Tag Archives: katie holmes

Dear Dictator

Tatiana is your typical punk high school student. Her boots are high, her tights are ripped, her hair unbrushed, gnarled like the barbs she constantly throws at her mother, who is doing her best to lure a man at any cost.

Tatiana (Odeya Rush), as you might imagine, has trouble fitting in at school, and has even more trouble convincing her Christian crush to commit some mortal sins with her. Her only solace is the dictator with whom she exchanges pen pal letters from his beleaguered British-Caribean island nation. His country is undergoing an uprising and they’re pushing the old guy out. So General Anton Vincent (Michael Caine) flees to the one place no one would ever think to look for him: Tatiana’s house.

Is she a little surprised to see him? Yes. Is her mother (Katie Holmes) a little perturbed to find she’s been harboring a fugitive? Sure, though maybe not as much MV5BNjhiOTc1YTctODllNC00ZTEyLWFiN2MtMjM1MGMwYzI4Yjc0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTgyNDk1OTY@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_as you’d think. It turns out, having a disgraced General around the house is almost as good as having a man. And when the lawn is cut and the garage door no longer sticks, the complaints are scarce. But teachers at school begin to suspect something is up with Tatiana – and it’s not just the rebellion she foments against the ‘mean girls.’ Although that is probably a bit of a red flag.

Anyway. This movie is innocuous enough if you find the switch in your brain that has taste and standards, and turn it off. It’s too tame to be a satire and not actually funny enough to be considered a comedy, unless you consider the fact that someone convinced Academy Award winner Michael Caine to be in this heap of crap, and to grow a Castro beard and everything. But at this stage in his career, he’s more convincing as Santa Claus than a blood thirsty dictator. He’s not exactly intimidating. The twinkle in his eye keeps giving him away.

Now, there is a fourth character in the film, and I don’t mean Seth Green or Jason Biggs, though both get their name in the credits. I’m talking about Subway. This movie is not subtle about who owns their asses. The chips and candy eaten are generic as hell but the delicious sandwiches they consume CONTINUALLY are branded AF. As in, every time they sit at the table to eat, every logo on every cup and wrapping is pointing prettily, and centrally, at the camera. Not even Katie Holmes having her toes sucked is featured as prominently. So if you’re looking for some teen angst and an ousted fugitive dictator and a pathetic single mother and a dentist with a foot fetish and sandwiches so tasty they could unite them all, dear lord, this movie is made just for you. Colour me floored.


Logan Lucky

Jay-Z announced his retirement from the rap game in 2003 with his Black Album. He was back three years later. Barbara Streisand retired from public performance in 2000 but has since toured the world not once but twice. Clint Eastwood declared his intention to retire from acting after 2008’s Gran Torino “You always want to quit while you are ahead” — then appeared in the forgettable 2012 movie Trouble With the Curve. Alec Baldwin wrote “Goodbye, public life” in New York Magazine but made three movies the following year. Shia LaBeouf infamous marked his 2014 retirement with his “I’m not famous anymore” campaign, then signed up for a movie role 3 weeks later. Cher embarked on a 3-year farewell tour, then signed up for Las Vegas residency as soon as it ended. Michael Jordan retired from basketball, played a little baseball, then went back to basketball. Point being: fools keep retiring, then unretiring. Director Steven Soderbergh belongs on the list, after telling everyone in 2013 that he’d lost his passion for film making, and that was it for him. Logan Lucky is the movie that brought him out of “retirement” – was it worth it?

loganluckybros.0Having directed Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve AND Thirteen (and producing the upcoming Eight), Soderbergh is no stranger to heist movies, but considers this one to be their “anti-glam” cousin. Logan Lucky’s characters are gritty, the setting low-rent, the heist a lot less slick – but not uninteresting.

The Logan family consists of brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver), and little sister Mellie (Riley Keough). They’re known locally for the Logan family curse; Clyde believes the bad luck sets in just as things start to pick up for them. He recently lost an arm just as his deployment was ending in Iraq. Jimmy, meanwhile, has just lost his job at the mines where he uncovered a bunch of tubes that blast cash money from a NASCAR speedway to an underground bank vault. You can practically see the light bulb go BING! above his head. Soon he’s plotting an elaborate sting that will reverse the family’s fortunes. The one little hitch in is plan is that the heist requires the expertise of Joe Bang, bomb maker (Daniel Craig). And it just so happens that Joe Bang’s in prison. Which means to pull of the heist, they first have to break Joe out of (and then back into) prison.

The caper’s afoot! Logan Lucky has a fun ensemble cast that keep things spicy. The film works because Soderbergh reaches for his familiar bag of tricks: a zippy pace, an almost zany plot. These characters are perhaps not the cleverest, they’re reaching above their pay grade. Half the fun is watching things go wonky. Instead of plot twists, Logan Lucky is peppered with…shall we call them mishaps? Small calamities that keep you groaning, and guessing. It’s almost farcical, and to that end, it’s well-cast. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and Daniel Craig is its shining, absurd beacon, stealing all the scenes he’s in and making you anticipate his next one when we’re following someone else.

Unfortunately, the movie really loses steam during its last act. Introducing Hilary Swank as the detective pursuing the case feels both rushed and drawn-out at the same time, somehow. Plus she’s kind of awful. But you know what? The film’s final 10 seconds save the whole damn thing, the cinematic equivalent of a smirk and a wink, and I fell for it.

Welcome back, Mr. Soderbergh.


All We Had

Katie Holmes directs herself in All We Had, and proves she isn’t afraid to paint herself in an unfavourable light. Rita Carmichael is good at loving men but terrible at picking them. When another loser reaches his expiration date, it’s her daughter Ruthie (Stefania Owen) that knows it’s time to cut ties and get the hell out of dodge. The problem is that Rita and Ruthie are chronically broke. Rita self-medicates for her crappy childhood with nullcheap booze. Between men they live out of their piece of shit car. They have almost nothing going for them but Rita makes keeping Ruthie out of child services her top priority, and so far, she’s always succeeded.

This time, though, it’s going to be extra difficult. Their car breaks down literally in front of the greasy spoon where they just dined-and-dashed and it looks like they’re stuck in whatever crummy small town this is.

All We Had is not a great movie, but it’s not bad. It’s just that Katie Holmes is so hellbent on making this an inspirational story of redemption, she leans heavily on tired formula schtick. Addictions, childhood trauma, financial crisis: this movie has it all, everything except focus. All We Had is the kind of movie you’ll make excuses for – “it means well” you’ll say, and mean  it. But that’s not quite enough. There’s not enough skill here to pull meaning from the good intentions. But if you’re willing to watch Katie Holmes try, All We Had is good for 1 hour and 45 minutes of trial and error and smudged eyeliner.

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


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.

Touched With Fire

We saw four movies on Friday at the New Hampshire Film Festival, and this was Sean’s favourite of the bunch. Starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as two bipolar poets who meet in group therapy while unhappily committed to a psychiatric ward, they feed each other’s mania and explore the possibility that maybe their illness is actually a gift.

imagesCAVJ8VDGThe movie derives its name from the book that examines the relationship between bipolar disorder and creativity, citing lots of artistic minds assessed as probably having suffered this or a similar disorder: Ernest Hemingway, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, and Vincent van Gogh, to name a few.

Two things about bipolar disorder:

  1. It’s a serious disease. But it is a disease, and like many diseases, it can be managed with lifestyle choices and medication. It used to be called manic-depression but those two moods are misleading because not everyone experiences them like they’re often depicted in the movies. The mania is not always energized3d Bipolar disorder backgroundfun – some people get very irritable and paranoid during their manic phases. And other people will be angry and violent during the down phase, rather than depressed and sad. Medication and psychotherapy help a lot, but just like a diabetes, it’s a hard illness to manage. It’s a life-long commitment, and they’ve got the disease actively working against them at times – often just when they’re doing well, it starts whispering that they’re fine, they can get off the meds. That’s not really the case, but since the medication can make people feel sluggish or not quite like themselves, it’s really difficult to battle against those thoughts. And just like someone with heart disease who knows darn well they should cut down on red meat and stress, people who suffer with bipolar disorder can relapse, but for some reason we’re always harder on people with mental illness compared to other bodily illnesses. Bipolar disorder doesn’t get cured, but I have known people to live happy lives with it. I really salute them because it takes a lot of care and diligence and support.
  2. There does seem to be some kind of link between bipolar disorder and genius\creativity. I can’t tell you what that means because science has no fucking clue what it means. I can tell you that it doesn’t guarantee anything, and it isn’t true of everyone with bipolar disorder, or even most. But during the manic episodes, people have racing thoughts that can lead to all kinds of ideas and links and thinking outside the box. If you are a writer or musician who gets inspired and does your best work during this phase, think about what it means to have to give it up in order to “get well.”

touchedwithfireSo that’s what this movie explores: that fine line between wanting to get well, but also wanting to keep the aspects of the disorder that make you unique. Carla and Marco, in the movie, are both poets of a sort, and are transfixed by this sacrifice they’re being asked to make.

I am happy to report that this movie was not reckless. It did place value on medication, but it did it within a questioning context, which I think is important.

Let’s consider, for a moment, Vincent van Gogh. He’s one of the most acclaimed and famous artists ever. Was he bipolar? His “diagnosis” is only in retrospect since the disorder wasn’t even named or classified during his time. He certainly showed many of its dispositions. You know that during one of his “episodes” he mutilated his own ear, after which he checked himself into an asylum and spent there a fruitful year during which he painted many of his most prominent pieces, including the irises, his blue self1280px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_Project-portrait, and this one, A Starry Night, which was the view from his asylum room (minus the bars on the window, of course). This is what a night sky looks like to a “sick” brain. Isn’t it something? The world, our culture, places great value on this remarkable painting, and yet it would not exist had he been “well.” Doesn’t that make you think?

On the other hand, manic episodes are often accompanied with impulsivity, and poor judgement; sometimes even psychosis. About half will experience delusions or hallucinations, which can lead to violence. And the higher the high, the lower the low. The depressive state can include feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, guilt, self-loathing, helplessness, and morbid thoughts of suicide. You wouldn’t wish this part on  your worst enemy, and it makes it tough to maintain the relationships and support network so crucial to health. Half of those suffering with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide or self-harm.

I valued this movie for asking the right questions, even if we don’t have all the answers. It felt like a pretty honest look at the disorder, the good and the bad, and the fallout that hits those that love them (Christine Lahti contributes a solid performance as a mother constantly on the brink), and I can see it being enlightening for audiences, and a good conversation starter for a disorder that’s often misunderstood.

MV5BODY2MjUzNzQ2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjk0MDc4NDE@__V1_SX640_SY720_This film was written and directed by Paul Dalio, who was going to school in the Graduate filmmaking program at NYU, where he was discovered by his professor, who just happened to be Spike Lee (Lee believed in the work so much that he’s the executive producer on this film). Dalio made this film after overcoming his own struggles with the disorder as a way of reconciling the beauty and horror that comes from it, and dedicated it his fellow suffering artists.