Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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While Bella Swan sounds like it could be a Bond girl name, but don't expect a Twilight/James Bond crossover anytime soon. At least, not if Skyfall star Daniel Craig has his druthers about it. During a recent on-camera interview with the incredibly Australian morning radio duo The Kyle and Jackie O Show, the co-hosts asked Craig about his feelings on Didgeridoos and if he knows if he's played Knifey Spoony before. Okay, not true. They actually asked him about whether he'd like for Kristen Stewart, who recently said she'd entertain the idea of being a Bond girl, to be his next leading lady. "No," Craig answered quickly, adding, "She's in Twilight."
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Relax, Twihards, he kids, he kids. (Come on, didn't you see him on Saturday Night Live?) Craig promptly returned with a very devilishly Bond-like smile, "I have no problem with Kristen Stewart being in Twilight; I'm being nasty. I'm only saying that because [The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 is] coming out this weekend, so we're in direct competition with them. I'm sure she'd make a great Bond girl." Well, she's definitely got a look that could kill.
Stewart's franchise flick Breaking Dawn — Part 2 bested Craig's Skyfall at the box office last weekend when the vampire drama bumped Bond from the top spot with a staggering $141.3 million intake. To date, Skyfall has brought in $161.3 million at the U.S. box office alone.
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The Stewart-as-a-Bond-girl exchange starts around the 2:20 mark, but you might want to stick around to hear Craig say "I wouldn't know a One Direction song if it sat on my face" a little later in the clip. This guy loves him modern pop culture, doesn't he? Watch the interview here.
Do you think the two massive franchises should cross-pollinate and consider having Kristen Stewart as a Bond girl? After all, Jennifer Lawrence has pulled off double franchise duty with The Hunger Games and X-Men. Or should Stewart, who clearly grew weary of doing Twilight promotion over the years, stick with smaller projects for everyone's sake? Share in the comments section below.
[Photo credits: WENN.com, Summit Entertainment]
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Last month, a Michael Fassbender superfan put together a video that imagined the Fass as James Bond. And now, you get to see how Robert Pattinson would have fared in the role!
Though fans will be able to see Daniel Craig's as Bond with the November release of Skyfall, Twilight star/bemoaner Pattinson told The Sun Wednesday that he can see himself in the iconic role — but not quite yet: "Yeah, I’d definitely like to go for Bond, but in more like 20 years. There’d be nothing worse than, like, 'Let’s get a fresh-faced Bond!' That would be the worst idea in the world. It would be ridiculous to reinvent it as some young posh kid."
...Or would it? Judge for yourself with our video below — here's what it might look and sound like if Edward Cullen were to eventually play "Bond, James Bond." Rather Cosmopolis-y, as it happens. Check it out!
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Director Alexander Payne's (Election Sideways) new film opens over sprawling landscape shots of Hawaii's scenic suburbia accompanied by George Clooney's character Matt King summing up his current predicament: "Paradise can go fuck itself." The reaction unfortunately is reasonable.
We pick up with King an ancestor of Hawaiian royalty in the middle of deliberations over a plot of land handed down through his family over generations. With every uncle aunt and cosign whispering opinions into his ear King is suddenly presented with an even greater problem: taking care of his two daughters. A boating accident leaves his wife in a coma forcing Matt to take a true parenting role with his young socially-troubled daughter Scottie (Amara Miller) and his rebellious teen Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) who was previously shipped off to boarding school. Matt awkwardly hunts for the emotional glue necessary for the mismatched bunch to become "a family " but matters are made even more complicated when Alex reveals that her mother was cheating on him before the accident. Murphy's Law is in full effect.
With The Descendants Payne continues to explore and discover the inherent humor in life's melancholic situations unfolding Matt's quest for understanding like a road movie across Hawaii's many islands. Simultaneously preparing for the end of his wife's death and searching for the identity of her lover Matt crosses paths with a number of perfectly cast side characters who act as mirrors to his best and worst qualities: his father-in-law Scott (Robert Foster) who belittles Matt for never taking care of his daughter; Hugh (Beau Bridges) an opportunistic cousin who pressures Matt to sell the land; Alexandra's dunce of a boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) who always has the wrong thing to say; and Julie (Judy Greer) the wife of the adulterer in question. Colorful yet real Matt experiences a definitive moment with each of them yet the picture never feels sporadic or episodic.
Clooney and Woodley help gel these sequences together as they observe experience and butt heads as equals. Clooney's own magnetism stands in the way of making Matt a fully dimensional character but he shines when playing off his quick-witted daughter. His reactions are heartbreaking—but it's the moments when he has to put himself out there that never quite ring true. But the script by Nat Faxon Jim Rash and Payne gives Clooney plenty of opportunities to work his magic visualizing his struggle as opposed to vomiting it out like so many of today's talky dramas.
The Descendants is a tender cinematic experience an introspective and heartwarming film unafraid to convey its story with pleasing simplicity. Clooney stands out with a solid performance but like many of Payne's films it's the eclectic ensemble and muted backdrop that give the movie its real texture. The paradise of Descendants isn't all its cracked up to be but for movie-goers it's bliss.
All three films are tipped in the Best British Film category, against Formula One racing documentary Senna and Tilda Swinton's We Need To Talk About Kevin.
Swinton will face off with Rebecca Hall (The Awakening), Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre), MyAnna Buring (Kill List) and Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur) for the Best Actress award, while the Best Actor prize will go to either Brendan Gleeson (The Guard), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur) or Neil Maskell (Kill List).
Contenders for the Most Promising Newcomer prize include Jessica Brown Findlay, John Boyega, Craig Roberts, Yasmin Paige and Tom Cullen.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 4 December (11).
The Moët British Independent Film Awards have announced this year's nominees—and most of them are very, very good. Among the films nominated are the espionage mystery/thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, Steve McQueen's severe human drama Shame starring Michael Fassbender, the horrifyingly tragic We Need to Talk About Kevin, Richard Ayoade's artistic novel adaptation Submarine, and many others. Expect many of these to be Oscar possibilities.
The 14th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards will take place on Sunday, December 4th, 2011.
BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN BEST DIRECTOR
Ben Wheatley – KILL LIST
Steve McQueen – SHAME
Tomas Alfredson – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Paddy Considine – TYRANNOSAUR
Lynne Ramsay – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Joe Cornish – ATTACK THE BLOCK
Ralph Fiennes – CORIOLANUS
John Michael McDonagh – THE GUARD
Richard Ayoade – SUBMARINE
Paddy Considine – TYRANNOSAUR
John Michael McDonagh – THE GUARD
Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump – KILL LIST
Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen – SHAME
Richard Ayoade – SUBMARINE
Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Rebecca Hall – THE AWAKENING
Mia Wasikowska – JANE EYRE
MyAnna Buring – KILL LIST
Olivia Colman – TYRANNOSAUR
Tilda Swinton – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
Brendan Gleeson – THE GUARD
Neil Maskell – KILL LIST
Michael Fassbender – SHAME
Gary Oldman – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Peter Mullan – TYRANNOSAUR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Felicity Jones – ALBATROSS
Vanessa Redgrave – CORIOLANUS
Carey Mulligan – SHAME
Sally Hawkins – SUBMARINE
Kathy Burke – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Michael Smiley – KILL LIST
Tom Hardy – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Benedict Cumberbatch – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Eddie Marsan – TYRANNOSAUR
Ezra Miller – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Jessica Brown Findlay – ALBATROSS
John Boyega – ATTACK THE BLOCK
Craig Roberts – SUBMARINE
Yasmin Paige – SUBMARINE
Tom Cullen – WEEKEND
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
YOU INSTEAD BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Chris King, Gregers Sall – Editing – SENNA
Sean Bobbitt – Cinematography – SHAME
Joe Walker – Editing – SHAME
Maria Djurkovic – Production Design – TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
Seamus McGarvey – Cinematography – WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
HELL AND BACK AGAIN
LIFE IN A DAY
TT3D: CLOSER TO THE EDGE
BEST BRITISH SHORT
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
BEST FOREIGN INDEPENDENT FILM
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
THE RAINDANCE AWARD
ACTS OF GODFREY
A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Attack the Block
Please excuse me while I wipe my eyes.
The first trailer for Disney's Winnie the Pooh just hit the web, and since watching, everything in my life just got warmer and fuzzier. Check it out below!
Unlike every other animated film released nowadays, Pooh will not be in computer animated or in 3D. Disney returns to its basics with a hand drawn, 2D presentation of everyone's favorite bear, supervised by Mouse House animation leader, John Lasseter. Jim Cummings will return -- voicing Winnie and his sidekick, the rambunctious Tigger -- which will continue his 22 year career as the cuddly bear. Peter Cullen voices Eeyore, and Craig Ferguson jumps in as Owl. And possibly the best news? My future wife (in my dreams, of course) Zooey Deschanel will sing the theme song.