Posts Tagged ‘Seth Rogen’

Michael Fassbinder

Michael Fassbender

“STEVE JOBS” My rating: A- 

122 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Love him or hate him, Steve Job’s life was epic…so epic that any attempt to encompass it in a traditional movie biopic is doomed to failure. (Exhibit A: 2013’s lackluster “Jobs” with Ashton Kutcher as Apple’s genius in residence.)

Leave it to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network,” TV’s “West Wing”) to find a way to embrace the salient features of Jobs’ life and personality while inventing a near-perfect narrative structure.

“Steve Jobs” works on just about every level, with a near-brilliant central performance by Michael Fassbender as Jobs, a jaw-droppingly good supporting cast, and effortless direction by Danny Boyle.

But it’s the script — not just the snappy dialogue but the way the story is told — that makes the film a small classic of operatic intensity.

“Steve Jobs” is essentially three one-act plays, each unfolding in real time and centering on the debut of one of Jobs’ landmark products.

The first 40-minute segment takes place in 1984 with the unveiling of the Macintosh computer. The second unfolds in 1988 when Jobs, having been fired by Apple’s board of directors, debuts his renegade effort, the ill-fated NeXT work station. Finally there’s the presentation in 1998 of the original iMac…by this time Jobs has returned to Apple in triumph.

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet

There’s an element of show-biz pizzaz and ticking-clock suspense at work here.  Jobs views each product debut as a sort of Broadway opening involving sound, video and his own central performance. And then there’s the not inconsequential fact that these various Apple products are often unfinished and still plagued by bugs.  When Jobs flips the switch will they perform or just sit there?

In a sense, the film is a sort of backstage drama. As with last year’s “Birdman,” the story is captured with a roving camera (the cinematography is by Alwin H.Kuchler) following Jobs as he stalks the theaters wings and subterranean passages, always in motion, always shouting orders and making demands.

Common to all three segments is a recurring cast of characters who grow older and evolve over more than a decade:

Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) is Apple’s head of marketing and apparently the only person on staff who can tell the domineering and arrogant Jobs when he’s full of shit. OK, she’s more politic than that, but basically she is Jiminy Cricket to Jobs’ Pinocchio.

Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) is the computer dweeb who cofounded Apple with Jobs, spearheaded the Apple II (for many years the only Apple product that made money) and over time was nudged out of the company (albeit with a huge golden parachute). Despite the betrayal and hurt, Woz still cares about his old partner.

“It’s not binary,” Wozniak cautions Jobs. “You can be decent and gifted at the same time.” (more…)

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Seth Rogen (center) and friends...avoiding the Apocalypse

Seth Rogen (center) and friends…avoiding the Apocalypse

“THIS IS THE END” My rating: C (Opens wide on June 14)

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“This Is the End” had so much positive web buzz that I opted to see Seth Rogen’s end-times comedy instead of the new Superman movie.

Note to self: Time to get skeptical about what you read online.

This writing/directing collaboration between Rogen and longtime film partner Evan Goldberg certainly sounded encouraging.  Rogen and other raunch-comedy stars (James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel) play themselves as spoiled, clueless actors trapped in a house when the Rapture sucks all the good people up to Heaven.

Left to their own devices in a city ravaged by flames, earthquakes and rampaging demons, how will these Hollywood horndogs spend what little is left of their lives on Earth?

Not in prayer, certainly.

The film’s first 20 minutes are actually pretty clever. Rogen greets newly-arrived boyhood friend Baruchal at LAX.  The idea is for the two old buds – Rogen is now a fully-vested Angelino, while Baruchal remains at heart a Canadian – to rekindle a friendship that has started to go stale.

Prominent on Rogen’s itinerary is a big blowout at the new home of James Franco. Baruchal is less than enthusiastic because he thinks most of Rogen’s show-biz friends are dicks.

And in fact “This is the End” is at its most amusing and outrageous in the party scenes where dozens of recognizable actors (Paul Rudd, David Krumholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segal) portray themselves as shallow, vacant creatures of fame and priviledge.

Particularly hysterical is wimpy Michael Cera, who presents himself as a totally coked-up, sexually omnivorous whack job.


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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen

“50 / 50” My rating: B+ (Opening wide Sept. 30)

99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

It’s one thing to make a raunchy comedy.

It’s another to tell a serious story about someone coping with a life-threatening disease.

But in a category all by itself is the ability to put those two seemingly contradictory genres together so that they complement each other rather than cancelling each other.

That’s the small miracle of “50/50,” based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s own bout with cancer.


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“KUNG FU PANDA 2”  My rating: C

minutes | Rating: G

“Kung Fu Panda 2” is one of the most beautiful animated films ever, with fantastic action scenes, astonishingly detailed “sets” and a filmic sense worthy of any live-action epic.

It’s a good thing it’s so gorgeous, because dramatically it’s pretty much a wash.

Not awful. But not memorable.

This sequel assembles most of the voices from the first “Panda,” especially Jack Black (more…)

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