Breaking Bad star Dean Norris is set to revisit the birth of America as Benjamin Franklin in historic new TV mini-series Sons Of Liberty. The four-part drama, which will premiere in January (15), will also feature Brit Rafe Spall as John Hancock, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial star Henry Thomas as John Adams and Resident Evil: Extinction actor Jason O'Mara as George Washington.
Screenwriter/actress Lena Dunham is turning documentary maker to spotlight the work of a gay-friendly bespoke tailoring firm in Brooklyn, New York. The Girls star will serve as an executive producer on Three Suits, which will follow three of Bindle & Keep's transgender clients as they attend fittings for their custom-made suits. Jason Benjamin, who has taken charge of a number of Girls episodes, will direct the programme for U.S. cable network HBO.
NBC Universal Media
Back in the day, when a sketch was cut from Saturday Night Live, it was lost forever to history. But thanks to the Internet and Seth Meyers, that doesn't have to be the case anymore. Earlier this week, Meyers debuted a new feature on Late Night called "Second Chance Theatre" where he gives new life to bits that never made it to show night during his long tenure as SNL's head writer. The first entry gave us a look at a sketch that Will Forte has long lamented missing the cut.
Meanwhile, a few weeks ago SNL viewers were caught off-guard when the show suddenly, and inexplicably, reran a short called "Bird Bible" from earlier in the year. It wasn't until later when the show posted the Kyle Mooney-Beck Bennett digital short that was scheduled to run on the show's website that we got to see what had been bounced.
Now that we've gotten to see the two sketches though, which one most deserved to have gotten its chance with the audience at Studio 8H?
Jason Sudeikis is being set up on a blind date by his friends Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer, since he's hit a dry spell "in the sex department" after his divorce. They assure him that their choice is just his type and it turns out that they're right. Even though Jennjamin looks an awful lot like Forte crossed with Benjamin Franklin crossed with Betsy Ross, the two lovebirds soon have trouble keeping their hands — and other body parts — off of each other. The sexual tension between Sudeikis and Forte is positively electric.
In what was supposed to be the closing sketch on the show hosted by The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Andrew Garfield, the old After School Special tropes get skewered in an unusual way. Garfield plays a hungry jock that would do anything to have the last wing from the order that he's sharing with Bennett and Mooney. Unfortunately for him, Bennett takes that "anything" very literally and wants to touch Garfield in ways that Emma Stone might not find acceptable. Mooney plays the earnest friend caught in the middle and trying to do the right thing. The stilted acting will look familiar to anyone that's ever seen a real After School Special, especially when Garfield is reduced to forlornly eating carrots in the corner.
In the promotional materials for this summer's Sex Tape, there's a whole lot of Jason Segel. The actor and his costar Cameron Diaz appear in various stages of undress, including altogether naked. Segel, of course, is no stranger to taking off his clothes for the camera. The former How I Met Your Mother star was famously nude multiple times in his breakout hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Many people found his nudity refreshing, given that it is usually women who are objectified sans wardrobe on the big screen, but Sarah Marshall costars Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis kept their clothes on. No matter how you slice it, though, Segel's seems to be another example of the double standard.
When an actor with an imperfect body like Segel or Robin Williams doffs their clothes for a scene, it's typically seen as funny. When Lena Dunham does it on HBO's Girls, it results in social media posts imploring the actress to keep her clothes on and questions at press conferences about whether all the nudity is necessary.
Seemingly, for an actress to play an acceptable nude scene it either needs to be completely required by the story — think Halle Berry in Monster's Ball or Jodie Foster in The Accused — or she has to look really, really good naked (as far as the vocal public is concerned). There isn't an apt comparison for a woman, but when an actor like Jonah Hill or Mark Wahlberg comes out and openly states that he used a prosthetic device to cover his anatomy for a nude scene, everyone just shrugs. An actress can get away with using a body double occasionally, but if she's going to do a nude scene the audience by and large expects to see the real deal… and if she wants to have surgery to enhance certain features then all the better.
Segel, and a lot of male stars, can get away with being naked without issue because our society views male and female sexuality differently. In much the same way, there's no question about whether Segel's character would really be with a former model such as Diaz, while Dunham was questioned about her character's "unrealistic" fling with the very handsome Patrick Wilson.
Segel learned his craft under the tutelage of Judd Apatow, who is also a producer on Dunham's show. Aptatow has long been a proponent of creative uses of nudity. When the writer/producer/director was confronted about the amount of time that Dunham spends nude on Girls by The Wrap's Tim Malloy, he defended the practice for both sexes: "There's male nudity in Walk Hard [helmed by Sex Tape director Jake Kasdan]. I have people naked when they're willing to do it," Apatow said. "Lena is confident enough to do it so we have the opportunity to talk about other issues because she is braver than other people. If Paul Rudd said to me, I'm willing to be completely naked in the movie, I would use it. If Seth [Rogen] said he was willing to be completely naked — he showed his butt in a post-sex scene in Knocked Up — I would use it because it's more honest.”
While it's commendable that Apatow thinks that we should look at nudity across the board, the truth is that many people just don't see it the same way. Most of society continues to have an unrealistic expectation of women, wanting them to fit by turns into both sexual and asexual standard: the age-old Madonna-whore complex. Questioning Dunham's right to have her character naked without questioning Segel's or Kasdan's decision making process is inherently sexist… there's just no getting around that.
Benjamin Franklin, himself a fan of nudity, once told his fellow Founding Fathers, "We must all hang together or we will most assuredly hang apart." Similarly, it's either all right for all actors and actresses to be nude — regardless of body type — or it needs to be criticized equally for both sexes.
Quite simply, naked freedom for one should mean naked freedom for all.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Adaptations are a crapshoot. Some are doomed from conception, like a live-action musical based on Spider-Man. Others are shocking successes, like the 11-season classicM*A*S*H. However, in recent history, very few movie-into-television adaptations have worked. So why, might you ask, is someone trying to re-make the popular 2002 film About a Boy?
Twelve years ago, the comedy film was born itself as an adaptation a of the successful Nick Hornby book. It stars Hugh Grant as a wealthy man-child who lies about having a son to impress women. He befriends Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a boy with an overbearing flighty mother (Toni Collette). Over time, the man and boy teach each other.
Now, we have a new television series version of About a Boy, developed by Jason Katims, who worked on Friday Night Lights and developed Parenthood (there seems to be a trend in Katims' projects). But despite his prior success, this show seems doomed to fail.
Comedy series have had a majorly difficult time recreating the success of films. We choose not to remember Jennifer Aniston’s turn in the regrettable Ferris Bueller sitcom. Sandra Bullock started a short-lived television career as the lead in a Working Girl remake. Party Girl was an adaptation of a cult-indie film starring Parker Posey. It starred Christine Taylor, Swoosie Kurtz, and John Cameron Mitchell. And it just doesn’t work. One exception from the era is Clueless, which was more a television sequel and included a bulk of the original cast and the film's creator. It also only survived by moving to a syndicated network.
There are a few anomalies of successful remakes like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that series was reworked almost entirely by creator Joss Wehdon. Rather than settling on remake form, Buffy had the priveledge of being the original material Whedon intended to create with his film. Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and La Femme Nikita also all found television success, but as dramas, adapting different tones than their source material. The About a Boy adaptation seems to be veering dangerously close to the original with a few slight changes to account for the translation to American audiences.
Not only does the show have one strike against it automatically with being an adaptation, but the cast includes people with a ton of failed series on their resumes. Are they cursed? Minnie Driver is an amazing actress, but the last time she headlined a series, The Riches, it did not live long. David Walton and Leslie Bibb have also had a string of failed series launches including Perfect Couples and GCB, respectively.
From the series trailer, it looks like multiple moments from the film will be worked into the series. It’s tough to not notice the great source material being repurposed for 30-minute episodes. Of course, the series may shock everyone and rewrite rules for TV remakes. It may create a golden age of television series (*based on movies). Or audiences could check out the film, available at most DVD bargain bins.
If you had any doubts check out the trailer for the series vs. the original.
Spoiler alert: anything you don’t get from the movie trailer you can gloss from the TV series promo.
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.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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In Hollywood, there is no typecasting harder to shake than that of the "best friend" or the "sidekick." Just ask Jason Alexander or Judy Greer. We're sure Andy Richter would have something to say about it! But with the release of Despicable Me 2, being a supporting character is hotter than ever.
In honor of the movie's release, we decided to give all of our favorite Hollywood sidekicks minion makeovers. Who makes the best minion? You decide! Launch our gallery below.
GALLERY: 8 Hollywood Sidekicks Get Minion Makeovers
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