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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Dustin Hoffman directs! ‘Quartet’ in the UK

    Posted: 13 Sep 2011 04:09 AM PDT

    As close to the mark as those who work with him say his role in “Tootsie” was — smart, “participating” in every film decision, arguing — Dustin Hoffman has never stepped behind the camera to direct his fellow actors.

    Until now.

    “Quartet,” a film of the Ronald Harwood play about old age in the arts (set in a retirement home for old opera singers) will star Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay and others, and Hoffman will direct it.

    Pretty ambitious project for Hoffman to take hold of at 74, but intimate enough to be manageable for a directing debut. And, well, anything that keeps him out of “Fockers” sequels is a good thing.

    ‘Goon,’ a hockey comedy, gets picked up at Toronto

    Posted: 13 Sep 2011 03:53 AM PDT

    Magnet Releasing, not one of the bigger studios, has nabbed the rights to “Goo,” one of the two competing hockey comedies in the “Slapshot” vein that were due to come out this fall. Seann William Scott stars in it, with Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber and Alison Pill. Baruchel co-wrote it with one of the “Superbad” scribes.

    Wait, Liev Schrieber as a hockey player? Maybe a goon? I will PAY to see that. Check out that stache!

    Wasn’t “Hit Somebody” the Kevin Smith project along the same vein that was also slated for this fall? It’s been delayed, and apparently has been split into a two-part picture (“Home” and “Away”). With Smith venturing back into TV, that one (those two) may be on hold.

    Whitney Houston back on the big screen?

    Posted: 13 Sep 2011 03:46 AM PDT

    Producers of a musical drama are dropping Whtiney Houston’s name as one of the stars of “Sparkle,” a film they say will be based, loosely, on the lives of the Supremes.

    The Hollywood Reporter says “American Idol” winner  Sparks would star, with Houston playing her disapproving mom. Mike Epps is also on board, with Salim Akil (TV’s “Girlfriends”) directing and his wife, Mara Brock Akil, producing.

    Houston hasn’t been on the screen since 1996. A lot of scandal under the bridge since then. Will this ever see the light of day?

    Today’s interview: Taylor Lautner

    Posted: 13 Sep 2011 03:42 AM PDT

    Team Jacob’s namesake has his first leading man role, starring in the action picture “Abduction,” about a teen whose illusions about his childhood are shattered when he learns some “Spy Kids” truths about his parents, and we’re talking about it today.

    Taylor Lautner’s family is involved in his career — and from reading the production credits, you’ve got to figure they’ve got his back. Surrounding him with ace actors like Maria Bello, Jason Isaacs, Alfred Molina and Michael Nyqvist from “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” pairing him up with hottie du jour Lily Collins? Smart. I figure I’ll ask him about that.

    And we’ll reminisce. First time I talked to him was pre-”Twilight.” He was on the cusp of something big.

    What are YOUR Taylor Lautner questions? Post them in comments below.

    Would you buy a ‘Mission:Impossible’ starring this man?

    Posted: 12 Sep 2011 12:54 PM PDT

    Tom Cruise in a hoodie.

    Now, wasn’t Paramount saying, not that long ago, that Cruise wasn’t “commercial” enough to risk another MI movie on him? Has his box office appeal gone up since then? This poster is selling him and him alone. Not the action, not the franchise. A gamble.

    “Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol” is in theaters Dec. 21.

    Movie Review: Kevin Hart, Laugh at My Pain

    Posted: 12 Sep 2011 12:39 PM PDT

    The number one movie last weekend, based on per-screen grosses, starred the diminutive stand-up comic and comic actor (“Little Fockers,” the “Scary Movie” franchise) Kevin Hart.

    If his stage act is any indication, Hart was checking those ticket sales all weekend long, over $20,000 per screen, 97 screens — a $2 million opening weekend.

    “Laugh at My Pain” has the hallmarks of a vanity project — Hart leading a camera crew through “the old neighborhood” (Philadelphia), Hart including a short film, a comic remake of “Reservoir Dogs” featuring a bunch of his friends and Taraji P. Henson. But “Laugh at My Pain” is still an amusing 80 or so minutes at the movies. When he’s onstage, a bundle of manic energy, funny voices, simple props, catch-phrases and shtick, Hart delivers. His is a stand-up act built on classic comic underpinnings — family, sexual inadequacy and repetition, aka “running gags.”

    The man-on-the-street prologue has the 5 foot 5 inch Hart reveling in his high school sports glories. Friends from those days like Adam back him up.

    “Was I good or not?”


    He stares into school trophy cases, not seeing his name listed. He joshes around with his public pool swim coaches (their story was told in the movie “Pride”) and brushes off the “famous alumni” poster at his high school, which has Will Smith, front and center, but doesn’t include him.

    He gets choked up as he rounds up his family for a reunion — “Thank you for the upbringing.”

    And then he rides that tiny elevator up onto the stage and proceeds to kill. He jokes about the high flying lifestyle of a celebrity, and the hard financial lessons he’s learned.

    “Stay in your  lane.” Don’t try to hang with people with mountains of cash who have no concern about spending it. Spending with jocks at Vegas? He can’t. “I’m not gonna lie,” he says, one of his favorite phrases. “I got the bill. I didn’t like it.

    A running gag — his way of begging off doing something expensive. “Listen, the way my bank account is set up…” It’s what kept Dwayne Wade from talking Hart into buying a boat.

    He roars through a botched Sponge Bob birthday party for his daughter, the insanity of buying her a puppy and not realizing what a pit bull is, his “crazy cokehead” father’s various indiscretions. “I cannot make this up,” he begins many stories. And to back that up, his dad shows up in a closing sketch, verifying the various routines to Larry King, no less.

    Dad took him to school functions in sweat pants with no underwear. Dad, who loved “the booger sugar (cocaine)” would roar into spelling bees bellowing “Awright awright Awwwwww-riiiiiiiiiight,” seizing attention and showing off his sweatpants with no underwear.

    Hart is less at home with the structured “Plastic Cup Boyz” short film (directed by Tim Story), a Tarantino knock-off that isn’t nearly as funny as the stand-up material. And his messing around with structure (much of the funniest off-the-cuff stuff is in the opening and closing credits) means that the film flails about, with us never quite sure it’s begun and not at all certain that it has ended.

    Like a lot of comics, Hart has taken the petty grievances and big pains of his childhood and turned them into stand-up fodder that is funny, familiar and biting. Ten years after breaking into show business, he’s a little old and a little familiar to be “discovered” now.  But if “Laugh at My Pain” makes people take a second look at this perpetual third banana on the big screen, so much the better.

    MPAA Rating:R for sexual content and pervasive language

    Cast: Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Henry Witherspoon, Larry King.

    Credits: Directed by Leslie Small, co-directed by Hart, short film “The Plastic Cup Boyz” directed by Tim Story.
    An AM Theaters/Hartbeat Productions release. Running time: 1: 28