Open Road Films
What separates a biopic from any other character piece is that a "true story" isn't necessarily expected to resolve or redeem its central characters. Unlike their fictional counterparts, real people often stay bastards throughout adulthood, submitting in the end to the same fatal flaws that carried with them through their earlier acts. It is the charge of the filmmaker, as such, to extrapolate some meaning from the heap of misanthropy that is, in essence, his or her subject. Be it the wonder, the progress, or even the horror of the featured individual's journey, something must be pinpointed as a reason to remember the biographical story in question. What Jobs does, instead of working toward a reason for us to be enamored with or at least intrigued by the fascinating character that Steve Jobs was, is bank on the simple likelihood that we already know that.
Anyone going into a Jobs biopic has, presumably, an established interest in and familiarity with the founder of Apple, who died of cancer in 2011. But that shouldn't absolve the movie of its duty to prove to its audiences that Steve Jobs is a subject matter worth their while. It doesn't absolve Ashton Kutcher of his responsibility to build a real character, as opposed to just yelling when he's in an angry scene and sobbing when he's in a sad scene. But Jobs seemes unconcerned with its own obligations toward this story. It just wants to tell it.
As such, what we have is two hours of a Steve Jobs seminar. Director Joshua Michael Stern and star Kutcher chatting about Jobs' life and career, joking about his off-putting quirks and offensive hygiene, pulling no punches in discussing his less admirable choices (like abandoning his baby daughter, and firing Apple employees for voicing disagreement). Lucky for Stern, the story Is an interesting one. Jobs, for all his flaws, is a guy you'll enjoy hearing about. But all that is accomplished by JOBS could have been earned by picking up a textbook about his life. And those who have already done so, those who know Jobs' story well enough (those who are the most likely to check out this movie, in fact), will find themselves experiencing nothing new.
Open Road Films
But an even better problem with this method is that it results in an incomplete film. Some of the better biopics that do handle flawed characters like Steve Jobs manage to pull some sense of significance from their tales, affirming that we didn't just spend two hours watching some son of a bitch get away with being just that. Even in the darkest, saddest, most unsettling stories, it is necessary to leave the viewer with something. Something learned, changed, accomplished, earned. The director cannot help if it if the Jobs of the 2000s was the same self-driven man who used people and dismissed ideas in the '70s and '80s. But he can and must do something to work around that. To turn this collection of anecdotes into a comprehensive account, which warrants an ending that is different from its beginning. That's not just cinema, it's storytelling.
And without this effort put in to conform Jobs' life to the demands of the narrative medium, nor the effort to build him into an independently interesting character by Kutcher, we're left with a moreover dull time at the theater. Steve Jobs might be an interesting guy, and his story might be worth telling — that benefit of the doubt is probably the only thing keeping this movie afloat. In company with an external fixation on the man at its center, Jobs might work just around sea level as a piece of entertainment. But what we're looking at, here, is a standalone movie, and one that hasn't put in quite enough work to pay tribute to the man in question.
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No matter how many jobs you're working, children you're raising, relationships you're juggling, or nations to which you're feigning allegiance in a grand effort to undermine the global economy, there's always time to add a new television show to your roster. Or, say, 30. Luckily for all the workaholics, doting parents, love-seekers, and double agents out there, E! has got a brand new slate of programs and specials on the way to distract you from your doubtlessly failing life expeditions.
Among the notable entries among E!'s six upcoming series, 10 upcoming specials, and 17 projects in developmental stages are a reality show about the band members of The Wanted, an in-depth look at the life of 50 Cent, and an expedition led by multihyphenate Nick Cannon to give his grandparents a home makeover.
Check out E!'s complete list of new and developing shows and specials below:
The Wanted Life — Sunday, June 2 at 10:30 PM ET/PT (moves to regular timeslot starting Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 PM ET/PT)This new half-hour series will chronicle the personal and professional lives of the edgy pop music powerhouse, The Wanted, who has already taken the world by storm. Viewers will see an unfiltered look inside the world of the chart-topping UK pop band as they head to sunny California to record their third album, gear up for their new US & Europe tour later in 2013 and solidify their top ranking on American pop music charts, along with their surprising dynamics and interpersonal relationships. Produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions, Scooter Braun Projects and Global Talent TV.
Total Divas — Sunday, July 28 at 10:00 PM ET/PTRevealing the real women behind the WWE Divas for the first time, this new one-hour series proves that the drama is even bigger when the sexy superstars step outside the ring. “Total Divas” goes inside the personal lives of these glitzy, glamorous celebrities who entertain sold-out crowds in arenas around the world and are adored by millions of fans. “Total Divas” is produced by WWE and Bunim-Murray Productions. Jon Murray, Gil Goldshein, Jeff Jenkins and Russell Jay are Executive Producers for Bunim-Murray Productions.
Pop Innovators — July 2013This new series showcases the most influential names in pop culture in their own words. We love them for what they bring to our world, and how they have helped define pop culture and captured the collective zeitgeist. These are the people who, as leaders in their respective fields, have taken their fame and gone in new directions to become influencers across a wide range of topics, and who inspire others to do the same. The first episode of “Pop Innovators” will offer an in-depth look at the life and career of Will.i.am from his point of view and will also feature interviews with other celebrities that he’s influenced most.
Love and Other Contact Sports: Eric and Jessie — Late summer 2013From Khloé & Lamar to Kendra & Hank, E! has followed the romantic celebrity relationships of popular athletes and their gorgeous companions for years. The new Love and Other Contact Sports franchise will take viewers inside the confines of even more celebrity/athlete romances starting with country/pop singer Jessie James and her fiancé, Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker whose wedding is quickly approaching. The series will chronicle the sexy young couple’s road to the altar as they juggle careers, relationships, family and more. Currently residing in their Denver dream home, they share an ambition to succeed, a charmingly fun and unfiltered outlook on life, and most of all, a red hot attraction for each other. Produced by Shed Media U.S.
Hello Ross (working title) — Fall 2013As the ultimate pop culture fan forum, this new interactive talk show is hosted by the super fan himself, Ross Mathews. Fans will have the unique opportunity to share their opinion on all the latest in pop culture, debate the most buzzworthy topics and come face to face with their favorite celebrities. From Borderline Amazing Productions.
The Trend — Fall 2013This news series will feature a team of experts and celebrity contributors discussing all things fashion, beauty and design.
Blinging Up Baby — Thursday, May 2 at 10:00 PM ET/PTThere is nothing more buzzworthy in Hollywood these days than celeb parents and their star tots who fill the pages of weekly magazines. In this one-hour special hosted by Melissa Rycroft, E! explores how the stars are heralding stork visits, from preparing luxurious nurseries, to exotic and ultra-pricey “babymoons,” to dazzling “push presents,” outrageous celebrity baby and toddler gifts, and more. If it is hot in the world of celebrity mommyhood, you’ll find out about it here. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
Nick Cannon’s Big Surprise — Thursday, May 9 at 10:00 PM ET/PTSexy actor, singer and TV personality Nick Cannon has a big surprise. Grateful to his grandparents who helped raise him, Cannon shows his appreciation with a surprise home makeover. Through the process, the star will share childhood memories, photos and videos as the audience gets an intimate look back at his life. But will his highly opinionated grandmother, actually like what he does with her place? There’s only one way to find out. Produced by Entertainment One.
Holly Has A Baby — May 12 at 9:00 PM ET/PTHolly Madison just took on the biggest role of her life when she became a mommy to a baby girl she named Rainbow Aurora Rotella. In this one-hour Mother’s Day special, viewers will follow Holly to the hospital for the big event, and share in all she did to prepare for her new arrival with boyfriend Pasquale Rotella. Then, we’re invited home with the trio as they share with us exactly what the future holds for Holly and her new family, including the possibility of wedding bells. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
The Untold Story: Jason Derulo — Tuesday, May 14 at 10:00 PM ET/PTSimon Cowell said he would be huge, Lady Gaga said he’s “a freakin’ superstar,” and Jordin Sparks calls him, boyfriend. He was well on his way to the top when an injury sidelined his career, and could have nearly ended his life. This half-hour special is a turbulent ride with Derulo as he battles his way back from injury. With never-before-seen footage and exclusive behind-the-scenes access, we’ll uncover the real man behind the persona of music royalty’s newest member. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
Ryan Seacrest with The Wanted: An E! Special — Monday, May 27 at 10:30 PM ET/PTDays before the premiere of their highly anticipated new E! series, Seacrest is sitting down with the bad boys of pop, and no topic is off limits. Discussing their music, rock star lifestyles and their much-buzzed-about personal lives, The Wanted open up to Seacrest in this new one-hour special.
Bigger, Badder Celebrity Feuds — Tuesday, May 28 at 10:00 PMThe Hatfields and McCoys had nothing on some of Hollywood’s biggest and most explosive feuds, and this one-hour special pulls out all the stops to reveal the gritty details of what went down between Chris Brown and Frank Ocean, Halle Berry’s ex and her current squeeze, Kelsey and Camille, and many, many more. From Comcast Entertainment Studios.
E! Special: Brooke Burke — June 2013Giuliana Rancic is sitting down with the sexy actress and TV personality who has helped make Dancing With the Stars one of today’s biggest television sensations. Opening up about her career, family and personal life, Burke shares her ups, downs and everything in between with Giuliana from her home in Los Angeles.
Secret Societies of Hollywood — Late Summer 2013Beyond the red carpet and behind the security gates lies a forbidden Hollywood that only the rich and famous know about …until now. Secret Societies of Hollywood is a two-hour documentary that will expose the cults, cabals and underground clubs that exist in today’s entertainment industry. From Prometheus Entertainment.
50 Hours with 50 Cent — Fall 2013What is it like to be 50 Cent? One lucky super fan gets to find out. This special captures 50 hours with 50 Cent as one of his biggest fans gets to spend exactly that amount of time with him. Viewers will experience over two full days with this iconic rapper, entrepreneur and businessman as he enters global promotional mode leading up to the release of his newest album.
Inner Circle — Fall 2013A new experiment in storytelling from Executive Producer Ashley Tisdale, these specials will feature celebrities picking a member of their inner circle (a trusted friend, family member or close confidant) to tell their real story and to ask the questions. More conversation than interview, it’s an emotionally charged journey where the celebrities let their guards down, open up and have fun with someone from their “inner circle.” From Blondie Girl Productions and Relativity Television.
NEW UNSCRIPTED PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT (working titles):
Young SonomaThis series chronicles the personal and professional lives of premier families at the top of their game in world renowned wine country, Sonoma Valley. Featuring Envolve Winery’s Ben Flajnik (“The Bachelor”), Mike and Kate Benziger, Danny and Collette Fay, and B.R. Cohn Winery’s Vallerie and Tasha Cohn, the series goes inside the day-to-day drama that comes from living in a small town, working with friends and family, as well as being local and national celebrities. From Mandt Bros Productions.
Queens Are WildDocu-soap that goes inside the high-stakes world of gambling and follows four of the top female poker players as they live together, travel the world and compete to win millions. From Tollin Productions, Inc.
Palazzo RiggiThrough the eyes of the outrageous family who lives there and the staff that run it, this new docusoap takes viewers inside a unique, luxurious world filled with eccentric personalities and gives viewers a glimpse into a jaw dropping, elaborate 24,000-square-foot family estate in upstate New York that boasts an authentic English pub, Balinese wellness spa and perfectly heated lawn that is designed to keep the paws of the family’s 35 dogs warm year-round. From AEP Media and Machete.
FlashThis self-contained competition elimination series pits up-and-coming photographers against one another. In each episode, the photographers are given a real world challenge with real clients from the world of pop culture, who expect an amazing photo to sell their brand, talent or idea. Each week the winning photographer will get the exposure that could help launch their career. From Super Delicious.
Sex & Real EstateSet in Miami, this new docusoap follows the personal and professional lives of a group of hot, successful real estate agents at the top of their game as they juggle a world where business always mixes with pleasure. From FremantleMedia North America and Purveyors of Pop.
The Soup InvestigatesThe Soup Investigates is a new spin-off series of E!’s popular comedy franchise The Soup that will answer all the questions that pop culture fans never thought to ask, and then some. How DOES that rose get from the grower’s field to The Bachelor‘s hand just in time for the all important rose ceremony? What is life like inside the fascinating world of the Mother Duckers, the families who make their living creating duck callers who WEREN’T cast inDuck Dynasty? Host Joel McHale and our investigative reporters will be working around the clock to get to the truth, or at least a very plausible facsimile thereof.
NEW TOPICAL / COMEDY PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT (working titles):
James Davis ShowSketch comedy show parodying a wide range of pop culture subjects and personalities starring actor/comic/writer, James Davis. From Funny or Die Media, Inc.
White People Can’t DanceFrom Executive Producer Jack Osbourne and Vin Di Bona, this tongue-in-cheek format show features a team of experts who analyze some of the more outrageous stereotypes perpetuated by pop culture. Each episode our team will put multiple stereotypes to the test to determine which are fact and which are fiction. From FishBowl Worldwide Media and Schweet Entertainment.
Secrets & LiesSecrets & Lies is the game show, based on the classic parlor game three truths and a lie, that tests pop culture fans’ knowledge of their favorite celebrities while revealing shocking secrets about the stars we THINK we know and love. From Shine America’s format label Ardaban.
NEW SCRIPTED PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT (working titles):
Laurel CanyonIn this drama from executive producers Josh Schwartz (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Chuck) and Stephanie Savage (The O.C., Gossip Girl, Carrie Diaries) and executive producer/writer Karen Croner (Admission, One True Thing), a young woman returns to her dysfunctional, extended family in Laurel Canyon with her son after hearing her rock-star legend father has passed away. Based on Croner’s experience of growing up in the Hollywood Hills, the project is from Schwartz and Savage’s Fake Empire in association with Warner Horizon Television. Fake Empire head of television Len Goldstein (The Carrie Diaries) also serves as executive producer.
The Stand-InA darkly psychological re-telling of The Prince & the Pauper set behind the scenes of one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses, who, tired of the spotlight, runs away in search of a normal life. Desperate, her family secretly hires a look-a-like to step into the star’s glamorous world and high profile career — only to have the doppelganger slowly lose herself in the process of becoming someone else. From Executive Producers Ryan Seacrest, Nina Wass and Adam Sher, Ryan Seacrest Productions, Universal Cable Productions and writer Craig Chester.
SongbyrdFrom writer Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Shameless), a young, prolific songwriter of some of the best love songs struggles to find love in her personal life after her inspiration is revealed to be a lie. Featuring the songs and experiences of Grammy winner Diane Warren, who Executive Produces with Craig Zadan & Neil Meron (The 2013 Academy Awards,Chicago, Smash) and Vernoff. From Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions.
ExpectationsFrom writer Ron Bass (Oscar winning writer of Rain Man, Sleeping with the Enemy), inspired by the classic Dickens work, a soap about a morally corrupt family in the diamond business set in New York City. Executive produced by Oscar winner Dan Jinks (American Beauty, Milk). From CBS Television Studios.
The ShorelineThe golden child of a small coastal town in South Carolina returns home to see that a major Hollywood prime time soap, The Shore Line Yacht Club, is the biggest employer in town. An enormous class divide separates the cast and producers from the townspeople, yet their lives are now continuously and irrevocably intertwined — for better or for worse. From writer Carolyn Ingber and executive produced by Becky Hartman Edwards (Switched at Birth, Parenthood). From Fox Television Studios.
Dirty/PrettyFrom Keith Eisner (The Good Wife, Law & Order), Jason Markarian and John Mirabella, a dark comedy centering on a blue collar guy from south Boston who gets scouted to be a model in Miami. Life gets turned upside down when his two best friends join him and see his new life as a way to expand their criminal activities. Gale Anne Hurd/Valhalla Entertainment will act as Executive Producer. From Universal Cable Productions.
Fortunate SonFramed for a drug deal by a friend from his hard-partying days, society golden boy Michael Baron becomes a criminal informant and is at the mercy of the police. He bounces between his privileged west side of Los Angeles existence and the case he is forced to work in the slums. But his dark past gives Michael some leverage over his fate, and he makes a dangerous deal that could clear his name. Or get him killed. From writer and Co-Executive Producer Joey Falco and Executive Producers Kevin Spacey, Michael DeLuca and Dana Brunetti. From Universal Cable Productions.
The RoyalsPart fairy tale, part cautionary tale, this contemporary family ensemble is steeped in all of the regal opulence of the British Monarchy and framed by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a tale of men and women corrupted by power, wealth and desire while looking at the nature of celebrity from a Royals’ point of view. Executive produced and written by Mark Schwahn (One Tree Hill) and executive produced by Brian Robbins and Joe Davola (One Tree Hill, Smallville). From Lionsgate
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.