Tag Archives: Toni Collette

A cool night out at the TriBeca Film Festival. Brian Williams raps again, brilliantly. A harrowing tale of a major leaguer’s journey from Cuba.

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So with Yet To Be Named Baby Lewis due to arrive in our apartment this September, my wife and I are trying to get as many fun, new, New York City experiences under our belts before our lives get turned upside down and we no longer have time for anything except diapers, formula, and not sleeping.

The TriBeca Film Festival is something we’d both always wanted to check out; started by Robert DeNiro about 15 years ago, it brings together an eclectic mix of indie films, bigger-budget flicks, and killer documentaries over a two-week span in a hip neighborhood in Manhattan.

After perusing the schedules of more than 50 movies and getting shut out of tickets for a few we really liked, we went out Monday night to see a new Toni Collette comedy/drama called “Lucky Them.”

It was a much different moviegoing experience than usual; first off, we had to wait on line outside for about 20 minutes just to get in, and there was a red carpet and some paparazzi around, taking pics of Collette, Oliver Platt and Thomas Hayden Church, three of the stars of the movie who were present for the screening, and did a short Q and A afterward (love Toni Collette, and happy to report she seemed nice in the Q and A).

The theater itself was enormous, an 1,100 seat auditorium that is usually used for college lecture classes (a dead giveaway was that attached to the arm of our seats were those mini-desks I hated so much in college), and it’s fun seeing a movie that way because at the funny parts, the laughter is so much louder than in a usual theater.

As for the flick itself, it was pretty good; it’s about Collette’s character Ellie, a grizzled Seattle rock journalist who tends to occasionally sleep with the musicians she writes about, and her search for a reclusive ex-musician named Matthew Smith, who was once her lover but suddenly stopped recording music a decade earlier, and basically dropped off the face of the Earth.

Church is an ex-boyfriend who tags along on the search and tries making a documentary about their adventure, and the always-stellar Oliver Platt is Ellie’s magazine editor.

I’d give it 2 1/2 stars; the beginning and ends were good, but there was a ridiculous storyline tangent halfway through that wasted 20 minutes and had no point.

Still, it was a very cool experience to go to the TriBeca Festival; if you’re ever in New York in mid-April, check it out. If you’re here now, here’s the schedule for the rest of the Festival.

**Next up today, I know I keep writing about these Jimmy Fallon/Brian Williams rap mash-up videos, but I swear every one of ’em cracke me up every time.

This one might be the best yet; can you imagine Peter Jennings or Dan Rather ever doing this? Love me some Brian Williams.

**And finally, the stories of Cuban baseball players risking their lives to defect to America for the chances of riches in the major leagues have been told for decades. But this Yasiel Puig story is something else... a brilliantly reported tale by Jesse Katz in L.A. Magazine, about just how dangerous, and how complicated, Puig’s life has been since he left Cuba.

 

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“Enough Said” a wonderful romantic comedy. A wildly exciting Sunday in the NFL. And Miley, funny on SNL

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I hate that in the midst of so many Hollywood blockbusters bombarding us at the theater, with things blowing up out of the sky and a million chase scenes and $200 million budgets, that a sweet little movie that’s about such real-life characters gets lost in the shuffle.

My wife and I saw “Enough Said” over the weekend, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I wish it were doing better at the box office, but it’s spectacular and I highly suggest seeing it.

If you don’t know the movie’s premise, it’s this: Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, stellar as always) is a divorcee and a masseuse who’s feeling lost because her only child is getting ready to go away to college.

At a cocktail party she meets Albert (James Gandolfini, in one of his last roles before he died), also divorced, kind of a lovable schlub who’s also dealing with his daughter’s impending trip to college.

And for 90 minutes, we get to see these two getting to know each other, fall in love, have a falling out (I won’t spoil it, but I was pretty surprised at the plot twist), and deal with the aftermath.

The movie is funny, sweet, melancholy and perfectly acted, with Toni Collette (who’s good in everything, and in this flick gets to use her natural Australian accent!) and Catherine Keener rounding out a great cast.

This is the rare movie that I wish was longer; the writer, Nicole Holofcener, actually wrote a film’s dialogue that was achingly real.

Gandolfini was such a gifted actor, and it’s a shame we will remember him only as Tony Soprano, scary mobster, and not for roles like this one.

“Enough Said” was wonderful; if you don’t believe me, check out its 95 percent “fresh” rating on rottentomatoes.com.

If it’s playing near you, don’t miss it.

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**Sunday in the NFL was a rare relaxing one for me, as the Jets don’t play until Monday night (my cousin Rob and I were lamenting how much we hate it when the Jets play night games; we get so worked up that it’s hard to sleep and get up for work the next day; doesn’t the NFL care?). It was a great slate of games, though, and I watched at least a part of almost all of ’em.
Some quick thoughts:

— Denver 51, Dallas 48. Nuts. Both defenses ought to be embarrassed, but maybe it was just a day of great offenses. Tony Romo, bless his heart, matched the incomparable Peyton Manning shot for shot, until the final two minutes when Tony Romo did what Tony Romo does, throw a killer interception. Still, what a fun game to watch.

— Indy-Seattle was also terrific; I am beyond jealous that Colts fans have gotten so spoiled with two great QBs the last 15 years; Andrew Luck is sensational.

— Never saw a touchdown like the first one in the Chiefs-Titans game; how the heck could you have seen that one coming?

— Always nice to see Tom Brady get humbled. Never thought the Bengals could hold Gisele’s husband to only six points, but in a driving rainstorm, they did it. Great stuff.
— Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles win their first game, lose the next three, then beat the winless Giants Sunday and at 2-3, are tied for first place. Crazy.

**Finally today, a little Miley Cyrus humor for you, from Miley herself. She hosted “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, and while I only watched a few clips, she did a pretty solid job.

Remember, the kid is 20 years old. She has no idea what she’s doing most of the time, she’s been famous for 15 years, and of course she’s going to make some screw-ups along the way.

This was the opening sketch from the show, with 2045 Miley talking to 2013 Miley about some of her recent choices.

“Nurse Jackie” ends wonderfully. “Tara,” not so much. And the rage at Elton John

Two of my favorite shows ended on the same night Monday. One ended on a high note. The other, not so much.

(By the way, I’m not ignoring the season finale of “Glee.” I’ll probably have thoughts on it on Thursday. Right now I’m trying to decide if I hated it or loved it. I’m thinking a little of both.)

I’ve been raving about “Nurse Jackie” on Showtime to anyone who’ll listen for a couple of years now, and after some uneven episodes, this year, the writers absolutely gave us a killer season finale.

Edie Falco, as Jackie, was finally caught in all her lies by her husband, and her best friend. The awesome storyline of Zoey and Lenny got even more interesting. Dr. Cooper got punched, always a good thing.

This is a really good show, showing how a drug addict like Jackie can wrap everyone in her life around her finger, and giving us some fantastic acting, especially by Zoey (Merritt Weaver). I wish more people watched this show.

Here’s a clip of the season finale, when Jackie’s friend Dr. O’Hara discovers she faked an MRI to obtain more pain pills:

Then there was “United States of Tara,” a show that I discovered last year and was blown away by its fabulousness. Toni Collette is amazing as a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder, and we see how her behavior affects her family.

Last year the show was brilliant. This year, it took a significant nose-dive. They introduced way too many new “alter-egos,” let the storylines drift so far away from any sort of reality, and never really got into a groove with the writing. (My friend Brian Hickey, a fellow devotee, also wondered what the hell happened between Seasons 1 and 2).

I kept hoping it would turn around, but Monday’s finale was as strange and disjointed as the rest. We got no real answers, characters acted very strangely (all of a sudden daughter Kate wants to stay in this house with these crazies, instead of living on her own?), and it just sort of ended.

Ugh. Not good. I’m willing to give “Tara” a few episodes of Season 3 to win me back, just because Toni Collette is so freaking brilliant.

**It’s been a couple of days since I heard about it, and I’m still quite puzzled.

Elton John, music icon, and for decades one of the most powerful voices speaking out on behalf of gay rights, performed at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding last weekend.

Rush, of course, is among other things on the record hundreds of times as being bigoted against gay people, believing they shouldn’t have the right to marry, they’re immoral heathens, etc.

So why? Why would Elton John do it? Money? He certainly can’t need the dough (word is he got $1 million for it). Personal friendship? Unlikely.  He’s stirred up an awful lot of anger in the gay community, and I can’t really blame them.

Look, I’m not asking Elton John to be a role model. But performing at the wedding of a man so clearly at odds with what you believe, and who has said so many hateful things about those like you, seems like a very, very bad move.

A move that will likely cost Sir Elton some fans.

Talking some TV: Two great Showtime shows return, Parenthood rules, and Reggie Miller vs. the Knicks

**If you’re an NCAA Tournament junkie like me, follow my live blog tonight

starting at 7 here.

So I know Showtime has always been the poor, neglected stepkid compared to HBO, but in the last few years, if you haven’t noticed, Showtime has totally been kicking HBO’s butt with quality shows.

It started with “Weeds,” and then “Dexter” and “Californication,” and last season I discovered two awesome and totally subversive programs that Showtime started airing.

Lucky for me, they both started Season 2 on Monday. “United States of Tara,” starring the fabulous Toni Collette as Tara, is about a woman with multiple personality disorder and her attempts to cope with life. She’s marrying to Aidan from “Sex in the City” (John Corbett), and they have two delightfully weird kids, the out-there gay Marshall and the blonde, sarcastic Kate.

Then there’s Tara’s  crazy sister, too. The show does take a serious disorder and make it funny, but it’s brilliantly wicked and it does have some serious moments. Highly, highly recommend.

“Nurse Jackie” started back up this week, too. It’s also terrific. Edie Falco is a totally different woman from Carmela Soprano; she’s an ER nurse who was cheating on her husband with a pharmacist. There’s the usual weird cast of characters (though they seemed to have dropped the gay male black nurse this year, which is a shame), but this is totally Edie Falco’s show.

“Nurse Jackie” isn’t as good as “Tara,” but it’s still pretty damn entertaining. If you have Showtime, check them out. If you don’t, well, it’s worth the 8 bucks a month just for these two shows.

**So “Parenthood” continues to get better and better, as does “Modern Family.” Watched both Wednesday night; I’m so glad “Parenthood” is starting to give its characters dimensions and layers, though Craig T. Nelson still seems to have nothing do do as the Grandpa. I love that Adam Braverman and his wife break into their daughter’s laptop, then go over to her secret boyfriend’s house.

They’re doing a really good job with Erika Christensen’s character; the totally conflicted working mom, but Lauren Graham’s Sarah is kind of over the top. I want her barista boyfriend to come back.

Anyway, I thought this week’s episode was the best one yet, especially when so many people keep trying to talk to the teenage boy and his “showering” problem.

I SO don’t miss being a male teenager.

***Finally, ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has picked back up again, and picked up right where it left off in being awesome. Last week was the premiere of “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks.”

As fantastic as I remember those playoff wars between the Knicks and Mr. Alien (Miller) were, the movie brings the feelings back even stronger. Really well-done film, with great interviews and memories from all the key players.

Couple thoughts after watching the movie:

1, Spike Lee really was a perfect foil for Miller.

2. Anthony Mason was truly one of the dumbest basketball players of all time. Seriously.

3. Mark Jackson had the funniest stuff in the movie, talking about how he used to fire Miller up by telling him all the terrible things the NY media was saying about him. Also, Mark Jackson was a damn good player, and I tend to forget that.

4. Patrick Ewing = choker. Always will.

Anyway, it’s a terrific movie, running on ESPN and all its 47 channels throughout the month.

If you’re a Knicks fan, here’s a nice little memory (ha).

Pinch me, the Jets are 60 minutes from the Super Bowl. And some Golden Globes thoughts

I have resided in sports nirvana just once before. It was on June 14, 1994, when something I never thought would happen in my lifetime occurred: The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup.

I never thought a moment in sports could ever make me that happy again.

Dear readers,  the professional football team I root for is 60 minutes away from giving me that feeling again.

Unbelievably, improbably, ridiculously, the New York freaking Jets, a team that couldn’t beat the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buffalo Bills earlier this season, won their second straight playoff game on the road Sunday.

They beat the San Diego Chargers, a team many thought had too much offense, too many weapons, and too strong a pass rush.

But by God, the Jets did it the way they’ve done it the last seven weeks: Pound the ball with the running game, play excellent defense, hang around, hang hang around, make a few passing plays with our rookie QB Mark Sanchez, and then put the game away in the fourth quarter.

I mean, this game unfolded exactly as the Jets hoped it would. They didn’t do much early, but they kept the game reasonable (7-0 at halftime).

They got some tremendous breaks, yes, as Nate Kaeding, who just never misses against other teams, melted down and missed 3 field goals (although 1 was from 57 yards, which wasn’t his fault), but were 40 yards or less.

But the Jets earned this win every which way, and I cannot tell you how excited I am that they’ve got a shot next Sunday in Indianapolis, to go the Super Bowl.

God, just saying it gives me goosebumps.

Some ruminations from today’s 17-14 win:

— Rex Ryan, God bless you, you’re the Jets coach I’ve been waiting my whole life for. Not just because you’re smart and funny and know what you’re doing, but because today, and always, you don’t play not to lose, you play to win. Fourth and 1, at the Chargers 28, up 17-14, little over a minute to go.

EVERY other Jets coach in my lifetime either kicks the field goal there, which makes it 20-14, but gives San Diego the ball back with a (slight) chance to win, or even worse, punts it, to try to pin the Chargers deep.

But Rex said, nope, I trust my line, I trust my running back (Thomas Jones), and dammit, we’re not giving them the ball back. And the Jets got the first down,( with me on my knees, on the floor of Houligan’s, with my hands clasped). Game over. Fantastic. A coach with balls.

–What a tremendous game by the Jets defense. They got just enough pressure on Philip Rivers to rattle him a little, and the Chargers’ run game was totally shut down, and Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates were held pretty well in check (though Gates did make a sick catch in the first half). You hold the Chargers to 7 points through 3 1/2 quarters, that’s damn impressive.

— Sad to see LaDainian Tomlinson a shell of his former self. Man, did he get old.

— Lot of people criticized the Jets for trading up to get Shonn Greene in the draft last April. Not hearing those people now. How about the strength of this kid, to run through tackles on his way to the end zone in the fourth quarter?

— Darrelle Revis, that interception in the fourth quarter was spectacular. Just spectacular. And Mike DeVito, the nose tackle no one talks about, had a fantastic game pressuring Rivers.

— Can’t say enough about the Jets’ offensive line. Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Brandon Moore, and Alan Faneca did such a great job run-blocking, and protecting Sanchez today.– Rich Cimini of the Daily News said this was the Jets’ biggest upset win since Super Bowl III. Hard to argue.

—Man the Chargers totally lost their poise Sunday. Stupid penalties after the whistle, Vincent Jackson kicking the challenge flag and taking a 15-yarder? Just stupid.

— I’m sure Norv Turner will get criticized for the onside kick attempt with just more than two minutes left, but I thought it was the right call. Ah, Norv. So good to see you on the other sideline.

–Finally, there’s this: Everything is going right for the Jets the last four weeks. Everything. Why won’t it continue? Especially with the Super Bowl just 240 miles from my home?

This week, I’m going to honestly think about how much I’d be willing to spend on Super Bowl tickets. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing that this year.

What a country, America.

**OK, some quick thoughts on the Golden Globes, since this post is running way too long:

— Thought most of the big awards went to the right people; was thrilled to see Toni Collette rewarded for the underappreciated “United States of Tara” on Showtime (seriously, check it out on DVD if you can, it’s a great show), and equally thrilled that “Glee” won for best musical or comedy (though “Modern Family” getting a win would’ve thrilled me, too.)

— Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men,” wow, that was quite a dress.

–Robert Downey Jr.’s speech was very funny.

— Did James Cameron look like a guy who had just signed the Declaration of Independence, or what? Seriously, he was channeling John Adams or something.

— Sorry to see Jane Lynch from “Glee” not win, though Chloe Sevigny is awesome in “Big Love.” So glad to see good TV getting rewarded.