Chris Weitz

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Cinderella Review


Excellent

The thing that makes this Disney live-action remake so wonderful is the same thing that might put off some audience members: it's a pure fairy tale. This time, the studio has resisted the snarky, post-modern spin that threatened to turn previous live-action remakes (Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent) into pointless Lord of the Rings-style action epics. Instead, this is a genuinely beautiful, surgingly romantic, exquisitely made fantasy.

With only a few minor tweaks, this is the classic story of Ella (Lily James), whose widowed father (Ben Chaplin) marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett). She arrives with her two spoiled daughters Drizella and Anastasia (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger), and when she is also widowed, Ella ends up running the household just to keep things from falling apart. But Lady Tremaine and her daughters taunt her with the nickname "Cinderella" and treat her like a slave, refusing to let her attend the ball thrown by the Crown Prince (Richard Madden). He had met Ella before, and is hoping to see her at the ball, but she only gets a chance to go when her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) turns up with some magic to make that happen. And after dancing with the Prince all night, her sudden disappearance sends him on a desperate quest involving a single glass slipper.

To spice things up, screenwriter Chris Weitz has included a conspiratorial sideplot in which the increasingly wicked stepmother plots with a royal advisor (Stellan Skarsgard) to thwart the Prince's wishes. But otherwise, the film hews closely to both Charles Perrault's 1697 folktale and Disney's 1950 animated classic. This includes lavish sets and costumes that continually take the breath away, giving the characters the same silhouettes as their cartoon counterparts. And within this extravagant design work, the actors are able to create surprisingly textured characters. James' Ella isn't a simple farm girl in need of a man. Madden's Prince is looking for real love. And Blanchett's riveting Lady Tremaine is eerily sympathetic even in her darkest moments.

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Richard Madden Opens Up About Cinderella And Prince Charming's Equal Partnership


Richard Madden Lily James Cate Blanchett Kenneth Branagh Chris Weitz

Richard Madden opens up about just how Cinderella and her Prince Charming get together, and how they rely on each other to free them from the restrictions in their lives in the forthcoming adaptation by director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz.

Richard Madden in Cinderella
Richard Madden stars as Prince Charming in Cinderella

It's nice to see modern big screen fairytale re-tellings looking at relationships in a much more equal way. Rather than princesses of late being swept of their feet by proverbial knights in shining armour, they're coming together while fighting for justice in their own lives. You had 'Snow White and the Huntsman', which saw a clear romance forming between the two title characters as they worked together to lead an army, and then there is, of course, 'Frozen' which saw bravery on the part of both Anna and her faithful quest companion Kristoff. Now 'Cinderella' brings together two souls, who must help each other escape the prison of their families.

Continue reading: Richard Madden Opens Up About Cinderella And Prince Charming's Equal Partnership

Lily James Finds Her Prince Charming In The Latest 'Cinderella' Trailer [Trailer + Pictures]


Lily James Cate Blanchett Holliday Grainger Sophie McShera Helena Bonham Carter Disney Kenneth Branagh Aline Brosh McKenna Chris Weitz

Finally, Disney has unveiled the first full trailer for Kenneth Branagh's live action rendition of one of the world's most beloved fairytales: Cinderella. And it looks to be one of the most visually stunning fantasy flicks of the coming months.

Lily James and Richard Madden in Cinderella
Lily James stars as the troubled Cinderella

The movie industry has been going crazy with its throwback Grimm adaptations, and it doesn't look like anyone's had enough of it yet. While many movies have opted for the spin-off, original stories - such as 'Sleeping Beauty' adaptation 'Maleficent' and 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' comeback 'Snow White and the Huntsman', not to mention forthcoming fairytale omnibus 'Into The Woods' - director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriters Aline Brosh McKenna and Chris Weitz have gone for the more traditional approach with 'Cinderella'. 

Continue reading: Lily James Finds Her Prince Charming In The Latest 'Cinderella' Trailer [Trailer + Pictures]

American Reunion [aka American Pie: Reunion] Review


Grim
Call this a missed opportunity. While there's plenty of scope to have fun with these characters as they hit 30, this script is simply not up to the job. It's never very funny, has no sense of momentum and only comes to life due to the endearing characters and the likeable actors who play them.

It's the class of 1999's 13th reunion (huh?), so the entire gang returns to East Great Falls. Jim and Michelle (Bigs and Hannigan) now have a 2-year-old son, which has interrupted their sex life; Oz (Klein) is a B-list TV star with a supermodel girlfriend (Bowden); the now-married Kevin is worried about rekindling his high school romance with Vicky (Reid); Finch (Thomas) is a world traveler who clicks with Michelle's band camp pal Selena (Ramirez). And then there's party-boy prankster Stifler (Scott), who hasn't changed at all and leads them into all manner of trouble.

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Picture - Chris Weitz , Friday 3rd February 2012

Chris Weitz and Santa Barbara Film Festival Friday 3rd February 2012 27th Annual Santa Barbara Film Festival - Virtuosos Award Ceremony at the Arlington Theater

Chris Weitz and Santa Barbara Film Festival

Picture - Chris Weitz and Guest Los Angeles, California, Tuesday 21st June 2011

Chris Weitz - Chris Weitz and Guest Los Angeles, California - 'A Better Life' World Premiere Gala Screening during the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Tuesday 21st June 2011

Picture - Chris Weitz Los Angeles, California, Tuesday 21st June 2011

Chris Weitz Tuesday 21st June 2011 'A Better Life' World Premiere Gala Screening during the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Los Angeles, California

Picture - Chris Weitz and Ana De... Los Angeles, California, Tuesday 21st June 2011

Chris Weitz and Ana de la Reguera - Chris Weitz and Ana De La Reguera Los Angeles, California - 'A Better Life' World Premiere Gala Screening during the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Tuesday 21st June 2011

Chris Weitz and Ana de la Reguera

A Single Man Review


Excellent
As you'd expect from a designer, every frame in this film is visual perfection, capturing settings and characters with artistry that packs a real wallop. And if the overall film feels a little icy, it's also remarkably involving.

In 1962 Los Angeles, George (Firth) is a university professor whose boyfriend (Goode) has died in a car crash. Unable to cope with his grief, or to show it to anyone, he tries to go through his day as usual. His next lecture derails into a message about fear in society, and he decides to put his life in order before committing suicide. But a last evening with his boozy best friend Charlotte (Moore) and the attentions of a Spanish hunk (Kortajarena) and a bright-eyed student (Hoult) test his resolve.

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Picture - Chris Weitz New York City, USA, Thursday 19th November 2009

Chris Weitz Thursday 19th November 2009 The Cinema Society & D&G screening of 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema - Outside Arrivals New York City, USA

Chris Weitz

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Review


OK
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is a high school fantasy for indie rock nerds.

Imagine if back when you were 17, instead of playing CDs in your bedroom and dreaming about getting up the nerve to talk to a girl or guy, you played bass in a punk band that performed gigs in New York City. After your show, you hopped around the Lower East Side with a cute girl who knew all your favorite I-liked-'em-first bands, and who could get you into any club in town. You and she and your buddies partied until dawn with nary a care for the consequences, the law, or your parents.

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The Golden Compass Review


Excellent
That New Line Cinema did so well with the Lord of the Rings trilogy is both a blessing and a curse. After supporting Peter Jackson's fine work, it's a natural assumption that the company has the means and access to the appropriate talent to develop strong adaptations of youthful fantasy materials (ignoring Dungeons & Dragons, of course). It is, in fact, quite difficult to discuss another such type of film without comparing, but doing so threatens to tarnish some of the shine that The Golden Compass deserves.

I should note that I have read the original Philip Pullman books that this trilogy will be based on. Like Tolkien, Pullman creates a multi-layered world to journey through, but he tends to be tighter with narrative style than Tolkien. What he lacks in verbosity he makes up for in texture, and this may be where some problems will lie for an audience, as he is comfortable not sharing useful character and cultural details immediately. Over the course of this film, some information does get left out to respect the audience's time in a theater, but it in no way affects the enjoyment of watching Lyra's (Dakota Blue Richards) story unfold.

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American Dreamz Review


Grim
There's a peculiarly painful sensation one gets when witnessing a comedy build toward its big moment, having carefully laid all out all the correct elements and primed you for all the gags as it leads up to the orchestrated finale and then... Just. Doesn't. Get. There. You get that feeling quite a lot in Paul Weitz's American Dreamz, about an American Idol-like reality show which becomes the linchpin in a dangerously rickety skit about wannabe celebrities, and yes, the war on terror (because one must be relevant). There's another feeling one gets, and it comes from that oft-ignored voice in the back of your head, the one that says, Hey, maybe we shouldn't be laughing at this, even if it was funny.What are we supposed to make of this queasy and uncertain concoction that lands a few weak punches and then dances safely back out of range? Weitz is no Wilder, but he's done better than most in comedy. American Pie may have brought us an unfortunate amount of Chris Klein, and In Good Company was hardly a beacon of originality, but they both possessed a refreshing amount of heart; while About a Boy proved that Hugh Grant's louche side is his best one. These were all films of modest means that succeeded beyond their stated intent. With American Dreamz, writer/director Weitz not only bites off more than he can chew, he (not to mention we) can barely get his mouth around the thing.The constellation of players include: Britney-like Ohioan pop striver Sally Kendoo (Mandy Moore), Simon Cowell-esque host Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), a president and vice-president (Dennis Quaid and Willem Dafoe) who just may resemble a pair currently in power over there in D.C., and Omer (Sam Golzari), a clumsy, showtunes-loving terrorist (you read that right) who accidentally gets on the show after being sent to join a sleeper cell in Orange County. There's also Sally's sweet but dumb-as-rocks boyfriend William Williams (Chris Klein), who runs off to the army after she dumps him, and Omer's flaming-gay cousin Iqbal (Tony Yalda) who thinks he deserves to be on the show, and a number of fine performers like Shohreh Aghdashloo, Judy Greer, and John Cho wasted in dead-end roles. With all this at hand, Weiss aims to plug into some sort of vein of current American irreality, juxtaposing the fanatic public adulation of this TV show with the grinding presence of the war and the terrorist threat, but ends up splashing them all with the same cartoonish colors and scoring only the easiest of points.There is ample opportunity here, it's just not utilized. Quaid plays his Bush stand-in with ardent vigor as a decent but none-too-bright man who wakes up the day after his reelection and announces to his stunned manservant, "I'm going to read the newspaper." Cut to weeks later and the president bedroom is thick with papers and books, the commander in chief's head dangerously expanding, saying incredulously to his Cheney-like VP (Dafoe, mixing just the right amount of malice and buffoonery), "Did you know there were three different kinds of Iraqistanis?" But then this line of broad mockery is abandoned for a "Terrorist Training Camp" in some California desert masquerading as the generic Middle East, where Omer - who became a terrorist because his mom was killed by an American bomb; funny, that - dances to showtunes in his tent. Then it switches again to Ohio for some dreadfully unfunny reality-show-contestant satire that flops dead on arrival due to Moore's dead fish of a performance. Like Grant - who should have turned in a killer Cowell impression here, and whose soulless character bonds with Moore - she remains on the leash, never fully engaging. About the only thing in the too widely ranging American Dreamz that works is Omer, a sweetheart of a character whose earnest lack of talent is as endearing in the film as it would be on a reality show - for a satire aimed at modern society, he's about the only character who could actually exist in it.It has been said by some that Paul Greengrass's United 93 - prior to its opening, at least - is an exploitation of a national tragedy, a shameless attempt to make dramaturgical hay from an episode that should be treated with more respect. The jury of public opinion has yet, of course, to make a ruling in that matter. Until then, though, we have American Dreamz, which seems to think that the Iraq War, terrorism, the death of innocent Middle Easterners by American hands, and the current White House situation are all just as equally worthy targets of spoofery and fun as is reality TV. It's not really a cynical or outrageous point of view, but just a really lazy one, and offensively, exploitatively so.Who likes pizza?

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Review


Grim
I don't expect much from Eddie Murphy these days. For the past four years, the gods of cinema--or the expansive payrolls of studio conglomerates--have allowed him to make one bad movie after another. Such films as Metro, Doctor Dolittle, Holy Man, Life, and Bowfinger have reduced a once great comedic persona to a living and breathing washed-up hack performing as a studio puppet for 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures. The biggest shame to fall on his shoulders is his newest film, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

The Klumps once again revisits the life of Sherman Klump, an overweight university science professor looking for love in all the wrong places. Sherman has just invented a new "youth drink" that enables man or beast to become younger for a short period of time. Janet Jackson is the love interest who chooses the lovable Sherman for a soul mate rather than excel at her career as a university professor (and for the most ridiculous reasons). With love on his mind, Sherman is determined to rid himself of his alter ego, Buddy Love from the first Professor, who still resides with vigor inside his psyche and causes Sherman to act like a bad imitation of Vince Vaughn from Swingers. With some convoluted mumbo-jumbo about DNA extraction, Sherman extracts the "Buddy Love" link in his DNA and smartly deposits Buddy into a handy-dandy lab beaker. But one night, the beaker is knocked over and Buddy Love is regenerated... because every movie like this needs an unnecessary villain to thwart the good guy.

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Antz Review


Good
Every ant has his day. At least, that's what Woody Allen would have you think, in this twisted animated version of Annie Hall meets Brazil. Starting with a moody grass-scape of what turns out to be a quiet corner of Central Park, voiced-over by Allen's "Z", a hapless worker ant who feels the weight of the colony--so to speak--on his back, Antz tracks a lot like any Allen flick.

In fact, if it wasn't for all the formula-driven bad guys, perilous situations, and narrow escapes, Antz would be exactly like any other Allen film. But this is animation, and that means kid-pleasing effects must plaster the screen. Sadly, this hurts the story to the point where Antz will quickly get lost in the shuffle of animated films coming out over the next year, despite its unique touches. To make matters worse, some of the more gruesome scenes, including an ant-termite battle that would leave Private Ryan wetting himself, are decidedly not for children.

Continue reading: Antz Review

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