Tag Archives: Alec Baldwin

“Blue Jasmine” (2013) – Review – The 5 Obstructions Blogathon

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All taken lines are linked to the original review to give proper credit.

Why is it that movies with the worst people in them are often the most interesting?

Two sisters; one a blonde suffering from crippling depression and the other a brunette with a fatigued understanding of how to help her.  Right off the bat there’s a palpable Streetcar Named Desire vibe.  This film however exceeded my expectations tremendously and it weighed heavily on the acting.

Cate Blanchett can do no wrong.  The casting and performance of Sally Hawkins as the marvelous foil to Blanchett was a particular high point.  Alec Baldwin is very good at playing slick characters as he’s proven in other films.   Rounding out what is surely one of this year’s most intriguing casts are sand up comedians Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay, as well as HBO series regulars Michael Stuhlbarg and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire).  That old Dice attitude is present, too, but it is subduedly measured. 

Allen directs tautly and dispassionately with less spontaneity or improvisation than in many of his past works.  In terms of narrative structure and plot progression, Blue Jasmine is also refreshingly unique.

In thinking about how I might objectively quantify a movie like Blue Jasmine — I’d probably give it something of an 8.4.

Click on image to view trailer.

Click on image to view trailer.

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“Rock of Ages” (Broadway Show) vs “Rock of Ages” (Movie)

This past weekend I watched the first Broadway Across America show in Miami, Rock of Ages.  Having watched and reviewed the film version, I found myself constantly comparing the two.  Here is my comparison:

VS.

The overall story is the same.  The Bourbon is owned by Dennis Dupree with help from his assistant manager Lonny.  Sherrie is a young aspiring actress fresh off the bus.  With the help of Drew, a young bar-back with talent and rock-star dreams, she gets a job at the Bourbon.  There they develop feelings for each other, but their growing affection gets thrown off  track once rock-god Stacee Jaxx arrives.  Soon after Sherrie is out of a job and working at the local strip joint; Drew gets a contract with a sleazy manager who changes him from rock-n-roll to boy band; and the Bourbon is heading for ruin.  Will Drew become a rock-star?  Will Drew and Sherrie get back together?  Will the Bourbon be saved?  Being these were both a Hollywood film and Broadway Musical, the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.

There are a number of key differences between the Show and the Movie.  First is the character of Stacee Jaxx.  In the Show Stacee is an overindulgent rock-star who gets knocked-out by his guitarist in his final show at the Bourbon, knocked-out by Sherrie after a lap-dance at the strip joint, runs off to Mexico after he discovers he had a one-night stand with underage Constance, and ends up performing in small tequila bars South of the border.  In the Movie Stacee Jaxx is Tom Cruise.  His character has a redemptive arc, and you understand why women want to be with him and men what to be him.

Another key difference is the threat to the Bourbon.  In the Show the entire neighborhood is threatened by a German developer who wants to build a large retail mall.  In the movie the threat is from a conservative family values group lead by the mayor’s wife.  Whereas in the Show the developer succeeds in gaining control of the Bourbon and only saves it after a ridiculous epiphany, in the movie the Bourbon is able to maintain its independence under more believable circumstance.

The last major difference is the talent manager.  In the Show he is a minor comical character; in the movie he is Paul Giamatti at his smarmy best.

The amazing thing about the movie and film is the similarity in what worked best and least.  The weakest part of both were the young leads, Drew and Sherrie.  The best part of both were Dennis & Lonny.  Both actors who played Drew gave weak performances and were easily overpowered by other cast members.  As for Dennis & Lonny, the team of Baldwin & Brand had a slight edge over the actors in the Show.

The Movie is a solid B-Film with some great performances; the Show is at best average and with performance that will not stay in your memory.

Edge=The Movie

You can read my movie review here.


“Rock of Ages” (2012) – Movie Review

Click on image to view trailer

Director:  Adam Shankman

Writers:  Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo, and Allan Loeb

Stars:  Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Diego Boneta, Julianne Hough, Mary J. Blige, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, and Paul Giamatti

Rock of Ages is a popcorn movie that will be most appreciated by people who grew-up in the 80s.  The main stories revolve around the Bourbon, a legendary rock bar/stage under financial strain.  The Bourbon is owned & managed by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) with the aid of his assistant Lonny (Russell Brand).  As conservative mothers under the leadership of Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) protest outside, Dennis & Lonny are pinning their financial hopes on the final performance of mega-group Arsenal with the unreliable and out-of-control lead singer Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise).  Into  this world enters Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough)–fresh off the bus from Oklahoma, recently robbed of all her possessions, having aspirations of becoming a singer, and being aided by Drew Boley (Diego Boneta).  Diego is a bartender at The Bourbon, lead singer of his band of other Bourbon employees, and dreams to make it big.

Under the oily management of Paul Gil (Paul Giamatti), Jaxx makes it to The Bourbon.  Before Arsenal‘s final performance Jaxx gives an interview and has a fling with Rolling Stone reporter Constance Stack (Malin Akerman); is believed by Drew to have had a fling with Sherrie; and gets completely obliterated with whiskey all night long.  After the performance The Bourbon’s finances are worse for wear, Sherri’s and Drew’s relationship is torn apart, and everyone’s lives spin out of control.

Rock of Ages definitely shows its Broadway roots.  Whereas it is common for large plot developments to occur between scenes and musical numbers in Broadway shows, the same effect in a movie is a little more jarring.  Also, the movie falls into a two act structure and you can tell where the intermission would be at a live show–everyone at their lowest and all alone in their story.

As for the story(ies), there is a lot going on and many characters to keep track of.  If the overall theme had been trimmed to only deal with those stories directly involving The Bourbon, what is a good popcorn movie could have been a great one.  Bryan Cranston is wasted as Mayor Whitmore–Patricia’s husband–and could have been removed from the film all together.  The same could be said for Mary J. Blige as Justice Charlier, the owner of the local strip joint.

Where the movie succeeds are with all the performances, and all the actors enthusiasm for their roles.  Alec Baldwin & Russell Brand work well together as an 80s rock version of Laurel & Hardy; their duets together are hilarious.  Catherine Zeta-Jones is fierce as the conservative wife with a not-so-wholesome past.  Paul Giamatti makes Machiavelli look like an altar boy in comparison to his artist manager.  In this company both Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough come across as only competent.  But this show belongs to Tom Cruise.  Cruise is both a genuine movie star and a great actor; the camera loves him and he delivers.  From the first time you meet him as Stacee Jaxx and in all other subsequent scenes Cruise commands the screen, and all the other performers around him.  You believe he is a rock-god.  And wherever Stacee Jaxx goes Hey-Man (Mickey the Monkey) follows.  Put simply, the Academy should create an Oscar for best performance by an animal because he deserves it.

Though it won’t change your life and you will probably forget what happened throughout the movie, Rock of Ages will leave you with a smile on its face.  With its powerhouse big-hair rock songs, great acting, and scene stealing simians, you will sing, laugh, and have a good time.

Grade = B

PS  The majority of the movie was filmed in Miami.  The exterior shots of The Bourbon and surrounding streets were filmed just outside downtown Miami.  The scenes in the stripper-joint were at the old Playboy Club on Miami Beach.  Mt. Trashmore–a local municipal dump covered with grass–was dressed as the backside of the Hollywood sign.

PPS  At the advanced screening I went to there were two showings at the same time.  One with a red carpet and Adam Shankman & Julianne Hough, and the other with me.  The second screening was a great time though.  Shankman did stop by for a few words, and most of the audience was made-up of extras that appeared in the movie and where dressed-up for the 80s.