The Hustle — The Third Version of the Con Job Comedy

Posted on February 15, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright 2019 MGM

“The Hustle” stars Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, and Tony Award winner Alex Sharp in the third version of the story of competing con artists on the Rivera.

The first one was “Bedtime Story,” starring Marlon Brando and David Niven.

The remake was the classic “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with Steve Martin and Michael Caine, featured in my book 101 Must-See Movie Moments.

It became a Broadway musical.

And now, yet another gender switch — this time it is two con women, Hathaway and Wilson.

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Turkeys Away! Jen Chaney Pays Tribute to WKRP’s Classic Thanksgiving Episode

Posted on November 22, 2018 at 12:00 pm

My friend and fellow critic Jen Chaney has a marvelous tribute to what she says is the greatest Thanksgiving episode of series television, “WKRP’s” “Turkeys Away!”  She even has the details of the real-life radio station promotions that inspired it.

It is a delightful essay about a television classic.

Crucially, we never actually see a helicopter or any turkeys hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement. The entire picture of this scene is painted through Les’s words and tone, which escalate quickly from calm and newsman-like to absolutely panic-stricken. This is necessary for obvious reasons: It would have been problematic from an animal-rights perspective (not to mention prohibitively expensive) for a network sitcom to stage this scene. But it works better without us witnessing what happens. As we would if we were listening to Les on the actual radio, we are guided through this story primarily by Sanders’s vocal expression, a wonderfully appropriate touch for a show about a group of people attempting to assert the relevancy of radio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Movie Makes You Feel Better?

Posted on November 4, 2018 at 8:00 am

The New York Times asked some of the stars of the big fall movies what movies they like to watch when they’re feeling down. Two of them picked “The Lion King” but for different reasons. Interestingly, most picked movies that meant a lot to them when they were kids, suggesting that it is partly about the content of the film but partly about taking them back in time that they find comforting. Perhaps the most surprising answer — and my favorite, though I’d never find that movie cheering — is from Tim Blake Nelson, who picks the documentary about underground comix legend R. Crumb. Nelson, who is a writer as well as an actor, expresses so beautifully what moves him about the film and about Crumb’s life.

In spite of a family whose level of dysfunction honestly cannot be described in words — making the film all the more essential — and a welter of his own debilitating social issues, R. Crumb remains resolutely true to who and what he is. His resilience and perseverance result in drawings as lacerating as Daumier’s, as distinct as Toulouse-Lautrec’s, and as beautifully, tragically human as Schiele’s — mostly in the milieu of underground countercultural cartoons and illustrations. The movie ultimately provides great hope in its depiction of an artist who simply won’t compromise, and who furnishes a way of seeing the culture that has impacted popular aesthetics to this day. As sad as it is, this makes “Crumb” one of the more strangely uplifting films I can name.

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Get Over 100 Award-Nominated Screenplays!

Posted on September 7, 2018 at 8:00 am

Screenwriting Magazine is making available links to 100 Academy contender screenplays.  Whether you’re thinking of writing one yourself or just want to know your favorites a little better, this treasure trove is worth checking out.

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