Dwayne Johnson

(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection.)

All Dwayne Johnson Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

If we had known that The Rock was indeed cooking a biggest-star-in-the-world movie career, we would’ve stuck our noses up in there a lot sooner. Yes, we would have sniffed up those early stinkers Doom and Be Cool, because at least nestled somewhere in there was The Rundown, which featured peak Seann William Scott and a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger passing the action torch to this upstart, the man who would be Dwayne Johnson. And indeed Johnson was the action man of the mid-aughts, tacking on the likes of Walking Tall to his brawny resume. And like his action forebears, he made a curve into family comedy, releasing The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy, and Race to Witch Mountain to the delight, we assume, of some people. On a scale between Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot to Kindergarten Cop, we rate Johnson’s comedy career detour Top Dog.

But things turned around in 2010. That’s the year he jumped face first off a building into the pavement. And thus was born a new action/comedy classic: The Other Guys. Meanwhile, ’70s-style throwback Faster showed a leaner, meaner Johnson back in a hard-hitting groove. He was invited into the Fast & Furious family, helping turn Fast Five into the franchise’s first Certified Fresh entry and a global phenomenon. San Andreas, Rampage, and Skyscraper turned him into the master of disaster, while Moana and Fighting With My Family, which he also produced, are among his highest-rated movies.

Central Intelligence was the first collaboration Johnson had with Kevin Hart, which was merely the opening for the main course: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the unlikely reboot-sequel that connected with audiences and critics worldwide. He, Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan all came back for Jumanji: The Next Level, and we’re taking a look back on all of Dwayne Johnson’s movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#35

Tooth Fairy (2010)
17%

#35
Adjusted Score: 20924%
Critics Consensus: Dwayne Johnson brings the full force of his charm (and his appropriately pale chompers) to the title role, but flat direction and a committee-written script render The Tooth Fairy unacceptably dull.
Synopsis: Rough-and-tumble hockey player Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) is a terror on the ice, earning the nickname "Tooth Fairy" by separating... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lembeck

#34

Baywatch (2017)
17%

#34
Adjusted Score: 35315%
Critics Consensus: Baywatch takes its source material's jiggle factor to R-rated levels, but lacks the original's campy charm -- and leaves its charming stars flailing in the shallows.
Synopsis: When a dangerous crime wave hits the beach, the legendary Mitch Buchannon leads his elite squad of lifeguards on a... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#33

Doom (2005)

#33
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A team of space marines known as the Rapid Response Tactical Squad, led by Sarge (The Rock), is sent to... [More]
Directed By: Andrzej Bartkowiak

#32

Planet 51 (2009)
23%

#32
Adjusted Score: 26006%
Critics Consensus: Planet 51 squanders an interesting premise with an overly familiar storyline, stock characters, and humor that alternates between curious and potentially offensive.
Synopsis: When astronaut Capt. Charles "Chuck" Baker lands on Planet 51, he thinks he is the first life form to set... [More]
Directed By: Jorge Blanco

#31

Walking Tall (2004)
26%

#31
Adjusted Score: 29622%
Critics Consensus: The Rock makes a competent hero, but the movie is content to let a 2x4 do all the talking.
Synopsis: When decorated military officer Chris Vaughn (The Rock) returns to his hometown in the state of Washington to find work,... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Bray

#30

The Game Plan (2007)
29%

#30
Adjusted Score: 32928%
Critics Consensus: Despite The Rock's abundant charisma, The Game Plan is just another run-of-the-mill Disney comedy.
Synopsis: Bachelor football star Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) seems to have it all. He is wealthy and carefree, and... [More]
Directed By: Andy Fickman

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 35104%
Critics Consensus: Though arguably superior to its predecessor, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is overwhelmed by its nonstop action and too nonsensical and vapid to leave a lasting impression.
Synopsis: In the continuing adventures of the G.I. Joe team, Duke (Channing Tatum), second-in-command Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), and the rest of... [More]
Directed By: Jon M. Chu

#28

Be Cool (2005)
30%

#28
Adjusted Score: 36687%
Critics Consensus: Be Cool is tepid, square, and lukewarm; as a parody of the music business, it has two left feet.
Synopsis: Having made the transition from gangster to movie producer, Chili Palmer (John Travolta) is ready for the next big move.... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#27

Southland Tales (2006)
40%

#27
Adjusted Score: 43708%
Critics Consensus: Southland Tales, while offering an intriguing vision of the future, remains frustratingly incoherent and unpolished.
Synopsis: With the United States under the threat of nuclear attack, the lives of several people converge in a dystopian Los... [More]
Directed By: Richard Kelly

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 44194%
Critics Consensus: Action adventure doesn't get much cheesier than The Scorpion King.
Synopsis: Inspired by the legendary Egyptian warrior, "The Scorpion King" is set 5000 years ago in the notorious city of Gomorrah,... [More]
Directed By: Chuck Russell

#25

Gridiron Gang (2006)
42%

#25
Adjusted Score: 45861%
Critics Consensus: The role of probation officer Sean Porter fits Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson like a glove; however, the execution is so cliched, the youths' stories (based on real events), fail to inspire.
Synopsis: A counselor (The Rock) at a juvenile detention facility decides to turn the young inmates in his charge into a... [More]
Directed By: Phil Joanou

#24

Faster (2010)

#24
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Following a 10-year prison stint, Driver (Dwayne Johnson) sprints through the gates to take vengeance on those responsible for his... [More]
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 48100%
Critics Consensus: Despite the best efforts of a talented cast, Race to Witch Mountain is a tepid reboot that lacks the magic of the original.
Synopsis: Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson), a Las Vegas taxi driver, is swept up in the adventure of a lifetime when he... [More]
Directed By: Andy Fickman

#22
Adjusted Score: 49216%
Critics Consensus: Aggressively unambitious, Journey 2 might thrill tween viewers, but most others will find it too intense for young audiences and too cartoonishly dull for adults.
Synopsis: Now 17, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded distress signal from an island where none should exist. Knowing that... [More]
Directed By: Brad Peyton

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 51325%
Critics Consensus: In The Mummy Returns, the special effects are impressive, but the characters seem secondary to the computer generated imagery.
Synopsis: Ten years after the events of the first film, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) O'Connell are settled in... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#20

Skyscraper (2018)
48%

#20
Adjusted Score: 65814%
Critics Consensus: Well-cast yet derivative, Skyscraper isn't exactly a towering action thriller feat, but it's solidly constructed enough to stand among the genre's more mildly diverting features.
Synopsis: Will Sawyer is a former FBI agent and U.S. war veteran who now assesses security for skyscrapers. While he's on... [More]

#19

San Andreas (2015)
49%

#19
Adjusted Score: 58254%
Critics Consensus: San Andreas has a great cast and outstanding special effects, but amidst all the senses-shattering destruction, the movie's characters and plot prove less than structurally sound.
Synopsis: A seemingly ideal day turns disastrous when California's notorious San Andreas fault triggers a devastating, magnitude 9 earthquake, the largest... [More]
Directed By: Brad Peyton

#18

Pain & Gain (2013)
50%

#18
Adjusted Score: 58123%
Critics Consensus: It may be his most thought-provoking film to date, but Michael Bay's Pain & Gain ultimately loses its satirical edge in a stylized flurry of violent spectacle.
Synopsis: Danny Lupo (Mark Wahlberg), manager of the Sun Gym in 1990s Miami, decides that there is only one way to... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#17

Get Smart (2008)
51%

#17
Adjusted Score: 58998%
Critics Consensus: Get Smart rides Steve Carell's considerable charm for a few laughs, but ultimately proves to be a rather ordinary action comedy.
Synopsis: When members of the nefarious crime syndicate KAOS attack the U.S. spy agency Control, the Chief (Alan Arkin) has to... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#16

Rampage (2018)
51%

#16
Adjusted Score: 68247%
Critics Consensus: Rampage isn't as fun as its source material, but the movie's sheer button-mashing abandon might satisfy audiences in the mood for a brainless blockbuster.
Synopsis: Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, an extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla that's been in his care since... [More]
Directed By: Brad Peyton

#15

Snitch (2013)
57%

#15
Adjusted Score: 61761%
Critics Consensus: Though it features one of Dwayne Johnson's more thoughtful performances, the presentation of Snitch's underlying message is muddled by lackluster storytelling and some tonal inconsistencies.
Synopsis: At 18 years old, Jason receives a mandatory 10-year prison sentence after being caught with a package that contained illegal... [More]
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh

#14

Hercules (2014)
58%

#14
Adjusted Score: 62728%
Critics Consensus: Hercules has Brett Ratner behind the cameras and Dwayne Johnson rocking the loincloth -- and delivers exactly what any reasonable person reading that description might expect.
Synopsis: Though he is famous across the ancient world for his larger-than-life exploits, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson), the son of Zeus and... [More]
Directed By: Brett Ratner

#13

Jungle Cruise (2021)
62%

#13
Adjusted Score: 79479%
Critics Consensus: Its craft isn't quite as sturdy as some of the classic adventures it's indebted to, but Jungle Cruise remains a fun, family-friendly voyage.
Synopsis: Join fan favorites Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt for the adventure of a lifetime on Disney's JUNGLE CRUISE, a rollicking... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 90573%
Critics Consensus: The Fate of the Furious opens a new chapter in the franchise, fueled by the same infectious cast chemistry and over-the-top action fans have come to expect.
Synopsis: With Dom and Letty married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#11
Adjusted Score: 88516%
Critics Consensus: Hobbs & Shaw doesn't rev as high as the franchise's best installments, but gets decent mileage out of its well-matched stars and over-the-top action sequences.
Synopsis: Brixton Lorr is a cybernetically enhanced soldier who possesses superhuman strength, a brilliant mind and a lethal pathogen that could... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch

#10

The Rundown (2003)
69%

#10
Adjusted Score: 74010%
Critics Consensus: The Rundown doesn't break any new ground, but it's a smart, funny buddy action picture with terrific comic chemistry between Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Seann William Scott.
Synopsis: Beck (The Rock) is a tight-lipped bounty hunter who doesn't like to use a gun and accepts any job without... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 81511%
Critics Consensus: Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson make for well-matched comic foils, helping Central Intelligence overcome a script that coasts on their considerable chemistry.
Synopsis: Bullied as a teen for being overweight, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) shows up to his high school reunion looking fit... [More]

#8

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
71%

#8
Adjusted Score: 78447%
Critics Consensus: With high-octane humor and terrific action scenes, Fast & Furious 6 builds upon the winning blockbuster formula that made Fast 5 a critical and commercial success.
Synopsis: Since Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian's (Paul Walker) heist in Rio left them and their crew very rich people, they've... [More]
Directed By: Justin Lin

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 86149%
Critics Consensus: Like many classic games, Jumanji: The Next Level retains core components of what came before while adding enough fresh bits to keep things playable.
Synopsis: When Spencer goes back into the fantastical world of Jumanji, pals Martha, Fridge and Bethany re-enter the game to bring... [More]
Directed By: Jake Kasdan

#6
Adjusted Score: 93685%
Critics Consensus: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle uses a charming cast and a humorous twist to offer an undemanding yet solidly entertaining update on its source material.
Synopsis: Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game's jungle setting, literally becoming... [More]
Directed By: Jake Kasdan

#5

Fast Five (2011)
77%

#5
Adjusted Score: 84788%
Critics Consensus: Sleek, loud, and over the top, Fast Five proudly embraces its brainless action thrills and injects new life into the franchise.
Synopsis: Ever since ex-cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) broke her brother Dom (Vin Diesel) out of... [More]
Directed By: Justin Lin

#4

The Other Guys (2010)
79%

#4
Adjusted Score: 85914%
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#3

Furious 7 (2015)
82%

#3
Adjusted Score: 92420%
Critics Consensus: Serving up a fresh round of over-the-top thrills while adding unexpected dramatic heft, Furious 7 keeps the franchise moving in more ways than one.
Synopsis: After defeating international terrorist Owen Shaw, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and the rest of the crew... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 106886%
Critics Consensus: Much like the sport it celebrates, Fighting with My Family muscles past clichés with a potent blend of energy and committed acting that should leave audiences cheering.
Synopsis: Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Merchant

#1

Moana (2016)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 112817%
Critics Consensus: With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.
Synopsis: An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty... [More]
Directed By: John Musker, Ron Clements

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In Time

(Photo by 20th Century Fox/ courtesy Everett Collection)

All Justin Timberlake Movies Ranked

Cause for alarm: Justin Timberlake has only been in a few Certified Fresh movies in his career, projects that have really hit with critics – we hope he has a second job to fall back on.

For now, Timberlake will just have to be content with the fact he’s been in some of the really good flicks of the 2010s, like David Fincher’s Best Picture nominee The Social Network, or the Coen brothers’ wry and sly take on the folk music, Inside Llewyn Davis. And no one can blame Timberlake for not being careful in cultivating his movie brand, making a few sex comedies (The Love Guru, Friends With Benefits), throwing in a few sci-fi risks (Southland Tales, In Time), and sweetening the stew with family movies (Yogi Bear, Shrek the Third).

Timberlake’s latest film, his first in three years, certainly falls in that last category: Trolls World Tour, which took the extraordinary step of skipping theatrical and going straight to on-demand. With the movie added to this list, we’re sync as we look back on all Justin Timberlake movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#18

Runner Runner (2013)
7%

#18
Adjusted Score: 11478%
Critics Consensus: It has an impressive cast and an intriguing premise, but Runner Runner wastes them on a bland, haphazardly assembled thriller with very little payoff.
Synopsis: Believing that he has been swindled, Princeton grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake) goes to Costa Rica to confront online-gambling tycoon... [More]
Directed By: Brad Furman

#17

Edison (2005)
13%

#17
Adjusted Score: 4575%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ambitious young reporter Pollack (Justin Timberlake) suspects insidious corruption in his town's elite police unit, known as F.R.A.T., and finds... [More]
Directed By: David J. Burke

#16

Yogi Bear (2010)
12%

#16
Adjusted Score: 15455%
Critics Consensus: Yogi Bear's 3D effects and all-star voice cast are cold comfort for its aggressively mediocre screenplay.
Synopsis: Yogi (Dan Aykroyd) and his sidekick, Boo Boo (Justin Timberlake), are Jellystone Park's most-notorious troublemakers, hatching countless schemes to separate... [More]
Directed By: Eric Brevig

#15

The Love Guru (2008)
14%

#15
Adjusted Score: 19936%
Critics Consensus: The Love Guru features far too many gross-out gags, and too few earned laughs, ranking as one of Mike Myers' poorest outings.
Synopsis: Born in America and raised in an Indian ashram, Pitka (Mike Myers) returns to his native land to seek his... [More]
Directed By: Marco Schnabel

#14

The Open Road (2009)
29%

#14
Adjusted Score: 8920%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: While playing minor league baseball in Texas, Carlton Garrett (Justin Timberlake) receives word from his grandfather (Harry Dean Stanton) that... [More]
Directed By: Michael Meredith

#13

Wonder Wheel (2017)
31%

#13
Adjusted Score: 45875%
Critics Consensus: Wonder Wheel gathers a charming cast in an inviting period setting, but they aren't enough to consistently breathe life into a Woody Allen project that never quite comes together.
Synopsis: Four peoples' lives intertwine amid the hustle and bustle of the Coney Island amusement park in the 1950s: Ginny, an... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#12

In Time (2011)
37%

#12
Adjusted Score: 42539%
Critics Consensus: In Time's intriguing premise and appealing cast are easily overpowered by the blunt, heavy-handed storytelling.
Synopsis: In a future where time is money and the wealthy can live forever, Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a poor... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Niccol

#11

Southland Tales (2006)
40%

#11
Adjusted Score: 43708%
Critics Consensus: Southland Tales, while offering an intriguing vision of the future, remains frustratingly incoherent and unpolished.
Synopsis: With the United States under the threat of nuclear attack, the lives of several people converge in a dystopian Los... [More]
Directed By: Richard Kelly

#10

Shrek the Third (2007)
42%

#10
Adjusted Score: 50239%
Critics Consensus: Shrek the Third has pop culture potshots galore, but at the expense of the heart, charm, and wit that made the first two Shreks classics.
Synopsis: When King Harold suddenly croaks, Shrek (Mike Myers) learns he will have to rule the land of Far, Far Away,... [More]
Directed By: Chris Miller

#9

Bad Teacher (2011)
45%

#9
Adjusted Score: 51228%
Critics Consensus: In spite of a promising concept and a charmingly brazen performance from Cameron Diaz, Bad Teacher is never as funny as it should be.
Synopsis: For most, teaching is an honorable profession -- except for Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz). The foul-mouthed, boozy woman can't wait to... [More]
Directed By: Jake Kasdan

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 58598%
Critics Consensus: Though predictable and somewhat dramatically underwhelming, Trouble with the Curve benefits from Clint Eastwood's grizzled charisma and his easy chemistry with a charming Amy Adams.
Synopsis: For decades Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) has been one of baseball's best scouts -- but now his age is catching... [More]
Directed By: Robert Lorenz

#7

Alpha Dog (2006)
54%

#7
Adjusted Score: 59890%
Critics Consensus: A glossy yet unflinching portrait of violent, hedonistic teenagers. Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone chew the scenery, while Justin Timberlake gives a noteworthy performance.
Synopsis: Teenage dealer Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) and his friends kidnap the impressionable younger brother (Anton Yelchin) of a junkie (Ben... [More]
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes

#6

Black Snake Moan (2007)
66%

#6
Adjusted Score: 71847%
Critics Consensus: Uninhibited performances, skillful direction, and a killer blues soundtrack elevate Black Snake Moan beyond its outlandish premise.
Synopsis: After her lover (Justin Timberlake) leaves to serve in the military, Rae (Christina Ricci) gives in to her raging libido... [More]
Directed By: Craig Brewer

#5
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a New York-based executive recruiter who entices Dylan (Justin Timberlake), an art director from Los Angeles,... [More]
Directed By: Will Gluck

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 81872%
Critics Consensus: A fun follow-up for fans of the original, Trolls World Tour offers a second helping of colorful animation, infectious energy, and sing-along songs.
Synopsis: Poppy and Branch discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also... [More]
Directed By: Walt Dohrn

#3

Trolls (2016)
75%

#3
Adjusted Score: 84905%
Critics Consensus: Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn't without rewards for parents.
Synopsis: After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, curmudgeonly Branch (Justin... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 102850%
Critics Consensus: Smart, funny, and profoundly melancholy, Inside Llewyn Davis finds the Coen brothers in fine form.
Synopsis: In 1961 New York City, folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is at a crossroads. Guitar in hand, he struggles... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 107965%
Critics Consensus: Impeccably scripted, beautifully directed, and filled with fine performances, The Social Network is a riveting, ambitious example of modern filmmaking at its finest.
Synopsis: In 2003, Harvard undergrad and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) begins work on a new concept that eventually turns... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

One of the most accomplished and successful electronic musicians of the past two decades, Moby has also created a body of work synonymous with the world of film soundtracks. His 1991 techno hit “Go” sampled Angelo Badalamenti’s “Laura Palmer’s Theme” from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and his music has since accompanied dozens of films and television shows, from 007 to Michael Mann to Danny Boyle and beyond. (Not for nothing was his 1997 movie music compilation entitled I Like To Score.) He even came something of a full circle when Lynch directed the music video for his 2009 single, “Shot in the Back of the Head.”

Moby’s tracks provide the musical foundation for Lucy Walker’s Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land, which is being re-released in select theaters this week ahead of the February 27 Academy Awards. An unexpectedly moving piece, it chronicles the journey of Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz as he returns to the favelas of Rio and engages the local “garbage pickers,” who work in a literal city of trash, to become a part of his art project. More than simply an eco-themed documentary, it’s a surprising human story that captures the transformative effect that art can have on peoples’ lives.

Read through for our full conversation in which Moby discusses Waste Land, the issue of licensing his music, his impetus to compose original soundtracks… and what it was like to DJ his friend David Lynch’s wedding.

But first, we got him to talk about his five favorite films.

 


INLAND EMPIRE (2006, 72% Tomatometer)

 

Well, in no particular order, and not to be sycophantic, number one would be INLAND EMPIRE, the last David Lynch movie. I saw it four times in the theater, at the IFC theater on Sixth Avenue in New York, and I loved it because it plays with a lot of narrative conventions but then disposes with them. It made of lot of more traditional filmmaking seem sort of adolescent to me. And I might be alone in my opinion, but I think it’s the best movie David Lynch has ever made.

Fireworks (Hana-bi) (1997, 94% Tomatometer)

 

Number two is Fireworks by Takeshi Kitano. I remember when I saw it, I love the way he marries in that movie… it’s emotional and impressionistic but it still has these amazing outbursts of violence. I can’t think of a single movie [like it] that goes from, in one instance,
being very delicate and poetic, to being almost obscenely violent. I think he’s remarkable.

Man Facing Southeast (1986, 83% Tomatometer)

 

Number three, I don’t know the name of the director [Ed. note: Eliseo Subiela], unfortunately, but it was a movie made in the ’80s called Man Facing Southeast. It’s an Argentine film. I should really find out who the director is, ’cause I saw it a bunch of times in an art theater in the mid ’80s when it was released. I fell in love with it and I dragged all of my friends to go see it, and of course none of them liked it as much as I did, but something about it I just found incredibly powerful and it really resonated with me.

Dead Man Walking (1995, 94% Tomatometer)

 

And four… oh, this is tricky. I’m just trying to go through them in my head. It’s probably easier to pick 30 favorite movies as opposed to five. It might seem like an odd choice but I really loved it, the Tim Robbins movie Dead Man Walking. I just thought it was such beautiful, emotional, thoughtful filmmaking, and I’m surprised it hasn’t taken a bigger place in the western film canon.

Them! (1954, 100% Tomatometer)

 

Okay, so I can think of about 300 to possibly choose, but this was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up. It’s a movie called Them!; it’s about giant ants that invade Los Angeles. My friend Paul and I, when we were growing up, we had a videotape of it and we just watched it obsessively over and over again. Especially like the first 20 or 30 minutes of it, it’s so apocalyptic and quiet and disconcerting. And the sound design [of the ants] is amazing. I was gonna pick Godfather II or something a little more predictable, but I’ll go with Them! ’cause it truly is one of my favorite movies.

 

Next, Moby talks about the score for Waste Land, licensing and composing music for soundtracks, and his friendship and collaboration with David Lynch.

 

RT: You allowed Lucy Walker, who’s a friend, to use your songs for free in Waste Land — you must have really believed in the film.

Moby: I’ve been friends with Lucy for about 17, 18 years now. When she explained the movie to me I really had no idea what she was talking about. On the surface of things, a movie about a Brazilian artist who makes art with people who live in a garbage dump doesn’t exactly sound like… well, it sounds like the sort of movie that eight academics would watch at Quad Cinema in New York City; so when she was working on it, I thought it was the sort of tiny labor of love movie that no one would ever actually see. So I’ve been really happy for her, and for Vik, and for everyone involved that it’s taken on a life of its own that’s been so much more than anyone expected. Traditionally artist biopics don’t get seen by too many people other than the artist and his or her family, so it’s really nice that so many more people have seen it and have ended up loving it.

When you saw the film were you surprised by the human arc that the story takes in following the lives of the garbage pickers?

Yeah. As I said, Lucy and I had been friends for quite a while and I really like the movies that she makes, but this one, it’s the first time she’s really been allowed to make her own movie. I really think that the filmmaking involved in the movie and the fact that it’s a documentary that does have this really remarkable narrative arc to it — it’s hard to talk about it without sounding too clichéd, ’cause I start using expressions like “a celebration of the human spirit,” but that’s kind of what it is.

Did Lucy select the music for the soundtrack or did you collaborate on the choices?

It’s funny, I basically just handed a whole bunch of music over to Lucy and gave her complete carte blanche to use what she wanted to use, however she wanted to use it. I made the music, but she’s the one who decided what was gonna be used and where. So once I was done making the music I handed it over to her and that was the end of my involvement in it… to just sit back and bask in her reflective glory.

You’re no stranger to your music being licensed to films; do you always involve yourself personally in approving what context your songs are used in?

Not really. For a while the reason I didn’t do that was because there was a long period where I didn’t actually own my music — so it wasn’t up to me really where my music was licensed, especially when it came to advertisements.

Has that changed?

Yeah, luckily now; somehow because my manager’s really smart, he was able to get control of some of my music. Now my manager and I control a lot of my music, so we can decide where it’s actually gonna be placed. But when it comes to licensing music to films, I’m honestly, for better or worse, just really happy to hand the music over to filmmakers and let them do with it as they see fit.

Not to sound too much like a literary grad student, a book that really inspired me when I was growing up is the book Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, and at the very end he’s having this sort of psychedelic, psychotic breakdown and he’s desperately trying to control everything in his life; and he has this epiphany, realizing that life is this big messy complicated thing and the more you try and control things, the worse they end up being. So that’s sort of my professional ethos, especially with regards to music in films: I hand my music over to people and if they wanna use it, that’s great, and it’s not up to me how they use it or where they use it or when they use it — I’m just flattered that anyone would choose to use my music and I’m perfectly happy for them to do with it as they see fit.

 

Have you ever been watching something and suddenly heard one of your tracks and thought, “Wow, I didn’t know my song was licensed to that?”

Oh yeah, and sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s terrible.

Was there an instance where you went, “Oh, that’s not good; I don’t like this”?

I went to go see the Tom Green movie, Freddy Got Fingered, which is… I really like The Tom Green Show but suffice it to say that the movie is, um… it’s not one of the better movies ever made. And half way through it as my friends and I were saying to each other that this is one of the worst movies we’d ever seen, one of my songs came up and my friends just started ridiculing me and laughing at me.

And is there a moment in which your music’s been used that you’ve been really pleased with?

Yeah, I’ve gotten really lucky because honestly, 99 per cent of the times when my music has been used in films I’ve been happy with the results. My favorite is the ending of the movie Heat, when Michael Mann uses a song of mine called “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters,” and that was one of the first times I’d ever licensed music to a movie, and I just remember going to the movie with a friend of mine and sitting there and hearing the music at the end and just being so kind of awed that this amazing filmmaker, who could have used any piece of music on the planet, had chosen to use mine for this really sort of powerful, emotional denouement. When music and film work well together it’s so much more powerful than, you know, the sum of the parts.

Speaking of which, I liked your score for Southland Tales, which, I think, is an under-appreciated film…

Oh I love Southland Tales. I actually just saw Richard Kelly the other night. When it came out it was almost universally reviled and I was really proud to work on it; I think it’s a challenging, amazing movie. I understand why some people might not like it, but I thought, if nothing else, it should have been celebrated for trying to do something really idiosyncratic and really different.

 

What was it like scoring a film that was so dense narratively, and so strange in tone? Did you collaborate with Richard when he was writing the thing, or did he come to you afterward and ask you to compose music?

Well what was interesting, and I don’t know if this has happened too many times with musicians before, was that I basically scored the script. The music was all done before they started shooting, because he wanted to be able to listen to the music while he was shooting. So he sent me this script which was really obscure and Byzantine and difficult and I loved it, because at the end of reading the script it made no sense to me whatsoever. And so the music was all either compiled or written while it was just in script form. The movie itself had so many iterations. There’s one four-hour long cut that was also very difficult and very obscure and very strange, and of all the cuts that was my favorite one but it also seemed like it was the cut that most people hated.

And most of us, sadly, have never seen.

Well it’s long and difficult; it’s even longer and more difficult and obscure than the finished cut. I’m sure he’s got it floating around somewhere, if you ever see him he’d probably be more than happy to give you a copy.

Is there a particular something that appeals to you in a film or director, like Richard Kelly and Southland, that makes you want to compose original music for a project?

I guess, I mean there are so many conventional movies in the world and there are a lot of musicians who are really good at writing conventional movie music. I don’t think I’m one of those people, so I don’t have much interest in writing conventional score or working on conventional movies. I’m much more interested in working on stuff that’s odd and idiosyncratic and low budget and will probably never get seen by anybody. My one remaining film music dream is to write the music for a Takeshi Kitano movie, ’cause he’s one of my favorite filmmakers. I mean, if Steven Spielberg and Takeshi Kitano came to me on the same day and asked me to write music for one of their movies I would have to say “no” to Steven Spielberg and an enthusiastic “yes” to Takeshi Kitano. Just because, as I said, there are so many normal, conventional movies — and they’re good — and they tend to benefit from having normal, conventional scores, so I feel like you just leave
that world to the people who are good at it. I’m much more interested in working with the oddballs who make movies that might never get seen.

 

Well on that note, you’re friends with David Lynch — have you two ever considered working together on a feature?

Yeah, I would love to. He’s one of my heroes, and it’s really interesting becoming friends with your heroes. If David Lynch makes another movie I will happily make coffee. I’ll happily clean up the set when everybody else is done with it.

So long as it’s David Lynch signature coffee.

Yeah… I would do anything. We’ve collaborated on a lot of different things. I’ve done music for his DLF TV, which is his meditation charity, so I’ve done a lot of music for that, and he made a music video for me, and I DJed at his wedding; so we’ve done a lot of sort of strange non-filmic collaborations, but yeah — if he ever decides to make another feature, I mean I would literally drop whatever I am doing to just, I don’t know, sit and park his car.

What was on the playlist for David’s wedding? Were there any special requests?

You know, it was funny: My wedding gift to David and his wife was to DJ at their wedding and I was the most generic, bog-standard wedding DJ. Some people might imagine the soundtrack for a David Lynch wedding being like the slowed-down sound of a box of glasses being broken while an
18th-century operatic piece is played backwards pitched down three octaves, but no, instead I was playing “Brown-Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. Most of the people there were friends and family, so there was me just like the generic wedding DJ in the corner playing CDs.

What did you think of David’s recent dance track, “Good Day Today”? Your single “Go” sampled Twin Peaks and it seems almost like David was nodding back in your direction with his song.

Yeah. I love his music. It’s funny, I really like David’s music, I like his singing, but he’s sort of shy about it, so I’ve had those experiences where I’ve been around him and I’ve asked to hear music and he’ll get kind of shy; which is of course unjustified because the music that he makes is, I think, really special.

Well he has mentioned in interviews that he’s in awe of you as a musician…

Which is… I mean, it’s unjustified but it’s flattering.

You’ve got a new album, Destoyed, on its way soon — what can we expect from that, musically?

The album is music that was written in hotel rooms late at night, so it’s quite atmospheric. The way I describe it is that it’s like broken-down electronic music that was written in hotel rooms at 2 o’clock in the morning. So it’s very melodic but sort of disconcerting at the same time.


Waste Land is released to selected theaters in Los Angeles this week, with New York to follow.

The summer’s biggest oohs and ahhs (and guffaws) hit DVD this week, as Wall-E and Tropic Thunder hit shelves with tons of bonus content for fans. Cineastes will be rewarded by the latest from Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely) and David Lynch (the multi-film Lime Green set), while early gift hunters should check out a 300 Limited Collector’s Edition and Columbia’s massive Best Pictures set.

1. Tropic Thunder – 83%

Ah, what gifts Steven Spielberg hath given us. Twenty one years after filming a bit part in Spielberg’s WWII drama Empire of the Sun, comedian-turned-filmmaker Ben Stiller cobbled together an idea for a comedy about a big-budget Hollywood war movie run amok on location, and Tropic Thunder was born; Empire‘s child star didn’t do too bad for himself either. This week Tropic Thunder — The Unrated Director’s Cut hits arrives, which means the biggest laughs of the year are moments away from your DVD player.

The jungle antics of Hollywood shills Tugg Speedman (Stiller), Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and Method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) are on full tilt in the 2-disc Unrated edition, which comes packed with bonus features that capitalize on the movie’s meta-leanings; like the fake trailers within the film (The Fatties: Fart 2, Scorcher IV: Global Meltdown, and the controversial Satan’s Alley), the faux-documentary Rain of Madness captures the “actors” of Tropic Thunder during their hectic production. The release also includes tons of behind-the-scenes featurettes, filmmaker and cast commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending, and more.

Watch an exclusive clip from Tropic Thunder below!!

Next: Wall-E

2. Wall-E — 96%

Indulge in one of the best-loved films of the year when Disney-Pixar releases WALL-E in bountiful DVD and Blu-ray releases this week! The grand tale of a Chaplin-esque lonely robot named WALL-E who finds love and meaning on a cross-universe quest captured the hearts of moviegoers last summer, while critics nudged it a hair’s breadth over The Dark Knight to name it the best-reviewed wide release of the year (so far).

Whether you pick up the 3-disc DVD or the more expansive Blu-ray set, you’ll find a full complement of WALL-E extras and goodies for Pixar fans, including the short films Presto, which played before WALL-E in theaters, and BURN-E, a spin-off short featuring one of WALL-E‘s supporting characters. More making-of featurettes, a Pixar documentary, shorts “from the Buy n Large archives,” and a digital copy are also included. Blu-ray viewers can make additional use of the BD-Live chat function, get picture-in-picture commentary, a “Geek Track” full of obscure pop up trivia, and access to retro-style WALL-E-themed video games.

Next: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

3. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 — 63%

Back in 2005, we learned that one pair of magical jeans could unite BFFS across international lines; this year, we learned that bigger star power didn’t necessarily make for a significantly more successful sequel. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 returned its four stars — Alexis Bledel, Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrara and Blake Lively — to their worn-in roles, though the former pair had become Ugly Betty and a Gossip Girl, respectively; critics were less impressed, though the box office improved marginally.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 catches up with Bridget (Lively), Carmen (Ferrara), Lena (Bledel), and Tibby (Tamblyn) as the college freshmen leave girlhood behind and embark on their first grown up adventures. In addition to the film, watch additional scenes, a gag reel, and a featurettes on the “exhilarating” final sequence.

Next: 300 Limited Collector’s Edition

4. 300 Limited Collector’s Edition — 60%

Zack Snyder’s breathtaking treatment of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s graphic novel is back in a splendid Limited Collector’s Edition that includes previously-released bonus features, plus an all-new bonus disc with the making-of documentary To the Hot Gates: A Legend Retold, and a bonus digital copy of the film, so you can watch heavy metal-scored decapitations in slo-mo wherever you go. The set also comes with a handsome hardcover art book featuring a personal message from Snyder, a Lucite display, and six collectible photo cards. Your favorite Spartan will thank you.

Next: Mister Lonely

5. Mister Lonely — 44%

Harmony Korine has made a career out of films about outsiders, but his latest, Mister Lonely, is perhaps his most universally-appealing yet. A young Michael Jackson impersonator (Diego Luna) meets a wannabe Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton) while performing in old folks’ homes in Paris; she brings him into a commune full of celebrity impersonators who live blissfully in the Scottish Highlands, until reality catches up. While reviews were mixed on this gentle, bizarre tale — which features a cameo by director Werner Herzog in a side plot about a skydiving priest — it’s still Korine’s most accessible tale yet, and worth checking out for the adventurous at heart.

Next: Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series

6. Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series

The wildly popular UK science fiction series Doctor Who has been running for so long that the Guinness Book of World Records named it the longest running sci-fi series in the world; consider Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series then, to be a chunk of British pop history that you can own.

In the latest incarnation of the show, whose fourth “series” (AKA season, to you Americans) hits shelves this week, David Tennant jumps through space and time willy nilly as the Doctor — though he recently announced his tenure would end in 2010. Look for appearances by Kylie Minogue, Billie Piper and Alex Kingston.

Next: David Lynch the Lime Green set

7. David Lynch – The Lime Green set

Filmmaker David Lynch is one of Hollywood’s best-loved eccentrics — which you might already know if you subscribe to his official site, drink his personal brand of coffee, or listen to his daily weather reports. This week, celebrate Lynch with his self-distributed Lime Green set — a must-have for Lynch super fans — which contains his films Eraserhead (along with its soundtrack), Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, The Elephant Man, The Short Films of David Lynch, the animated series Dumbland which aired on his website, and Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Brokenhearted, a 1990 short avante-garde musical that featured a pre-Wild at Heart Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, with music by Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti. Oh, and there’s an additional “mystery disc” full of exclusive material to pique your curiosity.

Next: Southland Tales on Blu-ray

8. Southland Tales on Blu-ray

Neo-Marxists, porn stars, and The Rock converge on greater Los Angeles county in Richard Kelly’s beautiful disaster of a sophomore film, which hits Blu-ray this week. Kelly fans who were waiting for the director to explain his epic vision in a commentary track should be relieved, as he at last waxes poetic on his ambitious sci-fi-philosophical actioner. Also navigate three prequel graphic novels to more fully understand the Southland Tales saga. We just want to watch the movie’s best scene — Justin Timberlake lip-synching to The Killers in slow motion — in glorious HD.

Next: Columbia Best Pictures Collection

9. Columbia Best Pictures collection

In a year where Batman is garnering Best Picture buzz, hearken back to the old days of Oscar with Columbia’s massive 11-film box set of Best Picture winners! From Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934) to Sir Ben Kingsley in Gandhi (1982), this ripe collection of oldies-but-goodies spans nearly half a decade of classic Oscar winners, each with its own set of featurettes, commentary tracks, and special features. Combined, the collection of Best Pictures share 57 Academy Awards.

Also in the set: You Can’t Take it With You (1938), All the King’s Men (1949), From Here to Eternity (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Oliver! (1968), and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), plus three additional discs of bonus material.

Next: Executive Koala

10. Executive Koala

Lastly this week, we recommend the awesomely zany hijinks of Executive Koala. The wacky Japanese thriller — about a businessman who happens to be a man-sized koala bear — comes courtesy of Japanese director Minoru Kawasaki, whose previous effort, Calamari Wrestler, was about a man who turned into a giant squid. Part kaiju, part American Psycho, Executive Koala follows the life of salary man (and koala) Tamura whose life turns upside down when his girlfriend is found dead — and he’s the prime suspect. Watch a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the film, which was reportedly shot in only seven days.

Until next week, happy renting!

If you loved Will Smith’s I Am Legend up until its final chapters, you’re in luck; a decidedly different denouement can be found on the special edition DVD, our top pick for you home video enthusiasts. For more subdued thrills, the Oscar-nominated romance Atonement is also new to shelves; Disney’s delightful princess pic Enchanted offers even lighter fare. More adventurous moviegoers have magnificent critical bungles to dissect in Richard Kelly’s science fiction Southland Tales, Guy Ritchie’s crime pic Revolver, also new this week.


I Am Legend – Two-Disc Special Edition

Tomatometer: 68%

While Will Smith‘s last-man-on-Earth pic broke box office records last December and proved yet again that the erstwhile Fresh Prince is worth his salt as an action hero, the final scenes of Francis Lawrence‘s adaptation (from the Richard Matheson novel) left many viewers cold. But Warner Bros. has the ultimate treat for those of you who left the theater shaking your heads: a wildly different alternate ending on the Two-Disc Special Edition of I Am Legend that might just redeem the theatrical cut’s last-act inanity. The muscled Smith acquits himself well as the last remaining survivor of a global outbreak, tromping the empty streets of Manhattan by day and battling the vampiric infected by night while slowly going crazy from loneliness. Catch the usual special features on an accompanying DVD-ROM, but again, the real reason to pick up this release is the film itself — and its bonus alternate ending.

Atonement

Tomatometer: 82%

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star as young lovers torn apart by a single, devastating lie in director Joe Wright‘s stunning epic romance. When rich and beautiful Cecilia Tallis (Knightley) gets caught in a clinch with her childhood friend, Robbie Turner (McAvoy), their love must withstand a false accusation by Cecilia’s young sister, Briony (Saiorse Ronan) then prison, war, and separation. Wright’s critically acclaimed period pic — the epitome of the prestige piece, and movingly executed — is at once romance, mystery, war film and character drama, all set to Dario Marinelli‘s Oscar-winning syncopated, symphonic score. Deleted scenes, featurettes on adapting the Ian McEwan novel and making the film, and a commentary track by director Wright complement the release.


Enchanted


Tomatometer: 93%

The limitation of classic Disney films like Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty has been that, while perfectly…enchanting within the confines of their animated worlds, such stories couldn’t possibly translate with real actors. (Besides, where would you find real mice and birds that could sew Cinderella’s dress together without making a mess?) Enter Enchanted, Disney’s stab at a live-action princess movie complete with animal friends and impromptu singing; with the lovable Amy Adams as a cartoon heroine come to life in dirty, real-life New York City, the Mouse House gamble proved lucky. Critics liked the film’s relentlessly cheery sensibility and self-aware Disneyfications; we like a good blooper reel on any DVD release. Extras include Carrie Underwood’s music video for “Ever Ever After” and behind-the-scenes featurettes for two of the film’s Oscar-nominated songs.

Southland Tales


Tomatometer: 34%

Not a single American film in the past few years has piqued as much curiosity, or as much critical debate, as Richard Kelly‘s Southland Tales. A huge-scaled futuristic-philosophical romp about fate in post-nuclear Los Angeles starring the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Justin Timberlake, and half the cast of Saturday Night Live, Kelly’s sci-fi opus was either an artsy, ambitious endeavor or simply the sophomore slump inevitably following Kelly’s similarly divisive Donnie Darko. Yours truly was in the infamous Cannes audience when Kelly unleashed his behemoth upon the world and will be among the obsessed watching the DVD over and over for any clue as to what he was thinking; alas, no explanation by way of director commentary appears on this initial disc.

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising


Tomatometer: 13%

Fans of author Susan Cooper’s children’s fantasy series The Dark Is Rising will likely be disappointed, if not downright outraged, by this big-screen adaptation of her second book. Why? Try skipping the first novel entirely and making a number of story alterations, the most obvious of which is Americanizing the 14-year-old protagonist. But critics say that even the uninitiated viewer should be wary, lest subpar computer graphics, a boring script, and a fantasy yarn that is decidedly un-fantastic — about a teen plopped into an ancient battle between good and evil — is your idea of a good time.

Revolver


Tomatometer: 16%

In his latest film, Guy Ritchie tackles gangsters and criminals — shocker, right? But Revolver, his last film since the disaster that was Swept Away, is more than just an uber-Brit shoot-em-up starring Jason Statham…ok, so it also stars Statham (who made his name in early Ritchie films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch). And it was a critical and commercial disappointment (just like Swept Away). That’s partially because Revolver, like Ritchie compatriot Matthew Vaughn‘s Layer Cake, is an existential kind of gangster thriller — perhaps over-indulgently so, say scribes. Con man Jake Green (Statham) leaves a long prison stint to seek revenge on the man who put him there (Ray Liotta). Throw in gambling, hitmen, Andre “3000” Benjamin, a blood disease, supposed Kabbalah references, and philosophical musings galore, and you’ve got one heck of a mess — just the latest in Ritchie’s filmography before his next crime pic.

Thus concludes our latest round-up of new releases. Remember your Latin: “Nam et ipsa scientia potestas es.”

At the rate things are going, the major Hollywood studios might soon discover that they’re the only ones who don’t have agreements with the Writers Guild of America.

Two more companies — Spyglass Entertainment and Media Rights Capital — signed interim deals with the WGA on Monday. The deals, effective immediately, are said to be similar to those signed by Worldwide Pants, United Artists, and The Weinstein Company. From The Hollywood Reporter:

The MRC deal is similar to the three previously announced interim contracts in giving writers a minimum for original content made for the Internet, one of MRC’s main aims in several deals. MRC and Google made a deal in August to distribute exclusive original digital content from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane online. MacFarlane was instrumental in helping forge the deal, MRC co-CEOs Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk said.

Interestingly enough, one of MRC’s partners is Warner Bros.; the two studios have a three-picture deal, which includes Richard Kelly‘s Cameron Diaz-led follow-up to Southland Tales, titled The Box, as well as Robert Rodriguez‘s Shorts and a Ricky Gervais/Jennifer Garner project titled This Side of the Truth.

As the Reporter notes, MRC is “unique among the companies making deals,” in that it’s developing projects for multiple mediums; according to WGA West president Patric Verrone, MRC’s docket includes a number of deals in place for film, television, and the Web.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

This week at the movies, we’ve got epic poems come to life (Beowulf,
starring Ray Winstone and
Angelina Jolie), a magical toy shop (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium
, starring
Dustin Hoffman and
Natalie Portman), and romance in the
midst of infectious disease (Love in the Time of Cholera, starring
Javier Bardem). What do the critics have to say?

First, the bad news: critics say
Beowulf
will inspire English teachers
and literary scholars to tear out their hair. The good news? The scribes also
say it’s a flick that fans of bombastic action and phantasmagoria will want give
their right arms for. If you didn’t read the epic poem in school, get thee to a
library; suffice to say the story involves a dude named Beowulf (Ray Winstone)
tangling with mead hall-crashing beast Grendel (Crispin Glover) and
his vengeful, seductive mom (Angelina Jolie, much more attractive than her fictional
progeny would indicate). The pundits say Beowulf‘s amazing visuals are
the biggest draw here, as director
Robert Zemeckis uses dazzling CGI to bring
the classic tale to vivid life. (They also note it’s not for the kiddies,
despite its PG-13 rating.) At 79 percent, Beowulf is Certified Fresh, and
it’s well above Zemeckis’ previous animation/live-action hybrid,
The Polar
Express
(57 percent). (And
check out
our Total Recall feature on Beowulf and animation.)



Grendel waiting until somebody invents Jergens.

Everyone can use a dose of magic and whimsy from time to time, right? But
frippery requires a light touch, something critics say
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder
Emporium
lacks. Emporium stars
Dustin Hoffman in the title role as
the proprietor of a magic toy store, a place where baubles can come to life,
fueled by imagination;
Natalie Portman plays his protégé. The pundits say the
big problem with Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is that it ODs on
zaniness in an effort to make up for a bland storyline. At 24 percent on the
Tomatometer, business isn’t all that brisk at this Emporium.




“Does Mr. Magorium sell cornballers?”

Nobel Prize-winner
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
is widely acknowledged to be one of the world’s great men of letters.
Javier Bardem, hot from his performance in
No
Country for Old Men
, stars in the adaptation of one of Marquez’ most
celebrated works,
Love in the Time of Cholera
. Unfortunately, critics say
it’s more like Love in the Time of Narcolepsy. Bardem stars as a man who
is so enraptured by a woman he waits 50 years for her, despite her shifting
affections. The pundits say Love misses the spirit and passion of
Marquez’ magical realist tale by miles, with fine actors in miscast roles and a
too-literal approach, bogging down material that has a sense of sweep and
romanticism on the page. At 17 percent on the Tomatometer, Cholera is
under critical quarantine.



Chaplin, post-‘stache.

Also opening this week in limited release: the documentary
I for India
,
the story of an expat corresponding to his family, is at 100 percent;
What
Would Jesus Buy?
, a doc that explores the commercialization of Christmas, is
at 94 percent; Gregg Araki‘s
Smiley Face, a stoner comedy starring
Anna
Faris
, is at 67 percent;
Redacted
,
Brian De Palma‘s mixed-media look at the horrors of the Iraq war, is at 52 percent (read
our interview with De Palma
here); the Icelandic import
Eleven Men Out
,
about a soccer star who comes out of the closet, is at 50 percent;
Noah Baumbach‘s
Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman in a tale of
familial strife, is at 47 percent (check out our take from Toronto
here); and
Southland
Tales
, a wildly ambitious sci-fi/political satire starring
Dwayne "The
Rock" Johnson
and
Seann
William Scott
, is at 42 percent (see our interview
with director Richard Kelly
here).



"Boy, these Dean Martin celebrity roasts are hilarious!"

Recent Angelina Jolie Movies:
————————————-
77% — A Mighty Heart (2007)
55% — The Good Shepard (2006)
59% — Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)
16% — Alexander (2004)
34% — Shark Tale (2004)

Recent Natalie Portman Movies:
—————————————
84% — Paris, Je T’Aime (2007)
29% — Goya’s Ghosts (2007)
24% — Free Zone (2006)
72% — V for Vendetta (2006)
80% — Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Richard Kelly

The fan base that rallied around Donnie Darko has for years been anxiously awaiting the release of Richard Kelly’s second film, Southland Tales, scouring the film’s abstract website and three prequel graphic novels in anticipation of its release. And then came the infamous 2006 Cannes screening, where the film premiered to a near-historic critical harpooning. Since then Kelly has spent a considerable amount of money to augment the special effects and now, more than a year later, he’s revealed a shorter, more distributor-friendly picture. Although cameo sequences with Janeane Garofalo are now on the cutting room floor, the film boasts abundant acting talent and a cache of cultural references that rivals Jean-Luc Godard‘s Histoire(s) du cinema in sheer volume. Kelly calls it “apocalyptic science fiction film noir,” but as he explains, the film reaches ever further than that.

Southland Tales opens in the fascist, media-debased near future. Our navigators through this profligate America are an amnesiac named Boxer Santos (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), and Ronald Taverner (Seann William Scott), a cop who has unwittingly been embroiled in a secret agenda by neo-Marxist rebels. Private Abilene (Justin Timberlake) is the narrator and askew conscience of the film, whose off-kilter prophecies describe a distorted America that bears a pointed resemblance to our own. Kelly’s film is a pastiche of references from many facets of media and culture funneled as if through a funhouse mirror. CNN screens display images of technology that look like Metropolis by way of Mel Brooks. The futurist nightmares of William Gibson and Thomas Pynchon are explored with the snark of Mike Judge (Idiocracy). Philip K. Dick shares the stage with noir classic Kiss Me Deadly, as well as Repo Man, Mad Max, Satyricon, and Brazil. This wouldn’t seem so odd if it didn’t also recall so much of The Gospel According to John.

Literary and pop references aside, what Kelly has built is as much a mythology as it is a fever dream about today’s America. And though it may divide critics and take time to attract new audiences, Kelly is putting forward a work that few would attempt and none could imitate.


Richard Kelly on the set of Southland Tales

Tell me about the flag on the cover of Book 1: Two Roads Diverge. It’s also behind Mandy Moore in one of her last scenes with Dwayne Johnson. It looks like a Jasper Johns cut in half. Is that original art?

Richard Kelly: That is original art by my friend J. Kelly. He did that art as a collage right after 9-11. I was over at his house and he did it over a couple nights. It thought it was pretty powerful. I said, “That’s the movie I’m getting ready to make! That’s Southland Tales! That’s what it’s about. That painting.” So it became an icon to the film.

One of your prequel graphic novels is called The Mechanicals. This is named for the improv group? Tell me a bit about them.

RK: They’re an eight-person comedy troupe that I stumbled upon a few years ago. They used to hang out at Barney’s Beanery and we used to go drinking together. Abby McBride who plays one of the porn star girls — two of the girls are mechanicals, Starla, the girl who stalks Dwayne on the beach with the gun is a Mechanical, the Asian kid who gets shot on the toilet is a Mechanical. They’re spread all throughout the movie. I just thought their comedy was brilliant. I used to run around with video cameras and do little sketch comedy stuff with them over the years and they became good friends of mine and they were all struggling so I thought, I’d give them all parts in the movie and name the third chapter after them.


Seann William Scott in Southland Tales

The toy soldier crawling on the LA street, was that a reference to the toy monkey in Rebel Without A Cause?

RK: No, that’s funny you would mention that. I stumbled upon that toy soldier when I was doing research in Venice and it was raining the morning we shot that and we stuck the soldier on the pavement and we got this great shot and it was absurd, it was trippy, disturbing funny and brought up all these emotions looking at this toy soldier on the pavement. I thought it was emblematic of the futility of conflict or war. It may be Justin’s character a little bit: A mechanical pawn the government is using.

Johnson’s character as well.

RK: Yeah, alone on the wet pavement in Venice. It’s one of my favorite shots in the movie and it’s something we did as a whim that became something significant.

This film is so packed with references. Why did you feel a need to construct your film with such thick references? Do you think that’s become a tool for critical division?

RK: Well, you talked about that painting: Resolved, the American flag divided in two. That’s a piece of collage art. He [J. Kelly] has taken newspaper headlines and images from American history and he’s embedded them into a collage and I wanted this film to be like a big piece of pop art and if you think about the way we use product placement in the movie, the way we use pop culture and music, we sort of put them into this kaleidoscope blender. I think at its base level I see it more as influenced by Philip K. Dick or Thomas Pynchon or Raymond Chandler — apocalyptic, science fiction, film noir. That’s where it’s rooted stylistically. If you go to LA, you’re surrounded by pop culture faces and products and billboards. LA is a collage. It’s like a gigantic messy collage with everything flowing together. And I wanted it to feel like LA. Not only that, the fragmentation you see on CNN and the news screens and quad screens, that’s the way life feels and I thought the movie should be reflection of Los Angeles life and it all came together that way.

When you construct a collage you ultimately affect the modern values of the pieces you cut up to build it. I wanted to ask a question about rewriting the last line of T.S. Elliott’s The Hollow Men. Initially I thought this was about spin but now I’m seeing it differently.

RK: Flip flopping T.S. Eliot’s last line in The Hollow Men was an absurd statement. [The original goes] “Not with a bang but a whimper.” Me, [I think] that’s T.S. Eliot having a premonition about global warming. The whimper is us slowly drowning ourselves over many hundreds of years. This is the flip-flop of that [notion] where it all ends on the fun party weekend before the election in 2008. It all happens just the day after tomorrow — just right around the corner. The idea that “with a bang” is Hollywood blockbuster hero Dwayne Johnson is your guide through that final three days. It felt comedic and it felt like an inversion of the poem was the right way to go.

It also seems to be a good tennis fellow for your Road Not Taken reference. It seemed to me as if you were saying “we took the road more commonly taken, and here we are.”

RK: The Road Not Taken really is the one where we all vote, take a stand, make a difference and try to solve the energy crisis together. That’s the ‘road not taken’, unfortunately.


The aspect of the film I found most challenging was the acting. You’ve wrangled some adept talent here but their performances sometimes broach the realm of camp, which I should qualify can be ambiguous if not easy to confuse for poor performance. As deliberate as I understand the performances were, could you explain Timberlake’s histrionics and Johnson’s Monty Burns impersonations?

RK: (Laughs) It’s funny you say “Monty Burns.” Dwayne was playing Boxer Santeros but he’s also switching into Jericho Kane, renegade cop: The Ralph Meeker character in Kiss Me Deadly. And he studied Ralph Meeker’s lowering voice. That became Jericho Kane and he’s a schizophrenic [living] between those two identities. It was a deliberate discussion had with each actor to understand the role he was playing and the whole greater mystery was a lack in my mind. With Justin it was all about – he’s this doomsday prophet who’s a famous guy who’s been drafted and disfigured by his best friend in Iraq and now he’s been put on this perch in front of this big alternative fuel center to guard it. [He’s] a terrorist in the Santa Monica Bay. And he’s dealing this underground drug. The elaborate mythology the audience has understood, Justin was able to latch onto that, in a way. Like you said, it was all very deliberate. I was just trying to capture the humanity beneath any of these eccentricities they developed.

Do you feel that could be a future vehicle for camp?

RK: Yeah, but the characters are all sincere, even when they’re acting eccentric. What the actors were trying to do was remain sincere in their moments of eccentricity. Dwayne is really terrified when the woman pulls the gun on him at the beach. He had an absurd facial expression but he was terrified and really is schizophrenic and thinks he’s the cop trying to talk her down with the gun. I think one of the more important things to understand about Dwayne’s character is he is schizophrenic and he is playing this ridiculous cop character. He’s researching the role to get into character.


JT bringing apocalypse back.

The film involves a lot of parallel texts: TV, news, the plot of the underground, the plot of the right wing, Boxer’s story, the script he’s carrying around. And all these texts blur into each other and share details. Tell me why you felt this blurring was important to involve in your apocalypse satire?

RK: I think that there’s a metaphysical quality to the way in which the news media is scripted and our lives feel scripted. In a way [when] you think about the way the war in Iraq was sold to us, almost as a screenplay. And I feel like there’s “what could have been” and “what we’re living with now.” It’s a very metaphysical thing. It’s hard to wrap it all into one easy explanation but sometimes I wonder if there’s someone out there who’s written a screenplay for our lives. And living in Hollywood, are we all living in a movie? Sometimes I feel like my life is a movie.

Are you talking about destiny?

RK: Yeah. It is about predestination. What is the destiny of our country? Are we going to be able to pull ourselves out of this or are we going to continue [like this]. Are we going to self-destruct?

The critics are really wrestling with this one but I for one hope it’s seen by a lot of people.

RK: I’m proud of it. I can finally sleep at night.

Attention, indie filmmakers: Moby wants to help you keep your soundtrack costs down, and he’s willing to put his music where his mouth is.

Variety reports that the musician has set up a website — MobyGratis.com — for the purpose of offering unreleased tracks to indie, nonprofit, and student filmmakers. From the article:

“The biggest complaint I hear from my friends who are indie filmmakers is that they can’t get calls returned from record companies or that licensing quotes are outlandish,” said Moby, who minored in film at SUNY Purchase. “Whenever I tell anyone about this, people keep expecting a catch. There isn’t one.”

Moby has been alerting film schools and some independent film organizations about the availability of the tracks. He intends to add another 20 tracks to the site later this month.

“I structured it so that it’s impossible for me to make any money from it,” he said.

The music isn’t completely free — if the films are picked up for distribution, Moby asks for what Variety describes as “a small fee” — but the proceeds are donated to charity.

Speaking of Moby, movies, and music, the diminutive vegan recently wrapped work on the score for Richard Kelly‘s Southland Tales, debuting November 14.

Source: Variety
Source: MobyGratis

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