Four? They keep fucking it up!” But Abrams just laughed it off. He doesn’t know how serious we are.

The Overnight

If you’re one of those people who love Adam Scott because he’s so boyish and charming, and maybe you fell a little in love with him on Parks & Rec – well, maybe this movie isn’t for you. There’s lots of Adam Scott on display here, but really ask yourself if you’re ready to see him, warts and all.

The movie is about a couple, Alex (Scott) and Emily (Orange is The New Black’s over1Taylor Schilling), who move their young family to L.A. and find it a challenge for making new friends. A fortuitous meeting in a park leads them to the swanky home of mysterious hipster Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and his French wife, Charlotte (Judith Godreche).

Alex and Emily are thrilled with how the dinner party is going – this couple is interesting, funny, and tantalizingly European in their mannerisms and taste. The attention they receive is flattering, until…wait – does something feel off? Yes, something is definitely off here. Alex and Emily are exchanging increasingly worried looks, the old married shorthand, and the night is overnight14f-2-webunraveling. Can it be saved by drugs?

Maybe yes, maybe no. I won’t spoil the movie by telling you what happens, but here’s a little game: one of the following does NOT appear in the movie – masturbation, threesome – no wait – foursome, is that even a word?, prosthetic penis, bologna sandwich. Can you guess which one?

I’m not exactly a movie prude, but there’s decadence, and then there’s thumbnail_21444debauchery. You start to get the sense that writer-director Patrick Brice is just trying to shock us, and is relying on an onslaught of unpredictability to do so rather than any true wit or edginess. I guess I’m supposed to think it was cool and naughty but the next day I’m just feeling like I’ve got a bad comedy hangover. Like – did that really just happen? For me this was a great big no thank you, with a side of please, sir, put your pants back on.

 

A Very Murray Christmas

AVeryMurrayChristmas_posterLet’s get one thing straight: this isn’t Scrooged, the redux. It’s a plotless variety show without a lot of variety, but it’s got Bill Goddamned Fucking Murray, so what else do you want?

It’s Christmas Eve and Murray is contractually obligated to put on a Christmas special live from the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. He’s in no position to be doing such a thing and the show is doomed to hell, but so what? His piano accompanist is Paul Shaffer, for crying out loud. How bad could it be?

Well, as Amy Poehler and Julie White come bustling into his room to assuage his pre-show jitters\brow-beat him into meeting his obligations, it would seem that they are worried too. There’s a blizzard blanketing NYC, and none of the celebrity guests have shown up. No guests at all, actually, except for Michael Cera, playing a slimy talent agent desperate to sign Murray (who is famous in real life from being unrepresented).

Murray starts off singing dejectedly but can’t even finish his first song. NEN1NCNECeZIRU_1_bThe special’s a disaster! But wait! Who’s that sight for sore eyes revolving through the door? Why it’s none other than Chris Rock, here mistakenly, but here nonetheless, and despite his vehement refusals, he gets emotionally manipulating into joining the live broadcast. Singing ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ as a duet, Murray and Rock are one of the highlights of the show. In a special that’s not even an hour long, Chris Rock proves he may not be a singer but he is indeed an actor; the reluctance to join in spackled across his slowly turns into Christmas cheer as the joy of the song spreads to his heart…until the power goes out, and he takes the opportunity to make his escape.

“Force Majeure!” cry his cheeky producers. The contract taken care of by an act of god, White and Poehler hoof it out of there too, leaving Murray to mope around a nearly-deserted hotel where he comes across a sobbing bride (Rashida Jones) and her wobbly wedding cake. Dream wedding ruined, no guests in sight, no preacher to marry them, and a 90bunch of lobsters going bad, she and her groom (Jason Schwartzman) have fought.

Never fear: when not hosting Christmas specials, Bill Murray also proffers marital counselling, and so in he goes to save the day, and spark up some more “impromptu” holiday tunes. Jenny Lewis playing a waitress is on hand to do the lady part of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, everyone’s favourite date-rape carol, and the band Phoenix is conveniently on hand pretending to be kitchen staff to back up several more ditties, so that Jason Schwartzman can prove there is a worse singer in this thing than Chris Rock.

And then Maya Rudolph shows up playing a washed up lounge singer, and holy hell, she just puts them all to shame. She belts out a ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ so good that even Darlene Love would approve (she sang that song on Letterman every Christmas since 1986 except for the writer’s strike in 2007 – this will be her first year without, since Dave is retired). It’s not surprising that Rudolph is amazing: she is, after all, daughter to soul singer Minnie Riperton and composer-songwriter Richard Rudolph. Oh, and granddaughter of Teena Marie. She’s got chops, plus extra credentials for often impersonating Beyonce on SNL, and for playing in a Prince cover band called Princess. And I’ve got a huge crush on her.

Then the action mysteriously leaves the Carlyle Hotel for a decked-out maxresdefaultsoundstage in New Jersey, where two new guest stars join the festivities: Miley Cyrus, cheating on her own cameo in The Night Before, and George Clooney to mix the martinis. An unlikely pair? If you say so!

I wish I could find something to be grumpy about with Miley’s performance, but the truth is, she sounds good. Perched atop Shaffer’s bill-murray-miley-cyrus-george-clooney-netflix-christmas-specialpiano, Silent Night is rendered faithfully, although there’s probably a little too much leg for the holy parts. The real surprise, and delight, is when Clooney pipes up during ‘Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin.’ Is the world ready for this side of George Clooney? Unfortunately he flashes a lot less leg, but he does look awfully dapper in his suit.

Anyway, director Sofia Coppola did quite a job of rounding up a slew of stars and dipping them in Christmas coating. You can play a real game of celebrity bingo, as you’ll see in the comments. There’s no plot, no story, no moral: just a lot of the ever-charming Bill Murray. It’s available on Netflix and it’s the kind of thing you can easily just put on in the background while you do some holiday baking or cleaning or wrapping, or better yet – some imbibing.

Cheers.

 

 

 

Listen Up, Philip

I recently watched Listen Up, Philip because for some odd reason I find Jason Schwartzman irresistible. Not that I like him. Upon reflection, I often find him quite intolerable, but still irresistible. It’s probably some positive reinforcement from his nearly ubiquitous presence in Wes Anderson movies, which I tend to love, as a rule. But outside of the Anderson oeuvre, I find Schwartzman to be a lot less easy to swallow. Anderson allows us to laugh at the pompous ass. In everything else, he’s just a pompous ass. And if an actor plays a pompous ass in 37 film and television credits to date (roughly), then maybe he’s not playing one, maybe he just is one.

And yet, I hardly ever miss a Jason Schwartzman film. Just in case, I guess. In case it’s secretly a Wes Anderson film? In case Bill Murray will suddenly pop out of his breast pocket, waving a polka-dotted pocket square? In case he loses his hipster facial hair and there’s no one else there to notice it? I really don’t know why, but I’ve observed this weird tendency in myself, so there it is.

Hence, Listen Up, Philip, which I managed to like despite itself. Because it feels like the kind of movie that defies you to not like it. It wants you to turn your nose up at it. It’s too cool for approval. There’s a great review of it over at Epileptic Moondancer if you care to check it out. As for myself, I’m going to discuss some particular traits that I found to be of note from director Alex Ross Perry

  1. Unlikable characters. Holy unlikable in this case. It’s a huge risk to present a story with a protagonist the audience won’t like, because that’s how we’re supposed to connect with the jason-schwartzman-quote-620story. We’re supposed to identify a bit of ourselves in the hero and experience the film through his or her eyes. If it becomes personal for us, then we care about the outcome, and we are engaged. But a main character who is thoroughly unlikable is a bit of a problem. Philip is neurotic and selfish and ungenerous and conceited: not the kind of guy you’d want to be stuck next to at a dinner party, so why willingly listen to him whine throughout a two hour movie? There’d better be a compelling reason. I’m thinking of movies like A Clockwork Orange, and Wolf of Wallstreet, and Mommy, where I loathed the main characters but still felt the stories were worth telling. But some people are totally turned off by characters they despise. Despicable as he is, Philip does teach us a thing or two about ‘success’ and ‘achievement’ and ‘asshats wallowing in their own shite’.
  2. Heavy handed narration. I didn’t enjoy the narration in this movie. I tried to give it a chance because Philip is a writer and I felt that perhaps this was clever and meta if only I could get over myself. I never did. And it reminded me of other times I felt the narration got in the way. The Age of Adaline is probably freshest in my mind. And The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, if you can think that far back (2007 – ew). Both times I’d say that the narration lent nothing to our understanding and only took us out of magic of the movie. And we’re supposed to get lost in the story, aren’t we? With such abrupt narration we can be jerked right out of our reverie, and that’s a harsh reminder. But now that I’m thinking of it, there are times when I do like me some narration. Without mentioning Wes Anderson again, I’ll go with Ron Howard’s brilliant narration of Arrested Development. His little asides feel like fun thought bubbles or hilarious foot notes, and I always enjoy them. They feel organic, and enhance my enjoyment. And if you remember the opening sequence of Amelie – also some brilliant narration that sets a breathy tone for the movie. So that’s the difference. If a movie is relying on narration because the director needs to tell me what he has failed to show me, then narration bad. If the narration is like an elbow in the ribs to say, if you liked that, then get a load of this, then count me in.
  3. Rotating protagonists. Philip is the main character in the first portion of the movie, but then we shift, abruptly, to the girlfriend he’s left behind, Ashley, played rather discreetly by Elisabeth Moss. Up until the switch, Ashley feels like a pretty negligible piece of the story. AtListen-Up-Philip the end of the film, she still feels this way. Her portion of the story is not very revealing, and almost completely severs us from the narrative that Philip’s been following. Perhaps it was just to give us a little space to breathe between all of Philip’s self-loathing and caterwauling, but I found it jarring. Lots of movies move deftly between characters, sometimes even between settings or between eras, but still manage to make you feel like it’s all part of a whole. This one just felt a bit broken to me. Philip must not be a very good writer if he can’t even maintain the point of view in his own story. But it does recast him as a pitiable character, so maybe this shift in focus serves to connect with him in some small way. The other interesting thing is that the narration is done by the same guy in both sequences. So who’s narration is this? The narrator does seem to side with Philip at one point, even though Philip is clearly the arse, and that can’t be coincidence. But what kind of device is this narration being filtered through? We never know, but are left to decide for ourselves.

So there you have it. I can’t tell you if this movie is good or bad, because it’s interesting and complex and probably that most awful of things – post-modern. You can decide for yourselves if this movies make you want to tear your hair out, or grab a bottle of pinot to discuss, or is to be avoided altogether. I must say that I do like a movie that takes chances, and that makes me think and evaluate why I’m having the feelings that I’m having. Is not liking a character, or a narrative tone, or a story arc, the same as not liking the movie? And is not liking the movie the same as it being bad?

Holy fuck.

The Avengers are playing somewhere, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Marie Antoinette

Sean and I are still in France and in fact should be touring around the beautiful grounds and palace at Versailles right now, so what movie is more fitting that Marie Antoinette?

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She was a bright and beautiful girl, married at the age of 14 to a political ally she’d never seen tumblr_lbhpd2jWia1qecnumo1_500before. She is traded from one kingdom to another. She is surrounded by servants and comforts of every kind; she has jewelry and clothes and feasts like no other. She also has no grip on reality. And this movie doesn’t criticize her for it. Sofia Coppola may have strayed from historical accuracy in the writing and directing of this film, but she does give us a more human character to relate to. Marie-Antoinette is above all just a teenage girl, used to a lavish lifestyle, uncomprehending of any other.

shoesThe production had special permission from the government of France to film on location at Versailles. Even more impressive (to my mind), Coppola even induced famed designer Manolo Blahnik to create hundreds of shoes for this film. Fittingly, there is a shoe montage, which will make you squeal with delight, and if you watch carefully, you might catch a 1.5 second shot of a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse, not exactly time-period correct, but a staple of any teenage girl’s closet.

Did you know Jason Schwartzman is Sofia Coppola’s cousin? I didn’t. I get my Hollywood royalty  kirstendmixed up just as assuredly as I get my regular royalty confused I guess. At any rate, he plays the king to Kirsten Dunst’s queen, and I have to admire the casting. Who but him could play such a socially inept little weirdo, and who is more inherently hated than Dunst?

I saw this originally back in 2006 when it came out (I’m kind of surprised it’s not older than that) but in the 8 or 9 years since, I’ve become more familiar with some of the other names of the cast: Rose Byrne (broke out in Bridesmaids), Tom Hardy (aka, Bane, and almost Mad Max), and Jamie Dornan (soon to be the pervy guy in Fifty Shades of Grey). Coppola otherwise cast a lot of progeny of movie stars, most of whom I don’t know (although I did see a Nighy and wondered, and was correct in wondering). Plus she threw a bone to her boyfriend, Thomas Mars, from the band Phoenix – he and a bandmate play guitars in one scene, although they can’t have been happy about the tights.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel 2

Lots of directors are said to have their signature styles but Wes Anderson may be the only director in Hollywood that no one seems to even dare try to copy. The colours, the music, the low–key performances, and the sense of timing in his movies are uniquely his.

The Grand Budapest Hotel has everything we’ve come to expect from a Wes Anderson movie. I’ve seen it four times and the more I see it the higher I rank it in relation to his other films. Despite some of its more poetic moments, TGBH isn’t quite as bittersweet as The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom (my two favourites) but it makes up for that with some of the most outrageous comedy we’ve ever seen from him. It also boasts his biggest cast yet of both new faces and at least ten familiar ones from other Anderson films.

There were so many great cameos and there wasn’t nearly enough time to give everyone the attention that they deserved. Before the movie even really gets going, we are introduced to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968 where it’s already past its prime through the point of view of a young writer played by Jude Law.

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“What few guests we were had quickly come to recognize each other by sight as the only living souls residing in the vast establishment. Although I do not believe any acquaintance among our number had proceeded beyond the brief nods we exchanged as we passed in the palm court, in the Arabian baths, and onboard the colonnade funicular. We were a very reserved group it seemed and, without exception, solitary”.

Before long, we are introduced to Zero as an old man played by F. Murray Abraham and he tells the story of how he came to own the hotel, bringing us to the 1930s where the rest of the film is set. As much as I loved the rest of the movie, part of me wished that we got to hang around longer in the run-down 1968 version of the Grand Budapest Hotel, which I think would have made a great setting for a movie of its own. Maybe a murder mystery? Or a love story?

I’m just putting it out there to the universe that we get to see the first ever Wes Anderson sequel starring Law, Abraham, and Jason Schwartzman as the lazy mustached concierge. Maybe even past Wes Anderson characters like Steve Zissou from Life Aquatic or the family from Moonrise Kingdom can come stay at the hotel.

It probably won’t happen but I can dream. If you’re out there, Wes Anderson, please make Return to the Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Full disclosure: I am Wes Anderson’s twin sister, and thus, incapable of impartial movie reviews.

Fuller disclosure: That was a bold lie. I’m just an uber-fan, but upon reflection I don’t want to accuse myself of impartiality. Yes, I love his movies fervently, I wish to live in them, but my esteem is earned. Wes Anderson never takes a night off. He earns it every time.

I was going to watch something new, and maybe I was going to like it, but this little delicacy presented itself as an alternative, and therefore it was the only alternative.

budapestWes Anderson introduces us to Gustave H, a legendary and well-perfumed concierge at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel, and Zero Moustafa, the humble lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft (and recovery) of an invaluable painting and the battle over a will and a vast family fortune.

Immediately Anderson’s aesthetic draws you into this world, the colour palette is sumptuous and alive, and it’s like stepping into someone’s well-appointed dream. As always, the details are meticulously executed: the hotel’s shabbiness, the gritty grout, the choice of fonts, the embroidery, the mustaches, both real and drawn-on, the crest worn by Edward Norton and his army men of a little fox head greatly resembling a certain Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The movie is shot with three different aspect rations to help the audience differentiate between the time periods. The adventure is rapid-fire and the dialogue is virtually spat out.  In fact, the rapid gunfire of dialogue is a problem when viewing the movie in a theatre: the laughs are so close together it’s sometimes hard to hear whatever comes next.

The characteres are vividly drawn and always so much fun to get to know – in this case, Ralph Main Quad_AW_[26611] Grand BudapestFiennes plays a character playing a character who makes pretension feel absolutely charming. Tilda Swinton makes a grand dame indeed in her voluminous old age spots, old lady lipstick, and ridiculously piled hair. There are actually so many stars jam-packed into this movie that I’ll never be able to name-check them all. The enjoyable thing is that these cameos rarely (if ever) feel forced, instead it’s intoxicating and energizing.

It’s a caper-y type film and the plot covers a lot more ground than most of Wes Anderson’s films. But the crime is nestled within a sumptuous frame work and the whole film eats like one of Mendl’s delicious little cakes that are turned our so perfectly that Saoirise Ronan, who plays Agatha, said that making those little pastries convincingly was by far the hardest stunt she’s performed in any movie.

I’d like to say that this is possibly Wes Anderson’s best movie to date, but I feel that such an assertion would be a betray of sorts, like choosing my favourite among my dogs (which reminds me – great little Anderson in-joke moment: after killing a dog in nearly every other movie, Anderson finally sticks it to a cat in a manner so abrupt and cruel it can’t help but get a big, suprised laugh). It’s hard to find a movie that’s this entertaining, this varied and layered, and even if you watch it as a George Clooney edition of Where’s Waldo, you can’t go wrong.

 

Stay tuned for more Wes Anderson reviews – I won’t be able to resist.