Angelina Jolie

The 5 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘What We Do in the Shadows,’ ‘Tig’

By

It’s a pretty dry week for new releases — the only one really worth your time (though it’s definitely worth it) is the New Zealand vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, co-starring and co-directed by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement. But one of the finest indies of the ‘80s hits Blu-ray this week via the Criterion Collection, and Netflix, as usual, can help fill in your viewing gaps.
…Read More

Why Cancer Screening Is For Everyone: A Health Economist on Angelina Jolie Pitt’s ‘NY Times’ Op-Ed

By

On Tuesday, Angelina Jolie Pitt wrote an op-ed, “Diary of a Surgery,” in The New York Times, explaining why she had “a laparoscopic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy” — or in layman’s terms, the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes. The piece is an informative and important piece of advocacy regarding women’s health and women’s options in the fight against cancer. (For the gossips among us, it is also skillfully timed, debuting the same day as Jolie Pitt’s film Unbroken became available on DVD and streaming.)
…Read More

Angelina Jolie’s Flawlessly Canny Control of Her Own Image

By

In today’s New York Times, Angelina Jolie has published an op-ed titled “A New Level of Refugee Suffering.” In it, the actress, director, and humanitarian reports on her experience listening to Syrian and Iraqi war refugees’ stories of suffering. “How can you speak when a woman your own age looks you in the eye and tells you that her whole family was killed in front of her, and that she now lives alone in a tent and has minimal food rations?” Jolie asks.
…Read More

Actors, Oscars, and Afflictions: A Nomination and Award Timeline

By

This morning, Julianne Moore received an Academy Award nomination for Still Alice, which (in an amazing bit of great timing!) goes into official release tomorrow. It’s her fifth Academy Award nomination, but this time she’s the odds-on favorite, for two reasons: because she’s been nominated five times but hasn’t yet won and thus is “due,” and because she’s playing a woman battling a crippling affliction (in this case, early-onset Alzhemier’s). Meanwhile, Eddie Redmayne nabbed a very predictable nomination for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The fact that Everything is a boilerplate biopic and Still Alice is a rotten movie and desperately transparent play for that statue don’t enter into it; as history has proven, if you want to win an Oscar, find a character with a disease, a physical hardship, a mental challenge, or a psychological disorder, and let it rip. Don’t believe me? Here’s your timeline!
…Read More

A Brief History of Hollywood Being Totally Terrified of Computers

By

“Our world interconnected. Our systems interconnected. Our identities vulnerable.” So goes the on-screen tagline in the trailer for Michael Mann’s new cyber-thriller Blackhat, and as the word “identities” is replaced by “security,” “homes,” “secrets,” “money,” “privacy,” “safety,” and the like — along with a giant close-up of a cable plugging in — it’s easy to chuckle along with Hollywood doing one more fear-mongering thriller about hackers taking down sacred cows and exposing private information, as if such a thing were actually plausible. (Oh, wait.) Yes, the Sony hack suddenly made Blackhat’s potentially worrisome January release suddenly timely and relevant, but it’s part of a long tradition of films that looked at the capabilities of computers, artificial intelligence, and the Internet — and shit their collective pants over it.
…Read More

How ‘Unbroken’s’ Laura Hillenbrand Writes Her Epic Nonfiction

By

Laura Hillenbrand has written two nonfiction books: Seabiscuit: An American Legend and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Each is a major work, and they’ve sold ten million copies between them; they’ve also both been turned into movies, the latter serving as the basis of this year’s Angelia Jolie-directed Oscar-bait. I wrote earlier this year that Hillenbrand is the greatest nonfiction writer working today, and I stand by that assessment.
…Read More

‘Unbroken,’ ‘Still Alice,’ and the Desperate Pursuit of Oscar Gold

By

One of the many ingenious running gags in Ben Stiller’s scathing 2009 Hollywood satire Tropic Thunder is Simple Jack, a widely derided, financially disastrous attempt by Cruise-style action star Tugg Speedman (Stiller) to be taken seriously as an actor by making a film that panders, with comic desperation, for Academy Award recognition. We see clips from Simple Jack, and the parody is dead-on: the faux-inspirational music, the sepia-tinged photography, the “tear-jerking” storytelling. We laugh, because the intentions are so transparent — and because we’ve seen films that clamor for that Oscar with no less sophistication. Now, I’m not saying that the inspirational drama Unbroken is a 137-minute version of Simple Jack, or that the Julianne Moore vehicle Still Alice is Moore’s Tugg Speedman moment. But let’s just say I’ve been thinking of the spoof movie a lot lately.
…Read More

50 Great Pre-Fame Performances by Famous Actors

By

This week, the Criterion Collection is releasing a double bill of the mid-‘60s Westerns The Shooting and Ride the Whirlwind, a treat not only for fans of revisionist Westerns and director Monte Hellman, but also for those who admire Jack Nicholson, here seen in two terrific performances that predate his breakthrough in Easy Rider. There’s a specific kind of pleasure in revisiting the early work of actors who would later become famous — not the roles that made them stars, but their earlier, quieter gigs, in which we glimpse an actor just trying to do good work, yet already exhibiting the spark that would mark them for fame. Here are a few of our …Read More