Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008


Released- January 18, 2008
Reviewed- January 18, 2008
Rated- B
Everyone’s gathered for Rob’s surprise going-away party. Lily (Jessica Lucas, the cutest in the bunch of relative newbies) is there. Rob’s (Michael Stahl-David) brother, Jason (Mike Vogel), is there. Hud (T.J. Miller), Rob’s best friend and the guy chronicling the night behind a camcorder, is there. Other well wishers who’ve come to bid ado to their pal before he leaves for a job in Japan are just having a grand ol’ time. Beth (Odette Yustman), Rob’s secret crush, also shows up. Only she brings some dude with her.

Hud and Jason try to offer their boy some support, but before they can get to the heart of the… Boom! There’s a huge explosion. People scramble to the roof to see what all the commotion is about. A bellow of smoke engulfs a skyscraper off in the distance. Is it 9/11 all over again? Bang! Another Manhattan-rattling blast. This time folks scamper to the streets. Hud’s still holding the camcorder, capturing every stumble and jerk for you in the theatre. Out of nowhere, the Statue of Liberty’s head comes hurling down the block. This moment is over-the-top and out-of-this-world, all in the same gasp. Clearly, this ain’t the work of Bin Laden. This is something that’s been hiding and feels its time to strike humans is right now. The masses, scurrying to get off the island, pack the Brooklyn Bridge. Either the shear weight of escapees topples the landmark or the thing terrorizing the city makes it crumble. Whatever the cause, Jason and countless others die in the carnage.

If you haven’t gotten nauseous with all the screams and the screen’s incessant jittering by this point, you probably won’t. And that’s good news because you’ll need all of your bodily facilities in working order for this movie. Instances of fear, humor and angst sometimes happen within seconds of each other. Emotionally, this ride is a lot. Like World Trade Center, Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project all spliced into a single, action-packed flick, Cloverfield works a number on your every neuron. Romantics will feel for Rob’s selfless quest to find Beth alive in her destroyed apartment. Sci-fi nuts will go ape shit over the monster thingie knocking over 200-story buildings like Jenga blocks. Cinematography buffs will probably construct a shrine in honor of director Matt Reeves and producer J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost) for their stunning, headache-inducing visuals.

This gloomy movie initially got pub for its grassroots internet marketing. It’ll earn a spot on the shelf next to other well-done apocalyptic fare of late like The Mist and I Am Legend for its dark, can’t-look-away tone. If what Hollywood says in pictures like Cloverfield is true, the end may actually be near. Get on your knees. Read Nostradamus. Say some Hail Marys. Do whatever it is you gotta do for a peace of mind. For this one, you’ll just want to make sure to have some buttered popcorn beside you while you’re doing it. -DW

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I had the pleasure of interviewing the late Heath Ledger this past November. Here's that story...

It takes a special kind of actor to willingly step into as bizarre a role as the one of Robbie, one of six incarnations of music legend Bob Dylan in the trippy new flick I’m Not There. But let Heath Ledger tell it, saying yes to Todd Haynes’ movie was nothing. Good director. Good part. When do we start? Such a response shouldn’t be shocking from the Australian hunk though. Over his impressive 15-year career, Heath’s boldly portrayed a gay (Brokeback Mountain), a straight shooter (The Patriot) and a crooked lover (Casanova), all in convincing fashion. Next summer he’s upping the ante big time and going after Gotham City as The Dark Knight’s Joker. As for now, he’s with us, shedding some light on being Bob, being Batman’s nemesis and being a daddy.

A lot of younger audiences today aren’t as aware of Bob Dylan as their parent’s generation. Do you feel an audience needs a certain awareness of Dylan in order to understand I’m Not There?
I don’t think you need to be a Dylan genius in order to appreciate it. As a story, as a film, the experience of it, ‘cause it is a film, it is a movie. It’s not a quiz, there’s no Q & A afterwards. Quite frankly I think the less you know the better off you’re going to be because you’re not going to be straining yourself to try to digest every single line of dialogue. You’re just gonna strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.

Your character “Robbie” represents Bob’s tumultuous personal life. What did you discover about the man himself in preparing for this role?
About “Robbie” or about Bob?

About Bob.
Umm, I dunno, because essentially Todd kind of dissected Bob and I was like an amputated limb, so I was just concentrating on one arm of Bob Dylan. Likewise Todd dissected the script too and handed us little short films, and we just concentrated on our individual stories. I tend to feel that the story of my character and Charlotte’s (Gainsbourg) character lives with him and the circumstances of the era represented more a portrait of Dylan than perhaps the individual. I dunno, at the end of the day I read the books, I watched the documentaries, my catalogue of Dylan’s music was expanded, but the beauty of Todd’s film is I can’t tell you that I know anything more about Bob Dylan than you do. I think that’s beautiful, that Todd attempted to respectfully preserve Bob Dylan’s mystique, and has respectfully kept him in the shadows still.

How has music affected your life?
Oh gosh. Where do I start? Music? On so many levels, it has affected my life and still continues to. One example, to me, singer/songwriters, poets, Dylan or whoever, to me it’s such a pure expression or song from the soul and it deeply connects to mine. It has always been the key to kind of unlock or enable me to express anger or pains of any sort. So, it’s always been a wonderful excuse for me to express creatively and personally.

When you’re playing an iconic figure like Dylan or, say, the Joker, is it helpful to go back and read all of the past stuff and look at all of the past stuff based on that character?
I think it’s a little bit of both. I think it’s necessary and I think it’s unnecessary. We can prepare. We can over prepare. We can under prepare. It’s all just to feed our superstitious needs and to comfort ourselves. At the end of the day, you usually just have an understanding about what it is you’re going to do. It’s innately it’s kind of embedded somewhere inside. I was definitely a fan of Dylan. Dylan was definitely someone I had felt I had scheduled somewhere in the future down the line to become obsessed by. I do become obsessed by people, musicians and artists. But I think Todd prematurely invited me into that experience on this film. And the Joker, yeah, I was definitely a fan of what Jack Nicholson did and the world Tim Burton created. I can tell you now that if Tim Burton was directing The Dark Knight and he came and asked me to play the Joker, I’d say, No. You couldn’t reproduce what Jack did. The reason why I confidently stepped in those shoes was when Chris [Nolan, The Dark Knight director] asked me, I had seen Batman Begins and I knew the world that he created. I also knew that there was a different angle to be taken. That’s why I did it.

Heath, as a dad, how do you relate to this role?
The same as if I wasn’t a dad. (Pause) No, okay. I guess just like anyone in this industry, like yourselves or the crews on movies, it’s a fairly Gypsy-esque lifestyle. I can certainly relate to that, struggling to keep a consistency with family life (Heath has a child with Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams) and your social life and your professional life. It’s both an annoyance and also an addiction. I can definitely relate to it. I didn’t agree with Robbie and a lot of his actions and his words, it’s not my job to agree, but I can try to relate and understand.


Released- January 18, 2008
Reviewed- January 18, 2008
Rated- B
If a chick flick befalls on the masses and nobody (not even the guys) is disappointed, does it still make for a chick flick? Fellas secure in their manhood asked a similarly profound question after enjoying 50 First Dates and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. This latest manhood-questioning laugher has lots in common with those female-friendly films besides numbers in the name. Star Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up) walks that likeable walk Kate Hudson and Drew Barrymore have become famous for. And while you’d happily take any of them to mom’s house for dinner, none are of that drop-dead gorgeous mold Hollywood loves so. This time around Heigl is the super-organized, hopeless romantic Jane, a CEO’s assistant at an REI-like outfitter. She’s got the hots for her eco-cutie of a boss (Edward Burns) but like with most things in her life, can’t find the guts to say how she feels. One night at a party, however, the perfect moment presents itself. Jane’s dream guy is at the bar. She takes a deep breath and walks in his direction. Just as she’s making her final approach, Jane’s visiting sister (Malin Akerman) swoops in and beats her to the hunk. On the outside, Jane appears happy for the couple’s courtship and fast engagement, but deep down she’s torn apart by it all. Still, like any good sis, she plans the wedding’s every detail, from the cake to the toasts. Amazingly, 26 times before, she’s been asked to do the same thing for friends. (Two of those occasions happen on the same night in the movie; watching Heigl hightail it to both on-screen is a blast.) James Marsden plays Kevin, a New York Journal weddings section writer assigned to do a story on the upcoming nuptials. He’s a marriage-hating cynic, but he’s got sparkling eyes and a decent reason for being so gloom. Kevin and Jane are worlds apart on matters of the heart, but you just know director Anne Fletcher’s gonna come up with cute ways to have their Rolodexes meet. Chuckle-inducing lines are showered about Aline Brosh McKenna’s (The Devil Wears Prada) script. Pacing is fluid and upbeat. Men will have so much fun that, by the time the last bride makes her predictable walk down the aisle, they’ll need a Kleenex or two—not to collect their joyous tears but to shield the approving smiles on their faces from their significant others. -DW