Amy Ryan

‘Birdman,’ ‘Maps to the Stars,’ and Hollywood’s Current Vogue for Self-Obsession

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“Pray that those that eat, those that are eaten, and the act of eating be universally devoid of self,” celebrity therapist Dr. Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) says smugly in Maps to the Stars, director David Cronenberg’s big, wet defecation on the deadening influence of Hollywood. He’s quoting the Dalai Lama, he says, but long before his cushy life goes up in flames, it’s clear that Weiss’ Buddhist wisdom is all smoke and mirrors, a vain stab at profundity from an exceedingly shallow man. Indeed, here, as in other recent depictions of Tinseltown’s insider baseball, such noble sentiments ring false, or are otherwise crushed by an industry no longer much interested in altruism. That four films from four directors, each with its own distinct style and tone, should tread such similar thematic ground in this short span of time suggests a certain discomfort with the changing rules of the game, a fear that the dog-eat-dog business of filmmaking threatens to annihilate a particular brand of film art. Call it the unexpected anxiety of obsolescence.
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The Best and Worst of Sundance 2015 (Narrative Edition)

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Come Sunday, the screens will go dark, the volunteers will turn in their vests, the tents will fall, and the 2015 Sundance Film Festival will come to a close. But as it winds down, we’re taking a look at some of our favorite and not-so-favorite films of this year’s fest. Yesterday, we ran down and ranked this year’s documentaries; now, to the narrative films, spinning fiction while still (hopefully) telling …Read More

Alejandro Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’ is Brainy, Buoyant, Brash, Meta Moviemaking

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The pompous, self-important Method actor played by Edward Norton in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is not, as you might think, based on any particular prickly thespian Norton has worked with (and he’s worked with many: De Niro, Brando, Keitel, himself). In fact, he confessed after the picture’s New York Film Festival press screening yesterday, he was mostly inspired by his director. “I’m wearing his scarf in the movie, I’m wearing the jacket, everything I say in the movie, I’ve heard him say or know he wants to say…” It got a little eerie, Iñárritu confessed, when they got to the scene where Norton’s character is in the midst of a contentious rehearsal with Micheal Keaton—playing a character at least somewhat inspired by himself. “So I was explaining to Edward the movement of the camera and the pace and everything, and he began to question me about it: ‘What is it? Why is she saying that?’” And that’s when it hit the director: “Oh my God, this is a fucking mirror in a mirror in a mirror”—which is a pretty apt description of Birdman, when you get right down to it.
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25 Must-See Movies For the Fall

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Hey there reader, been to the movies lately? If the box office reports are any indication, I’m guessing not — and who can blame you? We’re currently in the weird dead zone between the tentpole blockbusters of the summer and the prestige, Oscar-friendly pictures (and, increasingly, tentpole blockbusters) of the fall. But relief will be here soon enough, so in the interest of helping you mark up your movie-going calendar, we’re looking ahead to the fall films we’re anticipating most.
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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Flicks to See in March

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At risk of getting all post-Oscar hyperbolic, I have a bit of good news: this is one of the best months for independent movies in a long, long time. Of the 11 films I had the chance to check out in preparation for this month’s indie guide, every single one is at least worth your time, and several are a good deal better than that; they offer a wide range of experiences, from familial comedy to baroque suspense to penetrating documentary to, well, Wes Anderson. (He’s kind of his own experience.) Our many, many recommendations for March movie-going are after the jump.
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Larry David’s ‘Clear History’ Shouldn’t Work, But It Does

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HBO’s Clear History is a unique, sometimes peculiar, and altogether satisfying hybrid of two very different branches of the network’s original programming arm. On one hand, it is an original movie, directed by a name filmmaker (Greg Mottola, who helmed Superbad, Adventureland, and Paul) and featuring a juicy ensemble including Amy Ryan, Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, and Eva Mendes. On the other, it’s an extension of their comedy series brand, something like a triple-length episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (featuring that show’s star and co-writer, Larry David), with a splash of Eastbound and Down thrown in (via co-star Danny McBride). It sounds like it shouldn’t work. It does, magnificently.
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