Edward Norton

Julianne Moore in "Maps to the Stars"

‘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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birdman

Why ‘Birdman’ Is the Most Divisive Best Picture Nominee

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It’s a shame that after months of general release, it’s rather difficult to go into a screening of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) cold. Birdman, which is neck-and-neck with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as the frontrunner to win the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday night, is the story of Riggan Thomson (a wonderful Michael Keaton), a washed-up actor who made his name in a ’90s superhero franchise. He’s searching for artistic redemption by staging his own show on Broadway: an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s classic short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” If you — unlike myself — were lucky enough to see Birdman without knowing much about it, I’m sure that there was an initial spark of magic as you realized that it’s a “one take” movie, with a constantly roving, circling camera that keeps the audience mostly rooted in Riggan’s point of view.
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Bill Murray in "St. Vincent" and Michael Keaton in "Birdman"

The 5 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘Birdman,’ ‘St. Vincent’

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Oscar night is just around the corner, and there’s a decent chance that you’re spending this week finally getting around to seeing The Imitation Game or whatever. But if you’re all caught up on this year’s nominees (or, good for you, utterly indifferent to the whole shebang), good news: this week’s new disc and streaming releases include a couple of last year’s acclaimed but largely unrecognized pictures, a terrific under-the-radar thriller, and a new HD release of the last film by one of Japan’s cinematic masters. Oh, and one of the year’s most nominated titles is out there now as well, if you go for that sorta thing.
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Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in "Birdman"

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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Still image from "Nymphomaniac"

10 Great Movies to Stream This Holiday Weekend

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The Labor Day weekend doesn’t begin until end of day tomorrow, but c’mon, who’re we kidding — you’ve already checked out for the week, and it’s time to start making plans. And while we know some of you (shudder) sociable types will be heading out to lakes and barbeques and such destinations to enjoy the end of another summer, we’re catering (as usual) to the shut-ins, who’re taking the three day holiday weekend to catch up on some long-delayed nothing-doing. So here are a few of the recent(ish) additions to Netflix and Amazon Prime to add to your holiday weekend viewing lists; just click the title link to watch them right now.
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Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin in "Inherent Vice"

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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Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson in "Chinatown"

10 Mystery Movies That Will Blow Your Mind

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Forty years ago this week, Jack Nicholson redefined cool, Faye Dunaway redefined icy, and director Roman Polanski and screenwriter Robert Towne redefined film noir with the masterful detective thriller Chinatown. It isn’t just that the period drama boasts terrific performances, crackerjack cinematography, and all the period bells and whistles; it’s also a mighty good mystery, offering twists and turns that blindside the first-time viewer. And isn’t that what really great mystery movies are all… Read More

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The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Ed Norton

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Edward Norton isn’t exactly known for his comedic talent — despite a fun turn in films like the underrated Death to Smoochy. The star of Fight Club, American History X, and Spike Lee’s 25th Hour immerses himself in his roles wholeheartedly, but he’s known as an assertive personality — an actor who has his own vision of how a character should be played. In other words: people wondered all week if Norton would be too boring, too inflexible, and too serious for SNL. It seems they were partly right. This week’s episode felt like a lame backdrop for a series of Norton’s best impressions — most of which weren’t very good. However, last night also boasted one of the strongest digital sketches we’ve seen in a long time. Find out more, below.
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