We opened 2014 with heated anticipation for the next great turns from Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Christopher Nolan, Lars von Trier, and a number of other cinematic vets. But the year has also treated us to a hefty sum of noteworthy first timers. We've caught a wide variety of debut attempts over the course of these past eight months, with enough qualitative range to incite reactions from "The next Hitchcock!" to "I might be able to get you a gig with my friend who does wedding videos, but don't tell him you know me." Here's a quick rundown of the debut flicks we've seen so far in '14, from great to terrible.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
Palo AltoDirector: Gia CoppolaWhy we're already on her bandwagon: In the vein of her aunt Sofia, the young Gia Coppola showcases an indubitable understanding of upper class ennui.
Hide Your Smiling Faces Director: Daniel Patrick CarboneWhy we're already on his bandwagon: Carbone's primarily wordless coming-of-age drama shows off his patience and pensiveness, not to mention his ability to skirt the self-importance than many films of Smiling Faces' ilk seem to bear.
Obvious ChildDirector: Gillian RobespierreWhy we're already on her bandwagon: It's funny as hell even within the margins of genre tradition, and sweet without succumbing to Hollywood sugar.
THE VERY GOOD
Zero MotivationDirector: Talya LavieShows promise of: A knack for absurdist humor and grounded character relationships alike.
It Felt Like LoveDirector: Eliza HittmanShows promise of: A uniquely keen empathy for how young people conduct themselves, both internally and among one another.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
The Bachelor Weekend/The StagDirector: John ButlerShows potential in: A good sense of humor, especially when it veers closer to Apatow than McKay.
Are You HereDirector: Matthew WeinerShows potential in: Social commentary through character construction, but Weiner needs a better handle on cinematic pacing.
The One I LoveDirector: Charlie McDowellShows potential in: Big ideas, and the presentation thereof, but lacks in the ultimate execution of where they can and ought to go.
Drafthouse Films via Everett Collection
Beneath the Harvest SkyDirector: Aron Gaudet and Gita PullapillyThere's room for improvement regarding: A sharper attention to the characters and story, which occasionally fade out of focus at the behest of a vivid North Maine setting.
LullabyDirector: Andrew LevitasThere's room for improvement regarding The acerbic but knowing humor shared by the central family members, in favor of the intense melodrama that the film feels impelled to stuff itself with from time to time.
Cheap ThrillsDirector: E.L. KatzThere's room for improvement regarding: The energy set toward invoking a truly interesting story or course of events, rather than the allowance of the "weird" or "dangerous" to take the wheel altogether like it does here.
TammyDirector: Ben FalconeThere's room for improvement regarding: An authentic commitment to the sincerity in the characters, in place of wild and wacky antics like jetski crashes and deer mouth-to-mouth... though these were probably studio notes, we have to assume.
Music Box Films via Everett Collection
Winter’s TaleDirector: Akiva GoldsmanWhat we hope he gets right next time: A more defined storytelling goal. While some of the film's elements worked in a vaccuum, Goldsman had been gestating a Winter's Tale adaptation for years, coming out the gate with something that is oddly both convoluted and terribly narrow.
MaleficentDirector: Robert StrombergWhat we hope he gets right next time: More Angie.
A Coffee in Berlin/Oh BoyDirector: Jan Ole GersterWhat we hope he gets right next time: A better understanding of the fine line between cheeky and irritating. The German comedy/drama plays
Earth to EchoDirector: Dave GreenWhat we hope he gets right next time: Ditch the essentially pointless found footage antic and hone in on the fleeting spirit of the kids.
TranscendenceDirector: Wally PfisterWhy we're nervous for his future: Pfister is a skilled cinematographer, but his grasp of character, story, and ambiance seem dangerously absent.
Goodbye to All ThatDirector: Angus McLachlanWhy we're nervous for his future: Ambitions seem to fall shy of originality, settling instead on retreating the same indie dramedy territory we've seen time and time again, but without any discernible charisma.
If I StayDirector: R.J. CutlerWhy we're nervous for his future: A dastardly aesthetic, paper-thin characters, a devoted marriage to teen movie cliches, and a potentially dangerous mentality driving the story altogether do not bode well for Cutler's future behind the camera.
Behaving BadlyDirector: Tim GarrickWhy we're nervous for his future: Because he made this horrible thing.
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Actress Megan Fox is letting destiny decide whether or not she should have more kids after giving birth to her second son earlier this year (14). The sexy Transformers star admits she's not opposed to having a large family, and she isn't taking extra precautions to make sure she doesn't fall pregnant again.
She says, "There's not a plan, but I'm gonna be, like, one of those weird people that doesn't not try, but isn't trying - and just leaves it up to the universe."
But she's not ready to have baby number three just yet - she recently timed a romantic weekend away with husband Brian Austin Green to make sure they didn't conceive.
She tells chat show host Chelsea Handler, "I made sure I wasn't ovulating because I didn't want to get pregnant again."
Lest you think Megan Fox has it easier than non-celebrity moms, here are a few awesome quotes from her recent interview with Chelsea Handler:
"You don't really have a life. You're home a lot. You don't sleep..."
"You don't even get to poop alone—you have to take the babies with you."
And as far as her date nights with hubby Brian Austin Green? They spent the night in a hotel once, and it was very carefully calculated:
"We did that one time and we made sure I wasn't ovulating because I didn't want to get pregnant again. Sorry! Too much information."
No life, no sleep, no pooping in private? And date nights planned around your ovulation? Megan Fox has officially proven that she's just like the rest of us moms.
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Megan Fox was stunned to learn the middle name she had picked for her baby son, who was born earlier this year (14), was also her great-grandfather's. The Transformers star and her husband Brian Austin Green had already selected Bodhi as the first name for their second child - after Patrick Swayze's character in one of the new mum's favourite films, Point Break - but they were still deliberating on a middle moniker when Fox received a strange call from her mum.
She explains, "His middle name is sort of spiritual and religious for me, in that Ransom can also mean being saved. I pitched it to Brian and he was like, 'You know, I feel like that's such a typical, like, actor-y thing to do to name your kid something so weird and I don't know if we can make it work'.
"Two days later my mum texted me and was like, 'You know, if you haven't chosen a middle name, your great-grandfather's middle name was Ransom, and maybe that'll work'. I didn't know because... he died before I was born... We figured it was meant to be."
"Brian doesn't get any intimacy whatsoever." Actress Megan Fox admits her sex life with husband Brian Austin Green is non-existent now they are parents to two young kids. She gave birth to son Bodhi in February (14) and is also mum to 22-month-old boy Noah.
"I've walked the floor. I came once when my husband (Brian Austin Green) was here for (TV drama) Sarah Connor. I wasn't promoting anything. I came in a Star Wars T‑shirt, and I walked around and nobody bothered me one time." Megan Fox feels at home at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California. The actress will be there this weekend (25-27Jul14) to promote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Sexy star Megan Fox and her husband Brian Austin Green have bought late crooner Bing Crosby's former home in Toluca Lake, California. The couple paid over $3 million (£1.9 million) for the modernised ranch home, according to TMZ.com.
Hollywood beauty Megan Fox plans to make just one movie a year to support her family after confessing she has lost her passion for acting since becoming a mother. The Transformers star welcomed her first child, son Noah, in September, 2012, and she became a mum for a second time earlier this year (Feb14), when she gave birth to a boy named Bodhi.
Fox, who is married to actor Brian Austin Green, reveals having two children so close in age means "total chaos" at home and she is still learning how to balance her time between her boys.
She tells Parents.com, "It's hard because I don't feel like I'm ever giving either one of them 100 per cent of my attention or 100 per cent of myself, so I carry a lot of guilt. Do they each understand how special they are and how much I love them...? It's hard to make each one feel like an individual when you have to raise them together and manage them together all of the time."
The actress, who is currently promoting the forthcoming live-action remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, has not signed up to any new projects since Bodhi's arrival, and Fox admits she would rather focus on raising her kids than building on her career, because she struggles with the guilt that comes with being a working mother.
She explains, "I've never been an extraordinarily ambitious girl or career-oriented, but especially once I got pregnant with my first son and now (having) my second, it's so hard to be a working mom especially when your heart is not in your work, when your heart is with your family."
However, Fox insists she won't disappear from the big screen completely: "I have to make one movie a year because I have to invest in their future and I have to be able to pay their way through college and be able to provide for them."
She adds, "It's all about trying to spend as little time away from my kids as possible."
New mum Megan Fox has headed back to work just seven weeks after giving birth to her second child. The actress was photographed back on the Los Angeles set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Tuesday (01Apr14) for re-shoots after completing filming on the forthcoming movie in New York last summer (13). Fox and her husband Brian Austin Green welcomed son Bodhi Ransom on 12 February (14), a brother for 18-month-old Noah Shannon.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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