August 26, 2016

Tag Archives: jonah hill

Jonah Hill: His best performances so far

I don’t think that Jonah Hill quite gets the appreciation that he deserves within the industry. Yes, he’s been cited by Oscar twice with Academy Award nominations in Best Supporting Actor (the first for Moneyball and the second for The Wolf of Wall Street) and has anchored a hugely successful comedy franchise, but still, he comes off as under-appreciated. Perhaps when he makes his directorial debut in a year or so that will change, but for now, he’s still underrated in my book. This week, he has a new film out in War Dogs, which could be another hit on his resume. He also has last week’s successful Sausage Party, an animated movie in which he is one of the voices. He certainly keeps busy, right?
For those of you who are curious, War Dogs is dramedy about two young men who became unlikely gun runners. It’s based on the true story of David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Hill), who inexplicably won a $300 million contract from the United States and the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. From there, chaos ensues. Todd Phillips directs and co-writes with Stephen Chin and Jason Smilovic, while the rest of the cast includes Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper (in what I suspect is just a cameo), Steve Lantz, Kevin Pollak, Shaun Toub, and many more. Cliff Martinez contributes the score, while the cinematography comes by way of Lawrence Sher.
Here’s a bit of what I wrote about him in a previous Spotlight on the Stars piece:
“Hill has worked with an impressive assortment of filmmakers so far in his career. That list includes the likes of Judd Apatow, David Gordon Green, Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, Bennett Miller, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. You probably never would have guessed that the guy who got his start playing second fiddle in films like Accepted would become one of more in demand actors in Hollywood. It just goes to show where real dedication and hard work can get you.
If you actually look at his work, he’s show more range than he’s given credit for. The types of performances he gives in movies like 21 Jump Street (along with 22 Jump Street on Friday, which is just as good, trust me there), Funny People, Knocked Up, and Superbad are tremendous, but they’re very different than what he’s shown us in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street. […]

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 […]

The Coen Brothers are back with “Hail, Caesar!”

Just about every other year, more or less like clockwork, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen unleash another film on audiences across the world. Fans of their work will probably be delighted by Hail, Caesar!, which opens this weekend and really resembles some of the most overtly comedic work from the Coens. It’s got an A list cast and an Old Hollywood setting, which will make some folks assume this is a prestige picture. In reality though, this is more of a romp and an example of the filmmaking brothers just having a grand old time. It didn’t thrill me like it will thrill others, but I suspect this won’t be another big Oscar player of theirs, regardless.
The film is a look at the day in the life of a Hollywood fixer. Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) works at a big studio in the early 1950’s, making sure that all of the stars stay out of trouble, and more importantly…stay out of the papers. When top star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing, Eddie is given his toughest assignment yet. For the most part, this movie is largely plotless, checking in on the Baird situation from time to time, but by and large just following around Eddie as he interacts with stars like Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), starlets like DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), and filmmakers like Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). Obviously, Joel and Ethan Coen direct, with the rest of the cast including Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, and many more. Behind the camera, the legend that is Roger Deakins does the cinematography.
What works for me here with Hail, Caesar! is the feel for what the movie industry used to be like. In many ways, this has the tone and feel of a number of other funny flicks from the Coen Brothers, so if you’re down with something like The Big Lebowski, I suspect this will work for you as well. Those aren’t my favorites, so I can be hit or miss with the brothers Coen, but that shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying. Certain members of the cast, like Johansson and Tatum, steal the show too, so there’s that as well. It’s a mixed bag, but not without its charms.
Awards wise, I think this will have a hard road ahead, though one or two categories might be promising. Still, with a decent box office haul, I have no doubt […]

Brad Pitt – “Moneyball”: The Best Baseball Films of All Time

Play ball! With Baseball season coming next week, I wanted to do something a little bit fun and look at not just the best sports movies, but the best baseball movies ever made. There’s more than a few to choose from, with a solid handful starring Kevin Costner, I might add. I’m even going to make some potentially controversial choices, as you’ll see below. It’s all in good fun though, and as I get set to spend another year getting my heart broken by the New York Mets, I wanted to put this out there for you all. Enjoy and get ready for baseball…
Here are the ten best baseball movies of all time:
10. Rookie of the Year – Perhaps a lot of this is nostalgia fueling the pick, but I have a real soft spot for the story of a kid who winds up pitching for the Chicago Cubs. It’s wish fulfillment for pre teen boys and a little on the scattershot side, but it’s certainly got a charm. I couldn’t resist putting this on my list, since it’s, you know…my list.
9. Major League – Baseball often transitions to comedy, with this film perhaps being the most successful pure comedic outing of the lot. The sports movie cliches and elements are handled well here, but they’re buoyed by the laughs that are liberally spread out through the entire film. It’s just a ton of fun.
8. Fever Pitch – I really dug the look at baseball fandom contained within this romantic comedy. I’m not sure how appealing it is to die hard baseball fans of sole rom-com nuts, but if you have an affinity for both sides, this merges the two worlds surprisingly well. I think it’s incredibly underrated, quite frankly.
7. Little Big League – The slightly more mature version of Rookie of the Year’s wish fulfillment, this movie looks more at coaching and the front office than at playing ball. It’s still plenty silly, but the premise gets a little bit more gravitas, as it were. Still, nostalgia is at work here, no doubt about that.
6. The Natural – An undisputed classic, I’m not quite a high on it as most others, but I still recognize it for what it is. This is a great film that perhaps suffers a small bit from heavy praise, but clearly deserves its place in history all the same. I like it a lot, […]

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 […]

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
Boyhood
Whiplash
Selma”
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 […]

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.

IN SELECT THEATRES ON FRIDAY, APRIL 17TH, 2015

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 […]

Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., Jonah Hill, Keira Knightley and Kristen Stewart to appear on the Hollywood Film Awards November 14th on CBS

Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., Jonah Hill, Keira Knightley and Kristen Stewart to appear on the Hollywood Film Awards November 14th on CBS.
Special Musical Performance by Janelle Monáe
The 2014 Awards Show will be Hosted by Queen Latifah and
Broadcast Live from the Hollywood Palladium
The Hollywood Film Awards today announced additional stars scheduled to appear at the inaugural broadcast of The Hollywood Film Awards live from the Hollywood Palladium, Friday, November 14, 2014 (8:00-10:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. Host Queen Latifah will welcome Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr., Jonah Hill, Keira Knightley and Kristen Stewart. Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Janelle Monáe will also take to the stage for a special musical performance. They join previously announced guests Gerard Butler, Robert Duvall, Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, Jack O’Connell, Chris Pratt, Channing Tatum, Jean-Marc Vallée, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. The Hollywood Film Awards, the official launch of the awards season™, has recognized excellence in the art of cinema and filmmaking for 17 years, honoring some of the world’s biggest stars.
Historically, the Hollywood Film Awards has celebrated some of the biggest names in film. Previous honorees include: Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Annette Bening, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Glenn Close, Russell Crowe, Penelope Cruz, Robert DeNiro, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirk Douglas, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Diane Keaton, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Jack Lemon, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Sean Penn, Joaquin Phoenix, Julia Roberts, Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon, Hilary Swank, John Travolta, Christoph Waltz, Naomi Watts, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Williams and Robin Williams, among others.
The Hollywood Film Awards kicks off at 7:30 PM live ET/delayed PT on CBS with a special half-hour red carpet show featuring fashion and interviews with the stars as they arrive. Following the Hollywood Film Awards broadcast, the festivities will continue with a live one-hour show that will feature interviews with honorees and look back at the evening’s highlights. “CBS This Morning” anchors Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King will host, (10:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT).
The Hollywood Film Awards, founded in 1997 by Carlos de Abreu, who also executive produces, is produced by dick clark productions. Allen Shapiro, Mike Mahan, Mark Bracco and R. A. Clark are executive producers along with de Abreu.
CBS Extended Primetime Schedule for Friday, Nov. […]

The 84th Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

Once again today 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, here goes nothing:
Best Picture – Moneyball
The nominees here for this ceremony were The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. Obviously The Artist took it in real life, and Drive would have been my clear pick had it been nominated, but if I had been a voter my choice would have been between The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, and Moneyball. At the time, The Descendants would have been my pick, but now I think I lean towards Moneyball, so that would wind up getting my vote for Best Picture.
Best Director – Alexander Payne for The Descendants
I’d have voted for Nicolas Winding Refn here for Drive, but unsurprisingly he wasn’t nominated. The actual nominees were Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. Without Refn, I don’t have anyone I’m too wild about, but I think Payne might be the best of the bunch. The aforementioned Refn is easily my personal pick overall, but Payne is my choice of the actual nominees.
Best Actor – Brad Pitt for Moneyball
In a perfect world, I’d have seen either Michael Fassbender rewarded for Shame, Ryan Gosling in the lineup for Drive, Tom Hardy cited for Warrior, or Michael Parks in for Red State and subsequently any of them would have been my vote (likely Fassbender), but such is life. The actual nominees here though were Demián Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt for Moneyball. The choice of these […]

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