Julianne Moore

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

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

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The Prescience and Power of Todd Haynes’ ‘Safe’

The important thing to remember about allegorical art is that it doesn’t always have to insist on a single reading — it can be analyzed, interpreted, and extrapolated many times over, from many different perspectives, and that benefit only grows with the passage of time. Todd Haynes’ Safe (out today, in a sharp new Blu-ray and DVD edition, from the Criterion Collection) is nearly 20 years old, and when it was released back in 1995, critics read it as metaphor for any number of maladies. Now, from a distance, Haynes’ target seems clearer, and the film all the more prescient: in many ways, Safe predicts both the insular nature of contemporary society, and the (counter-intuitive) disease of conformity that’s synonymous with it. … Read More

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‘Mockingjay—Part 1′: The Somber ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of the ‘Hunger Games’ Films

The most noteworthy divergence between Mockingjay—Part 1 and its predecessors in the Hunger Games series is the somberness of its tone. It’s not that the first two pictures were exactly laugh riots — they are, after all, chronicles of bloodthirsty oligarchs demanding children murder each other for their amusement. But the (now-de rigueur) splitting of the final book of the YA franchise into two films means that this half is, by necessity, less about big action bits and more about mood, more setup than payoff. And it features some of the grimmest imagery of the series to date. It may be the franchise’s third movie, but it plays like its Empire Strikes Back. … Read More

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12 Must-See Movies at This Year’s New York Film Festival

Tonight, the New York Film Festival kicks off its 52nd (!) edition with the world premiere of David Fincher’s highly anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. We’ll have more on that film (and that premiere) in this space tomorrow, but in the meantime, we’ve had the chance to check out several other NYFF selections that are well worth your time over the next two weeks (should you happen to be in the area), or in the months to come as they make their way to your theaters and on-demand platforms. … Read More

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Cronenberg’s ‘Maps to the Stars’ Is Wickedly Funny and Deliciously Dark

So here’s a mean, nasty little piece of work — and I have a feeling director David Cronenberg would take that as the compliment it’s intended to be. Maps to the Stars is part vicious Hollywood satire, part portrait of horrifying dysfunction, and part (no kidding) Greek mythology. Early on, I found myself jotting down echoes and influences: The Player, Douglas Sirk, Mulholland Drive, Cronenberg’s own Cosmopolis. At some point, I stopped playing connect-the-dots, because that’s missing the point: you can trace its genealogy all you want, but at the end of the day, Maps is its own, utterly deranged thing. … Read More

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District 13 Revolutionaries Stare and Brood in New ‘Mockingjay’ Posters

Be thankful Lionsgate is doing such a great job coming up with propaganda-inspired Mockingjay — Part 1 promotional materials, because if it weren’t, we’d already be sick of this stuff, over three months before the film’s premiere. Back in June, the Capitol’s oppressive regime offered us a stunning series of posters celebrating the districts they exploit. Now, secret rogue territory District 13 has issued its response, in the form of these portraits of its heroic leading revolutionaries, doing what revolutionaries do (brood, stare dreamily into the bright yet frustratingly far-off future). While you won’t spot the Mockingjay here, there are plenty of other familiar faces. … Read More

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Here’s Your First Official Teaser Trailer for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1′

After two faux-propaganda “Panem Address” spots, we’re finally getting our first look at The Hunger Games:… Read More

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New Clip From David Cronenberg’s ‘Map to the Stars’ Features John Cusack and Mia Wasikowska

After his mild-mannered (for Cronenberg) A Dangerous Method and quickly forgotten Cosmopolis, it looks like the body horror pioneer is returning to extremist form… Read More

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Who, Exactly, Is Supposed to Care About the ‘Carrie’ Remake?

Tomorrow, a new film version of Stephen King’s breakthrough book Carrie opens in theaters. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the title role, Julianne Moore plays her mother, and Boys Don’t Cry filmmaker Kimberly Peirce directs — all promising factors. Is it any good? I can’t tell you; MGM and Screen Gems waited until last night to screen it for critics, and we weren’t invited. (As you might imagine, last-minute, quasi-secret press screenings are rarely a good sign about the quality of the film in question.) What can be said, with some certainty, is that Carrie 2013 is an utterly unnecessary return to very familiar material — even by the standards of the Hollywood remake machine, which is pretty much in constant motion. … Read More

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