Anjelica Huston's confession that she savagely beat her cheating boyfriend Jack Nicholson has been branded "gravely concerning" and shameless by domestic abuse charities. The Witches star, who dated the notorious womaniser on and off between 1973 and 1990, has revealed in her new autobiography, Watch Me, that she would read about his infidelities in the press and react with violence.
She recalled a particular incident, writing, "I beat him savagely about the head and shoulders. He was ducking and bending, and I was going at him like a prizefighter, raining a vast array of direct punches."
Representatives for anti-violence charities have now condemned Huston's candid admission and reiterated that violence is against a partner is completely unacceptable.
Mark Brooks, Chairman of ManKind, a charity which supports male victims of abuse, likens Huston's confession to the actions of British model/actress Kelly Brook, who admitted punching her ex-boyfriends, and singer Solange Knowles, who was captured on video beating her brother-in-law, rapper Jay Z.
He tells WENN, "Following the lack of public outcry over Kelly Brook and Solange Knowles earlier this year, this continues a gravely concerning trend where committing violence against a man is seen as socially acceptable. It never is and never should be seen as ok, in exactly the same way it is not rightly acceptable when it is a woman who is at the receiving end."
Adam Fouracre, Chief Executive Officer of Stand Against Violence, adds, "The description of the attack is not one which highlights any remorse or shame in these actions. It is not acceptable to 'savagely' beat anyone, refer to oneself proudly as a 'prizefighter' whilst continuing to describe 'a vast array of direct punches' as if some sort of high octane action movie. We spend all of our time as a charity trying to change attitudes around violence, to show that it only takes one punch to end a life and leave others in grief and chaos... It is imperative that those with influence uphold and promote non violence and do their bit to make the society we live in safe... Those in the spotlight should be setting an example."
Polly Neate from Women's Aid tells WENN, "Domestic violence is always unacceptable, regardless of whether the person is a celebrity or not. The majority of domestic violence involves a pattern of abusive behaviour, which involves controlling behaviour, rather than a one-off outburst. Rather than 'losing control' it is an attempt to gain control over their partner."
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Ultimately, Transformers: Age of Extinction is not as excruciating as its predecessors. The first Transformers was bad, but not spirit-killing bad. Revenge of the Fallen kicked off that trend, delivering a soulless two-and-a-half hours of nihilistic gear crunching nihilism — a phenomenon that was reproduced, but in sub-lethal doses, in Dark of the Moon. Somehow, even with at least four extra tiers of mindless climax and a post-9/11 motif underway, Age of Extinction manages to be the least offensive of the lot. Maybe it's the absence of Shia LaBeouf, perhaps the colorful robo-voice cast, or even the thinly veiled breakdown of American conservatism that's principally responsible fueling interest. But make no mistake: this combination may well airlift Transformers: Age of Extinction to a surprising altitude of tolerability (especially when considering its egregious 167-minute runtime), but the movie is still pretty darn bad.
The movie bats around themes of progressivism (and, more prominently, anti-progressivism) with no particular margins in mind. Mark Wahlberg plays a lifelong Texan with a distinct proclivity for non-rhotic Rs and a teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz) who he keeps on a tight leash. When he comes face to face with her new boyfriend (Jack Reynor), a 20-year-old immigrant (perish the thought!) from Ireland (is that one of the bad ones?) in one of the film's most mind-boggling scenes representing the upsurge in liberal thinking that lays waste to American values like statutory law. Dopey Wahlberg, a perpetually blubbering Peltz, and the wickedly nondescript Reynor discover and join forces with a Transformer — Optimus Prime, to be precise — who is on a quest to do something. Something to do with humans or Decepticons or Dinobots. Whoever it is (they're all in there), he's trying to avoid them or save them or fight them. His friends come, too. Bumblebee, John Goodbot, and a samurai Transformer so undeniably racist that it stunned me that the voice actor behind the portrayal was Ken Watanabe, and not somebody whose only experience with Japanese culture came from World War II-era Looney Tunes shorts.
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The incomprehensibility rages on as the "story" ropes in inventor Stanley Tucci — a Steve Jobs type — and Senator Kelsey Grammer — a Kelsey Grammer type. As the arguments for and against innovation are sprinkled through a minefield of nonsense, we struggle to understand the sincerity behind director Michael Bay's ultimate message. We also struggle to understand where or when or how any of what happening is happening in relationship to any other place, time, or characters in the movie. The geography of the action sequences (it might be wrong to pluralize this phrase — the second half of the film is more accurately one long action sequence separated by moments of Tucci nebbishing it up) and coherency of the set pieces are sub-afterthought. We see a lot of stuff, but we never watch anything really happen.
With a climax that lasts forever and an abject lack of denoument, the second half of the movie is notably more harrowing than the first. But thanks to the charms of its cast (Tucci has fun and Goodman is endearing... forget Wahlberg, Peltz, and Reynor, though) and a few comically bizarre moments (like a rainstorm of Bud Light bottles or Tucci screaming about math... well, not about math, but... eh, you'll see), Age of Extinction is ultimately... survivable. Not the highest praise you can give a movie, but possibly the highest praise you can give a Transformers movie.
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From the neon brights and fingerless gloves of an '80s era Carrie Bradshaw on The Carrie Diaries to the high-class couture sported by your favorite Gossip Girl, costume designer Eric Daman has certainly left his mark on the small screen. He's also made the fledgling CW network a much more stylish destination, turning the little network into a big name when it comes to fashion. With The Carrie Diaries ending its run and Gossip Girl having signed her last "xoxo," Daman is likely to be in high demand for productions looking for his magic touch. Until he finds his next gig, the viewing public will remain in desperate need of styling tips from our television fashion idols. Thankfully, we managed to track down Eric Daman to ask our most pressing fashion questions, from how to adopt '80s trends without looking like a throwback, to what our favorite Gossip Girl characters would be sporting in 2014.
The weather is finally warm and spring has sprung, so what are your top tips for killing it sartorially this spring? What trends should we all keep an eye out for?
ED: "For spring this year, what's trending are pretty pastels in hi-tech silhouettes. Vintage bomber jackets are getting a modern makeover. Skirts are getting longer (the retro tea length is gaining popularity). And boxy tops in shift shape are giving the body con trend a run for its money. Carrie's 'Carrie Bag' would certainly be on trend with the giant designer DIY movement underfoot. The low heeled pump is seeing a moment in the sun, while the kaleidoscopic print is still on trend and being mixed with other print patterns for emphasis. Tribal stripes and fringe are enjoying worldwide appeal. Lace and open-weave are on board this spring, and metallic hasn't lost is foot-hold either. My top tip is to be mindful of what I call the allure of the hybrid: structural, material, visual, and cultural hybrids are the name of the game overall this coming year in style."
If you were still dressing the characters of Gossip Girl today, in 2014, what would today's Serena outfit look like? What would Blair be wearing? How about Chuck?
ED: "Serena would definitely be hanging out at Coachella, in maybe a soft-hard beautiful broiderie anglaise Isabel Marant top in soft pinks and whites with layer-cakey ruffley details, a lite-puff shoulder and see-through seams. She'd pair it with something by Emilio Pucci, either black-and-white graphic shorts or a rainbow metallic mini with Nicholas Kirkwood sleek pointed zig-zag leather and suede pumps in orange, turquoise, and pink. She'd throw on a shaggy Proenza Schouler coat if the evening got a little chilly, with a pair of retro-deco earrings that sparkle by the light of the bonfire."
"Blair would be having lunch at the Pierre Hotel, very much in a calf-length Burberry pencil skirt in structured lace with Byzantine inspired crystal cluster embellishments. She'd wear an Elie Saab watercolor shouldered top, under a floral embossed Christian Dior vivid orange half jacket, with an Alexander McQueen studded black nappa leather knucklebox clutch and Christian Louboutin Bollywood Boulevard PVC pumps."
"Chuck would be at the cricket club with the urban daddy crowd for a quick round in a Bastiaan Van Gaalen polo shirt, summer weight Moncler blue quilted blazer with white trim, a Salvatore Ferragamo vest, Louis Vuitton plaid trousers, and a Jimmy Choo tassled summer loafer."
What's one current trend you think the Gossip Girl characters would love? You're always taking trends and making them your own. How would you have made the trend Upper East Side worthy?
ED: "I can see a 2014 version of Uptown meets Downtown in looks where Renaissance-inspired maximalism meets tribalistic geometry."
What are the challenges of working with time period costuming for The Carrie Diaries? How do you keep things fresh while still staying true to the '80s?
ED: "We knew we had to be honest and address the '80s, but we had to be honest in a selective way from an editorial perspective. The term 'aspirational authenticity' was a guiding mantra that served reliably. I wanted to do justice to styles of the '80s that were inspiring designers from Calvin Klein to Dolce and Gabbana to Balmain to Marc by Marc Jacobs to Charlotte Ronson to DKNY, all the way down the fashion food chain to include fast fashion purveyors like TopShop, UrbanOutfitters, Zara, and H&M. There was so much '80s inspired fashion available by contemporary designers and retailers, the opportunity to select the most flattering of the range of choices was clearly the best direction."
For people who love The Carrie Diaries fashion but don't want to look like they just walked out of a vintage MTV video, how can you translate that killer '80s fashion into a more modern look?
ED: "I know what you mean. I made a point to keep it a camouflaged combination of vintage and contemporary designs, which is kind of a very '80s approach to begin with. I indulged a bit in my irresistable desire to mix and blend actual vintage pieces from the '80s, which we acquired from Bill Blass, Norma Kamali, Thierry Mugler, Arnold Scaasi, and Sonya Rykiel, with modern fashions like Missoni, American Apparel, Modcloth, Nasty Gal, and Mara Hoffman. We used accessories by Alexis Bittar, Alex Woo, Swarovski, Alex Woo, and Magdalena Stokalska among many others."
As a huge fan of Gossip Girl and an even bigger fan of the fashion, I have to ask what some of your all-time favorite looks were from the series.
ED: "That's a tough one. I'll make a deal with you. I'll tell you some of my favorite episodes and you can extrapolate the outfits from there...Season 1: 'Hi Society.' Season 2: 'Summer Kind of Wonderful.' Season 3: 'Last Tango, then Paris.' Season 4: 'The Undergraduate.' Season 5: 'GG.' Season 6: 'New York I love You XOXO.'"
What were your favorite looks from Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries? Share in the comments!
It may be easy to hate on Kanye West the celebrity, but as an artist you really have to admire his work and the fascinating stuff he creates with the people around him. Even at this year's Tribeca Film Festival — where he didn't premiere any film projects, and he didn't have a role in any indie productions — he managed to make headlines for his involvement.
Kanye and the legendary Rick Rubin were supposed to accept a Disruptive Innovation Award on behalf of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. They couldn't make it to the venue, so director Mark Romanek compiled this very strange, but wonderfully interesting video of them giving thanks:
Pink Floyd's The Wall + Kanye West's I'm In It + Laurel and Hardy + other cool things we don't even know what to do with = easily the greatest award acceptance video "speech" of all time. While other celebrities may not be interested in turning this into a trend, it's certainly a creative endeavour that we'd love to see happen more often.
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Friends star Matthew Perry is to make his U.K. TV acting debut after accepting a role in a quirky new British comedy. Perry has signed up to star in a one-off show called The Dog Thrower, playing a man who inspires a new trend by tossing his pet in the air, which is part of the Playhouse Presents series.
The actor follows in the footsteps of his former Friends co-star Matt LeBlanc who became a regular on U.K. TV after landing a recurring role in British comedy Episodes in 2011.
The Playhouse Presents series also includes a gang heist drama called Foxtrot, which pairs Skyfall star Ben Whishaw with singer-turned-actress Billie Piper, Timeless, starring model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne, and Nosferatu In Love, featuring Mark Strong.
The shows air in the U.K. later this year (14).
Jenji Kohan, best known for creating Showtime’s Weeds and the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, has signed on to develop a period drama for HBO. The Hollywood Reporter recently learned the new series will take place in Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials. According to THR, the drama “explores the circumstances surrounding one of the most compelling chapters in American history, when intolerance and repression set neighbor against neighbor and led a town to mass hysteria.”
As we’ve said before, witches are very in this season, so we’re not exactly surprised, but we are delighted. While we can’t get enough of awesome witches, we’re most excited that Kohan is spearheading the project because she has certainly won us over with her work on Weeds and Orange is the New Black. Both series are beloved by fans of TV and critics alike so we’re sure Kohan’s new Salem drama will be as well.
From what we can tell, after hearing about the new series, we’re going to get something that is a mix of Orange is the New Black, American Horror Story: Coven, and Game of Thrones. To be honest, that sounds a like an absolutely perfect show. Unfortunately though, as the show is still in the developing stages, we’re not sure exactly when it will hit TV.
For a couple of shows, Saturday Night Live has presented a strange conundrum - bringing in hosts who don't have any projects that they are not-so-subtly pushing. First it was Bruce Willis, who just apparently picked up the phone and said, "I wanna host SNL. Yeah, I know, it's been a dog's age since I did it, but hey, why not?" Then again, he's Bruce Freaking Willis, who still oozes tons of cool. He does have a ton of upcoming movies in 2014, including yes, yet ANOTHER Die Hard movie - Die Hardest. which could prove awkward for German translation when it plays overseas: "No, no, Mr. Willis is not entering the porn world. It's an action movie! No! Not THAT kind of action." But the audience was not aware of anything current.
Next is Edward Norton, who is probably smarting just a bit about being replaced by Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. He's got nothing until 2014, but maybe he felt like stretching his comedy boundaries (two voiceover cameos on The Simpsons in 13 years DOESN'T count.) It just seems like an odd choice, especially since there are probably people who have upcoming work that could have hosted. Then again, he's a fantastic actor and he could blow the roof off with his comedic timing.
Here's a school of thought though - the show is relying on a LOT of young, new talent who are still feeling their way through the whole process and having two steady, professional hosts who are very familiar with acting, could help ease them through this transition. They had Tina Fey for the premiere, so it does make some sense in terms of guiding hands. Then again, they also ran the risk of having the new actors just be like, "OH MY GOD! IT'S BRUCE WILLIS! CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH!" all day long. Still, it looks like it's a good idea overall.
Let's have a look at who is coming up: Kerry Washington will be in full swing on Scandal, which started back in September. She'll be a nice addition for that night, a black woman on the show (more on that in another piece). Nothing after that has been announced, but it'll be interesting to see if this trend continues all season long.
We caught up with Julianne Moore about her new romantic comedy subversion Don Jon, in which she plays a woman named Esther who meets Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character Jon at community college. Moore discusses all the ways Gordon-Levitt's film turns the rom-com genre on its head, playing a complex, interesting, almost loony woman, and delving into the psychology behind the addiction featured in the movie.
The movie has a lot to say about a lot of different things: pornography, addiction in general, gender roles, and — to put it ineloquently — bro culture. Which of these interested you to the point of getting on board with the project?I think all of them. When I first read the script, I was really touched by it. Very, very surprised. It didn't go in the direction I expected at all. Not at all! Just the fact that somebody was able to construct a script so good that it's surprising is kind of amazing. Generally, things tend to follow a certain pattern. [Joseph Gordon-Levitt] explores so many things, socially and politically, and then really ends as an exploration of intimacy. What intimacy is. I love the fact that he juxtaposed the porn culture and the romantic comedy culture, and then equated them as equal kinds of fantasy. That's fascinating. That's something that we haven't seen. And I love that he explored all these other things.
[Jon] has set these definitions for himself. There's the porn. There's his friends. The bro culture, like you said. There's the religious community, and the idea that things are either right or wrong. There's what his father believes he should be, what his mother believes he should be. The gym culture. All these things that define. And do they make him happy? Has he chosen them, have they chosen him? The idea that you can find yourself buried in that, not knowing who you are or what you want, was fascinating.
You mentioned that you thought the script was going to go one way, but then it didn't. I'm interested in hearing how you thought it was going to go.I don't know if there was anything specific. But when somebody handed me the script and said it was going to be about porn, I didn't think it was going to be very interesting. [Laughs] They said, "Hey, here's this movie, it's about porn," and I said, "Ugh… okay." So that's what I meant. I think my expectations were about that, not that it was going to be an exploration of how these things have managed to define people and how they broke away from them.
I like when we meet your character. The movie, up until then, feels very contained in this little world. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has experienced all these things before, is very familiar with them. And then Esther is completely different from anyone he has known to any real degree. I was wondering about your take on her. She's a little loony.She seems so crazy! Isn't that great? [Laughs]
But you make her a person. So how did you balance that? How much crazy did you put in, how much humanity did you put in?What I like about her is that she is somebody who, because of what she has recently experienced, is not able to be anything but one hundred percent authentic. She has to be where she is. There's a quality to her that is almost skinless. And she's extremely present because of it. There's an acute presence. What's interesting about Esther is that you think she's probably not this way all the time. You know? I think this is just a moment in time when she is this way. So what she brings, the energy that she brings, is kind of loaded. [Laughs] It's a lot! And like I said, she probably wouldn't ordinarily behave this way, but she just happens to because of her experience. So that's what I really, really liked. The way she rides on emotions, too, is very immediate. Extremely immediate. I thought that was really fresh writing.
Definitely. I think that what the script and your performance do really well is keep her from becoming the manic pixie dream girl phenomenon. In another version of this movie, I could definitely see that character becoming that. That's interesting. Nobody has brought that up, but that's very interesting. It could be another version of that, yeah. That "Let me help you find yourself"…
Right, totally. But to your credit and to the movie's credit, she comes across as another character who comes through Jon's life. And because of who they both are, they both benefit from it. I wanted to know what you think about that trend and the benefits of subverting it.When we were at Sundance, we talked a little bit about cinematic tropes and how tiresome they can be. I think that's what I mean about having expectations of the script. I did think there was going to be something more formulaic about the way it unfolded. And the fact that he didn't do that in the writing, and that she is an unexpected character, and that Barbara is not an expected character either. Especially to cast someone who looks like Scarlett, who is such a beautiful girl, such a bombshell. And very intelligent and very self-possessed. I think what Joe is subverting in this movie as well is that these tropes are just that: cinematic tropes. They're not truisms, just things that people resort to.
Another thing that I think is indicative of that is the fact that he obsessively loves to clean. This antithesis of traditional masculinity.Right! And what's interesting is that is one of the places where the movie turns, too. He feels so connected to that. [Laughs] It feels so authentically him, so when that's challenged, he's really like, "Hey man, I like this!" It's actually really sweet and unusual that that's the moment where he really gets like, "I've had enough!"
Right. With the porn, he becomes aggressive, but with the cleaning —He takes it personally! "This is mine." I kind of love that. Because what is authentic? And what do we like? And what's wrong with liking the things that we like? And you have to allow for that. You have to allow for it in your love and in other people's lives.
And going a little bit on the idea of addiction, in at least two or three scenes you see Esther smoking marijuana.One scene. She's only smoking pot in the scene in the car, and she's smoking a cigarette in another scene.
Oh. I guess that was just my Freudian interpretation… [Laughs] But she is smoking pot and smoking a cigarette, so…
I do think she mentions coming to class high, at least.Right. Well, I think what we can surmise from that is that she's traumatized.
So you viewed it more as sort of a coping mechanism rather than a parallel to his addiction?Maybe that's something that she's having issues with too. That's really possible. I think addictions are generally coping mechanisms. They start out as a way to mask something, and then they become something that is addictive and ongoing. There is usually some complicity there.
That's certainly true. Do you think that Joe's character was attempting to mask something with his pattern of pornography?Maybe not feeling anything. I think that's what Esther is trying to do, too. That kind of stimulation… when it's that constant, yeah, there's something going on. There's some kind of sensation that you're creating to mask some kind of pain — listen, I am not an expert! [Laughs]
No, totally, I just wanted to get your take on it. But getting back to Esther, is it particularly rewarding for you to play characters that have some more colorful eccentricities? Maybe as opposed to a more "traditional" female lead.Like what kind of traditional female lead?
That's a good question. Just thinking of another movie you were in recently, Crazy, Stupid, Love. You definitely had scenes of emotional volatility, but you're a little bit more together there, I think.Right. Although, I really loved doing that movie.
Oh, it was excellent!No, each character is kind of endemic to themselves. But it is always interesting to do something where you have interesting things to do. You want the character to have a conundrum. I hesitate to say that one is more interesting than another. It really is about the whole thing, about the narrative. But it's always kind of fun to do stuff that is different.
You were talking before about how this movie takes on the rom-com genre. How it's about genuine intimacy. I wanted to hear what you think about what this movie does specifically that other movies, or the genre in general, miss the mark on?I think it doesn't assume that there's a "happily ever after." I think in a lot of romantic comedies, everyone ends up with the right person, and that's it — they're going to stay with that person and get married and walk off into the sunset. They've figured out the problem. I don't think this movie assumes that at all. I think it just says, "Let's see what happens." This is what it is for now. This is what we're paying attention to. This is what the connection is. This is just what's happening.
And don't try to block it out.Yeah, don't try to block it out. Be present. Be aware. It isn't a fantasy. It's not like that. And that's what it leaves you with.
More:'Don Jon' ReviewJoseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson Talk 'Don Jon'JGL Talks Accents and Addictions at 'Don Jon' Premiere
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The end is coming for the TV antihero. Well, actually, the end is coming for a few very select TV antiheroes, but the whole genre might just be following right behind. Dexter has killed his last victim. Walter White has cooked his last meth. And after a ridiculous decision by AMC to split up the final season of Mad Men, Don Draper will have pitched his last ad.
With the demise of Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Mad Men the television landscape will lose the shows which helped pioneer this new antihero craze. Usually when a new trend emerges, the genesis of the trend dies out and permutations and variations take over.
For instance, it was The Office that gave birth to cringe-inducing humor and mockumentary style filmmaking. Sanding down the edges of The Office’s crueler, edgier laughs gave us Modern Family and the sweetly hilarious Parks and Recreation. These comedies were similar enough to the genesis point but different enough to not feel like a tired retread.
However for every successful genre evolution, there are examples of a style of show burning bright and fading fast. After the monstrous success of Lost, every network was looking for its next mythology-heavily serialized drama. This lead to clunkers like Flashforward, The Event, and Invasion.
A genre can’t move forward if it doesn’t try to cover new ground. This is certainly true of the new crop of antihero shows, which all feel very paint-by-numbers. You could almost put together an anithero bingo card at this point. Certainly shows like Showtime’s Ray Donovan and AMC’s promoted-to-the-point-of-desperation Low Winter Sun would immediately win the prize.
These shows aren’t bringing a new color to the antihero, they’re merely photocopying the elements that work from better shows and attempting to reuse these tricks with diminishing returns. Audiences get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, and a one-trick pony can only impress for so long.
What made the pioneering antihero shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad so compelling is that they were doing something we had never seen on television before. We weren’t used to being asked to emphasize with a murderous mobster or a morally compromised meth kingpin. But now we are, and making shows with “gritty” main heroes (almost always white and male) doesn’t give audiences anything they haven’t seen before.
It’s time to bid farewell to some of our favorite love-to-hate characters and move on to new stories, told in new ways. No show can be the next Breaking Bad, no alcoholic ad man will compete with Don Draper, and no serial killer will be as likable as Dexter Morgan. So instead shouldn’t TV try something truly novel and find a new tale to tell?
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There's a new tradition in Hollywood: every January, Mark Wahlberg puts out an action thriller where he enforces the law against terrorists/drug lords/meanies. Contraband and Broken City are the latest entries in trend, but after the 2013 Cannes Film Festival debut of Takashi Miike's Shield of Straw, we're ready to bump up the "Mark Wahlberg Thriller" to full-on genre, even if they take place entirely without Mark Whalberg.
Just how did Miike, the prolific director behind Audition and 13 Assassins, make a Wahlberg movie without the star? Everything about the story seems like something that Boston's favorite son would do in his January movie.
After the body of an eight-year-old is found in a storm drain, Tokyo police trace the murder back to known pedeophile Kunihide Kiyomaru (Tatsuya Fujiwara). What starts as a manhunt escalates to all out war when the girl's wealthy grandfather offers a reward of one billion yen to anyone who can kill the criminal. When the offer drives Kiyomaru to turn himself in, Lieutenant Mekari (Takao Osawa — in the Mark Wahlberg role) and a handful of security agents are forced to offer him protection as they transfer him from one jail to another. The only thing that stands in their way? Every person in the entire country, it seems.
Shield of Straw is ludicrous, but Miike — a director who has never shied away from any genre or style — sinks his teeth into the ticking clock adventure. The first 30 minutes move swiftly to the tune of beating drums and violins. It nears the line of spoofing the Mark Wahlberg genre, until Miike concocts a number of shootouts, chase scenes, and explosives set pieces to get the pressure cooker rattling.
Adding an extra twist to the rather out-of-place Cannes selection is a complicated morality question: everyone around the police wants to kill Kiyomaru. Not surprising, considering he rapes and murders children. Unlike most of Mr. Wahlberg's action pictures here in the States, where the people being blown away are faceless goons we're told are evil and deserve it, the adversaries Mekari faces are, in some ways, justified in their violent actions. They don't want the police to deliver Kiyomaru unscathed. If they can slice his head off or waste him away in machine gun fire and get a billion yen in the process — money that could potentially save their own lives — why wouldn't they? And so they do, and it's a tricky situation throughout the film. Despite flaws in logic and a latter half that spins in circles, the underlying message is provocative. When Miike switches into action mode, it's a blast worthy of Hollywood's blockbusters.
So next January, when Mark Wahlberg arrives with yet another shoot'em up picture, know that there are others working from blueprints and innovating along the way. Who knows? Perhaps Miike will one day bring his stylings to American shores and proves there's a Mark Wahlberg gem to be made in the Mark Wahlberg genre.
Or more likely: Mark Wahlberg's Shield of Straw remake — coming January 2016!
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