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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: 50/50

Golden Globes: Seth Rogen is ready for Ricky Gervais

December 15, 2011 |  9:09 am

50_50_seth rogen

"50/50," Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's buddy cancer comedy, has a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but did only a modest $34 million at the box office this fall. Now, though, Rogen and Gordon-Levitt are getting some awards recognition -- the film landed two Golden Globe nominations Thursday. Gordon-Levitt was nominated for best actor in a musical or comedy, while the film itself (which Rogen produced as well as co-stars in), got a nod in the best picture (musical or comedy) category.

Rogen says he's looking forward to the show and is braced for any jokes Ricky Gervais may throw his way. Here's what he had to say about it all Thursday morning:

On how he heard the news:

I was phoned by my publicist on my home phone, which woke me up, because no one ever calls that. For a split second I thought someone I know might be dead, and then I remembered that today was the Golden Globe nominations and that maybe I was getting called for that.

His initial reaction:

I was very happy, it’s awesome. After never getting nominated for anything, it’s much nicer to get nominated for stuff. And honestly, I think it will help more people be aware of the movie, which to me is one of the most important things. I think that Will [Reiser] did a pretty amazing thing by even writing this movie, so it’s really nice that people seem to like it.

I was very pleased with and proud of the movie before this happened, but it’s obviously really nice when anyone recognizes what you’ve done. Believe me, I’ve done stuff that people hate, so whenever that doesn’t happen, I’m … psyched.

Thoughts on Ricky Gervais and the ceremony:

I think Ricky Gervais is funny. I’m not actually nominated [for a performance], so maybe I won’t get insulted horribly. But if he chooses to do it, then I’m game for that.

I only went to the Golden Globes once, a few years ago. It’s pretty fun. I remember being shocked at how few people actually seem to be paying attention to the show. You can watch it a lot easier on TV. But I did get drunk with Laurence Fishburne, so that was fun.

What he’s working on now:

Nothing that is officially tellable at this moment in time. As of now, I am actually technically unemployed.


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

More coverage of the Golden Globes and SAG nominations

-- Oliver Gettell

Photo: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50." Credit: Summit Entertainment

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in '50/50': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

October 19, 2011 |  1:10 pm

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has such natural ease as an actor that it’s easy to forget just how talented he is. That’s going to be harder to do after “50/50,” a film he carries, even with a fine ensemble cast that includes Anna Kendrick as his therapist and Seth Rogen as his noisy and nosy best friend.

Directed by Jonathan Levine, using a light touch with Will Reiser's screenplay, the story hangs on Gordon-Levitt's 27-year-old Adam finding out he has spinal cancer. His odds -- 50/50 -- give the film its name. The actor turns Adam into a living, breathing human of the sort whom you might actually meet –- not looking for pity, just trying to cope -– in emotional and physical terrain that is funny and touching in equal measure.

The role showcases the strength of the 30-year-old actor who has been working nonstop since he was 7: that keen ability to capture a character's humanity seen in countless performances. It’s what made him so charming, falling in and out of love in “(500) Days of Summer,” so cool as the kid in TV's “3rd Rock From the Sun.” Even as a crazy grifter who moves in and won't leave in the recent indie “Hesher,” he makes the insanity appealing enough that you don't mind if he stays for a while.

But with “50/50,” Gordon-Levitt reaches a new depth, giving real life to the prospect of death.



Movie review: '50/50'

Jonah Hill in 'Moneyball': Betsy Sharkey's pick of the week

Albert Brooks in 'Drive': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

-– Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50." Credit: Chris Helcermanas-Benge / Summit Entertainment

Box office: Uplifting, religious films perform strongly [Video]

October 3, 2011 |  2:04 pm

Dolphin Tale was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend"Dolphin Tale," a 3-D family film that debuted at No. 3 the weekend of Sept. 23, rose to the top of the box office in its second weekend of release. The movie was one of three holdovers that resonated with audiences this past weekend, including the baseball drama "Moneyball" and a 3-D version of the animated classic "The Lion King."

In a somewhat unusual turn of events, all three older pictures beat out four fresh ones at the box office, including the so-called cancer comedy "50/50" and the costly supernatural thriller "Dream House." Of the new films to hit theaters this weekend, the Christian drama "Courageous" got off to the strongest start. The movie is the latest uplifting flick to catch on with religious audiences, as I explain in this week's box-office video report.


'Dolphin Tale' rises to the top

Hollywood shines a light on the spiritual

Review: 'Courageous,' from Alex Kendrick

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Nathan Gamble plays with a sea creature in "Dolphin Tale." Credit: Warner Bros.

'50/50' overcomes the odds for many critics

September 30, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Bryce Dallas Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a scene from '50/50'
Cancer is no laughing matter — except, apparently, in the new comedy "50/50," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer (the title refers to his chances of survival) and Seth Rogen as his wisecracking, big-hearted best friend. The film, which was inspired by screenwriter Will Reiser's personal experiences, is finding favor with most critics.

The Times' Kenneth Turan writes that "'50/50' walks a very tricky line. As a comedy about a young man with cancer, it needs to be serious enough to be real as well as light enough to be funny. Though it falls off the wagon at times, it maintains its balance remarkably well." Turan credits Jonathan Levine's artful direction and an expertly assembled cast (with a nod to Francine Maisler, who also cast "Moneyball"), and says that "the key element in '50/50' is the screenplay by Will Reiser, a young writer who, as has been widely reported, was inspired by his own experience as a twentysomething diagnosed with a rare type of cancer."

Continue reading »

Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' to go deep next year, in 3-D

September 21, 2011 |  2:56 pm

Ang lee
Most of the movies Hollywood plans to release in 3-D in 2012 share similar subject matter -- superheroes, aliens, superheroes battling aliens. But "Life of Pi," Ang Lee's adaptation of the bestselling spiritual book about a boy stranded alone on a boat with a tiger, will be one of the first largely character-driven movies to test the format, according to Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman and CEO Tom Rothman, who spoke to an audience of video game, visual effects and other entertainment industry professionals at the 3D Entertainment Summit in Hollywood on Wednesday.

"This book is hard to imagine as a movie," Rothman said of "Life of Pi," which Lee began shooting early this year in Taiwan and India with first-time actor Suraj Sharma as Pi. "It's got two characters, one a young Indian boy and the other a tiger. There's also a boat. And a lot of water. And that is basically it."

Rothman said of the approximately 35 3-D Hollywood movies due in 2012, "most of that quantity is genre-oriented, more male driven. 'Life of Pi' is decidedly not that."

Calling the movie "a tremendous gamble" for his studio, Rothman said Lee, who won an Academy Award for directing the 2005 drama "Brokeback Mountain," "was adamant that that movie be in 3-D."

"Ang believes he can use 3-D to envelop the audience, to transport the audience on what is a very metaphysical journey," Rothman said. "It's a different language of storytelling. He's using the stereoscope to adjust the audience's relationship to that character."

The adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 book, from a script by David Magee, will come to screens in December 2012. 

Another 3-D movie in production with appeal outside the fanboy set is Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which is also due for release in 2012.


Last Gasp of the Gatsby House

'Life of Pi' suffers another blow

-- Rebecca Keegan

Toronto 2011: Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns emcee

September 13, 2011 |  4:24 pm

Joseph gordon levitt

It's not often you walk into a theater and hear the announcer say, "Please turn ON all your recording devices." But that was exactly what happened Monday night during "hitRECord," Joseph Gordon-Levitt's live show at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the actor showed off his moonlighting career as director, producer and curator of the site hitRECord.org.

Gordon-Levitt is a complicated man. At once, the 30-year-old is a veteran actor of both the small and big screen and in recent years he has elevated his craft from former-television-kid star ("3rd Rock From the Sun") to acclaimed actor, working with directors including Christopher Nolan (on "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises," which is filming now). He just signed on to costar in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" and is getting high marks for his upcoming feature "50/50," in which he plays a cancer patient opposite Seth Rogen. The film premiered Monday in Toronto.

A subdued "regular Joe" in interviews, Gordon-Levitt turns into a modern-day P.T. Barnum when he jumps onto a live stage, as he did Monday night at his hitRECord event. His online production company makes different forms of art through a collaborative process that seems intended to poke a stick at the traditional corporate Hollywood system in a quaint yet subversive way.

Fittingly, the first video Gordon-Levitt showed was a short movie, a period piece featuring himself and Channing Tatum adorned in circus garb and speaking with an exaggerated, over-the-top vocabulary. Check out the video here.

Gordon-Levitt holds such shows randomly across the country, premiering footage that's been assembled from his collaborative website — little poems, short films, music videos. He also gets the audience involved, bringing them on-stage to narrate brief stories that could later be featured in an anthology.

One story was about a sugar cube melting in a cup of tea. Levitt gave his narrator, a random audience member, specific direction: "You've seen 'The Wizard of Oz,' right? Your 'melting' should sound shrill, like you're dying in the cup of tea." 

Gordon-Levitt often lures his big screen costars to his shows. Anne Hathaway, his "Dark Knight Rises" costar, attended a hitRECord show in New York, where she talked about how much she loves to cry in a dark theater. On Monday night, Rogen appeared in a video with "50/50" screenwriter Will Reiser, who also participated live, encouraging hitRECord audience members to submit videos about turning tragedy into comedy. Anna Kendrick, Levitt's other "50/50" costar, did a live reading on-stage, an adolescent love story gone bad.

The crowd loved the irreverent videos and stories, with the majority of them filming the event as it took place. Levitt could be on to something. He's definitely seizing the zeitgeist with his social media project, and the primarily under-30 audience seemed to be digging the results. And there's more to come: He's just published his first anthology of the work from hitRECord and has landed a book deal from Harper Collins for more.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, media mogul, might be his next title.


Films big and small head to Toronto film festival

Will Reiser and writing what you know: getting cancer

Toronto 2011: Seth Rogen cancer comedy '50/50' earns standing ovation

— Nicole Sperling in Toronto

Photo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt leads "hitRECord at the Movies With Joseph Gordon-Levitt" at the Toronto International Film Festival. Credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images.



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