Tag Archives: Tom Hanks

How They Met: Stories Behind Famous Couples

In 2003, Matt Damon was in Miami shooting Stuck on You (he plays Greg Kinnear’s conjoined twin). It was supposed to have shot in Hawaii but the location was changed last minute and Damon was a lot less familiar with Miami. One night the crew convinced 00-matt-damon-luciana-barrosohim to join them for a drink, and that was it. Literally from across a crowded bar, he looked up and saw her. She was the bartender that night, separated but technically still married to someone else, with a young daughter at home. But he knew. They were married in December 2005 at city hall, at 9 in the morning because he was expected on the set of The Good Shepherd that night, and production was moving to Europe the next day. She went with him, and so did the unborn baby in her belly. Ben Affleck was unable to attend – Jennifer Garner had just given birth the week before. Three daughters have joined the elder one from Luciana’s previous relationship so now Matt Damon is happily surrounded by women. In 2013, ten years after they first met, they held a lavish vow renewal in St Lucia with 50 guests, including Affleck, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Messina, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Gus Van Sant, Chelsea Clinton, and Stanley Tucci (fun fact: Tucci is married to Blunt’s sister, Felicity]. Jimmy Kimmel officiated.

In the 1970s, Tom Hanks remembers being a kid at his friend’s house, watching The gallery-1452197593-tom-rita-volunteersBrady Bunch, when a girl guest starring as a cheer-leader caught his eye. She was 16 and so was he. He thought she was cute. He didn’t meet Rita Wilson in person until 1981 when she had a guest role on his sitcom, Bosom Buddies. Hanks was married to someone else at the time, and her character ended up with Tom’s costar, Peter Scolari. But fate threw them 324451C900000578-0-image-m-7_1458170786580together in 1985 on the set of Volunteers where the attraction was so strong that Hanks left his wife even though he admits that had they met in high school “I wouldn’t have had the courage to speak to you.” They married in 1988, have 2 sons together (plus Tom’s 2 kids from his first marriage). In 2015 they weathered Rita’s breast cancer diagnosis and remain a totally strong couple that’s all kinds of #goals.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard first met in 2007 at a birthday party. Their meeting was “not electric” (her words) – no sparks, no interest on either side. He was suspicious of her “unbridled happiness.” But two weeks later she was at a hockey game (Kings vs Red Wings) with her Veronica Mars castmate\roommate Ryan Hansen and she saw him with a mutual acquaintance. 36908E2D00000578-3706107-image-a-1_1469400447589Apparently this time, it took. They fell madly in love and nauseated each other with their mushiness, but their personalities were quite different. Kristen is sweet and generous, and Dax had a long history of bad decisions and addictions. He was already sober when they met, but she was insecure as to whether he could really step up. They went to couples therapy obsessively and weathered the storm. They famously refused to marry before it was legal for everyone to marry, but once that hurdle was crossed, they speed-walked right to the court house to get themselves a license. A judge just happened to be available, so why not, they tied the knot right then and there, having spent about $140. Friends met them later with a cake that said World’s Worst Wedding in frosting, but Bell and Shepard never looked back.

John Krasinski thought he might quit acting when he had his big break – he was cast on The Office, and he moved to L.A. In 2006, he went to the movies expecting to see 159270240_emily-blunt-john-krasinski-zoom-3cde631c-7e21-4382-9e84-75e9969cab4bSuperman Returns, but when it was sold out, he and his buddy saw The Devil Wears Prada instead. He claims to have watched the film 50 times before meeting his future wife, Emily Blunt, who stars in the film, in 2008. As he describes it: It was one of those things where I wasn’t really looking for a relationship and I was thinking I’m going to take my time in L.A. Then I met her and I was so nervous. I was like, “Oh god, I think I’m going to fall in love with her.” As I shook her hand I went, “I like you.” But he felt so far out of his league that he was sure it could never work, and almost blew the first date, on which he took her to a gun range. But she stuck it out, and when he proposed, they both wound up crying. Now they’ve got 2 daughters and lots of celebrity double dates: they vacation with the Kimmels and dine with George and Amal.

Matthew Broderick was the youngest actor to receive a Tony but of course it was landing the lead role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that made him a household name and allowed him to go back to his first love, the theatre, this time as a director. One of his actors felt 65110102b3c437394a37f16cda4e6020Broderick would be perfect for his sister, so he made the introductions. It took Matthew three months after meeting Sarah Jessica Parker to actually ask her out, over the phone, and on their first date, she was so nervous she talked a mile a minute while he sat stunned and silent. They wed in 1997, she in a black wedding dress because the guests all thought they were attending a party. They have three kids together and though she’s currently the star of a new show called Divorce, they celebrated their 20th anniversary together this spring.

Goldie Hawn met Kurt Russell on the set of The One and article-2209534-153CC875000005DC-578_468x358Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (blink and you’ll miss her). She was 21 at the time, and he just 16. She thought he was cute and interesting but much too young. Luckily, fate intervened and 15 years later they met on another film set, Swing Shift. Kurt was hungover at the audition and immediately regretted the first thing he said to her: ‘Man, you’ve got a great figure.’ She was magnanimous. This time their age gap seemed inconsequential. They never married but after more than 3 decades together, I think it’s Kurt and Goldie forever.

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Who’s your favourite celebrity couple?

 

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The Circle

The Circle is THE company you want to be working for. It’s a blatant stand-in for Google; the ‘The Circle’ campus and work space looks identical, comes with all the crazy perks we’ve been jealously-not-quite-believingly hearing about for years: sushi bars, yoga workshops, nap pods, etc, etc. Mae (Emma Watson) is ecstatic when she’s hired for an entry level position – the salary is generous, room and board are included, the health plan is fabulous – it’s more than any millennial has the right to expect these days. The only thing The Circle asks for in return is a complete lack of privacy.

And in fact, The Circle doesn’t just ask that of employees, but of everyone joining their network. The Circle is a platform that would link all of your online accounts. You’d have one account, one username (your own, your real one), one password that links to everything, all your aps, your bank, your email, your work, social media, etc, etc. The m-442_circle_11286fdrv1rdream come true starts to feel a little…invasive to Mae. There’s no turning off, no going off-grid. Everyone participates in everything all the time! Horray! So the dream is turning out to be a bit much, but with her father (Bill Paxton) suffering from MS, it’s extremely hard to turn down.

Most of her The Circle colleagues are drinking the kool-aid but she finds a kindred spirit in skeptical Ty (John Boyega). He’s worried about how every single piece of our lives are being accessed and stored, analyzed and monetized, by The Circle: personal data is being mined to make a few people very, very rich. And if you have any presence on the internet at all, there’s nothing you can do about it.

The Circle is a terrific book by Dave Eggers. It’s an urgently fascinating story because our reality is probably only about one and a half paces behind what’s depicted in The Circle, and that’s just what we know about. We’re creeping closer and closer every day. Unfortunately it seems that Eggers’ brilliant books are not that easily adapted into films; A Hologram for the King was also a bit of a flop and that’s too bad because there’s some really thoughtful and thought-provoking material in there that’s getting lost.

The film asks more questions than it answers. In truth, it sort of lets some of the issues it raises fall away without doing them any justice. So that’s unfortunate. I still thought the movie was compelling and watchable, and Tom Hanks is of course irreproachable. I think it’s worth your time. But the book is even more worthy of your time, and if you read it, you’ll see the changes that Hollywood makes to make a story more ‘palatable.’ But I’m pretty confident that you can handle the truth. Right?

 

 

 

This was Bill Paxton’s final film. He died before it was released; a dedication in the closing credits reads ‘For Bill.” Glenne Headley, who plays his wife, died in June. She’s got a couple more movies in post-production.

Ithaca

Should you tip the boy who brings you the telegram that says your son is dead?

That dilemma and others covered in Ithaca, loosely based on William Saroyan’s The Human Comedy, which is not remotely funny. But it did give Meg Ryan some comfort when she was going through her divorce from Dennis Quaid, so what better material to use in her directorial debut?

ithaca9f-2-webShe plays the mother of sons, a hard thing to be in 1942; Marcus, who is off to war (played by Jack Quaid, Ryan’s actual son), Homer (Alex Neustaedter) who struggles with being the 14 year old man of the house now that his father (Tom Hanks) is gone, and little Ulysses (Spencer Howell) who doesn’t remember anything different.

This is really Homer’s story and the growing up he had to do. He’s such an exuberant kid at the start of the film, determined to be the best and fastest bike messenger in town. But 1942 means WW2, and WW2 means lots of devastating telegrams. How does it transform a 14 year old kid to deliver grief in an envelope? To witness the moment a woman is made a widow? To see a mother torn apart by pain? That’s pretty heavy stuff to be grappling with when you’re also mooning over your first crush and taking your little brother down to the local fishing hole. It makes for a heightened existance, but it’s also just life for Homer, who has his own little odyssey to live.

The film is a little under-achieving, a retread of themes we’ve seen elsewhere, and often. Sam Shepard has a pretty compelling role, which makes up for the very rare glimpses we get of Hanks. If it doesn’t quite live up to its potential, it’s still bittersweet in its nostalgia, and tucked sufficiently at my heart strings. Meg Ryan hasn’t hit it out of the ballpark on her first swing as director, but don’t count her out.

 

 

Charlie Wilson’s War

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) was a Texas congressman, a jolly womanizer but otherwise fairly low-level until his good friend former beauty queen Joanne (Julia Roberts) convinces him to take time away from his hot tub shenanigans to make a little trip to help the Afghan people.

In the early 80s he visits the Pakistani president who is frustrated with inadequate American support in opposing the Soviet Union. Pakistan is flooded with Afghan refugees (a fifth of them!), but thousands of others have been slain. They send Wilson to a refugee camp and he can’t help charliebut be moved by what he sees there. Going home a changed man in his heart, he rallies around the cause. His personal life, though is still a shambles: US Attorney Rudy Giuliani is leading an investigation against him for allegations of cocaine use.

Philip Seymour Hoffman provides brilliant support as a maverick CIA guy who is leading the covert US effort in Afghanistan. Wilson ultimately multiplies the American contribution by a hundred fold, and it becomes a huge part of the foreign policy of the time, but there aren’t exactly a lot of easy answers here and Hoffman’s crazy windmilling arms tell us a lot about the near-impossibility of his job.

Julia Roberts is of course poised as hell, the perfect choice for a controlled, smart, beautiful woman who knows what she wants, and how to manipulate men to get it. The few scenes she shares with Amy Adams, playing Wilson’s administrative assistant, are quite punchy, their rivalry crackling. Emily Blunt makes a brief appearance in her underwear as well, which means I didn’t know who Emily Blunt was back in 2007 when I would have seen this for the first time.

Tom Hanks is commanding as always, but I have to wonder whether he was the right man for the role. Some of the juiciest material of this “true story” seems to have all but disappeared, his drug use played down (have we ever seen Hanks snort cocaine?), his DUI unmentioned, and his worry about what happens when the US inevitably disengages from Afghanistan only vaguely alluded to.

The truth is, there were unintended consequences to this involvement. When Afghanistan lay in ruins, the US pulled out, washed their hands of death and destruction they had funded, and this left a vacuum for Osama bin Laden to emerge as a power player. I have read from multiple sources that Tom Hanks couldn’t deal with the 9-11 implications, so they were largely written out, with just the identifiable sound of a plane flying over Washington hinting at what was to come. The film is quite good, almost great, but I do wonder if someone else was bringing it to life, could it have maybe been a Dr. Strangelove for a new generation? I guess we’ll never know.

Sully

You know his name: Captain Sully became a celebrity and a hero when he made a successfully landed a passenger jet in the Hudson river after losing both engines shortly after takeoff. The passengers, the media, and then the sully-tom-hanks-aaron-eckhart-slice-600x200world, praised him for his quick thinking and skill. His maneuver saved every soul on board. It was quickly labelled “The Miracle on the Hudson.” He made the rounds of late night talk shows, smiling politely as hosts feted him, but that smile was a facade.

What few of us realized at the time was that Captain Sullenberger and co-pilot Jeff Skiles were going through private hell. While dealing with crippling flashbacks, they were basically put on trial by the National Transportation Safety Board, accused of making the wrong decision and endangering a plane full of passengers.

Sully, with 40 years of experience, knew in his gut that going into the river was the best option. The NTSB, however, maintain that computer simulations prove he could have made it back to La Guardia for a safe landing on an actual strip. All the people thrown into frigid waters, the cold and frightened babies, the weakened-heart old ladies, could all have been spared a terrifying crash-landing. Should Sully be held responsible for his actions?

Tom Hanks as Sully is spectacular. He deftly portrays a crumbling man, one whose confidence is badly shaken, who can’t escape the mental replaying of the incident, the assessment of the choices he made, effectively putting 155 960lives on the line, his own included. Aaron Eckhart plays Skiles, the right-hand man with an equally formidable mustache (what is it with pilots and mustaches?). Laura Linney has is relegated to an even smaller part, as the wife on the other end of a telephone. Both are fine, but this is clearly Hanks’ show, and Sully’s story. He’s the one not just with his reputation on the line, but his career and pension and ability to support his family in flux too.

Director Clint Eastwood plays it safe; in fact he even downplays what must have been a petrifying few minutes for the other 153 on board. What he may not have accounted for is how jarring Sully’s day-mares are to an audience, post 9-11 (and keeping in mind the movie hit theatres for its 15th anniversary). Sully keeps imagining that his plane is zipping through New York City’s skyline, missing and not missing buildings along the way. It hurts.

Where Eastwood excels, and always has, is in hero-worshiping, and Sully’s an easy target. Humble, grateful, stoic: just the kind of man that appeals to old Clint. But Sully’s not the only hero I see here. The flight attendants are brave. The air traffic controller is determined. Rescue workers are quick. Ordinary citizens lend a hand. Heroes come in lots of shapes and sizes. Not all wear uniforms. Maybe Clint should make a movie about one of them sometime.

Tom Hanks & John Oliver at Tribeca

The line to see Tom Hanks and John Oliver in conversation together wrapped well around the venue on Friday night. Sean and I had just seen High-Rise over in Chelsea and had 3374991A00000578-3555220-image-a-136_1461420263964braved a crowded rush-hour subway to get back down to Tribeca and run right past the Ghostbusters building to arrive breathless at the Borough of Manhattan Community College only to be redirected to another entrance that meant dragging my swollen, sprained ankle several more blocks with the remnants of my back surgery burst open and freely bleeding just so that we could stand in line for 40 minutes and then be denied a seat. Denied a seat? But we had tickets in hand – tickets we’d paid for three weeks prior! But us, and the two people in front of us, and the hundred or hundreds behind us (hard to tell) were denied entrance because they’d way, way, way oversold the event and we were shit out of luck. We were also really, really pissed.

We weren’t yet yelling at the security guys because lots of other people were beating us to it. But when someone came out to the velvet ropes to say that one single seat had been found and was there a single person in the crowd, most of us just looked at our partners and shrugged. Except Sean. What Sean did was slap a ticket in my hand and shove me large_large_tom-hanks-2toward the guy with the clipboard. He unclipped the rope and I was being ushered alone up a sad, empty red carpet, the very one we’d just watched John Oliver and Tom Hanks ascend, me still lumping my sore and swollen ankle along. I wasn’t happy to be going in alone and it was only the element of surprise that made me do it. I felt awful that Sean would sit outside with his $50 ticket to nothing, after having driven all the way from another bloody country, while I would be tickled fairly pink. Maybe even almost red. But the guy with the clipboard was so impressed with Sean’s self-sacrifice he basically invented another seat for him and got him in, even though he had to stand. I felt a little guilty because the couple in front of us rightly deserved those seats but hadn’t thought to split up (and actually, we’d already seen a few other singles be plucked from the line behind us) and a little guilty about the dozens and dozens behind us who hadn’t gotten in either, and super mad at the fuckfaces at Tribeca who oversold the event and didn’t tell anyone. But mostly I just felt elation the minute those two men took the stage, and fuck everyone else.

Some highlights of the evening:

-Tom said that without Oliver, our lives would be “void of outrage”

-He then made a reference to the Merv Griffin show so random and outdated that Oliver claimed that the lady holding the “Kiss Me” sign had slowly lowered it.

-Hanks cautioned us against asking “lazy journalistic questions”, basically anything starting with “What was it like…” and claimed that he was often accosted on red carpets

Tribeca Talks Storytellers: Tom Hanks With John Oliver

with “Just one question from Argentina!” and that one question invariably being something incredibly insipid. Oliver agreed that really Argentina should be asking for advice on their desperate economic situation.

-Hanks said that his distaste for social media was because he’d “peaked in the 90s” and Oliver ribbed him about using Twitter as a lost and found (you can Google it- Tom often posts pictures of wallets or lost gloves and tries to reunite them with their owners).

-Hanks and Oliver spar over the American Revolution, and we all find out that Hanks does an atrocious British accent.

-Hanks discusses the first movie he remembers going to the theatre to see – 101 Dalmations – and how it scarred him ever so deeply. Oliver then asks “So how the fuck did you become an actor?”

-Oliver claims E.T. as the first movie he saw in theatres, and his ensuing heartache over Elliott not joining E.T. in the end, which prompts Hanks to ask “How old are you???” (he’s 38).

-Oliver asked what kind of people Hanks prefers to work with, other than them “not being a giant asshole” to which Hanks replied “Sometimes that works.”

-Hanks did an awesome impression of Ron Howard, and confessed to learning about camera angles from Kevin Bacon on the set of Apollo 13. Bacon would suggest Howard use a “BFCU” of KB, which, for those of you not in the know, is a big fucking close up of Kevin Bacon. “God bless Kevin Bacon,” said Hanks.

-To see him do an impression of Robert Zemeckis (director of Forrest Gump, who he calls “Bob”), listen to what he learns from his failures.

-The work Tom’s most proud of? That Thing You Do, which featured his whole family, and was basically one giant love-in to make. He is particularly proud of the scene where the band hears their single on the radio for the first time because – name drop! – Bruce Springstein once told him that he’d experienced it himself exactly like that.

-Hanks told us that the genius of Invictus was that Clint Eastwood never taught us a single thing about rugby.

-The most obscure thing a fan ever yelled at him? “Little boat!” –  a line from the movie Splash which Tom himself had a very hard time placing, and almost had to IMDB himself just to scratch the itch.

-Which of his characters would he most like to have a beer with? Charlie Wilson, hands down.

-On the Disneyfication of characters:

-Hanks said “Movies that celebrate their own nostalgia are a waste of time” and I hope to god he meant Everybody Wants Some!!

-His most exhausting role? Woody, from Toy Story.  “It’s hideous making those movies” he claimed.

Anecdote after anecdote, Tom Hanks proved himself worthy of storyteller status. To those of you who didn’t make it in, I wish I could tell you you didn’t miss much, but the truth is, it was an unforgettable evening.

 

Tribeca: A Hologram for the King

I have been on the Dave Eggers train since A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (it’s exactly that – you should read it) but over the years he’s proven he writes fiction just as well as non, a13722902nd so of course this book was immediately on my nightstand and then devoured into my brain and then shelved politely to await its fate. Little did it, or I, know that just a few years later it would be turned into a movie, prompting Sean to finally give it a read as well (don’t judge him too harshly, he’s mostly literate).

A Hologram for the King tells the story of Alan, a washed-up American businessman in Saudi Arabia trying to make a pitch to the king. This contract will save him from untold embarrassment; back home he has debt everywhere, a resume full of failures, and an oblivious daughter in an expensive college, with tuition due. But the king’s not biting. In fact, the king’s not even around, and this supercity he’s building is languishing in the desert. And poor Alan has nothing better to do, and no choice really, but to sit around and wait.

When Sean was done reading it, I decided to give it a re-read myself, because we both maxresdefaultstruggled to picture Hanks as Alan Clay. Alan is a loser. He’s beaten down by life, but not in Hanks’s usual sad-sack way. He was too pathetic. But Tom Hanks is not only starring, he’s producing, which means he really likes this project, and he knew what he was getting into.

 

Tom Tykwer wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, and he made some disappointing choices (he’s also responsible for both Cloud Atlas and Run Lola Run, so you decide whether the man’s a genius or a sadist). I’m too fond of the source material, and every time the film swerved away from it, I grimaced. And some of those edits were undoubtedly good. I just couldn’t give it a fair shake. Would I have enjoyed the movie more had I not read the book?

Tom Hanks is lovely here. This is maybe not as complex a character as his best work usually involves, and that’s kind of true of the movie as a whole: it’s just a little superficial. He plays an everyman – except Alan is actually supposed to be more of a tragic hero a la Death of a Salesman; this version of Alan feels watered down. And he’s supposed A-Hologram-for-the-King-6-600x422to be a fish out of water – not just the cliched culture clash crap of an American abroad, but of an aging salesman with an old bag of tricks in a newfangled world of young, tech-minded colleagues. The world is shrinking, and moving quickly, and Alan is getting left behind. Movie Alan has more verve than Book Alan, which sounds like a strange thing to complain about, but the truth is, the world already had enough of these Alans. For a movie that could have been refreshingly unHollywood, it sure made some safe choices and went for the audience-friendly ending that smacks of missed opportunity.

Verdict: See it for Hanks, eventually, but you can probably skip the cinema.

Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff, and Robert De Niro, apparently in response to 9/11 and the resulting loss of business and tdy_hoda_deniro_160328__660211.nbcnews-ux-1080-600vitality in their neighbourhood of lower Manhattan (Tribeca stands for the Triangle Below Canal St).

After just 120 days of planning (thank you 1300 volunteers!), the festival was launched in 2002 and featured premieres such as Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, About a Boy, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. New York City was anxious to remind people what a boon to the film business it was, and Hollywood was more than happy to pay their respects. 150, 000 people turned up to that first year but today it’s more like 3 million, and it generates something like $600 million dollars for the city, so, hello! Even press-shy celebrities turntumblr_o446mlCvS11uoq4k6o1_400 up to these events, and lots are eager to lend a hand. Martin Scorsese has curated a Best of New York series in the past, and this year Whoopi Goldberg is helming the animation lineup.

But Tribeca doesn’t just show great movies, it has also premiered video games, virtual reality exhibits, lots of amazing talks, and a spotlight on TV. Tribeca had a huge outdoor screening for the finale of Friends in 2004, and it’s also premiered Inside Amy Schumer and Mr. Robot. This year Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda will be on hand to introduce the premiere of the second season of Grace and Frankie (which is awesome, by the way – look for it on Netflix), Oprah will be showcasing her new OWN show Greenleaf, Tom Hiddleston’s in town to show off his new AMC series, The Night Manager, Forest cq5dam.web.620.398Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and Anna Paquin are all pushing the History miniseries Roots, and TNT is launching a new drama based off the movie Animal Kingdom, starring Ellen Barkin. Tribeca will also be screening the finale of the show Six Feet Under, with Alan Ball there to provide commentary (this is THE MOST GUTTING television I’ve ever seen) and Julianna Margulies will be toasting The Good Wife’s finale. When the television’s that good, you know the movies are going to be incredible. And we’ll get to those.

But first: Tribeca Talks. They’re absolutely KILLING ME with how wonderful their DS-Abrams-Rockstorytellers series is. First night: Patti Smith being interviewed by Ethan Hawke. Next: JJ Abrams interviewed by Chris Rock. There are talks with Idina Menzel, Catherine Hardwicke, Tina Fey, Samantha Bee, Francis Ford Coppola, Jodie Foster & Julie Taymor, Alfonso Cuaron, Bahz Luhrmann, and more. It drives me crazy how good these are.

And then there are the movies: the zillions of super awesome movies. Premieres up the large_23-Taxi-Driver-1976-Martin-Scorsese-Robert-De-Nirowazoo, but also some throwbacks worth seeing again and again (this year they’re recognizing the 40th (!) anniversary of Taxi Driver, and Scorsese, De Niro, and Foster will all be in attendance). Tribeca Film Festival runs April 14-24th, and Sean and I will only be there for the second half of it, which means we’re seeing only a tiny sliver of all the goodness available. I’m a sad panda about missing Abrams & Rock, but we arrive in time to see John Oliver take on Tom Hanks, and I think I can live with that!

Stay tuned because we’re seeing some blindingly good stuff and are bound to rub elbows and\or knees with tonnes of celebrities, and you can read all about it right here – or, if you’re impatient, get up to the minute updates and some questionably appropriate pictures on our Twitter feed @AssholeMovies .

 

 

Catch Me If You Can

My first encounter with the life of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. was accidental.  I was about 5 or 6, poking around the house, when I came across a book cover that instantly imprinted on me:Catch Me

I didn’t read it then, because I couldn’t read a 50 page book before my short little attention span made me want to “look at” ants through a magnifying glass or something similarly fun.  And I never ended up reading it at any time in the next three decades.  It’s probably still sitting in my parents’ bookshelf, and as a kid I would have read it ten times over if I had just read a different page every time I picked it up instead of just looking at the creepy faceless man on the cover over and over again.  But really, the cover was enough for me to draw my own conclusions about how this “amazing true story” turned out.  And it was not until this week that I learned how wrong I was all these years.

My biggest mistake was thinking that this story centred around the fact that this guy actually had no face and that’s why he needed the pilot mask. Symbolism was lost on me then (and probably still is to this day).  It turns out that this guy had a normal face, wrote a lot of bad cheques, and for some reason the key to his scheme was pretending to be a pilot.

I found that part of the story absolutely amazing.  Most of all because I feel like it’s probably true.  Pilots in the 1960s were gods among men.  They were the paragon of success and reliability.  So much so that a pilot’s uniform changed Frank Jr.’s cheque scams from leo pilotfruitless endeavours to an avalanche of other peoples’ money.  Can you imagine this happening today?  It seems as likely as an apparently successful model taking a cheque in exchange for turning tricks.  Which, as I learned, also happened in this true story.

Incidentally, that successful model was played by Jennifer Garner.  Catch Me If You Can is full of soon-to-be-stars making cameos, including Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks and Ellen Pompeo.  Add Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, Martin Sheen, and Leonardo DiCaprio, and you’ve got a pretty impressive cast.  And the director, Steven Spielberg, is no slouch either.

Maybe all these young faces are the reason that watching Catch Me If You Can felt doubly nostalgic.  As only a movie set in the good old days can, the movie puts a bright sunny face on $2.5 million worth of cheque fraud, where if you go big enough then inevitably the FBI will negotiate your release from prison so they can offer you a job.  And those good old days now seem to be either the 1960s, when this movie is set, or the early 2000s, pre-financial crisis, when this movie was made.

Catch Me If You Can is an entertaining movie that remains enjoyable mainly because it fully embraces its ludicrous premise.  If it took itself more seriously, it may still have worked in those good old days but by now probably would have lost its luster, as I think we are now too jaded to be charmed by ultra-rich assholes who think the rules don’t apply to them (with Donald Trump being an obvious and unfortunate exception).

catch-me-if-you-can-tom-hanksBut Spielberg and DiCaprio didn’t ask me to like Abagnale.  Instead, they gave me a kid who figured out how to do one thing really well but who was terrible at every other aspect of life, a guy I almost felt sorry for, and that was a brilliant choice.  Add Tom Hanks as an opponent/father figure who by the end of the movie sees right through Abagnale, and you get a movie I should have watched long before now, especially when it has been sitting on our DVD shelf since Jay and I moved in together.  Things might have been different if the DVD cover had a man with no face – because then I would undoubtedly have picked it up long ago.  That was Dreamworks’ one misstep.

Catch Me If You Can gets a score of nine giddy stewardesses out of ten.

Passing Time in Airplanes

Oh, watching movies in airplanes. It makes me feel like a Dr. Seuss character. Not only am I cavalier about a technology I admittedly don’t understand, but I’m actually so bored by this magical, flying 131121144126-plane-annoying-things-19-horizontal-large-gallerytin can that I’m actually watching practically new releases at the same time. Plus trying not to accidentally elbow my tiny plastic cup of water, or that of my neighbour, while also holding on to my precarious ear buds (those of you with similarly tiny ears will understand: ear buds are NOT one size fits all). If Sean and I decide to watch a movie together, we have to try to synchronize the pressing of the Play button, or else one of us is watching with a delay. AND we have to ignore what everyone else is watching around us for fear of spoiling an untold number of movies in a matter of minutes.

On our way there, Sean watched Mr. Holmes. I tried to watch it with him but the jack was broken and I was only getting sound in my left ear, which was giving me a left ear-ache.

On our way back, we watched Bridge of Spies. Apologies to Mr. upcoming-movie-bridge-of-spies-446711Spielberg because we absolutely intended to see this in theatres, it’s just that life and other movies kept getting in the way. And this movie did not deserve this treatment from us. I LOVED it. I was sorry to be seeing it on a screen the size of a box of tictacs but happy to be seeing it at all. That Tom Hanks. Tom Fucking Hanks. This guy is the bomb. If 64238you haven’t seen it, it’s about an ordinary lawyer who is asked by his government, during the cold war, to defend a Soviet spy. He accepts, for his country, even though this means he quickly becomes the second most hated man in America. He’s an honourable guy who goes above and beyond – even putting himself at risk by going over to Germany to negotiate for a prisoner swap. Joel and Ethan Coen, who co-wrote the script with Matt Charman, deliver the goods, and Spielberg knows just rylancewhat to do with them. It’s interesting that with enough distance, this isn’t just about espionage anymore, it’s about seeing the humanity on both sides. What a relief. And here’s a nod to Mark Rylance who gives a nuanced and impressive turn as the spy. It’s a very grown-up character, drawn evenly, bravely, and with dignity, and Rylance lives up to every detail. The movie also manages a fair bit of humour – a spoonful of sugar to help the history lesson goes down. It was gripping, it was smart, and I loved the shit out of it.

Vacation is the newest installment in the National Lampoon tradition, with Ed Helms taking over the role of Rusty Griswald, who Ed Helms Christina Applegate Vacationjust wants to take his family on a vacation to Walley World (god knows why). It tries really hard to live up to its predecessor, going as far as stealing whole plot lines without really doing them justice or finding their charm. Ed Helms is watchable as always, and the truth is, we did chuckle.  Although because we failed to press Play at the EXACT same time, I was maxresdefaultwatching one or two seconds ahead of Sean, which meant every time I squeezed his thigh he knew a joke was coming, and every time I pinched it, that something gross was about to happen. And a lot of gross things happen. Because if you can’t be witty, go for the grossout. This movie relies on every road trip movie cliché you’ve already seen so believe me when I say you can live without it. But if you’re stuck on a plane for 6 hours, you could do worse. Probably.

You know what’s a better way to pass your time on a plane? Reading! And boy have we got just the thing for you! Our dear friend and fellow blogger Carrie Rubin has a terrific new novel out. PROJECT_COVER_IMAGE_1__SX800_It’s a medical thriller called Eating Bull, and you’ll be so absorbed you won’t even notice the seat belt sign clicking on and off like it’s disco night at a truck stop. I totally recommend it, and it’s available for purchase by Canadians Eating Bull at that link, and by Americans over at Eating Bull that one, and to most others up in this place. But for a couple of our lucky readers, we’d like to send you a copy – FREE. Leave a comment on this post to be eligible, and give us a follow\retweet on Twitter for an extra chance to win.