Visually, “Life of Pi,” which mixes real tigers with computer-generated effects almost seamlessly (Claudio Miranda, who shot “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” was the cinematographer), is like nothing seen onscreen in some time. The 3D in particular is the best since perhaps “Avatar.”
Pretty much loved “Life of Pi,” which was what “Hugo” should have been. It’s large-scale blockbuster filmmaking from an auteur who knows what he’s doing. Read more here.
Timing: The entire last scene on Thursday’s episode of “Glee” was scored with “Moon River.” Also, Sarah Jessica Parker was great and everything else was not. Also also, Courtney Love should sue for that whole "Celebrity Skin" number.
Some Thoughts On 'New Girl,' 'Ben & Kate' And 'The Mindy Project'
"Parks and Recreation" aside, there aren’t three shows on television as charming and exceedingly well cast as "New Girl," "Ben & Kate" and "The Mindy Project." That the latter two have only aired their pilot episodes is exciting: There’s no reason "Ben & Kate" and "The Mindy Project" can’t be two of the best comedies on television by 2013.
"New Girl" is just ridiculously good. The first two episodes of season two picked up right where things left off: with Jake Johnson, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris firing on all cylinders. ("Nick, your brand is Gypsy alcoholic handy man. Winston, your brand is Winston.") The shift from "The Zooey Deschanel Show" to "Friends Roommating!" during season one has been well documented, but it can’t really be stressed enough: "New Girl" should be mandatory viewing for fledgling sitcom writers for the next decade. It’s just the right amount of strange — invited guests to Schmidt’s relaunch event included "the girls from Lululemon," "Philip Seymour Hoffman" and some guy from "Crank Yankers" — while also being incredibly mainstream. The four leads are so sharply written that stakes don’t even matter. As long as Jess is doing Nick impressions and Schmidt is bitching about his failure to acquire a white tiger, "New Girl" will succeed.
"The Mindy Project" and "Ben & Kate" have similar strengths — great writing and great actors meshing well together — but are on opposite ends of "New Girl." Based on the pilot, "Ben & Kate" is going to be warm and gooey, which is fine since Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson have great chemistry together as brother and sister, and that cute little girl from "We Bought A Zoo" is completely adorable. (The show is "You Can Count on Me," but funny.)
"The Mindy Project," meanwhile, is much more angular: In the pilot, Mindy Kaling makes a jokes about "In the Land of Blood and Honey," "Precious," war crimes and poverty. Later, Chris Messina knocks "When Harry Met Sally" and Mindy’s weight. This thing has teeth, but Kaling is smart and knows how to make her character relatable.
With “The Office” and “30 Rock” eyeing the finish line and “Parks and Recreation” likely in its final lap (sadface), these Fox comedies are our future. Hollow out a papaya, mix in two fingers of rum and some crushed ice and enjoy.
“Listen up, Hollywood: Beautiful actresses are not funny. They don’t know how to do comedy … Only women who grew up ugly and stayed ugly, or through plastic surgery became beautiful, can pull off sitcoms or standups”—Can you imagine being as horrible as this one? It must be exhausting.
"Trouble With the Curve" begins with Clint Eastwood talking to his prostate and ends with the 82-year-old actor actually saying, "That’s what you call trouble with the curve!" All that’s missing is a freeze frame.
Directed by long-time Eastwood associate Robert Lorenz and written by Randy Brown (his feature screenwriting debut), “Trouble With the Curve” is certainly one of the worst baseball movies ever made. To wit: At one point, two waiters talk about how Jair Jurrjens threw a perfect game — the same Jair Jurrjens who owns a 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 terrible innings for the Atlanta Braves this year. (Jurrjens, completely healthy, is still in the minors because of his ineffectiveness, btw.)
"Trouble With the Curve" is, as one person noted, “‘Moneyball’ for morons.” It treats technology like a form of dark magic, and those who use technology like Death Eaters. As you might have guessed from the on-the-nose title, the film is tangentially about a top prospect named Bo Gentry (a five-tool player, we’re told, despite the fact that Gentry looks like an offensive lineman who let himself go), who may or may not have trouble with the curve. Spoiler alert: He does, but only Eastwood’s Gus Lobel, a grizzled scout with failing eyesight, can tell … because scouting reports and breakdowns of how Gentry does against specific pitches don’t exist in this world of “computers.” (Oh, wait: they would.)
So, the baseball part of “Trouble With the Curve” is total garbage. Which leaves the father-daughter relationship between Eastwood and a very game Amy Adams, who spends most of the film dragging Eastwood along with all her might, as the heart of the film. That doesn’t work either, however, because the motivations are all murky. “Trouble With the Curve” seems to be leading toward a big epiphany — sort of like “Million Dollar Baby,” but not — and then just stops. Without giving away the ending: Something happened to Adams’ Mickey when she was young, which forced Gus to leave her in the hands of relatives and boarding schools. Except what happens isn’t Gus’ fault and isn’t enough of a reason for him to abandon her — an act that is basically unforgivable. Yet “Trouble With the Curve” plays the abandonment as noble? Which is probably fine since everything is forgotten by the end anyway, and Gus and Mickey reconcile if for no other reason than the movie is over.
There have been worse movies this year than “Trouble With the Curve” (“Premium Rush” and “Dark Shadows,” for sure), but not much worse. Only "mental masochists" (and maybe Art Howe) should bother.
“I saw The Master for the second time last night, and was once again delighted. On the way home in the car I started developing my impression of Joaquin Pheonix as Freddie Quell….muh!…neeeee-heeee!”—Jeff Wells.
Only a fool would cast aspersions in the direction of “When Harry Met Sally,” a romantic comedy that has taken its place alongside “Annie Hall” and “Broadcast News” as the filet of the genre, but it’s probably not as great great as you remember. (I hadn’t watched it in at least 10 years.) Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have passable chemistry, but you never get the sense that they actually are anything more than best friends. (Three years after “When Harry Met Sally,” Cameron Crowe released “Singles,” which did the friend-lover thing better with the relationships between both Campbell Scott and Bridget Fonda and Scott and Kyra Sedgwick.) Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher are wonderful as the best friends, but the film never really feels big enough. Harry and Sally’s immediate circle is comically small, though maybe that has something to do with the fact that “When Harry Met Sally” takes place in a world before social networking. At one point, Fisher’s Marie pulls out a plastic case of index cards to give Sally a phone number.
Of course that doesn’t take away from the fact that Ephron’s script is loaded with outstanding observations and contains a ton of lines still quoted to this day. (It’s basically the Generation X version of “Casablanca.”) The dialogue feels too written at times, but no matter: Ephron had a sharp ear for Upper West Side-speak, but you don’t need me to tell you that.
What struck me on re-watch — especially after Ephron’s untimely death — was how much Harry was her mirror image. “I always read the last page of a book first so that if I die before I finish I’ll know how it turned out,” Harry says to Sally during their meet-cute phase, a quote that was often repeated by Ephron herself. Harry is also the character going through a divorce and an affair, something Ephron could obviously relate to as well. Sally may have been the aspiring journalist — and she gets her own Ephron-y streak as New York City hardens her up — but it’s Harry who feels like her direct stand-in for the writer. Male and female screenwriters are often accused of misrepresenting the opposite sex, but here’s Ephron basically writing herself as the leading man. Let’s face it: That’s kind of incredible.
All in all, “When Harry Met Sally” is a great romantic comedy, one possibly injured by the fact that so many romantic comedies have tried to emulate it over the last 20 years: Nicolas Stoller and Jason Segel should basically pay Reiner and Ephron’s estate some of kind finder’s fee for the ways they rip “When Harry Met Sally” off in the still-solid “The Five-Year Engagement.” What it’s not, however, is “Annie Hall. (Though, really, what is?) It’s more like the play Alvy Singer writes about Annie Hall in ”Annie Hall.” All things considered, that’s not a bad consolation prize.