Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The joy imparted by a vigilant ensemble cast can apex at levels of spiritual significance. Jamie Linden's directorial debut, Ten Year, is just a step below nirvana.
The comedy-drama about a ten year high school reunion, the most decadently Kafkaesque events in American culture, has released its first set of images highlighting its powerhouse of a performing team. Channing Tatum will lead the pack alongside the spine-shivering Rosario Dawson.
Also on board are the comedic Justin Long, the dramatic Anthony Mackie, the charismatic Chris Pine, the satiric Anna Faris, the socialistic Max Minghella, the marshallistic Brian Geraghty, the playlistic Ari Graynor... and the passably-clever-monkers-istic Jenna Dewan, Scott Porter, Oscar Isaac, and Kate Mara. The real kicker: this film will feature BOTH of Parks & Recreation's newlyweds, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt.
If you're head's not spinning from the plethora of talent on hand in Ten Year, take a look at the first photos from the film below:
Screenwriter Jamie Linden has been blessed with an extraordinary cast for his directorial debut, the ensemble drama Ten Year. In fact, he seems to be picking prime talent from his past cinematic endeavors. Starting with just Channing Tatum (who also will produce the picture) and wife Jenna Dewan, the cast has grown to include a slew of young stars, including Chris Pine, Anna Faris, Brian Geraghty, Anthony Mackie, Kate Mara, Chris Pratt, Justin Long and Scott Porter (Mackie, Mara, Porter, Tatum and Geraghty all appeared in either Dear John or We Are Marshall, both which Linden penned).
Now The Hollywood Reporter says that Rosario Dawson and Lynn Collins have signed up to work on the film as well, rounding out the cast as it prepares to shoot early next year. The story focuses on a group of friends who reunite ten years after their high-school graduation. Sounds a bit like The Big Chill, which can't hurt it's potential to succeed, but I'd like to know a little bit more about where the plot will go before I sing any praises.
Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey of Temple Hill are producing along with Tatum and his 33andOut Prods. partner Reid Carolin. The film shoots in New Mexico and all parties are eying a late 2011 release, so keep an eye out for this one.
The majesty of the Emerald Isle is on full display in Leap Year an opposites attract romantic comedy starring Amy Adams (Julie & Julia Enchanted) and Matthew Goode (A Single Man Watchmen). Director Anand Tucker (Shopgirl Hilary and Jackie) shooting entirely on location in Ireland takes us on a whirlwind tour of the country’s breathtaking landscape reveling in its fabled fairy-tale charm.
Pity then that such a magnificent setting is so mercilessly defaced by Leap Year’s unrelenting mediocrity. The film’s dubious premise testing the already loose limits of rom-com believability casts Adams as Anna a type-A career girl who flies to Ireland intending to pop the question to her feet-dragging boyfriend on February 29th aka Leap Day. Why Leap Day? Because according to some idiotic old Irish tradition that’s when women are allowed to do such things. (Click here to watch Adams herself try to explain the plot.)
Unfortunately for Anna weather problems force her plane to land far away from Dublin and her would-be fiance. Trapped in a tiny coastal town with no reliable transportation at her disposal she enlists the help of a scruffy abrasive barkeep named Declan (Goode) to drive her cross-country so she can reach her destination by the 29th. And thus begins the traditional rom-com mating ritual of sexually-charged bickering followed by moments of abrupt awkward intimacy.
While watching Leap Year I swear I could hear the Irish countryside quietly weeping as it witnessed Goode and Adams slog through the film's succession of trite misadventures the talented actors straining in vain to manufacture some semblance of romantic chemistry as an assortment of jolly Waking Ned Devine types futilely spurred them on. Oh if only Greenpeace could have intervened and put a halt to such wanton environmental desecration. It's the worst thing to come out of Ireland since The Cranberries.
After losing an arm and a leg to a deranged serial killer--as if there were any other kind--all-American teenager Aubrey Fleming (Lindsay Lohan) is discovered in a ditch outside of town. Trouble is she’s not Aubrey--at least that’s what she says. She claims to be Dakota Moss a hard-edged stripper whose vocabulary proves how hard she is. Through flashbacks we see she's no goody-goody but she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery while everyone around her waits for her to “remember” who she really is. But if indeed the killer is still at large then this baffled babe might still be on the hit list which is where the story’s ostensible suspense is supposed to emanate from. Is all of this a figment of Aubrey’s--or Dakota’s--imagination or a by-product of the trauma she’s suffered? If it were there wouldn’t be a movie. As it is there’s not much of one anyway. As if she didn’t have enough to deal with already Lohan seems particularly ill at ease here. She has yet to really distinguish herself as a strong actress and she’s certainly not strong enough to do much with the material she’s given here. Her character simply isn’t likable--and she’s the whole show. There’s a slightly uncomfortable if blackly comic irony in watching Lohan at various points take pills drink alcohol pole-dance and swear up a storm. Oh yes and she’s also bloodied bruised terrorized and tortured--for those who care. Most won’t. If this is what passes for character development in horror movies these days then we--and the genre--are in trouble. As Aubrey’s parents Julia Ormond and Neal McDonough stand around mostly looking confused as well they should be. At least Brian Geraghty as Aubrey’s jock boyfriend doesn’t embarrass himself. But no one else is around long enough to make much of an impression. Then again as a whole I Know Who Killed Me doesn’t leave much of an impression. Just a bad aftertaste. Aside from technical proficiency there’s not a lot director Chris Sivertson brings to the party and it’s as much the fault of first-time screenwriter Jeffrey Hammond. Sure the story has a lot of twists and turns but they’re stupid twists and turns--and too many of them are introduced too far into the narrative as an increasingly desperate way of keeping the film going long after anyone cares. In the end--actually by the middle--I Know Who Killed Me simply doesn’t add up. It’s too silly to be remotely credible or interesting and too murky to be laughable.