Kenneth Lonergan Movies
Some may say that Kenneth Lonergan
is carrying on the tradition of such directors as John Cassavetes
with his affection for small, character-driven dramas. With a successful career as a playwright preceding his turn as a screenwriter and director, Lonergan
seems to have come from the perfect background in creating sympathetic characters in universal, recognizable situations, a key component in what he terms the "salvation of the ordinary."
A native of the Bronx, Lonergan
began to develop his writing skills in high school, later graduating from the NYU Playwriting Program and penning stories that, though not necessarily autobiographical, reflected situations he had experienced that affected his life. Lonergan
was inspired early on to pen Waverly Gallery, based on his grandmother's Greenwich Village Gallery. More success came with his next youth-inspired off-Broadway play This is Your Youth.
's film career began with his screenplay for the gangland comedy Analyze This
(1999). He was subsequently offered a job writing The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
(2000), a script that he enjoyed writing but wasn't quite what he had in mind as a career direction. Stepping into the director's chair, Lonergan
brought his screenplay for You Can Count on Me
to celluloid with much acclaim, earning him the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. You Can Count on Me
was produced in part by Martin Scorsese
, and Lonergan
continued his relationship with the director by contributing a rewrite to the screenplay for the director's Gangs of New York, a task for which Lonergan
found himself Oscar nominated.
While fans of You Can Count on Me
were undoubtedly curious to see how Longergan would follow-up that film, their patience would be severely tested when they were forced to wait six years for his sophomore directorial effort; the intensely emotional drama Margaret. A harrowing look at the manner in which one teenager's idealistic outlook in life is challenged by the unforgiving realities of the real world, Margaret told the tale of a New York City high school student (Anna Paquin) who becomes convinced that she caused a bus accident that ultimately claimed the life of an innocent woman.
~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
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Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret stars Anna Paquin stars as Lisa, an emotionally immature, overly-articulate 17-year-old Manhattanite with an emotionally carnivorous actress for a mother and a distant businessman father who lives on the West Coast with his new, younger wife. One day, while trolling the upper west side for a cowboy hat, she spots a bus driver (Mark Ruffalo) sporting the perfect ten-gallon headwear. She tries to get his attention, and, while distracted, he causes a fatal accident.
After the bus driver is found to be faultless, due in part to Lisa's initial statement to the police, she seeks out the victim's best friend (Jeannie Berlin) and together they find a lawyer willing to bring a case against the bus company as well as the driver. Meanwhile, she's still dealing with all the regular stress in her life including a nice guy with a crush on her, a jerk who she calls when she's ready to lose her virginity, her mother picking fights with her so that she can get emotionally worked up enough to be marvelous on stage, hating her father's new wife, and verbally destroying any classmate who express the slightest bit of empathy for Muslims (Lisa is still full of righteous anger 5 years after 9/11).
Margaret was the subject of much turmoil during a lengthy post-production period in which the director attempted to get a longer cut of the film released to theaters. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi
- Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, (more)
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How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days co-stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey re-team on the big screen for this adventurous tale about a treasure-hunting couple whose eight-year quest for the ultimate prize has left them flat broke and fresh out of gas. Ben "Finn" Finnegan (McConaughey) is a treasure hunter who has made it his mission in life to track down the Queen's Dowry -- a legendary collection of 40 chests filled with priceless treasure, and lost at sea in 1715. But in his single-minded quest to track down this sizable booty, Finn has sadly neglected his marriage to his loving wife Tess (Hudson). Tess has grown tired of the hunt, and now she's looking to start her life anew by going to work on the massive yacht of globetrotting billionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland). But just as Tess begins to relish the freedom on her new, laid-back lifestyle, Finn uses his roughish charm to convince the adventurous baron and his debutante daughter Gemma (Alexis Dziena) that the elusive Spanish treasure is finally within reach. Of course no magnate in his right mind would reject the prospect of tracking down the most mythical treasure on the planet, and now as the hapless Tess is forced on yet another wild goose chase, her husband's former mentor Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone) and a greedy local gangster (Kevin Hart) up the stakes by joining in on the race. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
- Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, (more)
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The violent rise of gangland power in New York City at a time of massive political corruption and the city's evolution into a cultural melting pot set the stage for this lavish historical epic, which director Martin Scorsese finally brought to the screen almost 30 years after he first began to plan the project. In 1846, as waves of Irish immigrants poured into the New York neighborhood of Five Points, a number of citizens of British and Dutch heritage who were born in the United States began making an open display of their resentment toward the new arrivals. William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), better known as "Bill the Butcher" for his deadly skill with a knife, bands his fellow "Native Americans" into a gang to take on the Irish immigrants; the immigrants in turn form a gang of their own, "The Dead Rabbits," organized by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). After an especially bloody clash between the Natives and the Rabbits leaves Vallon dead, his son goes missing; the boy ends up in a brutal reform school before returning to the Five Points in 1862 as Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio). Now a strapping adult who has learned how to fight, Amsterdam has come to seek vengeance against Bill the Butcher, whose underworld control of the Five Points through violence and intimidation dovetails with the open corruption of New York politician "Boss" Tweed (Jim Broadbent). Amsterdam gradually penetrates Bill the Butcher's inner circle, and he soon becomes his trusted assistant. Amsterdam also finds himself falling for Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), a beautiful but street-smart thief who was once involved with Bill. Amsterdam is learning a great deal from Bill, but before he can turn the tables on the man who killed his father, Amsterdam's true identity is exposed, even though he has concealed it from nearly everyone, including Jenny. Gangs Of New York was the first film in two years from actor Leonardo DiCaprio; ironically, it was at one time scheduled to open on the same day as Catch Me if You Can, the Steven Spielberg project that DiCaprio began filming immediately after Gangs wrapped. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, (more)
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The pride of Frostbite Falls and Whatsamatta U's most famous alumni find their way onto the big screen (and the real world) in this comedy inspired by the popular cartoon series. Years after their TV show is cancelled, Rocky the Flying Squirrel (voice of June Foray) and Bullwinkle J. Moose (voice of Keith Scott) are barely getting by on residual checks; they're wondering what to do next when Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), the evil genius of Pottsylvania, transforms himself from a cartoon into a living, breathing, nasty human being, thanks to the assistance of television executive Minnie Mogul (Janeane Garofalo). With the help of his newly flesh-and-blood henchmen Boris Badenov (Jason Alexander) and Natasha Fatale (Rene Russo), Fearless Leader plots to take over the world by using television to zombify people and then persuading the masses to elect him president. Can the daring flying squirrel and the well-meaning but not especially bright moose stop them? Unlike the TV show, which made a virtue of its unsophisticated animation, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle employs a technically sophisticated blend of computer-generated animated characters (Rocky and Bullwinkle) and live actors (Fearless Leader, Boris, and Natasha). Human beings making guest appearances include Randy Quaid, John Goodman, and Jonathan Winters. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
- Rene Russo, Jason Alexander, (more)
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Kenneth Lonergan, the co-screenwriter for Analyze This (1999), makes his directorial debut with this sensitive portrait of a pair of grown siblings. Sammy and Terry Prescott (Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo) were orphaned as children after their parents were killed in a car accident. Since then, the two have taken drastically divergent paths. Sammy is a single mother who leads a quiet, stable life in a small town in upstate New York. A fiercely protective mother, she shields her young son Rudy (Rory Culkin) from all information about his absentee father. She is also involved with Bob (Jon Tenney), a well-meaning but less-than-exciting mate, both in and out of bed. Terry, by contrast, is a troubled, self-destructive soul eking out a nomadic existence. When he abandons his pregnant girlfriend to borrow money from his sister, Sammy finds her stable world disrupted. A bond soon develops between Terry and Rudy; over the objections of his mother, Terry takes the tyke fishing and shares old family secrets. Meanwhile, Terry's presence inspires Sammy to break out of her quiet life. This film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
- Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, (more)
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In the same year that a hit cable television series, The Sopranos, successfully mined the same premise, this comedy about a mobster seeking advice from a psychiatrist was a box office winner for director Harold Ramis. Billy Crystal stars as Dr. Ben Sobel, a New York shrink who's becoming a little bored with his upscale but neurotic clientele. Into Sobel's practice comes a guy with legitimate problems, Mafia kingpin Paul Viti (Robert DeNiro), a godfather who is being reduced to tears and panic attacks by stress and his guilt over his beloved father's assassination. Intimidated but also fascinated by Viti, Dr. Sobel becomes frustrated when his mob boss patient becomes a full-time occupation, as Viti summons the psychiatrist for his professional help at all hours and in all places, even including the doctor's Florida wedding to TV reporter Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow). In the meantime, a power struggle is brewing with Viti's long-time rival Primo Sidone (Chazz Palminteri), but Viti begins employing the feel-good self-help jargon and techniques he's learned from Dr. Sobel to keep his enemy off balance. Just as the therapist and his powerful patient are making breakthroughs, the FBI attempts to persuade Sobel that Viti is going to have him murdered, leading to a nearly lethal misunderstanding. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
- Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, (more)