My Freelance Work

  • For ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ director Marielle Heller, it’s time for different kinds of stories to be told

    L.A. Times Envelope11/28/18

    Director Marielle Heller has returned to the scene of the crime: New York City’s Argosy Book Store. To clarify: Not her crime, but the crimes of Lee Israel, an author who forged letters by legendary names and sold them as rarities in bookshops just like this one during the 1990s, and who’s the subject of Heller’s newest film, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Scenes from the film were also shot here.) But Heller, who also helmed 2015’s “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and is about to wrap up her untitled Mr. Rogers film starring Tom Hanks, advises the Envelope: Don’t judge a book — or any of her protagonists — by their covers.

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  • Stepping behind the camera is a natural move for some actors

    L.A. Times Envelope11/27/18

    “I always cringed when I heard about actors who directed,” says John Krasinski. “I remember someone asking me if I would ever direct when I was on ‘The Office,’ and I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ “

    Oh, how times have changed — and not just for Krasinski, who made waves with his writer-director-actor combo this year in “A Quiet Place.” Bradley Cooper is making waves of his own for his directing debut with “A Star Is Born,” and several other actors are taking their own seats in the director’s chair. “Quiet Place” is Krasinski’s third feature outing; Marielle Heller’s second, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” was released last month even as she finishes shooting her third, the untitled Tom Hanks/Mr. Rogers movie; Australian actor Joel Edgerton released his second feature, “Boy Erased,” early this month; and both Paul Dano and Rupert Everett are making their debuts, “Wildlife” and “The Happy Prince,” respectively.

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  • For Rob Marshall and David Magee, the time was right to bring back Mary Poppins

    L.A. Times Envelope11/23/18

    With three Oscar nominations between them, the collaboration of screenwriter David Magee (“Life of Pi,” “Finding Neverland”) and Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) could have been a clash of egos. Instead, when the pair came together (with co-screenwriter-producer John DeLuca, Marshall’s working and personal partner of 36 years) to bring “Mary Poppins Returns” to the big screen, they shared complete harmony. The Envelope joined Marshall and Magee for a chat in New York’s Beekman Hotel to talk about what made their pairing, and “Poppins,” take flight.

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  • Three cheers for the iconoclasts, rule-breakers, outsiders and runners-up of history

    L.A. Times Envelope - 11/23/18

    Kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners and Medal of Freedom recipients. When it’s time to throw a real-life story into the awards season race, you may as well go big or go home. Think 2010’s “The King’s Speech,” 2012’s “Lincoln,” 2014’s “The Theory of Everything” about Stephen Hawking and “Selma” about Martin Luther King Jr., and 2017’s Winston Churchill film “Darkest Hour.”

    Now take a look at 2018’s lineup of award season subjects. Sure, there are stories of heroes: “First Man” looks at Neil Armstrong and “On the Basis of Sex” tells us about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But there’s something else going on this season in the telling of real-life stories. Consider the elderly bank robber (Forrest Tucker, “The Old Man & the Gun”), a scandalized senator (Gary Hart, “The Front Runner”), a forger (Lee Israel, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), a groundbreaking writer (“Colette”), a painter with mental health issues (Vincent van Gogh, “At Eternity’s Gate”) and arguably the nation’s most powerful vice president (Dick Cheney, “Vice”).

    Of course, none of the filmmakers behind these entrants collaborated to bring us this particular rogues’ gallery, but the collection as a whole does present an interesting look at where our cinematic curiosity lies this year — with iconoclasts, rule-breakers, outsiders and runners-up of history.

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  • Versatile Emily Blunt steps into the timeless shoes of Mary Poppins

    L.A. Times Envelope - 11/21/18

    When Emily Blunt first learned that she’d landed the title role in “Mary Poppins Returns,” she naturally told her mother. And her husband, actor-director John Krasinski. And her agent. Then she told her friends, one of whom remarked, “Whoo — you got balls of steel.”

    “Balls of steel” and “Mary Poppins” don’t usually pop up in the same sentence, but they do make a nice Venn diagram if you put Emily Blunt in the overlap. Whether cracking us up in 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada,” showing off her tough side (and spectacular abs) in 2014’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” or elevating Krasinski’s indie sci-fi horror “A Quiet Place” to new critical heights, Blunt is an instrument of steel — with a twinkle in her eye.

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  • Female-Centric Stories ‘Widows,’ ‘The Favourite’ Blaze Trails This Oscar Season

    Variety - 11/15/18

    The old adage goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” But a quick look at many of this year’s awards season films suggests that saying needs an update — perhaps to: “Behind every great woman is a man getting in her way.”

    It’s not a stretch to look at such films as “Colette,” “Widows,” “The Favourite,” “A Private War,” “Leave No Trace” and “The Wife” that way. Each features a female protagonist struggling to make her mark in the world, in spite of the obstacles men throw in their way. And in the current societal zeitgeist of #MeToo, it lends added resonance and a higher profile to each one of them.

    “There’s a huge historical culture of women being silent, and in this moment, it feels like women are roaring — and consequently, work is being made that celebrates fantastic women in the past,” says Rebecca Lenkiewicz, who co-wrote “Colette” with director Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. “There’s a real hunger for these stories right now.”

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  • Ben Foster embraces empathy and focus in his films; just don’t call him ‘intense’

    L.A. Times Envelope - 11/15/18

    A chat with Ben Foster is not a quick, breezy BS session: From the moment he arrives in the French restaurant Lucien, he’s laser-focused, asking his own questions, then offering considered, thoughtful answers. Foster started out on the Disney TV series “Flash Forward” as a teen and today plays complicated men that bend without breaking under stress in movies like “Hell or High Water” and, most recently, “Leave No Trace,” written and directed by Debra Granik. He spoke with The Envelope about being described as intense, new fatherhood (with his wife, actress Laura Prepon) and finding peace among trees.

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  • Elton John stars in new tear-jerking holiday ad about his one lifelong love - 11/15/18

    Elton John is not the first name that may come to mind when you think about heartwarming Christmas ads.

    But thanks to a new holiday advertisement from the U.K. for department store John Lewis & Partners, that’s all changed.

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  • See Courteney Cox, George Clooney and other stars in early TV guest roles - 11/15/18

    Very few actors break big in their first starring role — but their years of slogging through small TV parts can be a huge boon for fans, who get to enjoy watching them before they were stars!

    COZI TV understands this mentality perfectly, and this Thanksgiving is giving us a few dozen reasons to be thankful — with a four-day back-to-back marathon of classic TV episodes showing some of our favorite actors in their earliest roles.

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  • With little to say and only subtle moments, Glenn Close finds her power in ‘The Wife’

    L.A. Times Envelope - 11/07/18

    Early in “The Wife,” Glenn Close’s character, Joan Castleman, joins a phone conversation between her husband, Joe (Jonathan Pryce), and the selection committee for the Nobel Prize in literature. Joe has just learned he’ll receive the award, but it’s Joan’s face the camera lingers on.

    In that moment, “Glenn does something so magnificent,” says screenwriter Jane Anderson. “There are 500 pieces of subtext going on there. Every time I come to that spot in the film I get chills watching Glenn’s work — and what she plugs into.”

    If any actor can tease out anything close to “500 pieces of subtext” from a scene, it’s Close. The 71-year-old actress has terrified us in “Fatal Attraction,” charmed us in “The Big Chill,” and revealed the heart of a monster in “Dangerous Liaisons.” But in “The Wife,” she does things she’s never attempted before — pulling them off so subtly they don’t fully resonate until much later.

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    Bonus: Glenn and her little dog at the theater!