At the Movies and More
“Amy” is a documentary about AMY WINEHOUSE, the acclaimed UK jazz singer who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, age 27. The film’s director, Asif Kapadia, demanded and got creative control when he was recruited to make this film by Winehouse’s family and her British record label. The result has not pleased many, including Amy’s family, who put out a statement that said, in part, that “It is both misleading and contains some basic untruths.”
However, reviewers say that Kapadia hasn’t attributed Winehouse’s “train-wreck” demise to one source, like her family. As the phrase goes, there is guilt all-around (including Winehouse’s own demons; a father who may have wanted to ride her success too much; and a junkie husband and his creepy entourage.)
To his credit, Kapadia opted to focus on what will most endure: Winehouse’s music and its creation. He had some luck early-on, when Amy’s first manager told him that he had archive of 12 hours of film from the singer’s early career. Kapadia drew on this film and hundreds of hours of interviews and other archival film to tell the story of a really great talent whom no one seemed able to save. (Opens July 10 in Tampa and Fort Myers).
Personally, I am going to wait for the DVD/streaming version to come out. I was waiting for disaster almost from the first time I became aware of Winehouse. The word “heartbreaking” is almost always associated with Winehouse and, indeed, that word is used on the opening page of the documentary’s web page. I found it heartbreaking to watch Winehouse self-destruct over the five years I followed her. During this period, there was never even one substantial respite in the flood of news stories about how she was destroying herself. I don’t think I could sit in a theater and watch a capsule version of those five years. I’d rather have the option of turning off the film when I like and coming back to it.
PAUL RUDD, 46, stars in the title role of “Ant-Man,” which opens July 17. This is the first time that “Ant-Man,” a founding member of the Marvel Comics’ Avengers, has hit the big screen. “Ant-Man” is really master thief Scott Lang. He has a suit that allows him to shrink in scale but increase dramatically in strength. The suit was developed by his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 70). Lang, in the words of a publicity release, “has to channel his inner-hero to help his mentor and keep the secret of his suit from a new generation of towering threats.” One of those possible threats is Darren Cross, aka Yellowjacket, who has developed a similar suit. He’s played by COREY STOLL, 39 (“House of Cards,” “The Strain”).
Opening the same day is “Trainwreck,” which has got great advance “buzz.” It stars the really hot (and I think brilliant) comedian AMY SCHUMER, 34, and she also wrote the film. It’s directed by JUDD APATOW, 47, the master of romantic comedy with some raunch. The capsule publicity release plot: “Since she was a little girl, it's been drilled into Amy's (Schumer) head by her dad (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn't realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo—enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment—but in actuality, she's kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she's writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.”
Fun “Trainwreck” footnotes: Apatow likes to cast celebrities from other fields in his films—and “Trainwreck” features LeBron James as Aaron’s best friend. The advance review from the Hollywood Reporter says: “James is charming in the part, a penny-pinching “Dowton Abbey Abbey fan who is protective of Aaron's emotions.” Also look for NORMAN LLOYD, 100, as an interesting neighbor of Amy’s father (who has multiple sclerosis and must live in an assisted care facility). Lloyd had big parts in a number of Hitchcock films dating back to 1942. He’s probably best remembered as Dr. Auschlander on TV’s “St. Elsewhere.”
New on TV
“Impastor” premieres on the TVLand station on Wednesday, July 15, at 10:30PM. It stars MICHAEL ROSENBAUM, 42, as Buddy Dobbs, a gambling addict slacker who, in order to go on the run from a loan shark, ends up stealing the identity of a gay pastor in a nearby small town. (Rosenbaum is best known for playing Lex Luthor in the long-running “Smallville” TV series). Another Jewish thespian, SARA RUE, 36, has a co-starring role as Dora Winton, an assistant to the pastor who is also the town gossip. Rue is best known for starring in the ABC series, “Less Than Perfect” (2002-2006). She has slimmed-down a great deal since "Perfect" ended and, in 2013, she and her husband (whom she wed before a rabbi)---had their first child.
Starting at 10PM on the same day, also on TVLand, is the “Jim Gaffigan Show.” Jim Giffigan plays a comedian named Jim Gaffigan who has five kids and a wife named Jeannie. In real life, the comedian’s wife, Jeannie, produces the new show—but she’s played in the series by actress Ashley Williams. The setting is a New York City two-bedroom apartment that can barely hold the whole family. The two regular supporting characters are played by tribe members---ADAM GOLDBERG, 44, as Jim’s best friend and MICHAEL IAN BLACK, 43, as Jeannie's confidante. By the way, Gaffigan played Israel in 2010. Visiting Israel on vacation (with the wife and kids), he was quickly persuaded to do one show at a comedy club in Tel Aviv and another in Jerusalem.