Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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Every once in a while, we all get to thinking…What if Entourage was about boxers? And it was set in Newark? And it wasn’t a comedy?
Entourage writer/producer Doug Ellin is setting out to answer these questions with a show HBO is developing: Da Brick. And working along with Ellin on the program include—get ready for this—Spike Lee, and—here’s the kicker—Mike Tyson.
Apparently, the idea blossomed from a conversation Tyson had with Ellin during the former’s guest spot on Entourage in 2010. Tyson suggested a series based on his own rise to fame in boxing, paralleling Entourage roots in Mark Wahlberg acting origins. Ellin was interested in the project, but decided to only play producer, presumably as his writing roots are primarily in comedy. Producing the show with Ellin is regular partner Jim Lefkowitz, and acting as writer and showrunner is John Ridley, Lee’s partner in a developing film about the L.A. riots. Also involved with production are Azim Spicer and Tyson's wife, Lakiha Tyson.
So, what is to be expected from a show based around a young Mike Tyson? Well, that’s just the thing. The man is as boundless as person can get in terms of conduct—so, add to the mix that we’re dealing with a plane of fiction and we can expect to see some things I don't think the human race is prepared for.
The names Max Winkler and Matt Spicer may not have the cachet of some other famed writer-director/writer-producer teams yet, but the filmmaking duo are preparing to take Hollywood by storm.
First up for the team is their feature debut, Ceremony, which Winkler wrote and directed and Spicer produced, coming to theaters April 8 with stars Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano. Meanwhile, they have also sold two high profile scripts to studios - The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things and The Adventurer's Handbook (which they wrote with Jonah Hill) - which have been generating a lot of buzz after the positive reviews (and Wes Anderson comparisons) Ceremony received on the various festival circuits last year.
And, as we already reported earlier today, Winkler and Spicer just sold First Man to Paramount Pictures, a pitch that has Jackass ringleader Johnny Knoxville starring as the rowdy husband of a woman recently elected President.
On top of that, we are now hearing more about another project, Whispers in Bedlam, a comedy with a Field of Dreams-type sensibility, which indie darling Jason Reitman (Up In the Air, Juno) asked the duo to write. The film would center on a football player who develops the ability to hear voices over long distances after undergoing an experimental surgery.
"It's… like a Frank Capra movie, tonally, it's a period piece in the '50s/'60s about old school football. Reitman always wanted it to be like a fairy tale that your grandfather would tell you before you go to bed at night," Winkler told The Playlist. "He offered it to us and we loved the story. I'm a really big football fan, and the language of the short story [by author Irwin Shaw] is so great."
If you're intrigued by all the press surrounding the Winkler-Spicer team, make sure to check out Ceremony when it hits theaters this time next month. In the meantime, you should check out the webisode series Clark and Michael (starring Michael Cera and Clark Duke), which Winkler directed. It's probably not representative of his evolving style, but it's damn funny anyway.
Source: The Playlist