Tag Archives: Diablo Cody

Hey Lady, You Lady

Tully

by George Wolf

The character Tully doesn’t show up ’til nearly 40 minutes in, but by then the film Tully has its anchor: a sensational Charlize Theron.

The Oscar-winner excels as Marlo, an exhausted, frazzled mom in dire need of a break. Marlo and her inattentive husband Drew (Ron Livingston) already have a young daughter, a younger son with some behavior issues, and now (surprise!) a brand new baby girl.

Lucky for Marlo, she’s also got a rich brother (Mark Duplass) whose baby gift is a “night nanny” named Tully (Halt and Catch Fire‘s Mackenzie Davis – a keeper). Once Tully shows up, Marlo can get what every new parent craves…sleep.

After two winners together in Juno and the criminally ignored Young Adult, writer Diablo Cody  and director Jason Reitman make their third collaboration a wonderfully natural extension of the first two.

Cody is a gifted writer, her dialogue often insightful without preaching and timely without pandering. Here she creates two characters whose unlikely friendship speaks to the changing roles women will play throughout their lives, and the heartache those changes can sometimes bring.

That being said, it’s hard to imagine the film working as well as it does without Theron. She makes Marlo’s every emotion feel real, and the character absolutely human even when Cody’s script takes some chances not all will appreciate.

Reitman, back in form after the dreadful Men, Women & Children, also helps in that department, keeping the film grounded in a world many will recognize. This isn’t the heartwarming comedy the TV ads want you to think it is, nor is it the casual dismissal of postpartum depression that others have charged.

It is one woman’s story, with moments of humor, absurdity and truth, a bit of cliche and even some fairy tale optimism. And with all of that, there’s enough brash boundary pushing to make Tully feel like a film we haven’t seen before, and one we’re glad that’s here.

 

Halloween Calendar, Day 27: Jennifer’s Body

 

Day 27:  Jennifer’s Body (2009)

 

If Ginger Snaps owes a lot to Carrie (and it does), then Jennifer’s Body finds itself even more indebted to Ginger Snaps.

The central premise: Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them. Better still, lure them to an isolated area and eat them, leaving their carcasses for the crows. This is the surprisingly catchy idea behind this coal-black horror comedy.

In for another surprise? Megan Fox’s performance is spot-on as the high school hottie turned demon. Director Karyn Kusama’s film showcases the actress’s most famous assets, but also mines for comic timing and talent other directors apparently overlooked.

Amanda Seyfried’s performance as the best friend, replete with homely girl glasses and Jan Brady hairstyle, balances Fox’s smolder, and both performers animate Diablo Cody’s screenplay with authority. They take the Snaps conceit and expand it – adolescence sucks for all girls, not just the outcasts.

In place of two alienated sisters, Jennifer’s Body shadows best friends – the smokin’ hot cheerleader (actually, oddly, she’s on flag squad), and the best friend whose non-glam look bolsters the popular girl’s insecurity-riddled self-esteem.

Cody’s script shines bright, as she gives the horror genre the rare chance to benefit from the pen of an Oscar winner. In turn, the young talent handling her acerbic prose does her proud. Adam Brody’s smarmy, contemptuous indie rocker steals several scenes, including a screamer set to “867-5309 Jenny.” Other welcome faces in small but memorable roles include J.K. Simmons and Amy Sedaris, both showing off and having fun in a film that far surpasses expectations.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCSzYioSeT0

Weekend Countdown: Hard Labor for Labor Day

It’s Labor Day Weekend, and we’ve decided to take a mo and celebrate the hardest labor of all. The pregnant kind. Here are our five favorite pregnant lady flicks.

5. Knocked Up (2007)

The Judd Apatow brand extends to films he simply produced, so he may be getting more creative credit than he deserves, but he had back to back writing/directing/comic gems with 2005’s Forty Year Old Virgin and this Pregnant Beauty and the Beast. Better for its ensemble than its leads, the flick boasts dead-on genius work from Leslie Mann, hilarious support from Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel and Kristin Wiig, and it introduced the world to the now constant comic presence of Ken Jeong. At least he kept his pants on for this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR4sXcMf_5o

4. Juno (2007)

Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera and Ellen Page enraptured us all with this quick witted, brilliantly cast, endlessly quotable comedy about a pregnant teen. Reitman and Cody would pair up again with the nearly flawless Young Adult, but their first collaboration remains fresher and funnier than you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwv12d85u7A

3. Waitress (2007)

Soulful and funny, gorgeously filmed and perfectly cast, Waitress is the list’s underseen joy. Pie baking phenom Kerri Russell squirrels away money so she can quit her waitressing job and leave her husband, then finds herself pregnant and attracted to her new doctor. Writer/director Adrienne Shelly’s film offers a pitch-perfect supporting cast, a cleverly crafted script, and the remarkable ability to make you want to eat pie right now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cQ0WwcKCLk

2. Inside (2007)

Holy shit. Inside is not for the squeamish. This French horror flick pits a merciless villain against an enormous expecting mother. Though the film goes wildly out of control by the third act, it is a 2/3 brilliant effort, a study in tension wherein one woman will do whatever it takes, with whatever utensils are available, to get at the baby still firmly inside another woman’s body.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOk5tiAkEdA

1. Rosemary’s Baby

If you’re going to see only one pregnant lady horror flick, make it Rosemary’s Baby. It remains a disturbing, elegant, and fascinating tale, and Mia Farrow’s embodiment of defenselessness joins forces with William Fraker’s skillful camerawork to cast a spell. Yes, that crazy pederast Roman Polanski sure can spin a yarn about violated, vulnerable females.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PewtQsgN5uo

Weekend Countdown: Best films..so far..in 2013

The year’s half over. What were the  best films so far? Well, #1 opens this week at the Gateway. Have a look!

 

5. Evil Dead

Fede Alvarez remakes Sam Raimi’s beloved indie splatter fest with the right amount of respect (to the original), humor, and more than enough gore. This infectious bloodletting surprises even the most ardent fan of the original with ingenious twists, solid performances, and a script doctored brilliantly by Oscar winner Diablo  Cody.

 

4. This Is The End

Seth Rogan’s posse gathers for an end of the world party to lampoon their own images and spin a hilarious yarn about celebrity, the rapture, and Michael Cera’s cocaine habit. Jonah Hill’s demon possession is inspired comedy, but the film’s a clever, weirdly good-natured laugh riot from start to finish.

 3. Much Ado about Nothing

Thank God for nerds. Joss Whedon turns his considerable skill to breathing new life to Shakespeare, with the second big party on the list. Mining the Bard’s comedy for actual laughs, Whedon stacks his cast with hyper-talented buddies, and a scene-stealing Nathan Fillian alone is worth the price of admission.

 

2. Mud

Writer/director Jeff Nichols follows up his flawless (and criminally underseen Take Shelter) with another exquisite film. This coming of age tale about a boy, a disappearing way of life, and a fugitive named Mud charms and surprises.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv30J05U2nI

 

1. Stories We Tell

A fascinating, thoroughly entertaining documentary from Sarah Polley.  While laying bare the secrets in her own family history, Polley expertly speaks to all families, and the questionable truths in which we often take comfort.

 

Runners up: Star Trek Into Darkness, Before Midnight, Frances Ha, World War Z, To the Wonder, The Bling Ring, How to Make Money Selling Drugs  and The Iceman. Happy viewing!

Like Visiting an Old, Very Very Bloody Friend

By George Wolf

Back in ’the early 80s, a low budget horror flick called The Evil Dead got an unexpected boost from legendary author Stephen King. His  public endorsement thrust the obscure title into the spotlight, and on its way to cult status among horror fans. Evil Dead 2 followed in ’87, and then Army of Darkness in ’92. While the series grew increasingly campy, the original story of a deserted cabin, stupid kids and a certain book of the dead remains iconic.

It gets new life with Evil Dead, and fans that have been chomping at the bit will not be let down. The camp is long gone, replaced by solid writing and surprisingly steady direction. Oh, and blood, lots and lots of blood.

Director/co-writer Fede Alvarez, in his feature debut, isn’t concerned with Stooge-worthy splatter . His reboot lovingly reworks Sam Raimi’s tale, eliminating nearly all the humor but absolutely none of the bloodletting. Did I mention it’s bloody?

The film puts more backstory and character development in the mix, but the core remains. We find two couples and one sister holed up in an old cabin, but this time David (Shiloh Fernandez, a bit weak), his girlfriend and his buddies are there to help his sister Mia (Jane Levy, from TVs Suburgatory, in a fantastically gritty performance) quit her drug habit.

Though it’s impossible to pick out the contributions of each of the screenwriters updating Raimi’s script, certain elements – like this back story – scream of Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult, Jennifer’s Body), as an ingenious concept gives the film potential subtext by way of an unreliable narrator. Is this reality, or is Mia just insane and detoxing?

Solid writing and Alvarez’s gleefully indulgent direction allow the film – not only a remake, but a remake of a film that tread the overworn path of “cabin in the woods horror” – to remain shockingly fresh.  This is thanks in part to a handful of inspired tweaks, a couple fine performances, and a fearless but never contemptuous eye for carnage.

From the super-creepy opening sequence, Alverez’s update announces its fondness for the source material and his joyous aspiration to stretch that tale to its fullest, nastiest potential. He also shows a real skill for putting nail guns, machetes, hammers, electric meat slicers, hypodermics, even your standard bathroom mirror to fascinating new uses. Bloody, bloody uses.

It’s a quick,intense ride, but don’t be in a rush to leave the theater. For fans of the series, there’s a little gift at the end of the credits.

Bloody good fun!

4 stars (out of 5)