Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” the great Greta Gerwig’s “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Marcia MacMillan chat up the weekend’s big releases, the magically delicious “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” Greta Gerwig’s marvelous “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”
Maggie’s Plan, the new film from director Rebecca Miller, is an idiosyncratic look at the lives of some know-it-alls who don’t really know-it-all.
“I love complex geometry where I can connect different people in different ways,” she says, “and where you can completely change relationships over the course of a film.”
Populated by New York City academics—there’s a crypto anthropology prof, a sperm donor who thinks math is beautiful, a tenured Columbia instructor—Maggie’s Plan stars Greta Gerwig as, a single a-type art teacher hoping to have and raise a baby by herself. She has a sperm donor and a plan. Complicating her strategy is John, played by Ethan Hawke, a part-time professor who initially asks her to read the first chapter of his novel but quickly becomes a love interest. The resulting love triangle—he’s married to Georgette (Julianne Moore)—teaches Maggie to make fewer plans and embrace the mysteries of the universe.
“I was looking for something that could be funny, could be set in New York and that I could connect to,” says Miller, who adapted the screenplay from an unpublished novel by Karen Rinaldi. “Some months before I received the chapters Julianne Moore told me the story of a woman who had left her marriage, started a new family, blended a family and found herself in an organizational pickle. She constantly had to figure out other people’s ski holidays and things. I wondered if people could connect to this idea of how complicated it is to be a person right now and how many choices we have. I felt like it was kind of in the air and it felt very real to me. In that sense it had a lot of juice in it.”
The script of Maggie’s Plan suggests Miller may be a spiritual cousin of Woody Allen. Actually, she’s the daughter of legendary playwright Arthur Miller, but the way she writes about neurotic New Yorkers here has more in common with Allen than her dad’s realist morality plays. With a great deal of humour she details the lives of smart but not terribly aware New Yorkers.
“On a totally practical level I wanted to make a movie in New York because I was living here,” she says. “We lived in Ireland for years as our primarily home and then we shifted it here for a time. I was excited to be here but I had youngish children in the house so for me to live and work in the same place was important.
“I have a real love for [New York]. When you have been living here forever you don’t necessarily appreciate it but when you come back to the place suddenly everything looked so beautiful and appealing and wonderful. All my love and feelings for the actual, exact places that are in the movie spilled out onto the screen.”
She also included at least one incident from her life. In one funny scene a character expresses displeasure by burning a manuscript and returning the ashes to its author.
“I did burn someone’s book when I was in college,” she laughs. “It wasn’t a book they had written, to be fair. It was only a book they had lent to me and I was angry at them so I burned it. My salad days. I much more calm now.”
In “Maggie’s Plan,” the new film from director Rebecca Miller, two academics have a meeting of the minds.
Set against a backdrop of the ivory tower of academia—there’s a crypto anthropology prof, a sperm donor thinks math is beautiful, a tenured Columbia professor—Greta Gerwig plays the title character, a single, a-type art professor hoping to have and raise a baby by herself. She has a sperm donor, a pickle entrepreneur named Gus (Travis Fimmel)—“What do I deposit my genetic gold mine in?” he says.— and a plan. Complicating her plan is John (Ethan Hawke), a part-time professor who initially asks her to read the first chapter of his novel but quickly becomes a love interest. The resulting love triangle—he’s married to Georgette (Julianne Moore)—teaches Maggie to make fewer plans and embrace the mysteries of the universe.
The script of “Maggie’s Plan” suggests Rebecca Miller may be a spiritual cousin of Woody Allen. Actually, she’s the daughter of Arthur Miller, but the way she writes about neurotic New Yorkers here has more in common with Allen than her dad’s realist morality plays. With a great deal of humour she details the lives of smart but not terribly aware people. More important than the funny observational nature of the story is the cast’s ability to make self-absorption likeable.
As always Gerwig is a treasure who appears to be living the moment we witness on screen for the very first time. She makes it look easy but her naturalism is not only charming in the extreme, it’s very tough to do. She is the movie’s beating heart and despite some mislaid plans, always comes off as engaging.
Working opposite her is Hawke who effortlessly embodies John’s ego driven quest to be thought of as a serious novelist. Moore hands in a rare comedic performance—complete with an intimidatingly unidentifiable accent—as Georgette, an intellectually fierce but pretentiously over-the-top bundle of nerves.
“Maggie’s Plan” is an idiosyncratic look at the lives of some know-it-alls who don’t really know-it-all. It’s a screwball comedy that is equal parts goofy and great.
Richard and CJAD Montreal morning show host Andrew Carter kick around the weekend’s big releases, the magically delicious “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft” and Greta Gerwig’s marvelous “Maggie’s Plan.”
Richard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn,” the Seth Rogen Christmas comedy “The Night Before” and the Julia Roberts thriller “Secret in Their Eyes.”
In my line of work, hype and celebrity are occupational hazards. Every day my inbox is stuffed with news releases touting the Next! Big! Thing! You get numb to it after a while, but every now and again someone will come along you know is destined for something big.
Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t a star the first time I met her but you could tell it would only be a matter of time until she was. It was 2010, years before she would win an Academy Award or be known internationally as Katniss Everdeen. She was a struggling newbie with just a handful of credits, but a great big buzz surrounding her performance in Winter’s Bone. Her steely but vulnerable take on an Ozark girl who will do anything to keep her family together was garnering good reviews and the usual phrases like “breakout performance” were being thrown around, but this time it felt different. Real.
I was asked to host a question-and-answer period with her after a screening of the film at a theatre in Toronto, but first we planned a quick dinner with a publicist at a nearby hotel. I’ve eaten with a lot actors who order a piece of steamed fish, no butter, no oil and then, rather than actually put it in their mouth, simply move it around the plate until the waiter takes it away.
Not Jennifer Lawrence. She ordered a steak dinner with sides and ate it all while showing us a cell phone snap of her costume for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo audition. As she chatted, laughed and enjoyed dinner, it was apparent what she wasn’t. She wasn’t precious or overwhelmed at being on the cusp of something big. She was doing something rare in this business — being herself and enjoying the ride. In other words the woman you now see photo-bombing Taylor Swift on red carpets or starring in this weekend’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the real deal, someone completely at ease with herself in a business that doesn’t usually allow for that.
Later, on the way to the theatre, she opted not to take the provided limo. Instead we walked down Bloor Street. It was on the chilly side, so she draped my suit jacket over her shoulders. Along the way her high heel caught in a crack in the pavement and snapped off. Rather than hobble down the street, she kicked off both shoes and walked barefoot the rest of the way, her broken designer shoes in hand.
At the theatre I don’t remember what we talked about on stage. When I think back on the night I reflect on the sweet spot she was in, career-wise. She was about to become one of the youngest Oscar nominees ever for best actress in a leading role and yet there wasn’t an ounce of pretension about her. Charisma? Yes. Talent? In spades.
I don’t claim to have some sort of celebrity ESP, but that night I knew in my gut I had met a star, a feeling reaffirmed when I saw her carry the Hunger Games movies on her back and become a leading voice in the fight for pay equality for women in Hollywood.
Want to see a superstar? Watch the last scene of the Joy trailer. Shot on an iPhone as test footage it’s a close-up of Lawrence’s face as she fires off two shotgun rounds. “My name’s Joy, by the way,” she says. It’s a simple image but a magnetic one. It’s a movie star moment from the rare actor who commands our attention every time she’s on screen. Sometimes you just know.