George Clooney

Batman and Robin

Let’s get this on the table right from the start – I hate Batman Returns. If I were to rank every Batman film in order of preference – including the 1966 film based on the Adam West TV series – Returns would easily bring up the rear. It is so terrible that I’m astounded that it not only never turns up on “Worst Comic Book Movies Ever Made” lists, but that there are some people who defend it as the best of the series. I’ve long thought it’s not only a bad Batman movie but a straight-up bad movie in general. A recent article on Uproxx nailed so much of what I’ve long hated about the film. I think their list of 15 points is padded with a few jokey items that don’t totally count, but it utterly pegs the nonsensical nature of the Penguin’s backstory, the randomness of his plan to run for mayor, and the overall WTF-ery of Max Schreck. It also indicts Batman on charges of senseless, gratuitous murder (everyone who called for Zack Snyder’s head after Man of Steel needs to go after director Tim Burton 17 years ago) and the laundry list of plot contrivances that even a half-attentive viewer should spot. Beyond all of that, I’ve just never liked Burton’s conception of the Penguin. The gentleman criminal of the comics is turned into a deranged former circus freak who spews bile and bites noses. It’s a much more egregious warping of the comic forebearer than just about anything […]

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Return to Horror High Clooney

This week, Cargill and I go outside the Actor’s Studio to examine the early horror films of one Mr. George Clooney, or as you may now know him: God-King of Hollywood. Back in the glory days, the all-or-nothing days, before bestriding the narrow world like a colossus, Clooney was a struggling actor same as countless others, forced to take roles in b-horror outings in order to pay the rent. However, these horror films each had something special and of surprisingly quality to offer. Most interesting of the bunch is the never-released Grizzly II, on which Cargill and I go into startling detail. We also announce our July 4th appearance at CONvergence in Minneapolis! Can’t venture to America’s Hoth that weekend? No problem! We’ll be recording an episode during the CON and will make it available to you, our beloved Junkies, directly thereafter. You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #14 Directly

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goodman

The past few years have been kind to John Goodman: Monsters University was a worthy followup to Monsters Inc.; Inside Llewyn Davis was the best film of 2013; he stole the show in Flight; he was a part of a best picture winner with Argo; and he was in two kids films that will never be forgotten: Speed Racer and ParaNorman. The fact that that list of films doesn’t begin to  cover all of Goodman’s good fortune goes to show how blessed he’s been. Really, how hard he’s worked. Settling into his fifth decade of acting, Goodman is hitting his stride. Yet it’s the actor who accredits this success to pure chance. “It’s just the luck of the draw,” Goodman explained, while discussing The Monuments Men. “It’s total luck. Boy, I’m grateful everyday for it. The last few years have been a great ride. I look forward to going to work everyday. I wouldn’t trade it.” And why would he? He’s appeared in many critical and commercial darlings, and he’s even back on a series with Amazon’s Alpha House, which, from the sound of it, he had a blast making. The same goes for his time spent on The Monuments Men.

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monuments_men

George Clooney is an undervalued filmmaker. With Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Clooney showed he was the real deal behind the camera. He followed that, his best film, with the widely acclaimed Goodnight and Good Luck, as well as the overlooked Leatherheads, and one of 2011′s best films, The Ides of March. His films have no shortage of ambition or passion, but his newest movie, The Monuments Men, suffers from perhaps too much of both. Hitler started stealing art during World War II in the hopes of creating a cultural town made up of all these stolen pieces. He was robbing people of their history and culture, and in retaliation FDR commissioned a team to go retrieve the art and find their rightful owners. George Stout (Clooney) led the group and convinced FDR to support the mission and his team of non-traditional soldiers. For the most part, this ensemble features the kind of limited character definition we expect from The Expendables, not Clooney and his writing partner Grant Heslov. Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonnenville) is the only fully-defined character in the bunch. There’s a segment of the film where he goes off on a mission by himself resulting in a dramatic conflict that could make for its own film, and it’s a far more engaging possibility than the one we get.

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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Commentary

Actors’ behind-the-camera debuts are rarely great. There’s generally a safeness to those movies, where it feels more like an actor testing the waters than having a story they need to tell. A big exception to that trend: George Clooney. Clooney took a major chance on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Sure, he had a script written by Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation), but he made bold choices as a filmmaker. From the film’s complex style, the timeline they have to show in two hours, and the tonally tricky humor, Clooney’s first directorial outing was an ambitious introduction. Since then he’s tried his hand at varying material, constantly pushing himself as a filmmaker. Nothing against his films since 2002, including the overlooked Leatherheads, but Confessions of a Dangerous Mind remains his best picture. This is a film where big choices were made, and every single one of them hit their mark. It’s an emotional dark comedy that not many filmmakers could pull off.

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2013movieoftheyear.gravity

Back in November, Alfonso Cuaron was asked by Esquire about “unique experiences” in cinema. They’d framed the conversation as TV vs. Film, and Cuaron remarked that TV rarely produces brain-searing moments. Scenarios? Characters? Sure. But if you’re looking for a better batting average on memorable moments, cinema is holding the big stick. At least, as Cuaron amends, cinema outside the mainstream. For a filmmaker who’s delivered gargantuan imagery and scenic epinephrine, his go-to for a unique film experience this year is telling. “It depends on what you call a unique experience. I just saw the Woody Allen film [Blue Jasmine], and I thought it was just amazing. It’s not that it’s going to give you a roller coaster of a ride. It’s just an amazing film. But definitely there are directors, even in the mainstream cinema, in Hollywood, people like [David] Fincher and Wes Anderson and David O. Russell and Guillermo del Toro, who are doing really exciting mainstream cinema.” Gravity might be the polar opposite of Blue Jasmine. One is unrelenting high concept with a sprinkle of backstory, the other is a piercing dramedy with rounded characters. On the other hand, they both feature towering performances from focus-monopolizing actresses playing struggling women. They’ll also collide in some way on the road to Oscar, creating a convenient story of thematic similarities and structural antitheses to consider when we think about what movies we hold above others at the end of a calendar year.

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Monuments Men

The full trailer for George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men has dropped, and it’s tonally much different than the teaser released back in August. The film, about a ragtag platoon of (aging) art experts tasked with stealing back art from the Nazis during WWII, was presented in the teaser as more of a tongue-in-cheek look at bumbling older men trying to make in through their mission and complete this important task. In the full trailer, the tone has changed (or improved, depending how you look at it) and this film is now a tense thriller where the art must be rescued by these important men at all costs. Gone are the scenes of flustered old men barely making it through basic training (okay, there’s one still in there), replaced with gunfire, crumpled buildings and paintings being thrown on a bonfire as Clooney makes an impassioned speech about art being the cause for fighting…”for culture, for a way of life.” I suddenly really, really care about art now. A lot of the tonal shift has to do with the new music selection — backing anything with that tense score makes even the most innocuous dialogue sound like classified information. Now, will the actual film match the teaser or the trailer? Check out the new trailer here:

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Gravity - Rom-Com

George Clooney as a dashing pile of handsome, Sandra “Miss Congeniality” Bullock and a meet-cute that’s out of this world? You can’t tell us that Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity isn’t a romantic comedy. Weightless in Seattle. Or maybe Romancing the Moonstone. It’s in an unconventional location to be sure, but the vacuum of space can’t keep sparks from flying. Naturally, we turned to our old pal Sleepy Skunk to put together a trailer that sells the movie for what it really is. With a little help from Old Blue Eyes, he was up to the task:

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gravity

“Life in space is impossible.” Before we even hear a word from Alfonso Cuaron’s staggering Gravity, a thin line of text already tells us everything that’s going to happen within its slim, unrelenting ninety-minute runtime. Life in space is impossible. But is survival possible? It’s a normal day for the Explorer team, one that sees Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) working on his space walk time (he’s eager to break a previously-established record by another astronaut) while Shariff (Paul Sharma) tinkers outside the station and Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) attempts to repair some malfunctioning equipment so they can finish the upgrade they are tasked with completing. Things are relatively peaceful, the only hitch in an otherwise unremarkable excursion being Dr. Stone’s jumping stomach and her frustration at getting her work done – until the formerly relaxed Houston team suddenly demands an emergency evacuation. Not just for the three space walkers to go inside the station, but for them to get the hell out of their general location. A Russian satellite has exploded and its debris (moving around Earth at a pace faster than a speeding bullet) has begun knocking off other satellites, setting off a chain reaction of zinging space shrapnel that won’t just bust open a spacesuit, but an entire space station. The evacuation doesn’t happen.

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GRAVITY

With less than a week left before Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity hits theaters, you’re likely to see an increase in the already heaping mound of raves claiming it’s the best original sci-fi film of the year, if not years. The problem is that this is not sci-fi. I’ve been having minor debate about this for weeks now, and there are numerous critics and non-critics, both people who have seen and haven’t seen the film yet, on each of the two sides of this argument. At the end of the day, you can say I’m being too stubbornly semantical. That the genre doesn’t even matter these days. But this is a movie involving science, and science itself deals a lot in classification and semantics, so I feel it perfectly appropriate to stand firm on genre categorization with this one. And I keep cringing every time I see the term sci-fi or words science fiction applied to this film. Gravity features no aliens, no interstellar space travel, no time travel, and it doesn’t take place in the future. In fact, given that it involves a space shuttle as its method of travel into space, it would seem to be set in a past. And while I don’t know all the technological accuracy evident on screen, I do know the production aimed for this to be a realistic film of the world and science that is or was existing. To me, that’s not sci-fi. Just like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff, never mind their […]

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Gravity

In the early hours of last evening, just as the stars were starting to come out in various parts of the country, Warner Bros. unleashed the full trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming space thriller Gravity. It’s perhaps the most intense 2-minutes you’re going to have today, assuming you don’t have a heart attack later. Or during the trailer, for that matter. See for yourself, because that’s what it’s going to take.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

It’s tough to miss a film festival where a highly anticipated movie is playing, but it’s a lot easier to handle when the reaction bursting out of the theater is roundly positive. Excitedly positive. None of this, “It was okay, but…” nonsense clouding the expectations game for something we want to blow our minds. Enter Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. With stratospheric hopes, the new partnership between the Children of Men director and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki lands in theaters in early October, but Venice Film Festival goers got an early look, and apparently their eyes are completely dilated.

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IMG_0213.JPG

Brad Bird‘s follow-up to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol has been behind a fair amount of secrecy since its initial announcement, but as the film begins principal photography that veil is starting to lift. Tomorrowland stars George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, and is co-written by Bird, Damon Lindelof, and Jeffrey Chernov. Since it’s a Disney production the clear assumption has been that the story will share some connective tissue with their future-themed theme park land. Known for its glimpse into a “future that never was” it’s a world populated with steampunk aesthetics, people movers and other visuals expected by the prognosticators of the ’20s and ’30s. A short synopsis for the film has just been released, and it almost sounds like the big-budget reboot of Real Genius we’ve always wanted.

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Monuments Men

We just got our first look at a still from George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men, but that hasn’t stopped the powers that be from releasing a new trailer immediately afterward. This one is a bit of a mixed bag. The pairing of Clooney and Matt Damon will always bring about one thing: that Ocean’s Eleven sense of suave. You see these two together, you know you’re about to see a film about cool guys who look good and pull off daring deeds. Stir this into the “stealing art to save art” story, add the little hint of WWII intrigue we get at the trailer’s end, and you’ve basically got Ocean’s for the greatest generation (even though the original Ocean’s Eleven already qualifies). The ragtag team of misfits introduced in this trailer really cements this idea. On the one hand, seeing a bunch of bumbling old men stumble through armed combat sounds terrific; especially so when those aging bumblers are played by the likes of John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Bob Balaban. But honestly, the whole idea seems a little played out. I’ve seen both Ocean’s Eleven and Saving Private Ryan. What exactly will The Monuments Men offer that couldn’t be accomplished by haphazardly cutting those two films together? A trailer should make you want to see the film in question, but this one just makes me wonder if the awkward music choice and fluctuating tone are more a product of the trailer or the finished film. Check out the first trailer […]

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THE-MONUMENTS-MEN

When the endless stream of awards-show talk begins its yearly smothering of the movie industry, expect the words The Monuments Men to come up. The film’s got all the necessary pieces: It’s based both on real-life events and on a book (Robert M. Edsel‘s “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History”) and will have George Clooney wearing both his director and lead actor hats. Presumably, if the film’s actually a good one, it’ll be racking up all kinds of neat little statuettes. And thanks to Entertainment Weekly (via Facebook), you can see the first still from The Monuments Men above. You can also read more about the film below.

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gravity

Don’t have enough tension and worry in your life? No problem, because the marketing of Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón’s new space thriller, Gravity, seems intent on freaking us all out to the point where we’ll all be sent off to the nuthouse for some decompression before we ever even get a chance to see the movie. Just yesterday we posted a new trailer put together for the film subtitled “Detached,” which was a single-take shot, reminiscent of the most famous sequence from Children of Men, that put you right in the middle of the action of a space walk gone wrong. Was that closing image of Sandra Bullock drifting off into nothing enough to fuel your nightmares for the next few months on its own? Then maybe you won’t want to click through this one, because today we’ve got two more sequences from the film that are equally as likely to make your brain glitch and your body go numb with fear.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

This is when the real panic sets in. Stunning in its execution, the new trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity does its duty in evoking Children of Men‘s most famous scene. The abject terror, the immediacy of profound danger, the single-take-ness. If you’re not standing and clapping by the time it’s over, it’s probably because you still can’t breath:

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Gravity

The director of A Little Princess, and the stars of Love Potion No. 9 and Return of the Killer Tomatoes join forces for one of the year’s most anticipated films. Strap yourself in, and take a look at the first teaser for Alfonso Cuarón‘s Gravity.

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Tomorrowland

Over at HitFix, Drew has published the logline (and further details) that the production for Tomorrowland is using to find actors: “A teenage girl, a genius middle-aged man (who was kicked out of Tomorrowland) and a pre-pubescent girl robot attempt to get to and unravel what happened to Tomorrowland, which exists in an alternative dimension, in order to save Earth.” Brad Bird is directing with a script from Damon Lindelof, so secrecy has been the order of the day, but as Drew mentions, the grain of salt here is that this logline could have nothing to do with what the movie is about. I’ll point to the script pages actors’ delivered during auditions for The Cabin in the Woods as another example of the games mysterious productions play. They know this stuff gets leaked, so whether they chose to be straightforward or further obfuscate is anyone’s guess until we see the first trailer. But all that being said, if this is the real synopsis, it could be a lot of fun. Plus, George Clooney is going to do great as the pre-pubescent girl robot! Unless that’s the role Hugh Laurie is taking.  

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Tomorrowland

Oh, Disney, you little tricksters. As most people who are interested in Brad Bird‘s upcoming mystery project for the Mouse House have attempted to use its first title – 1952 – to build theories as to just what it’s about, the studio has just gone and blown all those theories to hell, as the film is now titled Tomorrowland. Boom, time to make some more theories! As of now, all know for sure is that the film is a live-action release, it is set to star George Clooney, and it will – oh, no, I keep forgetting this detail – come from a script by Bird and Damon Lindelof (from a concept by Lindelof and Jeff Jensen). So I guess now we know that it will be needlessly convoluted and ultimately unsatisfying? Okay then. At the very least, it’s fair to assume the film will be about the future in some way as, when speaking about the Tomorrowland section of his theme parks, Walt Disney commented that “Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” The film will open on December 19, 2014. [Press Release]

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