A deep dive into the acting career of Glenn Close, celebrating a performer who gets more out of stillness than almost any other actor.
Awards season again. Last year, as you may recall, a many months pregnant Natalie Portman received the Oscar for Best Actress for "Black Swan." Her lithesome acceptance speech, without notes, thanked many colleagues she knew had helped her stand there. As both a lifelong moviegoer and a worker on films, my spirit lifted at these words: "There are people on films that no one ever talks about, that are your heart and soul every day, including Joe Reidy, our incredible A.D..." Along with so many others, I was thrilled by her sentiment -- and especially pleased for Joe Reidy.
"Those who think "Transformers" is a great or even a good film are, may I tactfully suggest, not sufficiently evolved. Film by film, I hope they climb a personal ladder into the realm of better films, until their standards improve."
-- Roger Ebert, "I'm a proud Brainiac"
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is the "Dark Knight" of 2009. In what way? It's the pop-smash action picture that has excited a bunch of fanboys fans who don't usually read movie critics to howl with inarticulate rage about movie critics who don't like their movie. Of course, "The Dark Knight" was met with considerable mainstream critical acclaim, and "ROTFL" with equally considerable mainstream critical disdain, but the important thing to remember is: critics had nothing to do with making these movies hits.
Want to see critics made completely superfluous? Bestow upon them the magical power to predict box-office success. Instead of awarding thumbs or stars or letter grades, they can just provide ticket sales projections that can be quoted in the ads: "I give it $109 million in its opening weekend!" Voila! Instant redundancy, instant irrelevance. Why do you need critics to gauge grosses when you already have tracking reports, followed by the actual grosses themselves?
View image Emission accomplished!
"Ten Movies That Shook The World" (1977 - 1999), the semi-sequel to my piece on "How "Star Wars" Changed Everything," is now at MSN Movies.
"Beverly Hills Cop" (1984)
It's a comedy. It's an action movie. It's a fish-out-of-water story. It has Eddie Murphy. It's the '80s in a nutshell! Here we have the quintessential example of the "high concept" movie that has lit the light which is green at studios from Burbank to Culver City. I saw it with Eszter Balint, the then-18-year-old Hungarian-American actress who played cousin Eva in "Stranger Than Paradise." She told me afterward that she felt bad for the families of all the expendable characters who were killed in the gunfight and car chase scenes. With its (some would say rather callous) synthesis of comedy and violence, "BHC" (and Walter Hill's "48 HRS") brought a slicked-up exploitation-movie sensibility into the mainstream, paving the way in the 1990s for "Pulp Fiction" and its imitators.
"Top Gun" (1986)
A breakthrough in the portrayal of homoeroticism in Hollywood movies (we've all seen Quentin Tarantino's monologue about how it's the gayest movie ever, right?), as well as the apotheosis of the slick, MTV-style action picture produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (now just Bruckheimer, since Don Simpson OD'd on Tinseltown decadence). The deliberate, disorienting music-video cutting, the contemporary pop soundtrack, the shameless celebration of testosterone-injected buddy love -- it's all here, from Tony Scott ("The Last Boy Scout," "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Domino") to Michael Bay ("Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor") and beyond. One could argue that Adrian Lyne's 1983 celluloid video about the lady welder who was "a maniac, maniac" for dancing under buckets of water at gentlemen's clubs (aka "Flashdance") deserves this spot, but it lacks the militaristic gay element that became so prevalent in popular movies. "Brokeback Mountain" may have been sired out of "Red River," but "Top Gun" also blazed a trail for it.
Go here for the complete list and overview...
Q. There are a few things you got wrong in your "Godzilla" review that might have added a tenth of a star to that 1.5-star rating. (1) 1. Godzilla doesn't "breathe" fire. In the two shots where that appears to happen, I'm pretty sure it's exploding vehicles that provide the flames. (2) They don't say Godzilla's female. In fact, they make it clear that his reproduction as a male is paradoxical, which leads to all that silliness about asexual reproduction. Of course that's crap writing in itself, since it's only there to explain how they could get a Godzilla's-Nest plot without a second adult giant mutant lizard and without rewriting forty years of Godzilla lore (Godzilla's always been a guy). (Blair P. Houghton, Phoeniz, Ariz.)
There is no such thing as a critic being right or wrong. He expresses his opinion, and that's that. Yet when "Indecent Proposal" took off into the box office stratosphere, the showbiz analysts chortled that the critics had missed the boat. The film opened to nearly unanimous negative reviews, and yet the public couldn't wait to see it. And the "exit surveys" indicated they liked it, too.