As obsessive readers and fans of dismissing quality movies as inferior to their literary counterparts, it's important for us to know which books will head to the big screen ahead of time. How else will we know how Wild Reese will be, or what is going to happen to Peeta? Be reasonable. We've decided to use our research for the good of society and share the adaptations coming soon that we are most excited for.
1. The Spook's Apprentice - Joseph Delaney (Seventh Son)
Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes) is the seventh son of the seventh son, which gives him the ability to see things that others cannot: ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, and the like. He becomes an apprentice to John Gregory, the Spook (Jeff Bridges). Julianne Moore is set to play Mother Malkin, one of the most sinister witches who uses blood magic, luring young runaway women into care before sucking their blood to maintain her youth, who was then imprisoned by the Spook. Kit Harington and Djimon Hounsou also star.
2. Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, in case you somehow didn't know, are stepping into the roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey for the adaptation of the incredibly successful erotic novel. Steele, a literature student, interviews Grey as a favor to her roommate, but quickly becomes entranced by this brilliant and handsome man who is unable to resist her. He admits his desire, but on his own terms; this is a man with a need to control everything. This is also probably going to be the movie with a bunch of heavy-breathing sweaty middle-aged women trying to control themselves in the theater. You've been warned.
3. In the Heart of the Sea - Nathaniel Philbrick
The last time Ron Howard and Chris Hemsworth teamed up, they brought us one of the best films of 2013, Rush. Now, they're at it again (along with Cillian Murphy and Benjamin Walker) with this story of a whaleship attacked by one angry whale, leaving the crew shipwrecked and stranded for 90 days, thousands of miles from land. The true story inspired a little book by Herman Melville (played in the movie by our favorite, Ben Whishaw) entitled Moby-Dick.
4. The Price of Salt - Patricia Highsmith (Carol)
W. W. Norton & Company
Patricia Highsmith, author of successful novels-turned-movies like Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley (we're choosing to ignore the recent The Two Faces of January here), wrote The Price of Salt, which will be released as 'Carol.' The novel itself, controversial for its lesbian content and unprecedented gay happy ending, is said to have inspired Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. The film stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and Sarah Paulson, with Far From Heaven and I'm Not There director Todd Haynes helming.
5. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn
Shaye Areheart Books
Gone Girl author brings us yet another chilling thriller. A young girl is the sole survivor of a massacre that leaves both of her sisters and her mother dead in an apparent Satanic cult ritual. She testifies against her brother, but 25 years later, she begins to investigate the actual events. Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nicholas Hoult, and Christina Hendricks star.
6. A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants director Ken Kwapis is set to direct Bryson's memoir, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. The hilarious book describes Bryson's attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz. Emma Thompson and Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman will also star.
7. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
As conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows, a war looms for Divergent's post-apocalyptic Chicago. In this sequel, we're still following Shailene Woodley and Theo James' Tris and Four as they try to understand the reasons for Erudite's insurrection and obtain information the Abnegation are trying to protect. Kate Winslet, Zoë Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, and Miles Teller return in their supporting roles, and are joined by some all-star names: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, and Suki Waterhouse.
8. Serena - Ron Rash
The dynamic duo of mega-nominated movies Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle are back at it! Bradley Cooper plays a man trying to maintain his timber empire during the Depression, while Jennifer Lawrence plays his wife who discovers she can't have children. For some reason, we're a little terrified of JLaw in this movie from the trailer.
9. Silence - Shusako Endo
Taplinger Publishing Company
This 1966 novel about a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan where he endures persecution is set to be adapted by Martin Scorsese. It will also have an all star cast of Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Ken Watanabe, and Adam Driver.
10. The Longest Ride - Nicholas Sparks
The producers of The Fault in Our Stars, the author of The Notebook, and the hottest Hollywood son around, this movie already has us in love with it. Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson play two lovers and there's a rodeo or something; we don't really know, we were just thinking about how much this movie will make us cry. Time to read the book.
11. Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
The Hunt director Thomas Vinterberg tackles Thomas Hardy's novel. Carey Mulligan stars as Bathsheba Everdene, a woman who has too many men in love with her and of course rejects them all until she falls for one. Three men, played by Michael Sheen, Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), and Tom Sturridge (On The Road), all after this woman: who will she end up with? We actually just read the plot description and had everything spoiled and somehow still gasped and cried at those three paragraphs. Why didn't we know about this book before?!
12. Paper Towns - John Green
The Fault in Our Stars author John Green's next book to be adapted by the same team who adapted TFIOS (Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber). Margo and her adventures are legendary at her high school, and Quentin ("Q") has always loved her for it. Margo climbs through his window and demands he take an all night road trip of revenge, but when she goes missing the next day, Q realizes she's left clues for him and promptly hits the road again in search of her. Cara Delevingne will play Margo and TFIOS' Nat Wolff will play Q.
13. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge - Michael Punke
Carroll & Graf Publishers
Academy Award-nominated Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, 21 Grams, Biutiful) is set to direct Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in this adaptation. Partially based on the life of fur trapper Hugh Glass. Leo will play Glass, who is mauled by a bear, then later robbed and left for dead by his companions. He survives and sets out for revenge against those same men.
14. The Secret Scripture - Sebastian Barry
Faber and Faber
A one-hundred-year-old woman, Roseanne McNulty, in a mental hospital for about 50 years decides to retrace her history. As the hospital faces demolition and he must choose which of his patients should be transferred and which should rejoin the community, Dr. Grene also tries to discover her history. What they find is very different, though there are some consistencies. Vanessa Redgrave and Rooney Mara will play Roseanne McNulty, Eric Bana will play Grene, with Theo James also starring.
15. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
An oft-adapted novel, Mary Shelley's classic is to be turned into yet another film, this time directed by Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Push). The updated version, titled Victor Frankenstein, will be told from the perspective of the doctor's assistant, Igor. The film will explain how the doctor became the man who created the legendary monster. Daniel Radcliffe will play Igor and James McAvoy will play Victor Frankenstein.
16. The Martian - Andy Weir
Crown Publishing Group
Described as Cast Away meets Apollo 13, the novel follows an astronaut stranded on Mars, fighting to survive (which also sounds mildly like Gravity to us, no?). Ridley Scott is set to direct a pretty stellar (no pun intended) cast here: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Kate Mara, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. This sounds like a great movie already, but we'll have to wait until November to see it.
17. The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling
Walt Disney Pictures is working on this live-action/CGI mash-up of the classic book, directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef), with a mind-bogglingly incredible cast. Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito will provide voices, while newcomer Neel Sethi will play Mowgli.
Zach Braff's stage adaptation of Woody Allen's 1994 crime caper Bullets Over Broadway has fallen flat with critics. The comedy film, which starred John Cusack and Dianne Wiest, has been adapted for the Broadway stage with Scrubs star Braff in the lead role, but the show failed to impress reviewers when it opened at the St. James Theatre on Thursday night (10Apr14).
The New York Daily News' Joe Dziemianowicz called the production a "bit of a miss", adding, "Allen's showbiz and gangland eccentrics stiffen into cardboard when they're amplified from two to three dimensions... It doesn't help that key actors shoot blanks... Beyond mediocre acting is the poor choice at the center of this jukebox musical."
Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times criticises the "coarseness of some of the humour" as well as the actors' performances, while Variety's Marilyn Stasio adds, "Everyone hoped Bullets Over Broadway would be the show to get those flickering Broadway lights blazing again... Surprisingly, though... (it) is feeble on laughs, and certain key performers don't seem comfortable... So, let's call it close - but no cigar."
Ben Brantley of The New York Times also criticised the show, adding, "While the movie was a helium-light charmer, this all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing reincarnation is also all but charm-free... The experience of watching the film was like being tickled, gently but steadily, into a state of mounting hysteria... The musical version... feels more like being head-butted by linebackers. Make that linebackers in blinding sequins."
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney concludes by urging theatre fans to rent a copy of the movie instead: "Spend five bucks to rent the delightful movie or north of a hundred to watch its buoyancy get trampled in a strained musical? Not a tough choice."
In 1993, the world was introduced to the Matthews family: hard-working mother and father, cool older brother (eventually overtaken by unexplained brain damage) Eric, impish/occasionally nonexistent younger sister Morgan, and middle son Cory Matthews, whose misadventures with friends, relatives, and faculty members were the life force of the now classic Boy Meets World. Although we bade farewell to Matthews — played, of course, by Ben Savage —when the show came to a close, we will be meeting up with the BMW hero once more in the forthcoming sequel series Girl Meets World. An adult Cory (played again by Savage) and his wife Topanga (the character’s original portrayer Danielle Fishel) will star on Boy creator Michael Jacobs’ new show, hopefully instilling the same heart and soul into their daughter Riley that we found in the original program. (And for more Boy Meets World nostalgia, be sure to check out Matt Patches' oral history of "And Then There Was Shawn," in which BMW cast and crew talk about the series' infamous 1998 Halloween episode.)
While many of us can now rest happily, dreaming of an imminent reunion with Cory and Topanga, some BMW super fans still wonder: what happened to everyone else on that show? Savage and Fishel will be recharging their careers on the new Disney series, but what are the other cast members up to these days? What has Minkus been doing? Or Harley? Frankie the Enforcer? And how about Mr. Feeny?
The Hollywood.com staff has lived out its fantasy as a team of private investigators (it’s not as swanky and glamorous as the Bogey movies always made it seem… the Internet kind of ruined that magic) and sought out the post-Boy Meets World career ups and downs of the show’s cast. Want to see where the John Adams High student body is today? Check out what we discovered below.
Name: Lee Norris
Character: Stuart Minkus
Seen In…: 23 episodes, with his last appearance at high school graduation making a joke about how all the characters we hadn’t seen in seasons were just “on the other side” of the school.
You'll Remember Him For: Being an even bigger nerd than early-seasons Topanga.
What He's Up To Now: Two cameos in Dawson’s Creek, “Barefoot at Capefest” and “To Green, With Love,” and playing Marvin “Mouth” McFadden for all nine seasons of One Tree Hill (where he got a six-pack!).
NEXT: What Happened to Morgan Matthews?Name: Lily NicksayCharacter: Morgan Matthews (The Original)Seen In…: 35 episodesYou'll Remember Her For: Playing Cory and Eric’s adorable little sister in the first two seasons. This version of Morgan enjoyed tea parties, playing with dolls, and eating only the marshmallows from boxes of Lucky Charms. She disappeared after only 35 episodes, and was replaced with Lindsay Ridgeway who took over the role with, “That was the longest time-out I've ever had!” What She's Up To Now: Nicksay made appearances in a handful of other TV shows after her Disney debut, including Judging Amy, The Guardian and 8 Simple Rules. She also appeared in Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford's 1996 film Up Close & Personal. Nicksay is now 24-years-old, and she recently attended college at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. NEXT: What Happened to the other Morgan Matthews? Name: Lindsay RidgewayCharacter: Morgan Matthews (The Second)Seen In…: 75 EpisodesYou'll Remember Her For: Ridgeway turned Morgan from adorable youngest daughter to sharp comedic sidekick when she took over for the original Morgan, Lily Nicksay, in 1996.What She's Up to Now: After Boy Meets World ended, Ridgeway went on to do what a majority of teenagers do: She went to college. The actress received a Political Science degree from University of California Riverside in 2007 and a Masters in Counseling University of Redlands in 2010. Aside from a few voiceover parts, Ridgeway doesn't have too many credits to her name, but she continues to pursue her passion for singing (which she showed off in the 1997 animated film Cats Don't Dance). She regularly performs the National Anthem for Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.NEXT: What Happened to Jack Hunter? Name: Matthew LawrenceCharacter: Jack HunterSeen In…: 68 EpisodesYou'll Remember Him For: The middle Lawrence brother joined Boy Meets World in 1997 as Shawn's step-brother Jack, who evolved into a Eric Matthew's partner in crime (and comedy).What He's Up to Now: Lawrence was working steadily as a child actor before Boy and he continued to find work on both the small and big screens afterward. He appeared in 2002's The Hot Chick and 2007's The Comebacks. When we caught up with Lawrence for our Boy Meets World retrospective, he was enthusiastic about acting and his work off-screen: ""Besides auditioning and constantly going out for roles, I work in conservation with animals,"" Lawrence said. ""I'm doing this other TV show, it's somewhat reality based, coming up in January."" The actor recently joined his brother Joey Lawrence on the ABC Family sitcom Melissa & Joey.NEXT: What Happened to Angela Moore?Name: Trina McGee-DavisCharacter: Angela MooreSeen In…: 60 episodesYou'll Remember Her For: Being Shawn’s first long-term girlfriend who was on-and-off with him throughout the whole series before moving to Europe with her father in “Angela’s Ashes.”What She's Up to Now: A mother of three, McGee-Davis has made a few TV movies, like All of Us and Business Class.NEXT: What Happened to Mr. Feeny?Name: William DanielsCharacter: Mr. FeenySeen In…: 158 episodes, spanning from the first until the very last episodeYou'll Remember Him For: Living next door to Cory and Eric, and being first their teacher, then principal, then professor, and always their friend. He gave the best advice, and was the greatest mentor kids could wish for. And you can’t forget the legendary Feeny call!What He's Up to Now: Most recently, he befriended and taught Dr. Cristina Yang before dying mid-surgery on Grey’s Anatomy (freeing him up to appear on Girl Meets World!). He also appeared on two episodes of The Closer, one of King of Queens, one of Boston Legal, one of Scrubs, played the voice of K.I.T.T. on The Simpsons, and the voice of a robot pilot on Kim Possible with fellow BMW alum Will Friedle.NEXT: What Happened to Jason Marsden? Name: Jason MarsdenCharacter: Jason MarsdenSeen In...: 9 episodes from 1994-1995You'll Remember Him For: Playing a character with his real name, being best friends with Eric.What He's Up to Now: Marsden voiced various characters in DC Warner Bros. animated series like teenage Clark Kent, Firefly, and Danger Duck, and served as the voice of Max Goof in A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie, Mungo the gorilla in Tarzan. Marsden also landed gigs as the head announcer for Toon Disney, part-time announcer for Disney Channel. Of course, he also appeared in the flesh on occasion, with roles in Fun with Dick and Jane — as the cashier at the gas station — episodes of Even Stevens and Will and Grace, and voiced Felix Renton in Kim Possible with fellow BMW alum Will Friedle. He also continues to voice Nermal, Vito, Doctor Bonkers, and others on The Garfield Show.NEXT: What Happened to Eddie Hunter? Name: Maury SterlingCharacter: Eddie HunterSeen In…: Episode 317 (“The Pink Flamingo”)You'll Remember Him For: Being the trailer park thief who turns out to be Shawn’s surprise half-brother… who was never heard from or spoken of again. Ever.What He's Up to Now: He’s Max on Homeland! Max! Virgil’s socially inept surveillance expert brother! Sorry for all the exclamation points, but that’s how we felt when we realized this.NEXT: What Happened to Desiree?Name: Sydney BennettCharacter: DesireeSeen In…: Episode 203 (“Notorious”), Episode 204 (“Me and Mr. Joad”)You'll Remember Her For: Playing Eric like a fool as his Southern Belle girlfriend Desiree, a senior who uses him.What She's Up to Now: The last we heard from Sydney Bennett — not to be confused with the like-named music artist who performs as Syd the Kid — she had a supporting role in the 2009 Juno-starrer Whip It!, upholding her background as an experienced roller derby performer. Bennett earned her Master’s degree at the California-based Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine. She was married in 2007 and gave birth to her first child in 2010.NEXT: What Happened to Lauren? Name: Linda CardelliniCharacter: LaurenSeen In...: Episode 514 (""Heartbreak Cory""), Episode 516 (""Torn Between Two Lovers (Feeling Like a Fool)""), Episode 521 (""Honesty Night""), Episode 621 (""The Psychotic Episode"")You'll Remember Her For: Cardellini appeared on Boy Meets World as one of the few girls to catch Corey's attention, even locking lips with the Topanga-obsessed everyman. The two crossed paths during a school ski trip, when a sprained ankle kept Corey holed up in the lodge with Lauren.What She's Up to Now: After her four-episode run as a sitcom temptress, Cardellini nabbed her breakout role on 1999's short-lived Freaks and Geeks. She continued to land roles, including a recurring role on ER in 2000 and parts in the Scooby-Doo movies and the Oscar-nominated Brokeback Mountain. This year, Cardellini was nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards ""Best Leading Female"" for her performance in the war drama Return.NEXT: What Happened to T.K.? Name: Danielle HarrisCharacter: Theresa “T.K.” KeinerSeen In...: Episode 215 (“Sister Theresa”)You'll Remember Her For: A one-time romance with Cory, which hit a snag when her overprotective older brother Harley — Cory’s high school bully — kept diligent tabs on the pair the whole night.What She's Up to Now: Scaring the hell out of you. The vast majority of movies that a still-active Danielle Harris has filmed have been horrors, and several are currently in production: Night of the Living Dead: Origins, Hatchet III, and The Farm. Harris was also a main player on the animated Nickelodeon series The Wild Thornberries, voicing older sister Debbie Thornberry.NEXT: What Happened to Rachel McGuire?Name: Maitland WardCharacter: Rachel McGuireSeen In…: 45 episodesYou'll Remember Her For: Rachel McGuire was the tall — like, really tall — red-headed girl who magically appeared in Boy Meets World for the purpose of being Eric's and Jack's bombshell roommate (and to cause tension). Of course, the boys begin battling for her love – or at the very least for a date – but in the end they all just remain friends. Though they could never help stare like idiots every time she waltzed around in a towel. (Why'd she do that, anyway?)What She is Up to Now: Rachel — who has blonde roots don't you know? — got married after making appearances in Boston Public, White Chicks, and Rules of Engagement, and is active on Twitter, sharing a lot of cleavage-baring pics, like the time she thought about being Wonder Woman for Halloween. NEXT: What Happened to Corinna? Name: Leisha HaileyCharacter: CorinnaSeen In...: Episode 405 (""Shallow Boy"")You'll Remember Her For: You'd remember Corinna (no last name) for being the super energetic and perky musician who begins dating Eric… for one episode. He's totally into her at first, but then gets turned off by her constant optimism. Instead of working things through, Eric dumps the girl, only to later hear the far-too-familiar song ""Shallow Boy"" on the radio describing their ""relationship"" to a T: I wanna give into my heart / I wanna give up who I am / Cause you trampled on my soul / Cause you don't understand / You're - shal—low / You're - shal—low.What She is Up to Now: Since BMW, Leisha Hailey was most notably on The L Word as Alice Pieszecki and most recently as Victoria on the new show The New Normal. She's also, wouldntchaknow, a real time musician – you can check out her band Uh Huh Her (which was formed in 2007) here. Her band also launched TELUHHVISION, a behind-the-scenes look at making music. She also sparked controversy back in 2011 when she was thrown off a Southwest flight for kissing her girlfriend, Camila Grey.NEXT: What Happened to Harvey? Name: Danny McNultyCharacter: Harvey ""Harley"" KeinerSeen In…: 8 episodesYou'll Remember Him For: Harley Keiner was the meanest, scariest, coolest guy at John Adams High. After failing to recruit Shawn to join his gang, Harley begins to pick on Corey (who he calls ""baboon."") Cory briefly weasels his way into Harley's good graces when he dates Harley's sister, TK, but unfortunately things quickly go sour when Cory decides he and TK are O-V-E-R. Ultimately, Harley gets sent to ""juvenile boot camp,"" at which time a young Adam Scott takes over as John Adams High's biggest bully.What He is Up to Now: According to his Facebook page (he wouldn't accept my friend request for more info), McNulty currently lives in Sedona, Ariz., and spends his time traveling and taking selfies in front of picturesque horizons. He attended the Less Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, but his Boy Meets World stint and one episode of a 1993 show called Street Justice remain his only acting credits. NEXT: What Happened to Frankie?Name: Ethan SupleeCharacter: Frankie ""The Enforcer"" StechinoSeen In...: 19 episodesYou'll Remember Him For: As the man responsible for putting kids in trashcans when Harley told him to, Frankie struck a terrifying figure. However, as we come to learn, Frankie is a sensitive soul who possesses a deep and profound love of poetry.What He is Up to Now: After Boy Meets World, Suplee went on to make quite the name for himself in films and on TV. His credits span the gamut, from the grizzly American History X to family-friendly Remember the Titans. You may remember seeing Suplee in Mallrats, The Butterfly Effect, and My Name is Earl (on which he had a starring role from 2005-2009). Suplee is currently in production on a number of projects, including The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Other fun facts about Suplee include: 1) In 2011, Suplee announced that he lost over 200 pounds by riding his bike. 2) He is a Scientologist. 3) Juliette Lewis is his sister-in-law. He and his wife, Brandy (Juliette's sister) have two children.NEXT: What Happened to Joey the Rat?Name: Blake Sennett (credited as Blake Soper)Character: Joseph ""Joey the Rat"" EpsteinSeen In...: 16 episodesYou'll Remember Him For: Being the smaller, faster-talking half of Harley Keiner's brute squad.What He is Up to Now: Following Boy Meets World, Sennett went on to appear in 6 episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun. He is best known, however, as the guitarist for the indie rock band Rilo Kiley and frontman for the Elected.NEXT: What Happened to Jonathan Turner?Name: Anthony Tyler QuinnCharacter: Jonathan TurnerSeen In...: 52 episodesYou'll Remember Him For: Mr. Turner was the cool English teacher, the one who rode a motorcycle and had an earring, long hair, and a mysterious bachelor lifestyle. Shawn moved in with Mr. Turner in Season 2.What He is Up to Now: Quinn seems to be interested in finding work wherever he can get it these days. He has had guest roles on shows such as Caroline in the City, Passions, and more recently, Dexter, House, and Pretty Little Liars. Oh, and let's not forget, Quinn had a starring role in the 2009 Christian film, which he called ""very near and dear to me,"" No Greater Love.NEXT: What Happened to Wendy?Name: Jessica WessonCharacter: WendySeen In...: Episode 202 (“Pairing Off”), Episode 210 (“Breaking Up Is Really, Really Hard to Do”)You'll Remember Her For: Being the girl who Cory tricked into dating him after his utilization of Eric’s patented scheme for winning over any young lady failed to land him her heart. The eventual romance was brief.What She's Up to Now: Wesson continued acting straight up to 2001, earning a roles in films like Casper, Flipper, and Longshot, and a recurring spot on Judging Amy. Since she turned 19, Wesson has fallen off the radar (this last known shot of her is from 2001)… perhaps she has taken the past decade to recover from a shattered heart with which she was left following the betrayal of one Cory A. Matthews.Reporting by Michael Arbeiter, Anna Brand, Sydney Bucksbaum, Matt Patches, Leanne Aguilera, and Abbey Stone[Photo Credits: ABC (18); The CW; Twitter; Facebook; FOX; Lionsgate; IMDB (4); WENN (2); Fox Searchlight; Showtime (2); CBS]
It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
The Wire may have gone underseen when it played first run on HBO early in the 2000s, but nobody's forgotten the show's legacy or the actors who made its epic storytelling possible. Which explains why Dominic West is someone to champion; his Wire character Detective James 'Jimmy' McNulty is one for the pop culture history books, but the role doesn't define him. He can bounce from any medium, slip into any part. Whether's it's Shakepeare on stage, a Cold War era spy in his new TV show The Hour or a villainous warlord in his latest big screen effort, John Carter, the man has undeniable range and continues to keep things fresh.
I sat down with the actor to discuss bringing John Carter's grand character of Sab Than to life, gaining inspiration from his young son and what general geekery West finds himself obsessing over.
John Carter hits theaters this Friday, March 9. Make sure to check out our other JC interview with Willem Dafoe.