Steve Buscemi

fargotruth-1

Let’s paint a dark picture: You’ve finally snapped and committed the heinous act of murder. The problem is that you let it happen without properly planning things out. Now, you have this nasty little human corpse lying around. How do you get rid of it? Movies and literature have offered clever ways to get rid of dead bodies for years. In Luc Besson’s Nikita, Victor “The Cleaner” (Jean Reno) uses acid to dissolve bodies in a tub. In Psycho, Norman Bates mummifies his mother and keeps her around for posterity’s sake. And in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) feeds Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) to a woodchipper. Since concentrated acid is hard to come by (right, Mr. White?), and none of us at FSR have very good taxidermy skills, we got to wondering: Is a woodchipper an effective way to dispose of a body?

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grownups2-05

I haven’t seen the first Grown Ups. I never had the desire to. But I took the bullet for the team and saw Grown Ups 2 anyway. Nobody else had the desire to. I understand the stigma here. If you know you don’t like Adam Sandler and Co., you probably won’t like this one. You likely didn’t see the original either. But many did. At $271m, it’s the highest grossing movie worldwide for both Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison. That doesn’t mean people liked it (gross doesn’t actually account for taste), but they made a sequel regardless. And I know at least some people liked this one. At the screening I attended, mostly including non-press, there was a fairly continuous roar of laughter. As for me, all I can say is I didn’t dislike it. It astounded me too much with its nonsense, and it’s not nearly as offensive as I’d anticipated. So I have no real issue with it. I might have even smiled once or twice at something ridiculous. This is a movie that opens with Sandler’s character, Lenny, waking up to the sight of a big buck deer staring back at him in his bedroom. His wife (Salma Hayek) sees it, screams and the animal rears and then pisses in Sandler’s face. They chase it around the house, it eats the dog’s food, pisses again on Lenny’s showering/masturbating teen son and then finally exits through the front door, which had been left open all night. […]

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medora locker room

Small things matter in Medora, Indiana. It’s the kind of town where “enormous” only really applies to people’s pride, especially in the minimal size of their community, schools and achievements. But to them it’s relative. What may seem like small victories are really great ones. And no part of Medora is more illustrative of this than the high school basketball team, which is the absolute worst in a state famous for the sport. When — if — they ever win, it’s almost the equivalent of being named national champions. Medora, a gripping and thoughtful documentary about this place produced by actors Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, focuses on a single season with the Hornets, who in the previous year went 0-22. But it’s really about the endangered small towns having big trouble surviving in modern America, and not just because of the recent economic downtick. Factories have been gone, farms have been struggling and funding for public education institutions have been dwindling by the school year.

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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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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

If there’s anything that The Incredible Burt Wonderstone has going for it that makes it look really exciting, it’s that it offers us up the opportunity to watch Jim Carrey getting completely off the wall with character work for the first time in forever. In recent years we’ve seen his attempts to do dramatic work, we’ve seen his attempts to star in corporate, family films, but none of these efforts have been able to touch the manic energy of his first few projects—the goofy shit like Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber that people fell in love with, and that made him a star. From the looks of this trailer for Burt Wonderstone, it seems like his work as a douchey, Criss Angel lookalike here might be the first taste of classic Jim Carrey we’ve gotten in a long time.

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On the Road Movie

Editor’s note: On the Road cruises into limited release this Friday, so put your brains into gear and enjoy this re-run of our Cannes review, originally published on May 23, 2012. Some books demand adaptation, offering immediate and easily translatable promise as film projects, whether that is thanks to the power of the plot, or characters or certain ideas that would lead to a looser adaptation. Jack Kerouac‘s seminal “On The Road” is not one of those books – like the work of James Joyce, the book is explicitly literary, its content inherently bound by its form and its author so fundamentally a writer before a storyteller that many, including myself, believed it to be unadaptable. In that context, the presence of Walter Salles‘ adaptation, imaginatively called On The Road, on the In Competition list here always stood out as an intriguing prospect. How would the director who made that other road movie The Motorcycle Diaries cope with the very specific problem of adapting something that is so explicitly literary? The answer, unfortunately, is not well. For a tale which so obviously values hedonism and free expression, On The Road is ultimately joyless and unengaging, and for a self-discovering road movie to fudge the journey so much and lose almost all lasting meaning is downright criminal.

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Burt Wonderstone

First looks at films by way of photographic stills tend to be dry affairs that are nearly always impossible to contextualize (“look, there is someone standing there, next to someone else, can’t wait for this movie!”), but every so often, they prove to be actually exciting little bits of marketing. Like this first look at The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and apparently an old school Glamour Shots studio. This photo is glorious, and it’s the first thing that’s gotten me genuinely excited for the film, which stars Carell and Buscemi as Las Vegas’ most successful magician duo, a duo who are threatened by their imploding friendship and Jim Carrey‘s rising star rival magician. Check out the second still after the break, but be warned, it contains none of the majesty of that one up top (though Carrey does appear in this one, looking a lot like Cris Angel).

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Channel Guide - Large

This season, the most consistently compelling part of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire has been its opening title sequence. (Impossibly cool Steve Buscemi smoking a cigarette on the beach as the clouds morph above him, empty bottles of booze float onto the shore, and Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Straight Up and Down” plays over the scene—it’s gorgeous.) Humdrum episode after humdrum episode, I’m left asking, “Why am I still watching this show? What kind of unholy power does it have over me?” Boardwalk Empire has never moved at a terribly fast pace. It’s about 1920s bootlegging and all of the politicking and scheming that comes with that, which gives most of the scenes between Atlantic City top dog Nucky Thompson (Buscemi) and his co-conspirators an expository quality—the show revolves around characters brokering shady deals or, as is the case with the current third season, discussing the Volstead Act ad nauseam. But there are also unexpected deaths, unlikely dalliances, and, of course, there’s delightful gangster drama. These flashier story elements in combination with the fact that patience is usually rewarded (sometimes with a character being scalped, other times, simply, with smart writing) make the slow pacing bearable. But we’re now nine episodes into the third season and Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden—one of the most complex, tortured, and surprising characters on the show—is hardly ever present and any time some glimmer of excitement pops up, it’s quickly stomped out.

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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This Tuesday is the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Reservoir Dogs, the film that not only put Quentin Tarantino on the map as an era-defining filmmaker but also gave the 3rd wave ska scene its own Phenix City Story (or Guns of Navarone or Dr. No or Scarface). Never mind the movie’s immediate legacy, though, because two decades later the story of “five total strangers” who “team up for the perfect crime” has outlasted the oddly inaccurate marketing (i.e. those lines from the posters, which also feature Chris Penn in a suit), the many copycats, the ska album samplings and even the overshadowing success and popularity of Pulp Fiction as the director’s big breakthrough to remain a significant pioneer and classic of American independent cinema. During its run in U.S. cinemas, which followed a debut at Sundance and appearances at Cannes and Toronto, not to mention earlier openings in parts of Europe, Reservoir Dogs never played on more than 61 screens, yet it earned close to $3 million. I’m certain it never hit my town in the suburbs, but I recall the first time ever hearing about it via a drawing of an ear in Entertainment Weekly illustrating a short note about the famously violent scene (my memory of this could be slightly off). And like so many of the film’s fans, I didn’t see it until the video came out the following Spring, at which time the torture bit became just one of numerous memorable moments. In […]

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Over Under - Large

Sidney Lumet’s 1975 tale of a bank robbery gone bad, Dog Day Afternoon, is not only considered to be a high point in the careers of both its director as well as its star, Al Pacino, it’s also considered to be one of the key films that was a part of the New Hollywood movement, which started in the late ’60s and continued through to the blockbusters of the 80s. New Hollywood was all about a generation of filmmakers making films that were artsier, grittier, and more experimental than most commercial fare, all from within the confines of the studio system. But while Dog Day Afternoon and its tale of cross-dressing and violent crimes certainly looks at home under that classification, is it really good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as stuff like Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, or Mean Streets? The early ’90s saw one of the biggest boom periods in the history of sketch comedy mainstay Saturday Night Live. Cast members like Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley led the show to probably its most critically successful period since the original cast, and pretty much everyone on the show went on to become a star in film. Out of all of these talented comedians, however, none became quite as successful as Sandler. After starring in Billy Madison in 1995, he was off to the races, earning big paychecks, pulling in big box office dollars, and gobbling up media attention. Some of his […]

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Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania is an unrestrained, unabashed kids movie. Even with all the classic monsters involved, director Genndy Tartakovsky has no interest in joining this year’s ParaNorman in being unafraid to scare a few kids. Surprisingly, that happens to be Hotel Transylvania‘s most charming trait. As the classic mythology goes, Dracula (Adam Sandler) runs a high-end, invisible hotel for all his fellow monster buddies, from “Frankenstein” to the invisible man. It’s not exactly a business venture, though, as it was mainly created to keep his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), safe from the world of humans. Now, turning 118 years old, Mavis is coming of age and wants to explore the world, and Dracula will do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen. With all the talk of humans, it’s no surprise one of them, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), actually turns up to both drive Dracula mad and fall in love with his daughter.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Billy Madison (1995) The Plot: Billy Madison (Adam Sandler), is an idiot, a slacker, and heir to a grand chain of hotels. With his father eyeing retirement, Billy expects to be next in line to take over the company, but the weasel Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford) raises some legitimate doubts about Billy’s mental capacities. To prove to his father that he’s capable of taking over the family business, Billy must complete grades 1-12 and graduate High School on an accelerated time table.

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Word on the street is that Oren Moverman‘s Rampart is pretty damned good. It stars Woody Harrelson as an LAPD cop in the wake of the Rampart scandal in the 1990s. It also features Ice Cube, who doesn’t at all still represent the LA of the early 1990s. The thing is, even if the movie were terrible, this poster would still be awesome. It looks absolutely stunning, and we’re giving one away. Plus, one (1) lucky winner will get a Harrelson-signed script to go with their new wall art. How do you enter? Excellent rhetorical question! Here’s how:

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Over Under - Large

When writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman teamed up on the 2007 film, Juno, the responses were mixed. Some people liked it quite a bit, not just because it was clever and quippy, but also because it presented a realistic, affecting look at the inherent drama of teenage pregnancy. Other people thought that it was painfully self-conscious in its hipness and insufferably annoying in its quirk, so they raged against any praise that came its way. Their next team-up, Young Adult, was different though. Not only did this look at a washed-up YA author traveling back to her home town in order to break up her high school sweetheart’s marriage do well with Juno fans, it did quite well with those who couldn’t stand Cody’s writing up to that point, as well. Charlize Theron’s painfully honest protagonist and Patton Oswalt’s achingly tragic supporting character really hit home for most. On the other end of the spectrum, the 2005 film Lonesome Jim doesn’t get very many mentions in a very many circles. On a couple levels, that makes sense. It’s a micro-budget indie that doesn’t provide any spectacle and didn’t get much promotion, and it was only seen on a handful of screens during its theatrical release. On the other hand, there are several reasons why you’d think this movie would have gotten more play over time. It’s one of the few films directed by Steve Buscemi, who everybody seems to love, it’s got great lead performances by Casey Affleck […]

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Seeing as he’s largely built his entire career on doing stupid voices, it’s kind of strange that Adam Sandler hasn’t done more voice work. It seems like working in animation would work well with his approach to acting, which basically consists of showing up on set wearing shorts and a hoodie, and then looking into the camera and yelling something like “gobbledy-goo!” Give the man something more appealing to work with than 8 Crazy Nights, and animated movies could be the perfect way to utilize his talents. It’s probably too early to go jumping to conclusions, but the new trailer for Hotel Transylvania shows some indication that this might be that material. The big thing that Hotel Transylvania has going for it is that it was directed by the great Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars), and if this new ad is any indication, that’s going to translate into a lot of impressive visuals and attention to detail. The Gothic scenery here is certainly more pleasant to look at than the wall-to-wall product placement that we get in most Sandler movies, so that’s going to put this head and shoulders above something like Just Go With It right out of the gate. And somehow, hearing Sandler do a goofy Dracula voice alongside animated visuals is so much easier to digest than hearing him do a goofy lady voice while dressed in drag was in Jack & Jill.

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It seems that when it comes to tales of good and evil – we often see anything besides good winning and evil losing as some kind of a cop out. Like… we’d rather see the villain fall to their death or be eaten by hyenas than learn the error of their ways -something that’s more than evident in Disney films, which have featured both killer hyenas and high places. But, you know – when a bad guy ultimately turns good, if done right, it’s way better to watch. More often than not they still usually end up dying horrible, so there’s that too, but at least they die good. There’s probably going to be a lot of spoilers below.

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Only mere hours ago, I watched Oren Moverman‘s Rampart. It’s much, much different from his fantastic 2008 directorial debut, The Messenger. Since I’ve only seen the film so recently, I’m not 100% comfortable discussing it at length. It’s a film that needs time…but I can say that this trailer is not the best representation of Moverman’s meditative drama. There is no hard rock music in the movie, it’s not fast paced, and the film is not as clichéd as the trailer suggests. If this trailer gets anything across right, it’s all the hints at how great Woody Harrelson is as Dave Brown. Harrelson fills a through-and-through bastard with a surprising amount of humanity, and even a little bit of uncomfortable empathy. It’s a powerful performance. But does Harrelson really look like the most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen? You be the judge:

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For a while there, whenever somebody talked about the upcoming comedy about dueling magicians, Burt Wonderstone, it was often just viewed as the next starring vehicle for Steve Carell. He’s long been attached to the lead role of an aging illusionist whose less than fresh magic act has lost its steam. The questions of who would play the flashier, younger magician who takes his place in the hearts and minds of magic fans, or who some of the other characters would be, never seemed to get much attention. But once the movie got a director and another re-write, it became time to start filling out the rest of the cast. And they’ve been doing a pretty bang-up job so far. Big names like Jim Carrey and James Gandolfini have been mentioned as negotiating for the film, and at this point are assumed to be on board. Carrey will play the flashier magician to Carell’s outdated dud, and Gandolfini is said to be playing a casino owner. And now, joining those names are a couple more actors that you might have heard of: sex symbols Olivia Wilde and Steve Buscemi. Wilde is negotiating to play the role of Carell’s love interest (yeah, right!), a magician’s assistant who bounces back and forth between his character and Carrey’s. And Buscemi is negotiating to play Carell’s long-time partner, who ends up quitting the act.

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Normally, when I hear that either Adam Sandler or Kevin James has a new movie coming out, I wince in anticipation of it. Kind of like when you know you’re about to get hit by a baseball. I didn’t quite have this reaction to the news that they’ve signed on to Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania, however, and there are a couple reasons for that. The first reason is that the new film is set to be directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who has done some great TV work with Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Dexter’s Laboratory. Everything I’ve seen from Tartakovsky has been slick, stylish, and interesting. I’m excited at the prospect of what he might come up with when jumping from small screen to big, and Sandler and James’ recent track records aren’t enough to deter me from seeing this one.

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