24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Geoff Boucher

Oscars 2012: For Melissa McCarthy, emotion is the heart of comedy

January 24, 2012 |  2:22 pm

Melissa McCarthy and her husband and Bridesmaids costar Ben Falcone
How did “Bridesmaids” costar Melissa McCarthy celebrate the early morning news of her supporting actress Oscar nomination? “I had a diaper to change. So the glamour? That went away pretty quickly.”

Actually, considering McCarthy’s memorable moments in “Bridesmaids,” perhaps little Georgie McCarthy came up with the perfect way to mark the moment. In the ribald film, McCarthy’s character Megan is forced by necessity to use a sink as a toilet, which likely gives her a singular claim in the long and illustrious history of Academy Award nominees.

 “Bridesmaids” writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were also nominated, in the original screenplay category, and McCarthy said that was a source of great pride for everyone involved in the project. The script was hammered and sculpted for five years — the writers strike was one factor — and in the end that made for a movie that was carefully considered from every angle. McCarthy said more and more comedies go too far with their shocking moments or relentless gags and lose “the emotional story at the center” that keeps audiences invested in the movie.

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees react

“It’s all so real and so absurd at the same time,” McCarthy said of the final film.

 With “Midnight in Paris” and “The Artist” earning key nominations, it was a strong year for comedy and lighter-touch films in the Oscar races that usually favor heavy dramas. McCarthy was happy to see that, but she said in most years the absence of comedies is not inappropriate — too many comedies feel like they “need one more pass” to be polished, tightened and refocused on the human heart beating between the laughs.

 “I’m hard on comedies because I love them so much,” said the actress, who also stars on the CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly.” “It’s nice to see comedies are back.”

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— Geoff Boucher

Photo: Melissa McCarthy with her husband and "Bridesmaids" costar Ben Falcone at the Critics Choice Movie Awards earlier this month. Credit:  Matt Sayles/Associated Press.


Ron Howard looks to digital generation for inspiration

May 23, 2011 |  7:57 pm

Ron Howard Today’s youth are the most photographed and filmed generation in history and that holds a special fascination for Ron Howard, a man who knows exactly what it’s like to grow up with the cameras rolling.

“Whether people know it or not, they are developing a visual style, an aesthetic, a point of view about the pictures they take, they are,” the Oscar-winning filmmaker said. “They are seeing the world in a different way.”

The 57-year-old Howard sees a poise and perspective in today’s digital youth that eluded him even as a child actor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and as young star of “Happy Days” and “American Graffiti.” That acting career gave way to a celebrated filmmaking career (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13,” “The DaVinci Code,” “Frost/Nixon”) but now, seeing the impact of the digital devices on modern culture, Howard is increasingly fascinated with muse of the masses.

In short, a man who grew up as the definition of Hollywood professionalism thinks he has plenty to learn from the collective amateur imagination of an audience that makes movies of their own every day.

That’s one of the reasons the Oscar-winning filmmaker announced an unexpected new enterprise this week -– it’s a partnership with Canon for an international photo contest, but the final goal is to use the eight winning entries as creative coordinates of a short film that connects the seemingly random images within a unified story. Howard will work with the contest and the film every step of the way and be there with winners at the red-carpet event in New York later this year.

For the corporate sponsor, no surprise, the hope is to get people using Canon gear as well as a new online community called Long Live Imagination. But Howard seems to be coming into the venture with the unexpected hope of finding a new method of adding creative crackle to his own filmmaking.

“It’s more and more difficult to find fresh stories,” Howard said. “I honestly think that some version of this creative exercise is something I will do on my films forever. Not with a contest, necessarily, but this idea of using sets of images that would appear to be only loosely linked to your story –- I think that is going to push me and all of us involved in this project outside of the box in a way that is fresh and exciting.”

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Around Town: 'Star Trek,' 'Kill Bill,' John Cassavetes and John Barry tributes and more

March 24, 2011 |  5:00 am

 Khan

Attention Trekkers -- this weekend is all about you. The American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood presents "To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before: Celebrating Star Trek," Thursday through Sunday with an opening-night screening of 1979's "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," directed by Robert Wise. A discussion with art director Richard Taylor and others will follow.

Friday's offering is a double bill: 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" and 1984's "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock." The Times' Geoff Boucher will talk with George Takei between films, while on Saturday Boucher will chat with Walter Koenig between screenings of 1986's "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and 1989's "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier." On Sunday, Boucher will sit down with writer/director Nicholas Meyer after the screening of 1991's "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country."

The work of British director Peter Yates, who died in January at the age of 81, is being celebrated Thursday evening at the Cinematheque's Aero Theater in Santa Monica with a program of two of his best thrillers: his first American film, 1968's "Bullitt," with Steve McQueen, and 1973's "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," starring Robert Mitchum.

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Matt Damon: Steven Soderbergh really does plan to retire from filmmaking

December 22, 2010 | 11:22 am

Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh 

Matt Damon has been in Chicago working on "Contagion," the pandemic thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh, and the actor said he's consciously tried to enjoy the experience because he doubts that he will have many more chances to work with the filmmaker.

"He's retiring, he's been talking about it for years and it's getting closer," Damon said of Soderbergh, whose credits include "Erin Brockovich," "Ocean's Eleven," "The Informant" and "Sex, Lies and Videotape." Soderbergh turns 48 next month, and if that sounds young, that's the point, Damon said.

"He wants to paint and he says he’s still young enough to have another career," Damon said. "He’s kind of exhausted with everything that interested him in terms of form. He’s not interested in telling stories. Cinema interested him in terms of form and that’s it. He says, 'If I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to blow my brains out.' "

Soderbergh told Esquire two years ago that he'd like to retire by the age of 51, which marks his 25th year as a filmmaker. Damon offers more specifics: “After this movie we’re doing ‘Liberace’ next summer with Michael Douglas, and then he might do one more movie after that with George [Clooney], and then after that he’s retiring."

It may sound like a hoax or gag, but Damon said he is absolutely serious -- the only filmmaker nominated twice in the same year for the Academy Award for best director (for "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich," both released in 2000) is weary of moviemaking. Damon, who has appeared in five Soderbergh films, said it's frustrating for him to contemplate.

"After I worked with Clint [Eastwood] I went back and said, ‘Look, Clint is having a blast and he's going to be 80 years old.’ And Steven says back, ‘Yeah, but he’s a storyteller and I’m not,’” Damon recounted. "If you're an actor or a writer or someone working in film, it's such a waste. For me, I'm going to spend the next 40 years trying to become a great director and I will never reach what he's reached. And he's walking away from it."

-- Geoff Boucher

Photo: Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh. Credit: Getty Images

 


'Apocalypse Now' Blu-ray sends Francis Ford Coppola back into the jungle

October 13, 2010 |  1:11 pm


Apocalypse Now

What’s it like for Francis Ford Coppola to go back into the jungle? “In some ways,” the 71-year-old filmmaker said with a warm laugh, “it feels like we never left.”

Next week, a massive new three-disc edition of “Apocalypse Now” arrives on Blu-ray with more than nine hours of bonus features and, more than simple cinematic celebration, Coppola’s intense participation in the project was a mission of legacy repair on several fronts.

For “Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure Edition,” Coppola not only went back to dig out photos and documents from the production of the 1979 fever-dream film, he also sat down with star Martin Sheen and screenwriter John Milius and interviewed them about their signature contributions to the Vietnam War epic. Coppola’s clear goal -– especially in the case of Milius -- was to share a spotlight that is often aimed only at the director.

“I hoped for people to learn more about John Milius and his true place in all of this,” Coppola said by phone last week.  “The big moments of dialogue in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ those lines people still remember, all those were hatched in the mind of John Milius long before I got hold of the script.... I wanted to give him his day in court, give him his due...”

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Trent Reznor wants to get closer to movies

September 28, 2010 |  6:25 pm

Reznor
Trent Reznor, the dark mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, has long aspired to score a feature film. So when he got a call last fall from director David Fincher -- who had used NIN music in "Seven" -– the rock star naturally assumed the assignment would lead to some scary places.

He was right. Fincher was eager to use Reznor’s unsettling soundscapes for “The Social Network,” the Friday  release that is being met with mostly enthusiastic reviews. "In all honesty, when David mentioned it was a movie about the founding of Facebook, I was like, 'What the...,' " Reznor recalled with a chuckle. "I wondered how that could be interesting, but, knowing the level of excellence and integrity he brings to everything, I got the script from him. And then it became clear."

What Reznor saw was a vibrant tale of "the human condition and greed and entitlement." The film is now indeed moving to the center of the cultural conversation, and it’s doing so with the backbeat of Reznor’s music, which always demands attention but is especially intriguing in this new career context. Reznor worked with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross on the 19-track soundtrack, which was released in digital form Tuesday and will hit stores on CD, audio-only Blu-ray and vinyl in October.

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Mel Gibson reminisces over some old pictures: 'Braveheart,' 'Lethal Weapon' and more

January 28, 2010 |  5:32 pm

Gibson 

Mel Gibson nodded toward a DVD copy of “Braveheart,” which was perched atop a stack of movies from the Oscar winner’s three-decade career. “It doesn’t always end well for the guys I play, does it? They get their guts cut out or it gets nasty at the end. This new guy, he’s like that too.”

The new guy is Thomas Craven, the main character in “Edge of Darkness,” which marks Gibson’s first leading-man job since 2002. The Craven role is fairly familiar character territory for Gibson — he’s a desperate father, a cop on the edge, a man looking for revenge — but the 54-year-old is on uncertain ground with moviegoers after a career calamity with the worldwide press coverage of his anti-Semitic rant while in police custody for a 2006 DUI.

MelGibsonPromoThe trajectory of Gibson’s career has been startling in its left turns — when People magazine put the actor on the cover of its first “sexiest man alive” issue in 1985, who would have suspected that he would go on almost two decades later to direct, produce and co-write a film that would become a flash point in contemporary American religious life?

Last week, Gibson sat down to reflect on some mile markers in his own cinematic journey by watching scenes from past films. “I don’t revisit, it’s not something I do,” he said, studying his youthful visage from “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” the high-octane film that kicked off a decade that saw Gibson go from an unknown Australian actor to one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. “Look at him, I’m not sure I even know this guy.”

For Gibson's thoughts on "Lethal Weapon," "The Passion of the Christ" and more, click on the image of "Braveheart" above.

-- Geoff Boucher

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Photo: Mel Gibson. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times


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