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Archives for : Actor

Movie Review: “The Green Knight” and “Paper Spiders”

David Lowery is an Irving High School alum who has gone on to make critically acclaimed films like “Pete’s Dragon” and “A Ghost Story”. His new movie, “The Green Knight,” is a Medieval, fantasy re-telling of Sir Gawain based on the 14th century Arthurian poem. Watch the video below to find out my thoughts on the movie, along with a review of the independent film, “Paper Spiders”, starring Lili Taylor (“The Conjuring”).

“The Green Knight” opens in theaters July 30, 2021 and “Paper Spiders” is available to rent on various VOD platforms.

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Movie Review: “Here Today” -An Unexpected Friendship


Billy Crystal is a legend. He’s quite possibly the best Oscar host, and starred in a number of hilarious comedies. So, when you hear he directed, wrote, and stared in the new comedy, “Here Today”, you go in with high expectations. 

“Here Today” features Crystal as Charlie Berns, a nearly retired comedy writer who is part of the staff for the Saturday Night Live style variety show called “This Just In”. The majority of the writers are young and see Charlie as a dated comic. But he proves in many ways his seasoned talents are still useful. One day he goes to lunch with Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish), a woman who has won a meal with the writer from a silent auction. After a dramatic allergic reaction to seafood, the two form an unlikely bond. As their friendship grows, Emma discovers Charlie has been hiding his health problems from his loved ones. He is suffering from dementia and is getting lost in his memories.

Emma takes it upon herself to look after Charlie. Seeing that he has a strained relationship with his two children (played by Penn Badgley and Laura Benanti), one of which blames him for their mother’s death. At times, the film toys with the idea of Emma and Charlie as something more than friends. Luckily, this is not a romantic comedy, and any suggestion of these two being intimate is absolutely cringe-worthy. The film shines when they are strictly platonic. It’s heartwarming to see two lonely people finding comfort and safety in each other.

“Here Today” tells a sweet story, and there was a lot of potential for an even better film from this premise. Unfortunately, for a movie that is labeled a “comedy”, there weren’t a whole lot of laughs.  or starters, the scenes where Crystal forgets something are incredibly sad; including a moment where Charlie can’t take his memorized route to work. That is almost unbearable to watch. The sketch show within the film, “This Just In”, is unbearable in a different way. The jokes are corny and painful. We can thank Haddish for the comic relief. Her delivery is naturally funny. It seems Crystal intended for her to rise as the comedic star.

Everyone can empathize with Charlie; and if you know anyone with dementia, you’ll recognize the truths behind this awful disease. But somehow balancing Charlie’s issues with humorless TV gags throws off the tone and takes away from what could have been a compelling story. Though it’s hard not to find some enjoyment in “Here Today”, Crystal and Haddish are a delightful pair. But as whole, something just doesn’t quite click.

Rating: 2.5/5

“Here Today” opens in theaters May 7, 2021

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Predicting the Winners: 86th Academy Awards

BEST PICTURE

“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Will Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Could Win: “Gravity”
Want to Win: “The Wolf of Wall Street”
            

BEST DIRECTOR

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Will Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Could Win: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Want to Win: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
            

BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Want to Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Will still be happy for McConaughey)
          

BEST ACTRESS

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Will Win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Could Win: Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Want to Win: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
          

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Will Win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
           

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”’
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska.”

Will Win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Could Win: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Want to Win: Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
           

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight”
Billy Ray, “Captain Phillips”
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, “Philomena”
John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
Terence Winter, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Will Win: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
Could Win: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, “Philomena”
Want to Win: John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave”
           

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine”
Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Spike Jonze, “Her”
Bob Nelson, “Nebraska”

Will Win: Spike Jonze, “Her”
Could Win: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Want to Win: Spike Jonze, “Her”
           

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“Frozen”
“The Wind Rises”

Will Win: “Frozen”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: “Frozen”
            

BEST DOCUMENTARY

“The Act of Killing”
”Cutie and the Boxer”
”Dirty Wars”
”The Square”
”20 Feet from Stardom”

Will Win: “20 Feet from Stardom”
Could Win: “The Act of Killing”
Want to Win: “20 Feet from Stardom”
           

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium
“The Great Beauty,” Italy
“The Hunt,” Denmark
“The Missing Picture,” Cambodia
“Omar,” Palestine

Will Win: “The Great Beauty,” Italy
Could Win: “The Hunt,” Denmark
Want to Win: “The Great Beauty,” Italy
           

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from “Her,” Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.

Will Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Could Win: “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.
Want to Win: “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
           

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

“The Book Thief,” John Williams
“Gravity,” Steven Price
“Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman

Will Win: “Gravity,” Steven Price
Could Win: “Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
Want to Win: “Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett
           

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“American Hustle”
”The Grandmaster”
”The Great Gatsby”
”The Invisible Woman”
”12 Years a Slave”

Will Win: “The Great Gatsby”
Could Win: “American Hustle”
Want to Win: “The Great Gatsby”
           

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

“American Hustle”
”Gravity”
”The Great Gatsby”
”Her”
”12 Years a Slave”

Will Win: “The Great Gatsby”
Could Win: “Gravity”
Want to Win: “Her”
           

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

“Gravity”
”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
”Iron Man 3″
”The Lone Ranger”
”Star Trek Into Darkness”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: “Gravity”
           

BEST FILM EDITING

“American Hustle”
”Captain Phillips”
”Dallas Buyers Club”
”Gravity”
”12 Years a Slave”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “12 Years a Slave”
Want to Win: “Gravity”
           

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“The Grandmaster”
”Gravity”
”Inside Llewyn Davis”
”Nebraska”
”Prisoners”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: No Contest
Want to Win: “Prisoners”
           

BEST SOUND EDITING

“All Is Lost”
”Captain Phillips”
”Gravity”
”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
”Lone Survivor”

Will Win: “Gravity”
Could Win: “Captain Phillips”
Want to Win: “Gravity”
           

BEST SOUND MIXING

“Captain Phillips”
”Gravity”
”The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
”Inside Llewyn Davis”
”Lone Survivor”

Will Win: “Lone Survivor” (Just to mix things up?)
Could Win: “Gravity”
Want to Win: “Captain Phillips”
           

BEST MAKE UP & HAIRSTYLING

“Dallas Buyers Club”
”Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
”The Lone Ranger”

Will Win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
Could Win: ”Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
Want to Win: “Dallas Buyers Club”
            

BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“CaveDigger”
”Facing Fear”
”Karama Has No Walls”
”The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
”Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

Blind Guess: ”The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
            

BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

“Feral”
”Get a Horse!”
”Mr. Hublot”
”Possessions”
“Room on the Broom”

Blind Guess: “Get a Horse!”
           

BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
”Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
”Helium”
”Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
”The Voorman Problem”

Blind Guess: “The Voorman Problem”

We will see how many of my predictions are right…Watch the 86th Academy Awards Sunday, March 2, 2014-7pm ET on ABC.  Hosted by Ellen DeGeneres!

Special Events: Ben Stiller Adds his Hands & Footprints to Chinese Theatre!

THE CHINESE THEATRE IS TO HOLLYWOOD WHAT THE GREAT WALL IS TO CHINA, A MUST SEE!

BEN STILLER TO PUT HAND AND FOOTPRINTS IN CEMENT DEC. 3 AT TCL CHINESE THEATRE FORECOURT

Recent handprint-footprint celebrants have included Robert DeNiro, Jackie Chan, and Sandra Bullock 

(Hollywood, Calif., Nov. 5, 2013)—The most famous movie palace in the world, The TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX® (www.tclchinesetheatres.com), is set to honor actor-writer-director BEN STILLER, who stars in and directs the upcoming feature film, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (www.waltermitty.com) which opens Dec. 25, 2013. The traditional handprint-footprint ceremony honoring Stiller takes place Tues., Dec. 3, at 11AM.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is James Thurber’s classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York is about to devote an entire weekend to Ben Stiller’s work behind the camera. The Film Society will screen five Stiller-directed films from Dec. 6-8 in a program called Ben Stiller Directs.

Stiller is currently in production on Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young opposite Naomi Watts and Amanda Seyfried. He previously collaborated with Baumbach in 2010 and received rave reviews for his lead role in Greenberg, which also earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Lead Actor.

In 2008, Stiller starred in, co-wrote and directed Tropic Thunder under his Red Hour Films production banner. Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black and Tom Cruise, the film garnered several award nominations including an Academy Award®, BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe® for Robert Downey Jr. as well as a Golden Globe® nomination for Tom Cruise. The film also won the Broadcast Film Critics Award and Hollywood Film Festival Award for Comedy of the Year.

His other directing credits include Reality BitesThe Cable Guy, and Zoolander, which he co-wrote and starred in. As a writer, Stiller won an Emmy Award® for the short-lived sketch comedy series The Ben Stiller Show, which he also directed and produced.

Stiller’s acting credits include: Permanent MidnightYour Friends & NeighborsFlirting with DisasterEmpire of the SunThere’s Something About MaryThe Royal TenenbaumsNight at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the SmithsonianTower Heist; Meet the ParentsMeet the Fockers and Little Fockers; and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, a Red Hour production.