Laura Linney

Congo Martini

If I was disappointed with Jurassic Park, there was no reason for me to be hopeful about Congo. I didn’t even like the book of the latter as much as I did the dino novel, but I guess I believed it wouldn’t take as much to be faithful to Michael Crichton’s 1980 ape-filled adventure story. To me, at that time in my life, retaining and translating everything from page to screen was important. And given all that was altered in the adaptation for the worse, I would remain in that camp for a few more years. There are a lot of things that make Congo one of the most awful movies ever made, but the thing that’s always been a clincher for me is the portrayal of Amy the Gorilla. I didn’t really mind that it was a person in a costume, especially since there wasn’t much better in the movies to compare it to then. Computers could create a convincing T. rex, but realistically rendered hairy primates were not yet in the cards for Hollywood in 1995. Instead, I’m referring to the way they made the ASL-fluent gorilla wear a mechanical glove to translate her signing. Obviously the decision was made to pander to moviegoers so we didn’t have to read subtitles of Amy’s communication with her trainer, Dr. Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh). In the context of the story, however, it didn’t make any sense for her to have the prosthetic. It would’ve been an unnecessary expense when Elliot could already understand her just fine, and […]

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trailer morning

While the Toronto International Film Festival continues to march on for another magical week of premieres and reviews (seriously, check out all the reviews we have coming out of Toronto), the rest of us at home can revel in the fun with some new trailers that are continuing to be released. Take Morning, for instance, the directorial debut of actor Leland Orser (Taken, Se7en), which he reworked from a short he previously directed (and wrote) of the same name. The story of a middle-aged couple named Mark and Alice Munroe (Orser and his real-life wife Jeanne Tripplehorn), whose child dies accidentally, Morning follows their unfathomable and insane grief as they try to cope with what they’ve lost. It seems that others in the film (like grief counselor Laura Linney and Kyle Chandler) don’t quite understand why the Munroes are acting strangly — Orser sitting in the empty pool in his underwear being guarded by the umbrella-toting grandma is a great shot — but they’re going to do their best to try. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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Editor’s note: Hyde Park on Hudson cruises into theaters this week, so please get handsy with our New York Film Festival review of the film, originally published on September 30, 2012. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is considered to be one of our greatest presidents — a strong, charismatic leader during World War II, beloved by his nation. Roger Mitchell’s Hyde Park on Hudson reveals FDR to be all those things… and also quite the Don Juan. The film tries to reveal FDR “the man,” a history-making president who can also seduce the ladies, befriend shy kings, and possess a mean stamp collection. While Hyde Park on Hudson is consistently entertaining, its tendencies to meander in tone and to veer too far into the ridiculous prevent it from succeeding as a whole. One fortuitous day, FDR (Bill Murray) requests that his fifth cousin Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney) visit him at his country home in Hyde Park, New York. Naturally, Daisy obliges, and shortly after being dazzled by FDR’s stamp collection she becomes a fixture at his country home. Their visits turn into full days of merriment and long aimless drives on country roads. When FDR stops the car in the middle of a field of purple wildflowers one afternoon, however, there is only one direction their relationship can go in (not to reveal too much, but watching Bill Murray as FDR receive pleasure in a car is mildly disturbing and somewhat hilarious). Eventually, though, Daisy comes to realize that besides the First […]

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The Details

Hollywood does not look favorably upon suburbia. It’s understandable of course, what with all the illusory perfection and white picket fences, but from Little Children to American Beauty to Home Alone we’ve seen time and again that surface innocence hides infidelity, unhappiness and abandoned children setting deadly traps made from household items. That trend continues with Tobey Maguire‘s latest film where he plays Jeff Lang, a man who seems to have it all. A beautiful wife, a healthy little boy, a job and a home in the suburbs… what more could he want? But when a raccoon starts digging holes in his perfect back yard a chain of events is set in motion that threatens it all. The links in that chain, henceforth known as the details, are a mix of the mundane and the ridiculous, and almost without exception they see Lang behaving like a complete and utter bastard. There are laughs along the way, but as one bad domino after another falls before him he grows further and further away from a believable character we can relate to, and therein lay the film’s biggest issue. Things become a bit too outrageous and Maguire’s dueling expressions of surprise and bemusement aren’t enough to carry viewers along.

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The Details trailer

Though Mean Creek director Jacob Aaron Estes’ latest project, The Details, debuted all the way back at Sundance 2011, it’s just finally gearing up for a real theatrical release come November 2. Why has it sat on the shelf for so long? Maybe it’s just because the idea of watching Spider-Man act like a jerk for a couple of hours is something of a hard sell. From the looks of the film’s new trailer, The Details is a character drama that sees Tobey Maguire cheating on his wife, banging Ray Liotta’s wife, getting another woman pregnant, contemplating murder, toilet training raccoons, appreciating latte art, chatting with Kerry Washington, chatting with Dennis Haysbert, and trying out religion. Okay, so maybe there isn’t anything wrong with those last few things, but the first couple are pretty bad. Is this going to be the sort of lead character who audiences can relate to?

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After The King’s Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture and got multiple theatrical releases, it was always just a matter of time before Hollywood tried to capitalize on its success by releasing a whole slate of King George VI movies. So here we are, getting the release of the trailer for the first of these films, Hyde Park on Hudson. It’s not quite as exciting as the inevitable news that King George will be joining The Avengers in the summer of 2014, but for now it will have to do. Seriously though, all joking about King George showing up on the cover of “Tiger Beat” aside, everyone is actually looking forward to Hyde Park on Hudson for one reason: the chance to see Bill Murray play Franklin Roosevelt. So, how does he do? From what we can tell from this first look at the film, it seems like he does wonderfully. He’s not quite doing an F.D.R. impression, but he’s not just being Bill Murray either. Most importantly, it seems as if Murray’s version of Roosevelt is a charismatic troublemaker – something of a Woody Woodpecker archetype – who’s not just being portrayed as a historical figure and a powerful man, but instead as a multi-faceted individual with his own quirks, hang-ups, and small pleasures. Quite simply, it appears as if getting the chance to watch Murray live in the skin of this character for a couple of hours is going to be a terribly entertaining experience.

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The above image of Billy Murray chomping his cigarette filter behind the wheel of an antique comes courtesy of Hyde Park on Hudson (and an interview USA Today did with director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Morning Glory). It’s a striking resemblance that almost makes him look like Franklin Delano Roosevelt by way of Kevin Kline. This is the kind of prestige role that comes in the twilight of a career, but Michell isn’t yet known for crafting Oscar-worthy content. Maybe this is the film that will turn that around, maybe it will earn Murray some Academy recognition, or maybe it’ll just be a fun gambol through an odd culture-clashing, affair-while-President moment in our country’s fair history.

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Sympathy for Delicious is Mark Ruffalo‘s directorial debut. It explores themes of faith, selfishness, and also artistic integrity. It chronicles the story of a man, Dean (screenwriter Christopher Thornton), who discovers he has the gift to heal others. Ultimately, he selfishly uses this gift to his profit alone. He’s a sellout. Instead of doing something bold and wonderful, he does the opposite. One could apply that idea to many actors working who don’t act under the purest of intentions. Some see it as a business and some see it as an art form, and Mark Ruffalo falls into the latter category. Ruffalo reminded me quite a bit of his character Paul from The Kids Are All Right. He didn’t come off as an oblivious hipster, but one of those rare people — mainly, actors — that seemed completely comfortable in his own skin. Even over the phone, there was a laid back and open quality to him that set a smooth and easygoing tone for the conversation. The actor/director was nice enough to make the time for an interview while on the set of another one of his little ensemble indies, The Avengers, and we discussed at length the challenge of keeping artistic integrity in a business, the themes of Sympathy for Delicious, finding realism in take 100, and even Michel Gondry.

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contest-savages

Your chance to win a free copy of The Savages

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Laura Linney talks about her upcoming role in the HBO miniseries about John Adams.

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Say what you want about Oscar politics, all these ladies have some serious game.

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Some may remember that Tamara Jenkins first got acclaim with her last film The Slums of Beverly Hills in 1998. The Savages could not be a more different movie-but they are both fantastic.

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