J K Simmons

Gravitas Ventures

Clinton Moisey (Fran Kranz) is something of a simpleton. He lives at home with his mother (Blythe Danner) where he operates a daily yard sale table selling toys, comic books and self-made action figures. His attempt at making something of himself — a corner comic shop with zero clientele — closed after six months, and while anyone could see the problem was his lack of motivation Clinton sees it a bit differently. It was a man named Ford (Greg Kinnear) who killed his shop by opening a megastore nearby. Sure the megastore doesn’t sell comics, but that’s not really the point as far as Clinton is concerned. He awakes one morning after drowning his sorrows with a marathon session of Who’s the Boss? episodes to find his beloved cat Mouser dead in the street. This was no accident though as a crossbow bolt had been shot through the cat’s heart. No one, including the local sheriff (J.K. Simmons), seem to be taking the murder as seriously as he is, so he sets off on his own to find the killer. The problem of course, is that he’s something of a simpleton. Murder of a Cat is a comedy first and murder mystery second-ish, but what it lacks in the latter it makes up for with the former.

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Whiplash

What defines a horror movie villain? Someone (or something) that is emotionless, relentless, haunting and makes you bleed. By this definition, Whiplash gave audiences one of the most terrifying villains released in the horror month of October, but it may not be the character you expect. There is no question that J.K. Simmons’ Fletcher is relentless as he pushes Andrew (Miles Teller) to excel at his chosen instrument. But it is the instrument itself that is the true villain of this story – the drum set. It’s emotionless, relentless, constantly haunts Andrew and (as you can see) makes him bleed. Andrew is drawn to the drums in a way that has him constantly coming back for more – no matter how much pain and anguish the drums cause him. Andrew cannot keep himself from the pull of playing, but he’s not simply in it for the love of the music; Andrew wants to be the best. No matter what Andrew does to fight against the drum set – sweating on it, bleeding on it, punching them out – it survives. If he destroys it, there is always another set, taking its place for him to play. Like a guy in a William Shatner mask, Whiplash’s drum set can never truly be killed.

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Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash

Who would have thought the most brutal film of the year would be about jazz? Andrew (Miles Teller), the protagonist of Whiplash, is a first-year jazz drumming prodigy who possesses the talent to be one of the greats but not the work ethic. When he finally meets someone who can train him to be the best, it is both a blessing and a curse. He makes it into the elite “studio” band led by Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a legendary teacher and conductor, and Andrew’s confidence at having made the group is immediately and brutally ripped apart. Fletcher abuses him in every way imaginable: he slaps him repeatedly, screams ethnic slurs, and even throws a cymbal at his head. Why are such stringent teaching methods necessary? It’s all part of Fletcher’s teaching philosophy: “The two most destructive words in the English language,” he tells Andrew late in the film, “are ‘good job’.” Still, Fletcher’s abuse is nothing compared to what Andrew does to himself: practicing until his hands bleed, pushing his muscles to the brink of collapse, and running away from a violent car crash in order to be on time for an important band competition. This is not a simple case of a teacher abusing his student; Andrew wants to be great just as badly as Fletcher wants him to be, and both of them have bought into a system of physical punishment to achieve that goal. Does any of this sound familiar? Many films have utilized the dynamic of a […]

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review whiplash

Some people are content simply doing things. Work, art, music. The act alone justifies the time spent before the next thing comes along that captures their interest and affection. But for others, the idea of contentment is a foreign concept left behind in the urgent march forward to be the absolute best. These are the greats, the ones the rest of us know by name or by the images/sounds they create. Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be one of those greats. His focus is drumming, jazz drumming in particular, and his immediate goal is to catch the ear of the Schaffer Music Academy’s legendary professor, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). The man makes and breaks musicians, but his method of channeling R. Lee Ermey’s meaner cousin threatens to destroy Andrew’s dream before it even begins. Whiplash is a percussive thriller that drops viewers into the middle of an obsession, one that assaults the eyes and ears with a painful beauty and the occasional misstep before reaching an incredibly invigorating finale. Equal parts suspense and musical drama, the film is a blistering experience.

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Adam Sandler in Men Women and Children

It’s an understood rule of comedic actors that they can all do drama, as well. Comedy is harder, of course. But then not every comedic actor is truly an actor. Not every comedic performance is about more than good line readings and having the necessary timing to tell a joke. Stand-up comedians often get starring gigs on sitcoms, but that doesn’t mean they’ll wind up with an Oscar nomination someday. (Sorry, Sinbad.) Those who do end up with Academy recognition are those who were always set to shine on the big screen and wound up on TV as a short little detour along the way. Jennifer Lawrence, for example. And Tom Hanks. And Leonardo DiCaprio. But there are also former TV comedy stars who do great work in dramatic movies and never garner Oscar attention, and then they have to go back and do a Dumb and Dumber sequel. There is hope and buzz for quite a few former sitcom stars this fall. They could join the likes of Helen Hunt, George Clooney, Sally Field, Melissa McCarthy, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Mo’Nique, Sandra Bullock, Marisa Tomei, Will Smith, Diahann Carroll, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, Judd Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Patty Duke, Pat Morita, Kate Winslet, Billy Bob Thornton, Jamie Foxx and Robin Williams. I’m sure I’m forgetting some others (and not even thinking of all the variety TV players like George Burns, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Cher and Goldie Hawn). Or they could be the next Jim Carrey. Check out […]

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Dark Skies Trailer

Over the years we’ve seen so many alien home invasions in movies that we’ve grown to believe that visits from extraterrestrial beings aren’t necessarily a big deal. Maybe the alien who comes for a visit could even be a cute little friend who lives in your closet and develops an addiction to Reese’s Pieces! And heck, worst case scenario you get pulled out of your bed, anally probed up on the mothership, and then they drop you right back off like nothing happened, right? Maybe not. Scott Charles Stewart’s (Priest) new thriller Dark Skies asks what it would be like if the aliens stuck around for a while and tortured your family. If the new trailer for this film is to be believed, an extended occupation of your home by extraterrestrial forces would not just include objects in your kitchen being mysteriously stacked and dazzling lights glimmering off of your ceiling, but it would also bring an unwelcome plague of birds, brandings and blackouts. Oh my. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton are starring here as a suburban couple who get tormented by the little green menace, and watching them deal with flocks of birds mysteriously slamming into their windows, strange marks being burnt into their kids’ skin, and their minds getting repeatedly taken over by some mysterious force can be some pretty harrowing stuff.

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In a post-Juno world, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have re-teamed for a much darker spin on inappropriate maturity levels and their inevitable consequences. Whereas their hamburger phone-chatting, bon mot-spouting teen Juno was almost too mature for her own good, their latest heroine is undoubtedly too immature to even be considered a real adult. In Young Adult, Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a YA author who has much more in common emotionally and intellectually with her characters than she does with anyone her actual age. Mavis heads back to her small hometown, still gorgeous as ever, but with a real chip on her shoulder (to put it mildly). Mavis wants her high school sweetheart back (Patrick Wilson), and she doesn’t care if he’s married, and she doesn’t care if she’s a real bitch to everyone else, and she just…well, she just doesn’t care. Check out the first trailer for Young Adult after the break, with bonus Patton Oswalt as one of Mavis’ former classmates who is also a bit stuck in the past.

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The first trailer for Mark Wahlberg’s upcoming team-up with Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, Contraband, has hit, and it packs just about every action movie trope that you can think of into two and a half minutes. First off, Wahlberg plays a former criminal, who “got out of the life” and started a family. Then there’s the matter of a trouble-making brother (or in this case brother-in-law) who does something stupid and draws the protagonist back into doing “one last job.” We get the development of the wife and family being kidnapped, and even a Mexican stand-off with everybody pointing guns at each other. Pretty much this movie has everything an action fan could want. Check out the first trailer after the break.

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J.K. Simmons is a worker, or as he calls it, a “journeyman actor.” The J.K. Simmonses of the world feature epic sized filmographies, even for an individual year. In 2009 alone, the actor appeared in 10 movies. Most were small parts, but 10 movies? He’s a busy man. One would think with that type of work ethic, Simmons would be an actor that cared more about the checks than the quality of the work. From speaking with the character actor, that didn’t seem to be the case. Simmons has, finally, got a starring role film under his belt — recently, anyway — that we can see. The Music Never Stopped (out now on DVD) is one of those small, non-cynical, heart-string yanking dramas. It’s a father/son story, so if you’re sucker for daddy issue movies, this one’s for you, kid. Here’s what actor J.K. Simmons had to say about appearing in nearly everything, being Jason Reitman‘s good luck charm, and naturally working off of Diablo Cody-isms:

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At a certain point, you get a streak going and you have to keep honoring it no matter what. Usually that situation leads to making House Party VIII, but fortunately for fans, Jason Reitman’s particular streak involves hiring J.K. Simmons for his movies. Coming Soon is reporting that Simmons will be providing the voice over for Young Adult, Reitman’s next film from screenwriter Diablo Cody. The cast already includes Charlize Theron as a writer who returns to her roots to find ex-love Patrick Wilson has got a wife and children. So she stalks him. All the pieces are lining up, and it goes without saying that Simmons is a brilliant acting talent, so we’ll have to see if Young Adult continues Reitman’s other streak: getting Oscar nominations.

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kevin-reportcard-header

Kevin Carr takes a look at this week’s movie releases, including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Informant! and Jennifer’s Body.

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Spider-Man 4 Set Pic

J. K. Simmons is definitely back. Now let’s see if Sam Raimi can get all the other puzzle pieces in place for their proposed start date next year.

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iloveyouman-trailer-header

We got a tamer look at I Love You, Man a while back, and now we get almost the same trailer…except this one talks about Kissing the Bunny.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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