Iliza Shlesinger interview, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Megan Fox
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 Lin-Manuel Miranda's
Tony Award winning musical In the Heights.
Luca, the latest animated tale from Pixar that's set under
sea and in a small Italian village, and the biopic Lansky,
about notorious mobster Meyer Lansky played by Harvey Keitel.
Plus my interview with Iliza Shlesinger talking
about her new comedy Good on Paper.
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 were still streaming from home, we
have plenty of movies and TV series for you to watch either
at home or in movie theaters, which are finally now open.
Joining me are Perri Nemiroff from Collider.
Hey there, Perri.
Perri Nemiroff: Hello. Happy to be back.
Neil Rosen: Happy to have you.
Jack Rico's back from Showbiz Cafe. Hey Jack.
Jack Rico: It's great to see you, Neil.
Neil Rosen: Great to see you.
And also returning, our friend Justine Browning
from Entertainment Weekly. Hey Justine.
Justine Browning: So great to be here with all of you.
Neil Rosen: Great to see you.
And let's start out with a look at several new films that are
available either in theaters, On Demand, or on streaming
services beginning with the new musical In the Heights.
Let's take a look at a clip.
Usanavi singing: ♪ I am Usanavi and you probably
never heard of my name.
Reports of my fame are greatly exaggerated.
Kevin Rosario: Good morning, Usnavi.
Usanavi de la Vega: Pan caliente, cafe con leche.
Kevin Rosario: On these blocks, you can't walk two steps without
bumping into someone's big plans.
Benny: I'm making moves, I'm making deals.
But guess what?
Usanavi de la Vega: What?
Benny: You still ain't got no skills.
Neil Rosen: Jack, tell us about In the Heights.
Jack Rico: Neil, In the Heights, it's directed by John Chu, who'd
had done Crazy Rich Asians and also has Lin-Manuel Miranda
composing the music here.
And it centers around a group of residents from
Washington Heights neighborhood in Uptown Manhattan.
And in there, what they're doing is seeing their stories
and their dreams collide with a neighborhood that is
changing before their very eyes.
Some great high quality production here, incredible
memorable music numbers, and an award-winning soundtrack.
But beyond that, the movie is very culturally significant
to so many Latinos that have never really seen themselves
represented on film.
And I think that this movie not only does service to them, but
it's also an entertaining summer film that anybody could watch.
The film has many of the elements that you rarely
see in films like merengue, bachata, salsa, jazz, in
a Broadway musical, all sort of mixing together.
And it has all these great high energy musical numbers
that are very memorable.
I mean, just the opening sequence alone gave me chills.
There is so much that this movie carries for the Latino
community, 60 million strong in the United States, it carries
their flag, their history, their accents, their language,
their identity as people in America wanting to be seen.
So this movie is just so much more than just the movie.
Neil Rosen: Justine?
Justine Browning: Yeah.
And considering everything we've been through as New Yorkers, you
know, this is a celebration of the city that we need right now.
And I think people tend to forget that over 10
years ago, when this hit the stage, no one had seen
anything like this story.
It really was key to representation in the industry,
a big part of how far we've come, a big symbol of that.
Another number 96,000, this grandiose community pool
sequence really takes all of this incredible work that
Lin-Manuel Miranda did on-stage and puts it into this memorable,
strikingly, beautiful sequences and I think it's some of
these moments are going to go down in cinematic history.
Neil Rosen: Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: Yeah, I can't say enough good
things about this movie.
It is just dazzling from top to bottom.
The cast here, everybody is wildly talented, super charming,
and the whole movie is just full of heart, good vibes,
and culture, and just one wow worthy set piece after the next.
It is a fairly long movie.
And given what you two said, it covers a lot and it might
feel like too much on the first watch, where I'm like,
I walked away saying I took a lot from that, but is the depth
there, because I was kind of overwhelmed by how much I got.
Having now watched the movie three times, I can confirm the
rewatchability of the movie and also the weight of how it
explores all of those topics that were already mentioned.
So this is a homerun for me.
Neil Rosen: Listen, it's wonderful to see the celebration
of the LatinX community.
And then there's this other number where they're dancing
up these apartment buildings instead of dancing on the floor,
reminds me of this Fred Astaire movie where he's like, you
know, revolving around the-- great use of special effects
or camera trickery, but it's just a joyous, exuberant movie.
I think it was a little too long, but I could
watch it again, you know?
And maybe, like your experience Perri, if I watch it again,
I'll say, gee, I'll pick up things in this that I haven't
picked up the first time, which is kind of how I felt with
Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton.
I could watch that again and again, and I just keep
picking up more things.
I think it should be seen, even though you could see it on,
you know, on your television screen, I think that you
should see it, if you can, in a theater, like a Dolby
theater, and just be surrounded by the whole experience.
That's how good it is. If you can do that.
But either way, see this. It's a must-see.
Moving on, Justine, the new Pixar movie Luca.
Justine Browning: Yes. I tell you all about Luca.
This is set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera in the
50s, and it follows a young sea monster who journeys to
land with his best friend and takes the form of a human boy.
We follow their adventures and hijinx as they meet
a number of colorful characters along the way.
And this film is inspired by director Enrico Casarosa's
childhood in Genoa.
And the creators behind this film were actually sent
to the Italian Riviera to gather research on Italian
culture and folklore.
I mean, just a terrible, terrible gig that must've been.
But I think that's why it feels soulful and executed with care.
And it's quite nostalgic and it's a sweet coming of
age story with a thoughtful message of self-acceptance.
It pays homage to Fellini and overall I think it's a
celebration of the golden age of Italian cinema.
It's a capsule of the culture then.
I'm not sure why the characters under the sea talk like
Long Island Italians, but okay!
Neil Rosen: Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: I adored this movie.
I'm a big Pixar fan in general and something that I think
all Pixar movies do very well that this one also does well,
is world building, whether it's the under the sea realm
or this town in Italy, I just think it's so rich with so much
detail, so atmospheric, and it gives you that feeling that
you could just live in this place and look in any corner
and there's going to be more detailed to discover there.
I also think that Luca is the definition of a fun for the
whole family type of movie.
So big applause yet again to Pixar for doing it all.
Neil Rosen: Jack?
Jack Rico: You know, this is a movie to me that really explores
friendships in a way that when you're a kid, you don't
understand how much friendships can change you or influence
you and shape you as a person.
And I think that this film in particular does that very well.
Not only that, but I think it celebrates culture.
It's the type of culture that is not necessarily your own,
but you still want to keep your own.
It's a message that hit home to me because they're coming
out of the water, being on land, they're two different
worlds that they're trying to navigate, but while still
trying to be who they are.
And those are the themes and chords that really
sort of hit home to me.
And it's one of the reasons I really, really like this film.
Neil Rosen: Listen, this doesn't have the intellectual depth
of let's say Up or WALL-E, and it doesn't have the,
as maybe the great wit that the Toy Story series or Monsters
Inc has, but as a standalone movie, this is great for the
whole family and it is fun. It is charming.
And I really liked it.
And I, there's a visual trick where the, which I really
enjoyed that runs throughout the movie that when they're on the
surface, these sea monsters who are posing as humans, whenever
they get wet part of them reveal the sea monster aspect
of their hand or their face and I just loved that little thing.
So, you know, I do recommend this.
All right, Perri, let's switch gears and look at
a thriller called Till Death with Megan Fox.
Perri Nemiroff: All right.
So Megan Fox stars in this one as a character named Emma.
She is stuck in a not so great relationship with
Eoin Macken's character. He's named Mark.
In an effort to mend their relationship, Mark decides to
take Emma off to a secluded getaway and yeah, that might
sound super romantic, but then she wakes up handcuffed
to her dead husband. So that's what this movie is.
And given that synopsis, I would like to bet many
would be guessing that this movie is kind of ridiculous
and it most certainly is.
And I don't think that's necessarily a bad quality in a
movie like this, because when you have a synopsis as extreme
and even kind of wacky as that one sounds, I think it's
a real great opportunity to lean into it and have fun with
that horror, thriller vibe.
But I actually think this movie didn't push it far enough and
what we wind up getting is something that is sticking
too close to that synopsis. Not going very far beyond it.
Never really surprising me.
And it kind of makes the whole thing unforgettable
when that synopsis suggests it would be anything but that.
Neil Rosen: Listen, Megan Fox is not known for choosing
good movies most of the time, but this is really bad.
I mean, first off the premise, it's never explained.
This guy wants revenge on his wife and he kills himself
and, you know, right before he does he handcuffs himself
to his wife for revenge?
I mean, that's kind of extreme I'd say, you know?
Additionally there's no suspense here.
I didn't believe any of the performances.
I think the writing and direction are terrible.
It steals from dozens of other movies.
This is just awful. Justine?
Justine Browning: You just have to accept us for what it is.
At times it has self referential humor.
Others it's taking itself too seriously.
What I will say is this actually did make me miss watching films
with others, because I really needed to turn to someone
and say, what is happening? This is so ridiculous.
I think a communal viewing would actually be quite fun.
Neil Rosen: Jack? Your take on this whole thing.
Jack Rico: I wholeheartedly disagree with you, Neil.
I felt that this was a deliciously twisted, funny,
engrossing film that you could watch with your wife,
with a date, friends.
It's, B thrillers, believe it or not, have a value in it.
And I've been seeing so many dark films that are
very monotonous that are just too dark and too deep.
I wanted to be distracted.
This was the perfect distraction that I was looking
for and Megan Fox, I still think can carry a movie.
I think she's a star and I would want to see the
revival of Megan Fox. I had fun with this movie.
Neil Rosen: Lansky is the name of a new biopic about
real life notorious crime boss Meyer Lansky played
in the film by both Harvey Keitel and John Magaro.
Let's take a look.
>>> Mr. Lansky, it's a pleasure.
Meyer Lansky: Why does David still want to
write a book about me?
David Stone: Maybe I like stories about
Meyer Lansky: Anything I choose to tell you is off the record
until I give you permission to put it in the book.
Any conversations you have about me, I want to know.
Betray me, and there will be consequences.
Neil Rosen: Jack, tell us about Lansky.
Jack Rico: Well, it's written and directed by Eytan
Rockaway and it stars Harvey Keitel, Sam Worthington,
John Magaro, and AnnaSophia Robb amongst others.
And it's based on the interviews that Eytan's father Robert
Rockway had with Meyer Lansky a few months before his
death and it centers around a down and out writer played
by Sam Worthington, his name is David Stone in the film.
When he gets a call by Meyer Landy, played by Harvey
Keitel, he's known as the godfather of organized crime.
He's one of the most popular mafia bosses ever.
And he wants him to write his biography.
Now, while all this is happening the FBI is trying
to recover $300 million that supposedly Lansky has been
hiding throughout the world.
And the question is will David Stone be complicit in
betraying Lansky and will the FBI get their money?
You know, this is a movie that to me I always see
Lansky as a criminal, as a killer, as an evil person.
And I just feel like in this movie there's some sort of
adulation and idolization of Lansky, but to see him
almost called a patriot within the movie is something
I just couldn't deal with.
Neil Rosen: Justine?
Justine Browning: The characters in this talk like
the sea monsters in Luca.
But I have to say, the director's fascination
with “da man ” and for gangster life overall is
really palpable in this.
But if you don't share that interest, then, you know,
perhaps brutal criminals don't strike your curiosity,
you can feel like a hostage in Rockaway's vision.
You're kind of forced to understand individuals that
I don't feel are, are really worthy of being understood.
Perri Nemiroff: Yeah.
This didn't work for me much at all.
I think there are some strong scenes here and there,
but for the most part, it felt really, really flat.
The connection wasn't there at all.
And it almost played a bit like you're scrolling through
a Wikipedia page, hitting one section at a time.
AndeEven though I could visually I could see the effort being
made to have smooth transitions from one section to the next,
and I think some of them are quite beautiful, just them
being a beautiful visual doesn't mean that they serve
the story, especially well.
Neil Rosen: Well, first of all, I couldn't disagree
with all of you anymore.
I happen to really like this film.
I've always been fascinated by Meyer Lansky.
He was the basis of the Hyman Roth character in, played by
Lee Strasberg and Godfather II.
He was portrayed by Ben Kingsley in the movie Bugsy.
Now he gets his own movie.
To your point, Jack, I think that, you know, this is, this
is Lansky as told by Lansky. This is his story.
I don't think anybody is putting him up on a pedestal.
This is how he sees himself or how he wants to be remembered,
which is mentioned in the film.
I think Keitel is great as the older Lansky.
I think John Magaro as the young Lansky's quite good.
And you know, it looks, and I liked the script
and the direction.
I think it's a very interesting movie.
I think it's compelling and it's historically, it's
I recommend the film if you like the subject matter.
Perri, there's a new movie called Holler.
Don't holler, just tell us about it.
Perri Nemiroff: A+ pun, Neal.
So this one is starring Jessica Barden and Gus Halper.
They play Ruth and Blaze.
They're siblings who have to support themselves while
their mother is in prison.
They managed to get by as scrappers, stealing
metal and selling it off.
But when Ruth gets into college, Blaze decides it's
time to take bigger risks in the business to ensure that she
could actually afford to go.
I cannot explain how much I adore this movie.
If we had time for a full roll call, I would literally go
through every single member of this ensemble and tell
you how wonderful they are.
But I know we don't have time for that.
So instead, I'm just going to make sure that everyone
out there is aware of how good Jessica Barden is.
It's really exciting to see her command the screen here
with this really brilliant and spot on mix of stubbornness,
but also, you know, teenage sensitivity and vulnerability.
She just really, really runs away with this one.
Justine Browning: I have just been like a
bobblehead this whole time, agreeing with you Perri.
I absolutely love this.
This is actually semi-autobiographical for
director Nicole Riegel.
It's filmed on location in Jackson, Ohio during a polar
vortex, which is why you feel cold when you're watching it.
And it features locals from this small town in minor
roles and real factories and scrap yards were used
as well as the backdrop.
So it feels so raw and real, and it gives a voice to those
who fall through the cracks.
And it's exploring a part of the country where
circumstances are dire.
And this really calls attention to that.
It's gripping and heartbreaking.
And the two lead performances, you know, you just feel that
bond between this brother and sister and these are
two talents on the way.
Jack Rico: Interestingly enough in an interview, Jessica Barden
had said that she feels like working class families are
held back because of where they're born into and not
everyone can overcome that much.
Like we saw in the movie Nomadland.
And this is just one of the best films of the year so far to me.
Just the performances are excellent, the premise, and
there's not much you can say wrong about this film.
It's a gem for this year.
Neil Rosen: Well, listen, I agree with all of that.
I have nothing much to add.
The performances all across the board are just so
unbelievable and Jessica Barden topping that list.
And those performances are so good and the writing and
direction is so good that it has such a realistic
feel to the whole movie.
Justine, who writes for Entertainment Weekly,
is good on paper.
Now she's going to tell us about a movie called Good on Paper.
Justine Browning: Well, this stars and is written by Iliza
Shlesinger and it's billed as a mostly true story and
it centers on a struggling stand-up comedian who is
unlucky in love until she meets a quirky nerd and
embarks on a new relationship.
But when she and her friends begin to suspect he isn't
what he seems they embark on a wild goose chase
to uncover the truth.
I need to use the pun a second time here and say
that while the premise sounds good on paper, unfortunately
this movie is such a miss.
I thought there was such an opportunity to put
out a strong message that touches on real issues in
the modern dating landscape and its duplicitous nature.
And unfortunately why this doesn't work is that the man
that she meets is a giant red flag from the moment he speaks.
And after that, it's very hard to connect to the heroine
of the story who's decided to run straight into this
storm of a relationship and then you watch a series of
terrible decisions play out.
There's no twist or scheme reveal.
You already know it's bad news and so the rest
Jack Rico: Listen, I happen to think that Good on Paper--
I like this film.
I was expecting a straight up romcom and what I got
was an exploration of how complicated we are as people.
How we usually never really know what we want and how
some of us assert ourselves of who we truly are versus
those who put on an act.
And there's a great line in the movie towards the end of
the film where the lead male says, who is anyone anymore?
And I thought that the whole movie really made
a good point about that.
Neil Rosen: Perri?
Perri Nemiroff: It's not perfect, but I would
say Good on Paper really exceeded my expectations
for this type of movie.
I would say the only element that didn't really work
for me is kind of what Justine was focusing on.
It's when Dennis' behavior became so ridiculous that it's
not like, is that a red flag? Like, that is a red flag.
That's ridiculous. Come on.
But, otherwise this is a surprisingly sincere
and grounded comedy that really weaves Shlesinger's
stand-up into a scripted narrative because the way
that stand-up is included here is just so well done.
The stand-up is just as funny, if not more so,
than the scripted portion of the film or the more
narrative driven portions.
Neil Rosen: Look, I think this was really fun and
funny and entertaining.
And I think-- I liked the way Iliza Shlesinger--
she wrote it, she stars in it.
The way she weaves in her stand-up routines, kind of
like Seinfeld, you see a little stand-up and then
you see part of the movie.
But I think that she's really funny.
I think that Ryan Hanson who plays the liar is quite good.
And you know, I think it's sharp, funny, and easy
to take in as a movie.
I was laughing the way through and if you buy into the premise,
yeah, it does get a little wacky, but you know, there's a
lot of movies that get wacky.
I went along for the ride and I thought it was terrific.
Listen, I think the premise is a good one and I had
the opportunity to sit down with Iliza Shlesinger
to talk about the film.
Let's take a look at that interview.
So it says that the movie, I'm paraphrasing, based,
sort of based on a true story.
How true, how much of this actually happened to you?
Or is it really marginal?
Iliza Shlesinger: I would honestly say the first,
maybe a little bit over two thirds of the movie are true.
Every single thing that Dennis says to Andrea is a
true lie that he told me.
It is a mostly true story because that is,
for legal reasons, we can't say almost 100% true.
But it is very true.
Neil Rosen: This started out as a stand-up bit?
Iliza Shlesinger: This was always a screenplay that I was
working on and I extrapolated part of it and tried to
do an abridged version for stand-up, but this story is
best told with an ensemble.
So while I did a bit of it as a crazy story to share,
it was always a script I was working on.
Zoey and Ensamble singing: Can't stop ‘cuz we're so high,
let's do this one more time.
Starships were meant to fly.
Hands up, and touch the sky.
Let's do this one last time.
Hands up-- Danny: We're higher than a--
♪ [Dance Music]
Aiden: We're higher than a--
♪ [Dance Music]
Zoey: We're higher than a-- [car horn beeping]
Neil Rosen: That was a clip from the TV series
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.
It's Perri Nemiroff's personal choice as we go
around the panel with our critics picks of the month.
Perri Nemiroff: The show is about a young woman who one
day is able to hear people's inner thoughts through song.
And I know it might sound super cheesy as a one sentence
logline, but please trust me when I tell you that Zoe's
Playlist is absolutely packed to the brim with yes, incredible
song and dance sequences and Mandy Moore's choreography
is truly next level stuff.
It's all designed not just to look really cool, but also to
support some really beautiful and complex character arcs.
But the thing I want to emphasize about this show is
it's not just a fun musical.
It is that, but it's so much more.
It's probably one of the most touching shows
that I've seen in years.
One that really does dig into highlighting the value of
friends, family, coworkers, and what it means to understand
and support one another.
I fully believed that it would be a real big shame if another
network didn't swoop in and scoop this one up after its
cancellation by NBC, because this is a special show.
It deserves to continue and it deserves to
have a bigger fan base.
And for anyone out there who is, I don't know, bummed or stressed
over something, I'm telling you watching this show and watching
these characters navigate their issues, whether I could directly
relate to them or not, they just made me feel inspired.
And this past year and a half in particular, I needed it big time
and I want to spread that love for the show as much as I can.
Neil Rosen: Jack, what's your pick this month?
Jack Rico: Cronicas. That's my selection for this month.
It's a thriller from 2004 produced by Guillermo Del
Toro and Alfonso Cuarón and it's about the world
of sensational journalism.
And John Leguizamo plays a star reporter from Miami
who travels to Ecuador in pursuit of a serial killer.
Now the revelation here is a Mexican actor by the
name of Damián Alcázar.
He probably has given one of the best performances
in that stretch from 2000 to 2010 that you will see.
Unfortunately, because it's a Latino film and it's indy
he never really got that scale of praises and applause
that he should have gotten.
The twist in this movie is great.
And to me, it's one of the best Spanish language films
in the last 10 to 20 years.
Neil Rosen: Justine? You're up.
Justin: Well, my pick is the mini-series Mare of Easttown,
and it stars Kate Winslet as an investigator in a
small town in Pennsylvania.
And she's desperately trying to solve the brutal murder
of a teen girl while also working really hard to keep
her own life from unraveling.
This is so much more than your average murder mystery.
It has a lot to say about small town life, confronting trauma,
and women forced to pick up the pieces of other's mistakes.
I was almost embarrassed by how deeply involved I
became with trying to figure out what the mystery was,
what the answer to who was responsible for this crime was.
Neil Rosen: My pick is the French television series Lupin.
It's about Assane Diop, the man who's out to avenge
the death of his father who years earlier was framed for
a crime he didn't commit.
Diop is a brilliant gentleman at the master of disguise and
he uses his expert con-artistry skills to go after a wealthy
family who are responsible for the demise of his dad.
Diop's inspiration is Arsène Lupin, a fictional
character from a popular book written in the early 1900s.
Now as the series progresses we see the
many attempts at revenge.
The first one is him trying to steal a valuable necklace
by posing as a wealthy bidder at an auction at
the Louvre museum in Paris.
I won't give away what happens or tell you about any of the
other remarkable capers that he tries to pull off, but it's
all extremely clever and the series is also filled with
lots of high speed action.
Omar Sy starts and he's very charismatic in the role.
The entire first season is available now on
Netflix and it's a fun ride from start to finish. Check it out.
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, Jack Rico, and Justine Browning.
I'm Neil Rosen.
Join us next time on Talking Pictures.
♪ [Closing Music]
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