Friday, December 02, 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

'Bad Santa' and Movies About Characters Behaving Badly

In honor of Bad Santa 2, I decided to vent about my dislike of "bad" movies -- you know, Bad Santa, Bad Teacher, Bad Words, etc. All those comedies where characters act like reprobates? I think they're massively lame. I go into it over at MEL.

'Things to Come' and Learning to Let Go

Over at The New Republic, I spent a little time raving about Things to Come, which is merely the second-best film out this fall with Isabelle Huppert. (The other, of course, is the fabulous Elle.) She plays a woman saying goodbye to her marriage, her mother and the life she's known. It's a gem -- read all about it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Misleading Men: Billy Bob Thornton

I hated Bad Santa 2 -- more on that later this week -- but for my regular MEL feature "Misleading Men," I decided to take a closer look at its star. What, exactly, is authenticity? And how does it apply to the career of Billy Bob Thornton? I ponder those questions here.

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: 'Allied,' 'The Truman Show' and 'Hancock'

Welcome to Episode 45 of the Grierson & Leitch podcast. Today, we're talking about Allied and Rules Don't Apply. But we also take a look back at The Truman Show and Hancock. The whole thing is available right here.

My Interview With Derek Hough

As I may have said before, one of the things I most like about profiling actors for Backstage is that it puts me into the orbit of performers I wouldn't normally meet when I write about music and movies. For example, I was aware of Derek Hough because of Dancing With the Stars, but I can't say I had any opinion of the guy before sitting down with him at the Universal lot more than a month ago. I found him quite engaging: We talked about his career and his forthcoming Hairspray Live! Hope you enjoy my cover story.

(P.S. It's worth noting that this piece was written and finished before Hough announced he was leaving Dancing. But I wondered if something was up: He obliquely mentioned he was looking for new challenges. "I do feel like I’m reaching the end of a certain chapter in my life," he told me. "Or at least an elongated pause ... into some new adventures and some new opportunities. I think when you feel like you’ve done as much as you can do in a certain space -- when you actually look at a room and you go, 'I feel like I’ve done everything in this room I can creatively' -- you start to go, 'OK, I need a new space to create in.' ... It’s definitely a little scary, but it’s also exciting. I think it's important to live at the edge of your comfort zone. There's a great expression, which I really love, which is 'Passion lies at the edge of uncertainty.' I think that when you’re sort of uncertain about something, there has to be a passion. When you know how it’s gonna play out, it starts to become a little bit arbitrary.")

Friday, November 25, 2016

Heems - "Womyn"

Here's to all the womyn.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Interview With Emma Stone

If I was a betting man, I'd say place good money on Emma Stone winning Best Actress for La La Land. For Backstage, I spoke with the actress, who couldn't have been lovelier. We talked about her movie, the pain of auditioning and her current obsession with TED Talks. Also worth noting: This interview was conducted and written before Election Day. She was nervous about the outcome, and so was I. I hope she's doing OK. Here's my profile of Ms. Stone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

'Fences' Review

Fences is -- and I hate this word -- a real powerhouse. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis take August Wilson's play and go to town on it. (Probably doesn't hurt that they both won Tonys for a recent Broadway revival of the show.) A potent tale of fathers, marriage and racism, Fences is capital-A acting done very well. My review is up at Screen International.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Grierson & Leitch Podcast: Beasts, Animals and 'Children of Men'

Episode 44 of the Grierson & Leitch podcast gets you caught up on last weekend's big releases. That means reviews of Fantastic Beasts, Nocturnal Animals and Manchester by the Sea. And for our Reboot segment, well, what better time to revisit Children of Men? You can hear the whole thing here.

'Allied' Review

If I could chart my reaction in real time to Allied as I was watching it, this is sorta how it would have gone: "Hey, this is fun! Hey, this is real good! Hmm, OK, that's interesting, let's see where this goes from here. Uh oh, what's happening?" I ultimately liked the film, but it starts a lot stronger than it finishes. My Screen International review is right here.