April 19, 2014

Tag Archives: Jonathan Levine

Our “50/50″ review and cast interviews – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Jonathan Levine’s “50/50” has been a conversation starter since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and as I mentioned from this year’s event, the winning dramedy shows why you shouldn’t judge a film by its proverbial cover.
Levine’s project was diagnosed as “the cancer comedy” while in development, leading too many of us — myself included — to fear how a film co-starring Seth Rogen would mine laughs from chemotherapy and medicinal marijuana. And while “50/50” had Joseph Gordon-Levitt as its lead (always good), the subject matter and its assumed treatment suggested substantial amounts of melodrama.
As it turns out, those fears were misguided.
Levine’s film manages to be about so much more than just the disease that threatens Goron-Levitt’s protagonist, thanks to its intelligent script (by Will Reiser, whose personal experiences inform the film) and contributions from a powerful cast. “50/50” takes what I believe is one of the most realistic approaches to cancer and cancer treatment you’ll see on screen, but remembers to treat its potentially delicate subject matter with a blunt sense of humor. The film defies expectations, managing to be both sentimental and crudely lighthearted without ever overdosing on either. It has an excellent chance of connecting with a younger audience while also speaking to older crowds who’ve been through some of the struggles expertly portrayed on screen.
“50/50” follows Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year-old editor at NPR in Seattle with a bossy girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), a slacker best friend (Seth Rogen), and cancer. He didn’t know about that last one, and the film centers around how he deals with this life-altering discovery, with the assistance of some new friends (Anna Kendrick, Philip Baker Hall).
In a perfect world, Levine’s “50/50” would play itself into the broader awards picture. Talk from pre-screenings around the country has been overwhelmingly positive as the film prepares its Toronto bow. I honestly believe Gordon-Levitt has an excellent shot at a Best Actor nomination. His heartwrenching scene with Huston in a hospital (you’ll know it when you see it) should put both talents in the discussion.
But I also thoroughly enjoyed Rogen and Kendrick’s supporting turns, and Reiser’s script deserves consideration. If we were betting, I’d say the film’s chances of hanging around during the lengthy awards race are better than 50/50, and the odds that you’ll be moved by this emotionally fortifying [...]

“50/50″ New York premiere and early wins – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Jonathan Levine’s “50/50” is celebrating a few major victories ahead of its wide release this Friday.
The heartwarming and frequently hilarious dramedy, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an NPR editor reeling from the news he’s been diagnosed with cancer, picked up the Audience Favorite Feature at the Aspen Filmfest 2011, according to the festival’s site. Levine’s film nudged out “The Women on the Sixth Floor,” while the documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” claimed the audience prize in the documentary category.
“50/50” also held its premiere in New York City Monday night, followed by an exclusive after party at the Four Seasons. That led to a fairly hilarious Tweet from Gordon-Levitt, who revealed:
Not allowed to be early to a premiere. So yeah, sitting in a parked car. 50/50
You see, kids? It’s not all glamour and fame.
But Gordon-Levitt will feel the effects of stardom when he accepts the Hollywood Breakthrough Actor Award at the 15th annual Hollywood Film Awards in October. Congratulations, Joseph. We sincerely hope these early awards are indicators of the successful Oscar run you and your film deserve.
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt named Hollywood Breakthrough Actor for “50/50″ – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: It was revealed this morning that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will receive the “Hollywood Breakthrough Actor Award” at this year’s 15th Annual Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards for his heartfelt performance in the film “50/50.” This year’s ceremony, presented by Starz Entertainment, is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 24, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
In Jonathan Levine’s film, which opens in theaters this Friday, Sept. 30, Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, an NPR editor diagnosed with cancer. The title refers to Adam’s odds of survival, though he receives tremendous support from his best friend (Seth Rogen), his pretty therapist (Anna Kendrick) and his worried mother (Anjelica Huston).
Gordon-Levitt will be on hand that evening to accept the award in person. His bio is below:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt will next be seen in “50/50,” a comedy directed by Jonathan Levine that stars Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard. He will then star in the action thriller “Premium Rush,” directed by David Koepp, who also co-wrote the script. He recently wrapped production on “Looper,” for which he reunited with his “Brick” director, Rian Johnson, and will star opposite Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. He is currently in production on “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third and final installment in the Batman series, which will be directed by Christopher Nolan. Gordon-Levitt was also recently cast as Robert Todd Lincoln in the film “Lincoln” alongside Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, which will be directed by Steven Spielberg.
Gordon-Levitt’s additional film credits include Christopher Nolan’s Academy Award-nominated action-drama “Inception,” “Hesher,” “(500) Days of Summer,” “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” “Miracle at St. Anna,” “Stop-Loss,” “The Lookout,” “Killshot,” “Shadowboxer,” “Brick; “Mysterious Skin,” and “Manic. Early in his career, Gordon-Levitt won a Young Artist Award for his first major role, in Robert Redford’s drama “A River Runs Through It.” He went on to co-star in “Angels in the Outfield,” “The Juror,” “Halloween H20,” and “10 Things I Hate About You.”
For complete Oscar and Film Festival coverage, visit our Awards Alley for the latest news items, reviews and interviews all season long.
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen a powerful pair in “50/50″ – AWARDS ALLEY

Tilda Swinton talks “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” parenting and not killing the audience

Tilda Swinton talks “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” parenting and not killing the audience
By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: “50/50” shows why you shouldn’t judge a film by its proverbial cover.
Jonathan Levine’s project was diagnosed as “the cancer comedy” while in development, leading too many of us — myself included — to fear how a film co-starring Seth Rogen would mine laughs from chemotherapy and medicinal marijuana. In my opinion, Levine’s first picture, “The Wackness,” was underwhelming, a loosely-shaped stumble through the life of a Manhattan slacker with a less-than-impressive appearance by Sir Ben Kingsley as an immature stoner stuck in a state of arrested development. And while “50/50” had Joseph Gordon-Levitt as its lead (always good), the subject matter and its assumed treatment suggested substantial amounts of melodrama.
As it turns out, those fears were misguided.
Levine’s film manages to be about so much more than just the disease that threatens Goron-Levitt’s protagonist, thanks to its intelligent script (by Will Reiser, whose personal experiences inform the film) and contributions from a powerful cast. “50/50” takes what I believe is one of the most realistic approaches to cancer and cancer treatment you’ll see on screen, but remembers to treat its potentially delicate subject matter with a blunt sense of humor. The film defies expectations, managing to be both sentimental and crudely lighthearted without ever overdosing on either. It has an excellent chance of connecting with a younger audience while also speaking to older crowds who’ve been through some of the struggles expertly portrayed on screen.
“50/50” follows Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year-old editor at NPR in Seattle with a bossy girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), a slacker best friend (Seth Rogen), and cancer. He didn’t know about that last one, and the film centers around how he deals with this life-altering discovery, with the assistance of some new friends (Anna Kendrick, Philip Baker Hall).
In a perfect world, Levine’s “50/50” would play itself into the broader awards picture. Talk from pre-screenings around the country has been overwhelmingly positive as the film prepares its Toronto bow. I honestly believe Gordon-Levitt has an excellent shot at a Best Actor nomination. His heartwrenching scene with Huston in a hospital (you’ll know it when you see it) should put both talents in the discussion.
But I also thoroughly [...]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and “50/50″ team want to hear your story – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We recently caught up with Jonathan Levine’s “50/50,” and walked away surprised by how moving, authentic and honest the film was when portraying a young man’s battle with cancer.
It helps that Levine casts Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead. At the risk of sounding like a broken, Gordon-Levitt-praising record, the actor positively delivers in every scene. But he’s assisted throughout by a spectacular Anjelica Huston, an emotional Seth Rogen (being “Seth Rogen” for a reason), and Anna Kendrick giving the finest and most vulnerable performance of her young career.
It would please me to no end to see “50/50,” specifically Gordon-Levitt, enter the still-developing awards race … especially if it helps bring more attention to this new collaboration he’s launching with Rogen and Will Reiser, whose novel detailing his own fight against cancer inspires the film.
This YouTube video sent our way shows Gordon-Levitt, Rogen and Reiser riffing on their inspirations for the film before getting into the meat of the project. It basically amounts to JGL collecting stories from viewers, from fans, who went through trying times but with humorous results.
Why don’t we just let these guys explain it. The clip below has some NSFW language, so watch out for that.

“I know that even in the darkest times of my life, there have been those unexpected moments, circumstances and stories that just make me laugh my ass off. I want to start a collaboration for those kinds of stories,” Gordon-Levitt writes on his site.
He isn’t sure when and how he’ll use them. But he’s looking for submissions at http://hitrecord.org/records/474657.
“You know how we do it. Maybe they’ll end up animations. Maybe they’ll become scripts for actors to perform. Maybe they’ll become musical numbers. We’ll see,” he writes. “Laughing and crying come from the same place. You know where.”
Now tell him. Then go see “50/50” when it finally reaches a theater near you. Keep the conversation moving forward. And let’s get JGL in the awards race.
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Seth Rogen cancer comedy coming in September

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Can Seth Rogen make cancer funny?
We’ll find out on Sept. 30, which is when Summit plans to release the comedian’s newly-titled “50/50,” a terminal illness comedy-drama that also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Philip Baker Hall and Angelica Huston. Variety says the film, directed by Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness”), will go up against Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous” and the thriller “Dream House,” with Rachel Weisz an Daniel Craig.
“50/50,” which once was known as “I’m With Cancer” and “Live With It,” is pulled from the stories of real-life cancer survivor Will Reiser. It has been through title and director changes since Summit plucked it off the legendary Black List.
Now it’s heading to theaters. The Playlist guys gamble on “50/50” taking a bow at next fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, which makes a lot of sense. More on “50/50” as it develops.
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Photo courtesy of PRPhotos.com.

Seth Rogen comedy “I’m With Cancer” receives name change

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Will a name change make cancer any funnier?
That has to be the concern of director Jonathan Levine, as news breaks that the title of his upcoming cancer comedy — previously known as “I’m With Cancer” — has been changed to the semi-generic, less-challenging “Live With It,” RamaScreen.com reports.
The title, alone, isn’t going to lure people to the theater … but Levine’s spectacular cast might. The amazing Joseph-Gordon-Levitt reportedly has been tapped to replace James McAvoy in the lead role of this adaptation of Will Reisner’s novel, about a twenty-something who is stricken with the disease. The ensemble is expected to include Seth Rogen, Angelica Huston, Philip Baker Hall, and “Twilight” veterans Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard.
According to The Playlist, the film focuses on the relationship between best friends Gordon-Levitt and Rogen. We’re hoping it’s funnier than Rogen’s other death-and-dying comedy, “Funny People.” The Playlist estimates that we’ll finally see this film in 2011. And with this cast in place, we certainly can “Live With” a title change.
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