January 22, 2017

Tag Archives: james franco

Seth Rogen’s “Sausage Party” is a filthy good time

As somewhat of a man child, I have a soft spot for animation, especially when it’s at least a bit on the irreverent side. I also happen to really enjoy the humor of Seth Rogen, so when I knew he was developing something called Sausage Party, my interest was already piqued. Well, fast forward from its initial announcement a few years ago to last night I finally got a chance to see it, ahead of its release at the end of the week. Wow. Not only is it perhaps the dirtiest animated film that I’ve ever seen, it just might be one of the funniest as well. It’s unlike anything else out there, that’s for sure.
The movie is a look at what our food does in the supermarket and how they actually learn the truth about their existence. Initially believing that humans are gods and when selected, they head to a wonderful place called the Great Beyond, items like Frank the Sausage (Rogen) and Brenda the Bun (Kristen Wiig) discover that’s not the case, setting off a literal fight for survival. It is absolute insanity, let me tell you. I almost can’t say anything that happens, not only to preserve the surprises, but also because it’s just too raunchy. I laughed out loud a ton, but there will also be walkouts on opening night, I suspect. Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon direct, while the screenplay is credited to Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter, and Ariel Shaffir (based on a story by Goldberg, Rogen, and Jonah Hill). In addition to Rogen and Wiig, as well as Hill, the A-list voice cast includes Michael Cera, James Franco, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Anders Holm, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Danny McBride, Edward Norton, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, and many more. Music, believe it or not, comes from Alan Menken, alongside Christopher Lennertz.
Honestly, this is just an absolutely hilarious flick. From the way this is all just a metaphor for religion to one specific sequence in the third act that has to be seen in order to be believed, it all just tickles your funny bone. There’s one or two slower spots, but they almost are needed in order to give you a chance to catch your breath, you’ll be laughing so hard. This film is just as funny as you’d expect, and way dirtier too, but it’s also smarter than you’re expecting, and that […]

Danny Boyle: His best films so far

Few filmmakers like to mix things up as much as Danny Boyle does. As a director, he has a style that’s easy to notice, but he often applies it to fairly unique projects. Boyle is an Academy Award winner, the helmer of a Best Picture winner, and considered one of the more interesting directors in the business. This week, he’s got another Oscar contender in Steve Jobs beginning to hit theaters, and it’s one of his better movies. In honor of that, I did want to give a rundown of the best films of Boyle’s career so far. He’s made almost a dozen flicks, but below you’ll see his top five to date. Enjoy, and as always, remember that this is just my take on Boyle’s work…
Here now are what I believe to be the five best films of Boyle’s directing career so far:
5. 127 Hours – Initially a film of his I wasn’t wild about, the years have been kind to Boyle’s visceral look at survival against all odds. It didn’t hurt that James Franco is outstanding in the only real role of note in the movie, but Boyle does utilize his sometimes frantic sense of direction to keep from boredom setting in. Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s script is truly elevated by Boyle’s direction and Franco’s acting here, no question about it.
4. Trainspotting – The flick that really helped him break out, this hard to pin down film is more or less a cultural touchstone at this point. Armed with a soon to be star in Ewen McGregor and the early days of Miramax and Harvey Weinstein behind it, this was something that would be placed alongside titles like Pulp Fiction in attempting to change cinema. The movie is perhaps a bit overrated, but it’s still one of his best. With a long rumored sequel finally getting ready to go, fans of this one will be able to hang out with these junkies one more time in the next year or so.
3. 28 Days Later – Boyle is essentially the grandfather of the modern day zombie, courtesy of this movie. He and writer Alex Garland sped up the undead, looked at them as infected humans, and really did change the game. Without Boyle, this might not have hit in the same way as it did, so if you’re a fan of zombies in the 21st century, be it on […]

Anton Yelchin in “5 to 7”: Ten Movies to see in April

Happy April Fools’ Day folks! I’m going to keep it serious here today though and give you a look at what the month of April has to offer in terms of theatrical releases. I’m going to be getting back into the rhythm of doing this every month, so consider this just the first of many. Obviously, there are more than the ten releases I’m mentioning, but this could wind up as the cream of the crop by the end of the month. I’ve also seen a good number of these, so that works as an added bonus in figuring out what to recommend…
Here now are ten April releases to really look forward to:
10. Furious 7 – We all know that everyone is going to see this much hyped sequel staring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, so this is almost a besides the point mention. Still, in a lean-ish month like April, it certainly stands out as the only real blockbuster of note. It could rule the box office until May 1st when Avengers: Age of Ultron shatters records.
9. Monsters: Dark Continent – A sequel to a very solid indie that catapulted Gareth Edwards into the director’s chair for Godzilla. The first one was a real surprise, so I’ll be curious to see if this one can turn this into a viable franchise. I’ll be seeing it later on this week, so stay tuned…
8. Woman in Gold – Opening today, this is something that would have otherwise seemed like a fall/winter awards bait offering. Helen Mirren attempting to get valuables back from the Nazis after World War II? Sounds baity to me. Ryan Reynolds co-stars in something that you can literally check out once you finish reading this.
7. Misery Loves Comedy – Actor/comedian Kevin Pollak’s documentary about if comedians really have to be sad in order to be funny really has my attention. I’m hoping to see it shortly at the Tribeca Film Festival, so while I can’t vouch for it, it does seem like the prime doc for April.
6. Child 44 – Here’s another one time Oscar hopeful that’s instead opening in the early spring. Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman get a chance to re-unite after sharing the screen in The Dark Knight Rises. The buzz is muted on this one, but it likely will have something solid to offer.
5. Clouds of Sils Maria – When I saw this one […]

The 83rd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

After a brief delay, this series has returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m going to be truing to do that, time will still tell. Again, if nothing else, this gives you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.
Alright then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks:
Best Picture – The Social Network
The nominees here for this ceremony were 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone. My personal pick Blue Valentine wasn’t nominated, of course, so my number two pick is an easy one…The Social Network. Such a shame that it fell short here to The King’s Speech in real life.
Best Director – David Fincher for The Social Network
This category featured Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), David Fincher (The Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), and David O. Russell (The Fighter), and yet the three most interesting choices in Aronofsky, Fincher, and Russell were passed over for Hooper. I’d change that though, and go with Fincher. Had I been given the power to vote for anyone though, I’d probably have gone with Derek Cianfrance for Blue Valentine.
Best Actor – Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
I didn’t intend to vote down the line for The Social Network, but so far it just has worked out that way. My personal pick Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine got snubbed, so I had to go to my second choice. The nominees here were Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), James Franco (127 Hours), and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech). It’s hard to argue with Firth’s win, but I think Eisenberg was slightly more deserving overall.
Best Actress – Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine
Honestly, I might prefer Natalie Portman for Black Swan, but I can’t resist the chance to give Blue Valentine an Oscar win […]

2015 MTV Movie Award nominations are more respectable than usual

Yesterday, the MTV Movie Award nominations were announced for 2015. Normally, that’s not the sort of thing that I care even a little bit about, but lo and behold…the films and performances cited happen to be far more respectable than normal. The nominations were led by The Fault in Our Stars, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Neighbors, which each came away with 7 citations. There also happened to be multiple nominations scored for Boyhood, Gone Girl, Selma, and Whiplash, among others. This will never become any kind of noteworthy precursor, for sure (especially when it happens after the Oscars are already held), but hey…a step in the right direction is a step in the right direction.
Let me be perfectly clear, there are still plenty of terrible choices here, but the overall list is far better than you’d ever expect it to be. In fact, aside from an obvious bent towards some teen centric movies, this more or less resembles what a number of precursors with a mainstream tilt look like. It’s not inconceivable that in the next year or so these awards will gain a small measure of respect. Think closer to the People’s Choice Awards as opposed to even the Golden Globe Awards, but hey…it’s a start. Every awards show needs to start somewhere, right?
Sure, you could focus on the nominations for things like Annabelle, The Boy Next Door, Horrible Bosses 2, The Maze Runner, The Other Woman, The Purge: Anarchy, and The Wedding Ringer, but why do that? They also went for all of those aforementioned Oscar contenders, so that’s where the focus should be. This isn’t a nomination list to pay too much attention to, but a quick glance does give you a bit of confidence that the next generation of filmgoer isn’t solely concerned with YA franchise adaptions.
Here now is the full nominations list for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards:
Movie of the Year
American Sniper
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Guardians of the Galaxy
Gone Girl
The Fault In Our Stars
Best Female Performance
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Emma Stone – Birdman
Shailene Woodley – The Fault In Our Stars
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Scarlett Johansson – Lucy
Best Male Performance
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy
Ansel Elgort – The Fault In Our Stars
Miles Teller – Whiplash
Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher
Best Scared-As-S**t Performance
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Annabelle Wallis – Annabelle
Jennifer Lopez – The Boy Next Door
Dylan O’Brien […]

Ten candidates to host the 88th Academy Awards

As always seems to be the case immediately after the Oscars, a lot of chatter has turned to who should be the next host of the show following Neil Patrick Harris’ turn on Sunday. Honestly, the Academy Awards doesn’t actually need a host, but since they’re committed to the idea, it makes sense to really shoot for the moon next time out. I’ve never disliked any of the hosts (yes, I even found James Franco and Anne Hathaway to be fine), but I’ve also never really been over the moon for any of them. As such, I didn’t have to think too much in order to find a bunch of worthy names that I wish the Academy would consider. Below you’ll see ten of them, but trust me…there are plenty more than just these men and women.
Here are the ten individuals that I think could knock the 88th Oscars out of the park:
10. Billy Crystal – When in doubt, why not go back to what you know works? There are other options I could have listed here, like Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, or even Harris again (I’d easily be the most willing to give Seth MacFarlane another crack at it, even if it seems he’s one and done), but I have a feeling that we haven’t seen Crystal’s last turn at this gig. He wouldn’t be an exciting or sexy pick, but he’d do the job with a consistency that the Academy craves.

9. Sarah Silverman – Given the chance, I think Silverman could really do a great job with this big stage. Sure, she’s dirtier than most previous hosts, but she has a unique personality that could be well suited to a slight roast of Hollywood. I doubt she’d get the call, but I think it’s one that Oscar should make.

8. Kevin Smith – Hear me out. Quietly, the filmmaker has become an incredible interviewer on his many podcasts, someone who speaks with a genuine affection and love for cinema. For Hollywood’s biggest night/their prom, shouldn’t the MC be a big fan of the movies too? They’ll never even consider him, but they should.

7. Jimmy Kimmel – I think if it weren’t for the fact that Kimmel already hosts a post show special, he’d already have been given the gig. He’s a low risk choice that could wind up paying bigger dividends than expected. Of all the people on this […]

TRUE STORY – James Franco and Jonah Hill trailer

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) meets accused killer Christian Longo (James Franco), who has taken on Finkel’s identity, his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat-and-mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel?s relentless pursuit of Longo?s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit and redemption.


Movies to look forward to at the Sundance Film Festival

This week, the Sundance Film Festival gets underway, seeking to highlight the best in independent film. I won’t be in Park City this year, sadly, though I have been in the past and can vouch for it as a really unique and enjoyable (if exhausting) festival to attend. In honor of its 2015 start, I wanted to run down some of the higher profile titles that could make a dent on the awards season later on this year. If not Oscar players, these could at least become the indie darlings of the season, or perhaps just crossover successes. Had I been in attendance at Sundance, there’s almost two dozen movies that I’d be hoping to catch, but I whittled a list down to just ten of the ones I want to highlight most. Take a look…
Here are ten films to look forward to once they leave Sundance:
10. Digging For Fire – In the last few years, Joe Swanberg has really upped his game, not only in terms of casting bigger names, but also coming up with compelling plots that still fit his unique filmmaking personality. Hopefully he continues the trend with this latest venture, which features a great cast, including Rosemarie DeWit, Jake Johnson (who co-wrote the script), Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Ron Livingston, Chris Messina, Sam Rockwell, and Jenny Slate, along with many others. Swanberg is on a high, so fingers crossed here.
9. I Smile Back – I was impressed by Sarah Silverman’s partly dramatic turn a couple years ago in Take This Waltz, so a full on serious role has me very intrigued. Silverman co-stars with Josh Charles and Thomas Sodoski in the story of an unhappy married woman lashing out with numerous vices. Silverman deserves this sort of a role, so I’ll be eager to see if she aces it.
8. A Walk in the Woods – Festival godfather Robert Redford stars here with Nick Nolte in a movie about old men talking, essentially. Doesn’t immediately sound too amazing, but I have to say, the chance to witness them going back and forth is rather appealing. It’ll likely be a mellow film, but I’m down to check it out.
7. Brooklyn – The latest script from novelist turned screenwriter Nick Hornby is a period piece set in 1950’s Ireland. Saoirse Ronan is the star, along with supporting players Jim Broadbent, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson. This one seems to […]

Audiences are missing out on a funny film in Seth Rogen’s “The Interview”

I’m sure by now all of you are aware of the massive hacking situation going on over at Sony. Sadly, there’s a cinematic casualty in Seth Rogen’s The Interview. Rogen’s sophomore feature (he co-writes and co-directs with filmmaking partner Evan Goldberg) was already screening for press, myself included, and was getting set for a Christmas release, but that’s no more. The powers that be at Sony have decided to cancel the release of the movie, which is a shame on multiple levels. For one thing, it’s sort of letting the terrorists win (though I’ll stop myself from going on a rant). More simply however, its preventing audiences from seeing one of 2014’s funniest films, and that’s a real shame.
Having been one of the few to actually see the flick, I can vouch for how amusing it is. Though not quite as hilarious as Rogen’s prior outing This Is The End, The Interview is still a laugh riot, with a high concept to boot. Rogen co-stars, co-writes, and co-directs (Goldberg co-writes and directs, with Dan Sterling also working on the script) in the movie, which also features James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, and Randall Park, just to name a few. The story surrounds a talk show host (Franco) and his producer (Rogen) who score an interview with the leader of North Korea (Park). When this becomes public knowledge, the CIA and one of its agents (Caplan) recruit the two to pull off an assassination. What follows is often ridiculous, never PC, and almost always hilarious. It’s easily one of the five funniest films of the year. Of course, it could be some time before anyone finds that out.
The Interview is obviously not coming out this Christmas now, but when might it actually come out? Well, Sony has already announced that they currently have no plans to put it out on VOD or direct to Blu-Ray/DVD, so my best guess is that they’re going to wait a few months and then actually try to release it theatrically again. It’s either that or literally never releasing something they spent tens of millions of dollars on and know they can make a profit on. As such, perhaps even as soon as February, we might see the flick come out. If not, it might be over the summer. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of it though. I certainly hope so, at least.
Now, this […]

Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar veterans hoping for another nomination this year

Each and every single awards season, there are tons of both newcomers and veterans to the Oscar game. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a bit of a look at those seeking their first nominations from the Academy, but today I’m going to be going ahead and listing some of the major players who’ve already been nominated before, and in some cases are already winners. It’s leading up to me re-ranking the contenders in the major categories next week, but right now it’s just going to be a preview of which old hands to the Oscar ranch are saddling up for another ride on the awards season pony.
In the Best Actor race, the highest profile former nominee is Joaquin Phoenix, who will look for his first win this year with Inherent Vice. He represents the most likely non first time nominee who could win the Oscar in this category, though one level down we have Bradley Cooper for American Sniper and Bill Murray for St. Vincent, with Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler and Brad Pitt for Fury as other possibilities, plus Ben Affleck, who I’m counting here since he’s an Oscar winner, even if he’s never received an acting citation to date. Longer shots for nominations who’ve been to the dance before include Christian Bale for Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Philip Seymour Hoffman for A Most Wanted Man, Matthew McConaughey for Interstellar, Al Pacino for Manglehorn, Jeremy Renner for Kill the Messenger, and Mark Walhberg for The Gambler. Those fellas will be fighting it out with a bunch of first timers in this category, and it’s going to be a bloodbath.
Over in Best Actress, we have perennial bridesmaid Amy Adams hoping that this year she’ll finally be the bride with her work in Big Eyes. She’s going to be getting a challenge from both Jessica Chastain (for either The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Miss Julie, or A Most Violent Year) and Reese Witherspoon for Wild though. One level down you have Julianne Moore for Still Alice and Meryl Streep for Into the Woods, with other former nominees/winner on the hunt including Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant or Two Days One Night, Keira Knightley for Begin Again, Hilary Swank for The Homesman, Kate Winslet for A Little Chaos, and Robin Wright for The Congress. The newbies could seriously vie for a win here, but the vets have […]

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