Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List is overflowing with fun and exclusive details from five phenomenal shows. I’ve got the jaw-dropping scoop on tonight’s all-new Arrow, a hilarious behind-the-scenes story from the stars of Happy Endings, and a sneak peak at next week’s chilling episode of Once Upon a Time. Plus, I've got details for upcoming episodes of Switched at Birth, and Grimm to bring you your weekly dose of delicious spoilers. Read on for all the smile-inducing TV craziness below…
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1. Arrow: Holy S**tballs!
Stephen Amell has been warning us for ages now that tonight's episode should be called "Holy S**tballs." Of course, that wouldn't exactly fly with The CW, so instead we get "Dead to Rights" — but we have to agree, Amell's name is much better suited for the crazy, game changing episode.
Yeah, yeah, I know we say that about every single episode (this show is seriously amazing, y'all!), but I truly mean it when we say this is the best episode yet. It actually has the feel of a season finale, but thank goodness we still have months to go before that arrives!
The biggest shock of the night: someone else finds out about Oliver's secret identity as Arrow. But this person isn't as psyched to join Team Arrow as Diggle and Felicity were. In fact, this might damage the relationship this person has with Oliver for good! Of course I can’t reveal who this is, but believe me when we say you will either scream, gasp really loud, or throw something at your TV. I definitely did all three.
While that reveal would be enough action and drama for one episode, this is Arrow we're talking about so naturally so much more happens. There is an attempted assassination, a reveal in the last 10 seconds that changes the course of the show, and Tommy's birthday! Okay, that last one may not seem like a big deal, but his celebration does give us some great insight into Tommy and Oliver's friendship that shows how far back and how bonded they truly are. It's more than a girl (ahem, Laurel) could ever truly get between.
Plus, the island flashbacks show a decidedly less physically fit Oliver Queen attempting to do pull ups... and let's just say it's a stark juxtaposition from the working out montage we get at the beginning of the episode each week.
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2. Happy Endings: Tiaras and Talents
By now you all should know that I am one hundred percent, absolutely, head-over-heels in love with Happy Endings. It’s hilariously quirky and, if I could, I would hug the crap outta this sitcom. However, since that it physically impossible (believe me I’ve tried) I traveled to the Happy Endings set yesterday to hug the cast instead. Oh I also did my job and stuff and interviewed them.
Of the six sensational characters, the one that never fails to put a smile on my face is Max, the ultimate lazy friend who just so happens to be gay. But now that he’s unemployed yet again, what’s a limo-less fella to do to pass the time? I chatted with Adam Pally to bring you the amahzing answer: “Max competes in a gay beauty pageant. There’s a talent competition, and a strength competition and a Q&A.” Pally says, “And Max fails all of them miserably.”
Goodness gracious. Just imagining Max’s talent could take all day. Could it be turning all tee’s into super-deep vee’s? Flawlessly impersonating a hibernating bear? Or somehow making rent every month on that awesome loft, despite never really having a stable job?
Pally teases, “Have you ever seen Batman? The third one specifically where Jim Carrey played the Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones played Two-Face? So Imaging Two-Face but like way gayer.” Oh my god I just can’t . I can already tell that this is going to be an episode to remember.
In fact, when we asked star Casey Wilson about her favorite episodes this season, she was quick to talk about Max’s quest for a tiara and sash. “I bore witness to Max’s routine, which is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. As a person on this earth, it’s the craziest thing my eyes have ever seen,” she says.
And although Penny does not get the honor of coaching Max in the pagent — that role will be filled by Miss Alex Kerkovich — Wilson on set to watch her bestie’s routine. “It was shocking, it made me angry, it made me excited, every emotion is felt when you see what Adam is wearing.” To say I’m excited for this episode would be the understatement of the century.
TV lovers please make sure you tune in to Happy Endings when it returns March 29 on it’s new night: Fridays! We’re bringing back TGIF people!
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3. Grimm: It’s Ba-ack!
After months and months of waiting, Grimm is finally returning to our TV screens and goodness gracious this episode is jam-packed with action and answers. On March 8, fans can tune into “Face Off’ and witness Nick’s devastating realization that his former fiancé and current Captain have been canoodling behind his back! Not to worry, Monroe is there to lend his bestie helpful, and always giggle-worthy advice on what’s really going on.
The quest for key intensifies as Captain Renard (with the help of an extremely cool owl-like creature) finds and gains access to Nick’s family-secret-filled trailer. Oh and for all you Nick/Juliette shippers out there, you might want to cover your eyes for a large part of the episode.
Lemme put it this way: you’re going to witness a few make-out scenes between Juliette and Renard that are so intense you’ll soon realize that they’ve got some deadly-serious passion (Hint-Hint!) Nick exclaims at one point in the episode, “Does anything not end in death?!” Silly Nick, did you forget that you’re a Grimm?
Lastly, be prepared for a very unlikely alliance to form and no big deal but by the endof the episode, Nick’s fate is totally up in the air. I never knew a face could turn that shade of red…
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4. Switched at Birth: An ASL Extravaganza!
We told you a few months ago that the creative powers-that-be at Switched at Birth were planning an all ASL (American Sign Language) episode, and it’s almost here! Spoiler Alert: It’s absolutely incredible. The next episode of the ABC Family gem, (airing Monday, March 4 bee tee dubs) is told completely from the point of views of the deaf characters that we’ve come to know and love.
In “Uprising,” the students of Carlton Academy are going through a rollercoaster ride of emotions upon learning that the school board may be closing the school for good. I just finished screening the episode and I have to admit, this was one of the most eye-opening hours of television I’ve ever watched — and we all know I was a lot.
Series creator and executive producer Lizzy Weiss says she hopes Monday’s episode will give hearing viewers a deeper understanding of the deaf community and the hardships that they endure each and every day. “It's an exciting, visual, empowering story of kids who are different fighting back, and it allows our audience to experience the world as our deaf characters do. We've been building to this for 39 episodes and we're all thrilled to be the first to try this." Weiss says.
Daphne really steps up in this episode and empowers her fellow students and friends that it’s time to fight back and let the world know that just because they’re deaf, doesn’t mean they cant be heard. But of course with drama, comes a hint of romance and a new potential love-triangle between Daphne, Noah, and Bay. Yikes!
The episode is filled with too many amazing moments: A moving all-ASL version of Romeo and Juliet, conflicts between Daphne and Regina, and my new favorite hashtag #TakeBackCarlton. Oh and of course how could I forget to mention: look out for a sign language rap that is so good, it’ll put Jay-Z to shame.
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5. Once Upon a Time: Wicked Beginnings
Have you ever wondered how Cora became such a hateful, destructively manipulative, and heartless woman? I have, and luckily for all you fairytale fans out there, I’ve also seen an advance copy of the episode airing March 10th. That’s right y’all, I’ve got two weeks full of Once Upon a Time spoilers and a column to spill ‘em in. Let’s get to it!
In this week’s episode, “The Queen is Dead,” we’ll get a deeper peak into Snow White’s childhood B.R. (Before Regina) and see what life was like for the pint-sized princess when her mother was still alive. However, by the episode’s end you’ll learn the true reason behind Queen Eva’s death, and let’s just say you’ll be extremely and incredibly angry at one Storybrooke resident.
I’m still baffled at the fact that ABC was able to find a young Snow — played by the adorable Bailee Madison — who looks so freakily similar to our beloved Ginnifer Goodwin. Bravo to you random casting person! In other flashback news, Rose McGowan stars in “The Miller’s Daughter” (airing March 10) and although she captivates as a young Cora, you’ll also find yourself wondering how she’s able to cry with all that Botox she’s injected into her face. Sheesh!
Remember the original fairytale we read when we were young starring Rumplestilskin teaching the miller’s daughter how to spin straw into gold? Well get ready classic fable lovers, because you’re going to see our Dark One passing this skill along to his very first, power-hungry pupil: Cora. Oh and think back to episode 12, when Cora and Rumple decided to seal a deal they way they used to — with a kiss! I’m not saying anything more except: Rumple and Cora sitting in a tree…
Okay fine! Here are a few more magical bits each starring a different character: Someone puts a ring on it, someone enacts their revenge, someone dies, someone channels their inner magic, and someone is a murderer. Think you know who’s who? Cast your speculations in the comments below!
What do you think is going down on tonight’s Arrow? Excited for the all-ASL episode of Switched at Birth? Will you tune into Happy Endings on Friday nights? (Please?!) Tell me everything in the comments below!
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—Additional Reporting by Sydney Bucksbaum
[Photo Credit: The CW, ABC, ABC Family, NBC]
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order) will return to Modern Family this season as Manny's unreliable father and Gloria's ex-husband, Javier. This time around, Javier will take a harder stab at trying to win over Manny after he sees how close he has become with Jay; this will naturally incite some competition in the protective Jay, who is probably just as surprised at his relationship with Manny as Javier is.
As you may have heard, Modern Family pulled a Fresh Prince for Season Three: a member of the main family was recast. Fortunately, it won't be as weird as when Daphne Maxwell-Reid walked into the Banks household as the new Aunt Viv. As you may have heard, Lily, Mitchell and Cam's daughter, will be played by a new actress. Since the character is only about two years old, she hasn't had too much development yet (other than her penchant for deadpan reactions and the hint that she may be secretly violent). It is common practice to recast young characters in film and television due to child labor laws (I'm totally guessing here), and Modern Family's new toddler-aged Lily, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, is already popular among the cast. She sure seems to have grown a lot, which is reminiscent of another Fresh Prince oddity: the overnight growth spurt of Baby Nicky from five months to five years.
Source: EW, EW