Posts Tagged ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

AFTER THE BALL: 2 STARS. “aren’t many surprises in this fluffy commercial tale.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 4.50.22 PMLike the love child of “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Twelfth Night” and “Cinderella”—I know that doesn’t make sense, but either does much of this movie—“After the Ball” is a modern day fairy tale set against the backdrop of the fashion industry.

Portia Doubleday stars as fashion grad Kate Kassel. From the outside she seems to have it all, talent, drive and a father (Chris Noth) who is the CEO of a fashion line. Trouble is, the family name has been sullied in recent years and no one will hire her. Fashionable hat in hand she begs for a job at the family business, now being run by her evil stepmother (Lauren Holly) and talentless, vindictive stepsisters (Natalie Krill and Anna Hopkins). Her obvious talent doesn’t endear her to the sisters and soon she is framed for fashion theft and fired. Determined to set things right, and save the business, she dons a disguise—she’s now Nate—and returns to the fold.

The movie’s influences are beyond obvious—Kate is the princess, get it?—and there aren’t many surprises in the retelling of this light and fluffy commercial tale and while it is a movie probably best suited to the small screen VOD experience that doesn’t negate its modest charms.

“After the Ball” tries a bit too hard to please, but Doubleday has good chemistry with love interest/prince charming Marc-André Grondin and Holly has some one-dimensional fun as the villainous stepmother. Carlo Rota’s Stanley Tucci impression, however, brings us back to earth, reminding us we’re watching a copy of the kind of top-of-the-line rom coms that feature aerial views of Manhattan in their opening moments.

Horrible Bosses: The worst on-screen employers in movie history

swimming-with-sharks-kevin-spaceyBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

At one time or another everyone has fantasized about, if not killing, then at least doing grievous bodily harm to an employer. The guys in Horrible Bosses, the 2011 comedy starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, actually tried to make their fantasies reality.

The idea of squaring off against the boss man struck a chord with a lot of people and the movie raked in more than $100 million. So the inevitable sequel, Horrible Bosses 2, hit theatres earlier this week.

They’ll have to go some ways to top the last trio of bad bosses: Jennifer Aniston as a foul-mouthed sexual predator with a bad habit of using laughing gas as foreplay; a manic boss with no scruples in the form of Kevin Spacey; and a drug-addled loser with a penchant for cocaine and masseuses who inherits a business from his papa, played by Colin Farrell, who berates his employees for coming in late after attending his dad’s and their old boss’s funeral.

“Well, maybe that excuse would have flown when my dad was here, but I’m in charge now.”

But even that terrible trio pales in comparison to the worst movie bosses of all time.

One of the worst is Working Girl’s Katharine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). Parker is two-faced, and attempts to pass off her trusted secretary Tess McGill’s (Melanie Griffith) ideas as her own. Roger Ebert said of Weaver’s performance, “From her first frame on the screen, she has to say all the right things while subtly suggesting that she may not mean any of them.”

In the end, Tess teaches her a lesson about honesty and gets Katharine fired.

Katharine looks like a pussycat compared to Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey), the tyrannical Hollywood producer in Swimming with Sharks.

“You are nothing!” he says to his new assistant Guy (Frank Whaley). “If you were in my toilet I wouldn’t bother flushing it. My bathmat means more to me than you!”

Guy finally snaps, kidnaps Buddy and tortures him. But in an unexpected twist, the extreme behaviour earns Buddy’s respect and Guy gets a promotion.

Finally, if you mix the swooping white hair and bad attitude of Cruella DeVille with the people skills of Vlad the Impaler, you will come up with Miranda Priestly, the worst boss in all of moviedom. Played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, Priestly is the editrix of a fictional fashion magazine called Runway who never met an assistant she couldn’t humiliate with a withering glance and a few choice words. “By all means, move at a glacial pace,” she says to newbie Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). “You know how that thrills me.”

Stanley Tucci: Catching Fire and frequent hires. Metro Nov. 20, 2013

a4e82633f3a34017a13e93528d52d113-a4e82633f3a34017a13e935_20131115191241Is Stanley Tucci the busiest actor in Hollywood? This year alone added five movies to his IMDB page with five more in the pipeline for 2014.

This weekend in Hunger Games: Catching Fire, he plays Caesar Flickerman, the elaborately coiffured host of The Hunger Games television broadcasts. Despite being disguised with wild wigs, fake teeth and plenty of bronzer, it is unmistakably Tucci, one of the most interesting actors working today.

He made his big screen debut in the 1985 gangster comedy Prizzi’s Honor followed by several years of dues-paying stage work and movie roles like Second Dock Worker in Who’s That Girl before landing recurring spots on Miami Vice and Wiseguy.

A succession of supporting roles lead to the one-two punch that made him a name actor. Producer Steven Bochco’s television drama Murder One cast Tucci as Richard Cross, a Machiavellian multi-millionaire accused of the strangulation of a 15-year-old girl.

The following year a much different part earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best actor. In The Big Night he plays Secondo, owner of an Italian restaurant called Paradise. The place is slowly going broke but may get a boost from a visit by singer Louis Prima. If Prima shows up the restaurant will have a big night and be saved from bankruptcy.

It’s not only one of the greatest food movies ever made — you’ll want to go for risotto afterward — but it also features what Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called “an unforgettable acting duet” between Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, who plays his temperamental chef brother, “that is as richly authentic as the food.”

Since then Tucci has played everything from villains — strangling a Supreme Court justice in The Pelican Brief — to a flamboyant nightclub manager in Burlesque, to the God of wine Dyonisius in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters to Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Opposite  just Meryl Streep alone he’s played everything from a gay art director in The Devil Wears Prada to Julia Child’s loving diplomat husband Paul in Julie & Julia.

In 2010 he received his first (but probably not last) Oscar nomination for his work in The Lovely Bones. He played the murderous Mr. Harvey, all twitchy movements and squeaky voice; he was Norman Bates without the overbearing mom.

“I don’t like to watch things about serial killers or kids getting hurt,” he said, “but this was something beyond that. It was an exploration of loss and hope.”

EMILY BLUNT, “I have sly eyes” By Richard Crouse

emily_blunt_charlie_wilsons_war_MSUKS87.sizedThe first time most of us noticed Emily Blunt she was “’on-the-edge of sickness thin.” To play the role of Emily Chalton, the prickly first assistant to the editor in The Devil Wears Prada, Blunt had to drop pounds from her already slight frame. “It wasn’t like doughnuts were snatched out of my hand,” says the 5′ 7½” actress, but she was encouraged to slim down. So much so she would occasionally cry from hunger during the shoot. Luckily, though rake thin, she still had the energy to steal the movie from her more seasoned co-stars, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci.

Although the character fell directly into the love-to-hate-her category, audiences found Blunt irresistible. Her mix of vulnerability and fork-tongued charm—crowned by crystal clear blue eyes and a face anchored with a cleft chin that would make Kirk Douglas envious—earned the title Best Female Scene-Stealer from Entertainment Weekly and nominations for everything from a Teen Choice Award to a Golden Globe.

The kudos and notoriety that followed her Prada performance on this side of the Atlantic were simply an echo of her much-admired, though lesser seen work, in the UK.

After dabbling in drama at age 12 to help conquer a stutter she made her professional stage debut while still in school. From there it was a short leap to the small screen and praised performances in British television period pieces. It was, however, only when she left the lace-bonnets behind and took on a role in the critically-acclaimed My Summer of Love that she really made a splash. The story of a teenage infatuation between Mona (Nathalie Press) and the manipulative and cynical Tamsin (Blunt) earned both Press and Blunt equal shares in an Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

When asked why she is so often cast as bad girls like Tasmin she says, “I have sly eyes. When I was in school they always said, ‘Emily can never be elected Head Girl because you never know what she’s thinking.’” Just don‘t ask her to further explain her acting method. “I think it’s embarrassing to hear people talk about their process because you always sound wanky,” she says bluntly.

We can say that she has an enigmatic quality which has served her well in supporting parts as diverse as a gawky, uptight French teacher in The Jane Austen Book Club, an oversexed young women opposite Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War and as a babysitter in Dan in Real Life, all movies she says, that share “a very human heartbeat.”

Even when she appears in something less than Oscar worthy, take the 2005 miniseries Empire, for instance, a project she dismisses as “the sad little brother of Rome,” she still stands out, giving her characters both subtlety and complexity. She’s not a flashy actor; often she expresses an idea with a simple lift of an eyebrow or an understated movement, a trait she shares with her acting idol Cate Blanchett.

While she says “I want to do my own thing and not emulate anyone else,” she calls Blanchett’s chameleon-like ability to disappear into a variety of roles very brave.

The disappearing act is a trick Blunt seems to have picked up from Blanchett. Following a bravura turn in the offbeat comedy Sunshine Cleaning, and the now obligatory for stars-on-the-rise Simpson’s cameo, she took on, and disappeared into, the most challenging role of her career to date. In The Young Victoria Blunt returned to the period roles that defined the early part of her career, playing Queen Victoria from headstrong teen to Queen of the Realm to love sick widow.

“I definitely made a real play for the part because I knew it would be one of those roles that people would hound because it was so rare and so well written,” she says. “It’s hard to find a film that is shouldered by a woman about a girl like that who is so remarkable and so complex. I went in and met them and said, ‘I love it. I’m very aware that a lot of other people do as well but I’d like you to give me a chance.”

Since then she’s worked nonstop, in movies both big—like this month’s mega budget Gulliver’s Travels—and small—a 10 minute short named Curiosity, shot on a budget of £2,000. Mixed into that eclectic stew is The Wolfman, a reimagining of the 1941 Lon Chaney classic which airs on TMN and Movie Central this month. Blunt says she took the role for two reasons. First to work with co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro and secondly because her character Gwen is “the girl in a werewolf film, and that’s cool.”

One more very cool job in Emily Blunt’s white-hot career.


devil-wears-prada-the-devil-wears-prada-753857_800_600Take the swooping white hair and bad attitude of Cruella DeVille, mix in the people skills of Vlad the Impaler and you’ll get Miranda Priestly, the worst boss in all of moviedom. As played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada Priestly, the editrix of a fictional fashion magazine called Runway, never met an assistant she couldn’t humiliate with a withering glance and a few choice words.

Rumor has it that she is based on all-powerful Vogue editor Anna Wintour who apparently uses assistants like the rest of us use toilet paper. In 2003 one survivor, Lauren Weisberger, extracted revenge on her former boss, writing a vaguely fictionalized account of her time spent working for the dragon lady of fashion. The Devil Wears Prada changed the names, exaggerated the stories and offered a scandalous look at the inner workings of a big-time New York fashion magazine.

In the movie version Anne Hathaway plays Andy Sachs, a fashion-impaired university grad who takes a job as Miranda’s assistant as a stepping-stone to her dream job of writing capital “J” journalism for The New Yorker. Courtesy of Miranda’s right hand man Nigel, Andy is given a high fashion makeover from the Jimmy Choo’s on up. Dripping in Dior she quickly becomes Miranda’s star assistant, eclipsing the ambitious, and supposedly firmly entrenched Emily. Andy soon learns that in Miranda’s fast paced world results are the only tings that matter. Other little details like personal relationships, dignity and self worth are secondary. The story is as thin as the models in the pages of Runway, but it is the characters that make this so much fun.

The Devil Wears Prada moves along at a nice clip when Streep, draped in Chanel and clutching the latest Marc Jacobs bag in her talons, is on screen. She gets the rare opportunity to show off her comedic side and seems to have devious fun with the character. She’s nasty, but of course Streep brings more to the role than vicious one-liners, (“The details of your incompetence do not interest me,” she says to a frazzled helper.), and evil eyes. She plays Miranda without a hint of weakness. Her marriage may be falling apart but she chose this life and is willing to accept the consequences no matter what the cost. She takes a one-dimensional character and turns her into the most interesting person on-screen.

Stanley Tucci as Nigel, Miranda’s long-suffering, but tough as nails sidekick and Emily Blunt as the snooty Assistant Number One are also perfectly cast and fun to watch. The least interesting character, Andy Sachs, has the most screen time, and while Anne Hathaway is charismatic and beautiful she gets slightly bowled over by the over-sized personalities of Streep, Tucci and Blunt.

The Devil Wears Prada only wears thin when the filmmakers indulge Hathaway’s inherent decency. By the time she decides that she doesn’t care about the glamour and glitz of the fashion world we don’t care either. Luckily the bulk of the movie is wicked fun.