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Chris Rock’s comment at the 2005 Oscars about the omnipresence of Jude Law was apt (despite Sean Penn’s protests), seeing as Law appeared in six different films in 2004 alone. Maybe it’s because of his inescapability in 2004, or the infidelity in his personal life which marred his career, but I’ve never given Law a fair shake as an actor. To add insult to injury, I recently realised that I haven’t even seen many of his films, yet decided that I just didn’t like him. And somehow, I don’t think that The Holiday, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events would be the three films in his filmography that Jude Law would choose to convert fans.
But over the past couple of weeks, I’ve caught three very fun supporting performances from Law. I didn’t consciously choose to watch these three films because he was in them, but I started to feel more excited about the idea of watching Law with each film. In last year’s Sherlock Holmes reboot, Law plays the persnickety Dr. Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s sly Sherlock. Before watching it, I was uninterested in Law’s performance, but as I watched his chemistry with Downey and his on-screen charisma, the performance became one of the highlights of the film for me.
Next, I watched 1997′s dystopian Gattaca. I watched it mainly because of Ethan Hawke, yet Law was the one who ended up serving as a kinetic beacon in an otherwise solid but dreary film. As a genetically perfect man now confined to a wheelchair, Law evokes the frustration and disconnect that we would expect from such a character. But beyond that, his biting sense of humour prevents the character from merely blending into the bleak landscape.
His work in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator is so brief that it could be considered a cameo, but though he only has one scene to work with, Law makes his mark playing the sly Errol Flynn. In a sprawling film full of strong performances, Law’s ability to stand out so comfortably is perhaps what finally won me over on his acting skills.
But that doesn’t erase the fact that I’ve somehow missed seeing every major performance by this acclaimed actor. So I’ve decided to start working my way through the highlights of Law’s filmography. Based on acclaim, fan favourites, and variety, I’ve decided to watch these five films over the next little while. I’ve never done a planned marathon before, so we’ll see how it goes. But hopefully I’ll get a chance to write a bit about each film after watching them:
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) (Oscar Nomination)
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Cold Mountain (2003) (Oscar Nomination)
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Last night’s annual Idol finale brought the usual musical stalwarts and unnecessary bombast, and it focussed heavily on the departing Simon. But it seems like finalists Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowesox got lost in the shuffle. Though they appeared infrequently over the course of the two-hour spectacle, the two finalists did manage to provide a highlight of the evening in their performance with Joe Cocker on “With a Little Help From My Friends”. Other “legends” (I use the term loosely) on hand included Alice Cooper (who performed with the top 12 on “School’s Out”), Michael McDonald, Chicago (performing a medley with Lee), Alanis Morrissette (performing “You Oughta Know” with Crystal), Bret Michaels (who, judging by his media tour, seems to be having the speediest recovery in the history of life-threatening ailments), Janet Jackson, Christina Agueilera, Hall & Oates, and the surviving Bee Gees. Some of the performances were fun, but as soon as the acts ventured into double-song or medley territory, the numbers felt endless.
We also got unfunny musical comedy from Dane Cook, and some expectedly bizarre sorta-comedy from a returning Paula Abdul. Oh, and the “Pants on the Ground” guy was there with William Hung. Yeah.
The Idol finale always seems to feel simultaneously drawn-out and horribly rushed, and by the time they settled down to crown a winner, my enthusiasm was waning. Coming into the finale, I was predicting that Lee would win, and though I was conflicted on who I wanted to win (especially after Lee’s lacklustre performance on Tuesday), I was kind of rooting for The Paint Salesman. In the end, Seacreast dramatically announced Lee as the winner, and though his post-victory antics were endearing, I couldn’t help but feel that Crystal got robbed.
Since another season has drawn to a close, here’s a list of my ten favourite performances from the live shows:
- “Falling Slowly” – Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox
- “Treat Her Like a Lady” – Lee Dewyze
- “Jealous Guy” – Casey James
- “A Little Less Conversation” – Lee Dewyze
- “Change is Gonna Come” – Lilly Scott
- “Me and Bobby McGee – Crystal Bowersox
- “This Woman’s Work” – Michael Lynche
- “Maybe I’m Amazed” – Crystal Bowersox
- “Paint It Black” – Siobhan Magnus
- “Rhiannon” – Didi Benami
And though it seems mean, there were so many dud performances this year, so here are the most cringe-worthy performances from the live shows:
- “Against All Odds” – Paige Miles
- “The Climb” – Hayley Vaughn
- “Landslide” – Lacey Brown
- “Apologize” – Tim Urban
- “What’s Going On” – Jermaine Sellers
- “Smile” – Paige Miles
- “Hound Dog” – Andrew Garcia
- “Blue Skies” – Casey James
- “Sweet Love” – Tim Urban
- “Through the Fire” – Siobhan Magnus
I’ve had as many gripes about this season of American Idol as the next person (although it looks like the next person may no longer be tuning in, judging by the ratings slip the show has experienced), but I really feel that this year’s top 3 is one of the strongest the show has ever had. Admittedly, there’s no one who’s in Kelly Clarkson or David Cook territory, but to me, this is probably the only season that’s succeeded in having the three most deserving contestants make it to the end. Here’s a recap of how Lee, Crystal, and Casey did tonight, and how they’ve done throughout the season, in order from who I think is most to least likely to win.
1. Lee Dewyze
Song 1 (His choice): “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd – This was a perfect choice for Lee’s voice. His pre-competition karaoke version was promising, and it was great to see him give it the proper Idol treatment. It was a very strong performance, but I was expecting a slightly bigger payoff in the chorus. Still, it was certainly the best of the first round of performances.
Song 2 (Simon choice): “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen – Admittedly, I was not that excited to hear that this was Simon’s choice for Lee. It’s one of my favourite songs ever, but it’s been done to death on various Idol shows (and not to mention the scads of YouTube covers floating around). But it turned out to be a great choice for Lee, who took the song in refreshingly unexpected directions. He had one of his cleanest vocals yet, and he sang with a passion that woke this sleepy season of Idol right up. I might have preferred it with slightly less bombast, but it was an extremely powerful performance nonetheless.
Lee’s currently trending like crazy on Twitter, which is only a small indication of his rise to this season’s frontrunner. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought that Crystal was a shoe-in to take the crown. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been undecided, but after tonight, I think that there’s a very good chance that Lee could come out on top. “Treat Her Like a Lady” in the top 10 was the first performance that situated him as a real contender, and since then, he’s had memorable performances with “A Little Less Conversation”, “The Boxer” and “That’s Life”. His pitch sometimes leaves something to be desired, and he’s struggled with confidence, but he’s become this season’s underdog. Crystal is steady and consistent, but Lee’s arguably offered up more exciting “moments” over the course of the season. The fact that the past two winners, David Cook and Kris Allen, were of a similar style and also hit their peaks late in the season could bode well for Lee’s chances in the finals. And constant raving from the judges won’t hurt, either.
2. Crystal Bowersox
Song 1 (Her choice): “Come to My Window” by Melissa Ethridge – It was a suitable, if not slightly predictable choice for Crystal to take on this Melissa Ethridge tune. She sang well as always, but it lacked the grit and passion of some of her other performances.
Song 2 (Ellen’s choice): “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney – Any soul that was missing in her first performance was more than made up for here. Crystal is always best when she sings with abandon, and that’s exactly what she did here. It was great to see her sing without her guitar and move around the studio. I was a bit surprised that the judges didn’t rave more than they did.
Crystal started out as a favourite on this season of Idol. From her first audition to Hollywood Week through the top 24 and until maybe the top 7, she was the clear frontrunner. She did a great job of maintaining her momentum, but unfortunately, audiences are often more drawn to diamonds in the rough than the consistent ones who start off strong. Danny Gokey, Michael Johns, Brooke White, Chris Daughtry, and Melinda Doolittle could tell you a thing or two about that. Even though Lee is my personal favourite, part of me hopes that Crystal can still pull off the win. Idol‘s never had a winner like her, and it would be nice to reward her strong performance over the season.
3. Casey James
Song 1 (His choice): “OK, It’s Alright With Me” by Eric Hutchinson – I’m all for picking more obscure songs on Idol (the final season of Canadian Idol saw songs from Elliott Smith, The Kooks, The Jayhawks, Joel Plaskett, and Ryan Adams performed, and I couldn’t have been happier), but unfortunately, Casey chose a relatively stagnant song. It would have been nice to see him pick a song that would give the audience more moments to grab on to. He sang it well, and he seemed comfortable, but it was a somewhat forgettable effort.
Song 2 (Kara and Randy’s choice): “Daughters” by John Mayer – Somehow, the judges choice that I was most onboard with turned out to serve Casey the worst. It was as though someone had just placed him on the stage and said, “Okay, sing a nice sensitive song and make some John Mayer Guitar Faces”. And he did it. The song can be lovely, but he made it so bland. That said, the bridge was really strong. He briefly showed some passion as he was given that bluesier part to work with, and I would’ve loved to see his whole night at that level.
Casey has been a strange contestant. His audition was memorable for every reason except the singing, and from the brief glimpses in Hollywood Week, he seemed like a cute guy with a nice voice. However, his performance of Bryan Adams “Heaven” in the top 24 immediately established him as a serious contender and separated him from the season’s other piece of eye candy (hi, Tim Urban). He remained consistently good for a few weeks, and then began to fluctuate between being great (“Jealous Guy”, “Don’t”) and pretty bad (“Blue Skies”, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”). Casey seems like a cool guy, and I’m glad that he got to the top 3, but tonight’s underwhelming performances likely sealed his title as third-place finisher.
- Lee – “Hallelujah”
- Crystal – “Maybe I’m Amazed”
- Lee – “Simple Man”
- Crystal – “Come to My Window”
- Casey – “Daughters”
- Casey “OK, It’s Alright With Me”
When one thinks of British monarchs, the word “stuffy” likely comes to mind. But the eponymous protagonist of The Young Victoria is anything but prim and proper, despite the best efforts of those around her.
The Young Victoria follows the life of a 17-year-old Queen Victoria (played by Emily Blunt) as she takes to the throne when her uncle dies. She faces adversity both from a jealous mother and an unruly public, and the film explores her first few years in power.
Part of what works so well about The Young Victoria is the small timeframe that Jean-Marc Vallee limits the story to. It gives the film an intimate feeling, and it’s a nice counterpoint to the sweeping epics that many films about royalty become. Though the subject matter is grand, the characters feel well-developed, authentic, and timeless.
This is partly thanks to some of the key performances. Blunt plays Victoria with just the right amount of modernity, and her performance is electric. Whether Victoria is playing with her pet dog or facing the wrath of the nation, Blunt embodies a woman who is trying to break free of the rigid limits imposed upon her perfectly.
Rupert Friend (Pride & Prejudice, Cheri) also gives a highly charming (but impactful) performance as Victoria’s suitor, Prince Albert. As the film progresses and his character becomes more unsettled, Friend proves that he can pull off the dramatic scenes just as aptly as the earlier light-hearted ones. He and Blunt have undeniable chemistry, and their joint work injects some fire into this occasionally dry film.
While The Young Victoria offers breathtaking costuming, a lovely score, and a visually impressive representation of life as a British monarch, it lacks the quality of storytelling and pacing that would make it a more compelling film. Victoria faces the disapproval of many of her subjects, yet the moments involving their unrest aren’t played out for full dramatic effect. Instead, most of the film’s interest lies in her relationship with Albert.
At parts, The Young Victoria drags. Paul Bettany is wasted as the bland Lord Melbourne, who serves as Victoria’s advisor, and the politics surrounding Victoria’s reign become tedious. The film’s real strength comes when it focuses on Victoria and her frustrations, insecurities, and relationships. Friend and especially Blunt add the proper spark to make the film well worth seeking out.
Charlie St. Cloud
I feel like an idiot for being excited for this movie, but I kind of am. Call it Zac Efron fangirl-ism if you want, but I think that Efron’s a surprisingly decent actor. Considering how fun he was in 17 Again, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles a fully dramatic role. By the looks of the trailer, Charlie St. Cloud seems a bit overly sappy, but Efron’s acting isn’t bad, from what I can tell, and it might be a good transition for him into weightier roles. It’s always a good sign when I’m more excited to see a movie after seeing the trailer, and even though it looks rather clichéd, I’m still interested.
I loved Emma Stone in films like Superbad, The Rocker, and Zombieland, so it’s great to see her getting her own movie. Easy A looks surprisingly good for a teen comedy, and with Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, and Thomas Hayden Church in the supporting cast, I’m pretty much sold on this Scarlett Letter-inspired comedy.
Inception (trailer #3)
We’re finally kinda sorta getting some plot information, and it’s great to see all of the major players in the cast pop up in the third trailer for Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated Inception. I’m trying not to build it up to much in my mind, because it’ll be hard for it live up to my expectations, but this trailer is pretty awesome.
The Adjustment Bureau
What starts off as a rote romance film soon adds an interesting twist to the political thriller genre in this trailer for the latest Matt Damon vehicle. Damon and Emily Blunt are great, and The Adjustment Bureau looks like a big, fun film. Glad to see both of these actors making a film like this.
Kristen Bell is a charming actress, and Betty White, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Sigourney Weaver are always a lot of fun when they pop up in goofy supporting roles. However, this trailer is too manic and clichéd to make me want to see the movie.
This teaser trailer for Buried barely shows us anything, but it looks like a refreshingly different role for Ryan Reynolds. Definitely intriguing, but I’d like to see more.
Again, this shows us barely anything. The train crash on its own isn’t that interesting, but if it’s a J.J. Abrams film (presumably) about aliens, I’m on board.
Last night’s episode of American Idol found the final four contestants taking on really sappy songs from the movies (did you see that list that they had to choose from? They’ve since added some new ones to the list on iTunes, and how I wish someone had chosen Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”). After the success of last season’s Adam Lambert/Allison Iraheta performance of “Slow Ride”, it was inevitable that they’d pair up the final four, so we also got a Lee/Crystal and a Casey/Mike performance (obviously, Casey got the raw end of the deal on this one). Here’s a look at how the performances went down.
Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox (“Falling Slowly”) – I know that “Falling Slowly” was one of Kris Allen’s “moments” last season, but I thought that Lee and Crystal added a new dimension to the Once song. They did have the advantage of it being a duet (which is how the song is intended), but while Kris took a beautiful song and sang it quite competently (I spent all of season 8 wishing Kris would go home, but I did genuinely enjoy “Heartless” and “Falling Slowly”), Lee and Crystal sang with more passion. They sounded amazing together, and I liked that not only did they both shine, but they also connected and allowed the other to have their moments. It was one of those rare Idol performances that felt more like a concert than a competition. (By the way, did anyone else notice that Lee actually portrayed excitement while talking to Ryan after his and Crystal’s duet? He was still awkward as hell and rambled a bit, but his animated tangent about singing with Crystal for the first time was adorable.)
Casey James and Michael Lynche (“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”) – With the misfortune of going second in the duets, Casey and Mike took the stage with this Bryan Adams ballad. They both sang it fine, but it felt more like an Il Divo-esque performance with dudes belting cheesy ballads to make the ladies swoon (which could explain why Simon liked it so much). They didn’t have much chemistry, either (Casey kept nodding and smiling at Mike while he sang, but I don’t think that Big Mike was having any of it). Good guitar playing from Casey, though.
The Individual Performances
Lee Dewyze (“Kiss From a Rose”) – America’s cousin, Phil Dweezy (if you don’t read Richard Lawson’s American Idol column over at Gawker, please do yourself a favour a go there right now), took on Seal’s one and only hit, and while he sounded perfectly fine, I do have to agree with the judges, who said that it wasn’t his best performance. There were a few pitch problems, and it seemed like he was getting out of breath at numerous points. That being said, it’s great to see that Lee is continuing to gain confidence. He looked more comfortable than ever on the Idol stage, and his past three or four performances have been much more charismatic than his jittery early songs. But Randy labelling him as “The Rocker” and insisting that Lee choose “a more rock kind of song” was ridiculous. What happened to the versatility that the judging panel so often demands?
Michael Lynche (“Will You Be There”) – Mike was the only contestant to receive a “Contestant” t-shirt from mentor Jamie Foxx (the whole “Artist” versus “Contestant” debate is valid, but I’m not sure if we actually need to give them t-shirts emblazoned with the label), and he showed us why with his lazy performance of some song from Free Willy (cue judges repartee). I say the same damn thing about him every performance, but it was fine. He sang it well, but it also made my mind wander back to Lee’s performance, and wonder what Lee and Crystal (who hadn’t done their duet yet) would sing.
Casey James (“Mrs. Robinson”) – Simon and Garfunkel have a lot of great songs. In fact, they have a lot of great songs in The Graduate alone. So why Casey chose one of their lightest ditties (or at least didn’t do the version by fellow lady wig enthusiast Evan Dando) confused me. The mandolin was nice, and him dangling off the mosh pit platform added to the cozy feeling, but the whole thing was a bit ho-hum. It was certainly much better than last week’s Sinatra debacle, but it was a far cry from his “Jealous Guy” and “Don’t” highlights. And did he pick that song just to invite more “Kara the Coug” comments from the judges? Because that’s really not doing him any favours, either.
Crystal Bowersox (“I’m Alright”) – Despite the bizarre song choice (The Kenny Loggins song from Caddyshack? Alright, then…) Crystal managed to pull off the best solo performance of the night. She wisely returned to her folk/soul roots, and her reworking of the song was quite clever. I am starting to get a bit bored of her, to be honest, but that often happens with the contestants that the producers pump up so heavily from the start. It’ll be interesting to see how the finale (assuming Crystal and Lee are the final two) goes, with the long-term frontrunner vs. the late bloomer. The past two seasons would tell us that Lee has a better chance than we might think.
1. Lee Dewyze/Crystal Bowersox duet
2. Crystal Bowersox
3. Casey James/Michael Lynche duet
4. Casey James
5. Lee Dewyze
6. Michael Lynche
So who’s going home?: If Big Mike is sent home, it’ll be the first time in American Idol history that I’ll genuinely really like all three members of the final three (Justin Guarini, Ruben Studdard, Jasmine Trias, Carrie Underwood, Katherine McPhee, Jordin Sparks, Syesha Mercado, and Kris Allen have all foiled my hopes). Seeing as it’s never happened before, I’m not holding my breath. But I still kind of think Mike might go home.
= Awards Contender = Big-name Star = Potential Cash Cow = Up-and-coming Indie = My most anticipated films
Iron Man 2
Director: John Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow
After the massive success of 2008′s Iron Man – and star Robert Downey Jr.’s subsequent comeback – it’s no wonder that audiences will be treated to a second helping. With some of the best actors in the business on board (Downey, Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle), it’d be hard for this sequel to fail.
Also Released: The documentary Babies, which captivated audiences with its adorable trailer, and two small Oscar-baity films: Mother and Child (which is already giving Annette Bening Oscar buzz), and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (which earned Andy Serkis a BAFTA nom when it was released in the UK last year). Other indie releases include Multiple Sarcasms
(Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino), Solitary Man (Michael Douglas, Jesse Eisenberg, Susan Sarandon), and The Trotsky, which stars Jay Baruchel as a teen who is convinced that he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.
Ridley Scott teams up with Russell Crowe for the fifth time with his action remake Robin Hood (also starring Cate Blanchett), while Amanda Seyfried continues her date movie run with the ostensibly romantic Letters to Juliet. Also, Queen Latifa and rapper-turned-actor Common star in Just Wright, a rom-com about a basketball player who falls for his physical therapist.
Director: Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe
Movies based on SNL skits were common in the 90′s (Wayne’s World, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, etc.), but this MacGyver spoof is the first one to hit theatres in ten years. It’s clearly going for a hard R-rating, and if it can bring the proper mix of raunch and genuine humour, it could work.
Also Released: The last instalment in the wildly popular Shrek franchise, Shrek Forever After. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Bandaras all return to lend their voices. Also, Holly Rollers, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Hasidic drug runner opens in limited release.
Fans of the TV series will be happy to see Carrie Bradshaw and friends going global in Sex and the City 2
(Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis, and Cynthia Nixon all reprise their roles). Meanwhile, history buffs can check out Jake Gyllenhaal as an action hero in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Rachel Weisz as an ancient Egyptian slave in Agora. As well, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) brings us the fanciful Micmacs, and George A. Romero presents the zombie flick Survival of the Dead.
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley
In the first of Brody’s two sci-fi films coming out this summer (huh?), he and Polley play scientists who become embroiled in the task of combining human and animal DNA. This small, smart thriller may not find much of an audience, but it looks like the best horror film coming out this summer.
Get Him to the Greek
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starrng: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Rose Byrne
This spin-off film revolves around Brand’s Aldous Snow character from 2008′s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The zany “we have to get him to the gig!” premise may wear thin quickly, but with comedic talent such as Brand and Hill on board, there are sure to be laughs had.
Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Alicja Bachleda, Colin Farrell
After gaining good buzz from its premiere at last year’s Toronto Internal Film Festival, Ondine is now receiving Oscar buzz for lead actress Bachleda. Jordan’s (The Brave One) drama about a man who finds a mermaid may not be the most conventional summer film, but it certainly sounds intriguing.
Also released: The Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Hiegel vehicle, Killers, which
is likely to rake in big money at the box office. And for the kids, Owen Wilson lends his voice to the adaption of the comic strip Mamaduke.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharto Copley, Quintin Jackson, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson
With a film veteran (Neeson), a new superstar (Cooper) and a promising up-and-comer (District 9‘s Copley), there is a lot to be hopeful about with this re-boot of the classic 80′s TV show. Here’s hoping that it strives to be more than a big, dumb action movie.
Also Released: The Jackie Chan and Jayden Smith reboot of the 80′s classic, The Karate Kid. And though you’ll have to look hard to find it, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, Winter’s Bone, is going into limited release.
Directors: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei
The Duplass brothers (Baghead, The Puffy Chair) are known as forbearers of the mumblecore movement, but their latest movie is a story of a man (Reilly) who is terrorized by his new girlfriend’s overly protective son, Cyrus (Hill). With bigger names and good buzz from Sundance, Cyrus could be the Duplass brothers’ breakthrough to the mainstream.
Toy Story 3
Director: Lee Unkrich
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusak
The third instalment in the Toy Story franchise is finally here, and it’s likely to find new fans that weren’t even born when the earlier films were realised. Pixar has been on a run with Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up, and here’s hoping that Toy Story 3 won’t break the streak.
The Killer Inside Me
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson
In his first film since 2007, Casey Affleck stars as a homicidal sheriff who is assigned to investigate murders that he himself has committed in The Killer Inside Me. It will likely struggle to find an audience (the film’s explicit portrayal of violence against women had viewers walking out of its Sundance screening), but Affleck’s presence may convince some film fans to give it a chance.
Also Released: Yet another comic book adaptation, Jonah Hex (starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, and John Malkovich) and I am Love, which finds Tilda Swinton showing off her Italian.
Two films full of star power hit the screen on June 25. The comedy Grown Ups (Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade) finds five childhood friends reuniting, while Knight and Day (Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) continues this year’s trend of action-based rom-coms.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse finds protagonists Bella and Edward (Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) going to battle with their vampire friends, while The Last Airbender (directed by M. Night Shyamalan) brings the popular children’s TV series to the big screen. Also looking for a comeback is director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys), who
returns to his teen film roots with Twelve, a drama about a young drug dealer (Chace Crawford).
The Kids Are All Right
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska
This comedy about two lesbians’ kids trying to find their biological father earned critical praise at Sundance, and boasts an all-star cast. Mainstream audiences may not be ready for the subject matter, but it has the potential to become the sleeper hit of the summer.
Also released: Despicable Me, a cartoon featuring an top-notch comedic vocal cast (Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Jason Segel, Will Arnett) and Predators, which inexplicably stars Adrien Brody. For horror buffs, [REC] 2 is a sequel to the Spanish film that inspired 2008′s Quarantine.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
Christopher Nolan’s Inception is one of the most anticipated films of the summer, despite the fact that no one knows what it’s about. After 2008′s The Dark Knight, expectations are high, but with its exciting trailers and exceptional cast, it’s sure to draw a big crowd.
Also released: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the fantasy film that’ll keep Jay Baruchel’s big year alive (also starring Nicholas Cage). Another up-and-coming actor, Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), has a French/Russian drama called The Concert opening in limited release.
Angelina Jolie’s latest vehicle, Salt, finds her as a CIA agent on the run, while Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, and Zach Galifianakis star in Dinner for Schmucks, in which they compete to find the dumbest person to bring to a dinner party. Also, Ramona and Beezus (starring teen star Selena Gomez) adapts the popular Beverly Cleary book series, and Todd Solondz brings audiences his latest ensemble piece, Life During Wartime.
Charlie St. Cloud
Director: Burr Steers
Starring: Zac Efron, Kim Bassinger
In his first fully dramatic role since High School Musical, heartthrob Zac Efron stars in Charlie St. Cloud, which centers around a young cemetery caretaker who attempts to connect with his deceased brother. It has the potential to be dumb, or, if Efron handles the lead role well, surprisingly good.
Director: Aaron Schneider
Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black
It was supposed to be a contender for the 2009 Oscars, but Get Low got pushed to a summer release. However, star Robert Duvall is still getting buzz for his performance as an elderly man who wants to plan a premature “funeral party” for himself. An unconventional summer release, but certainly interesting.
Also Released: Beastly, a fantasy romance starring Zac Efron’s real life girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens (same release date? How adorable…), and the totally unnecessary sequel, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Indie releases include I Love You Phillip Morris, a controversial film, which finds Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor getting cozy, and The Extra Man (starring Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reilly).
The Other Guys
Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson
Will Ferrell takes a break from his sports comedies to co-star with Mark Wahlberg as a cop in this action comedy. Farrell has saved some pretty weak material in the past, so even though the trailer was underwhelming, I still hold hope for this one.
Also Released: The eye-roll-inducing Step Up 3-D, and Middle Men, a crime comedy starring Giovanni Ribisi and Luke Wilson.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman
This oddball adaptation of a graphic novel series finds Michael Cera as a young man who must defeat “seven evil exes” for a shot at his love interest’s heart.
Also Released: The ultimate guy movie of the summer, The Expendables, which stars Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, and Jason Statham is unleashed. And perhaps not coincidentally, the ultimate chick movie of the summer, Eat, Pray, Love, is also released, which stars Julia Roberts as a misguided woman who takes a worldwide journey to find herself.
Director: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis
The concept is strange – a man (Bateman) purposely replaces his sperm with that of a donor’s, unbeknownst to his friend (Aniston), who is trying to get pregnant. Yet what ensues looks like a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy, largely thanks to its two charming leads.
Also Released: Three movies which I plan to ignore completely. Takers (a bank heist movie starring Paul Walker and Zoe Saldana), Nanny McPhee Returns (starring Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes), and The Lottery Ticket (starring “no longer Lil” Bow Wow).
Going the Distance, starring Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, and Christina Applegate explores long-distance relationships, while Josh Radnor’s directorial indie debut, Happythankyoumoreplease, considers growing up and first love. For something entirely different, Piranha 3-D lets you see the gore from all angles, and Centurion (starring Michael Fassbender) takes on a Roman war epic.
In American Idol‘s latest attempt to suck any shred of relevance out of their show, tonight was dubbed Frank Sinatra Night, and the contestants donned fedoras, vests, and ballgowns to take on some golden oldies. Even the chipper Harry Connick Jr., who arranged each song and sat in on piano, struggled to inject some life into these old chestnuts. No disrespect to Sinatra…but when you’re show is about finding a contemporary recording artist, this is one of the stuffier theme nights that you could choose. But nonetheless, let’s recap who fell apart (I’m not happy), and who managed to avoid flying off the rails completely. To change things up, we’ll go chronologically.
Aaron Kelly (“Fly Me To the Moon”) – Aaron kicked off the night looking adorable but sounding completely wonky on one of Sinatra’s better-known tunes. The first verse was shaky, and though he managed to get some nice notes in as the song progressed, he seemed completely uncomfortable. Nothing about his performance was interesting or memorable. And I feel like I just kicked a puppy.
Casey James (“Blue Skies”) – After Aaron’s lacklustre performance, Casey didn’t have much to top. Yet somehow he managed to sound even worse. Look, I’ve been a big Casey fan from the start. I’ve liked all of his performances (even “Don’t Stop”), but this was undeniably…brutal. I felt uncomfortable watching it, because he looked as if he knew how terribly it was playing out, and seemed lost without his guitar. The judges proceeded to kick him while he was down (even Ellen had nothing but negative feedback. Ellen!) With a last-minute VFTW switch (they’ve dubbed the campaign “Goat for the Worst”) and the possibility of sympathy votes, I’m hoping that Casey will scrape through to another week. But after two weeks in the bottom two, it’s not looking good.
Crystal Bowersox (“Summer Wind”) – Crystal looked lovely and gave a strong performance of a song that she claims is very personal to her. She had some really good moments, especially later in the song, but the whole thing lacked some of the intensity that she’s brought to her other performances. Part of it was the style, but she also seemed a bit disconnected in the front half of the song. She’s much better suited to intimate, acoustic numbers than big band arrangements. Not one of her more memorable performances, but still enjoyable, as always.
Michael Lynche (“The Way You Look Tonight”) – Michael chose a song that suited his voice and sang it in a cheesy, old-fashioned way. What else is new? Unfortunately, by tonight’s standards, that gave him one of the better performances of the night. Yeah, it hurts me to admit that, too. NEXT.
Lee Dewyze (“That’s Life”) – I was a bit worried about how Frank Sinatra Night would treat Lee, but he once again showed his ability to turn any song into a relevant, interesting performance. He looked surprisingly comfortable without his guitar, and his pitch was (for the most part) good. I don’t really blame him for this, but he seemed to be buried deep in the mix of the song. All of the instrumentation overpowered his voice at a few points in the song, but aside from that, it seemed to be a very strong performance for Lee.
- Lee Dewyze
- Michael Lynche (no comment.)
- Crystal Bowersox
- Aaron Kelly
- Casey James L
Should Go: MICHAEL LYNCHE
Will Go: Casey James (or possibly Michael Lynche…as I wishfully hope every week)
The trailer for one of my most anticipated films of 2010, The American (director Anton Corbijn’s follow-up to 2007′s fantastic Control), has just been released. The movie isn’t slated for release until September 1.
I really like the look of The American. The trailer is much darker and less Bourne-y than I had expected, but it looks like a great role for Clooney. The trailer is very well put together and taught, and this movie will likely be just as visually intriguing as Control.