A24 via Everett Collection
There are two ways to look at Tusk. First, through the context of the Kevin Smith’s career: a return to the offbeat after a dissipation of his Gen X cred. The long-awaited redirection to genuine imagination that he exhibited in Dogma but never before or since. Perhaps even an autobiographical illustration of the probing qualms Smith might face as a result of his career choices and brand of comedy. If you have the pertinent knowledge and energy to afford Tusk your attention through these lenses, you’ll be granting it the favor of purpose. The movie is just a tad too lacking therein to function perfectly on its own terms.
Tusk seems to rely on your familiarity with the Smith story — as did each of the director’s View Askew pictures, though much more overtly — in order to access its journey in earnest. We “observe” shock jock podcasters Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment, whose real world cult appeal is inscrutably wasted on such a bland role in such a bizarre movie) trading gags at the expense of the desperate and accident-prone YouTube sensations, but are welcomed just barely into the understanding of what kind of men they are in truth, why they find it so easy to be so cruel, and how they got to this point from the humble beginnings that Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) misses so terribly.
A24 via Everett Collection
So when we get to the weird part — the part we assume you must already know about by now — the emotional pulp is not readily available. Wallace’s visit to the Great White North lands him in the company of traveled gentleman Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a man whose nefarious intentions are as plain as the baculum on his mantelpiece. Once Wallace is in his possession, the movie derails to wild levels of body horror, black comedy, and garden-variety strangeness. The mood bounds up and down as we alternate attention between Howe’s demonic experimentations and Ally and Teddy’s quest to find their missing loved one. Along with the latter duo is a French Canadian detective straight out of a Jay Ward cartoon: Guy Lapointe, played quite endearingly by a heavily made-up Johnny Depp.
Although Depp's late-in-film contribution is sure to muster a few eye rolls, he provides the necessary occasional respite from the sincerely upsetting Cronenbergian nightmare games going on in the lower levels of the Howe palace. Although we're granted outright explanations of why what's happening is happening, both in-universe and in regards to the narrative, we're never beckoned far enough inward to experience what could be a haunting parable with any real intimacy.
Ultimately, Tusk winds up more interesting and enjoyable than not, landing closer to creative than commercial. But with too much confidence in the groundwork laid out by its writer and director's familiar and vivid story, the film winds up a more vacant version of what it could, should, and wants to be.
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John Travolta has dismissed allegations suggesting he enjoyed a steamy gay affair with his former pilot, insisting all of his supposed former lovers are simply chasing a big pay day.
The Grease star is currently fighting legal action from Douglas Gotterba, who is seeking to write a tell-all book about an alleged romance with the actor, which he claims took place while he was working for the star's Alto aircraft company in the 1980s. Travolta has long been subjected to speculation over his sexuality, despite being married to actress Kelly Preston since 1991, and he is convinced Gotterba's reasons for going public with his accusations are simply rooted in money - just like his previous accusers.
He tells TheDailyBeast.com, "This is every celebrity's Achilles heel. It's just about people wanting money. That's all. It happens on many levels."
But Travolta, 60, refuses to get himself worked up over the unfounded gossip. He continues, "Other people may attack it back (sic) more than I do, but I let all the media stuff go a long time ago because I can't control it. I think that's why it (gay rumours) persists, to some degree."
Travolta previously hit headlines in 2012 after he was slapped with three separate suits for sexual battery, which were all subsequently withdrawn.
Last night we attended an event for The Maze Runner at 92nd Street Y and our ears are still ringing. The turnout for the event was amazing, which leads us to believe that this film is about two seconds away from taking off and casting these actors into stardom (farther than some of them already are). 92Y got a great collection of the cast, along with author James Dashner, in the house last night for a panel discussion, screenings of exclusive clips, a Q&A, and even a fan meet and greet afterwards!
1. The film already has a huge following.
Like we said, there was an awesome turnout last night! The house was absolutely packed at 7:30 when the event started. The place was teeming with fans, who were beyond excited to see the exclusive clips and hear what the cast and author had to say.
2. In that following, there are a lot of screaming, happy (crying) teenage fans.
Last night, you couldn’t even hear Matt Patches (the panel moderator) announcing some of the cast members (poor Alex Flores) when Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie Sangster, and Jacob Latimore were brought on stage. People were screaming so loud, it was a little frightening for us. We can’t imagine how the actors felt!
3. The Cast is already like family.
And it’s not in the corny way some actors try to say “we really bonded while filming this movie and everyone’s best friends now!” You could tell, just from watching them together on stage, that they work as a unit. Everyone gets along and laughs together. They were even finishing each other’s thoughts on stage.
4. There is room for growth for all of the characters.
GIPHY/20th Century Fox
Usually fans aren’t particularly fond of changing characters appearances, personalities, or importance in a film, but TMR gets it right. Jacob Latimore’s character, Jeff, is a much smaller part in the books, but director Wes Ball expanded on this character, which allowed for Latimore to integrate himself into the group and really develop his sense of who his character was, and why Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) entering the maze was important. We also see a great deal of change in the way the character Gally (Will Poulter) is portrayed.
5. James Dashner is super cool with changing things.
As a writer, Dashner said he knows that taking a book directly from the page and turning it into a movie just doesn’t work. You can’t argue the book’s creator on that.
6. Every change that was made, was a very thought out and deliberate process to make this film an incredible experience for fans.
GIPHY/20th Century Fox
Wes would call or email Dashner over every change he was making, it didn’t matter how big a change it was. Wes had this entire world in which the glade and the maze existed, but he wanted to make sure that it matched up with what the fans were expecting
7. The director has all of the book fans in mind.
GIPHY/20th Century Fox
Every change that was made, was made with fans in mind. Which we think is what will really make this film appealing to not only just the fans of the books, but audiences interested in this dystopian future genre that is bursting onto the scene. People love when their opinions are taken into consideration and they feed off of what they’re given. If Wes continues down this road with the potential sequel, we’re sure this series will reach a huge magnitude of people.
8. It’s an amazing cast.
This really is a great group of young, talented actors put together. Will Poulter (who we missed very much last night) as Gally is mind-blowing, because you’ve never seen a side of Will so fierce and aggressive before. Kaya Scodelario is the only female (Theresa) in this film, but refused to play it like that, because her cast mates never made her feel like a girl, and she wasn’t going to take that crap from any of the gladers. Chris Sheffeild’s banishment scene as Ben is enough to really make you take him seriously as an actor, because it’s intense and makes you feel a whole range of emotions.
9.The series has a really strong, talented lead actor.
Dylan O’Brien really wow’d us in this role. He’s brought Thomas, this very intelligent and inquisitive character, to life in ways we could have only dreamed of. As an actor, he’s quite clearly taken on the leadership role amongst his cast mates, that his character Thomas has done in the glade. This is a role completely outside of his other work, very unlike his character Stiles on Teen Wolf. We think he knocked it right out of the park
10. The sequel might already be in the works!
GIPHY/20th Century Fox
Rumors have been flying that 20th Century Fox was already putting the sequel, The Scorch Trials (we're unsure if it will be the same name for the film) into motion. James Dashner was asked what some of his future plans were, and while he mentioned his upcoming books, when asked about any future things related to The Maze Runner, he replied “No comment,” with the biggest smile ever. You know that’s always a good sign.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
A crewmember working on new post-apocalyptic teen movie The Maze Runner was admitted to hospital after he was bitten by a rattlesnake.
The male staff member was removing the reptile from the set in Louisiana when he suffered the bite, and was taken to a local medical centre for treatment. Love Actually actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster reveals the set was plagued with snakes throughout the shoot, but the bitten crew member went on to make a full recovery.
He tells New York Post gossip column Page Six, "We were seeing 10 snakes a day at the beginning and then by the end we were still catching four a day... Not all poisonous, but we had five different types of venomous snakes and two different kinds of poisonous spiders... He (the crew member) got bit, but it was fine. He got bit by a little baby rattlesnake. He did get rushed to the hospital, but he was the only one." Brodie-Sangster stars in the movie along with Dylan O'Brien and Will Poulter.
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio has landed a prestigious new role as a United Nations Messenger of Peace on Climate Change.
The Wolf of Wall Street star, who is a passionate environmentalist, will embrace his new job by speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week (23Sep14), where he hopes to raise awareness about global warming issues. A statement released by DiCaprio reads: "It's an honor to accept the role of UN Messenger of Peace on Climate Change and to support the Secretary General in his efforts to address one of the most important issues we face as a global community. "I feel a moral obligation to speak out at this key moment in human history - it is a moment for action. How we respond to the climate crisis in the coming years will likely determine the fate of humanity and our planet."
News of the appointment, announced on Tuesday (16Sep14) by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, comes just days after it emerged that DiCaprio will be honoured for his environmental activism at the eighth annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards. The actor joins the likes of Charlize Theron, Stevie Wonder, Edward Norton and George Clooney, who have all been made Messengers of Peace by U.N. officials in recent years. Clooney stepped down from the peacekeeping role earlier this year (14) after six years due to ongoing personal and professional commitments.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
George Clooney has been handed a pre-wedding career gift from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association - he will be the recipient of next year's (15) Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes.
The movie star-turned-director learned he would be the man picking up the coveted honour for his outstanding contributions to filmmaking earlier this month (Sep14), and the HFPA announced he would be the 72nd recipient on Monday (15Sep14). President Theo Kingma says, "The HFPA is honoured to bestow the Cecil B. DeMille Award to George Clooney to celebrate his outstanding contributions both in front of and behind the camera."
Clooney, who is scheduled to wed fiancee Amal Alamuddin later this month (Sep14), will follow in the footsteps of Woody Allen, who was this year's (14) honouree.
Past recipients have included Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Steven Spielberg, and the late Robin Williams. The Gravity star will pick up his latest accolade at the Golden Globes on 11 January (15).
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Actor Liam Neeson is urging U.S. officials to bring in a curb on gun possession to prevent another high school massacre.
The Schindler's List star is adamant lawmakers need to act to avoid a repeat of bloodbaths such as the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 when 20 children and six staff were gunned down. Neeson has branded the current way of dealing with gun control in the U.S. "crazy" and insists officials should follow the U.K., where handguns were swiftly outlawed following the Dunblane school massacre in Scotland in 1996.
He tells British magazine Radar, "I am totally for gun control in the U.S. The population of America is roughly 300 million and there are 300 million guns in this country, which is terrifying. Every day we're seeing some kid running rampant in a school. And do you know what the gun lobby's response to Newtown was? The National Rifle Association's official response was, 'If that teacher had been armed...' It's crazy. "I'll give Britain its dues, when they had the Dunblane massacre in Scotland, within 24 hours the gun laws were changed so you could not have a handgun... It is the right to bear arms which is the problem. I think if the Founding Fathers knew what was happening they would be turning in their graves with embarrassment at how that law has been interpreted."
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer via Everett Collection
Wagon Train and Tarzan star Denny Miller has died, aged 80.
He passed away on Tuesday (09Sep14) after a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
Miller starred opposite Peter Sellers in The Party and became a household favourite across America as the star of Gorton's Fisherman commercials for over a decade, but he will best be remembered as Duke Shannon on classic TV western Wagon Train and as Hollywood's first blond Tarzan. He appeared in more than 100 episodes of Wagon Train, which ran on U.S. TV from 1957 to 1965, and he played Tarzan in 1959's Tarzan, the Ape Man.
Miller's credits also include Frank Sinatra's Some Came Running, Making It and The Norseman.
Never before The Guest has a film so accurately reproduced that feeling you got upon entering a popular upperclassman’s Halloween-themed red cup party. That combination of bated excitement, casual danger, and vaguely sexual panache is eminent from minute one in the fun, “retro” thriller, once Dan Stevens (himself a package of excitement, danger, and sexual panache altogether) pays a visit to the average suburban Petersons, revealing himself to be an army buddy of their deceased eldest son.
The fact that there’s more to Stevens’ David than meets the eye should be evident from the second the film opens. Making no bones about keeping its secrets close to the chest, The Guest allows itself to have as much fun with the “mysterious stranger” gambit as possible. That we are brought to realize over and over how little we know about David, and how far we may be from figuring out The Guest’s puzzle, is what makes it such a delight to watch. In short, we never quite know what David is going to do next, and it’s always fun to watch him do it.
Picturehouse via Everett Collection
Of course, the fun is ours alone, as the Peterson’s 20-or-so-year-old daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) is charged to unearth the true intentions of her family’s houseguest. Steady tension (the affable kind) builds to ribald chaos (still relatively affable) and ultimately unbridled dementia (despite its subject matter, this movie never wants to assault or alienate, and really never does) as Anna, David, the Petersons, the neighborhood do-nothings, and a few other unexpected parties find themselves ensnared in a maniacal and yet somewhat whimsical game of “What the hell is going on and how do we stop it?”
If The Guest really suffers from anything it is from its simplicity. The movie is fun, articulate, and charismatic, but ultimately gets done everything it has to between titles and credits. Like David, The Guest is a supreme soldier: concerned with doing its job as meticulously as possible and deigning not to cross the appropriate margins thereof. As such, the flick might not stay too long with any of us after it's over and done with, but it proves all the while to be a fun, evocative good time. So, pretty much exactly like all those high school Halloween parties... or high school in general.
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A basic command of rhythm will make your film watchable; kinetic proficiency will make it dramatically effective. But the aural language instituted by Damien Chazelle in his second directorial feature, Whiplash, lands you with a goddamn symphony.
Chazelle constructs what might wind up being one of the great music movies of all time, conducting each tier of his film with an active ear. Whiplash opens with a literal drum solo — courtesy of driven Schaffer Academy student Andrew (Miles Teller) — setting precedent for a collection of tremendous jazz numbers to follow throughout. Immediately afterward, we watch Chazelle weave scenes together via the harmonies of brass, building an atmosphere that he molds and contorts as the picture progresses.
But the most impressive symphonic feat is that which follows Andrew’s chaotic run toward a stature as jazz prodigy, and the tutelage, camaraderie, and enmity he earns from his no-nonsense-is-putting-it-lightly teacher Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, playing the gruffest, fieriest, most intimidating role yet in a career that has tossed him no shortage of opportunities of the like).
Sony Pictures Classics
Andrew’s story unravels, ribbons out, leaps, explodes, and recollects at such an absolutely delightful pace. Character beats are inset with such expert timing, that we occasionally get the rush of watching a live performance. Ultimately, Andrew’s story breathes and moves like a song — a jazz number, naturally — which renders every turn, reveal, and twist of perspective a tremendous showstopper.
And what it has to say about music? Everything that jazz might entail: how beautiful it is to love the art so wholly, and how toxic and destructive it is to devote yourself entirely to its whims. Whiplash doesn’t shove us to either side of favor regarding either of its central heroes/villains (they are equal parts each, and merrily so), nor to either side of the dividing line on whether succumbing altogether to the corrosive call of the drumsticks is, to put it reductively, a “good idea.” With such gratitude we can affirm that the movie doesn’t want to teach us a lesson. It just wants to play us a song.
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