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With Thor: The Dark World fresh in our minds, it's difficult to estrange from the similarities in the first trailer for Darren Aronofsky's Noah. We close in on a long-haired, finely chiseled Australian film icon, mid-scene as a mythical figure lamenting the impending global annihilation at the hands of the all-powerful being closest to him. "He's going to destroy the world," says Russell Crowemsworth. But even if the Marvel sequel hadn't just released, we might find this introductory look at the director's Black Swan follow-up to feel just a little too... grand.
What the Biblical tale of Noah's Ark has, intrinsically, is an epic nature: The end of days. The wrath of God. A global flood. A literal boatload of wild animals. And more than any of this in launching Noah to grandeur is the fact that so many of us grew up reveling in its majesty. Through religious schooling or PBS specials, we learned as children that Noah's story was one of the most amazing ever told. And without much cinematic competition for the subject matter, it's not like Aronofsky is working against the tide. With proper visual effects, a Noah movie would feel just as "grand" as we might want it to. That's why we hope that this new trailer is downplaying the element most necessary to make this feature work: the intimacy.
With a story so inherently "big," it would pay for Aronofsky to hone in on the small. The personal conquests of Noah and his family, the torments that lie deeper than the crashing waves. Aronofsky is a filmmaker whose worlds feel gigantic, but whose characters are always sharp and vivid. But Crowe feels buried beneath everything else in this trailer, with his wife and children huddled beside him.
Naturally, the first trailer for a movie like Noah is going to have to opt for the "big." We can't spend our inceptive minutes watching Crowe play All Is Lost (with a much bigger boat) — we need confidence in Aronofsky's ability to get what is arguably the Bible's most famous tale down pat. But we know he'll do the "big" stuff right. Hopefully the next look at this movie will show that he's handling the small stuff just as well.
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For everything 30 Rock does so very right (Liz Lemon's endlessly re-quotable quips) there is something they haven't quite nailed down in their six magnificently off-the-wall seasons on the air: Season finales. Much like the disappointing "Kidney Now!" Season 3 finale, last night's Season 6 ender "What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?” wasn't everything the show is capable of (especially after having such a stellar season) but that's not to say it's not a total relief they'll back for 13 more episodes for a final Season 7.
Especially now that it seems like Liz's perfect match Criss (sorry, Wesley Snipes) is in it for the long haul. Not only did James Marsden's dreamy character, what with his beautiful lady face and his James Van Der Beek appreciation that doesn't include Dawson's Creek, sell his hot dog van to have extra money for their plant –– er, baby –– but he finally got Liz to stop worrying and not bail on something great. Criss calls Liz out on her s**t, supports her endlessly, and laughs at her stupid jokes. Isn't that what we all want from someone at the end of the day?
Of course, not all seemingly perfect couples have happy endings. Avery's return from North Korea was supposed to be a joyous thing for Jack, but their rampant jealousy and mistrust (Jack kissed her mother, Avery had a secret code affair with co-host-age Scott Scottsman) turned their planned vow renewal into a surprise divorce ceremony. While Kim Jung Il, I mean, uh, just a regular waiter who is definitely not Kim Jung Il, pleaded for 30 Rock writers to pull a Friends or Moonlighting and get Jack and Liz together, I hope this show never breaks with its unconventional convention. Besides, Criss is the right guy for Liz and Julianne Moore's Bahston babe Nancy is meant to balance out Jack.
If the idea of Jack and Liz making a go of it makes you shudder, too, than I can imagine you had an equally averse reaction to watching Kenneth and a homeless Hazel (Kristen Schaal) shack up as roommates and engage in the most uncomfortable televised kiss since this. Thankfully, that wasn't the only side plot during last night's hit-or-miss finale, there was also the gloriously funny story line about Tracy being named Man of the Year by the Aryan Patriot Party thanks to his behavior. Despite the best efforts of Grizz, Dot Com, and Dr. Cornel West (as himself, but mistaken for Questlove by Tracy) to give Tracy a positive black role model, after an epiphany (okay, seeing his reflection in Rosa Parks' dress at a museum) he opts to go the Tyler Perry route instead. I don't wanna wait for 30 Rock's life to be over. I'm in denial that it ever will.
Here are the other best lines and moments from last night's 30 Rock Season 6 finale:
- Pat Kiernan cameo!
- "Brother" Jason Segel
- Liz's refusal to say the phrase "man cave"
- Liz's montage with her plant baby (Planty!) set to a Randy Newman-like tune about plants
- "Skinny arm havers!"- Liz, to Avery and her mother, followed by a stop, drop, and roll to get out of an awkward encounter
- "Hey, I don't bail! I'm still watching Smash!"- Liz, to Criss
- "Have fun always carrying a light sweater!" - Jenna, to Hazel after she warns her she'll have to move to the Bay Area
- " I get your Yankees tickets on A-Rod bobble head day. And I’m going to throw that thing in front of a train. Go Phillies!”- Liz, showing her hometown pride to Jack
- "Check out Kim Jung Un's pants! Where's the flood?" - Avery, to Scott
- "You know what kind of women in their 40s have never been married, Liz? Uggos, crazies, and bailers. You’re not an uggo. And you’re Haha Crazy, not Oh Boy crazy, which means you bail!" - Criss, to Liz
- "Maggie Smith is a treasure!” - Avery
- "Darth Vader. Ninjas. Some black licorice I tried to make into the shape of my dad.”- Tracy, on his black role models
- "For instance, in Pixar’s upcoming movie about trash, I’m doing the voice of a lazy bottle of grape-flavored soda named Funky Bobo." - Tracy
- "There will never be a president Ashton, or a Dr. Katniss, or a non-sexually confused Lorne.” - Jack
So where does that leave us for the shortened upcoming Season 7? Hopefully with Criss and Liz having a baby, Jack finally getting to run Kabletown, Hazel moving out of New York City for good, Jenna marrying Paul, Tracy dethroning Tyler Perry, and Lutz ... never mind, Lutz is the worst. What are you hoping to see for next season? Did you find the Season 6 finale surprisingly lackluster, too? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Photo credit: NBC]
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Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) doesn’t know how lucky she has it. She’s smart beautiful and married to Gerry (Gerald Butler) a passionate funny and impetuous Irishman who loves her with every breath in his body. But when that breath runs out--Gerry dies unexpectedly from an illness--Holly’s luck runs out. Barely coping her salvation arrives in the form of letters from Gerry that come to Holly in unexpected ways--letters he wrote to her before he died to help her get through the pain and move on with her life and letters that always end with “P.S. I Love You.” A saint huh? Holly’s mother (Kathy Bates) and best friends Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow) begin to worry Gerry’s letters are keeping Holly tied to the past but in fact each letter pushes Holly on a journey of rediscovery and to show her how a love so strong can turn the finality of death into new beginning for life. Tissues please! Swank will be damned if she pigeonholes herself into always playing serious women who don’t wear makeup. P.S. I Love You is her stab at romantic dramedy and while the genre may not suit her best the Oscar-winning actress still has fun playing a spirited woman who wears designer clothes cute hats and gets to make out with a strapping Irish hunk. Actually Swank gets to bed TWO strapping Irish hunks in P.S. I Love You: The first is the yummy Butler of course and the other is Gerry’s old bandmate William played by American Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who’ll be seen in the upcoming romantic comedy The Accidental Husband with Uma Thurman). Lucky girl. Butler however is the one the ladies will sigh over the most. Having already given a powerhouse performance this year as the Spartan king in 300 the Scottish actor turns the tables to show his soft underbelly as the adorably romantic and fun-lovin’ Gerry. The abs still rock though. One can easily see why Holly is such a mess after he dies. Gershon and Kudrow add some genuineness as Holly’s friends (someone please find a Kudrow a TV show) as does Bates as Holly’s hardened mother. Harry Connick Jr. however seems out of place as Holly’s would-be suitor. She just needs to stick with the Irish guys. Hilary Swank teams up with her Freedom Writers director Richard LaGravenese once again for P.S. I Love You and it’s clear they have a symbiotic relationship. Swank probably likes the way LaGravenese accentuates her best features turning her into a glam leading lady while LaGravenese obviously enjoys gazing at her through his camera lens. Unfortunately the two really haven’t found the best material. Freedom Writers is the mother of all teacher-gets-students-motivated retreads while P.S. I Love You--based on a novel by Cecelia Ahern and adapted by LaGravenese and Steven Rogers--is just pure fluff with very little substance behind it. Not that the film won't inspire some romantic feelings or work up tears but its only real strengths are: 1) the players who somehow rise about the triteness of it all especially Butler and 2) the gorgeous landscapes of Ireland which should send any woman in her right mind straight to the Emerald Isles to find her perfect man. Seriously ladies book your trips NOW.
There are distinct echoes of Alan Alda’s The Four Seasons and Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill here as the film focuses on four couples who have been friends since their college days. Periodically they get together and ask themselves the title question as they re-examine their relationships. There’s Janet Jackson as Patricia the college lecturer whose best-selling book is based on her friends’ relationships. Patricia and her husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) are trying to hold their marriage together after the loss of their young son in a tragic car accident. The cocky Mike (Richard T. Jones) flaunts an adulterous relationship in front of his insecure overweight wife Shelia (Jill Scott) who is completely oblivious to the deception. Terry (Perry himself) is a successful pediatrician trying to convince his wife Diane (Sharon Leal)--a successful attorney in her own right--to have more kids. Marcus (Michael Jai White) a former pro football player merely tries to get through the day without a tongue-lashing from his acerbic wife Angela (Tasha Smith) a woman not known for keeping her opinions to herself regardless of how appropriate the circumstances. All of them find themselves confronting career demands family demands infidelity incompatibility and mistrust--all while drinking far too much wine. Needless to say before their get-together is over a number of secrets will be divulged and each couple will find their relationships shaken to their respective cores. Forgoing the housedress of his cinematic alter-ego “Madea ” Perry proves an affable screen personality quite relaxed within the ensemble. Jones doesn’t go out of his way to make Mike in any way likable which makes his one of the more memorable and clearly defined characters in the entire cast. Although Smith gets all the sassy lines White easily steals their scenes together with a surprisingly appealing comic turn. Hunky Lamman Rucker plays a dreamboat sheriff who finds himself drawn into this ever-shifting circle of friends. The women have a tougher go of it with Jackson giving a tremulous performance that makes her character almost disappear into the background. Yoba is also low-key although more affectingly so as her onscreen spouse. Leal does what she can with the stock role of a career woman who takes her home life for granted but she fares better than Scott whose crying scenes--and there are more than one--ground the story to a halt. All told however the ensemble cast has an easy and relaxed chemistry together which keeps the film--as soapy as uneven as it often is--afloat throughout. Tyler Perry doesn’t open up his stage play to any major degree preferring to leave the emphasis on characters and dialogue--both of which incidentally he has created. Perry tends to approach these intricate topics with broad (but not irrelevant) strokes but he’s not about to tamper with a successful formula. Like most of Perry’s previous films (Diary of a Mad Black Woman Madea*s Family Reunion et. al.) Why Did I Get Married? runs on a bit and overstates its case but its heart’s in the right place.
Alpine University film student Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison) needs to start her senior project but she's stymied by a case of screenwriter's block. Then a chance encounter with the new campus cop (Loretta Devine the only link to the original "Urban Legend") gives her an idea: She'll make a film about a serial killer who slays college students in ways related to urban legends. Needless to say her cast and crew members (Joseph Lawrence Eva Mendez Jessica Cauffiel) start to disappear in a series of bizarre and mysterious incidents. And yes the killer is the person you would least suspect but only because he/she lacks a plausible motive.
Morrison ("Stir of Echoes") never finds the right mix of vulnerability naïveté and attitude to play the slasher flick damsel-in-distress-turned-heroine. (And she's never in any real peril.) Sorely missing are the outrageous performances that Rebecca Gayheart Danielle Harris and Julian Richings provided in the original "Urban Legend" -- the supporting players shackled to tired Hollywood clichés and a lackluster story never get to exercise their dramatic talents.
Freshman director John Ottman struggles with an already sputtering script by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson. Apparently the muse of over-the-top schlock horror blessed the first 15 minutes of the film then succumbed to spontaneous human combustion. With the exception of a mildly amusing "Blair Witch" cinéma-vérité parody the balance of the film generates neither thrill nor swill.