The Words is the cinematic equivalent of a sentimental airport novel. It's someone's baby a work forged of sweat and blood as all creative ventures are but just as our protagonist Rory discovers that's not always enough. Although the movie would like to stir up conversation about fact and fiction creativity and ownership it's full of flimsy contrivances and sappiness that makes a movie (or a novel) thin and forgettable.
The Words tries to be clever by wrapping a story within a story within a story but it's ultimately undermined by underdeveloped characters and sentimental trifles. Dennis Quaid plays a successful author Clay Hammond who kicks the movie off by reading from his new book The Words to a packed house of enthusiastic fans and colleagues. He's being pursued by a gorgeous MFA student named Danielle (Olivia Wilde) who's interested in Clay's attention but almost as if she could absorb some of his supposed brilliance through osmosis (or you know sex). The book he's reading from is about Rory Jensen a floundering writer played by Bradley Cooper with every ounce of emotional depth the Hangover star can muster. Despite his lovely and eternally supportive wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) Rory can't help but feel ripped off by life. He's paying his dues writing all night and working at a publishing house in the mail room all day but he can't get anywhere with his work. It's just not marketable it's too internal people wouldn't get it.
Rory is so misunderstood and his life sucks. That is until he finds a lost manuscript in a leather briefcase that he and Dora bought on their Paris honeymoon. It's genius everyone loves it and he's living large. When an old man who is simply referred to as "The Old Man" (played by Jeremy Irons in some sort of aging make-up that makes him look like his face is slowing melting like candle wax) appears to claim his book Rory (and the audience) is forced to listen to another story. We're sucked into post-war Paris and The Old Man's tragic life.
Most of The Words is told through various narrators which further undercuts the already underdeveloped characters. We're not given much to go on when it comes to Rory and why he writes or even why Dora is so crazy about him that she jumps his bones when he's trying to work on his epic novel. There's little indication what she does other than be supportive of Rory's work even when he's being a giant putz and telling her that nothing in his life is right. He is what one might imagine most petulant overly intelligent successful male writers are like in real life but without any of the actual meat and blood to make him worthy of Dora's or our interest. While The Old Man's story is interesting it is fairly vacuous. Irons shows a little bite here and there but he's your stock Sad Old Lonely Man character who chain smokes and feeds the birds in the park and coughs with a certain ominous foreshadowing. Last but not least Clay is supposed to be the mastermind behind all this bringing up questions of fact versus fiction and what we give up to become artists and creators and how that affects our relationships with everyone around us. While these are all ultimately unanswerable questions Clay and his fictional doppelgangers aren't deep enough to really hazard a guess. The women they talk to are ciphers muses or pushovers.
This is the directorial debut of Lee Sternthal and Brian Klugman who also wrote the script together. (They're previous credits include TRON: Legacy.) The cinematography isn't particularly a stand out although giving the scenes set in the '40s a sort of sepia tint works well if a little too on the nose. The score is too intrusive and self-important; it tries entirely too hard to make the audience feel things that aren't in the movie itself. The Words is the sort of movie you'd watch on an airplane or on cable some Sunday afternoon. The characters' moral quandaries in the end don't say anything at all.
The other day, we got a look at the list of competitors in the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. But we've also got ourselves a fair share of promising premieres, with a slew of stars and directors alike that we're sure to get excited over.
Some of the big names we'll be seeing at this year's Sundance include Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde and Jeremy Irons in The Words, Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Lay the Favorite, Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott in Bachelorette, Julie Delpy and Chris Rock in the Delpy-directed 2 Days in New York, Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg and Elijah Wood in Celeste and Jesse Forever (co-written by Jones) and Josh Radnor, starring against Elizabeth Olsen, in Liberal Arts, which he wrote and directed.
2 Days in New York / France (Director: Julie Delpy, Screenwriters: Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau) — Marion has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their child. A visit from her family, the different cultural background of her new boyfriend, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and her upcoming photo exhibition make for an explosive mix. Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alex Nahon.
Arbitrage / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nicholas Jarecki) — A hedge-fund magnate is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire before the depths of his fraud are revealed. An unexpected, bloody error forces him to turn to the most unlikely corner for help. Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta.
Bachelorette / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Leslye Headland) — Unresolved issues between four high school friends come roaring back to life when the least popular of them gets engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City and asks the others to be bridesmaids in her wedding. Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer.
Celeste and Jesse Forever / U.S.A. (Director: Lee Toland Krieger, Screenwriters: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack) — Celeste and Jesse met in high school, married young, and at 30, decide to get divorced but remain best friends while pursuing other relationships. Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Chris Messina, Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts.
For A Good Time, Call... / U.S.A. (Director: Jamie Travis, Screenwriters: Katie Anne Naylon & Lauren Anne Miller) — Lauren and Katie move in together after a loss of a relationship and a loss of a rent controlled home, respectively. When Lauren learns what Katie does for a living the two enter into a wildly unconventional business venture. Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, Justin Long, Mark Webber, James Wolk.
GOATS / U.S.A. (Director: Christopher Neil, Screenwriter: Mark Jude Poirier) — Ellis leaves his unconventional desert home to attend the disciplined and structured Gates Academy. There, he re-connects with his estranged father and for the first time questions the family dynamics. Cast: David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Graham Phillips, Justin Kirk, Ty Burrell.
Lay The Favorite / U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Frears, Screenwriter: D.V. Devincintis) — An adventurous young woman gets involved with a group of geeky older men who have found a way to work the sportsbook system in Las Vegas to their advantage. Cast: Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall.
Liberal Arts / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Radnor) — When 30-something Jesse is invited back to his alma mater, he falls for a 19-year-old college student and is faced with the powerful attraction that springs up between them. Cast: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, John Magaro, Elizabeth Reaser.
Price Check / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Walker) — Pete is having trouble resolving a happy marriage and family life with rising debt and a job he hates. When his new boss pulls him into the maelstrom that is her life, money and opportunities come his way, but at what price? Cast: Parker Posey, Eric Mabius, Annie Parisse, Josh Pais, Cheyenne Jackson.
Red Hook Summer / U.S.A. (Director: Spike Lee, Screenwriters: James McBride, Spike Lee) — A young Atlanta boy spends his summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, who he's never seen before. Cast: Clark Peters, Jules Brown, Toni Lysaith, James Ransone, Thomas Jefferson Byrd.
Robot and Frank / U.S.A. (Director: Jake Schreier, Screenwriter: Christopher Ford) — A curmudgeonly older dad’s grown kids install a robot as his caretaker. Cast: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler. SALT LAKE CITY GALA FILM
Shadow Dancer / United Kingdom (Director: James Marsh, Screenwriter: Tom Brady) — Widowed mother-turned-terrorist Colette McVeigh has high-ranking brothers in the IRA. When she’s arrested in an aborted bomb plot she must make hard choices, testing family loyalties. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Aiden Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, with Gillian Anderson and Clive Owen.
The Words / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal) — Aspiring writer Rory Jansen finds another man's haunting memories in a collection of lost stories and claims them as his own, propelling him to literary stardom. Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde with Zoe Saldana. CLOSING NIGHT FILM
13 Notes: Paul Simon's Graceland Journey / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Berlinger) — Paul Simon returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he sparked for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa, designed to end Apartheid.
About Face / U.S.A. (Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) — An exploration of beauty and aging through the stories of the original supermodels. Participants including Isabella Rossellini, Christie Brinkley, Beverly Johnson, Carmen Dell'Orefice, Paulina Porizkova, Jerry Hall and Christy Turlington weigh in on the fashion industry and how they reassess and redefine their own sense of beauty as their careers progress.
A Fierce Green Fire / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Kitchell) — A definitive history of one of the most important movements of the 20th century, A Fierce Green Fire chronicles the environmental movement’s fascinating evolution from the 1960s to the present.
Bones Brigade / U.S.A. (Director: Stacy Peralta) — When six teenage boys came together as a skateboarding team in the 1980s, they reinvented not only their chosen sport but themselves too – as they evolved from insecure outsiders to the most influential athletes in the field.
The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia / U.S.A. (Director: James Redford) — While following a Dyslexic high school senior struggling to achieve his dream of getting into a competitive college, The D Word exposes myths about Dyslexia and reveals cutting edge research to elucidate this widely misunderstood condition.
Ethel / U.S.A. (Director: Rory Kennedy) — This intimate, surprising portrait of Ethel Kennedy provides an insider's view of a political dynasty, including Ethel’s life with Robert F. Kennedy and the years following his death when she raised their eleven children on her own.
Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap / United Kingdom (Director: Ice-T, Co-Director: Andy Baybutt) — Through conversations with Rap’s most influential artists – among them Chuck D, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, MC Lyte, Mos Def, and Kanye West – Ice-T explores the roots and history of Rap and reveals the creative process behind this now dominant art form.
West of Memphis / U.S.A. (Director: Amy Berg) — Three teenage boys are incarcerated for the murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. 19 years later, new evidence calls into question the convictions and raises issues of judicial, prosecutorial and jury misconduct – showing that the first casualty of a corrupt justice system is the truth.
Tron: Legacy star Wilde recently took to Twitter.com to personally silence speculation of a romance - and now it appears they have been spending time together to discuss a new film project.
They will star together in thriller The Words, which also features Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana and Dennis Quaid.
The movie reteams Wilde with her Tron: Legacy screenwriters Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, who will co-direct the new film.
Didn't we just find out yesterday that some source is definitely totally sure that Olivia Wilde and Bradley Cooper are spending their extra-curricular hours together? Now, they're starring opposite each other in The Words? Either something is amiss or these two crazy kids are breaking the cardinal sin of professionalism: inner-office romance (or inner-set romance). Then again, it's not like there haven't been hundreds of other celebrity couples formed this way, but you're supposed to hook up DURING filming, not BEFORE they start filming. Things could go all sour before the cameras ever roll and then what? Didn't Vince learn this lesson on Entourage? Yes, yes he did. Come on, Cooper.
In all seriousness though, The Words is a dramatic thriller that's already got a decent cast lined up, including Cooper and newly-added Wilde, Jeremy Irons, and Dennis Quaid. In addition to Wilde, the cast just grew a bit with the addition of J.K. Simmons, Zoe Saldana, Ben Barnes, Nora Arnezeder, and John Hannah. Cooper plays a very successful writer who's achieved greatness by stealing another man's work. Of course, the truth always comes out, and he soon learns that he has to face the consequences of his unsavory actions.
This flick should be a bit of a reunion for Wilde and the set of directors, TRON: Legacy writers Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. It's the duo's directorial debut, but they also penned the script together. Now, before you get worried because the TRON script was so...dismal? Boring? Flat? Lacking much of a story at all? Think about this: the script was pushed through the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab and it was on the Black List (that list of the year's best unproduced screenplays), so they've at least got a pretty good base to work with.
Source: Vulture, Comingsoon.net
I really like Dennis Quaid. He seems like the smarter/cooler version of Kevin Costner and guys, Kevin Costner is pretty cool. But you already knew that.
Anyway, Quaid has joined Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons in The Words, the directorial debut of Tron: Legacy writers Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. But let’s not hold that against them. Look at that cast! And the premise about an author who has to pay the price for plagiarizing?! That doesn’t sound too bad now, does it? Besides, it also gives us the chance to announce: DENNIS QUAID IS HERE!
Writers Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal -- the dudes who partially handled the screenplay for Tron: Legacy -- have been hired by Warner Bros. to write Rex Mundi, an adaptation of the lauded graphic novel to-be produced by Johnny Depp and his company Infinitum Nihil. Currently, the duo is writing and directing The Words, an indie-film starring Bradley Cooper where he plays a writer who's not on an illegal drug that turns him superhuman, but one who plagiarizes stuff instead.
Anyway, created by Arvid Nelsen and Eric Johnson, Rex Mundi takes place in an alternate, magic-filled Europe in 1933 when the Protestant Reformation was halted by the Catholic Church. The story centers on a pathologist who investigates the suspicious death of the priest who found him as an orphan which, as most alternate universe stories dealing with religion do, results in a quest for the Holy Grail. The comic was first published fairly recently in 2003.
Considering the plot holes in Tron: Legacy were about as wide and vapid as The Grid itself, we can't help but question the idea of Klugman and Sternthal writing another film in a related genre. But then again, maybe we can fault Tron's emptiness on Garrett Hedlund, who as far as we know hasn't yet to give an emotional response to anything in his life.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Turns out, perfect man Bradley Cooper is actually a plagiarizing bastard. Well, at least that's the next character he plans on playing according to Variety. The actor has signed on to star in The Words, an upcoming film about an author who -- at the height of his literary fame -- finds out he must pay the price for stealing another writer's work, because, well, you really can't do that. The film will be directed by Tron: Legacy writers Brian Krugman and Lee Sternthal who, after doing their best to put theatergoers to sleep with that big, vapid middle section of Legacy, will take their first shot at directing. At least now they have one major safety net in case the movie sucks: these eyes.