Noah Baumbach has successfully usurped Woody Allen’s title as the greatest living director of New York comedies. He builds upon Allen’s legacy of neurotic, witty character studies set in that most cinematic of cities.
Baumbach’s latest love letter to New York comes in the form of The Merowitz Stories (New and Selected), about an artist patriarch played by Dustin Hoffman and his children. Hoffman’s Harold Meyerowitz is an aging sculptor, largely overlooked in his time. His children, played respectively by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Elizabeth Marvel, are all semi-dysfunctional thanks to Harold’s over- or under-involved parenting. The film forces them to reconnect over a potentially devastating illness and parse out their feelings toward a father whom they all have complicated relationships with.
Let’s get this part out of the way, since it’s the element of the film that most people have been talking about and which they will likely continue talking about over the course of the next few months. Sandler stuns in this movie. It’s unclear why he doesn’t pursue this type of role more often.
Whether it’s because he’s mad at the public for failing to recognize his intermittent attempts at serious acting, or because he has more fun shooting on location with his friends than challenging himself, or simply because he likes getting paid a lot of money, it continues to be hard to understand why Sandler forfeits opportunities to be great. For a long time, the story has been that he’s trying to convince everybody he’s a serious actor, waylaid by the long list of terrible films he’s forced to act in to maintain his stardom. But if you compare the work he’s doing in The Meyerowitz Stories to any one of his Netflix exclusives, another narrative emerges. Perhaps Sandler has always been a great actor, who’s determined to prove that he can still be funny, despite the fact that he shines far brighter when given dramatic roles.
As Danny Meyerowitz, a failed musician who’s never held a real job in his life, he wears a kind of sadness that only people whose true talent never got a chance to blossom exude. And he’s funny too! It’s not that Sandler can no longer be funny, it seems, but rather that he can no longer be funny in the sophomoric comedies he built his brand on. Which makes sense, given that he’s 51 years old. Sandler’s career choices haven’t made it easy to like or appreciate him, but remember this: If he doesn’t get a best supporting actor nomination this year, then the Academy will have made a serious oversight. (When the film played at Cannes, the Oscar buzz began in earnest.)
Not for nothing, but Stiller is good here too. As Matthew, he received all the attention growing up that Danny so desperately craved from his father, and yet he resents Harold all the more for it. Stiller’s a funny guy, but he’s most convincing on-screen playing cynical hotheads who can’t seem to be content in life.
Hoffman also does some of his finest work in years, in a role which he fits like a glove. Harold Meyerowitz feels like a part which only he could play, and in a movie with a weaker supporting cast, his is the performance people would be talking about.
As daughter Jean, Elizabeth Marvel gets short shrift among the cast, although she’s still terrific. Baumbach has done a great job writing women in films like Frances Ha and Mistress America. One wishes Marvel had a little bit more to do here. In the few scenes she does have, Marvel is lovable as a withdrawn loner who doesn’t know how to speak up for herself. A clumsy abuse storyline is trotted out later in the movie to give Jean more work, but it becomes an afterthought.
Grace Van Patten, who also appeared in the critically acclaimed but underseen Netflix film Tramps earlier this year, is a surprising delight as Danny’s daughter, Eliza. Their relationship is sweet and believable, and Pattern imbues Eliza with a strong mix of youthful intelligence and naivete.
Emma Thompson gets lost in the shuffle as Harold’s wife, Maureen. Plenty other actors pop up in fun cameos throughout The Meyerowitz Stories.
Baumbach’s always been great with dialog, writing lines which are effortlessly droll and subtly heartbreaking. Yet his screenplay is more stilted than his usual work. As a filmmaker, however, he’s come of age.
Baumbach shot on digital to great effect with Frances Ha (still his best-looking work, and best film overall), but has moved back to film since, and while The Meyerowitz Stories is unlikely to earn Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan any awards, it looks great. The movie falls somewhere in between the freewheeling camera of Frances Ha and the more restrained work Baumbach did on something like While We’re Young. Toward the end, his stylistic choices get the best of him. He trolls the audience with fadeouts: There’s one particularly aggressive zoom at the end which seemingly has to be the end of the movie… and then it goes on for several more minutes.
The Meyerowitz Stories (forget about that pretentious subtitle) is still effective. He’s stepped into the ranks of the best filmmakers of the era. Netflix bet big on two auteurs at Cannes, and both of its gambits paid off with great films.
As The Meyerowitz Stories takes a dark turn in its second half, Baumbach gives us a thoughtful meditation on the challenge of letting the pain caused by a parent go, even when that parent is still alive. As a comedy, it certainly isn’t a laugh riot, but damned if it doesn’t leave an impression.
Still not sure what to watch on Netflix? Here are our guides for the absolute best movies on Netflix, must-see Netflix original series and movies, and the comedy specials guaranteed to make you laugh.
How ‘Captain Marvel’ pays tribute to the late, great Stan Lee
Stan Lee at the premiere of Marvel’s ‘Captain America: Civil War’ in 2016.
“In keeping with Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel features a Stan Lee cameo. What is a little different this time, though, is how it plays out in the movie.
Shortly after Vers (a.k.a. Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel) lands on Earth, she finds herself on a train, trying to spot the shapeshifting Skrull among all the ordinary-looking human passengers.
At one point, her eyes fall upon an elderly man conspicuously reading a Mallrats script. It’s Stan Lee, practicing his lines for his cameo in that other movie. “Trust me, true believer,” he mutters to himself. You can watch that entire Mallrats scene below:
The Captain Marvel scene was originally written by directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck as just another fun, funny appearance by the comics legend. But after his passing in November, the filmmakers felt compelled to update the sequence to acknowledge the “gravitas” of the moment.
“Instead of just the pure laugh we had, we had a little bit of a smile from Captain Marvel in response to it, and she kind of breaks character for a moment,” Boden told me during an interview in Los Angeles last month. “I think it reflects a little bit of what the audience is feeling, and we allowed that to happen.”
In the finished cut of Captain Marvel, Vers’ gaze lingers on him for a few moments and she smiles to herself, before moving on with the rest of her quest. At the screening I attended, the audience definitely appreciated the homage – there were sighs, moans, and even a smattering of applause.
That cameo is actually the second of two Lee shout-outs in the film. The first occurs right at the start. The usual Marvel Studios opening fanfare is replaced by a special Lee-centric version, featuring all his many cameos across various Marvel movies……………………………………………….”
‘A Star Is Born’ takes a theatrical victory lap with bonus footage
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in ‘A Star Is Born.’
“After winning an Oscar for best original song, A Star Is Born is returning to theaters for one week with some new bonus footage.
A Star Is Born is taking its Oscar victory lap starting on Friday at more than 1,100 theaters, giving fans and new viewers a chance to see 12 minutes of bonus footage, The Hollywood Reporter reported Wednesday. The new footage includes extended song performances, new song performances, and Lady Gaga’s a cappella rendition of “Shallow.”
“Shallow,” written by Lady Gaga, Mark Daniel Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt, earned the movie Best Original Song at the Academy Awards on Sunday. A Star Is Born was nominated for a total eight awards, including Best Picture. “Shallow” also earned two Grammys earlier in February………………………………………………………..”
Here’s a complete list of every winner at the 2019 Oscars
“Welcome to the 2019 Oscars, where it’s Queen vs. Queen Anne, A Star Is Born‘s fourth time up to bat, a victory lap for Wakanda fans, and so much more.
Last year was packed with some incredible films. In a tight race to determine the best of the best (according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), it all comes down to one big night at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
Below, updating live, are all the winners at the 91st Academy Awards — and the Oscar goes to…
Green Book — WINNER
A Star Is Born
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody — WINNER
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife
Olivia Colman, The Favourite — WINNER
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book — WINNER
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell, Vice
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk — WINNER
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Pawel Pawlikowski, Cold War
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Roma — WINNER
Adam McKay, Vice………………………………………………………………………………”
See the rest of the list here: https://mashable.com/article/oscars-winners-list-2019/
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