Archive for December, 2011

Post 80- Whatever Happened to Julia Stiles?


My friend, Josh Delman (Editor in Chief of the fabulous but short lived humor periodical, The Eastern Review), recently propositioned me to answer the titular question of this post, so after hours of meticulous research, this is what I have come up with:

Julia Stiles broke out into the mainstream with her widely acclaimed performance in 1998’s 10 Things I Hate About You. Just how acclaimed was she? She walked home that year with an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and the Chicago Film Critics Award for most promising actress of the year and film critic Adina Hoffman of the Jerusalem Post, even called her “a young, serious looking Diane Lane!” If praise like that doesn’t make phones start ringing at CAA I don’t know what does. (That was a joke. But her acting chops were appealing to both teens and adults.) Julia spent the next few years racking up the Teen Choice Awards, appearing opposite such heartthrobs as Freddie Prinze Jr., Josh Hartnett, and Sean Patrick Thomas (who she appeared with in 2001’s major hit Save the Last Dance). That film (which won her more MTV Movie and Teen Choice awards as well as a Rolling Stone cover) gave her actual clout in the industry and she used it to get a small but pivotal and money-making role in the Bourne Identity franchise, a fun part opposite William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin in David Mamet’s State and Main, and a meaty dramatic role opposite Stockard Channing in 2001’s The Business of Strangers. But in the mid 2000s, she started to fizzle. Mainstream flops like Mona Lisa Smile, The Prince and Me, and A Guy Thing seemed to demonstrate that she couldn’t handle comedy or light material. She still got some nice paychecks from the Bourne movies, but she herself was no longer bankable (and had been usurped by the likes of Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Kirsten Dunst and Natalie Portman), so she turned to the stage, and went to college. She graduated from Columbia University in 2005 with a degree in literature.

In 2004, she performed in London in a revival of Mamet’s Oleanna opposite Aaron Eckhart, (in 2009 she reprised this role on Broadway opposite Bill Pullman). I happened to see that production in LA before it went to Broadway and can vouch that Ms. Stiles was extremely effective and a magnetic performer. She also spent the mid to late 2000s doing smaller and more serious dramas like Edmond (2005), The Omen (2006), and The Cry of the Owl (2009).

In 2010, she followed the path of many talented actresses looking for work and went to television where she starred on the sixth season of Dexter and was nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe for her performance. She has also became a new muse of playwright Neil LaBute, appearing in short films that he directed and a new film he wrote called Seconds of Pleasure, and almost appearing on Broadway (opposite Dane Cook!) in LaBute’s play Fat Pig, but the show was cancelled due to financial trouble. It seems Ms. Stiles is has been keeping extremely busy as of late, with three movies coming out in 2012 and at least two currently in pre-production. The biggest profile picture is David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Handbook, in which she stars opposite Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Chris Tucker in his first non-Rush Hour role since 1997. The other films are smaller, but seem to have great casts and directors.

So what happened to Julia Stiles? It’s the classic case of intelligent, strong, classically trained actress-turned teen queen-turned flopper-turned legitimate actress again. I see her emulating Maggie Gyllenhaal or Michelle Williams and perhaps becoming something close to Gwenyth Paltrow over the next few years in terms of film choices (serious work on stage and screen mixed in with the occasional paycheck flick). She’s not going to be as big as Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, or Amy Adams, but she’s a talented, bright actress who is also into charity, so I imagine she’s happy.

Josh, if this wasn’t enough and you really want to know exactly what Julia Stiles is up to, you can follow her blog:

Day 79- Movie Trailer Roundup: No Actor Is Box Office Dependable Anymore, So Let’s Put Them All In The Same Movie



Today I’m reviewing a few new Hollywood movies based on their trailers.

Let’s start with: Battleship:

First words: The Ocean. Ok, I’m hooked.

Next: Vast, Unexplored, The Perfect Place to Hide—Have you seen Blue Planet? It’s pretty explored. But ok, I see your point.

NOW GIANT THING COMES OUT OF THE WATER! We have no idea what this is except that it is giant and metallic and makes the exact same Transformers sound effect. Is this a new Transformers movie?

No. But it’s from Hasbro, the company that BROUGHT US Transformers. Also the company who brought us My Little Pony, Play-Doh, and Lincoln Logs. But more importantly, TRANSFORMERS!

Speaking of Transformers, this looks like it was shot with the exact same lens.  And cast.

Model-turned actor? Brooklyn Decker. Check.

Just one respected actor? Liam Neeson. Check.

Handsome TV actor playing military leader? Taylor Kitsch. Check.

Rihanna? Ok, maybe not exact same cast. But she does scream so loudly her voice cracks at one point, so she must have been, like, working really hard at like, acting.

Everything else is pretty much exactly Transformers. Michael Bay should sue.

Pentagon meeting, battle for Earth tagline, giant thing literally transforming. giant thing crashes into giant building in the daytime, giant robots, attack on an army base, more Transformers sounds. I know Michael Bay doesn’t hold a monopoly on explosions, but this is plagiarism. I just hope at some point someone says, “B3” and someone says “You sunk my Battleship.” And everyone dies.

The funny part is, this trailer tells us nothing about these alien attackers and I bet we don’t find out much more in the movie itself. Because it doesn’t matter. They just have to be big, metallic and fire lasers. Also—they hate humans. Lazy storytelling, but I guess it’s better than Transformers which has waaaay too much exposition and backstory. Whatever, this movie is going to gross $60 million opening weekend.

Trailer Grade: D.

The next trailer is: Think Like A Man. One of those self-help book-to-movie adaptations that tries to fit in as many actors as possible in disparate story lines that join together to form a mediocre mushpile. But this one has Turtle in it.

Starts out with Kevin Hart. Like him. Then soon to be former Lakers (if they pull the amnesty card), Metta World Peace and Shannon Brown join him along with Lisa Leslie. So far, I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Then Megan Good comes along. Now I really will see this movie until….oh shit. No, it can’t be. Not like this. No way. Not after… Sorry. Still hasn’t healed.

More cute stuff, then it veers into “all men are stupid and immature” territory. Fine. It’s just another, He’s Just Not That Into You.

But wait. Now they’re actually incorporating the source material into the movie. This is like some Adaptation shit. Or is this just a really expensive commercial for a Steve Harvey book? Looks like the latter with it’s “This book has all of our secrets!” lines.

I think I’ll just Romany Malco and Kevin Hart create comic gold, I’ll just watch this scene.

Trailer Grade: C

Wait a second! We have another movie based on a best-selling help book filled with celebrities interacting in disparate story lines, only this one is a little less, shall we say, urban. I present: What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

“A Brutally Honest Look at Pregnancy,” this trailer promises. Followed by the lovely Elizabeth Banks saying, “It sucks!” Looks like this is as deep as it’s gonna get, people.

More Brooklyn Decker. Wow, that Gif from Just Go With It must have really gone over well with casting directors.

(Read like Stephon): This movie has everything: wrinkly Dennis Quaid holding a giant yellow ball, Chace Crawford talking about how good looking he is, Cameron Diaz speaking with an undetermined accent, salsa dancing Matthew Morrison, Jennifer Lopez getting sappy over black babies and a culturally diverse group of men carrying babies in Baby-Bjorn pouches walking slow motion to Notorious BIG. And also the guy from True Blood pops up without his shirt because he’s in a park surrounded by guys so why wouldn’t he have his shirt off.

And is that Chris Rock? Oh, it has to be because he’s given a classic Chris Rock sounding line: “When your wife says you’re looking at houses….you’re buying a house.”

If they had used the song “Raise Your Glass” to play over the credits I would given this trailer a D, but because it didn’t and because I like Rob Huebel and Thomas Lennon, I’ll give it a B-.

Addendum: Did Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison flip a coin to see who was going to star in their respective celeb-fest films? Or do they just have the same manager who said, “Look, we want to transition you both into movies, but you don’t have the star power to star in one on your own, so we’ll get you into these ensemble movies so you’ll be sharing the spotlight with other stars (thereby raising your own star power) and if the movies bomb, no one can blame it on you.” Good thinking manager.

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