Posts Tagged ‘Emma Stone’

Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ is an entertaining and engaging love letter to movies, jazz, Los Angeles and love itself

December 27, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 27, 2016

Writer-director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is an utterly charming romance about star-crossed lovers in Los Angeles.

She is Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress working as a barista at a movie studio lot and sharing an apartment with three other wannabe performers. He is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a.k.a. Seb, a free-wheeling pianist whose shabby apartment is stuffed with unopened boxes full of memorabilia that he intends to put into the jazz club he dreams of opening some day. (If the character’s last name was given in the picture, I don’t recall it.)

The couple meets cute several times before the relationship really gets going. We first meet the characters in standstill freeway traffic when Mia incurs Seb’s wrath by failing to notice that the road has cleared because she’s caught up in rehearsing lines for an audition.

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The romantic comedy ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ suffers from crazy, stupid psychology

July 14, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 14, 2015

There’s a short scene about two-thirds of the way through the 2011 movie Crazy, Stupid, Love that captures its willful cluelessness about how the world works.

When a quartet of adult men brawl behind the house that Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) and Emily Weaver (Julianne Moore) used to share with a son and daughter, the police are called. But the officers don’t seem very concerned that two neighbors (one of them Cal, the other the father of a teenage girl standing in the back yard), Emily Weaver’s lover plus a fourth man have been involved in a melee. Instead, the cops blithely head elsewhere, pausing only to admonish the parties involved that in the future they should keep their fighting indoors, where it won’t attract as much unwanted attention.

It’s a remarkably cavalier response to the fight, which was sparked partly by Bernie Riley’s not-so-comic misunderstanding that Cal was having an affair with, or at least receiving racy pictures from, Bernie’s 17-year-old daughter and partly because of the very real infidelity that caused Cal and Emily to separate.

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Fascinating premise, flat drama: Light comedy and heavy philosophizing go nowhere in Allen’s ‘Magic in the Moonlight’

August 16, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 16, 2014

Author’s note: Having noticed a handful of typos and textual loose ends in this post, I made some adjustments on Aug. 21, 2015. I’ve used boldface (like so) and strikethrough lines (like this) to mark all but the most minor changes. MEM

The newest Woody Allen movie, Magic in the Moonlight, revolves around the question of whether the universe is wholly confined to scientifically observable phenomena or whether there might exist spirit or spirits unseen. The irony is that writer-director Allen, in this movie, has crafted a subtext-free dramatic venture, one limited almost exclusively to superficial appearances and to the literal words and events that it depicts.

Allen’s protagonist is Stanley (Colin Firth), a magician whose brilliance is matched only by his cluelessness in social and emotional realms. When we meet him in 1928, on the eve of the finale of his European tour, he is about to embark on a vacation to the Galapagos Islands with his fiancée.

That all changes when Stanley receives a backstage visitor — Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney), a childhood friend and longtime professional rival. Howard has spent the past few weeks at the French estate of the Catledges, a wealthy American family that has been divided by a young medium who purports to be in touch with the family’s deceased patriarch.

Howard has unsuccessfully striven to debunk the psychic as a fraud. When he beseeches his friend, who’s famous for exposing supernatural hoaxes, to lend a hand uncovering the scam, Stanley requires only a modicum of cajoling to get him to scrap his summer vacation. (The fiancée, featured in a single scene, hardly seems bothered that Stanley will be spending the next few weeks apart from her.)

Stanley’s first encounters with the supposed psychic, Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), are intriguing. She instantly intuits his stage persona and holds a seance in which, somehow, a candle hovers in midair without any supporting mechanism that the skeptics are able to detect. When Sophie apparently discerns information about a secret lover after, from holding a strand of pearls owned by Stanley’s Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins), who also resides in Southern France, Stanley immediately abandons his lifelong commitment to rationalism.

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Spider-Man in love (and war): ‘Amazing 2’ offers a fun romp, despite being stuffed to the gills with plot points

May 19, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 19, 2014

Your favorite urban web-slinger is back, and yes, the tales are true: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is indeed an entertaining romp.

This time, young Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spidey (Andrew Garfield), finds himself trying to balance his love for the brilliant young Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) with the promise he made to her late father (Denis Leary, in an uncredited cameo) that he would avoid her so that she would never be targeted by his enemies. The main bad guy, played by Jamie Foxx, is Electro, who starts off as a lowly, nerdy, Spider-Man-loving Oscorp engineer; an unfortunate encounter with bioengineered electric eels prompts Max Dillon’s transformation into a glowing blue special effect with godlike powers.

Complicating matters is 20-year-old Harry Osborn’s ascension to the helm of Oscorp following the death of his father, Norman (the excellent Chris Cooper, also uncredited). Both Osborns suffer from a rare, fatal degenerative disease, and Harry (Cole DeHaan) becomes convinced that the regenerative properties of Spider-Man’s blood could save him from a horrific fate.

An increasingly desperate Harry recruits Parker, his boyhood friend, to locate the superhero and ask him for help. (Parker, natch, is the rare photographer to have snapped clear pictures of the Big Apple’s red-and-blue-costumed superhero.) When Spider-Man balks at sharing his plasma, fearful of the potential harm a transfusion might do Harry, Electro and the future Green Goblin form a deadly alliance. The duo proceeds to plunge New York City into a chaotic and potentially deadly blackout.

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