Archive for December, 2011

Christoph Waltz Talks About ‘Carnage’ and Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s latest movie “Carnage,” based on an award-winning play by Yasmina Reza, is about two New York yuppie couples who meet after their sons are involved in a schoolyard scuffle that leaves one injured. Alan (Christoph Waltz) and his wife Nancy (Kate Winslet) visit the Brooklyn apartment of Michael (John C. Reilly) and his wife Penelope (Jodie Foster) to smooth over any ill feelings from the incident, but as the night evolves, their veneer of civility slips, added in part by a shocking breach of decorum and liberal amounts of alcohol, revealing them all as venal and mean-spirited. Penelope, a tightly-wound do-gooder, is left in sobbing hysterics. Alan, the cynic of the bunch, on the other hand, spends much of the time on his cell phone in part as a gesture of contempt at the efforts at conciliation. Continue reading ‘Christoph Waltz Talks About ‘Carnage’ and Roman Polanski’

Gary Oldman Tries to Blend into the Woodwork in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’

For a guy who’s famous for playing outsized characters like Count Dracula, Sid Vicious, and renegade wizard Sirius Black, Gary Oldman’s latest role as SIS agent George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson’s cool, masterful movie “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is something of a departure. Like all good spies, Smiley is gray and rather bland — someone you’d walk past in a crowd without giving him a second look. It’s a particularly tricky role for an actor; you have to be dull yet charismatic enough to carry the film. Sir Alec Guinness memorably played aging spy in the 1979 BBC adaptation of John Le Carré’s novel as if he were a stern, yet world-weary headmaster. Oldman’s take is far colder and more unsympathetic; he’s someone you’d have no trouble believing would, in the right situation, kill you.

I sat down with Gary Oldman recently in a Beverly Hills hotel. He was decked out in a shiny purple-and-blue suit. Definitely not an outfit Smiley would favor. In spite of this, his demeanor was quiet and thoughtful, as if we were still channeling the master spy, yet still he radiated the same charisma that has made him one of the most watchable stars working today.

We talked about his character, the movie, and just a bit about his next flick, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Continue reading ‘Gary Oldman Tries to Blend into the Woodwork in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Shame’

There’s a scene right near the beginning of Steve McQueen’s brilliant “Shame” where the film’s protagonist is in a subway car opposite a pretty redheaded lass in a short skirt. He leers at her with the cool appraisal of a jungle predator. She shifts, blushes, and steals glances back at him, looking as flustered and aroused as he seems impassive. It’s a scene of almost unbearable sexual tension, and McQueen masterfully lets it go on and on.

“Shame” made waves earlier this year for getting slapped with an NC-17 rating. The rating supposedly spells box office death, but this movie, which is rightfully getting Oscar buzz, might put that long-held assumption to the test. Sure, there is plenty of skin in “Shame” — it is a movie about a sex addict, after all. Yet McQueen manages to create scenes of a different sort of nakedness — emotional, spiritual — that are beautiful, unnerving, and hypnotic. McQueen was a gallery artist before stepping behind the camera, and it shows. Every shot in the movie has a beauty that recalls a painting more than a movie still. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Shame’’

December 2011

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