Is Ben Lyons the most hated film critic in America?
In the four months since the fresh-faced 27-year-old "movie dude" for the E! Entertainment Network was installed to co-host a revamped version of the venerable movie review program "At the Movies," he has gotten a resounding thumbs down from an angry mob of film bloggers, columnists, professional movie critics and fans of the show. Consensus is that Lyons, the son of New York film critic Jeffrey Lyons, is unworthy of the balcony seats once occupied by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on the TV mainstay that has rallied audiences into theaters for more than three decades.
"This movie was going along for the ride with Adam and trying not to laugh," says Russell, 32. "You're trying to hang on and ride the wave. I like being around guys. Guys are so simple. They sit around, tell funny stories. They're usually not talking (expletive) about people. It was a total guys set, and I didn't mind being the only girl, and I want to do another movie with Sandler."
Here's what else is going on with the sweetly self-deprecating actress, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Shane Deary, a carpenter, and their son, River, 1.
Director: Adam Shankman
Stars: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Plot: Somehow, someway, the lavish bedtime stories that a hotel handyman (Sandler) tells his niece and nephew start to magically come true.
Director: Frank Miller
Stars: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson
The Plot: A rookie cop (Macht) returns from the dead to fight crime from the shadows of Central City. His main opposition is a former lab technician who has reinvented himself as The Octopus (Jackson), an elusive criminal mastermind who knows the secrets behind his nemesis.
Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
Studio: DreamWorks Distribution
The Plot: A young couple raising a family in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s look to break free from their frustratingly mediocre lives.
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Carice van Houten
Studio: United Artists
The Plot: Near the end of WWII, Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) leads to group of fellow German army colonels in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler; the event would later be called the July 20 Plot of 1944.
MARLEY AND ME
Director: David Frankel
Stars: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
The Plot: An impossibly cute, but impossible-to-live-with yellow Labrador retriever named Marley teaches his newlywed owners a thing or two about patience and parentho
LAST CHANCE WITH HARVEY
Director: Joel Hopkins
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Kathy Baker
Studio: Overture Films
The Plot: During a weekend in which Harvey Shine (Hoffman) travels to London for his daughter's wedding, her first learns that he's lost his job back in New York, then he discovers he won't be the man giving away the bride at the ceremony. The one good thing that happens -- his meeting Kate (Thompson), a prickly but nevertheless enchanting Londoner -- might be the beginning of some much-needed change in Harvey's life.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton
Studio: Paramount Pictures
The Plot: Benjamin Button (Pitt) was born under unusual circumstances. As everyone around him grew older, he aged backwards, making the challenges of life such as creating friendships, finding a job and falling in love all the more difficult and heartbreaking.
Once upon a time, superhero roles were considered career-killers. But not anymore, not with Christian Bale, Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman proving that if the glove fits, you should wear it. Still, for Gabriel Macht, who suits up as the latest masked man in " The Spirit," which opens Christmas Day, there are new and different risks in this modern era of cinematic crime fighting.
For one thing, there's the danger of getting upstaged by the bad guy, who in "The Spirit" happens to be the nefarious Octopus, a near-invulnerable crime boss played with great zeal by Samuel L. Jackson. Macht first got a sense of that threat while doing an informal script read-through with his future costar.
Famed for her opulent theatrical style in films like "Strictly Ballroom" and "Moulin Rouge!," production designer Catherine Martin is probably the last person you might expect to find in the remote Outback of Australia knocking up a film set.
But this is exactly where the two-time Oscar-winner ended up in her role as co-producer of her husband Baz Luhrmann's latest film,"Australia," which stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
"I am certainly not a girlie girl," says Martin who worked in the role of production and costume designer on the film, which is the first identifiably Australian epic ever made. But she admits that she was grateful for help with the "mammoth" task of the film's logistics which she describes as an "eye-opener."
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet tear each other apart more thoroughly than an iceberg ever could in "Revolutionary Road," a brutal — and brutally tedious — depiction of marital malaise.
Director Sam Mendes covered this territory before with more verve and imagination in his 1999 debut "American Beauty." And similar to that film, "Revolutionary Road" carries with it the unmistakable, unwarranted aura of importance, of having Something to Say about the way we live. If only we understood DiCaprio and Winslet's characters, Frank and April Wheeler, and felt they were fleshed out as complex human beings, we might have experienced the intended emotional impact of their lies and cruelties.
DiCaprio and Winslet (Mendes' real-life wife) are longtime off-screen friends reteaming for the first time since the 1997 uberblockbuster "Titanic." They give it their all with energetic, powerful performances.
Only at the movies (and in old “Hogan’s Heroes” reruns) is it ever permissible to enjoy the company of a Nazi. To be sure, the real Nazis were horrifying death merchants responsible for igniting World War II. But at the movies they become complex psychological portraits or loony B-movie villains or, weirder still, comic relief.
You can talk to psychologists all day about that last one and why we need harmless fictional versions of real-life boogeymen in order to cope with a sort of evil that most people can’t wrap their brains around, but for Hollywood the answer is pretty simple: bad guys, the baddest guys, mean movies people will pay good money to see.
Scholars tend to lionize directors who develop groundbreaking styles, or who come to dominate and define a genre — men like Hitchcock, Welles, Hawks and Ford. But what of the filmmaker who didn't try to stick out so much as fit in; the man-for-hire who could saddle up to any studio assignment — even a work in progress — and mold it to perfection? In Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master, Baltimore Sunfilm critic Michael Sragow argues that Fleming — who directed The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind — was such a man, denied his rightful place in the cinematic pantheon.
George Clooney will star in "Up in the Air," along with actress Vera Farmiga. Oscar-nominated "Juno" director Jason Reitman is in charge of the big-budget film, writing and directing it. Production crews will set up on Jan. 5 and could be working in the Gateway City for up to five months.
Laura French of Roseville, Minn., claims that she's "terrified of technology." But she enjoys watching TV and movies on her laptop computer so much that she dropped her premium satellite TV channels.
Grant Edwards of Minneapolis says he's watching broadcast TV a little less now that he can watch online video on his living room TV by using a $99 set-top box.
Jeff Anderson of Apple Valley, Minn., a satellite TV subscriber who says he's "tired of buying packages of channels I don't want," now spends time watching Internet video on his living room television — also by using a set-top box.
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