Married actors Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz have received glowing reviews for their performances opposite each other in a Broadway production of Betrayal. The Hollywood stars play married couple Robert and Emma in the revival of Harold Pinter's 1978 play, which tells the story of a woman's affair with her husband's pal, played by Rafe Spall.
The production officially opened on Sunday (27Oct13) to mixed reviews, which largely praised the three lead actors' efforts while expressing disappointment with the show.
Joe Dziemianowicz, of the New York Daily News, hails Craig and Weisz as "smashing and sexy" while noting the 007 star's ability to bring "a virility and vibrant expressiveness" to his character, but Elysa Gardner of USA Today writes that the production "doesn't pack as much punch as you'd hope it would" and "feels strangely subdued".
Elisabeth Vincentelli, for the New York Post, also slams the show as "emotionally distant and a tad too tasteful" but praises Weisz for bringing "a stunning, warm beauty... paired with emotional opacity" to her role.
Charles McNulty, of the Los Angeles Times, describes it as "sleek and luxurious" and a "handsome production" while also hailing Spall's performance as "the most thrilling in the cast", and Tom Teodorczuk, of Britain's The Independent, writes that Craig and Weisz turn in "knockout performances".
However, The Guardian's David Cote takes aim at director Mike Nichols, insisting he has "the tone completely wrong" and describing the show as a "glossy, empty revival".
It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
Troubled by unfortunate event after unfortunate event The Watch sidesteps faux pas to come out on top as a consistently funny sci-fi comedy that doesn't let its high concept tangle up a bevy of one-liners. The script penned by Jared Stern Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg assumes you've seen a few movies before entering the theater (mainly any sci-fi movie made in the 1980s). "Summer movie logic" is the foundation for The Watch's ridiculous plot which finds four adult nincompoops teaming up to form a Neighborhood Watch trying to solve the murder of a local Costco employee and eventually pursuing a killer extraterrestrial. Instead of making sense of it all The Watch wisely focuses on its four leads: Ben Stiller Vince Vaughn Jonah Hill and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade — a quartet whose bro banter goes a long way in spicing up the dust-covered material. There's nothing revelatory to be found in The Watch but the cast's knack for improv a poetry of the profane makes the adventure worth…viewing.
Director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod) establishes his two-dimensional characters quickly and bluntly smashing together broad personality types like a Hadron Collider of cinematic comedy. Stiller's Evan is a micromanaging do-gooder who can't find time for his wife; Hill's Franklin is a mildly disturbed weapons enthusiast yearning to join the police; Ayoade is the quaint weirdo who joins the Watch to fill the void left by his divorce; Vince Vaughn is Vince Vaughn: a loud crass gent looking for a bit of male bonding. The ragtag team assembles to fight crime but they spend most of their time drinking beers in a minivan — an affair they dub "stakeouts." A perfect opportunity for banter.
For a movie about enforcing the law and alien invasions there's a surprising lack of action in The Watch. Long stretches of the film see the central players yapping back and forth about everything: Russian nesting dolls peeing in cans or the similar viscosities of alien goo and human excrement. Charisma goes a long way and Vaughn does much of the heavy lifting making up for lost time out of the spotlight (he's been virtually nonexistent since 2005's Wedding Crashers). The man spits out jokes like no other — the rest of the cast barely keeps up. Ayoade balances out Vaughn's bombardment with a tempered timed delivery that's uniquely British and rarely found on the American big screen. Even when nothing's happening in The Watch it's rarely boring.
The Watch is at its best when it goes a step further mixing the group in with outsiders and throwing them off their rhythm. Billy Crudup cuts loose as a creepy neighbor and its delightfully weird while the always-impressive Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan's wife Abby brings unexpected warmth to the couple's relationship. Sadly The Watch mishandles its greatest asset: the aliens. The film never finds a pitch perfect blend of comedy and science fiction (Ghostbusters or Galaxy Quest this is not); a few scenes where the two come together hint at the best possible scenario but more often than not The Watch avoids its sci-fi roots. A moment in which the guys haul a dead alien back to their man cave plays like an E.T.-inspired version of The Hangover credits. It's lewd and ridiculous but the rest of the film struggles to maintain that energy.
Stiller Vaughn Hill and Ayoade have all proved themselves able funnymen capable of taking weak and tired material up a notch which they're forced to do in every moment of The Watch. Schaffer can handle his talent but his direction isn't adding anything to the mix. By the third slow-motion-set-to-gangster-rap scene The Lonely Island member's obsession with non-cool-coolness is officially just an attempt at being cool (which is not all that funny). The Watch has a greater opportunity than most comedy blockbusters to go absolutely bonkers: it's rated R. But instead of taking its twist and running with it the movie plays it safe. In this case safe is non-stop jokes about the many facets of human reproduction.
S1E9: One of my major complaints about The Killing -- which I outlined last week -- has been that everything continues to happen JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME. Not only are the plot twists poorly written and predictable, but I just DON'T CARE about them. Why don't I CARE? Oh, I don't know, maybe it's because the show focuses SO HARD on EVERY MOMENT, trying to make each moment feel like the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT EVER but really it's not the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT EVER. For some reason, the writers think that great drama relies on TWISTS and TURNS -- and although there is some obvious TRUTH to that -- when we don't care about the CHARACTERS, we don't care about the TWISTS and TURNS. And we especially don't care about the plot twists when there is a plot twist in EVERY scene. It's like that boy who cried wolf. If we continue to get ASSAULTED with these twists that don't pay off, then we will eventually become numb to ANY type of emotion that the show wants to pull from us -- EVEN IF IT PUTS CREEPY MUSIC BEHIND THE MYSTERIOUS TWIST TO EMPHASIZE JUST HOW CREEPY IT IS. SEE, LOOK, CREEPY. AM I POINTING THESE PROBLEMS OUT IN A LOUD ENOUGH WAY FOR YOU?
Unfortunately, this type of storytelling continued in The Killing with "Undertow." Even though the show has a few more episodes to perhaps save itself with, I just don't see how it can. Beyond these problems, there's just nothing compelling about the characters on the show. Everyone just feels like a cliche. You've got your cops, politicians and religious folks; and, well, there are no individual characters within those worlds that are very engrossing. Everyone is just exactly what you would expect a cop, politician or religious figure to be like -- and that's infuriating. Usually by a season's 9th episode, we know a good amount about the emotional struggle the characters have gone through in the series -- and it's this emotional struggle that separates them from cliches -- but The Killing hasn't given us much outside of few lines from characters about family or past-problems here and there. Even with our lead character Linden, who we are, I guess, supposed to be seeing "lose it again" in the job, I honestly don't care if she loses it because I don't understand why that's a big deal. Nor am I even seeing exactly just how she's "losing it." (Compare her to say, McNulty in The Wire. Now that's a cop who loses his life in the job.) The result is just flat storytelling that doesn't really give us anything that we are or want to be invested in.
"It's over. They're arresting the teacher." -Mitch
Did ya hear that? Bennet is guilty! Okay, everybody? He's guilty damnit! Don't you remember last week at the end of the episode when he spoke in Arabic (and in English just long enough to evoke suspicion from us)? Apparently, he was talking to somebody about Rosie's death -- at least, that's what we were supposed to believe. Oh but wait, actually, that's not the truth. As we learn (for about the millionth time), Bennet didn't kill Rosie -- but not until The Killing does everything it can to make us think that even though we know that Bennet didn't kill Rosie, maybe Bennet killed Rosie. "Undertow" spent its cop story this week with Holder and Linden trying to get an arrest warrant, failing (mainly so they could make that stupid joke about The Patriot Act), getting a tip from Bennet's wife containing Muhammad's number, chasing him down, catching him, only to have Muhammad reveal that they were actually trying to save a 12-year-old Somali girl named Aisha from a traditional marriage and ritual circumcision. Heroes!
Seriously though, what the fuck? So, if this is the case and Bennet and Muhammad are actually a dynamic duo of civil rights protection, why the hell are we just learning about this in episode 9? If you were being investigated for a girl's murder -- so much that you were banned from your job (that you love) and your marriage was on the rocks -- wouldn't you try and be as transparent as possible? I understand that they needed to be secretive about Aisha, and I don't mean to downplay that part of the plot, but it just felt so strange that Bennet hadn't even mentioned this to anyone. I'm not saying that he needed to go to the cops, but maybe his wife? Or, I don't know, maybe Stan when he's trying to kill him? It's just silly and I don't understand why the show wasted so much time with this terrorism crap for such a weak and predictable payoff.
"You both played the same games." -Pastor
Meanwhile in the political realm, Darren is spending his days at bars, putting Nina Simone on the jukebox, drinking whiskey and apparently doing everything else he can to live out episodes of Mad Men. His smear campaign has backfired, as the mayor claims that he's had a vasectomy and hasn't been able to have children for years, so a love-child with an intern would be impossible. Immediately following his press conference, though, we learn that's a blatant lie as he tells his assistant they need to "pay that girl double whatever they're paying her now," and I'm honestly kind of surprised that he didn't laugh diabolically after that sentence. So what does Darren do? Well, after being associated with a criminal and then being accused of a smear-campaign, he does the logical thing and approaches Tom Drexler for $5 million because that guy is squeaky clean -- you know, with his reputation for strippers, parties and such. Once again, I don't really know what Darren is thinking -- but hey, it'll probably conveniently work out.
Drexler donating the money depends if Darren can make a basketball shot -- because why don't we bet a $5 million campaign donation on a basketball shot? -- and we aren't shown if he makes the shot or not (tune in next week!) but honestly, I don't care one bit. Darren Richmond has become the most boring character on the show. He's your standard politician -- a good guy who wants to do some good but can't because of all the other evil politicians in the world, so he stoops to their level and, oh my gosh, it backfires! This is just another plot that we've seen time and time again, and nothing about it in The Killing makes it fresh.
"You promised." -Mitch
So that brings us to Mitch and Stan, who are still grieving terribly (which is understandable, especially considering this is still only 9 days after the murder). But, even the parents -- who started out as one of the best parts of the show -- have become tiresome and one-dimensional. Mitch is just… horrible. I'm sorry, but I just can't stand her scenes anymore. She reminds me of Jack's heavy breathing in the latter seasons of Lost. Seriously, TV actors: heavy breathing does not equal acting.
Can someone else please tell me why we haven't really learned anything about the relationship between Mitch and Stan? Or what's up with her weird sister? The family moments are some of the least interesting aspects of the show, when in fact, they should be the most interesting. If the writers wanted us to care about Rosie's murder, they'd show us more of her life. They'd show us the impact it's had on the Larsens' marriage (more than just Mitch being mad Stan didn't kill Bennet). We'd learn where Stan and Mitch were that weekend. We'd see them interact more with their other children. Frankly, we'd see them just do anything that'd give us a sense of their relationship. Instead, we have corny scenes where Stan puts together a bike for another little girl and sends her on her way, or we have Mitch showing up for two seconds at the police station to say something like, "Hey, you promised you'd get Bennet! You meanies!"
At this point, especially with the last scene that featured Stan beating the shit out of Bennet (presumably killing him even though he's not the murderer, but then again, for now the trillionth time, maybe Bennet is the murderer) and Belko beating up on something else (a rock?), it's pretty freaking obvious that Belko is Rosie's murderer. Now, if we only didn't have to watch the next four episodes of The Killing to learn that.