It’s not easy to love Roger Greenberg, the latest misanthrope Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) has created as the star of his new comedy. Greenberg, played by a pitch-perfect Ben Stiller, is insufferable: narcissistic, cruel and calculating, and totally oblivious to his shortcomings. That he has friends, much less a doting and very forgiving lover (Greta Gerwig), is nothing short of a miracle.
The revitalization of Disney animation over a 10-year period, culminating in 1994 with the smash hit The Lion King, as well as the subsequent disintegration of the working relationship between executives Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and the late Roy E. Disney, are the primary subjects of Waking Sleeping Beauty, Don Hahn’s fascinating new documentary that takes us behind the scenes at the Mouse House with remarkable candor.
Jay Baruchel, the waifish star of Tropic Thunder, and Nate Torrence, who played a jovial government agent in Get Smart, didn’t know each other before making the winsome new comedy She’s Out of My League. But they became fast friends during the filming.
“We lost many days making ourselves laugh,” says Baruchel, 27. “One of the things that’s problematic about improvising on the set is that it can sometimes become a pissing contest – people try to show each other up by coming up with the best lines. That didn’t happen here. Everyone was just trying to make each other funnier.
The creative pairing of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass has yielded two gripping sequels to The Bourne Identity (2002) and now Green Zone, another skillful exercise in breakneck storytelling that finds Greengrass questioning the sincerity of America’s search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
It is 2003, and Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is hunting for Saddam Hussein’s rumored WMDs, but finding little to justify his search, much less America’s occupation of foreign soil.
Neither Christopher Plummer, 80, nor Helen Mirren, 64, the stars of Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station, took home Oscars from last Sunday’s awards ceremony. But as far as Hoffman is concerned, their work remains indispensable, the key to breathing the intensity of life into his screenplay, adapted from Jay Parini’s 1990 novel, about the last days of Leo Tolstoy.
Corey Haim, who starred in popular teen comedies including Lucas (1986), License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989), as well as Joel Schumacher’s 1987 cult hit The Lost Boys, has died at 38 of what is believed to be an accidental drug overdose.
Anna Kendrick doesn’t expect to win an Oscar for her ferociously perky supporting turn as a corporate terminator in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. That, she says, is an honor earmarked for another actress, though she coyly declines to reveal the mystery winner’s identity.
Even if Kendrick, 24, is right, it would take nothing away from her remarkable breakthrough starring opposite George Clooney in Reitman’s meditation on the value of human contact in an age of digital communication. Nor would it diminish the impact of her scene-stealing performance as a vapid, shopping-obsessed teen in one of the year’s biggest blockbusters, New Moon.
The third annual Disposable Film Festival begins tonight at the Roxie Theater with two screenings of the festival's Competitive Shorts Program, featuring a uniquely unconventional collection of experimental, animated and photo-motion shorts chosen from more than 1,000 international submissions.
Winner of the Grand Prix at last year's Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Audiard’s harrowing story of a 19-year-old whose life is redefined by six years in a French prison has been compared in some quarters to The Godfather, and the comparison makes sense on a superficial level.
Malik (newcomer Tahar Rahim) begins his two-and-a-half hour odyssey as a fresh-faced petty criminal, penniless and alone in the world, a sheep condemned to live among wolves. He loses what remains of his innocence in short order: Commanded by the Corsican mobster Luciani (Niels Arestrup, terrific) to murder a fellow Arab or suffer an equally gruesome fate himself, Malik reluctantly learns to kill, concealing a razor in his cheek and clumsily slashing his victim’s throat.
He’s touted as a dark horse in Oscar’s Best Actor race, a relative unknown in a field of nominees highlighted by presumed frontrunner Jeff Bridges and George Clooney. Yet Modesto native Jeremy Renner, the fair-haired star of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, is no stranger to the screen, or to awards consideration.