Anne Hathaway says The Intern isn’t a chick flick: ‘The comedy is genuine’

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Intern': The film is pleasant but has no big conflict.

After a string of serious movies – including Interstellar and her Oscar-winning turn in Les Misérables – Anne Hathaway has returned to the genre that helped launched her career: the comedy. NANCY Meyers is known for her obsession with kitchens — sun-drenched, timelessly chic architectural marvels that provide a safe haven for all the director’s characters.Nat Wolff’s newest movie, The Intern, finds the young star acting alongside the likes of Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, and Wolff’s hero, Robert De Niro.

In “The Intern,” Nancy Meyers’s bullshit detector is ratcheted admirably high, which is why it’s all the more conspicuous when she relies on the movie to deliver her own line of bullshit. She plays fashion website founder Jules Ostin Nancy Meyers’ The Intern, a comedy about Hathaway’s successful entrepreneur and the caring friendship she forms with her “senior intern,” a widower named Ben (Robert De Niro). “She’s juggling a million things … she seems to be losing grip on all these things she’s worked so hard for,” says Hathaway of her character. “And then something wonderful happens. It marginalizes what she does, and how she has, from “The Parent Trap” to “It’s Complicated,” created her own lovely and implausible cottage industry of movies that are, for the most part, exceedingly pleasant to watch.

Looking at her target audience with an unsparing acuity, Meyers sketches a hard-edged portrait of a heroine of the times as well as a softball fantasy of the moment. For EW’s Greatest Story Ever Told video series, the actor explains how De Niro brought him out of his shell with a little prank involving bubblegum and minor on-set vandalism. (De Niro is such a prankster.) To see the full narrative — including Wolff’s De Niro impression — check out the video above. Admit it, the movie says—you like to shop, to shop online, to shop online even if you can’t really afford it, and when you do buy things online you expect things to be done right, and you notice the small details. The person who she thought was going to be a burden comes in, and just by listening to her, just by being compassionate, letting her go at her own pace and supporting her, allows her to blossom.” Here, Hathaway, 32, chats about letting go, landing a Nancy Meyers movie, and her relationship with the co-star she now calls a “sweetie.” Absolutely. Meyers is one of the more retro writer-directors working today. “The Intern,” her first film in six years, is a curious case, melding together those modern retro sensibilities in a way that even further distances her work from reality.

Anne Hathaway, as founder of the company, is an equally limited collection of traits: Her Jules is also good and true, though not so solid, because she’s young and overburdened and trying to have it all. You want to get married and have kids—to be a part of a family that you started of your own choosing, not merely an atom free of parents but part of a molecule of your own. At the Brooklyn loft space that houses her clothing business, she sails from one meeting to another on an old-fashioned bicycle, wearing lots of white (another Meyers staple, despite her characters quaffing coffee and red wine) and a vaguely overwhelmed expression.

At home, she exchanges brief hellos and goodbyes with her precocious daughter (JoJo Kushner) and chafing stay-at-home husband (Anders Holm) before diving back into work. There’s an aesthetic pleasure in doing things right and a moral satisfaction in attentive action, in improving the world, even if only by the efficient grace of your presence.

Her company’s “senior intern program,” initiated by Jules’ adviser (Andrew Rannells, whose charm goes largely unused here), is something of which this workaholic boss initially wants no part. But the stringent standards that you set for yourself makes you self-critical and self-doubting, unduly insecure—and therefore needy, fast to take the mildest criticism to heart and redouble it, to receive it as a wounding blow and a definitive rejection. But though Jules resists her adviser’s suggestion that she bring on a male corporate manager, she gives an impassioned, drunken speech about how there are no “real men” anymore; considers relinquishing professional control to save her marriage; and ultimately learns to stand on her own two feet via the advice of an older man — albeit one who says things like “I hate to be the feminist here, but …” The best you can hope for is finding some passing enjoyment in the high jinks that ensue as Ben tries to fit in.

Adam DeVine (Pitch Perfect), Zack Pearlman and Jason Orley are a Greek chorus of mop-topped hipsters, naturally drawn to Ben as Brooklynites are to all things vintage. Trapped, you inflict on yourself a mighty self-discipline in order not to snap when others don’t meet your standards, and risk becoming inhibited and therefore even more self-reproachful for not being able to state your expectations plainly until things get out of hand. Nat Wolff (Paper Towns), whose role must have been bigger originally, appears for a nanosecond to interview Ben — and the moment when he realises one ought not ask a 70-year-old applicant, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” is amusing. For all your intelligence, energy, originality, strength of character, and overt cheerfulness, you risk becoming a black hole of self-defeating negativity.

That pessimism is of vast philosophical value if your chosen field is artistic, but no matter what your field is this pessimism will also cost you greatly in the practical, interpersonal, business side of whatever you’re doing—and, if what you do is business, you’re on an upward flight toward an Icarus-like disaster. The psychological portraiture on which “The Intern” is based—that of an extraordinarily capable young woman named Jules (Anne Hathaway) who has taken an Internet startup from zero to major in eighteen months but is in danger of being pushed out of the top slot in the firm—is sharply drawn from life, albeit sweetened and shaded. He is the grandpa from “Up” without the edge, here to tell millennial men to stop dressing like little boys, to carry handkerchiefs because ladies cry, to stay at work until the boss leaves, and to talk to, not text, romantic prospects. She’s sufficiently self-critical at work to believe that she could benefit from the corporate equivalent of adult supervision; and she’s sufficiently self-critical at home to think that relief from the pressure of a demanding job might improve her marriage. At this crossroads, Ben arrives to help Jules face these problems—and the character of Ben, and the illusions that Meyers creates him with, are the irresistible aspects of the fantasy that Meyers is selling.

Jules says she doesn’t really like old people, and at one point worries that Ben knows too much about her, but those all dissolve without much ceremony. He wears a suit to work, claiming it’s how he feels comfortable; he carries a fabric handkerchief (and offers a quaintly chivalrous reason for doing so); he uses a forty-year-old leather attaché case; he shaves, he admits, even on weekends. What was your morning like?” and I’m like, “I’m good, you know, drove into the city, not too much traffic, the coffee tasted good, all in all a pretty good morning, how was yours?” And he’s like “I met with these investors about this hotel I’m building.” [Laughs] That is our relationship. Fidelity, devotion, discretion, a sense of tacit virtue, unyielding principle, and conspicuous reserve—Ben is the apotheosis of conventional liberal morality, a firm grid of values that he applies to himself without daring to impose on others.

He is a walking touchstone, measuring no one himself (or, rather, measuring all silently and implicitly) but there to serve for others as a measure that they can apply. How did it feel to go from this place where you’re in a spaceship set and wearing a space suit on Interstellar, to a working on a movie where your character works at a Pinterest-perfect company and wears beautiful designer clothes? In the films of the less sanctimonious classic directors, he’d have been played by Ralph Bellamy, because there has to be something wrong with anyone who’s so good.

It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when somebody has a wardrobe, where everything is heightened, and they have a different outfit in every single scene. Jules, praising Ben in the presence of three scruffy young male colleagues, muses—“How in one generation have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to …”—as she gazes ruefully at the younger men’s disheveled tenue. You’d think that Meyers, who has been in Hollywood long enough, would know better about stars of the golden seventies, whose character and styles were forged before the Age of Aquarius—and about the recklessly hedonistic fires with which they burned, and sometimes burned out. But what Jules needs—and what Meyers provides for her—is a man who, unthreateningly, unambiguously, unselfishly bears the wisdom of that experience without its guilt, who fought the wars not as they were on the ground but as they were depicted in the press releases—or in the movies—in the pre-Aquarian movies of unequivocal public virtue.

They are firm neither in principle nor in self-definition, curious and tolerant and heuristically malleable but lacking a clear identity that allows them to take decisive action at all. They bring an unchannelled curiosity, a curated range of skills, and a charming doubt of all identities, including their own, which they keep in quotation marks—and, as such, they are at the prow of progress. By putting her naturally orderly character into action, she is, in effect, tainted—preternaturally clean in moral bearing and crisp couture, but soiled with the demands of power. The crucial fantasy of “The Intern” isn’t the emotional bond between the generations but the reconciliation and constructive unity of two conflicting business styles—the lifelong company man and the disruptive entrepreneurial free spirit. Meyers, herself the insider’s insider, puts the moral, emotional, and social tools for a serious young woman’s continued success—the lessons in independence and, not incidentally, in feminism that Jules needs—in the mouth of the man in the gray flannel suit.

Today and tomorrow, in its Vittorio De Sica retrospective, Film Forum will be screening “Miracle in Milan,” from 1951, in which Italy’s crises of employment and housing are portrayed in a sentimental comedy about an orphan who makes his way to a shanty town on the outskirts of the city. The specifics are worth experiencing for yourself; the over-all idea, though, is clear enough from the mere description—in a crisis of such systematic causes, only a miracle can save the poorest and most vulnerable. Similarly, in “The Intern,” a warm-hearted comedy that seems calibrated to the stitch to gratify viewers of all generations who wouldn’t use the word “bourgeois” unironically, Meyers nonetheless appears to outline, by means of blithe fantasy, what strikes her as a crisis—one that, she suggests, particularly affects the most capable young women. What Ben can best do for Jules is to help her lose her inhibition about exercising power, about running her company like its visionary founder and not seeking permission to do so.

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Finding the ‘Joy’ in Jennifer Lawrence

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Joy’ review: Jennifer Lawrence cleans up in enjoyable biopic.

Writer-director David O. Their latest collaboration — following in the footsteps of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle — is a biographical picture about the life and times of Joy Mangano.Jennifer Lawrence groans when she’s asked about singing the classic Nancy and Frank Sinatra duet Something Stupid with co-star Edgar Ramirez in her new film Joy. “David [O Russell, the movie’s director] texted me last night to ask if he could put it on the soundtrack and this is what I texted him back,” the actor says as she digs around for her mobile phone and reads out her response verbatim. “‘David, no!!!’ and it is three exclamation marks.In a very abbreviated nutshell, that actually happened to Joy Mangano, 59, the fabulously successful Long Island entrepreneur/inventor and HSN pitchwoman whose rags-to-riches journey started with the invention of a mop.

Russell has made three kinds of movies: offbeat romances (“Flirting With Disaster”), surreal comedies (“I Heart Huckabees”) and dramas about dysfunctional yet appealing families (“The Fighter”). In real life, Mangano is the Long Island housewife and inventor who became famous and eventually rich after bouts of near-bankruptcy, by creating and marketing her Miracle Mop. Out Boxing Day in Australia, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence in the fictionalised life story of Joy Mangano, a single mum from Long Island who made her fortune selling a mop. On Christmas Day, “Joy,” a movie inspired by her struggles as a divorced, single mother turned mogul by way of that mop, will open at movie theaters across America.

This was before she hooked up with the giant Home Shopping Network, becoming their most effective pitch person and eventually selling her parent company, Ingenious Designs, to HSN. Gross, I can’t listen to it; I have to go to bed.’ And I said yes, but it’s a groaning, reluctant yes.” It’s the kind of unfiltered moment you come to expect when interviewing Lawrence, who may now be one of the most famous actors on the planet but still blurts out whatever she’s thinking with such self-deprecating charm it’s impossible not to be, well, charmed.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Miracle Mop inventor and QVC pitchwoman Joy Mangano glues the movie together, but it threatens to unravel at any time. Lawrence, 25, looks genuinely surprised when complimented about how unchanged she seems from our earlier interviews before the fame and Oscars. “But there would be no reason to change,” she says with a shrug. “I just have a job and I love my job. In the film, Lawrence’s Mangano is a colourful character, a single mom with a unique relationship and friendship with her ex-husband, and an enterprising woman who parlays her creativity into an incredibly successful business.

Mom (Virginia Madsen) stays in her bedroom and watches soap operas, until she falls for a Haitian plumber (Jimmy Jean-Louis) who fixes a hole in her bedroom floor. She landed minor roles on TV shows such as Monk, Cold Case and Medium before her 2010 indie film Winter’s Bone led to her becoming the second youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history. This is true even when the film tilts off its rocker with a bit of Russell-esque madness built into the screenplay, and with the director failing to always keep the energy going. That resulted in not only a string of critically acclaimed films, an Academy Award and another Oscar nomination, but also her very own mega-franchise as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Joy’s grandma (endearing Diane Ladd) delivers messages of empowerment and smooths over constant fights, but she’s opposed by the money-grubbing rich woman (Isabella Rossellini) who dates Joy’s dad and sends negative messages about her. Lawrence’s endearing habit of speaking her mind resulted in a controversial essay she penned on Lena Dunham’s website about her discovery during the Sony hacks that she was being paid less “than the lucky people with dicks” on her recent films, including American Hustle. “I completely understand when people say actors shouldn’t talk about politics and things they don’t know about, but this was my gender at stake and it was being threatened with unfairness and I thought, ‘What is the point of having this voice if it’s not to speak out for myself and for everyone else who can’t?’,” she says unapologetically.

Upon learning that Lawrence would be playing her mom, Miranne says, “I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall on the floor.” As for Mangano, she says Lawrence playing her “made me feel old, number one. Lawrence hangs out with a posse of celebrity girlfriends, including Amy Schumer and singer Adele, but the reason is simple. “The friendship gets expedited a lot when you meet someone you know beyond a shadow of a doubt has no agenda,” she says. Draining her savings and taking out loans, she started off small, selling her mops to local boat owners. “She persuaded QVC to take a thousand, but sales were poor and they tried to send them back,” says Mason. “She suggested letting her demonstrate it herself, and the channel agreed.” Sales skyrocketed and Mangano’s career as a QVC pitch woman was launched. That’s so amazing there aren’t even words.” Mangano and her three children didn’t view “Joy” until the Dec. 13 premiere in Manhattan, though a family outing to see “Trainwreck” included a trailer.

This is, after all, the self-confessed reality-show junkie who confessed in a recent Vogue interview that on the night of her 25th birthday party, friends surprised her with a visit from reality queen Kris Jenner, who presented her with a cake inscribed, ‘Happy Birthday, you piece of shit!’ The only time she seems tongue-tied is when asked about her relationship status, after a four-year stint with X-Men: First Class co-star Nicholas Hoult and a year with Coldplay singer Chris Martin before their breakup earlier this year. “Next!” Lawrence says in a no-nonsense voice, pausing as she decides if she’ll continue that thought. For one thing, Mangano’s childhood is not that interesting for a film, despite some flashbacks to her as a youngster (when she is played by 10-year-old Isabella Cramp, who does actually look like we imagine Lawrence could have at the same age). A satire on the acquisitiveness of the public? (Here, QVC foists unnecessary things on gullible viewers who could better save their money.) Russell doesn’t seem to know. And, of course, the grave ending would be a lie: Mangano is very much alive at the age of 59, still inventing, still pitching products, still a superstar of the American home shopping universe. There’s the Clothes It All luggage system, essentially a rolling suitcase with a removable garment bag, and the Super Chic vacuum, which releases fragrance into the air.

If I even casually say something to a reporter, that quote haunts me for the rest of my life,” she says, “so I am never, ever, ever talking about boys again!” I don’t think any of us brought enough tissues!” A good portion of the film was shot last winter in Boston, and though the always-busy Mangano was twice scheduled to visit the set, snowstorms made travel impossible. He has mixed genres successfully before, as in the anti-war comedy-drama “Three Kings,” but the blender often grinds to a halt in “Joy.” Just as we’re getting used to the realism of Mangano’s fight for respect, Russell photographs Rossellini as if she were a gargoyle.

One of her creations, the thin and velvet-covered Huggable Hanger, remains a bestseller for HSN, at more than 300 million sold, and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. Yet in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper, De Niro and Russell all supported her with fine work; here they lay back and make the movie a one-ring circus where she has to be acrobat, bareback rider and clown.

He had a presence all of his own.” At one point, Miranne says, “Jennifer grabbed Joy’s hand and said to David, ‘Look at the nails, a French manicure.’ ” (That manicure is a Mangano signature.) Lawrence revealed that in studying for her part as Joy, she watched recordings of the inventor’s early pitches on HSN, including ones for “Huggable Hangers” and found her so compelling that she wanted to buy them on the spot. There is something special when creative people get together.” Mangano’s take on Lawrence? “She’s beyond her years, so brilliant, hysterical and so talented.

Critically, Russell’s sense of wonder and beauty turns elegiac moments — especially when Joy Mangano becomes fully realized as a woman and as a business executive — into scenes of great beauty. Lawrence recently said on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” that the movie was “half Joy Mangano’s story and half [Russell’s] imagination and other powerful, strong women who inspired him.” The director mined much of his Mangano material by phone.

The cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci (in a mock TV soap opera that gives Joy some of its silliness) and even Melissa Rivers as her late mother Joan Rivers. There’s no situation Joy cannot overcome or circumvent.” At a Newsday photo shoot at Mangano’s luxurious but serene 42,000-square-foot mansion on 11 acres in St. As for parting advice for the ambitious? “If this movie inspires even just one more person to believe in themselves and to go after their dreams, then it’s made a very special impact in this world.

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