Homeland star David Harewood and actor Rupert Everett are to give readings at a literacy festival in their native U.K. to encourage more Londoners to pick up books. The British actors will take part in the London Evening Standard's Get Reading festival, which will take place in the capital's Trafalgar Square in July (13).
Harewood and Everett will both give readings at the free event, along with authors including Babette Cole, Jonathan Stroud and Darren Shan.
The reading marathon on 13 July (13) is part of the newspaper's Get London Reading campaign, which aims to raise literacy rates in the city.
S02E01: 1921. Things are going to be different this time around for Atlantic County, New Jersey. Prohibition is only a superficial arrangement. The government is corrupt. The cops are on payroll. The Klan is afoot. People read of local murders in the morning paper. You can’t even trust your oldest friends. All right, I guess things aren’t that different on HBO's Boardwalk Empire.
The opening montage reintroduces us to a slew of familiar faces, in familiar settings. Nucky is fraternizing at Babette’s. Eli is examining his gunshot wound. Jimmy and Richard are carting alcohol to Chalky. And poor Maggie is spending her nights alone.
The season begins on a particularly violent note: the Klan (as hired by a now recovered Commodore Kaestner, who shows no regard for anyone whatsoever) opens fire on Chalky’s operation, killing four of his men and injuring several others. However, it is Chalky who will later face the wrap for retaliating and killing one of the Klansmen.
Nucky and Eli visit Chalky’s extremely lavish home to discuss the measures to be taken. Nucky feels he needs to take action against Chalky to maintain an air of justice for the public. Nucky insists that he is looking out for Chalky’s best interests by proposing his arrest, but Chalky feels otherwise. Later, Nucky is seen delivering conflicting speeches to both the black and white communities, promising an allegiance to both. When it is publicized that the man Chalky shot died, Nucky arranges his arrest “for his own safety” -- they’d lynch him otherwise (if you believe Nucky).
“If I got beaten by a nun at your age I’d get another lashing from my father.” – Nucky
The scene to follow the purported race war (which is actually strictly business) is a Schroder family issue. Nucky comes home at 8 a.m. to Maggie fighting with her son Teddy, who has been lashed by a nun for misbehaving at school. Nucky callously remarks that Teddy may be at fault, despite his protests, and that he deserves harsher parenting (overlooking the fact that he should be the one to actually dole out this parenting).
Margaret goes to visit the nun who disciplined Teddy. She explains that Teddy was playing with matches in a closet in the school (the matchbook so happens to come from a certain Babette’s Nightclub). She further explains that Teddy will not be expelled, as the principal is good friends with Teddy’s “uncle” Nucky Thompson.
Margaret brings the incident to Nucky's attention, explaining her fear that Teddy has developed a fixation with fire. Nucky replies, “What’s that about?” which, alone, is funny, but is even funnier (and more interesting) when you figure that Teddy developed this from watching Nucky cathartically burn his childhood house down. Nucky speaks with Teddy, who immediately assumes he will beat him (as did his father). Instead, Nucky tells him to mind his mother and his teachers, and, as he knows no other way to make amends with people, gives Teddy some money and sends him on his way.
“That’s an awful waste of good tablecloths.” – Jimmy
Nucky visits the Klansman's funeral (mostly for show), where he sees Jimmy, who says the man was a high school teacher of his. Nucky talks with Jimmy, who he believes to be withholding some information. Jimmy has been receiving orders from the Commodore (his father, if you recall) in an effort to gradually inch Nucky out of the picture. Back in good health, the Commodore wants the city back under his thumb for he and his son to run. Jimmy is not too comfortable with this—early in the episode, he remembers guiltily that Nucky was always there for him when he was a child, as opposed to his father. Nucky took him fishing and hunting. The two discuss this at the Klansman’s funeral. Jimmy pushes this guilt aside, still holding somewhat of a grudge against Nucky over several of the events of last season, and continues forward with the Commodore’s plans. There’s also something a little bizarre up with his relationship with his mother. She seems to have an unhealthy affection for her son. But that’s to be explored further.
“I thought you didn’t believe in gifts.” – Mrs. Van Alden
The greatest character in the series gets due screen time in this episode: Agent Nelson Van Alden enjoys an extremely tense wedding anniversary with his wife. She comes to visit him in New Jersey, and it’s as uncomfortable as you’d imagine. After she takes timid issue with the town as a whole, Nelson takes her out to dinner, where the two are offered alcohol for the occasion by the waiter. At first, Nelson does nothing about this, and he and his wife just eat dinner. But then, he revisits the option with the waiter -- but as a ruse. When the waiter offers to fetch some champagne, Nelson punches him in the jaw and calls in reinforcements: it’s a raid. The whole restaurant is to be shut down. And his wife is kind of turned on by it all. The two make love for the first time in what has likely been a very, very long time before she heads back out of town.
There is still the little matter of his pregnant prostitutesque girlfriend, Lucy Danziger. But one marital problem at a time.
“What’s it like to have everything?” – Richard
We get a more interesting glimpse of Richard, the veteran who wears the face mask, in this episode. He is extremely envious of the family life that Jimmy has, but clearly does not appreciate. Jimmy seems to have a soft spot for Richard. In a breakfast scene, he explains to Richard that he need not be embarrassed to eat in front of the family. This scene also reveals an unopened package from Nucky, congratulating Jimmy on his new (finally official) marriage.
We also see Richard making a scrapbook of pictures of happy families -- whatever comes of this will be very, very interesting (or so it seems).
The Commodore calls Jimmy into private a meeting to tell allegorical stories about taking down bears, lions and leopards. It is all basically a means of telling him that he will not be daunted by the likes of Nucky Thompson, or any man. It’s an interesting connection to the closeness Jimmy had with Nucky as a kid through hunting. While the Commodore was hunting game by himself, Nucky was hunting seagulls with Jimmy. Not as impressive, perhaps, but worth worlds more to Jimmy than some stuffed heads. But Jimmy is not willing to admit this to himself.
The Commodore arranges two things, with Jimmy’s help: the theft of liquor from the blacks, and the arrest of Nucky for election fraud. The episode ends with Nucky being taken to jail while the Schroders wait for him at the movie theater, to which he promised Teddy and Maggie he’d take them. We also see Jimmy finally open Nucky’s package: an envelope of money, and a figurine of a father and son hunting. Jimmy hides this in the dark corners of his closet. And soul. Sorry, that was too heavy-handed.
We also get a very foreboding scene, wherein Al Capone deals with the third-person-speaking George Remus, who is trying to make a sales deal with the Chicago mob. Capone is accused of just handling his boss' "dirty laundry," which he takes issue with. With history as an aid, we can predict Capone's begrudging break-off from his boss' clutch to take crime under his own rule soon enough.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Set in occupied France during the waning days of World War II Inglourious Basterds jumps back and forth between different storylines over the course of several chapters before bringing them together for one intense utterly preposterous climax.
The “Basterds” of the film’s title refers to an elite group of Jewish-American soldiers assembled by Lt. Aldo Raine a no-nonsense descendent of Southern moonshiners whose assignment for his troops is simple: Each of them is tasked with gathering the scalps of 100 dead Nazi soldiers before the war is over. With each shocking act of retribution the Basterds perform word spreads of their savagery and by the time they arrive in occupied France their reputation is known to every enemy soldier.
Meanwhile Shosanna Dreyfus a French Jew who narrowly escaped the Gestapo death squad that murdered her immediate family has relocated to Paris and established a new identity as the owner of a local cinema. As Nazi patrols blanket the city she toils quietly under an assumed name awaiting the day when her own chance at retribution will come.
The destinies of Shosanna and the Basterds converge when Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels decides to hold the premiere of his latest propaganda film Nation’s Pride at Shosanna’s theater. With the aid of Bridget von Hammersmark a German film star secretly working as a double agent the Allies learn that no less than the entire Nazi High Command including Hitler will be in attendance. Confronted with the opportunity to deliver their unique brand of justice to the Fuhrer himself and end the war in one fell swoop the Basterds concoct a bold scheme to infiltrate the premiere rig the theater with dynamite and incinerate its inhabitants with one massive explosion.
WHO’S IN IT?
Always known for his unconventional approach to casting Inglourious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino assembled a characteristically eclectic group of actors for his latest effort mixing veterans with newcomers Americans with Europeans and superstars with virtual unknowns. Sporting a ridiculous mustache and an even more ridiculous Southern accent Brad Pitt leads the pack in the role of Aldo Raine while horror director Eli Roth (Hostel I and II) makes his acting debut as Raine’s sadistic right-hand man Sgt. Donny Donowitz. Other notable Basterds include B.J. Novak (The Office) Samm Levine (Freaks and Geeks) Paul Rust (I Love You Beth Cooper) and Omar Doom (Grindhouse).
It’s the cast’s European players who really distinguish Inglourious Basterds. German-born National Treasure star Diane Kruger makes the perfect 1940s matinee idol as the turncoat von Hammersmark while Irish-bred Michael Fassbender (Jonah Hex) oozes with old-school English haughtiness as her charming British co-conspirator Lt. Archie Hicox. Making an impressive English-language debut in Basterds as the quietly seething Shosanna is the luminous French star Melanie Laurent.
Rising above all of them with a truly Oscar-worthy performance is Austrian actor Christoph Waltz. Waltz is a revelation (to American audiences at least) as Col. Hans Landa the highly eccentric and brutally efficient leader of Nazi security efforts in France. Alternately hilarious and terrifying Waltz’s Landa is easily the most compelling big-screen villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Lest we forget Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his performance. (Waltz for his part already snagged the best-actor prize at Cannes earlier this year.)
Nobody executes dramatic shifts in tone more effectively and powerfully than Tarantino and Inglourious Basterds transitions breathlessly between moments of high tension and high comedy brutal carnage and lighthearted whimsy — all of which are peppered with the director’s distinctive dialogue and trademark wit. The film is easily his best work since 1994's Pulp Fiction.
At over two-and-a-half hours there are moments when the pacing of Inglourious Basterds seriously drags. Tarantino is above all else an actor’s director and there are times that he becomes so enamored with a performance that he’ll allow a scene to extend well beyond the point that its resolution has become a foregone conclusion. How such an obviously ADD-addled guy like Tarantino can exhibit such disdain for brevity is beyond my comprehension.
WHERE ARE THE BASTERDS?
Contrary to the film’s ad campaign the Basterds are actually minor players in the storyline. Only Pitt and Roth are given a substantial amount of dialogue; Novak and the others have only a line or two — if they speak at all.
I won’t give anything away but suffice it to say that Inglourious Basterds’ storyline features a decidedly revisionist take on the events of World War II. Obviously historical accuracy wasn’t a priority for Tarantino — and it probably shouldn’t be for the viewer either.
Looking like it was ripped from the headlines The International focuses on the corrupt dealings of a fictional bank that will go to any means possible to serve as a conduit for illegal weapons sales to people who shouldn’t be getting them. Enter an Interpol agent (Clive Owen) who is teamed with a New York assistant District Attorney (Naomi Watts) to go after a network of suave crafty Europeans bent on carrying out their dirty business as they always have. Following their trail around the world in such locales as Berlin Italy New York and Istanbul the two become targets in an unending high stakes game of murder and intrigue.
Looking more unkempt and unshaven than ever Owen totally connects with the role of an eccentric agent who stumbles on to a worldwide conspiracy which eventually leads to a group of corrupt bankers. Who knew? It makes you realize what an ideal James Bond he would have been. Unfortunately Watts just isn’t his match. She comes across as bland and lost never able to get a beat on this lawyer who is caught up in an international scandal. Forced to utter obvious lines like “This isn’t over” at the 80-minute mark she has zero chemistry opposite Owen. German director Tom Tywker who broke out with the riveting and stylish Run Lola Run 10 years ago has his best outing since that film carefully navigating the numerous and colorful locations with just enough pacing and attention to detail to keep this from turning into yet another Bourne ripoff. He seems totally in control of the complicated and dense storyline pulling off a sensational set piece at New York’s Guggenheim Museum (actually meticulously re-created in a Berlin warehouse) where Owen gets involved in a shootout to end all shootouts with numerous bad guys. It’s a stunning scene running about 15 minutes -- and a textbook example of how to shoot an action sequence. It’s reminiscent of some of the best cold war spy thrillers of the ‘60s and ‘70s and that’s a high compliment. See it.
Shedding many of those trappings that make a James Bond movie well a James Bond movie Quantum of Solace is really the first sequel ever in the long-running series. While it’s always exciting something gets seriously shaken and stirred in the translation. Picking up exactly where the brilliant Casino Royale left off we see Bond (Daniel Craig) trying to get to the bottom of why his love Vesper Lynd had to die jumping right into the first of many MANY chases as he traverses six countries. Still on rogue patrol Bond then inadvertently meets the crafty and gorgeous Camille (Olga Kurylenko) who introduces Bond to the evil Dominic Green (Mathieu Amalric) the head of an eco-phony stealth operation angling for some prime desert land while financing a crooked Bolivian general’s planned coup. With the ever resourceful M (Judi Dench) trying to keep him in line at all times Bond must put his revenge plans on hold as he crosses paths not only with Greene and his fake pro-environment front but also the intriguing and mysterious group known as Quantum. In this outing Daniel Craig -- leaner and meaner than any previous Bond -- really becomes a man of single-minded determination and grit. He’s less like the James Bond we know and love and more a humorless killing machine like Jason Bourne (those two should really get together). Still Craig is such a compelling actor that we are with him all the way even if he doesn’t go for the suave Bond moves. Olga Kurylenko is a great foil but not totally in the tradition of a Bond girl. A later encounter with Gemma Arterton as a British agent in Bolivia does however briefly recall the heyday of Goldfinger. Judi Dench has taken the perfunctory role of M and turned it into a full-blown supporting role. Her dry wit and take-no-prisoners attitude is welcomed every time she shows up on screen. French star Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) doesn’t really pull off his villainous alter-ego ecologist while Jeffrey Wright is pretty much wasted as U.S. agent Felix Leiter. At least Giancarlo Giannini returns for some nice moments with his Craig. Although they usually leave the challenging job of steering the Bond ship to an English director oddly this time the baton was handed to Marc Forster known more for his intimate dramas such as Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball. His grip on the action sequences is secure but he never really seems to have a handle on what distinguishes this legendary movie spy from everyone else. There’s a reason Bond has survived as a screen icon for almost half a century but the sort of workman-like filmmaking Forster displays here does not represent 007’s finest hour. It’s almost like the producers had a checklist: car chase on winding roads; boat chase; airplane chase; rooftop chase -- all check. Quantum of Solace is definitely worth checking out however. I mean it IS Bond and we wait for these movies on bated breath. Just maybe next time a little less Bourne please.