|BEST PERFORMANCEFILM CRITICSHOLLYWOOD|
Back when he was best known as the nerdy eBay customer from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, no one could have guessed that Jonah Hill would turn into Academy Award-nominated actor Jonah Hill. He's been up for Best Supporting Actor twice, actually, one for Moneyball and another for The Wolf of Wall Street he should have won it for Superbad, but alas, though Hill doesn't consider either performance his personal best.
In a chat with GQ about the films to watch during a quarantine, Hill suggested Gus Van Sant's 1989 drama Drugstore Cowboy, starring Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch.
“Gus Van Sant is one of my mentors, one of my favorite people on the planet, and pioneer of queer cinema,” he said. “He made a film with myself and Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara two years ago called He Won't Get Far on Foot and nobody saw it 'cause Amazon completely f*cked it up. But it's the best acting I have done and will ever do.”
The film was so little seen that Hill got the title wrong — it's actually Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, distributed by Amazon Studios, and it made all of $4.2 million at the box office. But it's high praise to call it the best acting that he “will ever do.” Again, that distinction should belong to this scene from Superbad. Hill doesn't have a single upcoming project on his IMDb. Has he retired from the profession until we all see Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot? It is available to watch on... Amazon Prime.
“I have some big news,” the Los Angeles Times lead film critic Kenneth Turan tweeted on Wednesday. “After close to 30 years in the most exciting and rewarding of jobs, I am stepping away from being a daily film critic for the Los Angeles Times. I will keep writing about film but at a different pace. To quote Ecclesiastes, ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Looking forward to what’s to come.”
The outpouring of praise for Turan, who is 73, was intense and immediate. “The maestro takes a bow,” responded The New York Times lead film critic A.O. Scott on Twitter, who himself stepped down from full-time daily criticism on March 15 for one year, leaving that task to his fellow lead critic Manohla Dargis. In his case, taking the title of Critic at Large as he writes “bigger, cross-topic essays,” per The NYT, was long-planned.
Congratulations, my friend, and thank you for guiding movie lovers for all these years and helping make film culture better. I’m greatly looking forward to spending some time with you, face to face and outside a movie theater, when we’re no longer practicing social distancing. https://t.co/fwr1OaKHOR
— Manohla Darkness @ManohlaDargis March 25, 2020
But there was more to the response to Turan’s departure than one veteran hanging up his spurs. Before the pandemic, film critics were already struggling to survive in a fragile newspaper economy that whittled out hundreds of working critics. And since theaters closed down last week, critics are trying to figure out how to function in a post-theatrical world. Write essays about why movies matter? Recommend classic movies on TCM to watch at home? Review anniversary DVDs? Pivot to television and streaming?
Turan opted out as a daily critic after almost three decades on the film beat. After joining the paper in 1991, the Brooklyn-born former book editor became known for refusing to revel in screen violence, a humanistic approach to movies, a deep understanding of how movies are crafted, and most notoriously, for panning Oscar-winning blockbuster “Titanic,” driving James “King of the World” Cameron into attack mode. Turan kept his job for 22 more years, outlasting fellow critics Sheila Benson, Peter Rainer, Kevin Thomas and Michael Wilmington. His last review, on March 12, was of the German escape thriller “Balloon.”
The departing Turan promises to contribute film essays and think pieces, and leaves in place gifted critic Justin Chang, who moved over to the Times after paying his dues at Variety. How many other senior critics will...
Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Show: The Secret History of Hollywood
Where You Can Stream It: The podcasting app of your choice.
The Pitch: The Secret History of Hollywood is the most compelling, immersive, and emotional podcast I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Each season consists of deep dives into a major Hollywood figure, tracing its subject’s rise to prominence and giving incredible insight into their home lives, painting a portrait so captivating and well-rounded that biographies or books on the subjects could only dream to achieve.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Listening: I’ve been thinking about this podcast a lot since I first stumbled across it several years ago, but I think it’s especially appropriate to recommend it right now because some of its episodes are incredibly lengthy – many clock in around an hour and a half, but some of them stretch to four, six, or even nine hours long. Yes, really. Some of you may scoff, but isn’t being in quarantine the perfect time to give a long-form podcast a chance?
Adam Roche, the voice behind the show, had no background in sound editing or sound production when he got started, but he could have fooled me: the series reminds me of an old-time radio show, complete with sound effects and Roche doing voices as he plays the people in a given scene. I realize that may sound cheesy, and it absolutely would be in less-capable hands. But trust me: Roche’s mellifluous voice and incredibly researched accounts are perfect for this type of storytelling.
The show has brought me to tears multiple times over the years, and I think a huge part of the reason for that is because of the long episode lengths. Like a great TV series you never want to end, you get to spend hours and hours with the subjects of these episodes and build emotional connections to them, so when they they experience hardships, a project goes wrong, or they lose a loved one, the results can be unexpectedly powerful.
The show has earned the attention of Hollywood vets like Peter Ramsey Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mark Gatiss Sherlock, Game of Thrones, the latter of whom lends his own terrific voice to introductions of the most recent season, which covers the prolific producer Val Lewton Cat People, The Body Snatcher, The Ghost Ship. I knew nothing about Lewton or his work before I listened to the eleven episode season, but by the end, I feel like not only do I know all about him, but I feel I’ve experienced his highs and lows right alongside him. It’s truly spellbinding stuff, and it comes with my absolute highest recommendation.
I’ve talked about the show a couple...
Chalamet's deeply felt performances over the past couple of years place him in a rare lineage: His elegant transmutation of emotional complexity, unpredictability and physical nuance recalls cinema great Montgomery Clift. In this latest spin on a literary classic, the young star's gloriously weird, awkward and transparently smitten would-be suitor, Laurie, holds the screen with breathtaking romantic fervor. — SHERI LINDEN
As the couple at the center of Noah Baumbach's masterwork, the starsdelivered the deepest, most alive and attuned turns of their careers. Driver'sCharlie, the charming, self-absorbed New York theater director whose wife, Nicole, leaves him for the other coast, may be a great guy, but he hasn't been a great husband, and the actor turns the character's reckoning with that reality into a roller-coaster ride right into his very core. Johansson, meanwhile,makes you feel the clashing impulses and instincts — anger and longing, defiance and guilt, boldness and trepidation — in every step of Nicole's transition into life without Charlie. Lots of performances break your heart; these two do that, then piece it back together again. —J.F.
Kirill Mikhanovsky's tour-de-force tale of American struggle and solidarity careens from crisis to crisis, but its two remarkable leads — Galust plays a stressed-out Milwaukee medical transport driver and Spencer one of his charges, a no-nonsense young African American woman with ALS — provide a spiky, push-pull moral center amid the chaos. The pair flaunt the kind of crack timing, finely calibrated charisma and ability to register subtle shifts in mood and feeling that performers with résumés a hundred times as long would envy. — J.F.
A master class in movie-star magnetism, and also something more. Scrappy, self-serving Ramona struts, scams and works a pole with slinky ferocity, but Lopez gives her a nurturing warmth and, ultimately, a wistfulness that feel true. Without ever sentimentalizing Ramona — there's no straining to suggest a heart of gold beating beneath her massive furs — the performance pushes us to recognize that honest feelings can coexist with dishonest instincts, that people are complicated in ways that don't always add up. — J.F.
Mercier most commonly appears in this filmeither dressed in a long, gold overcoat or without a stitch, which entirely reflects the extremes the first-time actor endures and illuminates in his stops-out, agonizingly physical portrait of an Israeli who defects to Paris — a man without a country. — TODD MCCARTHY
It's no surprise that Murphy has the comic chops to play unstoppable Blaxploitation entrepreneur Rudy Ray Moore. But as raucous as his performance is, it's introspective too — more so than the film itself — and lends full-blooded weight to the laughs. Without shifting gears into actorly mannerisms, and never missing a comedy beat, Murphy signals the injured pride driving a man who's hell-bent on escaping the also-ran shadows. — S.L.
As one character puts it in Martin Scorsese's elegiac saga of American crime and politics, "You'd never know it by looking at this guy, but all roads lead back to Russell." Played with piercing restraint by Pesci — in the most resoundingly welcome return from movie retirement in memory — mob don Russell wields words of vague indirection with lethal precision, sometimes while making a salad. The film's surrogate father-son bond between him and the title character hitman a magnificent Robert De Niro is its heart, and Pesci's exquisite fusion of paternal warmth and soft-spoken menace is riveting. — S.L.
From the second he shows up in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,Pitt has the audience on his side, and it stays with this self-confident, diffident, madly appealing loner in a way that demonstrates star power at maximum voltage.Nobody delivered more moment-to-moment pleasureonscreen this year. — T.M.
There's an operatic intensity to Trey Edward Shults' drama, and at its still center is Russell's luminous portrayal of a teenager grappling with grief and guilt. In the story of a family's brutal unraveling, she's the essence of courage and empathy. The film's shift toward a hard-won expansiveness lives and breathesin a revelatory performance of aching, quiet grace. — S.L.