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.”
In the new dramedy from director Garry Marshall, Lindsay Lohan plays Rachel, a young foul-mouthed booze-hound with a rebellious streak. In other words, if you believe TMZ.com and the other gossip rags, it’s art imitating life.
Instead of shipping her off to a teen boot camp her mother (Felicity Huffman) does something much worse. She arranges for Rachel to stay with her grandmother (Jane Fonda) in the hopes that some good old fashioned common sense will do the girl some good. Grandma Georgia is a bit of a tyrant, a woman who lives by a very strict moral code, propped up with more rules than Carter has little liver pills.
At first Rachel doesn’t seem cut out for small town life. She seduces a local Mormon boy, is rude to everyone and dresses as though she’s about to go clubbing on the Sunset Strip, not to a potluck supper at the local church. When a dark secret is revealed about her past, we begin to understand why she is such a handful, but it could have serious repercussions for everyone in her life.
The trailer for Georgia Rule makes it look like a heart-warming comedy, but that’s a bit misleading. There are some laughs, but the dark subject matter, including alcoholism, nymphomania and child molestation, keep the tone of the movie on the heavy-duty side. Marshall has been down this road before, he did, after all make a feel-good movie about prostitution called Pretty Woman, but here his instincts let him down. The characters are all too shrill to bond with an audience; the cross generational relationships are way too two dimensional; the supporting characters are little more than plot devices to move the story from point “a” to point “b” and the all-is-well-that-ends-well final act rings false.
His best move was the casting of Lohan in the Lolita role. She plays off her tabloid image nicely, although overall her Rachel is a little one-note. To be fair, it’s not really her fault. The script gives her little to do other than play that old chestnut, the spoiled brat who is actually wise and wonderful underneath the heavy veil of her snotty attitude.
Huffman brings more to her role as a desperate mother, daughter and wife, trying to sort out the mess she’s made of her life, while at the same time trying to salvage what’s left of her shredded relationships with Rachel and Georgia. Fonda fares better as the cantankerous moral center of the film. In some scenes she seems to be channeling her father’s famous “old coot” role in On Golden Pond.
Ultimately though, Georgia Rule is Lohan’s movie, and while it doesn’t shed much light on the character in the film, it may offer a glimpse of what it’s like hang out with Lohan on a Saturday night.
Anyone over the age of thirty will remember the Herbie: The Love Bug movies—there were five of them, plus a 1997 TV movie—about a spunky little car with a mind of its own. Fully Loaded is an attempt to rev up the engine of this franchise and run it around the track at least one more time.
This Lindsay Lohan vehicle—pardon the pun, but there are more to come—sees her playing Maggie Peyton, the only girl in a family of NASCAR drivers. As a graduation gift her father (Michael Keaton) buys her an emotive Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie from a local junkshop. Luckily Herbie is a positive influence in Maggie’s life—this is the opposite of that other car-come-to-life movie John Carpenter’s Christine—and Lohan and Herbie bond—is it an auto-erotic relationship?—while she rekindles her love of racing after a near-fatal accident forced her father to ban her from the track. Before you can say Dude, Where’s My Car? she finds herself going wheel to wheel with NASCAR champ Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon).
Herbie: Fully Loaded is a simple, but likeable underdog story of two unlikely racers—there aren’t many female NASCAR racers and a Volkswagen on the track is the kind of thing that could only happen in the movies—that, while predictable, is a long way from the junkyard.
In Just My Luck the world is Lindsay Lohan’s rabbit’s foot. She is blessed with the gift of incredibly good luck. Everything in her life is perfect—she can’t lose with scratch and win tickets, and when the dry cleaner drops off the wrong dress to her apartment, it turns out to be one of Sarah Jessica Parker’s frocks and is exactly the right size and just the perfect thing for her to wear that night on a date.
Into her ideal life stumbles Chris Pine, a busboy / music impresario who is also the unluckiest schlub in NYC. He is so cursed that even when he is fortunate enough to find a discarded five-dollar bill in the trash, it has recently been used as a pooper scooper—the first of many poo jokes in the film.
Their paths cross at a charity masquerade ball. On the dance floor they exchange an anonymous kiss, their identities hidden behind masks. Somehow in their moment of passion they swap more than spit, and in minutes the polarity of their lives is reversed. He is golden and she finds herself being hauled off to jail following a series of unlucky events.
This is a romantic comedy, so of course they meet again, but will they get together?
This is being touted as flame-haired Lindsay Lohan’s move away from the teen films that have made her a star and a shift into Julia Roberts territory. I’m not so sure Just My Luck is the movie that will shed her teen queen image. It isn’t exactly a mature film, it lacks the sophistication of Notting Hill or even My Best Friends Wedding. Instead it’s more like Freaky Friday with a love story. Lohan is a likeable performer, but here she is forced into doing physical shtick that was old when another famous redhead—Lucille Ball—did it. She pulls it off, but the movie feels overly long and to call it predictable is an understatement.
Bobby is an ambitious attempt to reenact the day Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. Director Emilio Estevez has assembled a extensive ensemble cast, featuring vets like William H. Macy, Harry Belefonte and Anthony Hopkins to Brat Packers like Christian Slater and Demi Moore to hot young stars such as Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood to up and comers like Shia LaBeouf and Joshua Jackson who play people who were in the hotel the night Kennedy was killed.
Estevez, who wrote and directed Bobby, was only six years old when Kennedy was assassinated so it might be his lack of personal experience with the era that gives Bobby it almost hopelessly earnest tone. The late 60s were a politically charged time, fuelled by protests, assassinations and civil unrest, but Estevez’s account of the time is simplistic, with stock characters—the racist kitchen manager, the wise old doorman—spouting dialogue that sounds as though it was written for a history textbook and not a feature film.
When Lohan’s character says, “If marrying you tonight keeps you from going to Vietnam, then it’s worth it,” before she walks down the aisle with a recently drafted Elijah Wood, it’s difficult not to imagine even a Harlequin romance writer cringing at the clichéd line.
With 22 characters Bobby is too populated by half. Many of the stories are superfluous and don’t add anything to the film except star power and running time. It’s a snapshot of the time that needs some serious cropping.
Despite the needlessly sprawling story, it’s hard to really dislike a movie this earnest, a film that wears its heart on its sleeve. While cinematic greatness might not be evident, Bobby’s message of peace and justice shines through.
A Prairie Home Companion’s story is very simple. A large company has bought the theatre and radio station that has been home to A Prairie Home Companion, a thirty-year-old homespun Mid-Western radio variety show, hosted by the eccentric GK. Week after week the tightly knit cast has told corny jokes and sung songs that range from old hat to heartfelt for a faithful audience. It is the end of an era but GK refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the night. “Every show is your last show,” he says. “That’s my philosophy.” Luckily director Robert Altman does imbue the proceedings with some weight.
The eighty-plus Altman has been making films for more than fifty years and is still one of the most distinctive filmmakers going. His style, with its long uninterrupted tracking shots with lots of over-lapping dialogue perfectly captures the chaotic goings-on backstage and the loping rhythms of the performers onstage. In a summer filled with slick action pictures Altman’s film feels old fashioned, handmade almost, and that’s a good thing. The movie is so easy going and so enjoyable that it doesn’t draw attention to how beautifully it is made.
Altman has populated the cast with eccentric characters—Guy Noir, the bumbling security guard who seems to have read one too many Raymond Chandler novels; Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, the two surviving members of what was once a family singing act and the Dangerous Woman, an angel who appears on earth in the form of a woman who died while listening to the show—but somehow manages to balance the real human drama with the more ephemeral aspects of the story.
A Prairie Home Companion is so much more than a radio variety show on film. Altman turns the simple story into an allegory about death –with jokes. It’s a touching portrait of the end of a simpler era made by an 81 year-old man who understands the past and is astute enough to look into the future.