Tag Archive: emma stone


‘Battle of the Sexes’

 

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‘Battle of the Sexes’ sits in a weird spot.  It’s a fun movie while not a straight up comedy; it covers a serious topic while also not being too heavy handed about it.  I think that’s why I enjoyed a lot of its individual parts more than I liked the movie as a whole.

Emma Stone puts another notch in her ‘serious actress’ belt, playing feminist icon Billie Jean King, at the exact moment in time when multiple stars were aligning.  Professionally, women’s tennis players weren’t even being offered half of what the men were making (in terms of the purses of major championships), and Billie Jean King was in the center of rectifiying that wrong.  On a more personal level, Ms. King was ‘married to a good man’, but her desires were being awakened in another direction (Alan Cumming is brilliant as the gay costumer who sees the writing in the wall before Billie Jean is ready to fully comes to terms with it, privately or publicly).

Steve Carell is equally great as Bobby Riggs.  Movies are made a year out, but even with unpredictable outcomes in real life, it’s interesting to watch Carell play Riggs as this showman/hustler who doesn’t seem to completely believe the things he says publicly, but he knows its what his benefactors want to hear, and he knows it will make headlines.

Not a Hall of Fame movie per se, but a story that surprisingly hasn’t been captured as a movie until now.  Worth seeing for the performances alone.

 

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lalaland

Against all odds, Damien Chazelle has made a contemporary musical.

‘La La Land’ is a wonderful piece of pop escapism.  Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are ‘the Girl’ and ‘the Boy’ in this meet cute about a wannabe actress and a stubborn jazz musician and their desires to make it big in the City of Angels. Starting with a top notch opening sequence, the mood is set for a film Hollywood stopped making (in earnest) decades ago.

Ryan Gosling is solid as usual.  I’m having a little Casey Affleck deja vu here in that I liked Ryan more in other movies (‘Drive’ and ‘Blue Valentine’ immediately come to mind) but he certainly holds up his end of the movie.

The real treat here is Emma Stone.  ‘Birdman’ was fine, but this is her real graduation from ‘girl next door’ roles to potentially her generation’s Diane Keaton.  At parts goofy, at parts romantic, with enough singing and sympathy to play a fleshed out character.  It’s a joy to watch someone get to play so many different ‘notes’ within one movie.

The cinematography is beautiful with enough glimpses of classic L.A. locations (Griffith and Santa Monica) I might have to go back and see it in IMAX.  I was pleasantly surprised at how cynical the movie is.  Don’t worry, it’s a musical, it’s not a downer, but there are prices to be paid to get to your dreams.

Definitely the crowd pleasing award contender this year.  Recommend.

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CHRIS: And here to present the next two awards, here is Academy Award nominee Emma Stone, and the Associate Producer of ‘Trojan War,’ Malik Aziz!

(audience applause as they take the stage)

EMMA: An outlaw trying to survive in a room of seven Hateful men. A woman supporting and coming to grips with her husband’s changing sexual identity.  A partner trying to reel in one of the greatest creative minds of the last century. A few of the great performances from this year.

MALIK: That’s right! And you know what else they all have in common?

EMMA: (awkwardly fidgeting) Um…what?

MALIK: They’re all nominated tonight for Best Supporting Actress!

EMMA: (relieved) Yes. Yes!

MALIK: Wait, what did you think I was going to say?

EMMA: Nothing. Nothing.

Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara – Carol

Rachel McAdams – Spotlight

Alicia Viklander – the Danish Girl

Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Who Should Win: Probably Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Who Will Win: One of this year’s ‘It Girls: Viklander

Who I’m Cheering For: A small chance based on the movie that McAdams wins, and she’s pretty solid in everything (including last year’s True Detective).

Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

Christian Bale – The Big Short

Tom Hardy – The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight

Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Who Should Win: Hmmm.  I could make a case for Ruffalo. I could make a case for Rocky.

Who Will Win: Everything’s lined up for Sly, and if Mike and Ryan are happy for him then I am too (I guess).

Who I’m Cheering For: 

 

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Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Laura Dern – Wild

Keira Knightley – the Imitation Game

Emma Stone – Birdman

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Who Should Win: Hm.  Meryl is the definition of ‘legacy nominations’, I felt like Laura Dern’s character was more important to the story than the actual performance.  I’d argue Arquette’s was really a lead performance, so that leaves two.  I’d barely put Keira over Emma because of what each character meant to the story that was being told.

Who I’m Cheering For: As I noted in my reviews, both Keira and Emma showed things in their performances that were new (and good).  I’d be happy for either of them, but…

Who Will Win: Has Patricia Arquette lost any award yet?  I don’t think so…

Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall – the Judge

Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

Edward Norton – Birdman

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Who Should Win: It would be really hard to go wrong with any choice this year, but really Simmons stands above the rest.

Who I’m Cheering For: The first ballot Character Actor Hall of Famer of course!  Go J.K.!

Who Will Win: The worthy ‘congrats on a great That Guy career’ star of the moment, J.K. Simmons.

‘Birdman’

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‘You confuse love with admiration.’

Can I stop right there?  Please?  Alright, I’ll write a full review…

No surprise why so many actors/artists/Hollywood types love this one.  The original Dark Knight, Michael Keaton, stars as a past his prime movie star who tries to return to relevancy by staging a Broadway play.

The rest of the cast: Amy Ryan (why isn’t she working more?) as his ex wife who genuinely loved the man more than he loved himself, Zach Galifianakis playing the straight man as the lawyer holding it all together, Naomi Watts as the beautiful actress with self esteem issues (fighting off a million inside jokes).

And also nominated for golden men: Emma Stone, evolving out of different versions of the ‘nerd dream girl’ to play the fresh out of rehab daughter of Keaton’s character.  Between this and doing ‘Cabaret’ on Broadway, she’s taking advantage of the chance to show she has some range.

And in the future Malik Aziz role, Edward Norton as the smart and talented Method actor who is an arrogant, unrepentant asshole.  Personally, I’m kind of ‘over’ actors spoofing their reputations for a laugh, but thank God we got to see Edward Norton playing ‘Edward Norton!’  None of you who know me well will be surprised that the ‘movie star or actor’ scene Keaton and Norton have about halfway through is one of my favorites this year. Any other year, I think Norton would be a shoo in for the Oscar, but not this year.

Everything revolves around Keaton though and he carries the weight.  It’s not even a Batman bias here; it’s really fun watching him play a comedic lead again.  ‘Birdman’ isn’t one of the frontrunners for Best Picture by accident.  I haven’t even touched on the great cinematography or the drum score (my God).  Yeah, I was all in on this one from frame one.

 

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Wilson Pickett did a cover of ‘Hey Jude’?  Really?  How do I not have any memory of this?

Well, it sounds like a great idea on paper, let’s taken a listen…

(clicking Play…)

(GASP!!!)

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(Creative Adrenaline Rush!!!)

(acting out and writing the sequence Kerry Washington throws my character and my trumpet out in the middle of the street, and I’m taking the long, terrible Walk of Shame in the rain until I end up on Emma Stone’s porch, where my character (and the audience) have no idea of this thing we’ve been doing is a ‘having fun on the side’ thing or if it’s a ‘real’ thing (cause if it’s NOT a real thing, my character has completely destroyed his life…)

(exhaling…)

(End of Act One…)

(Tarantino, so help me God if you license this version before I do…)

 

 

As this post is about me as a writer, let me do a solid to start.  If you’re a blog writer, screenwriter, joke writer, or a like minded member of our ilk, what’s the dreaded word no one wants to hear or be accused of?  Stealing.  There’s no foolproof method of course, but I recommend my friends at Grammarly to help out.  Use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker online because every story has been told, and if you have a feeling the story you’re telling is destined for greatness, there’s a chance someone already beat you to it.

Now, what am I writing these days?

Well, the ‘indie’ project I’ve written is the latest version of my teenage, sci fi project ‘The Legend of the Cursed Angel’.  I’ve taken my Star Wars and refashioned it as a low budget webseries, with a stronger emphasis on every episode raising the stakes on ‘how does this end?’ and less emphasis on ‘planets exploding’ and other such nonsense it’s just completely impractical for me to pull off.  It’s a ‘movie star’ type part for yours truly, and when I figure out which way I want to go the other major part, I’ll at least get the pilot episode shot.  Science fiction, and movie star stuff, I know that doesn’t really scream ‘indie’ but as I joked about with one of my co-stars, when you’re name dropping Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal in your script, you’re not exactly screaming Hollywood either…

On the Hollywood side, I’m in the middle of my feature rewrite for ‘Lady In My Life’.  The ‘people’ like what I did in the last version fine, but my quest to be original broke way too many genre rules (damn System), so now it’s telling the story I want to tell in a form everyone can recognize while still doing it in a way that is so unique anyone who sees it will know it is ‘my voice’ and it stands out from the pack (welcome to the life of Hollywood screenwriting).  I’m already more than halfway there so that doesn’t really concern me; the other part of writing for ‘the Bank’ is the first thing ‘the Bank’ is going to do is envision who they can put in your story to make money.  In the last revision I did, I (of course) and Kerry were high school sweethearts who had a baby when we were teenagers, and now that kid (Michael B. Jordan) of course is about to be a man, and…Page 1.  And who would play the present day love interests?  Everyone who offered suggestions, I’m still digesting all of them: Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita, Alison Brie, Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Jurnee Smollett, Kerry, Beharie, Alba, Zooey.  And no, I’m not deliberately looking past the wife/mother character, she is the ‘Lady’; in the current version of the script though, I’ve framed it as a father/son story and how each reacts when given similar choices.  And if that framework sounds like it borrows from one of my favorite/greatest movies ever but using it in a more comic form…you may be on the right track there slugger.

So that’s what’s up with the nonstop writing so far in 2014.  When we progress into acting and/or directing, I’ll keep you posted.

The Help

Count me among the many whose face curled up in disgust as soon as I heard the re was a movie about black folks called ‘The Help’.  I mean, really?  That was the best title they could come up with?  There’s a very short list of actors at this point who I would consider ‘dream colloborators’, but Viola Davis is on that list.  So hearing that she was in this film bought it a little bit of rope.

Next I heard that this was based on a popular book.  That and knowing all the main charaters were women sent me next to my mother to see if she saw the movie or read the book.  I’ve made reference before to my roots being in the South; so when my mother told me that the book and film gave her flashbacks to her teenage years (i.e. for a brief period of time, she was ‘The Help’), well, now I had a vested interest in seeing this film.

There’s nothing groundbreaking in the film in terms of story (‘black people really got the short end of the stick during Jim Crow’) or as a movie about racism (‘there’s the one educated white person who’s ready to tear down Jim Crow and side with the blacks).  That doesn’t mean I think it was a poorly made film either; as award season comes around I think ‘the Help’ will be remembered more for the performances than for its whole.  Emma Stone as the ‘ugly girl’, Jessica Chastain as the white trash girl, Bryce Dallas Howard actually being very convincing in the part I imagine they offered to January Jones first.  Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson in bit parts that were both very memorable.  On a side note, I half jokingly wondered if Cicely Tyson just rents herself out to ‘questionable’ projects; like a safety net to let folks know ‘if Cicely Tyson is in it, it can’t be racist.’

This is Viola Davis’ film though and to no surprise she carries it.  I’ve already heard the ‘O’ word thrown around a little bit.  I cringe a little when I think about the parts and scenes that have won black women Oscars (see Butterfly McQueen and Halle Berry), but we can cross that bridge later if it comes to that.

The film has been at the top of the box office for a minute now, so it’s worth being part of the conversation if you haven’t seen it: