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Non-Review Review: This is the End

There’s a moment about half-way through This is the End when our bunch of celebrities are starting go stir-crazy, as they brave the apocalypse inside James Franco’s surprisingly fortified house. In the strange combination of idle boredom and growing madness, the group decide to improvise a trailer for the non-existent sequel to Pineapple Express. It is complete nonsense, but there’s a strange energy and a warm sense of humour to their “sweded” version of a Hollywood comedy, complete with remote-control car chases and homemade props.

It feels like something that only these actors would get – it’s just a bunch of people hanging out, fooling around, making the most of the materials available to them do something which feels incredibly niche. It’s a weird balance of something so experimental and so niche that it’s almost definitely a piece of post-modern art. (The movie even features an early scene of pretentious James Franco gleefully arguing that everything is art – even Jay Baruchel.) On the other hand, it’s accessible and fun, managing to seem – simultaneously – like an incredibly niche and charmingly broad piece of film.

It’s also pretty damn funny.

... and I feel fine...

… and I feel fine…

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My Daddy’s a Movie-Star: When Do We Stop Thinking of Second-Generation Actors In Terms of Their Relatives?

It occurred to me as I was watching the trailer for Lucky, the upcoming black comedy starring Colin Hanks and embedded below. I was actually thinking of Colin Hanks as a name in his own right, rather than “the son of Tom Hanks, who also acts.” I mean, of course I knew his name, and I also respected his work, but there had always been this rather pronounced association between Colin and his father. I don’t mean anything to diminish Colin’s work, and I know it isn’t fair, but that was pretty much how I had – to a large extent – defined the young performer. I don’t even think I did it consciously. However, in watching the trailer for his upcoming film, I actually found myself thinking of Colin in his own right. Even though he is – honestly – the spitting image of his father, I had to consciously drag that association into my head in order to make it. It got me thinking, when does the child of a successful actor come into their own?

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Twilight of the Stars?

I’ve been thinking a bit of late about movie stars. Are we reaching the end of the star-driven era of Hollywood stars? What got me thinking about it was the news of Tony Scott’s upcoming Unstoppable – a movie about a runaway train starring Denzel Washington, who has been one of Scott’s most consistent collaborators in the past. I loved Denzel Washington – and I loved Crimson Tide and, to a lesser extent, Man on Fire. And yet, I have absolutely no urge to see the film. It isn’t a “must see” simply because of the talent or skill involved. And, being honest, I don’t think I’m alone. There would have been a time years ago when a name on a marque would have marked a film as “must see”. I am beginning to suspect that the era of “star power” might be slowly passing.

Am I Cloo(ney)ed into something?

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Non-Review Review: The Player

I love The Player. I really do. When I was in college, I used to organise movie screenings – we’d show The Player once a year and it would always pack out. It was just one of those films that everybody had heard nothing but good things about, but never got a chance to see. Indeed, I would go so far as to say The Player, with all its wacky fourth-wall meta-ness, is my favourite Robert Altman film.

Who would want to kill this producer? Answers on the back of a postcard...

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Film on Film: Is Now the Time for Showbiz Movies?

I’ll admit that I’ve never really understood why Hollywood is so preoccupied with showing the rest of the world how show business works. It was announced today that the book I’m Dying Up Here will be getting the film treatment. That particular bestseller offers a behind-the-scenes look at the early days of the New York stand-up comedy scene, culminating in the famous strike over pay. The characters on screen will be any number of world-famous comedians, from Tim Allen to Robin Williams. Part of me wonders if the recession is a suitable time for this sort of Hollywood introspection.

You may be dying up here, but the celebrity-based bio-pic is alive and well...

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Is It Ever Appropriate to Slam a Movie Because of a Star’s Appearance?

Hmmm… Okay, maybe this isn’t entirely a fair example, but the thought occurred to me while reading the Guardian’s review of Couples’ Retreat and the reviewer spent his first paragraph critising Vince Vaugn’s weight. I wish I were kidding, but here’s the quote:

Favreau was always on the chunky side, to be fair, and he’s been doing fine behind the camera with the Iron Man movies, but back in Swingers, Vaughn had the requisite skinniness to persuade us he really was a half-starved young Hollywood actor. Now he has boy boobs, love handles and back fat. And all this (a lot of this) in a movie that requires him to wear a swimsuit most of the time.

The review then goes on to make a somewhat valid criticism of his current career choices (while kicking Jennifer Aniston, which is just mean – if a little bit justified), but speaks little about the offending movie in general. I know that it isn’t really fair to complain about a review criticising a guy’s appearance – I acknowledge that woman are probably more affected by our image-conscious society – but is it ever really fair to slam a movie based upon the lead actor’s appearance?

Phat or fat?

Phat or fat?

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