I’m a sucker for biopics and always have been, but I understand why they’re often thought of as a second-rate form. In a sense, each one is trying to tell two stories at once: the chronicle of its subject’s artistic or political or whatever other worldly achievement (the thing that made us hungry to see a biopic about him or her in the first place), and, at the same time, the private, tumultuous “human drama” of it all. Given that these two dimensions can’t really be separated, and that you have to cram both of them into two hours, it’s amazing, when you think about it, that the best biopics, from Lenny (1974) to Kinsey (2004) to Malcolm X (1992) to Sweet Dreams (1985) to Milk (2008) to Ed Wood (1994) to Ray (2004), are as rich and full and authentic as they are. Nevertheless, I think that the hyper scrutiny of the “reality” era, when the lives of celebrities (including dead ones) are more subject to exposure than ever before, has made us all a little suspect of the tidiness, the compressions, the convenient fictionalizations, the cut corners that are an essential element of almost any biopic. The good ones are told with more explicitness and authenticity than they used to be, but as a basic form, the biopic now seems cornier than ever. We can see through it, even as we’re hooked on it. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Matthew Weiner (1-2 of 2)
“I’m going to miss f—ing you. I used to think there was more… but there’s not.”
On paper, this line of dialog reads like some crude kiss-off from Don Draper. But in You Are Here, Matthew Weiner’s feature-film directorial debut, it’s a wry kiss-off from Owen Wilson that elicits chuckles instead of gasps. Wilson plays Steve Dallas, a charming TV weatherman who’s getting by in the world with as little effort as possible. When his less successful childhood friend, Ben (Zach Galifianakis), turns to him for support after his estranged father dies, the two return to their rural Pennsylvania town for the funeral and to pick up the pieces with Ben’s sister, played by Amy Poehler.
Fans of Mad Men may or may not be surprised by the film’s more whimsical comic spin — after all, Weiner is the same guy whose idea of funny is driving a John Deere tractor over an executive’s foot at an office party. But long before Mad Men and writing for The Sopranos, Weiner worked on TV shows like Becker, with Ted Danson, and Andy Richter Controls the Universe. He penned the script for You Are Here when he was still writing for The Sopranos, and now that he’s a big powerful genius, things finally fell into place — if not immediately. “I wrote the movie for Owen Wilson and it took me eight years to even get the script to him,” Weiner said at Sunday’s screening of his film at the Toronto Film Festival, “which will tell you something about whether or not a hit TV show will help you.”
Jon Hamm read an early version of Weiner’s script and suggested Galifianakis — before his breakout role in The Hangover. When everyone’s schedules coincided in between seasons of Mad Men, Weiner grabbed the opportunity to direct his first Hollywood movie. He sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss You Are Here – which is in Toronto looking for a distributor — the helpful on-screen baggage of movie stars, and whether there are any clues in the movie that might indicate Don Draper’s fate. For the record, Wilson’s sly womanizer does not fall out of the window of a skyscraper or down an elevator shaft. READ FULL STORY
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