Marion Cotillard, Aubrey Plaza, Paul McCartney
Host Neil Rosen and guest Bill McCuddy, Perri Nemiroff and Justine Browning talk the latest in movies. Interview with the one and only William Shatner about his comedy Senior Moment. Also reviewing new movies Zak Snyder's Justice League, The Stowaway starring Anna Kendrick, and Nobody starring Bob Odenkirk. Plus our critics picks of the month!
Neil Rosen: This week on Talking Pictures with
Neil Rosen: We'll look at the new movie version
of the Tony award winning musical Dear Evan Hansen.
The new dromedy Best Sellers starring Michael
Caine and Aubrey Plaza.
And the documentary Val, which looks at the life and career
of famed actor Val Kilmer.
Plus the recent rock opera, Annette, along
with my interview with its star Marion Cotillard.
We've got all that and many more movie picks, coming up.
♪ [Opening Music]
I'm Neil Rosen. Welcome to Talking Pictures.
It's our monthly critic roundtable show where we
debate what's worth watching and what's not when it comes
to new releases, hidden gems, and Hollywood classics.
So along with my panel, who are still streaming
from home, we have plenty of movies and TV series
for you to watch either at home or in movie theaters.
Joining me are Perri Nemiroff from Collider.
How are you doing, Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: Hello from LA.
Neil Rosen: Hello from LA. Hello from New York.
Hello from LA.
Bill McCuddy from GoldDerby.com. Hi Bill.
Bill McCuddy: Hello from LI. I'm in Long Island.
Neil Rosen: Okay, well, we're all over the place today.
And Justine Browning from Entertainment Weekly.
Where are you today, Justine?
Justine Browning: In a classroom in New York City.
Hense the whiteboard backdrop.
Neil Rosen: All right. I'm in New York City too.
And let's start out with a look at several new films
that are either available in theaters, On Demand,
or on streaming services.
Beginning with the new musical Dear Evan Hansen.
Let's take a look at a clip.
Evan: Dear Evan Hansen.
Today is going to be an amazing day and here's why.
Heidi Hansen: Have you been doing those letters
to yourself with Dr. Sherman?
Evan: I've been trying to.
[singing] ♪ Have you ever felt like nobody was there? ♪
Connor Murphy: Um, no one signed your cast.
Now we can both pretend we have friends.
Zoe Murphy: I'm sorry about my brother.
Evan: [singing] ♪ Have you ever felt forgotten in
the middle of nowhere? ♪
[speaking] I wish everything was different.
I wish I was part of something.
I wish that anything I said mattered.
[singing] ♪ Have you ever felt like you could disappear? ♪
Neil Rosen: Perri, tell us about Dear Evan Hansen.
Perri Nemiroff: So like the Broadway production,
Dear Evan Hansen, the movie stars Tony award winner,
Ben Platt in the title role.
He's a high school student struggling with
anxiety and loneliness who winds up getting caught
in a web of lies and basically perpetuating it.
This movie, it didn't work for me at all.
I know a hot topic of conversation right now is
how old Platt is while he's playing a high school student.
But I didn't think that was the main issue because
we see that all the time in this industry.
The bigger problem is that his performance just often
felt over done and it gave us limited access to Evan's
head space, which made it even harder for me to accept
the inciting incident, the decision he makes to lie,
and then basically never makes it any better and never
justifies the choices he makes as the story progresses.
Neil Rosen: Bill?
Bill McCuddy: Yeah. You know, ultimately it's kind of creepy
the decisions he makes and maybe this worked on stage.
I have to be honest and say, I did not see the stage
production, but I think it's going to disappoint
those people and I'm not sure it's going to bring
anybody new to the equation.
For me, it played like a long, sad episode of Glee.
Neil Rosen: Well I saw the stage play and so did Justine.
Justine, you chime in first. What did you think?
Justine Browning: Well the premise of the
play is predicated on a pretty grim lie.
And through another lens, this could be considered
the talented Mr Ripley with ballads and that issue isn't
addressed in the film and it becomes further magnified.
You know, some shows rely on audience interaction
and that intimacy and just weren't meant for the big
screen and I really think that's the case here.
Neil Rosen: I thought the stage play was great.
And even though the movie is not as good
as the Broadway show, I think it's good enough.
I'm thrilled that they cast Ben Platt in this.
The age thing didn't bother me at all, because it was such an
amazing performance on stage.
It's great to see him in the movie.
I think the supporting cast, which was not in the play,
Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, and Amandla Stenberg are terrific.
And this is not a frivolous musical.
This really has something to say.
And I say, if you haven't seen the Broadway show, here's a
great opportunity to see it.
And if you have, here's a great opportunity
to see it again in a completely different form.
All right, moving on.
Bill, tell us about a movie called Best Sellers.
Bill McCuddy: Well, boozy Michael Caine is
going on a road trip with uptight Aubrey Plaza.
He's a washed up perhaps author.
She's an up and coming publisher who's kind of
inherited her father's publishing company.
Like every movie these days a viral video gets out and
helps and hurts the chances for the publishing house
being saved and for Michael Caine's career turning around.
Michael Caine made a career a long time ago of making
just about any movie that was put in front of him and
that's what this feels like. It's not great.
It's trying to be on the fence between an Indy and a
big budget Hollywood movie and it's really neither.
It's a weird hybrid and I can't recommend Best Seller.
Justine Browning: Well, I think it's saving grace is
that Aubrey Plaza really elevates the material.
She shows her depth of range, commands the screen, and
proves that it's really time for her to move from some of
the supporting roles she's been relegated to, to maybe
carrying her own projects.
This is from actor turned director, Lina Roessler.
It's her feature debut.
And you could see that that influences the
way she directs actors.
It's very performance driven, dialogue heavy, and sometimes
you just need to watch something that's low stakes
and quaint and the publishing world isn't one we've seen
done to death on screen, so getting an inside view of
that struggle, you know, for authors to stay relevant.
You know, I found it quite enjoyable.
Neil Rosen: Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: I guess the only thing I really found
enjoyable was some of the chemistry between Michael
Caine and Aubrey Plaza.
This would be a hard pass for me without the two of them.
But it's even hard to recommend with solid
performances from them because this whole thing feels so
familiar and predictable.
Like, I even feel like we've covered similar movies on
this show in recent months.
So this one just didn't have much to offer.
Like yeah, it tries to say something about
celebrity culture and the publishing realm, but it
is just like very thin and surface level type stuff.
So ultimately I found myself thinking,
you know, what was the point?
I would never watch that again.
And I probably wouldn't recommend it.
Neil Rosen: It's very predictable and you could
see where it's going, but I don't think that really
matters because what this is is an actor showcase.
Michael Caine can elevate any script that he's in.
And I think he elevates the material and I think
he has good chemistry with Aubrey Plaza.
And it's great to see Aubrey Plaza not playing one of
these aloof hipster characters like she usually does.
She plays it straight here.
So I say for the performances, it's worth a look.
For the, the story's thin but they bring
it to another level.
Perri Nemiroff: There's a later movie where we're going
to use that idea of an actor showcase, and I think it's
going to apply very well.
And then you're going to go back and you're going
to say, but not Best Sellers.
Neil Rosen: Justine, there's a movie out called Annette.
Let's hear about it.
Justine Browning: Well, this is a rock opera from
French filmmaker Leos Carax.
It centers on a stand-up comedian played by Adam
Driver who falls in love with an opera singer portrayed
by Marion Cotillard.
The two become a much loved power couple.
But when they welcome their first child, Annette,
a mysterious and other worldly little girl, their
lives take a striking turn.
This music was developed by the Sparks brothers.
They were recently chronicled in Edgar Wright's
And the concept actually began as an album before it
was a script and that's why this feels much more like a
performance art piece than a traditional narrative film.
I've certainly never seen anything like it.
And it entertains despite its message and plot lines
being wildly interpretable.
But I think it has a lot to say, however uniquely
about the entertainment industry, predatory men
in the spotlight, and I recommend just for the
wild journey that is.
Bill McCuddy: This was one of the worst movies,
not only of the year, but maybe the last 10 or 15 years.
Adam Driver waited eight years to make this thing.
And Marion Cotillard is acting like she's really an opera
singer in an important movie.
Annette is short for marionette, ‘cause
that's what the kid is. I'm sorry if that's a spoiler.
I don't want anyone to see this.
Neil Rosen: Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: I'm a little more mixed on it,
I think, than you guys.
So I would have liked a little more thematic clarity
in the end and maybe a tighter script overall.
But one of my favorite things is when I can look
at a movie and say, this movie isn't quite for me or
I wouldn't think it would be for me, but it opened
me up to like surprisingly dazzling creative choices that
I got kind of swept up in.
I didn't love the whole thing.
It is very long and it is a commitment.
But I kind of enjoyed the creative swings
they took with this.
Neil Rosen: It is an avant-garde musical
romantic drama rock opera.
It is overly ambitious, but it is self-indulgent.
I mean the whole thing, just, it just doesn't gel for me.
I mean, I give the guy credit for trying to
do something different.
I mean, there's a song, for example, quote, “we love
each other so much ” and they just keep saying this stuff,
we love each other so much.
I'd rather see chemistry between the characters
and have that exemplified on screen then hearing
them say that over and over and over again.
That said, he's a standup comic.
The audience howls with laughter when he
performs and none of this material is funny.
McCuddy and I were talking about the,
what did you say, Bill?
You said that it was really, the way he--
Bill McCuddy: Everything that happens on the stage in this
movie is going on in their heads, the performers heads.
That's an interesting idea.
None of the material that he's doing on
stage is his actual act. It's what he's thinking.
And also what he's wearing isn't what he wears.
Marion Cotillard is in the middle of an opera and
she walks into a field.
This is all what's happening in her head.
That's the one interesting idea in this whole thing.
But otherwise we're giving it way too much attention.
I hope you didn't sit down recently, Neil, and talk to
one of the stars of the film.
Neil Rosen: You know, I actually spoke to Marion
Cotillard on Zoom and here's what she had to say about
her performance in the movie.
Tell me about your chemistry with Adam Driver.
What was that like?
Marion Cotillard: It was such an intense and amazing
experience because we were both, I mean, we're
not singers, so we were both facing anxiety, like
it's, it was like really stressful to sing me live.
So we had this connection of like two kids in the
playground being like, oh my God, we're going to
experience things that we have never experienced before.
So it created this connection.
And this project was so special because
it's all live singing.
So it's an experience that I had never had.
And that was, and I always look for facing
the unknown and like just dive in the unknown.
Neil Rosen: The Voyeurs is the name of a new thriller
about a young couple spying on the provocative
activities of another couple that lives across the way.
Let's take a look.
Thomas: Huh, check out those two.
What is he like a photographer or something?
Pippa: It looks like it.
Wow, you can see right in.
Thomas: It's a nice place-- Oh, kissy, kissy.
Oh, they're in love.
Thomas: That is happening.
Pippa: I don't think we should spy our neighbors.
Neil Rosen: Perri, tell us about The Voyeurs.
Perri Nemiroff: So it stars Sydney Sweeney and Justin
Smith as that young couple.
They're getting their first apartment together.
They're super excited about it.
And then they're just completely taken by that
couple in the apartment the other way, like across
from them, that they can't stop spying on.
And it's basically how that experience makes their
relationship just spiral entirely out of control.
And, you know, I was very into it for the most part.
I feel like the first half of this movie almost has, you
know, was somewhat grounded quality to it where I'm
thinking maybe this really is a good modern rear window,
but then it basically takes it up to an eleven and the movie
becomes something different.
And while I don't necessarily think it works and comes
together all that well, wait, I'm not going to lie.
I was super entertained by it all and I would watch
this again in a heartbeat.
Neil Rosen: Bill?
Bill McCuddy: This is a bad Brian de Palma movie,
which sounds like an oxymoron.
I think that what it does late in the second act,
the twist you're alluding to is so ludicrous and unbelievable.
And you didn't mention that it's basically like an old
Cinemax softcore porn film.
I think that this actress deserves better.
She was in White Lotus.
She's in the Handmaid's Tale, but this is our-- Please,
please, please look away.
Neil Rosen: Justine?
Justine Browning: The words you're looking for Bill,
are erotic thriller. This has everything you need.
It is the equivalent of a trashy novel you
buy at the airport.
It entertains you in the moment.
And then you never have to think about it again, even
when the plot falls into these ravines that aren't
You're already in, you're on board.
Neil Rosen: Yeah, I'm with you. It's trashy fun.
And you could easily, you could easily pick it apart.
If you want to just go along for the ride, you summed
it up perfectly Justine. It is like a trashy novel.
And on that level, you know, pun intended, it's watchable.
And Sydney Sweeney, as I mentioned before, is a
rising star and she elevates the thing to an extent.
So if this is your thing, like Perri loves this kind
of thing, I would say you might want to check it out.
I thought it was okay if you overlook the plot holes.
Justine, there's a new movie called Small Engine Repair.
Tell us about it.
Justine Browning: This focuses on an ex-con trying to find
his way back to normalcy.
He's working at a garage in New Hampshire,
and he's also struggling to provide for his daughter.
He's had a falling out with two lifelong best friends,
and one night he lures them to the garage under the
guise of reconciliation.
But it quickly becomes clear, something more sinister,
more complex is going on.
This was written and directed by John Pollono.
He also stars in the film.
It's based on a play of his, so it's very much performance
driven, but that actually proves to be a disadvantage
because it often feels like the characters are playing to
an audience that isn't there in this exaggerated fashion.
And then other times it does feel realistic and
intimate, but it drowns in its characters toxic masculinity,
sexism, homophobia, making it really difficult to
care about their journeys.
Neil Rosen: Bill?
Bill McCuddy: Well, the problem really here is
that he thinks he's done American Buffalo,
and he's not David Mamet.
He's not Kenneth Lonergan, despite the
And he's not even Ed Burns-light.
I mean, the problem is Neil Rosen and I used to go to
screenings together and I would sit next to him if there
was no place else to sit.
And I would lean over to him five minutes, 10 minutes,
sometimes as late as 20 minutes into a movie and go,
now we got a movie.
The problem with this movie is it's an hour and five minutes
of BS backstory before we get to what really happens.
I'll tell you what the short movie is or the shorter
play version of this was, it started with a drug dealer
showing up at a garage.
That happens almost 80 minutes into this thing.
I can't recommend it because the bromance wanna be,
what it tries to think it is, doesn't come across.
Neil Rosen: Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: This is actually what I was referring
to before when you brought up the concept of an
ensemble piece, or, you know, something where the ensemble
really shines because when we were talking about Best
Sellers, all I could think about was how Michael Caine
and Aubrey Plaza are being boxed into a weaker script.
Their heads are hitting the ceiling.
In this particular case, I think they kind of
break through that ceiling and wind up elevating
what's on the page.
And I'm not saying all of it works.
I don't think it all comes together.
And there are very clearly certain beats in this that
play better than others.
But ultimately in the end, I am glad I saw it because
we've got a whole bunch of actors showcases here and
they're pretty impressive.
Neil Rosen: Yeah, the acting is quite good across the
board, particularly, and I'm a fan of him from
The Walking Dead, is Jon Bernthal.
I think that this is, like you said, Perri,
this is an actors showcase.
And writer, director, and star John Pollono,
I think nicely adapted his played to the screen.
And the big twist here, which I won't reveal, no spoilers.
The whole film is absorbing. It's realistic dialogue.
It's a bromance in New Hampshire.
And overall, I think the thing leaves a really
And what you're talking about Bill, the end, I think the
end brings it all together.
I mean, I was kind of like looking at this in like, wow.
It really kind of got me. Well, I don't agree.
But you're certainly entitled to your opinion.
I think it's worth a look.
Bill, there's a new documentary called Val.
Tell us about it.
Bill McCuddy: Well, it's about Val Kilmer.
One of the most interesting things he did in his career
besides play Batman and The Saint, a lot of the
things, is he brought a video camera with him back in the
days when nobody even knew what a video camera was.
And he has tens of thousands of hours of footage that he
shot over and over and over.
Auditions for Oliver Stone that he didn't get,
for things he didn't get.
Neil Rosen: Goodfellas.
He auditioned for Scorsese in Goodfellas.
Bill McCuddy: For Stanley Kubrick and didn't get it.
And he's got all of this footage.
He's got Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn's butts by the way.
But he also got throat cancer.
And what happened because he's a Christian Scientist
and didn't seek treatment immediately is that he speaks
very difficultly through a small opening in his throat.
His son, Jack, therefore does a great deal of the narrating.
And this is a love letter from Val Kilmer, basically
to Val Kilmer, meaning that it's a little too
personal and has a lot more information in it then some
people may want to seek out.
It also doesn't have anybody else's opinion.
It just has Val Kilmer so we don't get whether he really
was difficult as it is was, pardon me, was rumored.
We don't know a lot of things because this is just his POV.
All of that said, nobody else has a trove like this
and if you're a fan, you don't want to miss it.
Neil Rosen: Yeah. It's a treasure trove of footage.
The behind the scenes of The Doors.
And, you know, he hated doing Batman, which was very
interesting also because he said it was, you know,
Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey that stole the movie.
And he just said, I'm just in this stupid rubber suit
and he couldn't stand it.
And he turns down, you know, a lucrative four
picture deal to be Batman for the next four Batman's
or something like that.
You know, there's all this backstage footage.
I found it very, very interesting. Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: I was really struck by how warm and raw
it was, ‘cause, you know, I hate admitting this, but it's a
little too easy to forget that the folks that we admire on
screen are human beings that go through some really trying
things and have, you know, deep, personal opinions about
how they approach their art.
So getting the opportunity to get a real intimate
look at a star like Val Kim Kilmer's experience,
we rarely get that.
So I kind of appreciate that he used that footage
and this documentary to open up the door to all
of us to go through that experience with him.
Neil Rosen: Justine?
Justine Browning: I mean, this definitely takes a lot
of inspiration from Listen to Me Marlon, the documentary
about Marlon Brando.
But the difference here as Bill pointed out is that
film didn't shy away from the actors' demons and missteps.
And here, you know, Kilmer is seen through a largely
empathetic purified lens.
The public issues in his personal life are paved over,
his questionable behavior on set isn't really
But that said, of course, this is a striking portrait
of the life of an actor.
I think anyone wanting to get into the industry in that way
will find this so interesting.
The ups and downs that it portrays are really impactful.
And all of that footage really, for any film fan,
it really is a treasure trove.
Neil Rosen: You know, I interviewed this guy
years ago and he was like on another planet.
He was completely incomprehensible.
And I didn't really like the guy.
I liked his performances, but I didn't like him.
Now I like him.
And I have a lot of, I look at him completely differently,
what he's going through with the throat cancer and the
dedication to his craft that you see throughout the film.
Ava: I got a call this morning saying that
you wanted to meet.
Deborah: Well Jimmy sent you against my wishes.
Good luck with your career, hunny.
Ava: So cool they let you move into a Cheesecake Factory.
Deborah: Is that where you wait tables?
That seems like a better fit.
Ava: I'd rather sling bang bang chicken and shrimp
all day then work here you classist monster.
Deborah: [laughing] We can start early tomorrow.
Neil Rosen: That was a clip from the TV series Hacks.
It's Justine Browning's personal choices as we go
around the panel with our critics picks of the month.
Justine Browning: Yeah.
Well, Jean Smart stars in this as a fading comedian, very
much inspired by Joan Rivers, who's performing a Vegas act.
Her act is completely starting to fall stale and
basically teams with this disgraced writer played
by Hannah Einbinder to revive her act, to try to
make her more relevant.
And what follows is this really touching relationship.
The dialogue is so incredibly whip smart and cutting and
the ways in which the actors play off one another is so
entertaining and enthralling.
And I can't recommend this show enough.
Neil Rosen: This is one of the best new shows out there.
I think Jean Smart might get, this might be the
best performance she ever gives in her career.
Hannah Einbinder, who happens to be Laraine Newman's
daughter in real life, I think she's terrific.
I think their chemistry is great.
And the comedic moments work and sort of the dramatic ones.
Neil Rosen: Bill?
Bill McCuddy: Yeah. I think it works really, really well.
I've only seen the first one, but I really appreciate that
you turned me on to it because I'm friendly with Elayne
Boosler whom Jean Smart told me recently, she, as much as
she likes Joan Rivers and some of the other people, it was
Boosler that she was pattering a lot of routine after.
And so I'm hooked. I want to see more.
Neil Rosen: Bill, what is your critics pick this month?
Bill McCuddy: Well I've gone to this new
service called Netflix.
I don't know if you've heard of it.
For a season of nine episodes, something called Hit and Run.
Of course it's not from this country, although it features
New York a little bit.
When a woman dancer is run down by a car in
Tel Aviv, her husband, a tour guide, goes looking
for answers in New York.
The trouble is, she was never just a dancer and he was
always more than a tour guide. It's an international cast.
It's a great action thriller.
A little maybe erotic thrilled in there.
And there's more to come after this nine.
So please, please, please seek out Hit and Run.
Neil Rosen: And it's by the same people who did
the hit TV series in Israel called a Fauda.
So if you liked that, you know, check this out.
Perri, what'da got this month? What's your pick?
Perri Nemiroff: So strange, Bill.
My pick actually is on that obscure streaming
service called Netflix too. Who woulda thunk.
I'm doing Brand New Cherry Flavor and warning up top,
this is not a show that you can easily boil down to a
quick synopsis so just know whatever I'm about to say it
is so much more than that.
Stars Rosa Salazar as an aspiring filmmaker,
who thinks she gets the ultimate opportunity in LA to direct
her very first feature film.
But then the producer basically pulls the rug out
from under her and so she decides to put a curse on him.
I have truly never seen anything like Brand New
Cherry Flavor before. It is very extreme.
Sometimes it's grotesque.
But I just couldn't take my eyes off of this
thing because it's also beautifully captured.
And also I was just so captivated by the whole
mystery unfolding here and just learning more about the
supernatural rules in play.
I also can't emphasize this enough, Rosa Salazar is
phenomenal in this series and she's also just a
downright, incredible actor overall who deserves to be
even more well-known than she already is right now.
Bill McCuddy: Perri, it sounds like Promising Young
Woman if she was a witch. Is that at all close?
Perri Nemiroff: I think I see what you're, what
you're going for, but I don't think that this show
is very easily compared to anything else in existence.
Neil Rosen: Listen, I know you love horror, Perri.
So would you're very excited about this, would you say
this is one of the best horror things you've ever seen?
Perri Nemiroff: Ever ever feels like a big designation,
but it is one of the absolute best things I've seen in 2021.
Neil Rosen: My pick is McCartney 3, 2 1, which is a
fascinating new six part mini series on Hulu that features,
Sir Paul being interviewed by producer Rick Rubin.
The topic is strictly music.
There's no gossipy stuff here, as McCartney breaks down many
of his legendary songs, while Ruben isolates bass, piano,
voice, and orchestral tracks from famed Beatle tunes, as
well as Paul's solo career.
It's a real masterclass on McCartney's creative process
as we see how these brilliant songs we put together.
I also found it interesting to learn about McCarthy's
contributions to some Beatles songs that I
would have attributed solely to John Lennon.
There's also a lot of anecdotal and factual
information about this iconic music that was
never revealed before in thousands of previous
interviews that Paul's done.
I'm a big Beatles fan and before watching this,
I thought I wouldn't learn anything new and I was
wrong, and in the process was pleasantly surprised.
So was this worth a look for Beatles fans?
I say overwhelmingly yeah, yeah, yeah.
♪ You don't get me-- You don't get me-- ♪
Neil Rosen: Well, that's all the time we have.
With any luck we've given you some movies
and TV shows to watch.
I want to thank Perri Nemiroff, Bill McCuddy,
and Justine Browning. I'm Neil Rosen.
Join us next time on Talking Pictures.
♪ [Closing Music]
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