Dennis Quaid

2013review_performances

Christian Bale, Sanda Bullock, Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Michael Fassbender, and Meryl Steep, because she’s Meryl Streep, have all had heaps of praise thrown their way this year by both fans and critics. They’ll continue to see even more acclaim in 2014 and beyond, but with all those fantastic movie star performances, not all of 2013′s best have gotten the attention they deserve. That happens most every year, of course. Only so many performances can be nominated for statuettes. After all, even after listing these 13, another 13 could have easily followed (it was a good year). In that spirit, hopefully you’ll share your picks in the comments section, but for now, here are 13 performances from 2013 not to forget when someone else is being played off stage for making their acceptance speech too long.

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Ramin

At Any Price is like a film someone stored in a time capsule during the 1970s, and we’re just now finally opening it. Influenced by Five Easy Pieces and other landmarks of that era, director Ramin Bahrani set out to make a rural drama that, despite popular belief, has an audience. He ran into resistance while seeking financing, and one might think that was because of the film’s unlikable huckster protagonist, Henry (Dennis Quaid). The trouble didn’t come from the anti-hero lead, however, but rather in the story’s rural setting. According to the money men, nobody wants to watch a movie that’s not set in a major city. Bahrani finds, understandably so, that belief to be ludicrous. And At Any Price has made its way to screen with its setting intact, a fact he is pleased with. The writer and director behind Goodbye Solo and Chop Shop originally had his eyes set on making a western, which didn’t come to fruition. Funny enough, At Any Price wasn’t much easier to get made, despite not being a part of what some consider a “dead genre”.

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3

At Any Price is truly a baffling film. At many times I found myself laughing, I found my mouth agape, I buried my head in my hands… And I hardly think that was the filmmaker’s intended audience reaction. It’s almost hard to believe that someone actually wrote this thing, that the film is even for real. This is especially surprising since the film’s writer/director, Ramin Bahrani (who co-scripted with Hallie Elizabeth Newton), has several good indie films under his belt, including Goodbye Solo and Man Push Cart. The film throws logic and caution to the wind, features an insanely campy performance from Dennis Quaid, flip-flops each character’s motivation with abandon, has zero regard for morality and never ceases to have a cheese factor that explodes through the roof. On the positive end (which is understandably quite narrow), the two race car scenes were shot well, as they were quickly paced and tension-filled. And Zac Efron is always a sight for sore eyes, especially during his two passion-filled sex scenes.

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At Any Price

At first glance, the trailer for At Any Price looks like it’s advertising a melodramatic movie that takes a mock-heroic look at being a farmer, but when you see that this thing has been directed by Ramin Bahrani, the guy who made minimal but affecting work like Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, and Goodbye Solo, you know there has to be something else there. And having seen this one at last year’s TIFF, I can confirm that there is indeed something else there. In between this trailer’s fast-cutting of fist fights, yelling, and make-out sessions, you can catch glimpses of the story at the heart of the film. It’s not only one of fathers and sons, and the pains and pressures that they put on one another, but it’s one of the pressures put on the modern farmer, and how big corporations are taking over the business of producing our food and forcing the people who have been producing it up to this point to either get big too or get out of the way. Like each of Bahrani’s works to date, this one is a real eye-opener.

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Jack Reynor

What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting roundup that’s knee deep in nostalgia as it reports on movies based on comic books and toys from its childhood. Due to a little bit of inspiration from the Internet, Michael Bay gave Mark Wahlberg a pretty big part in his upcoming fourth Transformers movie. It’s always been understood that Wahlberg was playing a placeholder character though, who would pass the franchise off to a couple of young kids who would be pushed into the forefront as it went forward. Well, today Bay announced that he’s found the male half of this new duo. Apparently little known Irish actor Jack Reynor is his guy. Bay says that he saw Reynor in an Irish movie called What Richard Did, which a quick Googling tells me has nothing to do with acting opposite giant robots, so let’s all hope he knows what he’s talking about.

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Playing for Keeps

The romantic comedy genre is a very forgiving place for performers and filmmakers. Rom-coms are relatively cheap to produce, and like horror films (which are far cheaper) they usually get a guaranteed audience on opening weekend, so it’s not uncommon to see actors and actresses on the downward slide in Hollywood find a home there. (The reverse works too, with actors on the rise getting a bump from a successful but otherwise low-key rom-coms.) The point is it’s always interesting to see who turns up in a romantic comedy that hits theaters with no expectations. George (Gerard Butler) was a big time soccer (the football kind) player once upon a time, but an ankle injury saw an end to his career and his stardom. His family also fell by the wayside at some point, but now he’s moved to the same town as his wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) and son Lewis (Noah Lomax) in the hopes of reconnecting with them both. He’s working towards a sportscasting career but takes a gig coaching Lewis’ soccer team while he waits for a call from ESPN. George tries to rekindle a life with his wife and son, but his recurring reckless behavior, the horn-dog soccer moms and Stacie’s Baxter of a fiance (James Tupper) may just derail his dream.

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When you live in small-town Middle America, it seems that you have only three options. You farm, you drive a race car, or you leave. Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart; Chop Shop; Goodbye Solo) is a filmmaker who tends to look at immigrants in America who are trying to find a livelihood away from home. With his new film, At Any Price, he takes a closer look at the struggles of Middle America and how the shift in business models over the generations threatens the very fabric and moral pride of the people. Due to the bigger demand for more-focused growing, it’s become impossible for small farmers to survive on their own. As a result, these people become either antiquated and bankrupt or form progressive, self-made conglomerates. We then see the effect of corporate America and ask, “Is this great for the economy? The man? Both? Neither?” In At Any Price we see Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) as the farmer trying to be as progressive as possible. One of his first scenes puts him at another farmer’s funeral, offering to purchase land from the man’s bereaved son. Henry’s passion is his farm. He wants to make it into an even better business than he received from his father, so that he can then hand it off to his son. The problem is that he’s made some morally questionable decisions in the process of seeking to resolve his ambitions. And these decisions eventually come back to haunt him.

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The Words Movie Review

Editor’s note: With The Words hitting theaters today, brush up on our Sundance review of the film, first published on January 26, 2012. Writing is a difficult task whether you have to do it for school, work, or simply because you have words in you that you must get out. But even if you are a writer, those words don’t always come easily and staring at a blank Word document or page is always intimidating. In The Words, we come to know Rory Jenson (Bradley Cooper), a struggling writer who has penned his first novel – a work that is good, but not good enough to get published. Slightly disheartened and with a new bride Dora (Zoe Saldana) to support, Rory takes a job in the mailroom of a publishing house, hoping to make some contacts and advance his career. While on their honeymoon in Paris, Dora drags Rory into yet another antique shop and Rory ends up finding an old leather briefcase that is classy and sophisticated – a symbol of a true writer and a gift Dora quickly buys for her new husband. As he later starts filling it with his own work, Rory comes to find a weathered manuscript he neglected to notice when he first purchased the briefcase. Upon reading the first page (typed on the back of a handwritten letter), Rory cannot put the manuscript down and reads it from beginning to end.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) has done a terrible thing. He’s stolen another man’s words. And because of this deception, three different storylines unfold – one in the past, one in the present, and one in the future. However, when telling the story of a man willing to steal another’s words, it is hard to know how reliable our narrator is and as these three storylines start to blend with one another, the truth at the heart of it all seems to get more and more muddled. Throughout The Words, composer Marcelo Zarvos’ score provides us with sonic clues that attempt to point us towards that truth while also tying these three stories together. One of the most memorable parts of the score (and the film) is The Words’ theme. Within the first few seconds of the score’s second track, “The Old Man,” the theme hits you – a driving string piece that is both beautiful and romantic, but at the same time ominous and unsettling. This theme works as the first hint towards the true nature of this story. At first glance, The Words may seem like three simple love stories told through the perspective of three different generations, but as things begin to unfold, it becomes clear that nothing in this story is simple and the truth at the heart of it is much more complicated. (Listen for this theme to come back in a big way at the beginning of “The Bookstore” – possibly hinting at a link between these two pieces). Since we […]

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Pregnancy and childbirth are nothing new. In fact, there are few things less new than humans reproducing. It’s been done before. But Kirk Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting accurately captures the inherent selfishness of expecting parents,and their individual “journeys” to the delivery room (and beyond). Unfortunately, even when gifted with a large, mostly eager cast, Jones is also saddled with a script from Shauna Cross and Heather Hach (working off of Heidi Murkoff‘s guidebook of the same name) that is deeply uninterested in providing much variety in their work. The effect is simple one – the film itself is deeply uninteresting. While What to Expect continually reminds its viewers that pregnancy and childbirth are miracles, unique and thrilling gifts, Cross and Hach have concocted one of the most bland, basic, and unadventurous scripts in recent memory.

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A quick search of the site archives tells me that we haven’t done much reporting on the upcoming movie Switch yet, and that’s kind of a shame because it’s an interesting project for a number of reasons. The biggest and most obvious of these reasons is that it’s an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, and a sort-of prequel to Jackie Brown. What does that mean exactly? It means that this story features some of the earlier shenanigans of the Louis and Ordell characters that Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson played in the Quentin Tarantino adaptation of Leonard’s “Rum Punch,” which became Jackie Brown. I said this was a sort-of prequel to Jackie Brown though, so don’t expect to see Tarantino or either of those actors back. This is a completely new take on Leonard’s material involving completely new people. But, the good news is that all of these new people kind of rule, too.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets ready to celebrate Halloween in style with some horror releases… and he’s not just thinking of Footloose. Unhappy with his life, he follows the bucket list path of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, traveling to the bottom of the world where he finds himself in a small Antarctic town that has outlawed dancing. So Kevin takes it upon himself to help the people get their groove on only to discover they’ve been taken over an alien species that duplicate human form. Later, he takes a trip back to the heartland where he finds a feral woman chained in a cellar… pretty standard for some of the towns he’s been to. Finally, not being able to find a theater that is still playing Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), he checks it out On Demand and promptly throws up.

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When Craig Brewer was announced to direct the Footloose remake, there were a more than a few heads being scratched. The director behind the fantastic Hustle & Flow as well as the excellent fable Black Snake Moan taking on material which is considered by most to be cheesy was a surface-level surprise. But once you dig deep into the original, there are more than a few themes that tie to Brewer’s work — expressing yourself through art, family issues, sexuality, etc. There are some mature themes in the original. Themes that didn’t quite hit their mark. However, Brewer managed to make those themes fly. The 1984 film had major tonal issues. After witnessing Chris Penn have a five-minute dance montage, you see Ariel (now played by Julianne Hough) get beaten by her boyfriend. Dance montages and girlfriend beatings usually don’t go hand in hand, tonally speaking. This time around, there’s a real care for tone. Footloose is a movie that has its cake and eats it too. Apologies for that dreadful expression, but it’s true. It strives for a seriousness, which is earned. Brewer also aims to make a great crowd-pleaser, and that’s where the film exceeds wonderfully. As someone who despises not only High School kids, but also dancing, I never thought I’d say, “That’s cool,” when the two joined forces.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: if you don’t leave now, it’s consensual. This is the part of the internet where your intrepid host (or, in this case, your intrepid host’s wife) dons her finest Middle Age-y costume, unsheathes her silver Nerf sword and just starts whaling on an awful, maleficent movie. And yet–probably as a consequence of some ambiguous plot device early in my childhood–I check the killing stroke, throw down my weapon and extend my hand in peace to this humbled, repentant film. I cement our bond by throwing a feast in its honor and invite our reader (yes, singular) to indulge in a snack specially tailored to the film: not only not fit for a king, but probably not legal in any monarchical government. This week’s mistake of draconian proportions: Dragonheart

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It’s not actually shot-for-shot, but see if you can spot all of the exact replications of scenes, moments, and Drivers-License-to-chin-flipping-action that Footloose stole directly from Footloose. Write them in the comments section, and we may find prizes for people or something. As a hint, there are at least 15 similarities. This is definitely not helping my optimistic argument to give remakes a chance. You can’t just shove Stomp the Yard and Step Up into Footloose, call it Footloose, and call it a day creatively. Which of things is just like the other?

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Billy Bob Thornton hasn’t directed a non-documentary since 2001’s Daddy and Them. That’s kind of a shame, because it seems like the guy could be pretty good at it. Dude made Sling Blade after all. I take it as good news then, that Thornton has a cast in place and funding secured for his next feature Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Not much is known about the film yet, but Thornton co-wrote the script with his writing partner Tom Epperson, and it’s said to be about two families from different parts of the world experiencing a culture clash in 1969. Young actor John Patrick Amedori is set to star in the film and names like Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, John Hurt, Dwight Yoakam, and Dennis Quaid are locked in to round out the cast. That’s a ridiculously impressive list of actors, but where are all the ladies? Perhaps that’s a mystery for another day.

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Over the last few years Ramin Bahrani has slowly become one of my favorite working filmmakers, and just with the release of three features. I thought his 2005 effort Man Push Cart was an interesting story that showed a lot of style and managed to accomplish quite a bit while still taking a minimal approach to filmmaking; but it didn’t quite connect with me on a deeper level. In his second feature, when Bahrani took his unique form of small, anti-cinematic character study and pointed it at the young Alejandro in 2007’s Chop Shop, I found myself to be deeply affected by the characters introduced and the naturalist way that Bahrani is able to build emotion and intrigue by doing very little, and create beautiful imagery without being in the least bit showy. 2008’s Goodbye Solo was even better, a filmgoing experience that I found to be truly sublime. So what the heck is this micro budget indie filmmaker doing casting Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid in his next movie? Up to this point everything he has done has employed mostly unknowns, so seeing these two Hollywood names get attached to something he’s doing comes as a pretty big shock. Quaid I can kind of accept. If Bahrani is dipping his toe into the waters of making studio films, then Quaid is a performer who I can see him going after. Despite the fact that he makes a lot of crap, like The Day After Tomorrow, Legion, and G.I. Joe, […]

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On the surface, the story of Bethany Hamilton is toweringly inspirational. The young surfer on the verge of going pro faced a personal loss so great that it should have destroyed her future career and water-soaked passion in one blow. The fact that she fought back against it, got back on the board, and eventually triumphed is a testament to the human spirit (as well as, according to the film, a testament to faith and the power of a higher being). It’s a compelling story, but as Soul Surfer proves, it’s not the best basis for a full-length feature film. It’s perfectly passable, but director Shawn McNamara has created a version of the story that focuses on filler and ties up all the drama far too easily.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr spends a long day in the multiplex, checking out a variety of films from alcoholic romantic comedies to nature documentaries with elephants and orangutans. He drinks himself silly and hits on Greta Gerwig in Arthur, narrowly escapes being killed by ass-kicking teen assassin Hanna, narrowly escapes getting his arm bitten off by a tiger shark in Soul Surfer and peeps in on Natalie Portman undressing for a swim in Your Highness. Too bad she’s pregnant now, ‘cause Kevin just ain’t into that scene.

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Right now in theaters, there’s a movie focusing on the decade-long struggle for a Canadian kid who met Usher to become a pop superstar. That movie is titled Never Say Never – a rousing call to action for all white bread pubescents out there that dream of having training bras thrown at them on stage. The phrase is also used in the new trailer for Soul Surfer – based on the true story of a young surfer who loses her arm in a shark attack, continues to surf, and inspires a ton of people because of her perseverance through, you know, real adversity. Which one is more appropriate? You be the judge. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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