Focus Features via Everett Collection
Zach Braff is a funny guy. He can sell a joke (or, even more triumphantly, a reactionary take) with genuine comic chops. That's what makes the first half of Wish I Was Here so watchable — pleasant to the point that we might even expect it to carry forth successfully into the later acts. But beyond Braff's dry rejoinders and quirky stammers is something deliberately less impressive: his stab at the dramatic.
Braff falters in the realm of the serious not as an actor — at least not predominantly — but as a writer and director. Wish I Was Here sets up a story loaded with the potential for sharp pangs. Braff plays Aiden Bloom, a man with an unhappy wife (Kate Hudson), a dying father (Mandy Patinkin), a lonesome daughter (Joey King), a disgruntled manchild brother (Josh Gad), and a crumbling dream (acting). Each construct is set up with relative validity, but none really hits home in a way that rings remotely authentic.
Focus Features via Everett Collection
The reason for this is, ultimately, because Wish I Was Here doesn't seem particularly concerned with what it says. It tosses around emotional maxims to tie father to son and wife to husband when convenient, digging up contrivances about ice cream, swear jars, and surfing memories that have no real bearing beyond the benefits of a momentary poetic aesthetic. More worried about how it sounds and looks than any of the messages it propagates, Wish I Was Here tends to contradict itself — Braff and Hudson both seek happiness, but only the former is granted a real relationship (or any screentime) with their children — or fall short of painting its picture. While brother Noah (Gad) is sold as a major piece of the Bloom family's fractured puzzle, we never get the chance to learn anything about him beyond a few points of biographical trivia.
Still, the movie isn't entirely unbearable. As said, Braff can handle a comedic moment with aplomb. His daughter, played by King, is masterfully charming. The saving grace of Wish I Was Here is that the vast majority of its attention is on these two and their relationship. But when we stray elsewhere, it's as if the movie is doing everything it can to pad its runtime with ostensibly deep ideas. Ideas about childhood fantasies, science-fiction, paternal disappointment, Jewish scripture, punching people, and Comic-Con. None of it packs anything beneath the surface, so we can't help but groan and wonder why it was put there in the first place. Just get back to Braff and King bickering comedically.
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Newlywed actor Noah Wyle has a Good Samaritan to thank for saving him a headache after losing his driver's licence during a recent trip to New York. The former E.R. star admits he was stunned to have the permit returned to him so swiftly after a stranger went out of their way to get it back to him safely.
Wyle tells People magazine, "Seven days ago in New York City I lost my driver's licence on the street. Somebody found it, went on the Internet and tracked down my management company. In four hours I had it. How crazy is that? I sent the woman flowers and a thank you note."
Now that the halfway mark has hit between the dawn of a hopeful 2014 and the inevitable exasperated gasp of relief that another year of harrowing grief is finally over, we're inclined to look back on the past six months of cinematic glory. First, we set our sights to the best performances of the year, both leading and supporting. Next, we turn to movie scenes and moments — the funny, shocking, moving, and just plain weird instances that stuck with us long after we stepped out of the theater. Here's a quick list of some of the most memorable movie scenes and moments we've seen so far in 2014.
The evolution sequence in NoahDarren Aronofsky's account of the great flood jumped levels in progressive thinking when it included a scene that comfortably meshed creationist beliefs with the science of evolution. The sequence, which followed an aquatic amoeba as it grew into a fish, then a lizard, then a series of mammals, until ultimately becoming the impetus for mankind, is not just intellectually rich, but visually dazzling.
Gustave's prison break in The Grand Budapest HotelEvery chapter in Wes Anderson's latest film is terrific fun, but Ralph Fiennes on the run from the law (and the vicious Adrien Brody) is about as merry as it gets... even with the haunting undercurrent in an approaching World War.
The opening sequence in BorgmanThe mysterious Danish picture Borgman institutes an excitement, a levity, and a curious nature all at once with its terrific opening sequence, wherein the title character is drawn from his home underground for unexplained reasons and forced to flee the wrath of angry villagers, and help to liberate his friends from the same.
The "Spaceship, spaceship, spaceship!" gag in The Lego MovieServing primarily as a punchline to a long gestating joke, Charlie Day's Lego character's manic exclamation of his favorite word is the biggest laugh in a very funny movie.
Scarlett Johannson abducting a man with neurofibromatosis in Under the SkinJonathan Glazer's bizarre film is nothing if not evasive, but peaks in its enigmatic nature when the nameless hero/villain Scarlett Johansson, herself of mysterious origins, abducts and seems to warm to a man afflicted with a facial deformity. Cue the process of undress and cannibalistic black liquid floors...
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Ken Watanabe's big moment in Godzilla"Let them fight."
The end credits of 22 Jump StreetChris Miller and Phil Lord embrace their love of genre parody in the post-narrative moments of 22 Jump Street, in which they send their starring duo through a long line of false sequels (entailing their attendance at med school, military school, traffic school... there are a good dozen of these, all of 'em funny).
The statutory rape endorsement in Transformers: Age of ExtinctionLet's get this straight: we're simply in awe of this scene due to how god damn bizarre it is, not at all on board with its message (or even its artistic merits in a movie about robot wars). We can't help but think about Mark Wahlberg challenging the validity of 20-year-old Jack Reynor's romantic relationship with 17-year-old Nicola Peltz, only to see Reynor pull a laminated document from his pocket that exempts him from all legal ramifications of dating a minor. Weird as all hell.
The getaway scene in Night MovesNear unprecedented tension hits when Jesse Eisenberg and his two fellow eco-terrorists attempt to flee the scene after programming a time bomb to detonate an ecologically destructive dam. The trio sits on the midnight river, hoping to avoid both the eyes of passersby and the wrath of a deadly explosive. It's edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff.
Liam Neeson grabbing a gun in mid-air while the airplane aboard which he is a passenger hurdles into oblivion as a team of hijackers attempts to take the whole thing hostage in Non-StopRight?
20th Century Fox Film
The Quicksilver scene in X-Men: Days of Future PastEvan Peters spends very little time onscreen in the latest X-Men picture, but his talents are milked for all their value when he is charged with dashing around a slow-motion Pentagon kitchen to the soothing tunes of Jim Croce.
The grade school scene in SnowpiercerThe most disturbing, macabre, and wickedly fun scene in a movie that has no shortage of any of those three qualities, a very pregnant Allison Pill's grade school seminar in the back half of Snowpiercer stands out as the film's most enjoyable achievement. Pill sells the hell out of lunacy in this sequence.
Paul Rudd walks into a bar in They Came Together Our favorite joke in They Came Together, narrowly beating out Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler's mutual love of fiction books, is Rudd's sullen conversation with a highly redundant barkeep who, let's just say, calls 'em like he sees 'em. Over and over and over.
Nicolas Cage asking a neighborhood kid if he's still MMA fighting in Joe I have no idea why I love this so much, but one brief exchange in the sleepy, somber movie Joe has Cage chatting with a young neighbor in a bodega, asking about how his martial arts practice has been going. It's incredibly peculiar and charming, though I don't expect any of that to carry through here.
The Zola computer reveal in Captain America: The Winter Soldier Although we weren't crazy about the second Captain America movie, we have to tip a hat to the reveal that Toby Jones' Nazi scientist has been living on for the last 70 years in the form of a bulky yet surpemely efficient supercomputer. The sort of weird stuff that we love to see in the crevices of Marvel flicks.
Actor Josh Lucas is a single man after finalising his divorce from ex-wife Jessica Ciencin Henriquez. The Sweet Home Alabama star and his ex, a freelance writer, officially ended their marriage in New York City on Friday (13Jun14), according to Us Weekly.
Ciencin Henriquez filed for divorce in January (14), after two years of marriage.
The former couple met in 2011 and became engaged after dating for just six weeks. They wed at New York City's Conservatory Garden in March, 2012, and welcomed a son, Noah Rev, three months later.
Earlier this month (Jun14), Lucas told HuffPost Live that he is not looking for a new partner just yet, and focusing on being a good single dad.
He divulged, "I actually haven't started dating yet. It's all fairly new, and we're still in that process where, right now, my focus is entirely on my son."
Actor Noah Wyle is a married man after exchanging vows with his fiancee over the weekend (07-08Jun14). The former E.R. star married Sara Wells, his partner of three years, at his ranch in Santa Barbara, California surrounded by friends and family, according to the New York Post.
Wyle was previously married to Tracy Warbin, the mother of his two children. They divorced in 2009.
Getty Images/Neilson Barnard
Long emancipated from its reputation as the place where has-beens go for one last snag at the limelight, television is attracting big screen folks at the top of their games. A new league of blockbuster movie stars, admired thespians, and Oscar-nominated filmmakers alike are flocking to the comforts of premium cable, all with intriguing projects in tow. Here are a few big name figures taking to the TV game with promising prospects.
Who's that again? The guy who directed Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and NoahWhat's he working on? MaddAddam, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's speculative sci-fi novel trilogy (Oryx and Crake, Year Of The Flood, and MaddAddam).For whom? HBO.What's the deal? The story depicts a dystopian future in which genetic engineering has swept the human race. Aronofsky might direct, and is executive producing with his fiancée Brandi-Ann Milbradt and regular collaborator Ari Handel.[Deadline]
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Who's that again? Iron Man.What's he working on? An untitled drama about a drug rehab community set in 1980s Venice Beach.For whom? Showtime.What's the deal? Downey obviously has personal ties to the project considering his history with drug abuse; he and his wife Susan are producing, and Orange Is the New Black writer Gary Lennon is handling the script (so we can expect some wit).[Deadline]
WENN/Adriana M. Barraza
Who's that again? Walter White from Breaking Bad, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, or Tim Whatley from Seinfeld, and President Lyndon Johnson on ol' Broadway.What's he working on? A narrative adaptation of the Conn and Hal Iggulden book Dangerous Book for Boys.For whom? No word just yet.What's the deal? Although the Igguldens' book takes form as a "how to" manual of sorts, Cranston's television series will draw a narrative out of the variety of rituals established as recommended rites of passage for American youngsters.[Variety]
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Actress Zoe Kravitz has sparked new romance rumours after she was spotted holding hands with DJ Noah Becker. The X-Men: First Class star was seen taking a stroll with the 20 year old in New York City last week (15May14).
It seems the pair has a lot in common as they are both the offspring of famous parents - Kravitz's father is rocker Lenny Kravitz while Becker is the son of German tennis ace Boris Becker.
Kravitz split from actor Penn Badgley last summer (13) after two years together.
The Paley Center
The FX original limited series Fargo started its 1o-episode run this week, dontcha know? We caught up with stars Colin Hanks, Keith Carradine, Martin Freeman, and Billy Bob Thornton, plus showrunner Noah Hawley on the red carpet of the show's preview panel at the Paley Center New York. Here's what they had to say about successfully adapting a beloved cinematic masterpiece, the "golden age" of TV, and the show's frigid Calgary set.
Hanks on the allure of the limited series:"I think now, with the way some shows are being made now, you have this luxury of not necessarily having to make a TV show that will last for 100 episodes. Now it's really more about letting the story dictate how many you do."
Hawley on what attracted him to the project:"I wasn't being asked to copy something, I was being asked to create an homage really, which then forced me to say, 'Well, what made that movie that movie and how do I tell a story that feels the same, but doesn't play the same?'"
Carradine on how the pilot script turned skepticism into enthusiasm:"I said, 'Oh my gosh, how are they gonna do that?' And then I got the script and I said, 'Oh, okay. That's how they're gonna do it.' It's brilliant. It takes where [the Coen Brothers] started, and it kind of ramps off from there. And it takes into account where we as an audience have come in the last 18 years since that film was made. There's no other film like it, and yet, in those 18 years, the audience has become more sophisticated and, I think that what we're doing here reflects that."
Hanks on the show's pitch-black humor:"Violence isn't necessarily played for laughs, but maybe what happens just prior to it or just after it, in its aftermath, is sort of a way of releasing that tension that violence brings to the plot."
Hawley on the show's heavyweight cast:"The network and I really wanted to cast it like a movie, and aim for a sort of caliber of actor. Knowing that it was only a 10-episode commitment, why settle?"
Carradine on the cultural landscape of TV:"If you really want to do incisive, progressive storytelling, television seems to be the place now. It's kind of a new golden age."
Freeman on how the location helped him find his character:Freeman: "If we're pretending to be in a very cold, snowy place, it helps if we're in one. And Calgary was white on the ground for the entire four months that we were there."Us: "Well, it was here in New York too. You could've filmed here."Freeman: "Oh, don't tell me that!"
Thornton on another Coen Brothers film that'd make a great miniseries:"Blood Simple. Let's do it."
For character actors, the wall between “Hey it’s that guy from that thing!” and actual public awareness is a tough one to scramble over. It has halted many a talented performer from reaching his or her true potential. Fortunately, one-time SNL cast member Jenny Slate might have just found her ticket to reaching true Hollywood recognition with her movie Obvious Child.
The film, which rocketed out of Sundance as a favorite of festival goers, follows the story of Donna Stern, a plucky, Brooklyn-based comedian whose deeply personal stage antics gives her comedy a certain relatability. Unfortunately for Donna, life comes crashing around her ears when she learns that she's pregnant.
The aesthetic and mood of the trailer will feel familiar to the likes of Lena Dunam's Girls and Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha (the exploration of twenty-something self-worth in New York), but Obvious Child looks to chart its own unique course. The trailer works wonders, and much of that credit goes to Slate, who is charming, weird, goofy, and just a little unsufferable: all the facets of the great indie dramedy lead, and the ones that will hopefully get her talents noticed.
This wouldn’t be a case of overnight success. Slate has definitely put in the legwork toward being a mega success in the comedy world. Her young career has been filled with great character work, including a long list of recurring television roles. She’s played the zany and self-obsessed Tammy on the animated Bob’s Burgers, the obnoxious and grating Mona-Lisa on Parks and Recreation, and a neurotic little shell in the short Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. She’s delighted fans across the TV viewing landscape, but she’s still very much a character actor. Nearly all of her roles have been kooky, unhinged, and self-absorbed caricatures of real people. Fun, but not exactly star-turning material. This role, however, looks to change all of that. Slate certainly wouldn't be the first or last performer to break out of Sundance. The snowy Colorado film festival has launched the careers of plenty of actors. Jennifer Lawrence received Oscar recognition on the back of her heartbreaking performance in Winters Bone, and soon conquered Hollywood in the Hunger Games. Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller both received huge boosts in career status after co-starring in The Spectacular Now as high school lovers. Her performance in Obvious Child looks like it lies in that same vein of star-boosting potential.
For one thing, the film is Donna's story alone. Other characters are dotted around the trailer — a concerned mother, a doting father, a snarky best friend — but they all are in service of Slate's character, who is clearly the star of the show. She's in nearly every shot of the trailer. That's a tall order for a actor who spent most of her career playing characters in sketches, or characters who were little more than one note gags. It also looks life a film with actual drama woven into its story. As entertaining as it is seeing Slate play characters like Tammy or Mona-Lisa, it's nice to see the actor really stretch out her acting muscles for real, and live up to the potential we've been seeing for years. Hopefully everyone else gets a full view of that potential as well.
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.