LOVELACE Review

by     Posted 1 year, 12 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  Lovelace opens today in limited release.]

The world wanted to possess Linda Lovelace. Celebrity always involves an aspect of ownership (it’s why we feel justified in judging the lives of famous people even though they’re personally strangers to us), but Lovelace was treated as a possession by her family, her husband, and ultimately the world as she became famous not for any aspect of her personality, but because she had one particular talent. In Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s biopic Lovelace, the filmmakers change the narrative of Lovelace from sex icon to victim of domestic abuse. The movie finds a tenuous connection between the public and private possession of Lovelace, but the narrative’s strength comes from stars Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard taking a mature approach to domestic violence, which helps Lovelace rise above its melodrama and poor structure.

Hank Azaria Talks SMURFS 2, Acting With a Cat, Shooting in Paris, Whether he Prefers Voice Acting or Live Action, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 21 days ago

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Opening in theaters this week is Raja Gosnell’s Smurfs 2.  The film picks up three years after the first installment when Gargamel (Hank Azaria), now a successful Paris-based stage magician, devises a plan to become the most powerful wizard on earth by kidnapping Smurfette (Katy Perry) and stealing her Smurf-essence.  When the little blue guys team up to rescue Smurfette they turn to old friends Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) for help, and set off to Paris for  an adventure that has a surprisingly genuine message about identity and the meaning of family.  Smurfs 2 also stars Brendan Gleeson, Christina Ricci, Jonathan Winters, Anton Yelchin, George Lopez, and John Oliver.

At a recent Las Vegas press day I sat down for an exclusive video interview with Azaria.  He talked about Gargamel’s  feline companion Azreal, acting with a cat, how voice work prepped him for CG, shooting in Paris, how Parisians reacted to his Gargamel getup, whether he prefers voice acting or live action, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Trailer for LOVELACE Starring Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard

by     Posted 1 year, 49 days ago

Radius-TWC and Millennium Entertainment have released the trailer for the biopic, Lovelace.  The film stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular porn star who rose to prominence following 1972’s Deep Throat, the first pornographic feature film to be a mainstream success.  Lovelace would eventually go on to claim that her husband Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) physically and verbally abused her, and coerced her into the pornography business.  When I caught the film at Sundance, I thought the script and structure were somewhat weak, but Seyfried and Sarsgaard saved the picture with their memorable performances.  This trailer does what most indie trailers are doing these days: showing you the whole movie to the point where there are scenes from the very end.  It’s disheartening because not only is it a lazy way of making trailer, but it’s probably turning more people away from the movie rather than drawing them in.

If this approach doesn’t bother you, hit the jump to check out the trailer.  The film also stars Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale, Sharon Stone, Adam Brody, Chloe Sevigny, Juno Temple, Chris Noth, Robert Patrick, and James FrancoLovelace opens August 9th.

New Trailer for THE SMURFS 2

by     Posted 1 year, 63 days ago

Sony Pictures has released a new trailer for the animated sequel The Smurfs 2.  Directed by Raja Gosnell, the film finds Gargamel (Hank Azaria) creating his own version of Smurfs called “Naughties” in the hopes of bottling the powerful “Smurf-essence.”  Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) finds herself caught up in the plan and is at risk of turning into one of the Naughties herself.  The new trailer highlights plenty of goofy shenanigans that kids may or may not find funny, but the film looks like it has a very limited appeal for adult audiences.

Hit the jump to watch the new trailer.  The film also stars Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays and features the voices of Sofia Vergara, Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin and John OliverThe Smurfs 2 opens in 3D on July 31st.

Sundance 2013: LOVELACE Review

by     Posted 1 year, 209 days ago

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The world wanted to possess Linda Lovelace.  Celebrity always involves an aspect of ownership (it’s why we feel justified in judging the lives of famous people even though they’re personally strangers to us), but Lovelace was treated as a possession by her family, her husband, and ultimately the world as she became famous not for any aspect of her personality, but because she had one particular talent.  In Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s biopic Lovelace, the filmmakers change the narrative of Lovelace from sex icon to victim of domestic abuse.  The movie finds a tenuous connection between the public and private possession of Lovelace, but the narrative’s strength comes from stars Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard taking a mature approach to domestic violence, which helps Lovelace rise above its melodrama and poor structure.

First Trailer for SMURFS 2 Plus a New Image

by     Posted 1 year, 246 days ago

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The first trailer has been made available for The Smurfs 2. This time around, it looks as if Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is making his own version of Smurfs called “Naughties” in the hopes of bottling the powerful “Smurf-essence.” Poor Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) gets caught up in the plan and runs the risk of turning into one of the Naughties herself, unless the other Smurfs can rescue her.

The Smurfs director Raja Gosnell returns to direct the sequel, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, and featuring the voices of Sofia Vergara, Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin and John OliverThe Smurfs 2 will debut in theaters on July 31, 2013. Hit the jump to check out the first trailer.

Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale, Chris Noth, and Robert Patrick Join LOVELACE; James Franco in Talks to Cameo as Hugh Hefner

by     Posted 2 years, 244 days ago

As the two competing Linda Lovelace biopics continue to race toward the finish line, one moves closer to release as production on Lovelace began today.  Variety reports that Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale (Win Win), Chris Noth (Sex and the City), and Robert Patrick have all joined the cast of the now in-production indie. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Howl), the film has Amanda Seyfried set to star as the titular porn star, with Peter Sarsgaard in place as Lovelace’s husband (whom she claims for coerced her into pornography). But that’s not all, as James Franco is also apparently in talks to appear in the film as one Hugh Hefner. Franco was initially eyed to take on Sarsgaard’s part, but the thought of Franco playing Hefner in full force is almost too good to be true.

Franco’s role would be little more than a cameo, as the Hefner sequence simply involves Lovelace and her husband attending a screening of Deep Throat at the Playboy mansion. Hit the jump for more on the project.

Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria and Common Talk HAPPY FEET TWO

by     Posted 2 years, 279 days ago

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The adorable singing and dancing penguins of Antarctica are back for Happy Feet Two. In the 3D animated feature, Erik, the tiny son of master tap dancer Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and the vocally gifted Gloria (voiced by Pink), runs away and encounters The Mighty Sven (Hank Azaria), the only penguin who can fly. When violent shifts in the glacial landscape threaten the survival of the entire Emperor penguin community, Mumble and Erik must rally all creatures, both great and small, to save them.

During a press conference to discuss the film, voice actors Elijah Wood, Robin Williams (who voices both Ramon and Lovelace), Hank Azaria and Common (who makes his animation debut as Seymour) talked about the joy of getting to work together for the recording process, developing the voice they wanted to use for their characters, and being able to improvise and bounce things off each other. Check out what they had to say after the jump:

New Trailer for HAPPY FEET TWO

by     Posted 2 years, 319 days ago

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A new trailer has gone online for George Miller’s Happy Feet Two. I know I’m not the target audience for these movies but I find penguins adorable.  Theoretically, I should be willing to give the Happy Feet flicks the benefit of the doubt on that alone.  But the animators for the Happy Feet films made a serious error when they decided to give the penguins human eyes.  The characters all exist in a weird middle ground between trying to have animated expressions and still remain realistic-looking.  The movies are made worse by the having penguins squeak out hip-hop songs. But none of that matters because the movie will probably make hundreds of millions of dollars.  Hooray.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer, which doesn’t tell you what the movie is about (Mumble and his son have to find an escape route when the penguin population is covered in ice). The film features the voices of Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Alecia Moore (P!nk), Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sofia Vergara, Hugo Weaving, Richard Carter, Common, Magda Szubanski, and Anthony LaPagila.  Happy Feet Two opens in 3D on November 18th.

NBC Officially Cancels FREE AGENTS

by     Posted 2 years, 319 days ago

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The network was pretty pleased with Whitney and Up All Night when they made full-season orders earlier this week, but their third freshmen comedy series apparently wasn’t as impressive. Deadline reports the network has pulled the plug on Free Agents, the romantic comedy series starring Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn. Honestly, this wasn’t a hard cut to see coming. Not only were the ratings low, but the show just didn’t pack much of a comedy punch despite someone like Azaria in the lead and some decent supporting performances from comedians Al Madrigal and Natasha Leggero. This is NBC’s second cancellation after axing their hour-long period drama The Playboy Club earlier this week. Stay tuned as more networks continue to clean house and figure out which new series will stick around for the full season.

Salary Negotiations May Halt Production on THE SIMPSONS Next Spring

by     Posted 2 years, 321 days ago

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I guess AMC isn’t the only network having problems negotiating with their highest profile series. Word is coming from The Daily Beast that Fox has come to a bit of an impasse in negotiations with the five lead actors of The Simpsons that may result in a halt of production on the long-running animated series after the 23rd season concludes next spring. Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge, her sisters and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and more), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum,  Apu Nahasapeemapetilo, and more), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and others) have all been told that they need to take a 45% pay cut, or risk being replaced with sound-alike actors after this season. More details on this worrisome issue after the jump.

Hank Azaria Video Interview SMURFS

by     Posted 3 years, 25 days ago

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Recently, I had the immense pleasure of talking to Hank Azaria (The Simpsons) for his upcoming film The Smurfs. The film follows the adventures of six Smurfs who are accidentally transported to modern-day New York City. In the film, Azaria (heavily aided by make-up and a hair piece) plays the villain, Gargamel, who also travels to New York to seek out the Smurfs. I actually had a lot of fun with the movie and kids will definitely love it.

During my exclusive interview, we discussed bringing life to a character’s first live action iteration, acting opposite imaginary Smurfs, roaming New York in costume and performing karaoke as one of his iconic characters from The Simpsons. We also spoke at length about his upcoming NBC show Free Agents. The Smurfs hits theaters this Friday, July 29. Hit the jump to watch the interview.

New Trailer for HAPPY FEET TWO

by     Posted 3 years, 26 days ago

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Following up on the poster we saw earlier today, Warner Bros. has released a new trailer for Happy Feet Two.  The new trailer reveals more about the story than the first, but still makes time for the snippets of the adorable penguin versions of “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Sexy Back.”  About that story: “Mumble (Elijah Wood) and Gloria (Pink) now have a son of their own, Erik (EG Daily), who is struggling to find his own particular talents in the Emperor Penguin world.”

Robin Williams, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria, and Brad Pitt also provide voices in the sequel directed by George Miller.  Happy Feet 2 is slated for 3D release on November 18.  Watch the trailer after the break.

Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria Video Interview SMURFS

by     Posted 3 years, 48 days ago

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A few weeks ago, I attended a Smurfs movie presentation at Sony Studios in Culver City, California. While there I got to watch a number of clips (some were in 3D) and I watched an interesting and informative behind the scenes presentation by Sony Pictures Imageworks visual effects producer Lydia Bottegoni, visual effects supervisor Rich Hoover, director Raja Gosnell and producer Jordan Kerner.  They explained the challenges of bringing Smurfs to the big screen and the technical hurdles they had to overcome.  While I love learning about new movie technology, I know most of you just want to know about the footage.  My quick answer is kids are going to love the movie and I thought the 3D looked great.

Shortly after the presentation ended, we went to a small conference room and we were able to conduct a small roundtable interview with director Raja Gosnell & producer Jordan Kerner (watch it here) and then we spoke to Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria. Mays plays Neil Patrick Harris’s wife and Azaria plays Gargamel.  During the interview, they each talked about bringing their characters to life, the improv, the challenges of working with characters that will be added in post production, filming in New York City, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

New Trailer for THE SMURFS

by     Posted 3 years, 88 days ago

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Is there only one joke in The Smurfs?  We get it: the Smurfs use the word “Smurf” as a substitute for other words and that can be applied to swearing.  And while I love Neil Patrick Harris, this looks like an absolutely terrible movie.  But I’m not going to fly into a rage over it.  I’ll just calmly acknowledge this movie wasn’t made for me but for gullible children and their nostalgic parents.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer.  The film also stars Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Anton Yelchin, Jonathan Winters, and Hank Azaria.  The Smurfs opens in 3D on July 29th.

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