Gary Goetzman

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Parkland Review


This starry drama has documentary realism going for it, although without a single well-developed character it never finds any resonance. By recounting JFK's assassination from a variety of previously unseen angles, we learn some new things about that fateful day in November 1963. Oddly, the script doesn't even focus on the hospital that gives the film its name. That might have helped give the film some focus.

We watch the shooting in Dallas through the eyes of Abraham Zapruder (Giamatti), famously the only person to capture the event on film. He is immediately contacted by a Secret Service agent (Thornton), who helps him process the film and make copies. Meanwhile at Parkland Hospital, two residents (Efron and Hanks) and a tenacious nurse (Harden) are working against the odds to save Kennedy's life. And elsewhere, an FBI agent (Livingston) is following the trail of the shooter, whose brother and mother (Dale and Weaver) have very different reactions to what has just happened.

Writer-director Landesman jumps straight into the events without properly establishing the characters. But it's impossible to feel emotion when we don't know anything about the people we're watching, and we can't feel suspense when we know what's going to happen. So we're left to soak up the details, which are often fascinating (ever wonder how to get a coffin into a plane?). And while the actors are good enough to play the intensity of each scene for all it's worth, the only ones who register with us are Giamatti and Dale, because what their characters go through is more complex than we expect.

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64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Held At Nokia Theatre L.A. Live - Press Room

Danny Strong Sunday 23rd September 2012 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live - Press Room

Danny Strong
Danny Strong, Jay Roach, Gary Goetzman, Julianne Moore and Tom Hanks
Danny Strong
Danny Strong

Larry Crowne Review

A painfully squishy centre completely undoes this rom-com, although it's difficult to know what might have made it less goofy. The diminished dual star-wattage of Hanks and Roberts just about makes it watchable.

After being sacked for his lack of a degree, Larry (Hanks) enrols in a community college. There isn't much else going on in his life, so he dives into his studies: Mercedes (Roberts) teaches speech, while Dr Matsutani (Takei) teaches economics. When Larry downsizes to a scooter to save money, he befriends the cool scooter-riding Talia (Mbatha-Raw), who gives him a style makeover. He also joins her biker gang, led by her boyfriend Gordo (Valderrama). Meanwhile, Mercedes is struggling with her marriage to Dean (Cranston). So maybe she and Larry can help each other outside the classroom as well.

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Where The Wild Things Are Review

Jonze's inventive approach to Maurice Sendak's classic children's book continually confounds our expectations with an approach that's so offhanded and fresh that it might feel awkward or strange. But it's a real grower.

Max (Records) is a mischievous, imaginative pre-teen with a dismissive big sister (Emmerichs) and an understanding mum (Keener). But a series of events get him thinking about the fragility of life, so he takes a flight of fantasy to a distant island populated by furry creatures who at first threaten to eat him but then adopt him as their king. Playful games ensue, as he leads them in the construction of a giant fortress. But even here, relationships become tricky to navigate.

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My Life In Ruins Review

Nia Vardalos is the new Yakov Smirnoff. Her entire act revolves around her European heritage -- she's Greek, while Smirnoff's a Russkie. Without it, she's just another unemployable actress with a limited range. (See Connie and Carla, Vardalos' flat follow-up to her breakout hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.)

Her latest pseudo-comedy, My Life in Ruins, demonstrates that the tired Greek gags have taken her about as far as she's ever going to go. Even the characters in Vardalos' pictures are begging her to quit. "You're not funny. Stop trying," a manager tells self-absorbed tour guide Georgia (Vardalos) as she prepares to take a busload of imbecilic vacationers on a four-day Grecian jaunt.

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The Great Buck Howard Review

How can a film that features a lofty tribute to The Amazing Kreskin before the end credits go wrong? Well, in Sean McGinly's sweet and mushy comedy The Great Buck Howard, the film doesn't really go wrong... but then it doesn't really go right either.

The film celebrates the D-list world of third-rate celebrities, celebrities whose popularity has waned, whose 15 minutes of fame were over a long time ago, with one-night stands not in Vegas or L.A., but Bakersfield and Akron.

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City Of Ember Review

We critics like to argue that Hollywood defangs most family fare. Unless it can find a viable commercial tie-in, or lead to a series of equally superficial sequels, studio suits avoid anything remotely dark or contentious. Apparently, the applicable philosophy argues that childhood is a time of innocence and fun, therefore, any movie aimed at said audience should be even more fluffy and non-threatening. Watching City of Ember, the latest live-action effort from Monster House director Gil Kenan, a couple of questions instantly come to mind. One, who authorized such a wonderfully rich yet exceedingly grim adventure? And two, who exactly will show up on opening day?

For the residents of the city of Ember, these are troubled times. The massive generator that keeps the town functioning is failing, and Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) is at a loss for answers. A bumbling bureaucrat through and through, he'd rather maintain order than find a viable solution. Two young members of the community, Doon Harrow (Harry Treadway) and Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) don't want to give up. He wants his father (Tim Robbins) and an elderly co-worker Sul (Martin Landau) to help him get to the damaged energy source. She discovers a strange box which may hold a key to saving the day. Unfortunately, a hidden cabal of city leaders may be trying to undermine any effort to bring Ember back from the brink.

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'The City Of Ember' New York Premiere Held At AMC Loews 19th Street East - Arrivals

Gary Goetzman Tuesday 7th October 2008 'The City of Ember' New York premiere held at AMC Loews 19th Street East - Arrivals New York City, USA

Gary Goetzman
Gary Goetzman

HBO Emmy Afterparty At The Pacific Design Centre

Gary Goetzman Sunday 21st September 2008 HBO Emmy afterparty at the Pacific Design Centre Los Angeles, California

Gary Goetzman
Gary Goetzman

Mamma Mia! Review

Not everyone can make a movie. The motion picture art form, while not incredibly complicated, contains enough nuances and pitfalls to circumvent even the most seasoned show business veteran. Perfect proof of celluloid's selective process arrives in the form of Mamma Mia!, the big screen adaptation of the hit jukebox musical. While it ends up being a whimsical and quite wonderful experience on a superficial level, the vision behind the lens is radioactive in its undeniable cluelessness.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) lives on a remote Greek island with her ex-rock star mother Donna (Meryl Streep). She is about to marry the British bo-hunk Sky (Dominic Hooper), and she really wants her dad to give her away. Unfortunately, Sophie doesn't know who her father is. Finding her mother's diary, she invites the three men Donna was involved with at the time. Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) writes travel guides, while Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) are a big time businessman and banker, respectively. Naturally, Donna is dumbfounded to see her exes. Even worse, when she discovers Sophie's motives, it will take her best friends/former back-up singers Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) to save the day... and the wedding.

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Charlie Wilson's War Review

Director Mike Nichols and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin made two exceedingly smart choices in adapting George Crile's book Charlie Wilson's War. First, they consented to a brisk 95-minute running time, rather than fall prey to the "prestige" mentality that can saddle such projects, and that bloats them out to beyond two hours. The other choice was leavening their material with a snappy, devil-may-care attitude -- a sure-fire strategy to skim over their story's weakest areas of story and character development.

Charlie Wilson's War is entertaining, and that's about the extent of it. Nichols and Sorkin's end result is decidedly a gloss on Crile's account of how the eponymous Texas congressman managed to supply military support to the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. While their movie mostly avoids the Hollywood trappings of political correctness and underdog sentimentality, it also doesn't have the chutzpah of its own conniving characters to offer much in the way of an incisive interpretation of those events.

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Starter For Ten Review

Using '80s nostalgia and the ever-reliable British love of embarrassment to maximum effect, Starter for Ten is that unusual coming-of-age comedy which manages to locate the occasional bit of funny amidst all the lesson-learning and overcoming of adversity. Also, the filmmakers know that, when in doubt about how to sonically ground scenes of awkward romantic longing and melancholy, round up as many songs by The Cure and The Smiths as possible. It just helps.

Fresh off playing unintentional best buddy to Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, the ever bright-eyed James McAvoy stars here as Brian Jackson, a working-class kid from Essex who's always been on the bookish side -- he and his best mates' habit of listening to Motörhead and drinking lager in public notwithstanding. Out of high school, he scores a place at Bristol University, where, like any good freshman who never thought he'd get into college, he immediately sets to making a fool of himself in front of anybody who happens to be around. This includes the sullenly gorgeous, extremely political and scathingly sarcastic Rebecca Epstein (Rebecca Hall), set up as the dark horse romantic candidate in opposition to the front-runner, Alice, a peppy, rich, troublesome blonde with a tendency to take advantage of guys like Brian with puppy-love crushes.

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The Polar Express Review

The first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of Robert Zemeckis' digital banquet The Polar Express draw inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful Christmas novel of the same name. Beginning with the late-night arrival of the pinch-me-I'm-dreaming locomotive and ending with the narrator's ringing of a symbolic bell, these whimsical bookend scenes find the perfect holiday ambiance that wraps us in a cozy blanket of adolescent wonder.

Bridging the film's beautiful opening and closing, though, are 77 minutes of exhaustive, roller coaster-worthy action sequences, death-defying skids across frozen lakes and approximately 15 harrowing occasions where the beloved Polar Express is inches away from jumping its tracks and killing everybody on board. It's Van Allsburg by way of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it just doesn't fit the initial warm-and-fuzzy mood.

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