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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Ides of March

Golden Globes: George Clooney pitted against his closest colleagues

December 15, 2011 | 10:14 am

Ides of March
George Clooney has met his Golden Globe competitors -- they're his own movies.

While actors occasionally have faced themselves in the past (in the last Golden Globes, Johnny Depp was nominated twice for lead actor in a comedy or musical for "The Tourist" and "Alice in Wonderland"), Clooney's predicament is a little trickier. If he's to take home a trophy in any of the three Golden Globe categories in which he's nominated, he will have to beat his closest collaborators.

In the best dramatic actor race, Clooney is nominated for playing the disconnected dad in "The Descendants" But also nominated in that category is Ryan Gosling -- whom Clooney directed as a political operative in "The Ides of March."

In the directing race, Clooney was picked for helming "The Ides of March," while Alexander Payne was nominated for making "The Descendants."

Finally, in the screenplay competition, Clooney and co-writers Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon were nominated for "The Ides of March," facing off against Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for "The Descendants."

It's not the only incestuous Golden Globes situation this year. Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer were both nominated from "The Help" for supporting actress, while Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster were chosen for best actress in a comedy or musical for "Carnage."

Rash joked that there's only one proper move for Clooney to make -- back "The Descendants" all the way. "It just feels like he needs to choose his allegiance," the screenwriter said. "But I'm not going to lead him one way or the other." The screenwriters suggested that Clooney and Payne resolve their director clash in the ring. "Give them some uncut footage, and they have to arrange it," Faxon said.

Jim Burke, who produced "The Descendants," said he was gratified, rather than worried, that the movie  is facing "The Ides of March" in the three races. "I don't feel awkward or weird, and I don't think George or Alexander does. I think George is a fantastic actor, but he's also a great filmmaker," Burke said. "It could be weird only if we were less supportive of each other."

Clooney seems to relish the idea of facing his best filmmaking friend. Said the actor, "Bring' em on!"


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: Cable shows dominate TV nominations

Golden Globes: 'Extremely Loud,' 'Tinker Tailor' snubbed

-- John Horn

Photo: George Clooney in "The Ides of March." Credit: Saeed Adyani

Hammer, Yelchin, Wood and Dunst set for Times roundtable

October 14, 2011 |  6:00 am

Armie Hammer, Kirsten Dunst, Anton Yelchin and Evan Rachel Wood will be on this year's LA Times Young Hollywood roundtable at AFI Fest
They're in some of this fall's most-talked about films and each, in his or her own right, stands among the most buzzworthy actors of their generation: Armie Hammer, Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood and Kirsten Dunst.

And at this year's AFI Fest, all four will gather to discuss their careers during the Los Angeles Times' second annual Young Hollywood roundtable, moderated by staff writer Amy Kaufman.

During last year's panel -- which featured Oscar nominees Carey Mulligan and Jesse Eisenberg and new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield -- the up-and-comers discussed everything from how to ease red carpet anxiety to the experience of working with veteran filmmakers. 

Many of this year's participants may be able to shed light on the latter topic. Hammer, for one, is starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "J. Edgar," which is the opening night film at 2011's AFI Fest. The actor, 25, earned acclaim last year for his portrayal of two characters -- the jilted Winkelvoss twins -- in the Oscar-nominated Facebook flick "The Social Network."

Wood, too, has been directed by some of Hollywood's A-listers. The 24-year-old -- who plays a sultry intern who seduces Ryan Gosling's character in the recent film "The Ides of March" -- was Woody Allen's muse in 2009's "Whatever Works." She also played Mickey Rourke's daughter in "The Wrestler," and has appeared on HBO's popular television series "True Blood."

Dunst, meanwhile, has had her share of top directors as well, from Brian De Palma to Neil Jordan to Michel Gondry. Her most recent film, "Melancholia," has taken some heat after director Lars von Trier made some controversial comments at a Cannes Film Festival press conference that suggested he was a Nazi. The outrage that followed, however, did not overshadow Dunst's performance and she was awarded the festival's best actress prize. Dunst, 29, has been acting since she was a child, and was nominated for a Golden Globe award at age 12 after starring opposite Brad Pitt in "Interview With the Vampire."

Yelchin has recently been turning heads for his performance in the intimate romantic drama "Like Crazy," which was beloved by audiences at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Earlier this year, the Russian-born 22-year-old played Mel Gibson's son in "The Beaver" and starred in a remake of the '80s horror flick "Fright Night."

The roundtable will take place at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, at the Mann Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood. The evening is in partnership with AFI Fest. Tickets are free, but you must RSVP at the AFI Fest site.

If you have a question for one of the panel participants, submit it in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. We will select some to ask during the roundtable. We will also videotape the conversation, so check back for clips from the event on 24 Frames next month.


Eastwood's 'J. Edgar,' starring DiCaprio, to open AFI Fest

L.A. Times Young Hollywood Roundtable: Working with veterans

L.A. Times Young Hollywood Roundtable: Jesse Eisenberg gets feedback

--Amy Kaufman


Photo, from left: Armie Hammer (Getty Images), Anton Yelchin (Associated Press), Evan Rachel Wood (Associated Press) and Kirsten Dunst (Getty Images).

Box Office: Clooney no match for Jackman's 'Steel' [Video]

October 10, 2011 | 12:47 pm

The Ides of March took second place at the box office this weekend
George Clooney may be one of the most popular stars in Hollywood, but his latest film was crushed over the weekend at the box office by the action flick "Real Steel."

"Real Steel," which stars Hugh Jackman as a man who trains a futuristic robot how to box, was the weekend's No. 1 film, raking in around $27 million worth of tickets. That was far more than "The Ides of March," which was directed by and stars Clooney alongside Ryan Gosling, grossed. The well-reviewed film collected only around $10 million, but had a miniscule budget, compared to that of "Real Steel."

As I discuss in this week's box office video report, Cooney may be one of Hollywood's most popular stars, but his films don't always do blockbuster levels of business.


'Real Steel' is the weekend box office champ

Hugh Jackman sees ‘Real Steel’ as father-son story

'Ides of March': Should Hollywood cut back on political dramas?

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: George Clooney stars in "The Ides of March." Credit: Sony Pictures

'Ides of March': Should Hollywood cut back on political dramas?

October 10, 2011 |  8:00 am

eorge Clooney in "The Ides of March."
The reception for "The Ides of March" this weekend was pretty much what you sensed it would be as the days ticked down to its release: Respectful but not effusive reviews, and ticket receipts that box-office reporters, ever the euphemists, described as coming in at "the lower end of expectations."

George Clooney's heart was certainly in the right place when he decided to turn Beau Willimon's play "Farragut North" into a film. "North" was well received on the stage, first in New York and then at the Geffen Playhouse. More to the point, its Howard Dean-inspired story at once served up a heavy dose of wish fulfillment, thanks to Clooney's idealistic lead character, as well as a level of blood-sporty realism that fit with our sense of, you know, how things really are.

And yet "Ides" seems bound for the same ephemeral status as so many other political allegories that have come and gone in recent years: "Man of the Year," "Swing Vote," "Bulworth," "Lions for Lambs," "Wag the Dog," "Atlas Shrugged," The Manchurian  Candidate."  They're movies that run the ideological gamut, yet most of them garnered middling reactions from both critics and the American public. And almost none of them have endured (with the possible, though only possible, exception of "Wag the Dog").

There are plenty of challenges to dramatizing Washington these days. Among the much-digested issues: Real-life drama can seem so outlandish that no scripted entertainment can match it, while winds shift too quickly for comments on the process to be relevant by the time a film comes out. There may or may not have been something novel in "Ides'" message about the toll the system takes on idealism years ago, before Barack Obama's presidency; there's not much fresh nearly three years into his term.

Compounding the problem, of course, is that most Hollywood studios don't want to take a stand that will alienate any part of the moviegoing audience. So a movie of any respectable budget -- even one from an avowed Democrat like Clooney -- will resort to making general, relatively toothless points about 'the system,' instead of specific points about one ideology or another. That's a kiss of death in a time when partisan politics run so high, and a little boring to boot.

And of course when scores of blogs and cable-news programs come at us all the time, we're  wary of welcoming a new voice to the din, whether or not it has something interesting to say.

It's telling that about the only recent on-screen political entertainment that did matter was "The West Wing." Of course, as a TV series that was a very different beast, able to react quicker to what was happening in the real world, and also able to rise and fall with changing political developments over its many seasons on the air. Unlike moviedom, it wasn't forced to fire off one shot and call it a day.

Hollywood produces much that is ephemeral, so one more creation would hardly seem like its biggest problem.

But there's something slightly uncomfortable about watching another political drama come and go like a long-shot candidate in the Iowa straw poll. If nothing else, it sends a message of political indifference, even though, as movements from the tea party to Occupy Wall Street suggest, we live in a time of anything but.

And political dramas divert talent. Clooney made a meaningful and even influential movie about the changing role of the media with "Good Night, and Good Luck" in 2005. It was as well-intentioned and at times even as starchy as "Ides," but it stirred the conversation in a way that most Washington dramas don't.

Like politics, filmmaking is a game of resources. As a director and actor with clout and ambition, Clooney is a valued one, and it's fair to wonder if this is his best use.


"Real Steel" KOs competition, including George Clooney

"The Ides of March" splits the vote with film critics

Why'd George Clooney make "Ides of March," not run for president?

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: George Clooney in "The Ides of March." Credit: Sony Pictures

'The Ides of March' splits the vote with film critics

October 7, 2011 |  2:18 pm

The Ides of MarchThe new George Clooney film "The Ides of March," which he directed, co-wrote and stars in, follows Ryan Gosling as an idealistic campaign aide who witnesses the dirty business of politics firsthand. The film sets out to be a provocative political thriller that holds a mirror up to the contemporary landscape, but does it make good on its campaign promise? For critics, the answer is yes and no.

The Times' Kenneth Turan gives the film a mixed review. "The dialogue is smart and focused, and as a director Clooney has encouraged his cast to really tear into it," Turan says. However, "even though all the supporting elements of a superior film are here, the actual plot that everything is at the service of is disappointing. The texture of reality and the sheen of fine craft disguise this for a while, but not forever."

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