If ever there was a man who made a virtue out of failure, it was George Plimpton.
He played quarterback with the Detroit Lions without even knowing where to put his hands to take the snap. He had his nose bloodied by knockout king Archie Moore. He sweated through performances as a triangle player for Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Tennis great Pancho Gonzales properly destroyed him in a singles match, and Plimpton once threw a pitch at Yankee Stadium that was pounded into the third deck.
Celine and Jesse are sporting a few physical wrinkles — and working through some unsettling relational ones — in Before Midnight, but that just makes this third installment of their once-dewy romance gratifyingly dissonant.
It's been 18 years since they talked through the night that first time, Julie Delpy's Celine enchanting and occasionally prickly, Ethan Hawke's Jesse determined to charm; their chatter then, as now, scripted but loose enough to feel improvised as captured in long, long takes by Richard Linklater's cameras.
Current-events buffs probably think they know the tale of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Prolific filmmaker Alex Gibney may have thought the same when he began researching his film We Steal Secrets. But this engrossing documentary soon diverges from the expected.
Even the movie's title, or rather the source of it, is a surprise. Not to spoil the fun, but it's neither Assange nor one of his allies who nonchalantly acknowledges that "we steal secrets."
Driving home from a screening of the ravishing new Israeli film Fill the Void, I caught sight of a young man in full Hasidic garb, trying to coax his toddler son across a busy Los Angeles street. My first thought was, "He's a boy himself, barely old enough to be a father, and they both look so pale."
My second was, "I wonder what his life feels like?" This is the more open mindset that director Rama Burshtein asks from audiences going into her first feature, a love poem to the ultra-Orthodox world as seen from within.
In the film What Maisie Knew, Julianne Moore plays a troubled rock star whose young daughter witnesses her parents' volatile behavior as they argue over custody during their rocky separation.
On the surface, Moore's character, Susanna, might seem to be an entirely terrible one — a self-involved person and inappropriate mother who's not paying attention to her child. But Moore makes her more complicated than that.
Before you see any of Behind the Candelabra -- when you just consider the concept of the TV movie and its casting — this new HBO Films production raises all sorts of questions: How much will be based on verifiable fact, and how much will be fictionalized? On an anything-goes premium-cable network such as HBO, how graphic will the sex scenes be?
And the most important questions involve the drama's two leading men, playing an ultra-flamboyant piano player and the wide-eyed young man who becomes his behind-the-scenes companion for five years. Michael Douglas? Matt Damon?
Writings from childhood — cards, stories and other notes — can hide for decades, like time capsules tucked away in boxes, old bedrooms, attics and journals. Writer Jim Sollisch talks about how old thank you notes from his youth foreshadowed his adult life.