24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Jonah Hill

Toronto Film Festival: 'Moneyball' wows women despite scarcity of female roles

September 10, 2011 |  7:43 pm

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the Toronto International Film Festival 
If "Moneyball’s" second public screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday afternoon is any indication of the interest in this movie, then Sony shouldn’t be too concerned about its box office prospects. The line to get into the 1,200-seat Elgin Theater stretched for a full city block, with ticket-holding moviegoers waiting in line for more than an hour to be sure they’d secure a decent seat for the Brad Pitt vehicle.

And “Moneyball” is all about Brad Pitt. From the Sony one-sheet to practically every scene in the film, the 47-year-old actor dominates the screen. And while you get a couple of glimpses of Pitt’s daughter, played by 13-year-old Kerris Dorsey, and one scene with Robin Wright Penn who plays his ex-wife, this film is primarily a two-hander with Jonah Hill playing the straight man to Pitt’s off-center role of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. (Hills plays Beane’s statistician, Peter Brand.) In fact, director Bennett Miller axed an entire role from the movie -- that of Kathryn Morris ("Cold Case") as Beane's second ex-wife, Tara Beane. The film doesn't seem to suffer from the lack of female parts -- you don't really notice it until you're playing it over again in your head as you leave the theater.

The other surprising attribute of the film is just how chaste it is. Rated PG-13 for some strong language, the movie features no sex or drugs, and very little of anything else that would keep younger audiences out of the film, except a few curse words and a lack of action sequences.

However, the female-dominated crowd seemed just as engaged in the two-hour film as the men. So while Sony’s two biggest marketing challenges remain how to appeal to women and non-baseball fans with a movie that is solely about baseball, choices and ambition, the crowd at the Toronto Film Festival didn’t seem to have any problems with either constraint.

The movie opens Sept. 23 and will be targeting the adult audience, while teenagers flock to Taylor Lautner’s “Abduction” and families steer toward “Dolphin Tale.” Whether it can come out on top remains to be seen, but with Brad Pitt’s star power clearly on display, it has a good chance of it.

The line monitor at the second screening today probably put it best: “Enjoy the show. Or more specifically, enjoy Brad.”


Brad Pitt's "Moneyball" looks to get on base

Toronto: Film Critic Betsy Sharkey on U2, Clooney and Pitt

Moneyball finally comes to screen after line-up changed mid-game

 -- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the Toronto International Film Festival. Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Jonah Hill and Mark Wahlberg look to become a 21st century Murtaugh and Riggs (minus the racial differences)

July 7, 2011 |  5:46 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Film fans are starting to get glimpses of Jonah Hill as something more than a comedic actor. He will play it straight as a whippersnapper executive in the upcoming baseball drama "Moneyball," and at least has a few chases and busts on his mind in the remake of "21 Jump Street."

Now Hill looks to be further pursuing an action plan. The actor has come aboard to play one half of a bumbling pair of antiheroes in the action comedy "Good Time Gang," with Mark Wahlberg playing his partner, according to a person who was briefed on the project but who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The film, which is set up as an independent project with the company RCR Pictures, follows two party-happy mercenaries who decide to take on a more serious case involving a terrorist, only to find their mission complicated when they discover one of them is related to the target. The film has been described by two people familiar with it as a new spin on "Lethal Weapon," with a bit more of an emphasis on the action than on the comedy. An assistant to RCR principal Robin Schorr said Schorr had no comment.

"Good Time Gang" is one of several films that Hollywood is developing from young screenwriter Max Landis (son of John, and writer behind a Frankenstein movie currently set up at 20th Century Fox). The producers have not yet hired a director. RCR Pictures is financed by world poker champion Chris Ferguson and run by Schorr, a veteran producer who counts the documentary "Food, Inc." among her credits.

Wahlberg, who's currently shooting Seth MacFarlane's feature debut "Ted," would be continuing a buddy action-comedy trail that he began with Will Ferrell in "The Other Guys" last year. In addition to "21 Jump Street," which hits theaters in March, Hill will offer a dose of action-flavored comedy with this fall's "The Sitter," a loose reimagining of Elisabeth Shue's '80s hit "Adventures in Babysitting."


Brad Pitt's 'Moneyball' swings for the fences

Jonah Hill: I'm not really like Cyrus in real life

'The Fighter' becomes a contender

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Jonah Hill. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Duplass brothers look to put a 'Pitchfork' in it

June 8, 2011 |  4:06 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Mark and Jay Duplass made the jump from mumblecore to mainstream with the well-received black comedy "Cyrus" last summer and will bring out the Jason Segel-Ed Helms feature "Jeff Who Lives at Home" (produced by Jason Reitman) later this year.

Now the "Puffy Chair " pair seek to continue their bigger-budget pattern — and possibly, as with "Cyrus," using Jonah Hill in a mother-son theme.

The writer-directors have penned a new script that has been making the rounds in the past few days to Hollywood studios, say two people who've gotten a look at the script but asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about it.

Titled "Pitchfork," it's a dramatic thriller about the middle-aged mother of an indie rocker who, after her son is killed in a car accident, seeks vengeance on an online blogger who had peddled snark about her son (on the music site Pitchfork, hence one of the title's entendres). Things take a turn, though, when she finds out the snarker is just a teenager.

The film contains a juicy role for the mother (Susan Sarandon is one of the actresses who's being sought for the part) as well as the teen blogger, with Hill having discussed it with the filmmakers, said a person familiar with the pitch. It's not known if Mark Duplass, a performer whose most prominent acting appearance came in the indie buzz title "Humpday" in 2009, will take a supporting part in the film himself. Mark Duplass did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.

The brother filmmakers began their career with the 2005 Sundance darling "The Puffy Chair," a dramedy that explored a troubled couple on a road trip and was one of the best-known of the brand of offbeat verite known as mumblecore. After another indie, the genre-inflected "Baghead," they made the jump to more star-driven pictures with "Cyrus," which starred Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly and was made by 20th Century Fox subsidiary Fox Searchlight.

Family relationships, particularly those between mothers and grown children, have been a recent preoccupation for the filmmakers. "Cyrus" had Hill in a too-close relationship with his mother (Tomei), and "Jeff" has Segel as a grown man who is sent by his mother on a routine errand to find that the universe may be sending him strange signals.


The actor: Jonah Hill heads toward greater visibility

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo. Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly in "Cyrus." Credit: Fox Searchlight.

After moving back, 'Rise of the Apes' now moves up

March 22, 2011 |  6:11 pm

Franco The apes are on the move again.

Fox said Tuesday afternoon that it's moving "Rise of the Apes" from its previously planned November slot to Aug. 5.

The release date for Rupert Wyatt's "Planet of the Apes" reboot, which stars James Franco as a scientist tinkering with genetic engineering, has been shifted before: Two months ago, the studio pushed the film from June to Thanksgiving, citing a need for increased postproduction time.

A Fox spokesman said that the latest shift came about because executives viewed special effects and rough footage from the film and felt the movie was best suited for the summer. The movie will now come out only a few months after Franco's next film, the adventure comedy "Your Highness," which hits theaters April 8. The Twitter-obsessed actor has mostly been laying low after his critically panned Oscar-hosting stint.

While June is traditionally more of a spot for studios' splashiest summer blockbusters, August has in recent years been a home for modestly budgeted action films. Last August saw the release of Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables"; this year, among male-targeted films "Apes" will share the month with Lionsgate's reboot of "Conan the Barbarian" and Craig Gillespie's horror-comedy remake "Fright Night."

Fox also said it would move "The Sitter," a comedy starring Jonah Hill as an unlikely babysitter, from August to Dec. 9. That makes the film a rare R-rated comedy to be released during the holiday season.

--Amy Kaufman



James Franco's 'Rise of the Apes' will now mutate on Thanksgiving

James Franco versus Bruce Vilanch: Will this continue until next Oscars?

Photo: James Franco. Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.


10/10/10: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed

October 10, 2010 | 10:10 am

You know it's award season when the multiplexes start to brim with quality offerings for avid moviegoers. With more and more Oscar-bait films lining up for their theatrical runs in the coming weeks, let's not forget some of the great fare from earlier in the year that's just as deserving of acclaim. Here are 10 of our critics' favorites -- some of which are still playing on the big screen -- to mark the date 10/10/10.

"Animal Kingdom:" The impressive debut of Australian writer-director David Michod manages to be both laconic and operatic. Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom" marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style to illustrate one of the oldest of genre truths: "Crooks always come undone, always, one way or another." Michod and his team use all the tools at a filmmaker's disposal to create a disturbing, malignant atmosphere in which every pause is pregnant with menace and every word could cost you your life. -- Kenneth Turan

"Cyrus:" A comedy of discomfort that walks a wonderful line between reality-based emotional honesty and engaging humor, this film demonstrates the good things that happen when the quirky independent style of the Duplass brothers combines with the acting skill of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. -- Kenneth Turan

Continue reading »

LAFF 2010: Jonah Hill: I'm not really like Cyrus in real life (VIDEO)

June 21, 2010 |  8:45 am

It's already been a big summer for Jonah Hill, the 26-year-old funnyman whose face has been plastered on "Get Him to the Greek" posters across town for the last few weeks. In that film, he plays the sympathetic dweeb role that audiences have come to associate with him since 2007's "Superbad."

But at the L.A. Film Festival over the weekend, where Hill's latest film -- the squirm-comedy "Cyrus" -- was premiering, the actor showed off another side, as he played the unlikable, socially inept title character, a 21-year-old with an uncomfortably close relationship with his mother (Marisa Tomei). He's still a dweeb, but he's a lot less sympathetic.

"I've always thought I'd like to do something dramatic, and I have that element in my taste and just what I like in movies," Hill told us on the red carpet Friday. "I didn't see any of myself in [Cyrus], thank God." 

As for the actor's relationship with his mom?

"She's wonderful; I love her," he said, looking into the camera. "Hi, Mom. I love you."

More video interviews from the red carpet with stars Tomei, John C. Reilly and directors Mark and Jay Duplass, after the jump.

Continue reading »

Preview review: Jonah Hill and Russell Brand in 'Get Him to the Greek'

February 12, 2010 |  4:45 pm


We've long been anticipating "Get Him to the Greek," the movie from Judd Apatow protege Nicholas Stoller who worked with Jason Segel on the enjoyable breakup comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Thankfully, the trailer for the new Universal film -- a kind of spin-off of "Sarah Marshall" -- doesn't disappoint.

Russell Brand and Jonah Hill are both back in this movie. In "Sarah Marshall," Hill's sycophantic character idolized rock god Aldous Snow (Brand). In this film, Hill plays a different character, Aaron, who still admires Snow but this time lands a gig working as his assistant.

The first few seconds of the trailer make it clear that many of our favorites from the Apatow gang will be back-- Aziz Ansari and, of course, Hill. In the trailer, Aaron's bright idea is to put on an anniversary concert with Snow at the famed Los Angeles venue the Greek Theatre.  Sean "Diddy" Combs plays a hard-edged music executive looking for a way to make a buck (and seems to be able to pull off the comedy -- "I got six kids! You know how many Air Jordans six black kids wear?" he screams to a room of underlings).

Diddy sends Aaron to London to retrieve Snow, and a comedy of errors ensues, many of which are pretty raunchy -- Aaron having sex on a toilet in a nightclub and later sneaking Snow's illegal drugs into the country with an interesting, er, anatomical trick.

But there are still plenty of questions. After "Funny People" fell flat, will the Apatow-produced film be able to bring the laughs? Can the movie succeed without Segel in front of the camera? After two years of hosting the MTV Video Music Awards, are you Russell Brand-ed out? Share your thoughts (and comic asides) below.

-- Amy Kaufman

[For the Record, 2:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Jonah Hill's character in "Get Him to the Greek" was the same character he played in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Hill did appear in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," but is playing a new character in "Get Him to the Greek."]

Photo: Jonah Hill and Russell Brand in "Get Him to the Greek." Credit: Universal Pictures.


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