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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Al Pacino

Michael Mann's 'Heat': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

May 3, 2012 |  5:00 am


“Heat,” one of Michael Mann's most stylish cuts at crime, will be at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre on Friday night. It's worth noting because total darkness and a big screen are really requisites for experiencing the full effect of Mann’s meticulous visual artistry.

This 1995 drama, which he also wrote, is an early look at his fascination with the mood-setting possibilities of noir (“Collateral” would follow in 2004). “Heat” also marked the first time Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shared the screen, and their intensity fairly crackles in this tale of obsessions.

For Pacino's LAPD detective, it was catching bad guys; for De Niro's high-end thief, it was a heist gone wrong; for Mann, it was the director's unwillingness to give up on an idea he believed in. He spent roughly 10 years trying to get “Heat” made — the payoff was a critical and box office hit.

“Heat” was worth the wait, and worth a second look now, to appreciate what it took to create this masterful mix of dark shadows, close-ups, mood music and syncopated action — classic Mann.


'King Kong,' the 1933 original: Betsy Sharkey's film pick

Classic Hollywood: Luster restored

— Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Michael Mann's "Heat." Credit: Warner Bros.

Adam Sandler comedy 'Jack and Jill' sweeps the Razzies

April 1, 2012 |  7:30 pm

Adam Sandler's 'Jack and Jill' sweeps Razzies

Adam Sandler's critically lambasted cross-dressing comedy "Jack and Jill" made history of sorts Sunday at Magicopolis in Santa Monica: It became the first film ever to sweep every category at the 32nd annual Razzie Awards, which honor the year's worst cinematic achievements.

"Jack and Jill" won for worst film of 2011 and worst actor and actress — with both awards going to Sandler. It took the prize in all seven other categories too, including for Al Pacino as worst supporting actor, David Spade as worst supporting actress and Dennis Dugan as worst director.

The directing award for Dugan and the acting award for Sandler also recognized their work on another 2011 comedy, "Just Go With It."

Going into the tongue-in-cheek awards, Sandler had scored a record 11 nominations for himself as an actor, actress, writer and producer.

"Jack and Jill" stars Sandler as both a successful commercial director and his own whiny twin sister. Zaniness ensues when Jill arrives for a Thanksgiving visit with the family that turns into an extended stay. In "Just Go With It," Sandler plays a plastic surgeon who poses as an unhappily married man to woo single women. 

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Adam Sandler dominates the Razzie nominations

February 25, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" earns Razzie nods


In a dubious achievement, Adam Sandler broke all records Saturday evening, earning 11 Razzie nominations for his various work as an actor, a writer and a producer on three 2011 movies: "Jack and Jill," "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star" and "Just Go With It."

The nominations for the 32nd annual Razzie Awards, honoring the worst accomplishments in film, were announced on the eve of the Academy Awards. The Razzies have traditionally been presented the day before the Oscars, but co-owners John Wilson and Mo Murphy have moved the ceremony this year to April Fool's Day to give the Razzie voters “additional time to see the dreck" before casting their ballots.

Sandler's gender-bender comedy "Jack and Jill" — in which he portrays both title roles — earned 12 nominations, including worst film, actor and actress for Sandler, supporting actress for Katie Holmes and supporting actor for Al Pacino (yes, you read that correctly).

Rounding out the worst film nominees are "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star," which Sandler co-wrote; "New Year's Eve"; "Transformers: Dark of the Moon";  and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1."

Sandler earned a second worst actor nomination for "Just Go With It" and will compete against Russell Brand for "Arthur," Nicolas Cage for three films — "Drive Angry 3-D," "Season of the Witch" and "Trespass" — Taylor Lautner for "Abduction" and "Breaking Dawn," and Nick Swardson for "Bucky Larson."

It was a good year (or perhaps a very bad one) for men in drag at the movies. In addition to Sandler, a few other actors earned nominations in the actress categories. David Spade is up for worst supporting actress as Monica in "Jack and Jill," while Martin Lawrence is nominated for worst actress in "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," and Brandon T. Jackson from that film is in contention for supporting actress. 

Joining Sandler and Lawrence in the worst actress category are Sarah Palin in "Sarah Palin: The Undefeated," Sarah Jessica Parker for both "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "New Year's Eve," and Kristen Stewart for "Breaking Dawn."

Rounding out the supporting actress category after Spade, Jackson and Holmes are Nicole Kidman for "Just Go With It" and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley  for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Competing with Pacino for worst supporting actor are Patrick Dempsey in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," James Franco for "Your Highness," Ken Jeong for four movies — "Big Mommas," "The Hangover: Part II," "Transformers" and "Zookeeper" — and Nick Swardson for "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It."

Vying for worst screen ensemble are the casts of "Bucky Larson," "Jack and Jill," "New Year's Eve," "Transformers" and "Breaking Dawn."

Worst director nominees are Michael Bay for "Transformers," Tom Brady for "Bucky Larson," Bill Condon for "Breaking Dawn," Dennis Dugan for "Jack and Jill" and "Just Go With It," and Garry Marshall for "New Year's Eve."

Nominated for worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel are "Arthur," "Bucky Larson," "The Hangover: Part II," "Jack and Jill" and "Breaking Dawn."

Vying for worst screen couple are Cage and "anyone sharing the screen with him in any of his three 2011 films," Shia LaBeouf and Huntington-Whiteley in "Transformers," Sandler and either Jennifer Aniston or Brooklyn Decker in "Just Go With It," Sandler and either Holmes, Pacino or himself in "Jack and Jill" and Stewart and either Lautner or Robert Pattinson in "Breaking Dawn."

Worst screenplay nominations went to Sandler, Allen Covert and Swardson for "Bucky Larson"; Steve Koren and Sandler with story by Ben Zook for "Jack and Jill"; Katherine Fugate for "New Year's Eve"; Ehren Kruger for "Transformers"; and Melissa Rosenberg from the novel by Stephenie Meyer for "Breaking Dawn."


Movie Review: Adam Sandler's 'Jack and Jill' is a drag 

Movie Review: 'Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

— Susan King

Photo: Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" earned 12 Razzie nominations. Credit: Tracy Bennett/Columbia Pictures 

Dan Fogelman's 'Imagine' might soon land a leading man in Al Pacino

June 6, 2011 |  4:13 pm

AlpacinoEXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter Dan Fogelman ("Tangled") has become the hottest ticket in town in the past year. The writer behind the upcoming Steve Carell-starring comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love," due out July 29, is currently working with Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen and director Anne Fletcher on the Paramount flick "My Mother's Curse," where Streisand is playing a character inspired by Fogelman's own mother.

Now, he's on the verge of landing Al Pacino to star in his directorial debut "Imagine," confirms Warner Bros. The iconic 71-year old actor recently got the offer to play an aging rocker who tries to lead a better life after receiving a lost letter that had been sent to him by his idol John Lennon more than 40 years ago. He's currently negotiating the deal for the part.

Pacino's involvement comes a month after Carell, who had been attached to star as the rocker's estranged son, dropped off the project due to scheduling issues. Carell's production company Carousel Productions will still produce the film for Warner Bros.

Pacino, last seen on the big screen opposite Robert De Niro in "Righteous Kill," received accolades for his role as Jack Kevorkian in the HBO TV movie "You Don't Know Jack." He recently signed on to play mobster Neil Dellacroce in the upcoming Barry Levinson film "Gotti: Three Generations."


Dan Fogelman's screenwriting couldn't have scripted his career any better

Trying to get to the heart of Jack Kevorkian

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: Al Pacino. Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times



Acclaimed filmmaker Sidney Lumet dies at 86

April 9, 2011 | 10:21 am


Filmmaker Sidney Lumet died Saturday. He was 86.

Lumet, whose film career spanned more than 50 years, died of lymphoma at his home in New York, said Marc Kusnetz, who is the husband of Lumet's stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel.

Lumet had a rich and diverse career directing primarily dramatic films, often with cops and lawyers at the center. His best-known works include the influential "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Serpico," both in which he collaborated with Al Pacino.

Those movies, as well as films such as his acclaimed "Prince of the City," used a gritty New York City as a backdrop. "He also directed the enduring broadcast-news satire "Network," which many pundits now deem prophetic.

Lumet was a prolific director who continued directing well after the 1960s and '70s heyday of himself and his compatriots. In the 1980s he directed the legal thriller "The Verdict" and the radicalism tale "Running on Empty."

Lumet continued making movies into his twilight years, most recently directing Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke in the 2007 caper-cum-morality drama "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

His daughter Jenny continues in the family business as a screenwriter.

Despite four nominations, Sidney Lumet never received a directing Oscar. He was eventually given a lifetime achievement Academy Award in 2005.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Dog Day Afternoon." Credit: Warner Bros.

5 for 5: Actor John Cazale is more than an asterisk

November 10, 2010 | 11:04 am


"The Godfather," "The Conversation, " "The Godfather: Part II," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "The Deer Hunter" may simply look like a list of some of the most acclaimed American films of the 1970s, which they are, but they also make up the entire filmography of actor John Cazale. "I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale," just released on DVD by Oscilloscope Laboratories, points out the rather extraordinary fact that all five films were nominated for the Academy Award for best picture.

The film takes its title from the famous line from "The Godfather: Part II" when Al Pacino's Michael says a bittersweet farewell to his older brother Fredo, played by Cazale, who died of cancer at age 42 in 1978. With his odd looks, unfortunate hairline and shifty, slightly feral demeanor, Cazale is something of an emblem of American film in the early 1970s, what many now see as a second Golden Age of Hollywood. Had Cazale lived, where might his career have taken him? Would he have moved on to leading roles? Or was he always to be a supporting player, the wounded vulnerability he conveyed so well having destined him for a life at the edges?

"He was this weird little asterisk in terms of film history," said Richard Shepard, a veteran director of feature films and television who is making his first documentary with the Cazale film. "I related to him and loved him in those movies. It's weird for me that he's an actor that tends to play weak people, but there is something about him that is just so incredibly compelling. You can't take your eyes off of him."

Born in Massachusetts, Cazale studied theater at Boston University. After moving to New York, he became friends with Pacino when both appeared in a production of Israel Horovitz's play "The Indian Wants the Bronx." It was while on-stage in a 1971 revival of Horovitz's "Line" that Cazale came to the attention of "Godfather" producer Fred Roos.

"I Knew It Was You" was a bonafide labor of love for Shepard, who worked for more than three years in creating the 39-minute film. (With extras, the DVD runs 103 minutes.) The documentary includes new interviews with Cazale's most high-profile collaborators, including his former girlfriend Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Pacino, Horovitz and directors Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola. The only person Shepard pursued and was unable to land for the documentary was notorious Hollywood recluse Michael Cimino, who directed Cazale in his final role in "The Deer Hunter."

Actors of subsequent generations such as Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sam Rockwell all turned out to be fans of Cazale's work and appear as well. After reading an interview in which director Brett Ratner declared Cazale his favorite actor, Shepard contacted him and Ratner joined the project as a producer.

As a number of interviewees in the doc take care to mention that Cazale in real life was a far cry from the Cazale we know on screen. There is actually something heartening and strengthening with regard to his performances, to learn that he had a hearty zeal for living and was even something of a ladies' man. Cazale was no Fredo.

"Every actor I've ever met has wanted to be the cool guy," said Ratner of what lessons there are to be learned from reconsidering the work of John Cazale. "If you were casting 'The Godfather' right now, every great actor would want to play Sonny Corleone or Michael Corleone. Nobody would want to play the older brother who wasn't smart.

"And so his brilliance was really about being fearless and wanting to be vulnerable, to show weakness. And he was really there to service the other actors. He was a selfless guy, as an actor he didn't think it was all about him."

-- Mark Olsen

Image: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Is it us, or is Ben Stiller looking more like Al Pacino every day?

March 23, 2010 | 11:10 am

Stiller Pacino5

Photos: Ben Stiller, left, by Alberto Rodriguez / Getty Images; Al Pacino by Chris Pizzello / Associated Press


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