Director David Frankel seems to be on sure footing with Hope Springs (after last years incredibly boring Big Year), a getting old, let’s rekindle things comedy. The jokes in the preview work, based on audience reaction I witnessed a few times and Jones and Streep have suprising chemistry. Steve Carell either makes really good (Dan in Real Life, Crazy Stupid Love) or really bad (40 year old…, Get Smart). This looks to be one of the better ones. Vanessa Taylor (the sole writer) wrote episodes of Tell Me You Love Me which was a fine show, high hopes, going to see this
Unless my fiancee decides The Campaign is a better bet. Jay Roach (the Austin Powers films) directs Will Ferrell (I believe his Casa De Mi Padre to be one of the year’s best films and this looks better than Telladega Nights my fiancee’s favorite) playing an buffon and Zach Galifianakis playing a meek loser (tho not a vulgar one) with a funny walk and cute pets. This could be amusing, hold out more hope for it than most recent big comedies.
One of my least favorite new directors, Tony Gilroy (Duplicity, Michael Clayton) makes his first Bourne film. I have not seen any of the others. The only spy flick I loved was Rohmer’s Triple Agent. Jeremy Renner is from here (modesto, ca) so he is talked about in the paper all the time. His charms allude me and I am so sick of hearing about him, hope it tanks.
This looks like it might be fun for the 3D, regret not seeing Jackass in 3D (it was not much fun in 2D) but like Jackass the leads here seem intolerable
This is a something for everyone kind of week
Definitely going to see The Campaign next weekend, I’m a huge Will Ferrell fan, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I enjoyed Galifinakis in Hangover, so I’m really looking forward to this one. The previews look fairly funny.
Will maybe see Bourne later, depending on what I hear about it.
If I’m getting dragged to The Expendables 2 this month, I should get to drag someone to Hope Springs.
I cannot wait for Expendable 2 but also want to see Hope.
I am…the ideal man
Hahaha. I am kind of interested in what type of audience will be at the Expendables because I’m seeing it in Indy during Gencon.
I am probably going to see Hope Springs with my mother if I end up seeing it, which is not a criticism or derogatory accusation of it (to be so, I’d also have to have a negative connotation for my mother, n’est pas?). However, if I ever see it it will be on DVD rental or something. And that’s the highest expectation I can have for this week’s list of movies.
I’ll probably check out The Bourne Legacy as I dug the former Bourne films. Everything else mentioned looks pretty bad.
….I’ll probably see that one with my mom, cause we love the Bourne movies. We’ve been seeing them since the first one came out when I was 13. And this trailer made me feel really pumped up!
I have no interest in Bourne Legacy. It’s a movie not by the same writer or director as the earlier Bourne films, based on a book not by the same author as the earlier Bourne novels, for a franchise that got a very closed ending. One of those films where they have to retcon previous films just to justify it existing. And I liked that actor in Hurt Locker but can’t imagine him in a Bourne role.
I might see Expendables.
One of those films where they have to retcon previous films just to justify it existing.
Well… they don’t really have to retcon previous films to justify it existing. Even in the previous films, “there never was just one!” The Bourne universe is a pretty fun one, so I’ll see almost anything that takes place in it. Hopefully this becomes the next Bond franchise that never ends.
@Jirin – “It’s a movie not by the same writer or director as the earlier Bourne films…”
Tony Gilroy was the co-writer of The Bourne Identity, he wrote The Bourne Supremacy and was again the co-writer on The Bourne Ultimatum.
Misleadingly marketed so as to play up some of its cruder elements, “Hope Springs” is an altogether pleasant surprise: a mainstream dramedy that frankly and intelligently addresses the challenges facing a couple after 31 years of marriage. At once entirely accessible and quietly radical in its intimacy and directness, helmer David Frankel’s latest picture to weigh the comforts and dissatisfactions of domestic life wisely lets Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones carry a simple but deeply felt story like the pros they are. Sony should have no trouble enticing older audiences, and upbeat word of mouth could confer sleeper-hit status.
Since his 2006 smash “The Devil Wears Prada” (which also starred Streep), Frankel has carved out a classy niche for himself, bringing a breezy, unassuming intelligence to cozy middlebrow fare like “Marley and Me” and “The Big Year.” His deft touch is ideally paired here with a polished script by feature first-timer Vanessa Taylor, whose most salient TV credit may be her stint on HBO’s racy couples-therapy drama “Tell Me You Love Me.”
Though the PG-13-rated “Hope Springs” is nowhere near as edgy or explicit, respecting the modesty of its near-retirement-age characters and presumably that of its target audience, the film similarly turns a series of relationship-counseling sessions into a sturdy dramatic engine, and employs the jargon of sex therapy with a bracing, unembarrassed candor.
After more than three decades as husband and wife, Arnold (Jones) and Kay (Streep) have settled into a stultifying routine. Their kids have grown up and moved out. Conversation is rare, sex nonexistent; it’s been years since they’ve even slept in the same bed, a situation Kay awkwardly attempts to rectify in the film’s opening scene. Determined to break out of their rut, Kay manages, with great difficulty, to persuade her perpetually grumpy, uncommunicative hubby to join her on a retreat to the coastal Maine town of Great Hope Springs, where she’s scheduled a week’s worth of sessions with a renowned marriage expert.
Polite, soft-spoken but maddeningly insistent, Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) subjects the couple to round after round of increasingly blunt, probing questions — many of them variations on, “How did you feel about that?” — to which they respond with considerable unease and, in Arnold’s case, extreme negativity and resistance. While the appearance of Carell might have signaled an incipient shift into broad-comedy terrain, the actor’s impeccably measured turn is perfectly in line with the sense of composure and seriousness that governs the whole enterprise, at times lending it the feel of a chamber drama with an overlay of laffs.
In a series of expertly paced, written and acted scenes replete with humor, tension and clenched emotion, Kay and Arnold gradually open up to Dr. Feld and each other, describing their troubles with intimacy, their sexual proclivities and hang-ups, and the waning of their desires with the onset of old age. These moments are handled sensitively enough that the viewer can share the characters’ discomfort and still be amused by it, and Frankel has the decency not to further embarrass characters already well outside their comfort zone.
There are a few token stabs at mildly outrageous humor — as when Kay, on a dare from their counselor, tries to rekindle the flame with Arnold in a public setting — and some unfortunate concessions to romantic-comedy convention, namely the excessive use of bouncy, pop-scored interludes to flesh out what the characters are feeling. It’s a device that has recurred throughout Frankel’s work, and it’s especially cloying in a picture that otherwise understands the power of the pause, and that has two thesps so gifted at registering complicated thoughts and emotions.
Tackling one of the most deceptively ordinary roles she’s had in a while (and a complete departure from her dazzling star turn in “Prada”), Streep dons owlish specs and speaks at a higher pitch than usual, imbuing Kay with the nervous, birdlike energy of a woman not entirely comfortable in her own skin. And Jones, a scowling mass of hostility and avoidance, owns the picture; Kay may have sympathy on her side, but it’s Arnold who undergoes the more significant transformation, something Jones manages without compromising the character’s splenetic temperament.
Though the film finds its way to a sweet, hard-won conclusion, its key achievement is its engagement with the mechanics of therapy, the indignities of the aging process, and the characters’ desperate, fumbling attempts to recover something that may be irretrievably lost — scarcely the most fashionable or marketable movie topics, yet scrutinized here at length and without apology.
Frankel amplifies the remarkable sense of intimacy by keeping supporting roles to a minimum, handing no more than one or two scenes to Elisabeth Shue as a kindly bartender and to Jean Smart and Brett Rice as Kay’s and Arnold’s respective co-workers. Tasteful production package is distinguished by chilly, romantic Connecticut locations, ably standing in for Maine.
Camera (Deluxe color, widescreen), Florian Ballhaus; editor, Steven Weisberg; music, Theodore Shapiro; music supervisor, Julia Michels; production designer, Stuart Wurtzel; art director, Patricia Woodbridge; set decorator, George DeTitta Jr.; costume designer, Ann Roth; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/Datasat), Danny Michael; supervising sound editor, Paul Urmson; re-recording mixers, Tom Fleischman, Bob Chefalas; special effects supervisor, J.C. Brotherhood; visual effects supervisor, John Bair; visual effects producer, Vivian Connolly; visual effects, Phosphene; associate producers, Jeffrey Harlacker, Lance Johnson, Robyn Norris Casady, Christine Coggins; assistant director, Stephen Lee Davis; casting, Margery Simkin. Reviewed at Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, July 26, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 100 MIN.
Hell, I found The Big Year to be a fun, surprisingly capable picture, but to each their own. Next week, I’ll be seeing The Campaign and attending Wizard World Comic-Con. The following week I hope to catch Hope Springs. When I first saw the trailer, I automatically fell in love with the concept.
Before the 2012 presidential election has a chance to get really nasty, “The Campaign” vigorously swoops in to satirize how low things can go between a pair of rival Congressional candidates. Will Ferrell plays sleazy incumbent Cam Brady, accustomed to running unopposed in his North Carolina district until Zach Galifianakis’ idealistic Marty Huggins enters the race. Skewering the system without ever going near the issues, this sportive political parody lacks the real-world punch of director Jay Roach’s made-for-HBO satires “Game Change” and “Recount,” but touches on enough of the elements that irk voters to cinch a B.O. majority.
Politics, like religion, tends to be one of those topics that drives audiences away from theaters, lest the beliefs held rile viewers. In “The Campaign,” the laugh-heavy script steers clear of partisan concerns in such a way that all parties can agree. Both candidates are clearly boobs, while the guys to watch out for are the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow), a pair of powerful millionaires looking to rig the election so they can “insource” cheap Chinese labor to the district.
Normally, the Motches would have no trouble manipulating Brady, but a recent indiscretion has tarnished his reputation, forcing the two tycoons to find a new political puppet. Their choice, Marty Huggins, the black-sheep son of an antebellum-minded Southern landowner (Brian Cox), is eager to impress his dad and too clueless to question where his campaign contributions are coming from.
In an era when image has so much to do with a candidate’s odds, Huggins is in desperate need of a makeover. He talks with a lisp, dresses in crazy knitted sweaters Bill Cosby wouldn’t dare wear, and oversees a family of butterballs too fat for your average photo op. After the thin-skinned Huggins leaves his first civility brunch in tears, the Motches deploy Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to whip him into shape.
Brady is ready for a fight, launching a series of political ads that insinuate that Huggins may be a Muslim. Huggins retaliates by calling Brady’s own faith into question, forcing his opponent to recite the Lord’s Prayer at the next debate. In another country, the resulting blasphemy could get someone excommunicated; here, it aptly illustrates the character’s hypocrisy.
“The Campaign” opens with a quotation from Ross Perot: “War has rules, mud wrestling has rules — politics has no rules.” Embracing the film’s R rating, Roach proceeds to illustrate just how flagrant things can get, and yet, the humor works because everything connects back to the real world.
When Brady tweets a dirty photo of himself, he isn’t the first politician to do so. Sex scandals, drunk driving and embezzlement are now so commonplace among elected officials that auds won’t think twice about accepting these failings as standard character traits for someone like Brady, whose country-inflected, mock-stupid routine clearly borrows from the George W. Bush impression Ferrell perfected back in his “Saturday Night Live” days.
Galifianakis bases Huggins on a pre-existing character of his own, that of the actor’s socially awkward “twin brother,” Seth, who wears a fanny pack and freezes up oncamera. Seth’s trademark insecurity nicely suits Huggins’ underdog complex, explaining why he would be willing to ignore his wife (Sarah Baker) and replace his beloved pet pugs for the public attention an election brings.
However non-threatening Huggins may look, with Wattley’s help, he’s perfectly willing to play dirty. On both sides, the motto is “win at all costs,” a philosophy real-life candidates use to justify the good they plan to do once elected. But neither Brady nor Huggins actually stands for anything, which underscores the disturbing view many political comics have: that it doesn’t matter which candidate gets elected when both answer to the same interests — in this case, big-business lobbies.
The script by “Eastbound and Down” buddies Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell (who share story credit with Funny or Die co-founder Adam McKay) identifies a big, fat target in what disrespectable sorts will do to get elected, as in the scene where a race to see which of the two candidates will kiss a baby ends with the infant getting punched in the face. Comedy makes an excellent tool to criticize political insincerity, but it doesn’t lessen the horror that such tactics work in convincing people to vote against their own best interests.
Roach, who also counts such lowbrow laffers as “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Fockers” on his resume, manages to keep things broad without sacrificing smarts. Where other helmers who have worked with these two leads tend to indulge absurd improvised riffs, Roach keeps things focused, resulting in an all-around tight and polished package.
Camera (Technicolor), Jim Denault; editors, Craig Alpert, Jon Poll; music, Theodore Shapiro; production designer, Michael Corenblith; art director, Kelly Curley; set decorator, Susan Benjamin; costume designer, Daniel Orlandi; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS), Ken McLaughlin; supervising sound editor, Michael O’Farrell; re-recording mixers, Jon Taylor, Dean Zupancic; stunt coordinators, G.A. Aguilar, Todd Bryant; visual effects supervisor, David D. Johnson; visual effects, Pacific Vision Prods.; associate producers, Josh King, Michelle Graham; assistant director, Brian F. Relyea; casting, Allison Jones. Reviewed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, Calif., Aug. 3, 2012. (In Traverse City Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 85 MIN.
from slant magazine:
“Same mother, different daddies” is how Johnny Knoxville describes the relationship between his Jackass pranksters and the titular crew of Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D, a group of wannabe-Evil Knievels led by daredevil Travis Pastrana who perform insane feats aboard motorcycles, ATVs, school buses, and retrofitted Big Wheels-style tricycles. More astute, though, is another talking head’s opinion that the primary dividing line between the two is that the stunts performed in Jackass are meant to fail, catastrophe being the source of their humor, whereas Nitro Circus’s exploits are designed to succeed, since malfunctions or mistakes have potentially lethal consequences. Disappointingly, then, the risk of death barely creeps into Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle’s film, with the Grim Reaper only rearing his head during one vehicular mishap in which a member is rushed to the hospital after suffering undisclosed but “serious” injuries. Instead, the material’s true guiding spirit is one of rollicking boundary-pushing craziness, as Pastrana and his friends attempt all manner of tricks that defy good sense, from jumping from one 400-foot Panama City skyscraper rooftop to another, to crossing chasms in semi trucks and speedboats, to attempting to best one another for the world-record number of car-crash rolls—all of them shot in 3D that, while not able to provide in-your-face thrills akin to the best moments of Jackass 3D, still gives the action an added visceral dimension.
Unfortunately, while the Nitro Circus’s many achievements are impressive, they pale in comparison to those of Knoxville and company’s, if only because, while bodily harm is still ever-present (one after another, members lands on their heads, crack their backs, or smash limbs), the tricks themselves are less gonzo-juvenile than simply BMX-grade daring. Meanwhile, the directors’ use of a wannabe-humorous narrator to introduce the various Nitro Circus players is almost as clunky as staged footage of Pastrana and his friends as kids trying out bike jumps—a recurring bit that bluntly speaks to the film’s portrait of its subjects as lifelong risk-takers still engaged in the idiotic anything-goes one-upmanship of their youth. That’s undoubtedly true, and the goofy enthusiasm of these lunatics—including sole female member Jolene Van Vugt and wheelchair-bound Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham—is infectious, even when their various stabs at to-the-camera humor casts into sharp relief how less personality-driven Nitro Circus is compared to Jackass. The Vegas live show that serves as the film’s climax winds up being a rather weak summation of their work, and far less impressive than an intro sequence of myriad motorcycles and monster trucks leaping in unison across dirt gorges. Nonetheless, it, like the film itself, confirms that a combination of fearlessness, athleticism, and stupidity pays.
Jason Bourne is nowhere to be found in “The Bourne Legacy.” Instead, the villains’ storyline continues as ruthless government agencies try to decommission an entire line of Bourne-like super-soldiers, but fail to eliminate one: Aaron Cross, an agent whose name is far punchier than his personality. Subbing character actor Jeremy Renner into a franchise that requires Matt Damon-caliber magnetism, series scribe Tony Gilroy takes over the helming duties with an overlong sequel that features too little action and an unnecessarily complicated plot. Fans will come, but they won’t be happy, as if paying for a Bond movie and getting a 002 adventure in return.
After director Paul Greengrass walked away and Damon declined to reprise his most popular character, the producers were left with a sizable challenge, the sort creator Robert Ludlum clearly never faced in his novels. Rather than risk recasting the role, the filmmakers tapped Gilroy (who had written all three prior installments) to create a fresh agent in Bourne’s image, introducing Renner’s character with the tagline “There was never just one.”
But Gilroy is a different kind of director from Doug Liman and Greengrass, less interested in explosions than in the mechanics of the bomb. Putting him in charge amplifies the backroom dealings (this time, it’s Edward Norton running the show from a Virginia-based crisis suite), to the detriment of the scenes featuring the franchise’s new protagonist.
Aaron Cross (Renner) belongs to a companion program, Outcome, similar to Bourne’s Treadstone, except that its genetically modified operatives are controlled by means of two pills: The blue capsules boost brain functioning, while the green ones improve their physical performance. When the supply runs out, the agents regress to their unmodified state, a prospect unappealing enough that Cross, trained to assassinate at the CIA’s whim, will kill to continue his dosage.
To get more drugs, Cross must locate Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who barely survived a brutal workplace shooting in a scene that would be disturbing enough without Aurora, Colo., still fresh in the mind. Theatrical line readings aside, Shearing behaves realistically under pressure, fighting off panic while Cross tries to protect her until the very end, when the film gives her a chance to assert her own survival instinct.
Though the espionage genre traditionally favors action, Gilroy is clearly more of a blue-pill kind of guy, having actively resisted standard spy-movie cliches since the series’ beginning. But the helmer pushes too far in the opposite direction here, resisting an opening-scene adrenaline rush and supplying clues in stingy portions more likely to frustrate than to flatter auds’ intelligence. Indeed, half an hour unspools before the action kicks in, and longer than that before things start to make sense.
Renner features throughout the first act, but his hazy character has been dispatched to remote Alaska on an ambiguous training exercise. While Cross slogs through the snow, Norton’s cold-blooded power broker, Eric Byer, cleans up the mess exposed by Bourne, whose one-man vendetta compromised not only not only Treadstone but Outcome as well.
In “The Bourne Identity,” the hero’s amnesia mirrored that pic’s way of dispensing information, effectively putting auds in Bourne’s shoes. Repeated on a character with a functioning memory, the approach feels like a tease, as Gilroy’s script (co-written with brother Dan) not only withholds crucial exposition, but wrongfully assumes that auds will automatically care about Bourne’s replacement.
Renner comes across as less immediately compelling than Damon, partly because it takes so long for the story to focus on Cross, and though the actor portrays a man in turmoil, the film fails to get inside his head. Outside, photos of Bourne flash by on surveillance monitors or clipped to files, suggesting that a more interesting film — namely, “The Bourne Ultimatum” — is unfolding elsewhere at the same time. Series regulars Albert Finney, Joan Allen and David Strathairn cycle by in the background, but this installment is wedded to the fate of Outcome.
An around-the-world montage introduces the program’s five other agents, whose mix of races and genders might have been intriguing, had Byer not succeeded in snuffing them out so quickly. These assassins typically work alone, which makes for a tense meeting when Cross encounters his first fellow Outcome agent (Oscar Isaac).
Unlike Bourne, Cross knows what he is and can fairly deduce who might be trying to kill him, but his top priority is finding a way to “viral out,” relying on Shearing to administer the serum that will make his enhancements permanent. To do so, they must travel to Manila, where “The Bourne Legacy” finally decides to become a Bourne movie, clumsily trying to squeeze as much action into the final reel as possible. If the filmmakers hope to carry on with Cross, they will have to rethink what auds expect from the character, offering more confrontation and less conspiracy.
Gilroy reassembles much of his “Michael Clayton” team, relying on composer James Newton Howard to help goose the energy. The combination of Robert Elswit’s elegant widescreen lensing and the measured editing by Gilroy’s brother John may be easier to absorb than Greengrass’ hyperkinetic docu-based style, but the pic’s convoluted script ensures that auds will emerge no less overwhelmed.
Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Robert Elswit; editor, John Gilroy; music, James Newton Howard; production designer, Kevin Thompson; supervising art director, Molly Hughes; set decorator, Leslie Rollins; costume designer, Shay Cunliffe; sound (Datasat/SDDS/Dolby Digital), Kirk Francis; supervising sound editor, Per Hallberg; re-recording mixers, Gary Summers, David Parker; special effects supervisors, Garry Elmendorf, Steven Kirshoff; visual effects supervisors, Hal Couzens, Mike Ellis; visual effects, Double Negative, Level 256, Rhythm & Hues Studios, Phosphene, Lola VFX; stunt coordinator, Chris O’Hara; associate producer, Daniel M. Stillman; assistant directors, Steve E. Andrews, William M. Connor; second unit director, Dan Bradley; casting, Ellen Chenoweth. Reviewed at the Landmark, Los Angeles, Aug. 2, 2012. (In Deauville American Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 135 MIN.
I want to see The Campaign.
Man I’m really excited for Bourne!
Bourne Legacy does alright. Interesting to see Total Recall totally bombing ($70million worldwide gross so far off of a $125million budget. Oooooooo). It looks like this weekend didn’t spark much enthusiasm after being burned out from all the other hits.