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items tagged with John Travolta

A Supposedly Fun Thing He’ll Never Do Again: "The End of the Tour," "Tangerine," and "The Tribe"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-08-24 01:03:04

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in The End of the TourTHE END OF THE TOUR

An interviewer for Rolling Stone travels to Bloomington, Illinois, to meet his subject: an author embarking on the last leg of his book tour. They make small talk at the author’s house. They smoke incessantly. They gorge on junk food. They travel to Minnesota for a reading and radio segment. They visit the Mall of America. They catch a multiplex movie. They hang out with a couple of young women. They consume more junk food. They return to Bloomington. They part ways.

In broad outline, that is the entire plot of director James Ponsoldt’s and screenwriter Donald Margulies’ The End of the Tour. And with the possible exception of Mad Max: Fury Road, no other 2015 release, to date, has entertained, thrilled, and devastated me quite as much as this one. (The film is currently playing at Iowa City’s Marcus Sycamore Cinema.) I’ll concede that much of the reason for my enjoyment might be strictly personal, or at least intensely specific. But I also don’t think anyone needs to have been an interviewer, or an interviewee, to be dazzled by the film’s intelligence, emotional complexity, and deep empathy, or by the insight it demonstrates regarding the oddly fraught practice of the celebrity profile. You probably also don’t need to be an admirer of David Foster Wallace to find yourself frequently moved to tears, but if you are one, consider yourself warned.
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Slumberless Party: "The Overnight" and "The Wolfpack"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2015-07-08 19:15:46

Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in The OvernightTHE OVERNIGHT

Even with a goatee, Adam Scott has such a sweet baby face, and can exude such endearing boyishness, that when you see him in an early playground scene in his latest film, you’re half-surprised that a more towering adult isn’t pushing him on a swing. Yet longtime fans know that Scott also possesses a canny understanding of how to employ his naturally guileless countenance for tension (as in the 2002 thriller High Crimes) or melancholy (HBO’s sadly ignored Tell Me You Love Me) or acerbic wit (Party Down, Parks & Recreation, and numerous et ceteras). And that chameleon-ic talent makes him perhaps perfectly cast in the new comedy The Overnight, writer/director Patrick Brice’s three-quarters-successful chronicling of an alternately invigorating and deeply uncomfortable grown-up sleepover.


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I'd Like to Thump the Academy … : Notes on the 2015 Academy Awards Telecast
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Feature Stories

2015-02-23 22:00:33

producer/writer/director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and team members of Best Picture Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)Neil Patrick Harris, at the tail end of last night's Academy Awards ceremony, climaxed his hosting duties with the resolution to a magic trick he'd set up earlier in the evening. Much, much earlier in the evening.


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Viva Italia!: "To Rome with Love," "Savages," and "Katy Perry: Part of Me"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2012-07-09 17:50:33

Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg in To Rome with LoveTO ROME WITH LOVE

After Woody Allen’s rather staggering success with Midnight in Paris – personal-best box-office, the man’s first Academy Award in 25 years – I guess it was inevitable that critics, as a whole, would greet the filmmaker’s follow-up project with a collective “meh.” And that’s certainly happened with Woody’s new To Rome with Love. (Not that it matters, but the comedy is currently sitting with a “45-percent fresh” rating – i.e., “not fresh at all” – at the review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.)

But I’d argue that the movie’s less generous critics have picked entirely the wrong picture to be indifferent toward, because the To Rome with Love that I saw was sensational – charming, hilarious, imaginative, and, in its offhanded way, enormously adventurous. As Woody’s latest is composed of a quartet of frothy comic vignettes set in the Eternal City, all of them reminiscent of the short fictions he occasionally writes for The New Yorker, it’s easy to see how the film is being perceived as slight. Yet that description, while somewhat accurate, doesn’t begin to suggest the masterly finesse and intelligence that Woody and his tremendous cast demonstrate here. If Midnight in Paris remains the writer/director’s finest achievement of the past two decades, To Rome with Love easily lands in the top five, and with more than 20 releases to choose from, that’s hardly something to sniff at.


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Bridges Over Troubled Waters: “Crazy Heart,” “An Education,” “From Paris with Love,” and “Australia: Land Beyond Time”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2010-02-08 14:47:00

Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy HeartCRAZY HEART

Writer/director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart is a character drama of gentle, lulling rhythms -- so lulling, in truth, that I momentarily dozed off halfway through the film. But I'm pretty sure that I was smiling as I slept, because the steady, deliberate pacing feels just right for the tale Cooper's telling, and because star Jeff Bridges is so masterfully assured as down-and-out country singer Bad Blake that he leaves you in a state of utter, unadulterated happiness and calm. (The actor might almost be saying, "Go ahead and nap. I'll be here when you wake up.") There may have been more exciting screen performances amidst 2009's releases, but possibly none as thoughtful, lived-in, and moving as Bridges'; in his hands, a role that easily could've been a one-note conceit is nothing short of symphonic.


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