High-volume film festivals like Tribeca can showcase performers who hover somewhere below the A-list—actors who have enough name recognition to get studio work, but who may have to turn to smaller movies for chances to stretch. Amber Heard may be better-known as an obscure object of desire, both onscreen and in real life as the current paramour of Johnny Depp, but she’s shown appealing toughness in vaguely to extremely disreputable movies like Drive Angry or John Carpenter’s The Ward. In those pictures, she looks like a pin-up with a substantial right hook; in her two Tribeca entries, When I Live My Life Over Again and The Adderrall Diaries, she takes on less bombshelly roles, managing to look like someone you might actually see on the subway (it’s the hair, mostly; she lets it go long and a little unkempt in both).
Jonah Hill and James Franco have costarred in one previous movie together: This Is The End, a self-kidding apocalyptic comedy where they played ridiculous versions of themselves. Given their mutual connections to Judd Apatow and company, it seems like they should have shared the screen more often; maybe they haven’t because they both, at times, seem to want to get into each other’s lanes. Post-Freaks and Geeks Franco was largely a serious actor; he jumped back into comedy with Pineapple Express back in 2008. Hill, meanwhile, started out in broad comedies before working with Bennett Miller, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and (next year) the Coen Brothers, scoring two Oscar nominations in the meantime. Now the pair meet again under vastly different circumstances: True Story, opening this weekend, offers a serious lead role for Hill (his two nominations were both in the supporting category) and, well, probably just something Franco did during lunch breaks filming adaptations of William Faulkner and lost John Kennedy Toole manuscripts, or whatever it is he works on during between studio pictures.
Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Opens December 25
The arrival of The Interview, towing more political baggage than any lowbrow bro-down in recent memory, amounts to an impromptu test of the old saw that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. That this strenuously ridiculous entertainment is apparently the root of both an international incident and a debacle of historic proportions for its maker’s corporate parent—assuming anonymous claims of responsibility for electronic sabotage can be taken at face value—only brings into sharper relief the uneasy contrasts that define the film.