Shirley MacLaine

The final words on the The Last Word are: Skip it

But of course the unlikely trio of Anne (Amanda Seyfried, l.), Harriet (Shirley MacLaine), and Brenda (AnnJewel Lee Dixon) have a slow-motion, sunglasses-wearing, strutting down the street moment.

Shirley MacLaine has been making movies for almost six decades, so it’s a shame that as she enters her mid-80s and starts the twilight of her career, she’s not offered projects more worthy of her talents. Case in point is this saccharine, hackneyed new effort from director Mark Pellington, who previously brought us the much more entertaining thrillers The Mothman Prophecies and Arlington Road. In a radical departure from those dramas, Pellington, working from a paint-by-numbers screenplay by first time screenwriter Stuart Ross Fink, turns The Last Word into a predictable, cliché-ridden, and inordinately dull piece of wanna-be comedic fluff that is only barely salvaged by the casting of consummate actress MacLaine in the lead role.
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Here’s a secret: Stiller’s adaptation not bad

Ben Stiller's Walter works up the nerve to have a conversation with Kristen Wiig's Cheryl in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Ben Stiller’s Walter works up the nerve to have a conversation with Kristen Wiig’s Cheryl in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Ben Stiller, directing his first feature since 2008’s very funny Tropic Thunder, hasn’t made a great film with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but it’s a very pleasant diversion with a few genuine laughs, a sweet storyline, and some spectacular cinematography. Stiller’s film is the first to try to adapt James Thurber’s classic 1939 New Yorker short story of the same name since the 1947 Danny Kaye version. Here, though, working from a script by Steve Conrad (who also wrote the generally well-received The Pursuit of Happyness), Stiller doesn’t try to faithfully adapt the story so much as use elements of it to create an updated, brand new version. [read the whole post]

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Shirley MacLaine and Jack Black in Richard Linklater's BERNIE

Ever since leisurely ambling onto the cinematic scene with his generation-defining 1991 classic Slacker, Richard Linklater has remained one of the most influential and innovative figures in American independent film. A restless creative force frequently driven to push himself into personally uncharted territory, Linklater’s filmography is remarkably diverse: ensembles pieces beloved (Dazed and Confused) and overlooked (Fast Food Nation); dialogue-driven character studies romantic (Before Sunset/Before Sunrise) and claustrophobic (Tape); animated films adored (Waking Life) and alienating (A Scanner Darkly); and big-studio comedies iconic (The School of Rock) and ignored (The Bad News Bears). And now, for his 15th feature film, Linklater has returned to his native Texas to explore yet another genre: darkly comedic true crime.

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