If you caught this week's episode of Boardwalk Empire, you're likely to agree that the ending was one of the series' first genuine "Holy sh**!" moments in quite some time (spoilers to follow, so be wary). Following a breakup-and-makeup session with her emotionally ravaged lover Nucky Thompson, showgirl and aspiring movie star Billie Kent fell victim to cruel machinations of the mid-season formula: she is killed in a colossal explosion, courtesy of the handiwork of Gyp Rosetti, meant to do away with Nucky, and his business associates Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano.
We've warmed up to Billie quite a bit since her introduction in the Season 3 premiere. She has brought Nucky face to face with his thickening complex to act the father and protector of every woman he meets, usually aspiring to play the hero for those more than capable of rescuing themselves. But even with her contributions to the construction of Nucky's character, even with actor Meg Steedle's onscreen affability, and even with the eye-popping means through which she was killed, it's hard to really tread too heavily on the subject of Billie's passing. She's not, after all, Jimmy.
Ever since Jimmy was killed in that mind-warping Season 2 finale, the show has killed off a handful of noteworthy figures, some in particularly shocking ways. But it's difficult to muster up the energy we had when James Darmody fell dead last year. These passings seem to be coming off more as surprising and exciting moments, rather than the weighty game changers disturb and enliven us long after viewings, as was the case with Jimmy's.
Here's a rundown of the major mortalities Season 3 has dealt us so far:
Shot in his own doorway by Richard Harrow, seeking vengeance for the murder of Angela Darmody
Shot by Nucky Thompson after stealing from, lying to, and all but winning over the former treasurer (Jimmy really left a hole in Nucky's heart)
Beaten to death by Al Capone after bullying Capone's pal for his weight
Attacked and smothered by Nelson Van Alden and his wife Sigrid in their home when they thought he had come to arrest
Roger (the Jimmy Doppelganger)
Drugged and drowned by Gillian Darmody in her brothel bathtub
Killed in an explosion meant to take down Nucky Thompson, courtesy of Gyp Rosetti
All these, plus a handful of one-off or nameless characters, have met their ends over the past seven weeks. And just as they are so morbidly listed above in a fashion that seems more like a mathematical brief than a list of human beings befallen by tragedy do these deaths translate to the screen. Since Jimmy, whose murder was so powerful it took an entire summer upon which to properly ruminate, every shooting, strangling, and restaurant explosion hasn't afforded audiences with the appropriate substance to truly mourn these characters, and to truly maintain an investment in this world.
It's not easy for a show with as many characters as Boardwalk to make them all feel important to us, personally. Billie Kent is probably the greatest achievement yet this season. We knew her through Nucky, and largely as a function of Nucky. When she, a complete innocent, was taken down thanks only to her affection for a not-so-great man, it was tragic and sad. What we need from Boardwalk is more of this.
Sure, the series can fill its episodes with acts of vengeance on the part of fan favorite characters like Richard, Van Alden, and Al Capone. But we won't remember these deaths the way we'll remember Jimmy's and, to a lesser extent, Billie's. And while it might seem macabre to campaign for more significant deaths, it is important that we do not allow onscreen killing to become an aesthetic. While on TV we do have minor characters, in real life, everyone is the star of his or her own series. Nobody's real world passing is "meant" to be a ratings ploy, and it's detrimental when this is a practice to which we become accustomed on television. Our treasuring of the lives of Jimmy, Billie, and all the rest of the characters to whom we are sincerely attached is important. Appreciating all living individuals as major characters, significant people, is important. Even if we're meant to hate them, we have to have some semblance of humanity for them.
And that's why Boardwalk did such a bang-up job crafting Jimmy. He was a bad guy, sure, but one we knew, and one we felt that we truly lost. We'd feel the same for Nucky (bad, but important to us), for Margaret, for Richard... unfortunately, a killing off of every character like this would effectively end the show. That's why Boardwalk needs to find a new M.O.
Instead of resorting to the obvious gangster show ploy of shocking deaths, we need to see more enlivening: more of Nucky recognizing the complexes the death of his son brought on. More of Margaret struggling to identify her own sense of morality. Death is an inevitable element that should, of course, be addressed... but when it's addressed just to make us jump out of our chairs, that's just selling short the great characters involved. [Photo Credit: HBO] More:Revenge Recap: And We're Back in The Game The Walking Dead Recap: Killer Within Homeland Recap: Die Hard From Our Partners: Katy Perry Moves Forward at Barack Obama Rally in Wisconsin (PHOTOS) (Celebuzz) Russell Brand Talks Awkward Encounter With Ex-Wife Katy Perry and Addresses Geri Halliwell Dating Rumors (EXCLUSIVE) (Celebuzz)
Memorial Day weekend marks the last stretch of May, but it's only the beginning of the summer movie season. For those who spend the winter and spring months anxiously awaiting Hollywood's blockbuster playground, the time has come for three months of non-stop action. For filmgoers looking for a smaller, quieter cinematic experience, it's three months of staying cooped up inside catching up on whatever Netflix has to offer. The anxious waiting shifts.
But I'm here to tell you: the theaters still have something to offer those lacking emotional investment in the characters of comic book universes or whose interests don't involve the word "reboot." With slightly less fanfare than the common action flick, scaled back comedies and dramas continue to make their way into theaters during the summer months — one just needs to find them. To help, here's the rundown on a few of the movie alternatives that will help beat the heat and quench your movie-loving thirst. There's something for everyone!
So if you're looking for…
An Indie Comedy That Still Depicts the Apocalypse:
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Roland Emmerich knows how to destroy the world, but rarely do we get into the heads of the characters experiencing said destruction. Writer/Director Lorene Scarfaria hopes to take the story to the next level, pairing Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley to play out her pitch black comedic take on the end of the world. This may not be the movie for Michael Bay-lovers, but if you've ever wondered how people might handle an incoming asteroid apocalypse, this movie's for you. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World in theaters June 22.
An Auteur's Latest Whimsical Yarn:
To Rome with Love
The latest from director Woody Allen keeps his globetrotting sensibilities alive, jumping from France to the equally lovely and picturesque Italy. To Rome With Love weaves several stories of romance, all featuring A-List talent. Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig and even Allen himself join in on the fun, a movie that looks overtly comedic in the wake of Allen's last, award-friendly effort. Arrives in theaters June 22.
A Sundance Breakout with an Epic Scale:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The debut film from writer/director Benh Zeitlin wowed audiences at this year's Sundance Film Festival and took home a handful of awards at Cannes. Rightfully so — the story of a rough, tough girl surviving the backwaters of Louisiana (in a swampland called "The Bathtub") Beasts of the Southern Wild captures the plight of a tangible, but otherworldly society with unprecedented beauty. Read our review from Sundance, or just see this one without prior knowledge. Either way, it's primed and ready to blow audiences away. Arrives in theaters June 27.
A Family Drama They Don't Make Anymore:
People Like Us
There was a time where Hollywood actively produced modestly-budgeted feel good movies. The Help is the most recent entry in the category; a little sappy, but with solid characters, great performances and plenty of passion. That's People Like Us, a movie from the guys who brought you Transformers that couldn't be further from robot sci-fi. Chris Pine plays a down-on-his-luck salesman whose whole life is turned upside down when he discovers he has a sister he never knew, played by Elizabeth Banks. Like movies from yesteryears, People Like Us delivers laughs, tears and the right amount of saccharine. Arrives in theaters June 29.
A Reality TV Riff with Emotional Depth:
The Queen of Versailles
Another Sundance darling, Queen of Versailles is a documentary that begins in the vein of a Real Housewives spin-off. But in the wake of the economic meltdown, a family of 1%-ers fall from their castle in Florida to the world of normalcy. A riches to rags tale that's surprisingly poignant, no matter your socioeconomic status. Arrives in theaters July 6.
A Romantic Comedy with Quriky Sensibilities:
From the people who brought you Little Miss Sunshine comes a fanciful tale of a novelist (Sunshine's Paul Dano) whose perfect woman (Zoe Kazan) is conjured into reality after he wills her into existence. It's been six years since the twisted LMS broke out with the mainstream and they've re-teamed with Dano for what looks like a honest romance with magical undertones. Ruby Sparks was penned by Kazan, who is Dano's girlfriend in real life. Should help the two create some genuine moments in a season full of fluff. Arrives in theaters July 25.
The Latest Chris Rock Sequel That Doesn't Involve a Talking Zebra, Try:
2 Days in New York
A follow-up to writer/director/actress Julie Delpy's 2 Days in Paris, 2 Days in New York picks up with Delpy's Marion, who broke up with her former flame and is now living with Chris Rock's Mingus and his daughter. With her own son to care for, couple's relationship is put to the test when Marion's family arrives from Paris for an extended visit. The movie's a little corny, but Delpy has an ear and an eye for situational comedy, while Rock injects each scene with his signature brand of real world style. They're an unlikely match, but Delpy and Rock light up the screen. Arrives in theaters August 10.
A Rom-Com for the 60+ Crowd:
Summer is a slice of Hollywood's planning that's targeted directly at the 18 to 25 demographic — but occasionally, someone makes the smart move to counter program with a movie from the other end of the spectrum. Enter: Hope Springs, a dramedy starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as an aging couple looking to get their moo back. With Steve Carrell as their counselor, the movie looks appropriately silly and emotional, putting aside comedy's usual R-rated gags for a light-hearted examination of the later years in life. Arrives in theaters August 10.
A Fairy Tale without Battle Scenes, Try:
Odd Life of Timothy Green
A few months after Snow White and the Huntsman graces screens comes another larger-than-life tale, the story of a couple who dream of having a child and get their wish one when on mysteriously appears in their backyard. Starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, the movie comes from the mind of Dan in Real Life writer/director Peter Hedges, whose carved out a career making medium-budgeted movies that wear their hearts on their sleeves. The fantasy element is a hook — can anything really be as easy as making a wish? — but with Hedges at the wheel, the story should be uniquely human. The Odd Life of Timothy Green arrives in theaters August 15.
Woody Allen's To Rome With Love Trailer — WATCH!
'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Trailer: Worthy of All the Buzz?
Steve Carrell, Keira Knightley Prepare for the Apocalypse in 'Seeking a Friend' Poster
The nautical heist thriller Contraband is a remake of Reykjavik-Rotterdam an Icelandic film from 2008 which admittedly I’ve yet to see. (It’s curiously difficult to find stateside.) Presumably there must have been something about it that was compelling enough to warrant the effort and expense of an American adaptation. Whatever it was it didn’t survive the no doubt complicated process of translating it into a proper Mark Wahlberg vehicle.
Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday once a legendary New Orleans smuggler but now happily law-abiding as a home-security contractor. The same however cannot be said of his punk brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) who runs illegal shipments for a tattooed hoodlum named Tim Riggs (Giovanni Ribisi). When Andy makes the unwise decision to dump his valuable narcotics cargo in advance of a Customs raid earning the dreaded pay-up-or-die ultimatum from his unsavory boss Chris tries in vain to intervene on his behalf only to be rudely rebuffed. Which leaves him with only one option to save Andy’s skin: One Last Job.
The director of Contraband Baltasar Kormakur actually starred in Reykjavik-Rotterdam – a piece of trivia which unfortunately proves far more interesting than anything found in his remake. It seems his familiarity with the material bred banality if not necessarily contempt. His approach is a kind of Bourne-lite: the shaky-cam is restrained enough to minimize audience headaches but the ultimate result is stultifyingly generic.
Essential to any successful Mark Wahlberg film from Boogie Nights to The Fighter has been to surround Wahlberg with more accomplished and versatile actors thereby allowing him to focus on his core competencies of scowling cursing and otherwise radiating his unique brand of low-watt charisma. Kormakur assembled capable-enough performers for Contraband only to saddle them with uniformly bland characters.
Having grown accustomed to Kate Beckinsale as the leather-clad heroine of the Underworld films I found it odd – and a bit disappointing – to see her reduced to the role of the protagonist’s fretful wife. Ribisi’s novel strategy for transcending his miscasting as a clichéd white-trash villain is to adopt a bizarre high-pitched accent presumably Southern in origin but unlike any Southern accent I’ve ever witnessed. Ben Foster plays Wahlberg’s best friend an ex-con and recovering alcoholic who seems doomed to relapse on both fronts if only because he’s being played by Ben Foster. Diego Luna J.K. Simmons Lukas Haas are underutilized in one-note roles.
I confess to be unfamiliar with the vagaries of illicit foreign-goods transport but I have to think it’s more exciting than what unfolds in Contraband. No one expects it to rival the glamour and of say casino robbery but Kormakur depicts smuggling with all the verve and panache of a tax audit. The film’s lone fireworks occur on land during a stop-off in Panama City when Wahlberg’s character is forced by the local crime boss (Luna) in an armored-car hold-up. A heist-within-a-heist if you will. But soon it’s back on the boat where the momentum ceases and the movie sinks.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Cable network FX has bought the TV rights to brand-new mega-blockbuster 2012. The movie will air in -- you guessed it -- 2012.
The Roland Emmerich disaster epic, which earned a staggering $225 million worldwide in its opening weekend, was acquired by FX for the standard amount: 12 percent of its final domestic box-office tally.
Which, of course, could be quite a hefty sum given 2012’s likely $200 million-plus trajectory.
The network also acquired the surprise hit zom-com Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson.