Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Neighbors is Hilarious, Rogen, Efron, and Byrne Battling Out in an Intergenerational War, can't get any Better

Neighbors (3 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by:  Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
Written by: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron

Over the years working at a variety of colleges I have seen Greek Life, in a variety of different formats, but I never experienced anything like from Neighbors.  That's what makes this film hilarious.  There are going to be people offended by the reputation this gives a community of students, but guess what, you have to simply ignore that, and let yourself laugh, and laugh, and laugh even more.

Two former party animals Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are married, with a baby living in the suburbs.  Their current single friends are living the party lifestyle, meanwhile they are doing the boring day to day routines.  Mac goes to what looks like a boring job, while Kelly stays at home with the most adorable baby ever, but is bored with simple daily routine of being a housewife.  There is a house for sale next door, and the two are excited to meet their new neighbors, except when they end up to be a wild fraternity, led by president, Teddy (Zac Efron).  

Teddy and his fraternity brothers, two of whom are played by Dave Franco, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse lead the charge throwing wild parties night after.  While its all fun and games in the beginning, the fraternity and new parents start to battle it out trying to break the other down, and win.

Director Nicholas Stoller has made a name for himself with comedic films, although most of his movies have flown under the radar.  Stoller's first film Forgetting Sarah Marshall has been his best; he has done a great job working with the Judd Apatow crew over the years.  After Marshall Stoller's next project was Get Him to the Greek, and the The Five-Year Engagement.  Beyond Engagement Stoller has tapped into this quirky modern sense of humor.  Neighbors is his best work, and the script is hilarious.

This is the first major film screenplay for the team of Andrew J. Cohen, and Brendan O'Brien, and boy did they knock this one out of the park on their first try.  While the film has a great subtle messages about missing your youth, and fearing what adulthood can turn you into, the film's non-stop jokes are the selling point.  Neighbors never tries too hard to wrap life in tiny bow, and make things convenient.  Many of the best jokes are in the preview, my only pet peeve, but there are other great moments, and some great cameos, pay attention to the lineage of the fraternity of the years, and the past members.  Not only are there great cameos, but the three main leads are, fantastic.

Seth Rogen plays a typical Seth Rogen type, but if isn't broke, don't fix it.  Rogen can stick the landing every time with his jokes.   Rose Byrne who plays his wife Kelly has always been a terrific actress, from her early dramatic work in the television series, Damages.  Byrne showed off her comedic chops as the straight woman in Bridesmaids, but film was further proof that Byrne can do it all, and she was amazing.  I must also add Zac Efron is more than a pretty body; he is a truly talented guy.  Efron has shown this before in Hairspray, but has never been given this type of material.  Efron consistently stole each scene and was great in this film.  

At the end of the days Neighbors is just plain funny.  The cast, writing, the inside jokes of getting older, while trying to stay young.  Neighbors never tries too hard, doesn't take itself too seriously, and lets you enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

May Movies to See and Skip!

In looking back at April, the obvious winner of the the month was Captain America: Winter Solider.  The film is still performing great at the box office, and was one of the best films in the Marvel franchise.  If you have not seen it, go now, leave work.  Worth it!

The other big celebrity of the month was God, but unlike Stan Lee he does not make cameos in films centered around his stories. God's Not Dead, which is a hold over from March did quite well in April, and has earned 52 million.  Noah has performed better, internationally, but made 97 million domestic, and Heaven is for Real has also made 52 million and climbing.  There are more films centered on biblical allegories still to be released this year it will be interesting to see how this pattern effects the box office, and films released.

Rio 2 was the highest grossing animated film of the year, and will top 100 million this weekend.  Animated films still prove to a cheap way for studios to make money, and boy are they milking the franchise model, maybe more than the comic book films.

I would argue the last, "big success" was The Other Woman, which has only been open one weekend and made 24 million, topping films that have been out all month like Draft Day, and Transcendance, the two biggest failures of the month.  Johnny Depp is looking more and more like box office poison, sad.  Now onto the beginning of the "Summer" box office blockbuster season.

May 2nd

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I am torn on the way I feel  about this film.  The marketing strategy is aggressive, maybe too aggressive like someone clinging to a failing relationship.  Reviews are mixed to poor,  but not too far from the first in the reboot.  I liked the first one, well shot, good chemistry between the leads.  I am most fearful of too many villains, did they learn nothing from Spider-Man 3?


Saw the trailer before Under the Skin, and while the story looked been there done that, I think the performances seemed solid.  FOX Searchlight thinks this has Oscar potential, maybe in Costumes, but this could be an interesting film, does not look "must see" to me.

(The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

May 9th 


I am going to see this tomorrow, and chose to see a screening of this over Spider-Man, this is one of my most anticipated films of the month, the marketing has been great, the reviews solid.  Rogen, and Effron are a great juxtaposition.  One of my must-see movies of the month.


The film looks fun, Jon Favreau comes back to direct/write for some of his Iron Man cast, while making something that looks clever, taking on the evolution of an industry.  Not at the top of my list, but looks solid.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy of Oz

Shaking my head, they sure are milking the brand of this classic, and this animated film looks worse than one with Mila Kunis, and that is saying a lot!


May 16th 


This looks just fantastic, and is my top three for "must see" of the month, with Bryan Cranston, and a story that takes the action to the next level.  Could revitalize, and modernize this story too.

Million Dollar Arm

This could be John Hamm's first big hit on film, Disney is behind this film, which could help.  This is also no surprise that Disney is behind this film, it comes across as imperialistic, the white man shows Indians how to play a real sport.  I may be a bit sensitive on this matter, but I am tired of films like this, where the white man saves the day.  Am I wrong?  The trailer rubs me the wrong way.


May 23rd 

X-Men: Days of Future Past 

I have been looking forward to this film since this was announced.  As a comic book fan this story is gold, and the trailers have looked fantastic.  Blending the original and new cast was a great way for Singer and FOX to take this franchise and move forward.  After Disney, they have the second best plan for this.  Looks great.


Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore meet again, in something that looks on par with Jack and Jill, is Sandler allergic to growing up, and making films that work on a comedic level today?

(X-Men: Days of Future Past)

May 30th 


I have to say this reminds me of Snow White and the Huntsman, Angelina will probably be great, but the visuals look too CGI-centric for their own good.  I love the way she has done the laugh, but Angie you in danger girl.  This will do well at the box office, but I can't help but thinking this is another time where re-imagined fairy tales try to hard to be action films.

A Million Ways to Die in the West 

MacFarlene, the actual man steps in front of the camera, in live action form for the first time.  The first time I saw the trailer I cringed, but with his typical brand of humor I think he will have another hit on his hands, especially with the cast he has.  Wow May is a busy month!

(A Million Ways to Die in the West)

Must See of the Month: X-Men: Days of Future Past, Neighbors, Godzilla (in that order)
Must Skip of the Month: Blended, Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns, Million Dollar Arm (in that order)

Gentleman's Guide to Murder and Hedwig and the Angry Inch Lead the 2014 Tony Nominations

I have been away from the theatre scene for a while, in fact the last show I saw was the revival of Follies, I just have not made it to New York as often as I would like.  The show I want to see most from this season is the second most nominated show of the year, Hedwig and the Angry Inch with 8 nominations.  I love the film, and am excited for NPH to hopefully win a Tony.

Without being to invested in the season I noticed a few things, about the musical and play categories.  Aladdin is the only movie turned musical (in the Best Musical category( to be nominated in the musical category.  Rocky, Bullets Over Broadway, Big Fish, The Bridges of Madison County were all snubbed here. Speaking of Big Fish, it and earlier musicals like Date Night were missing in action, for the most part, which usually happens.  Cabaret was snubbed in the revival, and they went with only three nominated shows, the show also only managed two nominations.

In the Best Play category there were five nominees, instead of the typical nominations, which means there was probably a tie.  The other thing I noticed from mainly this category, but also the musical category, is that celebrities making the leap to the main stage were once again ignored.  I mean big named film celebrities like James Franco, Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, Michelle Williams, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellan.

The big players in Broadway did manage to end up back in different categories, two time Tony winner Sutton Foster, five time Tony winner Audra McDonald, two time winner Cherry Jones, and Idina Menzel who has one win.

Here is a full list of nominees below, I think this will be a fun year.

Best Musical
"After Midnight"
"Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
"A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder"
Best Musical Revival 
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
"Les Misérables"
Best Actor (Musical)
Neil Patrick Harris, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Ramin Karimloo, "Les Misérables"
Andy Karl, "Rocky"
Jefferson Mays, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Bryce Pinkham, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Best Actress (Musical)
Mary Bridget Davies, "A Night with Janis Joplin"
Sutton Foster, Violet"
Idina Menzel, "If/Then"
Jessie Mueller, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Kelli O'Hara, "The Bridges of Madison County"
Best Featured Actor (Musical)
Danny Burstein, "Cabaret"
Nick Cordero, "Bullets Over Broadway"
Joshua Henry, "Violet"
James Monroe Iglehart, "Aladdin"
Jarrod Spector, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Best Featured Actress (Musical)
Linda Emond, "Cabaret"
Lena Hall, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Anika Larsen, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Adriane Lenox, "After Midnight"
Lauren Worsham, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Best Book of a Musical
"Aladdin," Chad Beguelin
"Beautiful," Douglas McGrath
"Bullets Over Broadway," Woody Allen
"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," Robert L. Freedman
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin

"The Bridges of Madison County"
Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Music: Steven Lutvak
Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak

Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey 
Best Director (Musical)
Warren Carlyle, "After Midnight"
Michael Mayer, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Leigh Silverman, "Violet"
Darko Tresnjak, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Best Choreography
Warren Carlyle, "After Midnight"
Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine, "Rocky"
Casey Nicholaw, "Aladdin"
Susan Stroman, "Bullets Over Broadway"
Best Costume Design (Musical)
Linda Cho, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murderv
William Ivey Long, "Bullets Over Broadway"
Arianne Phillips, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Isabel Toledo, "After Midnight"
Best Lighting Design (Musical)
Kevin Adams, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Christopher Akerlind, "Rocky"
Howell Binkley, "After Midnight"
Donald Holder, "The Bridges of Madison County"
Best Scenic Design (Musical)
Christopher Barreca, "Rocky"
Julian Crouch, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Alexander Dodge, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Santo Loquasto, "Bullets Over Broadway"
Best Sound Design (Musical)
Peter Hylenski, "After Midnight"
Tim O'Heir, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Mick Potter, "Les Misérables"
Brian Ronan, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, "Bullets Over Broadway"
Jason Robert Brown, "The Bridges of Madison County"
Steve Sidwell, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"
Jonathan Tunick, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder"
Best Play
"Act One"
"All the Way"
"Casa Valentina"
"Mothers and Sons"
"Outside Mullingar"
Best Play Revival 
"The Cripple of Inishmaan"
"The Glass Menagerie"
"A Raisin in the Sun"
"Twelfth Night"
Best Actor (Play)
Samuel Barnett, "Twelfth Night"
Bryan Cranston, "All The Way"
Chris O'Dowd, "Of Mice and Men"
Mark Rylance, "Richard III"
Tony Shalhoub, "Act One"
Best Actress (Play)
Tyne Daly, "Mothers and Sons"
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun"
Cherry Jones, "The Glass Menagerie"
Audra McDonald, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill"
Estelle Parsons, "The Velocity of Autumn"
Best Featured Actor (Play)
Reed Birney, "Casa Valentina"
Paul Chahidi, "Twelfth Night"
Stephen Fry, "Twelfth Night"
Mark Rylance, "Twelfth Night"
Brian J. Smith, "The Glass Menagerie"
Best Featured Actress (Play)
Sarah Greene, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Celia Keenan-Bolger, "The Glass Menagerie"
Sophie Okonedo, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Anika Noni Rose, "A Raisin in the Sun"
Mare Winningham, "Casa Valentina"
Best Director (Play)
Tim Carroll, "Twelfth Night"
Michael Grandage, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Kenny Leon, "A Raisin in the Sun"
John Tiffany, "The Glass Menagerie"
Best Costume Design (Play)
Jane Greenwood, "Act One"
Michael Krass, "Machinal"
Rita Ryack, "Casa Valentina"
Jenny Tiramani, "Twelfth Night"
Best Lighting Design (Play)
Paule Constable, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Jane Cox, "Machinal"
Natasha Katz, "The Glass Menagerie"
Japhy Weideman, "Of Mice and Men"
Best Scenic Design (Play)
Beowulf Boritt, "Act One"
Bob Crowley, "The Glass Menagerie"
Es Devlin, "Machinal"
Christopher Oram, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Best Sound Design (Play)
Alex Baranowski, "The Cripple of Inishmaan"
Steve Canyon Kennedy, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill"
Dan Moses Schreier, "Act One"
Matt Tierney, "Machinal"

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tony Predictions (2014)

Best Musical
After Midnight
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder
Alternate Pick: Bullets Over Broadway

Best Play
All The Way
Casa Valentina
The Realistic Joneses
Act One
Alternate Pick: Mothers And Sons

Best Musical Revival
Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Les Misérables

Best Play Revival
A Rasin In The Sun
The Glass Menagerie
The Cripple Of Inishmaan
Twelfth Night
Alternate Pick: Waiting For Godot

Best Actor in a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris- Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Jefferson Mays- A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder
Ramin Karimloo- Les Miserables
Stephen Pasquale- The Brides Of Madison County
Bryce Pinkham- A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder
Alternate Pick: Andy Karl- Rocky

Best Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster- Violet
Idinia Menzel- If/Then
Jessie Mueller- Beautiful
Kelli O'Hara- The Bridges Of Madison County
Michelle Williams- Cabaret
Alternate Pick- Margot Seibert- Rocky

Best Actor in a Play

Bryan Cranston- All The Way
Ian McKellen- Waiting For Godot
Mark Rylance- Richard III
Tony Shalhoub- Act One
Denzel Washington- A Rasin In The Sun
Alternate Pick: Patrick Stewart- Waiting For Godot

Best Actress in a Play

Toni Colette- The Realistic Jonses
Tyne Daly- Mothers And Sons
Audra McDonald- Lady Day At Emerson's Bar And Grill
Cherry Jones- The Glass Menagerie
Estelle Parsons- The Velocity Of Autumn
Alternate Pick: Rebecca Hall- Machinal

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Paul Chahidi- Twelfth Night
Billy Crudup- Waiting For Godot
Gabriel Ebert- Casa Valentina
Mark Rylance- Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith- The Glass Menagerie
Alternate Pick- Peter Maloney- Outside Mullingar

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Celia Keenan-Bolger- The Glass Menagerie 
Dearbhla Molloy- Outside Mullingar 
Andrea Martin- Act One
Anika Noni Rose- A Rasin In The Sun
Sophie Okonedo- A Raisin In The Sun

Alternate Pick- Mare Winningham- Casa Valentina

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Brooks Ashmanskas- Bullets Over Broadway
Danny Burstein- Cabaret
Nick Cordero- Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry- Violet
James Monroe Iglehart- Aladdin
Alternate Pick: Anthony Rapp- If/Then

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Linda Emond- Cabaret
Marian Mazzie- Bullets Over Broadway
Cass Morgan- The Bridges Of Madison County
Lisa O'Hare- A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder
Helene York- Bullets Over Broadway
Alternate Pick: Anika Larson- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Sunday, April 27, 2014

And My Best Picture Nominees would have been (2000s)

Nothing like a Sunday morning listening to an Oscar Podcast from Sasha Stone, Craig Kennedy, and Ryan Adams.  It's a cloudy day in Boston, and I loved listening to the 2005 podcast, talking about Brokeback vs. Crash, Capote and the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman and so much more.  Over the 2000s I have always picked my top five or ten of the year, the so called "Best Pictures."  Here are my Best Picture nominees from the 2000s. Enjoy!

Almost Famous
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Requiem for a Dream
Wonder Boys

In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge!
Mullholland Dr.

Far from Heaven
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist
Talk to Her

City of God
Kill Bill Volume 1
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Mystic River

The Aviator
Before Sunset
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Incredibles  

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night and Good Luck
A History of Violence

Children of Men
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan’s Labyrinth
United 93

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There will be Blood

The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
The Wrestler

(500) Days of Summer
An Education
District 9
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Hurt Locker
In the Loop
Inglorious Basterds
A Single Man
Up in the Air

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Ghost Writer
The Kids are Alright
A Prophet
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Winter’s Bone

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Midnight in Paris
A Separation
Take Shelter
The Tree of Life

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Holy Motors
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

12 Years a Slave 
The Act of Killing
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
Fruitvale Station
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Wolf of Wall Street