Richard’s Metro Canada In Focus: Why Emma Stone can do no wrong

The-amazing-spider-man-2-emma-stoneBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada In Focus

The Spider-Man movies don’t skimp on the stuff that puts the “super” into superhero movies. There’s web-slinging shenanigans and wild bad guys galore, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb calls the relationship between Spidey and girlfriend Gwen Stacy, “the engine of the movie.”

The chemistry the real-life couple brings to the screen is undeniable, but it almost didn’t get a chance to blossom. Before Emma Stone landed the role of the brainiac love interest, Mia Wasikowska, Imogen Poots, Emma Roberts and even Lindsay Lohan were considered.

Stone won some of the best reviews of her career playing Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man — Peter Travers said she, “just jumps to life on screen” — in a role that gave her the biggest hit of her career to date.

Smaller roles in Superbad and Zombieland hinted at her ability to be funny and hold the screen, but in 2010’s Easy A she turned a corner into full-on Lucille Ball mode, mixing pratfalls with wit while pulling faces and cracking jokes. Smart and funny, she’s the film’s centrepiece.

The movie begins with the voice over, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s the voice of Olive (Stone), a clean-cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. As soon as the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, however, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class — The Scarlet Letter.

Stone is laugh-out-loud funny in Easy A, but her breakout film was a serious drama.

In The Help, she plays Jackson, Miss. native “Skeeter” Phelan who comes home from four years at school to discover the woman who raised her, a maid named Constantine (Cicely Tyson), is no longer employed by her family. Her mother says she quit, but Skeeter has doubts. With the help of a courageous group of housekeepers she tells the real story of the life of the maids, writing a book called The Help.

The Flick Filosopher called her performance, “on fire with indignation and rage,” and she moved from The Help to a variety of roles, including playing a femme fatale in Gangster Squad opposite Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, and lending her trademark raspy voice to cave girl Eep in the animated hit The Croods.

The 25-year-old actress is living her childhood dream of being an actress but says if performing hadn’t worked out, she would have been a journalist, “because (investigating people’s lives is) pretty much what an actor does.

“And imagine getting to interview people like me,” she laughs. ‘’It can’t get much better than that.”


gangster_squad-wideIt’s Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn in over-the-top-mode) has taken over the city—there’s brothels, booze and bad news all over. “I’m building a new city out of the ruins of Los Angeles,” says Cohen.

Corruption is the name of the game for everyone except Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), a honest cop in a crooked town. When LAPD Chief William Henry Parker (Nick Nolte) asks him to create a special undercover team to bring Cohen and his thugs to justice, O’Mara assembles the Gangster Squad, a group of cops who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.

“The Gangster Squad” will likely suffer from the inevitable comparisons to “The Untouchables” and “LA Confidential.” It grabs the atmosphere of post war LA from the latter and the storyline, almost beat for beat, from the former. There’s even a shoot out on a stairway, but this is a far more blunt object than either of it’s forbearers. In the first twenty minutes people are drawn and quartered, incinerated—apparently Cohen prefers medieval techniques—and there’s a vicious fistfight. Then it gets violent.

The film is possibly best known, not for its cast, which also includes Ryan Gostling, Emma Stone, Michael Peña and Giovanni Ribisi, but as the movie pulled from release following the Aurora, Colorado Century 13 massacre. Originally featuring a scene of gangsters randomly firing into a movie theatre, it was deemed inappropriate for release at the time. I’m not sure what they have replaced that scene with, but trust me, its removal hasn’t made the film any less violent in tone.

It’s a gorgeous looking film, with a pretty picture of LA’s glamorous nightlife and features dialogue by Will Beall who has clearly spent some time watching Raymond Chandler movies like “The Big Sleep.” Lines like “The whole city is underwater and you’re grabbing a bucket when you should be grabbing a bathing suit,” have more finesse than the story as a whole.

“The gangster Squad” is a period piece that spends a bit too much time exploring the down-and-dirty side of the story, but is an stylish look at a violent time.