Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Hill’

That was the place that was: Two films, one bookstore and a luxury hotel

April 28, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 28, 2015

As I was putting together the previous post, it struck me that the scenes that shared a location from the new feature film True Story and the new documentary Deep Web might have actually been filmed at a New York City bookstore, which is where we see a character in the True Story reading from his memoir at the end of that film. Perhaps, I mused, it could have been the Barnes & Noble at Union Square.

I did a couple of image searches, one of which — using the keywords “new york city” barnes & noble chandelier — led me to a 2013 video posted by Rizzoli Bookstore. A quick look at the video clinched it: This was the space that I’d seen in both films.

The video’s title proclaims Rizzoli to be “The Most Beautiful Bookstore in New York.” The label is immodest, but it may be apt.

Or at least, it may have been apt.

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Jolted: Suddenly recognizing movie scenes filmed in places that I have known or seen (or even actually been!)

April 27, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 27, 2015

As I was saying the other day, a few times a year, my parent and I and the beloved dog-in-residence will drive down to Piermont. We’ll park in the big lot behind the shops and restaurants and walk up Ferry Road to the end of the pier and back.

The view out there is great, especially from the large concrete platform where the pier ends near the middle of the Hudson River. A few miles to the north, the Tappan Zee Bridge reaches from Nyack on the western bank to Tarrytown on the east. The span carries a seemingly endless river of cars and trucks.

If it’s a nice day, there’ll be lots of recreational boats, often wind-powered, zipping back and forth. (You’ll also find plenty of folks fishing in the Hudson River from multiple points along the pier when the weather’s good.) In any conditions, you can watch the occasional chain of barges cruise slowly up or down the river; now and then, a freighter or two will sail past them.

At regular intervals, a silver MetroNorth caterpillar crawls along the rails on the river’s eastern shore, pausing at the Irvington station before continuing on its journey. And once, I saw kayakers cutting through the water on the pier’s north side.

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Interview with an accused murderer: Thanks to numerous missteps, the based-on-a-true-story movie ‘True Story’ falls flat

April 24, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 24, 2015

About a third of the way into the new movie True Story, there’s a short but eerie scene in which journalist Mike Finkel (Jonah Hill) asks his girlfriend, Jill Barker (Felicity Jones), to look at a pair of manuscripts.

One is a book of notes Finkel took during his most recent reporting trip, a journey to Africa. The other is a 40-page letter, written by an accused murdered named Christian Longo (James Franco), which recounts much of his life, including the aftermath of the vicious slayings with which he is accused.

Finkel recorded his observations in a notebook using a pen, while Longo put pencil to legal paper. And yet both men have interrupted their fields of verbiage with doodles. The two very different texts are undeniably, and uncannily, similar.

The effect is eerie. Sadly, director-screenwriter Rupert Goold and scripting partner David Kajganich never really tie this short but unnerving scene into the rest of the film. The failure is emblematic: This is one of several effective but isolated moments that hint at the better movie that True Story could have been but isn’t.

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Is unrestrained greed good? Nay, declares Martin Scorsese in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ his sprawling indictment of Wall Street and America

January 10, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 10, 2014

Let me tell you about a Martin Scorsese movie that I recently saw. The protagonist is an unscrupulous young white man who aspires to wealth and luxury. By associating himself with a gang of other similarly avaricious, unprincipled young men, the ambitious outsider achieves wild levels of success. The rewards include free-flowing money, drugs, sex and power. Those outside his circle sometimes pay a heavy price for the protagonist’s triumphs. After the group attracts the scrutiny of the authorities, they’re cleaved by internal divisions. Ultimately, the leading character is humbled, but he does not attain humility.

If this sounds familiar, there’s good reason for that. Squint at Scorsese’s late 2013 release, The Wolf of Wall Street, and one might easily mistake it for his 1990 mafia classic, Goodfellas. In a broader sense, it also matches the outsider-makes-good-before-getting-his-comeuppance template that Goodfellas shares with Scorsese’s 1995 drama, Casino, wherein a Philadelphia oddsmaker becomes a top Las Vegas power broker but is undone by greed, drugs, lust and politics. In all three films, the protagonist’s success is threatened by a profligate right-hand man.

Both Goodfellas and Casino are based on nonfiction books by Nicholas Pileggi. This time around, the source material is a memoir by arriviste financier Jordan Belfort; thugs, guns and violence are de-emphasized in favor of opulence and sex, but the parallels with Scorsese’s early works are unmistakable.

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