Friday, April 07, 2006
Filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, who launched her moviemaking career with the 1996 relationship comedy, ‘Walking and Talking’, is an independent filmmaker who has carved a successful niche, female ensemble stories.
Her latest variation on girls night out is ‘Friends With Money’, a breezy and likable tale about a group of Los Angeles women whose friendships survive despite the fact they’re at different happiness levels in their lives. Catherine Keener, who’s something of a Holofcener regular, enjoys the film’s best lines as the unhappy side of a husband and wife screenwriting team. The always-engaging Frances McDormand is less successful as a 43-year-old clothes designer having difficulty facing middle age. McDormand portrays anger well, but her sass and bitterness feels misguided except for a blow up scene at an Old Navy store.
The normally reliable Joan Cusack is dramatic wallpaper as the wealthiest of the group. She’s pure backdrop, a letdown considering her talents.
The most famous face in the ‘Friends With Money’ ensemble belongs to former ‘Friends’ sitcom star and current gossip column queen Jennifer Aniston. As Olivia, the lone gal pal without money, Aniston shows an easygoing charm and an ability to generate laughs effortlessly. Olivia is a woman content to clean houses for a living and spend what little money she has on pot. Her friends are perplexed but she’s happy with her slacker situation.
Olivia is at a crossroads, but then so are her friends. She’s the only one admitting to it.
Aniston, who’s shown her indie film credibility before with the Miguel Arteta comedy ‘The Good Girl’, is a gifted comedienne who also happens to be pretty. ‘Friends With Money’ capitalizes on both those attributes and it’s hard to complain with that combination.
— Steve Ramos
Friends With Money premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opens in New York and Los Angeles April 7. Sony Classics will release it in theaters across America later this spring.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That!, a film diary of a sold-out Beastie Boys show at Madison Square Garden, is a concert documentary like no other and it took someone who doesn’t fit into the classic moviemaker box to make it happen. Before The Beasties Boys — Adam “MCA” Yauch, Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz — played their Oct. 9, 2004 show, Yauch handed out handheld Hi-8 cameras to fifty-one lucky concertgoers. The task for the one-night filmmakers was to film the show of a lifetime. Awesome is a concert film tied to the digital revolution, much how Gimme Shelter and Woodstock were connected to the age of handheld 16mm cameras. The Beasties’ trademark street smarts mix well with new film technology and the result is radical moviemaking.
Veteran cinematographers might consider Awesome’s off-the-street filmmakers as nothing more than amateur photographers told to shoot whatever they want until their video cartridges run out. That’s not how real movies are made. But Awesome dazzles with a kaleidoscope of rocketing images that matches the chest-pounding beat of the Beasties’ music.
Yauch, always working under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér, has been in charge of the landmark band’s video art and photography for 15 years. The experience has given him an incredible eye and instincts. Yauch edited the hundreds of hours of fan footage into Awesome and every minute matters.
The instant filmmakers responsible for providing footage from all corners of Madison Square Garden prove that a landmark movie can be made anywhere thanks to small and relatively inexpensive cameras. It’s what technology is supposed to do: create a pure cinematic democracy. For The Beasties, who are already musical gods, Awesome qualifies them as New Model Filmmakers, the creators of a different type of concert movie.
— Steve Ramos
Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That! premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened in New York City and Los Angeles on March 31. THINK Films will release it in theaters across America later this spring.