Tag Archives: Elizabeth Banks

The new Brian Wilson biopic is tremendous. Kimmel asks kids about gay marriage, hilariously. And Chris Christie (remember him?) savaged by one who knows him well

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There’s a moment toward the middle of the new movie about Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s life when Wilson, played by John Cusack, is begging his new girlfriend Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) to leave his house before “the people” who are now controlling his life get back and find out what’s going on.

“Please go, but don’t leave me,” Wilson pleads. “Please go, but don’t leave me,” he says again, and in his face is one of the most nakedly honest, frightened looks I’ve ever seen on a human. This man, at this point in his life, is desperate for companionship but also desperate not to get caught doing something wrong.

It’s a really powerful scene, and “Love & Mercy” is a really powerful movie. I saw it last weekend after hearing mixed reviews of it, with some people thinking the idea of having Wilson played by two actors (Paul Dano as young, high-flying 1960s tortured genius Brian, and Cusack as 1980s, dazed and confused Brian) was too strange.

And I have to admit, the constant cutting back and forth between the 1960s and Dano, and the 1980s and Cusack, was a little hard to get used to at first. Every time they’d switch to the other Brian, I’d be like “Nooo, stay with that one, I really want to see where this is going” before getting sucked into the next scene and being mad when it was cut away from.

But after a bit you get used to it, and the movie does an outstanding job showing just how innovative Wilson was, with his “Pet Sounds” album and creative struggles with Beach Boy Mike Love, and how difficult life was for him inside his own head.

The two leads are both terrific, and this is the best I’ve seen Elizabeth Banks be; her Melinda is strong and tender. Paul Giamatti is as always fabulous, though I wanted to see much more of his Dr. Eugene Landy character developed; how did he get such a hold on Wilson in the 1980s?

Really, really strong movie. 3 1/2 stars from me. Even if you don’t love the Beach Boys music (and they’re pretty hard to hate), it’s a terrific story about an American icon.

**Next up, Jimmy Kimmel did a really funny skit Monday night, wandering into the streets to find children and then asking them questions about gay marriage, in light of last week’s huge Supreme Court announcement.

All the kids are great, but the girl at 1:30 and the last boy are my favorites, especially his answer on why people shouldn’t get married.

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**Finally, remember Chris Christie? Governor of New Jersey, bit of a weight problem, huge problem of being a bully? Guy who was kind of universally declared by the political media in 2014 as the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016?

Yeah, that guy. Hasn’t been much talk about him at all in recent months, as one scandal after another has engulfed Christie, while he continues to put his nasty, aggressive personality on display as much as possible.

Anyway, despite the same writers who adored him and pumped him up now saying he’s got very little chance (and this time they’re right, Christie’s way too abrasive and has pissed off way too many constituencies to be President, plus he’s much too moderate to survive the GOP “God, Guns, and every pregnancy must result in a baby” primaries), Christie declared on Tuesday that he’s running for President, bringing the total number of Republican candidates to, I believe, 432 (my math may be off.)

Perfectly timed to Christie’s announcement is this fantastic, biting column from an NJ.com writer Tom Moran, who’s been covering Christie for 14 years.

Moran pulls no punches, but instead of just a random hit job, he uses specific examples of Christie, lying through his teeth and showing no shame doing it.

Highly recommend this. Man, these GOP debates are going to be “get your popcorn” TV.

“Pitch Perfect 2” almost as awesome as the first one. An amazing hockey goal that you never see. And the bus driver who told a kid she was going to hell.

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Game 6: Rangers 7, Lightning 3. Five 3rd period goals. Yeah, we all saw that coming. Game 7, Friday night, at MSG. I may not sleep till then …

For our 2nd wedding anniversary on Monday, my wife and I did what all couples do on their anniversary:
Dropped the baby off at the grandparents on Long Island, went to a Jewish deli for some delicious meats, and then watched the sequel to an awesome movie about college a capella singers.

Yep, it’s no longer a dirty little secret: I loved “Pitch Perfect,” the original.

I didn’t love it nearly as much as my wife, because it’s become maybe her favorite movie ever, one we’ve seen at least 10-15 times. But I loved it a lot, because it had Anna Kendrick singing and dancing (she’s a major celebrity crush of mine, ever since “Up in the Air”), it had Rebel Wilson being hilarious, it was funny, it had a ton of ’80s music, and it was just so damn fun. I loved Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the a capella competition broadcasters the best (“The Menstrual Cycles, John”), and was thrilled to hear Banks was directing this one.

So how was the sequel? Pretty darn good. Not as good as the original, but few sequels are. This one had a pretty silly storyline (thanks to a wardrobe malfunction by “Fat Amy,” the Barden Bellas are banned from defending their national title, and threatened with being disbanded unless they win the World Championship), but the movie worked on a lot of levels.

First, Kendrick continues to be awesome, in real life (did you see her sing-off with James Corden on his new CBS show?) and in movies. Wilson is a brilliant physical comedian, and she has the best scene in the movie, which involves a canoe and a Pat Benetar song.

The Bellas’ rivals, a German supergroup called Das Sound Machine (below) are over the top goofy and cartoonish villains, but it works because the writing is so sharp. Seriously, there were a bunch of one-liners so funny that half the theater laughed out loud.

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The big new addition to the cast, Hailee Steinfeld from “True Grit,” didn’t do much for me, but she does seem to have a good voice. The Riff-Off this time is beyond bizarre, so bizarre that I don’t want to describe it in case you have plans to see the flick.

And the ending, well, the ending you can see coming from a mile away. And yet we still left the theater happy.

Is “Pitch Perfect 2” an all-time classic? No. But it’s great fun if you like singing, dancing, and comedy.

It’s already made a ton of money at the box office, so you can be sure there’ll be a “Pitch Perfect 3.”

Which is fine by me.

**Next up today, it’s not often you see a hockey goal from an angle like this. Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks staged an improbable rally from two goals down with two minutes left, thanks to Jonathan Toews, who’s basically the Derek Jeter of the NHL. Captain Clutch’s first goal was a rocket shot from in front, no shame in that getting by the goalie.

But the second goal? Insane angle. Check it out, starting about :30 in.

**Finally today, here’s a feel-good story for you (read that in sarcasm font): A bus driver in Missouri was fired last week after an 11-year-old girl reported that the driver told her she was gay and would burn in hell.

Yep, 11-year-old Maurissa Rushing said that she was playing a game on the bus with a friend of hers that saw the girls touching each others arms a few times.

Apparently this was unacceptable to the bus driver, who has not been named, because after dropping off the other students, she allegedly told Maurissa and her friends that they were gay and “gonna burn in hell real bad,” Maurissa told a Kansas City TV station. “I didn’t expect it to happen.”

The driver has been fired, and the family is considering a lawsuit.

Used to be you had to be worried about being bullied by other kids on the school bus. Now, I guess it’s the drivers who are the real bullies. What an awful thing to say to a little kid.