Last night the Writers Guild screened the upcoming Motherless Brooklyn, which stars, has a screenplay and was directed by Edward Norton. I thought it was terrific. It's handled somewhat as a film noir detective story, and has a different kind of main character, one who has Tourette's Syndrome. He's terrific in the role (which has a certain overlap with the character he played so wonderfully in The Score) and did a serous impressive job with the thoughtful screenplay and evocative directing. Others in the strong cast are Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis, and a British actress I've liked for a while who's starting to get a lot of work now -- she's in the upcoming Apple+ TV series, The Morning Show, with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell -- Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
(He did a Q&A after the screening, and one comment struck me as fascinating. Though his script is based on a novel, he consulted at length with the novelist and only used the book for about the first 20 minutes of the film and developed his own story that followed. But it's the main character who fascinated him most and that's, of course, the focus of the book. Also, he said the book takes place in the 1990s, though has a film noir feel to it -- with the approval of the the novelist, Jonathan Lethem, he moved the story back to the 1950s.)
Here's the trailer. It does a pretty good job getting across the movie, though the film has a stronger story than the trailer lets on.
As it happened, the Guild showed two movies yesterday, preceding Motherless Brooklyn with Zombieland: Double Tap. (Now, there's a weird double-feature...) I hadn’t seen the first Zombiland, but liked the TV ads for this new one, so I rented the first a couple weeks ago. I thought it was just fair – but I liked this sequel much more. It had slightly more of a plot, the characters were a little more developed, there are a bunch of fun, small supporting roles, and Zoey Deutch, who plays a new character, runs away with the film. She’s hilarious and surprisingly finds different "shadings" to play in what could otherwise be a quintessentially-cliched role of an utterly dimwitted blonde in pink.. Whether the Motion Picture Academy would nominate someone for Supporting Actress from a film like this, I don’t know, but (for my taste), she was that funny. And if you do go see it, don't rush out of the theater when the end credits start. Stick with them. I shall say no more.
Here's the trailer. Though the film has a great deal of action, this makes it look a bit more heavily-weighted as a serious action film than the comedy at heart that it is. And it's a whole lot bloodier. (For one scene, Jesse Eisenberg, who serves as narrator, even warns the audience that what's about to come might be a bit squeamish for those with M&Ms.)
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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