Robin Williams: Teacher, Alien, Nanny, Legend

Posted on | August 13, 2014 | 3 Comments

John Keating (Robin Williams) inspires and surprises his students in Good Will Hunting (1989)After hearing the tragic news of Robin Williams’ death at age 63, I wanted to watch one of his films. My pick was Peter Weir’s high school tear-jerker Dead Poets Society (1989), about a group of boarding-school boys inspired by their unconventional English teacher (played by Williams). The film, though sometimes cliched and sentimental, is inspiring, witty, and thoughtful, not unlike William’s character. In the last stretch of the film, director Weir truly transcends the feel-good genre and creates something deeply poignant, heartbreaking, almost lyrical.

Despite a shortage of screen time, Williams steals all of his scenes as the quirky, Walt Whitman-quoting, John Wayne-imitating hero who influences his students. Clearly a skilled actor, Williams makes every moment count in an inspirational, drily funny performance. Reaffirming how unforgettable the role is, Apple featured his “What will your verse be speech?” in a memorable iPad ad, last fall.

Alien Mork (Robin Williams) and human Mindy (Pam Dawber) in Mork and MindyOf course, this was only one terrific performance in a career full of them. A star was born when audiences saw his bizarrely hilarious breakout performance in ABC’s alien-out-of-water sitcom Mork and Mindy. After four years, the show was canceled and Williams moved onto film roles, like The World According to Garp (1982) and Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), which garnered him his first Oscar nomination. He continued his string of drama-comedies with two more Oscar noms: for Dead Poets Society and The Fisher King (1991). He eventually won, for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting (1997).

Though his most revered roles were his dramatic ones, Williams (originally a stand-up comic) could always make an audience laugh. His high-pitched voice, zany facial expressions, and rapid comic timing made him a distinct comedian with a unique brand of big-screen humor.  Who could forget his performance as divorced-dad turned cross-dressing nanny in the hilarious Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)? Or his voice role as the pop-culture referencing Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992)?

Mrs. Doubtfire is not your normal nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)No one will forget those performances, or Robin Williams himself. We’ve lost a legend but we still have his body of work to make us laugh, bring tears, and remind us a true great’s talents. Nanu, nanu.

Robot and Boy T-Shirt! (Available for Limited Time)

Posted on | March 5, 2014 | 1 Comment

Flick and Flack aren’t just movie critics anymore. We’re filmmakers, too. Our most recent film, Robot and Boy, is a touching 24 minute sci-fi adventure about a robot who lands on earth and the boy who takes care of him.

Robot and Boy - Q and A

We were lucky enough to show the film in the Youth Filmaker Show at the 2014 Providence Children’s Film Festival (just a few weeks ago). We loved having the opportunity to share our film with more than 200 people. After the screening, we participated in a Q&A with our cast and other filmmakers. You can read all about the event in the Brown Daily Herald.

So far, Robot and Boy has been a success. But for success to continue…we need your support! That’s why we’re selling a limited edition Robot and Boy T-shirt. The shirt has beautiful artwork on the front and credits on the back. Trust us, it’s awesome. With an affordable price and cool design, how could you miss out? You must order before Wed. March 5th at 9pm ET,  so get yours at:  teespring.com/robotandboy

Robot and Boy - t-shirt front Robot and Boy - t-shirt back

Who Will Win? Flack’s 2014 Oscar Analysis

Posted on | March 1, 2014 | 3 Comments

Chiwetel Efijior and Lupita Nyong'o star in Oscar frontrunner 12 Years a Slave (2013)They’re almost here.

After 6 months of obsessive predictions, studio scheming, marketing madness, Red Carpet overload, and one awards show after another, the Oscars (and the end of the awards season) are just a little more than 24 hours away.

Every year, the September-February thrill ride starts with Telluride and Toronto and just keeps on going. From Golden Globes fun and the Oscar nominations, to non-stop campaigns and Academy Q&A’s; through gossipy controversy and endless critique, past last-minute releases and release-date changes, over Oscar bets, shocking interviews, a nominee change (!), and… When does it stop?

Every year Awards Season feels a little bit…predictable. Yes, there’s the acting category surprises and the films that came out of nowhere to be claimed as “frontrunners” and the ballyhoo-causing cast and crew disputes that threaten to change everything (and normally change nothing). But, through all the nonsense, there’s always one film that gets called a Best Picture lock, gets called an “also-ran”, has a surprise comeback, gets rejected again, and ends up winning.

That’s exactly why this year’s Oscar race feels genuinely refreshing. When was the last time a nerve-wracking three-way-race for Best Picture had everyone biting their nails off? That’s certainly the case this year, with 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle all vying for the big win. But enough with all this talk…who’s going to win?

Well, I’ll cut to the chase: 12 Years a Slave. Sure, Gravity is as suspenseful and groundbreaking as movies get and American Hustle is the type of crowd-pleasing ensemble period-piece dramedy that seems like a shoo-in. But 50 years from now, voters will want people to look back at 2014 as the year the “Important Movie” won and12 Years a Slave fits that bill. Of course, they’ll also want to recognize a fine cast, careful direction, and a resonant script. But Oscar voters aren’t always known for picking Best Picture based on which is their favorite. Though it sounds (and is) silly, voters sometimes have other agendas. By selecting 12 Years a Slave, voters will be selecting the the indie studio flick, the critical favorite, the hard-to-watch controversy, the predictable-ish frontrunner, and the historical drama. Honestly, none of those descriptions will make the Academy look bad. So when everything boils down, there’s no real suspense for me. Based on everything I know about the Oscars, 12 Years a Slave will win Best picture. Now we just have to see if the Academy agrees with itself.

Here’s my other predictions…

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Best Actor: Mathew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Best Original Screenplay: American Hustle

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave

Best Animated Feature: Frozen

Best Documentary Feature: 20 Feet From Stardom

Best Foreign-Language Film: The Great Beauty

Best Cinematography: Gravity

Best Costume Design: American Hustle

Best Film Editing: Gravity

Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club

Best Original Score: Gravity

Best Original Song: “Let It Go” from Frozen

Best Production Design: Gravity

Best Sound Editing: Gravity

Best Sound Mixing: Gravity

Best Visual Effects: Gravity

Best Animated Short: Get a Horse!

Best Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Best Live Action Short: Just Before Losing Everything

Alright, alright, alright. On with the show…

2014 Oscar Nominations (Flack’s Predictions)

Posted on | January 16, 2014 | 3 Comments

Chiwetel Ejiofor leads an ensemble cast in Oscar favorite 12 Years A Slave (2013)

This past Sunday, 21 million viewers watched the Golden Globes. The show was filled with bad jokes, rambling speeches, and surprise winners (I scored a just-okay 11 out of 24 on my predictions). But while the Globes can be great fun, there’s one awards show that simply towers above the rest: the Oscars. This year, Ellen DeGeneres will host the 86th Academy Awards on March 2. But until then, I’ll be obsessing over one big question: who will win? And before that: Who will be nominated? That’s the question of the day and I’m here to give you the answers. Without further ado, here’re my predictions and thoughts for 10 main categories (all in random, order, except Best Picture)…

Best Picture (Ranked):

1. 12 Years A Slave

2. American Hustle

3. Gravity

4. Nebraska

5. Her

6. Captain Phillips

7. Saving Mr. Banks

8. The Wolf of Wall Street

9. Inside Llewyn Davis

10. Dallas Buyers Club

Thoughts: There can be 5-10 nominees here but 3 really stand out; 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity are as close to sure-things as possible, while Nebraska and Her should get plenty of votes to round out the top 5. After that, Captain Phillips is a likely 6th nom. But then it gets really murky… Here’s where the 5-10 nominees rule helps: to get nominated, a movie needs 5% of voters to rank a film as their top choice. With that in mind, Saving Mr. BanksInside Llewyn Davis, and The Wolf of Wall Street should manage, thanks to a small number of passionate fans. Don’t be surprised if there’s no 10th nom but Dallas Buyers Club can probably make the cut.

Alfonso Cuaron's technical precision will likely earn him an Oscar nom for Gravity (2013)Best Director:

Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Spike Jonze, Her
Alexander Payne, Nebraska

Last year there were some huge surprises in this category and we could see some more of the same this time around. Cuarón, McQueen, and Russell have as much support as their films, but the Directors Guild (which, like the Screen Actors Guild, has some Oscar overlap) also nominated two surprises: The Wolf of Wall Street‘s Martin Scorsese and Captain Phillips’ Paul Greengrass. That puts them in a crowded field for the final two spots, along with Nebraska’s Alexander Payne and Her‘s Spike Jonze. Scorsese has years of respect and Greengrass’ taut, tense style has many fans but don’t count on either one to garner a nod: Payne and Jonze have distinctive auteur styles that would make them both perfect surprises.

Best Actor:

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Christian Bale, American Hustle

Who will win? Who knows! All Is Lost‘s Robert Redford has been largely absent from important pre-cursors (the SAGs, most notably) so Hustles Bale should make the cut. Otherwise, Ejiofor, McConaughey, Dern, and Hanks have battled tough competition (The Butler‘s Forrest Whitaker still has a shot) to become likely nominees.

Best Actress: 

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Judi Dench, Philomena
Amy Adams, American Hustle

The SAGs honored Meryl Streep’s performance in the unloved August: Osage County but she won’t be so lucky here: unlike Streep, these 5 picks have support for their roles and their films.

James Gandolfini's performance in Enough Said (2013) will likely grant him an Oscar nom

Best Supporting Actor:

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle

Another group that’ll be hard to challenge. The only uncertainty is Gandolfini. Besides his performance, there’s been no awards talk for Enough Said. Daniel Bruhl has been getting a lot of love for his role in Rush, another largely unloved film, and could beat Gandolfini to make the cut. Still, Enough Said‘s late star should claim a spot.

Best Supporting Actress:

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County

Some awards analysts have struggled to predict five nominees in this small field of competition. Blue Jasmine‘s Sally Hawkins could land a nod but Julia Roberts is a safer choice.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Richard Linklater & Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street

Not much to talk about here: almost everyone agrees on these 5.

Best Original Screenplay:

Spike Jonze, Her
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

Each of these films has been getting high acclaim for their sharp dialogue, thoughtfully written characters, and bold originality. Gravity and Enough Said are strong contenders but there’s not much gravity to either one. Enough said.

Best Animated Feature:

The Wind Rises
Ernest & Celestine
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University

This normally predictable field of big-budget CGI kiddie comedies has found some surprising resistance in recent years by hand-drawn foreign fare. Expect the trend to continue here, with The Wind Rises especially likely to give the popular Frozen a run for its frontrunner status.

Arcade Fire's Her (2013) score will probably earn them an Oscar nodBest Original Score:

Steven Price, Gravity
Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave
John Williams, The Book Thief
Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
Arcade Fire, Her

Steven Price and Hans Zimmer are probable predictions but Thomas Newman’s score for Saving Mr. Banks might beat out Arcade Fire, Alex Ebert, and the beloved John Williams for a spot.

Those are all my predictions for the main nominees but you can tune in tomorrow morning to hear the new Academy president Cheryl Boones Isaac announce the nominees, along with Thor star Chris Hemsworth. Expect more Oscar coverage to come!

Celebrate the Life of Peter O’ Toole by Watching Lawrence of Arabia

Posted on | December 16, 2013 | 1 Comment

Peter O'Toole: Acting LegendLast Saturday, Peter O’ Toole passed away at the age of 81. Holding the record for most Oscar nominations with out a win, the acting legend’s wide-ranging career spanned historical period pieces (The Lion in Winter, The Last Emperor), notorious flops (Caligula, Man of La Mancha), and even an animated comedy (Ratatouille). His most famous work, however, was Lawrence of Arabia (1962), David Lean’s sweeping desert adventure. The movie is a biopic of T. E. Lawrence, a British officer serving in the Middle East during World War I. The film is thrilling, beautiful, and captivating, and easily one of my favorites. So next time you’re thinking of renting a movie (and have 216 minutes to spare), watch Lawrence of Arabia.

Peter O' Toole and Omar Shariff in Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)Note: Often cited as one of the best examples of why the big-screen is the way to see movies, I got a chance to see Lawrence of Arabia at the theater during a 50th anniversary re-release at the theater. You can read my full review here.

Spider Man Could Change Andrew Garfield

Posted on | June 25, 2012 | Add Comments

Andrew Garfield is currently best known for acting in The Social Network. But that’s just about to change. Soon, Garfield’s new film The Amazing Spider Man, a reboot of Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire starring trilogy, will be hitting theaters July 3rd. Garfield isn’t “unknown” at the moment, but his career could… end in a way, just the way many other actor’s careers have after they have starred in huge, huge roles. So what does this mean for his career? Read on.

Andrew Garfield (according to IMDB) has starred in ten films (including The Amazing Spider Man.) But the new film could make or break the twenty nine year old Brit’s career. So, what do I think? Will it make or brake his career? I’m saying make. He is not going to be a George Reeves (he won’t be typecast as “the Spider Man guy”). This year has previously been great for superheros: The Avengers broke the opening weekend record. The Dark Knight Rises could possibly break that record and it will probably do better than Garfield’s superhero flick. However, early buzz for the film on Rotten Tomatoes has been good. The film’s current percentage on the Tomatometer is a 91% with only one “rotten” review. Early critic’s buzz is good, but who really has the say? The fans. They are the film’s toughest critics and they could ruin Garfield’s career.Besides The Social Network, what has the new kid on the block done? Well, not much, ten films (as I already said). Some of those ten include the Red Riding trilogy (Roger Ebert gave the entire trilogy four out of four stars), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (a Terry Gilliam fantasy that also starred Christopher Plummer and the late Heath Ledger), Never Let Me Go (a 2010 R-rated fantasy drama that also starred Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, his first film Boy A, and more.

Garfield has no future plans for films which (in my opinion) is a good idea because he doesn’t have to do anything and he’s free to do anything. After all, you never know how The Amazing Spider Man will do. But if it does well (which I think it will), Spider Man won’t have to do what a spider can. Instead, he’ll do whatever a young, British, famous actor can.

Idris Elba: A Star is Born

Posted on | June 14, 2012 | Add Comments

Idris Elba stars in last week’s Prometheus and he’ll also star in next years Gullmerio del Toro film Pacific Rim. Why did a little known African American become Ridely Scott and del Toro’s new stars? Read on.

Before Prometheus Idris Elba had starred in Thor, American Gangster (a Scott film), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (some crazy Nicholas Cage action movie), and more. But now (for some unbeknownst to me), Elba is now in the spotlight with Prometheus. While his role is small in the sci-fi horror epic and there’s also big names like Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron, Elba must have been… noticed because after all del Toro picked him up for his movie about robots and monsters and Elba.Of his new film del Toro says, “It’s about world saving but it’s not a military movie. I want an adventure movie, the kind you saw as a kid – a western or a space movie.” (Del Toro said this in an interview with the British film magazine Total Film. The issue in which the Pacific Rim article appears is the Summer 2012 issue. It is available at newsstands and on the iPad now.)

Elba is also currently filming No Good Deed and Long Walk to Freedom (in which he is rumored to play Nelson Mandela). His films Pacific Rim and They Die by Dawn are currently in post production. Four films in the future? One of them being a huge sequel (Thor 2)? One of them in which he is rumored to star as Nelson Mandela? Elba is one busy guy. But will his next four films be any good? Will I see any of them? Maybe Thor 2. Will they be commercially and critically successful? Only time will tell. (Note: With so many movies changing their release dates all four of Elba’s films might come out tomorrow. So watch your multiplexs and… have a nice day.)

More Marvel Movies (Flack’s Guide)

Posted on | May 18, 2012 | Add Comments

The AvengersIf you’ve seen The Avengers and are hungry for more Marvel superhero movies here’s your guide to whats up next. SPOILER ALERT If you have not seen The Avengers or the other Marvel films then minor plot elements may be revealed. This is a comprehensive, chronological guide to what’s up next for Marvel (bought by Walt Disney).Iron Man

Iron Man 3 Release Date: May 3rd, 2013 News: Ben Kingsley joins the cast as the evil villain, The Mandarin and Tony Stark\Iron Man (played of course by Robert Downey Jr.) must head to China to battle him. Guy Pierce plays Aldrich Killian. Don Cheadle and Gwenyth Paltrow reprise their roles. Getting a new director (Shane Black) could shake things up pleasantly after the unoriginal Iron Man 2. The plot sounds exactly the same as the first two (Iron Man must fight a villain and terrorists) but as with the others hilarious lines and a bit of depth may transcend a generic storyline. The movie will open the summer movie season on the first week of May, the way Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Avengers have. The film will probably make more money than Iron Man and Iron Man 2 but not as much as The Avengers. I will definitely see this one. After Iron Man 2 was criticized for being stuffed with The Avengers references, Keven Feige  has said Iron Man 3 is to be very different than The Avengers. There will still probably be an end credits sequence and cameos.

ThorThor 2 Release Date: November 15th, 2013 Keneth Branagah who directed the first one is leaving the series and Alan Taylor (director of such TV shows as Game of Thrones and The Sopranos) is taking over the directing credits. Almost all the actors are returning so that means you’ll get to see Tom Hiddelston, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, and of course  Chris Hemsworth as Thor himself. The film starts filming in August this year. The film will probably make more money than Thor but being sandwiched in the middle of possible November blockbusters Ender’s Game and Catching Fire certainly won’t help. There will also be a new main villain (ie not Loki though he will still be in the movie). Tom Hiddelston and Chris Hemsworth have also stated that sometime in the Thor series that they would like Thor and Loki to be friends. If they can combine awesome, amazing action with an emotional storyline, then Thor 2 will be great.

Captain AmericaCaptain America 2 Release Date: April 4, 2014 The new Captain America film tells the story of the superhero in the present. His only friends are Nick Fury and SHIELD. Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has said Captain America will learn about his World War II friends while he was frozen for about 70 years. I don’t think the movie will be unique because the story sounds similar to Thor where a super hero gets put into modern times. So far only Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson are signed on as actors. Vulture.com says, the three possible directors are F. Gary Gray, George Nolfi, and Anthony and Joseph Russo. I think they should get Steven Spielberg to do a WW 2 sequel to the first one that is set in the 1940’s but he probably wouldn’t want to do it because he’s so busy. Also it seems like Marvel is trying to make this film fail. They are releasing it in April, one of the worst months for movies (both critically and commercially). I am still nonetheless very excited to see how this film turns out.

The HulkOther Marvel Projects: Marvel has announced that they will be releasing a new movie on May 16th, 2014. Why not May 2nd, the first week of summer movies like they normally do? Because they want to give Captain America 2 some time to make some money and Sony is ridiculously planning to release The Amazing Spider Man 2 on May 2nd. The movie that will probably be released then is probably going to be The Avengers 2, because of The Avengers box office success (it’s already the 6th highest grossing movie of all time). Meanwhile Guardians Of The Galaxy, Inhumans, Dr. Strange, and Ant-Man directed by Edgar Wright are all non Avengers related movies that might be released sometime in the future. They might not do as great at the box office or maybe even with critics but they will still will likely be much, much more original because they are not leading up to a big crossover team up blockbuster movie like The Avengers. I would also not be surprised if there were movies solely about Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, which there probably will be. Also a new Hulk film starring Mark Ruffalo might happen because Ruffalo said that he wanted to and Marvel would love to make some more money.

I am looking forward to all these films. I’m least excited to see the original films and Captain America: The First Avenger 2 sounds bad. I can not wait, however to see Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and The Avengers 2.

84th Annual Academy Awards 2012 Predictions Part 2

Posted on | February 23, 2012 | 1 Comment

Flick and Flack talk about their 2012 Oscar Predictions in Part 2 of a 3 part video series. In this video, Flick and Flack discuss the acting, directing and screenplay categories and give their predictions in all of those categories for this year’s Academy Awards.

Part 2 (37 minutes, 56 seconds)

A Great Year for Brad Pitt

Posted on | January 25, 2012 | Add Comments

This truly has been a great year for Brad Pitt in the world of film. He started the year off starring in and producing The Tree of Life, a truly cinematic film about the meaning of life, then in May he starred in and produced Moneyball, a film about Billy Beane who changed the way baseball players are traded and finally in November he voiced Will the Krill in Happy Feet Two (which I didn’t see). Now the awards season is in full swing (the Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday) and Pitt has garnered a nod for Best Actor. In this article I’ll review Pitt’s performances and discuss whether or not the Oscars were spot on. Read on.

Lets start with The Tree of Life. This is certainly Pitt’s best performance of the year. Pitt masterfully embodies Mr O’Brien a strict father of three kids married to a woman played by Jessica Chastain.  However, what’s really amazing about Pitt’s performance in Tree of Life  is the fierceness that Pitt resembles. The character of Mr. O’Bren is very interesting, especially his relationship with one of his sons Jack. Pitt also produced this film, but I think he made this decision for a couple million more bucks. Either way I’m glad Pitt decided to star in such a diverse film.

Bennet Miller’s film is also very interesting, but also very different from  Tree of Life. Before I go any farther, I just want to say that I am not a baseball fan or even a sports fan, but for some reason Moneyball just did it for me. I was hooked and I sat very still in my seat. Pitt’s performance overall is very good and deserves much attention. Not only is Pitt good in this film, but the character of Billy Beane is complexly captivating onto its self. Beane wants to be independent, diverse, unlike the others.

Alright you’ve heard what I think of Pitt’s performances from last year, but did the Academy get it right? And the answer is… No! Pitt was great in both Tree of Life and Moneyball but if I had to pick one performance it would have to be Tree of Life. Although Pitt’s role was more secondary than front and center, ultimately this doesn’t matter. As long as the performance is good I’m hooked.  Fortunately, I wouldn’t trade Pitt to another team if I was directing.