Olivia Wilde

The Longest Week

Looking at Jason Bateman‘s filmography over the past five years, there’s a mix of comedies, ranging in quality and style, but he plays an everyman in just about all of them. It seems as if he hit his stride with Arrested Development, and he’s been cast as the non-threatening, generally handsome but relatable, nice guy about to boil over ever since. It’s a role in which Bateman definitely excels, often bringing subtleties to each similar-feeling character. That isn’t the case in The Longest Week. Bateman stars in Peter Glanz‘s film as Conrad Valmont, an adult child whose affluent, loveless upbringing has turned him into a self-obsessed, womanizing pseudo-intellectual. When he’s kicked out of his family’s Manhattan Hotel, he’s forced to stay with his only friend, Dylan (Billy Crudup), who’s similarly full of himself but more addicted to monogamy. The two have competed through the entirety of their friendship, and now they’re fighting over the affections of Beatrice (Olivia Wilde), a model who enters their lives in standard rom-com stride.

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Better Living Through Chemistry

Despite what Better Living Through Chemistry will try to tell you, Douglas Varney’s life isn’t all that hard. Played by Sam Rockwell, Doug’s biggest issues are an asshole father-in-law, an emasculating wife, a son who’s acting out and a general inability and/or lack of desire to do anything about it. Nonetheless, life’s pretty tough for ol’ Doug, and when his lazy teenage employee (Ben Schwartz) ditches work, Doug is stuck delivering prescriptions from the pharmacy he owns. One of those prescriptions happens to be for an Elizabeth Roberts (Olivia Wilde) a lovely woman who seems not to have a care in the world. Doug falls for her and they start sleeping together despite both being married to other people, and she introduces him to the wonders of prescription drugs. Soon he’s making his own drug cocktails for the two of them to take, and the chemicals help him adopt her laissez-faire attitude toward life. This leads to many things that he should have done long ago, like standing up to his father-in-law and his wife and finally talking to his son and spending some quality with him. But when a DEA agent starts poking around the pharmacy, Doug’s new found freedom may well be at risk.

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chemistry

Whenever it’s announced that America’s sweetheart Sam Rockwell is going to be appearing in a new movie, there’s always one important question that immediately springs into any sane mind: “Is he going to get a chance to show off his sweet dance moves in this one?” Well, whoever cut together the trailer for Rockwell’s latest starring vehicle, Better Living Through Chemistry, was wise enough to help advertise the film by answering that all-important question, and the answer is yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We’ve got another movie where Rockwell shakes his booty on our hands, and it is glorious. Okay, that’s not entirely the truth. We only get a brief enough glimpse of moves being busted out to confirm the dancing, but we can assume that it’s going to be glorious. Past evidence supports it. Click through to see the proof for yourself, as well as a bunch of stuff involving Jean Ralphio being irresponsible, Olivia Wilde having loose morals, and—what the heck—let’s throw in a mega-cut of a bunch of scenes where Rockwell has danced in the past for your efforts.

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Love in the Modern Age Short Film

Why Watch? Sharing your life with somebody. Science fiction aside, that’s what Spike Jonze’s Her is all about, and in this talking head doc, creatives like Marc Maron, Charlene Yi and Olivia Wilde answer the difficult question of how we view love in a world with smart phones in hand. Her: Love in the Modern Age is a fantastic, thought-provoking short film, but it’s also the kind of thing that should be made for dozens of movies every year — responses that replace the lobby and end up online to create an even larger conversation. Ultimately, it’s such a gargantuan concept that every entry here feels like a grain of sand trying to describe the beach, and that provides an intrinsic element of frustration. You might find yourself irritated with or angry at some of the conclusions that these people come to about love, but its those differences that propel and reveal the labyrinthine complexity of something that is boiled down to chemicals and placed on a pedestal above all others. Funny how a conversation about love ends up creating an open door to human frailty and failing.

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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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Rush

Ron Howard is kind of an everyman’s director. He isn’t above his audience, knows exactly what they want, and generally gives it to them without pandering. Sometimes the end product doesn’t workout — see The Dilemma or the Robert Langdon movies to learn that the hard way — but when it does, the final film can be quite special, especially if Howard really has something to say. With Rush, he definitely does. It’s easy to see why Howard was attracted to the characters at the center of Rush including competing Formula 1 drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The film raises questions every filmmaker must grapple with: What is success? How do you overcome failure? And how can one bring personality and passion to a business? The balance of art and commerce is something Howard’s dramas — Cinderella Man, Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, and A Beautiful Mind — have achieved in the past, and so does Rush.

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Drinking Buddies

Editor’s Note: This review was originally part of our SXSW coverage, but Drinking Buddies is in theaters this weekend so stop messing around and go see it. Joe Swanberg is one of a group of filmmakers who made their mark with movies that relied on improvisation more than script, 20 something ennui more than narrative and friends more than professional actors. This model works for some viewers, but it’s not designed to ever really appeal to the wider audiences. His latest film, Drinking Buddies, keeps the improv method, but it still manages to tell a cohesive and truly affecting story. A big reason for that is a cast of extremely talented actors with wicked good comedic timing in the lead roles. The four performers, along with a more assured Swanberg directing and editing, have crafted a story about heartbreak, temptation and friendship.

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Drinking Buddies

Do you like fun things? Things like beer and love and friendship and mostly improvised movies? Or even fun people? Fun people like Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston? Would you like to see all of those things and people together in one of SXSW’s biggest hits from earlier this year? Good, you can do that quite soon. Until then, here is a poster. Refreshing! Drinking Buddies will be available on VOD on July 25th, with a theatrical release following on August 23rd. [EW]

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pacino

What is Casting Couch? It’s one stop shopping when it comes to casting news. It’s even better than shopping though, because it’s free. Today you can pay no money to find out what Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass are teaming up on, as well as what Bill Hader’s first post-SNL gig might be. It looks like David Gordon Green’s turn back toward directing more dramatic movies again is starting to stick. THR is reporting that his next project is going to be a drama called Mangelhorn that’s about an eccentric man who’s trying to come to terms with the fact that a past crime has cost him the love of his life. More than that though, Mangelhorn is a drama that’s going to be employing one of the most celebrated dramatic actors of all time, because the trade’s report also says that Al Pacino has been attached to the lead role. Hopefully this will wash the taste of Dunkaccino and Your Highness out of all our mouths.

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Rush

Okay, Ron Howard, this will do just fine. For his first post-The Dilemma directorial outing, Howard has returned to his dramatic roots with another true life story that should fit in quite nicely alongside Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon. Howard’s Rush centers on one of sport’s greatest rivalries and one of the most wrenching comebacks in the history of athletics. The fact-based film stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, respectively. Hunt and Lauda were long-standing rivals on the F1 circuit, a rivalry that was both shaken and reinforced by Lauda’s 1976 crash that left him with extensive facial burns, damage to his lungs and blood, and in a weeks-long coma. Despite the heavy Hemsworth presence in this trailer, Rush is ostensibly focused primarily on Lauda’s life and his amazing comeback, with that action framed up against his rivalry with Hunt. Only six weeks after his horrific accident, Lauda returned to racing with an intent to beat Hunt and win the F1 title (one determined by a point system). The first trailer for Rush looks absolutely stunning, and if the final film lives up to this new bit of marketing, we’re in for one hell of a treat. Not sold yet? Did we mention that Olivia Wilde co-stars? Buckle up and check out the first trailer for Rush after the break.

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Drinking Buddies

The positive buzz surrounding Joe Swanberg‘s SXSW Film Festival premiere, Drinking Buddies, was heady enough to carry over throughout the 89-day (almost) festival, so it was quite surprising that the filmmaker’s latest had not found a home by the time the fest ended this past weekend. No matter, however, as the Olivia Wilde- and Jake Johnson-starrer has lined up a big deal that will put the favorite into theaters nationwide by the year’s end, as Magnola Pictures has just picked up North American rights to the comedy. The film “follows the lives of Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) who work together at a craft brewery. They have one of those friendships that feels like it could be something more. But Kate is with Chris (Ron Livingston), and Luke is with Jill (Anna Kendrick). And Jill wants to know if Luke is ready to talk about marriage. The answer to that question becomes crystal clear when Luke and Kate unexpectedly find themselves alone for a weekend.” Uh oh.

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review incredible burt wonderstone

Do you remember how old you were when you saw and were amazed by a great magician (live or on TV) for the very first time? Of course you don’t. As with Creme de Menthe and handjobs, the awe surrounding your first exposure to the world of magic quickly fades when you realize that the reality behind the promised wonder is far less exciting than you thought. That and there are far better alternatives, too. But movies about magic are a different beast all together. Not only can they use additional trickery like editing and special effects to impress viewers, they can also add a narrative that explores the power of illusion in our lives. Think The Prestige, where ambition leads to an illusory success. Think Penn & Teller Get Killed, where illusions are used to comment on societal gullibility. Or, as in the case of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, magic can be used as an inconsequential backdrop for mediocre comedy.

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Deadfall

Deadfall is a prime example of a film losing steam too quickly, making it an exceedingly weak and limp effort from The Counterfeiters director Stefan Ruzowitzky. What starts off as a promising, chilly crime yarn turns out to be another generic thriller, always hitting the beats we expect. The structure is in place to make for a decent B-movie, but Ruzowitzky deflates almost every scene with standard, by-the-book flat filmmaking. How formulaic is it? This formulaic: Jay (Charlie Hunnam) has just been released from prison. Don’t worry, though, he’s really a (mildly) innocent man. He also isn’t your “average criminal,” because most criminals don’t happen to be former Olympian boxers. Who live by the border of Canada. Who get tangled up in some bad (read: nearly wacky) situations. It’s  just a real shame for Jay that two casino-robbing siblings, Addison (Eric Bana) and Liz (Olivia Wilde), attempt to take advantage of him and his family on Thanksgiving. Their plan heats up, though, once Liza and Jay start to feel something for one another. Obviously, nothing new going on there. What is missing to make it work is any sense of investment from Ruzowitzky. He takes joy in constructing some of the film’s action, but when it comes to Hunnam’s character, his dopey love story, and his conflict with his parents, Ruzowitzky appears more bored with it all than we are.

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Frank Grillo

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s the way to get news regarding all of those upcoming super hero sequels. Tomorrow it might be something else. Though we’ve still yet to have the pleasure of taking in the first two installments of Marvel’s super hero movie Phase II, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is already coming up in 2014, so it’s probably about time we started hearing some casting news. And, wouldn’t you know it, Variety brings us just that. Not only has the trade revealed that End of Watch, The Grey, and Warrior star Frank Grillo will be joining the cast as the Red Skull’s brutal henchman Crossbones, but they also have news that some familiar SHIELD faces from The Avengers will be showing back up in Cap’s second solo adventure. More specifically, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders’ Agent Maria Hill, and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff will all be coming back. You remember them, right?

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Rob Corddry in Butter

Jim Field Smith’s Butter has been sitting on the shelf for some time now. The film had a secret premiere at Telluride last year (over a year ago), where it was met with a fairly positive response. Now, as it’s finally coming out on VOD and in theaters, it’s being greeted with more of a decidedly mixed response. Whether you come out liking Butter or not, you will, at the very least, come away impressed by Rob Corddry. Here we see Corddry playing the straight man role, something we’re not all that used to from him. Along with Hugh Jackman, he steals the film. With the film’s theatrical release today, we’ve been given an exclusive character poster featuring Corddry himself. Check out Corddry’s innocent, childlike grin after the jump:

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Jennifer Garner in Butter

Editor’s note: With Butter finally hitting theaters tomorrow, here’s a re-run of our AFI FEST review, originally published on November 8, 2011, to spread all over your movie theater popcorn. Jim Field Smith’s Butter has been packaged and sold as its own consumable commodity – as some sort of smart, politically-minded satire. Butter is certainly funny in spats, but smart satire it is not, as there are no hard lessons taught or learned within the film. It may be too easy to say that Butter goes soft by its end – but the wording works here, both in terms of a mildly clever food pun and as an actual critique of how the film flip-flops with its tone and message before settling on an easy conclusion. The world of competitive butter-carving is hilarious and bizarre, a fine setting for a straight comedy that culminates with a character incredulously summing up its ridiculousness – “you put it on toast!” – but everything in Smith’s film is just too obvious to transcend basic laughs.

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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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Siri

We’ve been following along with the development of Spike Jonze’s next project for a while now, and with good reason. For one, it’s a new Spike Jonze movie, and that should be enough to get film geek blood pumping on its own. But when you factor in the cast that he’s compiled, which includes names like Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, Samantha Morton, and Olivia Wilde, well, it doesn’t take long before the anticipation hits a boiling point. There is one cloud of uncertainty that’s been hanging over the project’s head ever since it got announced, however, and that’s the fact that it has been sold as being a story about a man who falls in love with Siri. Yeah, the iPhone thing.

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Jennifer Garner in Butter

What exactly is Butter? Is it a mock-heroic portrayal of a small town woman’s overblown political aspirations? A domestic story about a man addicted to strip clubs? An inspirational tale about a hard-luck orphan discovering talent and motivation? From what can be discerned by watching its new trailer, Butter would appear to be all of these things. And it would also appear to be a semi-comedic look at the world of competitive butter carving (which is a real thing, and totally worth a Google). At first glance all of that seems likely to be, both figuratively and literally, pretty messy. Can one movie pull off packing in this many disparate plot threads without losing focus and collapsing under its own weight? And are we really expected to watch a comedy about people carving butter that isn’t being brought to the screen by Christopher Guest and his usual cast of players? No, under most circumstances Butter wouldn’t look like a movie worth giving a chance at all – but just look at that laundry list of great people involved.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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