The Spider-Man movies don’t skimp on the stuff that puts the “super” into superhero movies. There’s web-slinging shenanigans and wild bad guys galore, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb calls the relationship between Spidey and girlfriend Gwen Stacy, “the engine of the movie.”
The chemistry the real-life couple brings to the screen is undeniable, but it almost didn’t get a chance to blossom. Before Emma Stone landed the role of the brainiac love interest, Mia Wasikowska, Imogen Poots, Emma Roberts and even Lindsay Lohan were considered.
Stone won some of the best reviews of her career playing Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man — Peter Travers said she, “just jumps to life on screen” — in a role that gave her the biggest hit of her career to date.
Smaller roles in Superbad and Zombieland hinted at her ability to be funny and hold the screen, but in 2010’s Easy A she turned a corner into full-on Lucille Ball mode, mixing pratfalls with wit while pulling faces and cracking jokes. Smart and funny, she’s the film’s centrepiece.
The movie begins with the voice over, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s the voice of Olive (Stone), a clean-cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. As soon as the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, however, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class — The Scarlet Letter.
Stone is laugh-out-loud funny in Easy A, but her breakout film was a serious drama.
In The Help, she plays Jackson, Miss. native “Skeeter” Phelan who comes home from four years at school to discover the woman who raised her, a maid named Constantine (Cicely Tyson), is no longer employed by her family. Her mother says she quit, but Skeeter has doubts. With the help of a courageous group of housekeepers she tells the real story of the life of the maids, writing a book called The Help.
The Flick Filosopher called her performance, “on fire with indignation and rage,” and she moved from The Help to a variety of roles, including playing a femme fatale in Gangster Squad opposite Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, and lending her trademark raspy voice to cave girl Eep in the animated hit The Croods.
The 25-year-old actress is living her childhood dream of being an actress but says if performing hadn’t worked out, she would have been a journalist, “because (investigating people’s lives is) pretty much what an actor does.
“And imagine getting to interview people like me,” she laughs. ‘’It can’t get much better than that.”
“Super Duper Alice Cooper” is an authorized biography of one of the biggest rock stars of the 1970s.
Perhaps it’s a bit too authorized.
Fans will love seeing the concert footage, rare archival tape and the inventively presented visuals—old photos spring to life—and hearing the story as told by Alice and Cooper regulars like Denis Dunaway and manager Shep Gordon, but there’s little here that hasn’t been reported elsewhere.
Most interesting is the film’s attention in Cooper’s early years in Phoenix, playing in bands like Beatles’ wannabes The Earwigs and then The Spiders. It’s the most engaging part of the film and filmmakers Sam Dunn and Reginald Harkema wisely take their time detailing how Vincent Furnier, a preacher’s son from Arizona, morphed into a chicken killing rock star who found fame under the name of an seventeenth century witch.
Once Cooper and band hit the big time, however, the details get a little sketchier. Their second album, “Easy Action,” is not even mentioned. Ditto “Killer,” a 1971 platinum album. The doc—or “doc opera” as the filmmakers are pitching it—does have some good warts-and-all information on the years Cooper lost to drugs and alcohol, and an interesting take on how Alice came left the original band to strike out on his own.
It’s here the doc falters. Instead of an insider’s look at what happens when a band falls apart we are given a version that feels a bit too managed. Perhaps time has healed some old wounds but original members Neal Smith and Dennis Dunaway, who were stripped of their rock star status as soon as Alice split, don’t dish any dirt. Instead they provide what feels like an authorized version of events. Some grit here would have given “Super Duper Alice Cooper” more of an edge.
As it is, however, the movie is a fan friendly pastiche of images, sounds and info on one of the most outrageous rock ‘n’ roll acts ever.
“For the past nine years, Reel Canada has been introducing young people and new Canadians to great Canadian films and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Jack Blum, executive director of Reel Canada.
This year on Tuesday, April 29, the Can-con boosters are kicking their outreach up a notch with the establishment of National Canadian Film Day.
“We thought it would be great for one day a year to extend that invitation to all Canadians,” Blum says. “We just believe that if we can overcome the ‘awareness’ barrier created by the huge promotional budgets Hollywood commands for its product, that people will embrace our fantastic legacy of great cinema.”
To help celebrate the inaugural National Canadian Film Day, Cineplex has donated screens to show a variety of homegrown films, including the festival hit C.R.A.Z.Y. and Paul Gross’s Passchendaele. The Reel Canada website boasts that great Canadian films will be “available in more communities on a single day than ever before in our nation’s history.”
“There are screenings happening all over the country,” says Blum, “literally in every province and territory as well as online and on TV. Of course, if you’re in Toronto, the place to be is the Royal on College, where Bruce McDonald and Don McKellar will be presenting Highway 61 and Last Night.”
Blum waves the flag when discussing the importance of exposure to Canadian films. “Canadian movies reflect Canadian experience. Period. When people see themselves and their world depicted on screen it gives them a stronger sense of where they live and what community or communities they belong to.”’
“The Other Woman,” a new madcap comedy from “The Notebook” director Nick Cassavetes, features a character who tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights. There have been philanderers on film before, but rarely has one cinematic cheater spread himself so thin, carrying on simultaneously with Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton.
That man, Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is cheating on his wife (Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Diaz and Upton).
“We got played by the same guy,” says Carly. “I call it a tie.”
The three women form an unlikely bond—“We are the weirdest friends ever,” says Carly—drowning their sorrows in a sea of tequila shots before hatching a plan to humiliate and financially ruin the three timer. “The three of us can be just as shady as he can.”
With “The Notebook” Cassavetes made one of the most romantic movies of recent years. With “The Other Woman” the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. This is an anti-romance flick about sex, lies and adultery but it is ripe with laughs and some fun performances.
Mann goes all in as a Lucille Ball-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown type, Diaz has great comic timing and even the voluptuous Kate “She’s a clichéd version of every wife’s nightmare” Upton, who will never be confused with Meryl Streep, is charming and funny. Singer Nicki Minaj, who darts in and out of the film in an extended cameo, manages to get a couple of zingers in there as well.
Coster-Waldau doesn’t fare as well. He’s fine as the oily Casanova but is more “Game of Thrones” (he’s Jaime Lannister on the HBO show) when it comes to playing comedy. In other words he’s better at sword swinging than slapstick.
The film is slightly mean spirited and not terribly subtle in its examination of the dynamics between men and women, or in its soundtrack. The “Mission Impossible” theme blares over a scene where Diaz and Mann spy on Coster-Waldau, and you can bet your bottom dollar “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” will play at some point.
It may not be refined but it does get the girl power stuff right, and that’s more the point of the film. This isn’t a movie about the men, they are flesh props, simply the McGuffins that forward the plot. This is a movie about female bonding rather than female blaming and on that level it scores. The comedy material is often elevated and enhanced by the performer’s skill, but the film has its (broken) heart in the right place.
“The Other Woman” is a chick flick that isn’t “Bridemaids” funny, but you will laugh out loud quite a few times.
Paul Walker’s untimely death in November of last year cut short a fast and furious career. The handsome leading man specialized in high-octane movies that often valued action over story. The “Fast and Furious” films made him a star and defined his testosterone-steeped genre. His new film, “Brick Mansion” is another pedal-to-the-metal actioner that could easily have been titled “The Fast and the Frenetic.”
Based on a ten-year-old French movie called “District 13,” this time around the story is set in Detroit just a few years from now. The film largely takes place inside a walled off, run down neighborhood called Brick Mansions. The bankrupt city has abandoned the area, leaving it to Tremaine (RZA), a drug lord who rules his mini kingdom with an iron fist. When he comes in control of a neutron bomb, undercover cop Damien Collier (Walker) is teamed with anti-drug crusader and parkour expert Lino (David Belle) to find the bomb and Tremaine in just ten hours.
“Brick Mansions” is the kind of movie where the hero says, ‘This is a really bad idea,” before doing some crazy, dangerous stunt. The action and story (by Luc Besson) are by-the-book—the “find the bomb!” plotline boils down to the oldest thriller tricks, the ticking bomb—but are performed with zeal by Walker and Belle, who is one of the inventors of parkour. The stunts are wild, although shot in such a frenetic style it is occasionally hard to keep track of who is punching who.
Walker is suitably stoic as the straight-arrow undercover cop. He’s physical—flipping through the air like a Cirque du Soleil gymnast without mussing his perfect hair—and doesn’t step out of his (and his audience’s) action movie comfort zone.
In fact, no one goes too far out of their comfort zones. RZA is brings some menace to Mr. “I don’t do anxious. I cause anxious.” Tremaine, and Belle never saw a window or an opening he couldn’t swing through feet first.
Despite having one of the silliest feel good endings in the history of action movies, “Brick Mansions” is an engaging movie. It won’t engage your brain, but is wild enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen.
SYNOPSIS: Married man Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights by cheating on his wife (Leslie Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton). “We got played by the same guy,” says Carly.” The three women form an unlikely bond—“We are the weirdest friends ever,” says Carly—drowning their sorrows in a sea of tequila shots before hatching a plan to humiliate and financially ruin the three timer. “The three of us can be just as shady as he can.”
Richard: 3 ½ Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, with The Notebook director Nick Cassavetes made one of the most romantic movies of recent years. With The Other Woman his pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. This is an anti-romance flick about sex, lies and adultery but it is ripe with laughs and some fun performances. Mann goes all in as a Lucille Ball-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown type, Diaz has great comic timing and even Kate Upton, who will never be accused of giving Meryl Streep a run for her money, is charming and funny. It’s not Bridemaids funny, but I laughed out loud quite a few times. You?
Mark: Is it possible to like a movie but hate its sexual politics? Because that’s how I felt about it. I laughed, especially when Leslie Mann was onscreen. This movie is certainly her personal best. She’s amazingly loose and funny, especially in the first third of the film. But the revenge plot against the cheating husband left me feeling queasy. He’s set up as such a cardboard lothario that he made the Kate Upton character look deep. There’s a positive male role model in the film—Mann’s brother—but he’s so anodyne and threat less that I couldn’t take him seriously as a character. The movie is interesting as a series of Rorschach about how women must view men—either cads or eunuchs—but I had to banish these thoughts or I couldn’t enjoy the comedy.
RC: I see what you’re saying, and I suppose the film is a bit mean spirited and not terribly subtle in its examination of the dynamics between men and women, but it does get the girl power stuff right, and I think that’s more the point of the film. This isn’t a movie about the men, they are simply the McGuffins that forward the plot. This is a movie about female bonding rather than female blaming.
MB: Anyway, at least it’s a good-looking movie, and the women’s outfits are chic. Don Johnson is given a part that’s more than a cameo, but less than a role. I think he could have been onscreen more with a beefed-up part. But Nicki Minaj, as Diaz’ assistant, steals every scene she’s in. I thought she was a hoot. Richard, did the soundtrack bother you? Such obvious choices, like “New York, New York” when the husband enters the city, or the Mission: Impossible theme when the three women tail the husband to find out what he’s up to.
RC: Absolutely. The soundtrack is as subtle as Coster-Waldau’s cheesy pick up lines. Five minutes in I was willing to bet “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun would play… and I would have won that bet.
MB: And I bet the women will cheer and the men will groan at this flick.
Alice Cooper’s theatrical brand of rock ’n’ roll has been horrifying audiences for five decades.
Onstage, the kohl-eyed singer of School’s Out and No More Mister Nice Guy is the stuff of nightmares.
His grotesque Grand-Guignol reputation was cemented when he was accused of biting the head off a chicken and drinking its blood during the Toronto Rock ’n’ Roll Revival concert in September 1969.
A new movie, Super Duper Alice Cooper, details how Vincent Furnier, a preacher’s son from Arizona, morphed into a baby-doll-butchering rock star who found fame under the name of a 17th century witch.
It also unveils the truth about the “poultry incident.”
According to the film, it was during the climax of Cooper’s wild set that a chicken somehow made its way onstage and Alice — thinking the bird could fly, threw it into the air — expecting it to soar into the sky.
Instead it dropped like a stone into the audience who promptly tore it apart. The next day newspapers reported a sensational version of the story, one that painted Cooper as a chicken-killing degenerate, giving the band their best publicity to date and Alice an idea.
“That was the moment I realized the audience really needed a villain,” says Cooper.
“They wanted so much for Alice to be the guy who killed that chicken. Nobody else in rock ’n’ roll would have done that except this really creepy guy up there. It clicked in my head that I needed to make this Alice character a definitive Moriarty. When that happened, I saw what the audience wanted.
“I knew I could develop this guy into something that is really going to be fun to play.”
For the next 15 years he played Alice to the hilt, on stage and off. It wasn’t until a stint in rehab made him reassess his priorities and understand that Alice the character didn’t need to exist anywhere except on stage. “If that grey area would have cleared up and I could have put Alice in his proper place,” he says, “it would have been a lot easier.
“But like anything else, when you’re a creative character, you always take the hard road. I didn’t realize that Alice was not the problem. It was Dr. Frankenstein that was the problem, not the monster. Alice never drank on stage.
“Alice never did drugs on stage. It was the creator of the monster that had the big problem.”
These days, at age 66, Cooper is still going strong. He remains a wild man on stage with a new tour and album in the works. “I still love the fact that people expect a show,” he says, “and they get more than there were expecting every time.”
In the new movie The Other Woman Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights by cheating on his wife (Leslie Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton). “We got played by the same guy,” says Carly.
“Getting played” in Hollywood movies dates back further than the invention of the ashleymadison website.
In 1960 the Jack Lemmon movie The Apartment tackled the subject of adultery. The film, about a lonely insurance company lackey who allows his bosses to use his apartment as a trysting spot in hopes that they will promote him, was a big hit, but also a controversial one. The Saturday Review called it “a dirty fairy tale” and co-star Fred McMurray says a woman on the street hit him with her purse, taking to him to task for making “a dirty, filthy movie.”
2005’s Derailed, stars Clive Owen as a married man who hooks up with Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston) after meeting her on a commuter train. In a hormone induced rush they decide to consummate their illicit affair at a seedy hotel, only to be interrupted by a burglar who robs them and sexually assaults Lucinda. Things spiral out of control as the robber blackmails the couple and seems to have an unquenchable thirst for Owen’s money.
Derailed is a cautionary tale about staying faithful to your spouse and never, ever renting rooms in sleazy hotels. Part Fatal Attraction, part Hitchcock thriller the movie stays on track through the set-up of the story, but as soon as the going gets rough the story, well… derails.
The most famous infidelity movie has to be 1987’s Fatal Attraction. It begins with Michael “I’m a married man!” Douglas having a fling with Glenn “I’m not gonna be ignored!” Close. When he tries to break off their affair, she becomes a lesson in why not to cheat on your wife.
The film was a sensation on release, inspiring a number of imitators including The Crush, Single White Female and a spoof called Fatal Instinct, and its most famous clip, the rabbit boiling on the stove, even inspired a phrase in the Urban Dictionary. According to the website, cook your rabbit “refers to the moment when someone goes over the edge in their obsession with another person.”
In an interview twenty year after the film’s release Close said, “”Men still come up to me and say, ‘You scared the [crap] out of me.’ Sometimes they say, ‘You saved my marriage.'”