Tag: Sean Penn (Page 1 of 3)

Movie Flashback: “The Game” (2011)

Screenshot The Game Michael Douglas

I had never seen “The Game” so I was happy to see this film pop up on one of my streaming services. Starring Michael Douglas at the height of his powers along with the always entertaining Sean Penn, the film had star power along with a very intriguing story.

Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) is a successful and wealthy banker who seems to have everything. He looks like Gordon Gekko but Douglas plays him without the cockiness and bluster. He’s a straight-laced guy living a very comfortable life. His brother Conrad (Penn) is the opposite as we learn quickly when Nicholas meets Conrad for lunch. Their conversation sets up the contrast between the characters, and then Conrad offers up an odd birthday gift. He wants Nicholas to take part in a personalized, real-life game. Nicholas is skeptical but then reluctantly agrees to accept after looking into it. And then things spin out of control.

Screenshot The Game Sean Penn

The story has so many twists and turns that it’s sometimes hard to keep up. The audience is often left guessing as to whether Nicholas is truly experiencing a game or if it’s all real as his life spins out of control. The end of the film is over-the-top, with a final plot twist that will surprise most viewers.

Yet the movie is flawed. It’s difficult to explain this in detail without giving away the ending, but too many of the details don’t add up. It’s too hard to believe the story. We’re used to suspending disbelief in fantasy films like superhero movies or ghost stories, but the setup here is grounded in the real world.

Still, the movie is brilliantly shot and paced. I didn’t realize this was a David Fincher film until the closing credits. It makes sense, as the entire feel of the film fits his style. But Fincher admits he probably should not have directed this film due to problems with the story, particularly in the third act. His wife told him not to take on the project but he didn’t listen. The frenetic ending of the film delivers plenty of entertaining twists and action, but you’re left asking yourself how this is all possible.

While the film is far from perfect, the performances from the cast make up for the problems with the story. Douglas is brilliant as you would expect. He’s able to handle such a wide range of emotions without ever overacting. Events if the events around him seem far-fetched, his reactions always come across as authentic. Penn dials it up and delivers a manic performance that fits the character. He’s perfect for this role, even if this is far from the best performance in the film. Deborah Kara Unger is fantastic as Nicholas’ love interest. It’s surprising that her career fizzled after this film. James Rebhorn delivers his usual great performance as he convinces Nicholas to give this crazy idea a try.

Screenshot The Game Deborah Kara Unger

Do I recommend this movie? Yes. It’s a fun ride from a brilliant director featuring great performances from a stellar cast. But the film has issues that will leave some viewers less than satisfied. But you’ll probably enjoy it if you can get past some of the unbelievable sequences and treat this as a suspenseful popcorn movie.

The Legality Behind Paparazzi Pics

TMZ’s a guilty pleasure for many American’s wanting to know what’s going on in the world of celebrities. But for others it wasn’t that long ago that they would remember news reports from the UK about Princess Diana’s death, and how her life was tragically cut short because of the paparazzi’s need for a picture. Therein lies the tension between photog’s clamoring for the juicy picture they know the world will want to see, and the famous people who have their privacy invaded, and lives severely disrupted.

Who’s the Victim?

Over the last few years there has been buzz about celebrity’s that have sued magazines, and paparazzi who in turn sued celebrities. A recent New York Times article is a reminder of one of the world’s largest multimedia conglomerates, News of the World, and their phone hacking scandal that reached both sides of the pond, affecting celebrities in Britain as well as the US. But the paparazzi have had their share of unfair treatment as well. So who is really the victim here?

Mike Tyson TKO’ed

A 2010 PopEater article talks about Mike Tyson getting sued by a paparazzi photographer for $25 million. According to the report, an altercation at LAX resulted in the photographer receiving injuries to:

• His face.
• Spine.
• Neck.
• Brain.

The Huffington post points out that Tyson alleged the paparazzi photographer, Antonio Echevarria, “aggressively pursed” him and his family through the airport. However, there were no physical injuries or marks on Tyson, and Tyson had been quoted as threatening to kill Echevarria.

Sean Penn’s Paparazzi Vandalism

TMZ reported about Sean Penn’s “no contest plea” to a 2010 incident in which Penn kicked a photographer, who filed a civil lawsuit alleging a knee injury. It settled a little over a year later with an undisclosed monetary amount and Penn facing:

• 36 Months of probation.
• 300 Hours of mandatory community service.

Celebrities Who Have Been Injured

Part of the reason celebrities fight back isn’t just because their privacy is being assaulted, but often so isn’t their safety. Nicole Richie had to be taken to a hospital after a 2009 car accident that was caused when paparazzi following her rear-ended the car she was in. Brad Pitt was rear-ended by a photographer trying to snap his picture while he was riding a motorcycle. Other celebrities that have runs in with the paparazzi include:

• Madonna getting knocked in the face while carrying her baby.
• Jessica Simpson and her friend got smacked in the face.
• Rihanna knocked by a London photog.

What’s the Law?

Although celebrities are affected wherever they go, California is a definite hot spot for celeb-paparazzi battles. In 2009, celebrity, Governor Schwarzenegger offered legal help to his Hollywood pals by passing an anti-paparazzi law. What does this mean?

• Photos and their earnings may have to be forfeited.
• Fines for cameramen.
• Lawsuits for media outlets that publish illegal photos.

The battle between the famous and those who take their picture will not be going away anytime soon. And with increased injuries, and even deaths the likelihood is that there will be an increase in legislation as well.

Weekend box office: “Megamind” rules the ‘plex, more or less

MegamindThe “divide and conquer” strategy for this weekend pretty much worked as planned. The cuddly supervillain-centric 3D animated comedy with an all-star voice cast from Paramount/Dreamworks “Megamind” underperformed slightly to come in at $47.65 million according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a couple million lower than the numbers bandied about earlier, but actually a few million above the opening of another Dreamworks Animation, “How To Train Your Dragon.” As Anthony D’Alessandro reminds us, that one had strong enough legs to carry it to a major success after an opening that was originally deemed very disappointing.

Next up was the heavily promoted Robert Downey, Jr./Zach Galifianakis vehicle, “Due Date.” The R-rated road comedy earned an estimated $33.5 million for Warner Brothers. It’ll be interesting to see if the lackluster reviews are reflected in less than awesome word of mouth and theatrical legs for the film. Nikki Finke reports that it got a decent B- from Cinemascore, but I remain eternally somewhat skeptical of those surveys.

Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis exchange bon mots in

The #3 film was Tyler Perry’s theatrical adaptation of a very non-Tyler Perry play, “For Colored Girls.” The heavy-duty drama earned true to Mr. Perry’s form with his traditional audience base, and generated an estimate of $20.5 million for Lionsgate. Say what you will about Mr. Perry, an adaptation of an acclaimed poetry-based play earning that kind of cash requires someone with his kind of populist sensibilities and appeal.

In the #4 spot, the age-spanning action-comedy, “RED,” continues to maintain its hold on the box office with an estimate of over $8.85 million for Summit. Last week’s Halloween #1, “Saw 3D,” had the expected big second weekend drop, plus a bit extra. It lost 63.6% for a Week 2 estimate of $8.2 million. “Paranormal Activity 2” is also dropping, but less dramatically (55.8%). It earned an estimated $7.29 million for Paramount in its third week.

Among limited releases, the four theaters showing Danny Boyle’s much discussed James Franco near-one-man-show, “127 Hours,” showed that audiences were willing to pay an arm, if not a leg, to see the fact-based ordeal film and things look promising for a wider release. It endured a spectacular per-screen average of $66,500 for a total of $266,000. Less stratospheric, but still healthy, was the 46 theater debut of the fact-based political ordeal drama, “Fair Game,” featuring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts as Bush-era National Security Council analyst Joe Wilson and his wife, spy Valerie Plame, who was very illegally outed by members of the Bush Administration. (Their defense: it was an accident. Woops.) It earned a per-screen average north of $15,000 and a total of $700,000.

fair-game-watts-penn

Trailer: “Fair Game”

With Fall starting it’s approach, it’s time for the award hopefuls to start showing their faces. And we start with a movie guaranteed to get the ideologues over at Breitbart-land (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re just lucky) into their usual state of apoplexy. Hey, it’s not the fault of liberals like me, or borderline radicals like Sean Penn, that more than one person extremely high up in the Bush II Administration pretty clearly engineered the outing of a CIA agent as an act of political revenge against her husband, directly breaking a law signed by the President’s father, Bush I, in the wake of the Phillip Agee affair.

Naomi Watts is, I think, probably the perfect person to play Plame. As young as she looks, she’s even about exactly the right age for the part as well (she’s five years younger than Plame). How often does that happen?  Doug Liman, whose father was a prosecutor in the similarly unresolved Reagan Administration Iran-Contra scandal, directs.

Midweek movie news, the Cannes kick-off edition

With the super-hum0ngous Cannes Film Festival opening today — with Tim Burton heading the festival jury, btw –the movie news is in a kind of hyper-drive.  Also, it’s been a few days since I’ve done one of these newsy posts. So, you’ll have to excuse me as I merely skim the surface.

* Is it that no one’s writing books or plays anymore, or do we really need to keep making movies based on games? Tim Burton, it so happens, is the next to contemplate the matter. Will “MONSTERPOCALYPSE” be the first game-based film to screen at Cannes, or will that be “Checkers: the Movie”?

* Here your fix of Cannes-related glitz, and also details on the rather big film-making names. Meanwhile THR takes a moderately bullish look at the market-side of the event.

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