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Everybody, break out your tissues. The trailer for The Fault in Our Stars has arrived, and it promises to make everyone cry just as hard in theaters as they did when they first read the book. Based on the novel by John Green, the film follows the love story of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group, and the ups and downs that come with living you life and falling in love when you're terminally ill. The Fault in Our Stars also features Nat Wolff as Hazel and Gus' friend Isaac, Laura Dern and Sam Trammell as her parents, and Willem Dafoe as Peter Van Houten, the famously reclusive novelist behind the couple's favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction.
Fans of the book will be thrilled to see their favorite characters finally come to life onscreen and will be especially pleased to note that some of the most beloved and quoted lines will have made the transition along with Hazel and Gus. Sure, we knew that they would find a way to work in the famous "Okay? Okay." tagline that fans hold so dear, but it seems we will also get the opportunity to hear Gus' declaration of love and Hazel's gratitude for the "little infinity" they shared be spoken aloud as well. But, as exciting as that is, hearing the same dialogue from the book makes us a little bit apprehensive, and raises an important question: will The Fault in Our Stars still work as a film, or is the story something that is best experienced on the page?
As lovely as it is to hear Gus confess his love to Hazel, the trailer draws a great deal of attention to the fact that lines that worked so well in text sound a bit awkward and clunky when they're actually spoken aloud. The sentiment is still there, along with all of the significance the words had when they were written on the page, but rather than having the same poetic impact that they did in the book, they simply come across as cheesy when Elgort says them onscreen. The book has been criticised somewhat for having characters that don't actually speak like teenagers — how many high school students do you know who regularly describe themselves with violent, yet moving metaphors? — but books afford a bit more leeway in terms of the language that is used to express a particular sentiment. Granted, the dialogue could simply seem clunky because of the way that the trailer is edited; chopping up any long speech into fragments and then reassembling them would make the most eloquent thoughts sound awkward.
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Then there's the issue of the way that Hazel and Gus' love story comes across through the trailer. Instead of highlighting the dry, dark humor with which they reference their disease and the challenges that it presents them, the trailer focuses more on the tragedy of their relationship than on the "sick" way that they looked at the world. Green's book never shies away from discussing the more tragic aspects of their story, and there are times that the story veers into sentimentality, but on the whole, the trailer seems to present The Fault in Our Stars as just another maudlin tearjerker about two kids with cancer.
Of course, all of our reservations may turn out to be unfounded once we actually get to see the film. With a weird edit, or the wrong choice in background music, trailers can easily make a love story seem like a slasher film, or a dark comedy come across as a sentimental drama. We're hoping that's the case for The Fault in Our Stars, since taking away the characters' humor in favor of focusing on the tragedy harms both the plot and the central characters. Amping up the love story for the trailer might also help make it more appealing to moviegoers who aren't familiar with Hazel and Gus, and thus, wouldn't appreciate their off-color jokes about cancer. It would be a logical choice, especially considering the small controversy that the poster's tagline, "One sick love story," kicked off. It works for the characters, who would probably have said something similar, but for anyone who hasn't read the books, it just seems to be in bad taste.
Hopefully, once the film comes out, we will find out that we've been worried for no reason. After all, Green himself was heavily involved in the film, which should mean that all of the awkwardness and melodrama that the trailer seems to present will be smoothed out in favor of a final product that better conveys the tone of the film, Hazel and Gus. Although, either way, we'll likely be too busy crying our eyes out to nitpick.
The Fault in Our Stars will be released in theaters on June 6.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Adapted by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero The Rules of Attraction American Psycho) from his own 1994 novel about the excesses of the rich and not-so-lucky in Hollywood circa 1983 this shallow film seems out of touch now in a time of economic turmoil — even if it is disguised as a period piece. Presented as a multi-story look at L.A. at its sordid best The Informers introduces us to a sleazy movie executive his estranged wife her poolboy lover a coked-out British punk rock star a fading newscaster a voyeuristic doorman a slimy ex-con and any number of beautiful vapid sexed-up twentysomethings who seem to spend their days either partying or snorting immune to any kind of social consciousness in an era marked by the dawn of the AIDS epidemic.
WHO’S IN IT?
The ensemble cast is split between older stars who’ve seen better days and a promising group of new talent unfortunately caught up in this mess. Billy Bob Thornton sleepwalks through the studio exec role while a pre-Wrestler Mickey Rourke (in a glorified cameo) shows us the kind of dreck he’s been stuck in the last few years as a tough ex-con who seems obsessed with someone called “the Indian.” Kim Basinger survives intact as a long-suffering Hollywood wife looking for a human connection from anyone who crosses her path while Winona Ryder projects just a shadow of her once-promising career as the aging newscaster. The late Brad Renfro who himself apparently fell victim to a drug-induced lifestyle is oddly touching as the peeping-tom doorman. Filling in the lost youth part of the equation are Jon Foster Amber Heard Austin Nichols Lou Taylor Pucci and amusing British star Mel Raido who do the best they can with their clothes on and off. Chris Isaak and Rhys Ifans also turn up in minor roles.
For what it’s worth The Informers has been handsomely shot and does capture emotional deadness well but unfortunately there’s nothing behind the façade of a group of characters we just don’t care about.
Ellis covered this all in Less Than Zero — same era same losers — so did we really need a LESS THAN Less Than Zero in 2009? It’s also a shame to see a fine group of actors so completely wasted both on screen and off.
BEST STONED-OUT LOSER SCENE:
The tenor of the whole film is summed up in the ice cube-filled bathtub sequence where a drunken almost catatonic British rocker proceeds to nearly kill himself trying to light a cigarette and answer a phone that NEVER stops ringing.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX:
This movie may already be available on DVD before you finish reading this review.
White Oleander focuses on teen beauty Astrid Magnusson (Alison Lohman) and her equally beautiful mother Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) an accomplished--if self-centered and manipulative--artist who tends to drag her daughter a budding artist in her own right into her own neuroses. To Astrid however her mother is a goddess--at least until police charge Ingrid with poisoning her lover in a fit of jealousy and she is sentenced to life imprisonment. Astrid is immediately placed into the foster care program and each new home presents a different set of rules for the young girl. There's life with Starr (Robin Wright Penn) an alcoholic-turned-born-again-Christian who becomes violently jealous of Astrid. There's life in a child-welfare institution where Astrid meets Paul (Patrick Fugit) a comic book artist with whom she immediately connects. Then there's life with Claire (Renee Zellweger) a lonely woman who can't have children of her own and whose husband (Noah Wyle) is never home. Claire shows Astrid the kind of genuine love the girl has never experienced but Ingrid haunts them needling and sabotaging her daughter's happiness at every turn. Astrid could simply go off the deep end but instead she becomes more resilient ultimately reaching a place where she can love her mother without letting her destroy her life. Sapville.
The acting talent in Oleander is definitely the movie's saving grace. The actresses make the film's trite dialogue almost palatable. Pfeiffer is amazingly beautiful and strong as Ingrid and she manages to burn the character into our brains even when she's not on the screen. Ingrid's relationship with her daughter is at times hard to watch: Ingrid digs at Astrid to try and control her but all this really does is expose Ingrid's own insecurities and failings as a mother. Pfeiffer relishes these moments and plays them to their full effect. Playing the other two "mothers" in Astrid's life the always good Penn takes the thankless part of Starr and turns it into something memorable while Zellweger's expert turn as Claire has a broken-doll quality that perfectly captures the character's fragility. The real dilemma for the film's producers was finding the right Astrid--an actress who could hold her own at the heart of the story--and whose talent would hold up opposite Pfieffer. Lohman was chosen from a cast of thousands and does a fine job playing Astrid; the camera clearly loves her. Still she needs a little more experience under her belt before she can truly shine. Fugit who was once the newcomer himself in Almost Famous (and did a much better job the first time out) manages to create a believable rapport with Lohman as her boyfriend Paul.
OK this is a gripe to all Hollywood executives: stop using sentimental material to make major motion pictures even if it is from a bestselling book. While Fitch's novel tells a moving story it does not necessarily translate into an inspiring film. Director Peter Kosminsky does his best with Oleander to create a haunting atmosphere and there are times when the material is elevated especially in the scenes between Zellweger and Lohman and those that explore the tragedy that befalls them. Yet ultimately the film plays like an after-school special. This isn't to say an intimate story can't make an interesting movie (The Good Girl and Igby Goes Down are just two examples of what's out there right now) but Oleander fails to engage its audience in any kind of meaningful way.
August 17, 2001 8:30am EST
In the same vein as the 1963 comedy romp It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and the 1981 The Cannonball Run Rat Race centers around a group of people who go dashing around the country for a big prize. In this incarnation the action starts in Las Vegas where billionaire hotel owner Donald Sinclair (John Cleese) gathers up eight people in his casino and sets them off on a race for $2 million hidden in a locker in New Mexico. He then places bets on whose going to get there first. The eight consist of two scheming brothers (Seth Green and Vince Vieluf) a disgraced NFL referee (Cuba Gooding Jr.) a mother and the daughter she gave up for adoption (Whoopi Goldberg and Lanei Chapman) a beleaguered family man and his wife (Jon Lovitz and Kathy Najimy) an uptight lawyer (Breckin Meyer) who hooks up with a cute helicopter pilot (Amy Smart) and a goofy narcoleptic Italian (Rowan Atkinson).
Like its predecessors Race combines a group of really talented comedians. Somehow this technique harms a film rather than helps it. It stems mostly from the fact that having such a large cast only gives the actors a limited amount of screen time. It's hard for any of them to truly shine. Yet in Race there are a few that just have to stand out. Cleese and Atkinson are among the best of the veterans especially Atkinson whose comedic physicality comes almost solely from his elastic face. And as far as the best of the younger set Green and Vieluf do a fair job having to wade through the horrendous antics presented to them shining for a brief moment when Vieluf (who can't speak properly because of his tongue stud) tells a sob story about their mother. However Goldberg Lovitz and Najimy are completely wasted--and Gooding Jr. just comes off as ridiculous.
In a nutshell Race is just too darn silly much like Mad Mad World was. Outrageous comedies work better in small doses such as There's Something About Mary or even Caddyshack. But when eight different story lines vie to outdo each other in outrageousness it's disastrous. Things can't get much worse than a car chasing after a hot-air balloon somehow hooking a cow to the balloon and having the cow end up hitting the windshield of a bus full of Lucille Ball look-alikes. Or how about crashing Hitler's car into a meeting of World War II veterans and having an ink mark on your upper lip that looks suspiciously like a mustache? There are a few brief moments where you chuckle out loud like when Cleese and his band of cronies start betting on which hotel maid would drop first while hanging from a curtain rod. Other than that the film simply lapses into pure drivel.
One day Joe Dirt a radio station janitor gets dragged onto a popular radio show where the host (Dennis Miller) at first browbeats Joe but then becomes intrigued as Joe tells his life story on air--and so do the listeners. Apparently little eight-year-old Joe got separated from his parents in the Grand Canyon and the boy sets out to try and find them. Through his travels he is ridiculed to no end for his rocker hair (which is actually a wig fused to his head; it's too lame to explain--just go with it) and style of dress as well as his unique view of the world which is fairly optimistic considering how messed up his life has been thus far. He meets some friends along the way including an American Indian (Adam Beach) who sells weak fireworks by the side of the road; a mobster (Christopher Walken) who is under a federal witness protection plan; and his one true love Brandy (Brittany Daniel) a sweet down-home girl who lives in the perfect town Silvertown. But it's his quest to find his parents that drives him onward until he eventually discovers the truth.
David Spade…Dennis Miller…Christopher Walken? One would think that with this kind of talent attached to the film it would actually have a funny moment or two. But alas that is just not the case. Spade trying to play a white trash hick without any of his sardonic eyebrow raising simply misses the mark. He may be trying to break from his usual sarcastic shtick making the character Joe Dirt a sympathetic simpleton whose sheer kind-hearted spirit makes positive things happen to him a la Forrest Gump but it's not in any way believable. Sarcasm is Spade's trademark and he needs to stick with it. It seems all the sarcasm is poured into Dennis Miller's cocky radio show shockjock. But his usual witty repartee comes off as obnoxious and over the top. Walken is as quirky as ever which neither harms nor helps the film (although he gets to do some fancy dance moves at one point). And singer Kid Rock might be kicking himself for choosing Joe Dirt as his first feature film.
Only by the power of Adam Sandler who was the executive producer did this film get made one would guess. The script can't decide whether it should go for all out gross or romantic comedy. Spade who co-wrote the film can't be counted on to carry a film by himself since his last film Lost and Found (1999) was a complete disaster. Still at least that film had some redeeming qualities since Spade did what he does best-play the smart-ass little guy who gets the girl. In Joe Dirt the character comes off only as pathetic and the lessons he is supposedly teaching the rest of the country mean nothing.