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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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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Actor Jake Gyllenhaal was reportedly hospitalised in Los Angeles on Wednesday (13Nov13) after injuring himself by punching a mirror for a scene in his new film Nightcrawler. The Brokeback Mountain star, who shed 20 pounds (nine kilograms) to portray a crime reporter in the movie, required stitches for a large gash on his hand.
A source tells People.com, "The scene was emotionally charged and his character was talking into a mirror and he got so into it, he banged his hands against the mirror and it broke and cut him. It was all the scene and not because he was mad about anything else."
However, the 32 year old refused to let the injury delay production for long and returned to work later on Wednesday.
Nightcrawler also features Bill Paxton and Rene Russo, who is married to the film's director, Dan Gilroy.
Jake Gyllenhaal has joined the ranks of Hollywood's super-skinny hunks after shedding 20 pounds (9 kilograms) to play a crime reporter in his new film Nightcrawler. The actor, who bulked up for his role in 2010's Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, looked shockingly thin on the red carpet at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards on Monday night (21Oct13), where he joined Matthew McConaughey, who also recently starved himself to play an emaciated AIDS victim in The Dallas Buyers Club.
Explaining his gaunt new look, the 32 year old says, "I knew that my character (Lou) was literally and figuratively hungry, so I played him so he was always a bit hungry.
"I've lost probably a little over 20 pounds, something like that... It's no different to getting into character for anything. It's more about believing where you are and being present."
Nightcrawler began shooting earlier this month (Oct13) and also features Bill Paxton and Rene Russo, who is married to the film's director, Dan Gilroy.
Folk star Jenny Owen Youngs has 'come out' as a lesbian and announced plans to marry her fiancee this summer(13). The singer-songwriter has opened up about her sexuality in a letter published on Everyoneisgay.com, a website run by her partner, Kristin Russo, revealing the couple is making plans to cement its relationship by exchanging vows.
In the letter, Youngs admits she kept her sexuality secret as a teenager due to her conservative upbringing, and has finally decided to go public in a bid to inspire gay youngsters.
She writes, "I'm writing to tell you, among other things, that I am super gay. This may or may not come as a surprise to you. If it does: Surprise! If it does not: You were right all along! Either way: Hooray! I didn't want to come out. I don't want coming out to be a thing that anyone has to do... I just wish that being gay (or transgender, or asexual, or fill-in-the-blank here) was as unremarkable to the masses as being left-handed or blonde..."
She goes on to credit her fiance with giving her the courage to 'come out', adding, "This summer I am going to marry my fiance. Her name is Kristin Russo and she is one half of the team behind EveryoneIsGay.com. Having a firsthand view of the work that she... (does) has been inspiring, and has also made me think more critically about my decision. What kind of a message does it send to a teenager when I avoid a question about my sexuality? Whatever the answer, I'm confident that it is no longer a message I am comfortable sending...
"You are not an anomaly. You are not a mistake. I am thankful that in recent years, it has become a bit more common for people from all walks of life to step forward and identify themselves as human beings who also happen to be gay. I am proud to offer my voice to that expanding chorus."
Angelina Jolie celebrated her 38th birthday on the red carpet at the German premiere of her partner Brad Pitt's new blockbuster World War Z on Tuesday (04Jun13). Wearing an all-white Ralph & Russo outfit, the actress smiled and hugged Pitt in Berlin at what was her third public appearance since announcing her double mastectomy last month (May13).
Jolie also joined Pitt at the London and Paris premieres of the film on Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Rocker Gene Simmons is eager to breathe new life into his short-lived 1980s TV adaptation of comic book Jon Sable and revive the series for a new generation of fans. The KISS frontman bought the rights to creator Mike Grell's Jon Sable Freelance book series earlier on in his career with the hope of turning it into a big action movie with Pierce Brosnan in mind as the mercenary lead.
The film plans fell through and it was soon reimagined as a TV show simply titled Sabel, with the pilot initially starring Simmons as the main character, alongside model Renee Russo in her acting debut.
However, the rocker failed to impress producers and he was soon replaced with Lewis Van Bergen, who portrayed the title character in seven episodes before the programme was axed by ABC network bosses.
Now Simmons is keen to reimagine the project for today's audiences and is hatching plans to bring Sable back to life.
The musician shared an old photo of himself in character while filming the TV pilot on his WhoSay.com blog on Thursday (09May13), and revealed his hopes for a new take on the graphic novel, writing, "I will revisit this project and see if we can give it a new lease on life (sic)."
Pop superstar Beyonce is continuing to titillate fans on her world tour after showing off another saucy bodysuit featuring fake nipples as she performed in Croatia on Wednesday night (17Apr13). The Crazy in Love hitmaker shocked fans as she kicked off The Mrs. Carter Show trek in Belgrade, Serbia on Monday (15Apr13) when she donned a headline-grabbing gold glitter costume, designed by The Blondes, which featured the emphasised outline of breasts, complete with faux nipples.
She switched up her stage outfits for the second date on her tour in Zagreb, Croatia and replaced The Blondes one-piece with an embroidered, gold leotard by Ralph & Russo, which was also adorned with fake nipples.
Beyonce, who also sports costumes created by fashion icon Julien Macdonald, Emilio Pucci and DSquared2 during her live shows, will continue on the European leg of her tour until the end of May (13), before returning to North America.
Meanwhile, the beauty has recruited rising R&B singer Luke James to support her on select European dates - he will open for Beyonce from 24 April (13), when she hits the stage in Paris, France.
Announcing the news, Beyonce says: "Luke James is a gifted singer and songwriter and what he does on stage with his pure falsetto is incredible.
"I am excited to have him join the tour and to introduce this soulful singer to an audience in Europe that will be discovering a true star."
Legendary actor and Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford has apparently decided he's ready to step out of the indie film world and take on as mainstream a blockbuster project as he can find. The Hollywood Reporter says that he's in talks to play a higher-up in superspy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. in the upcoming Marvel sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Maybe he's really inspired by the comic book studio's worldbuilding and knack for ensemble storytelling. Also, money is cool.
An anonymous source for THR likens Redford's role in Cap 2 to that of Ralph Fiennes' functionary in Skyfall. Maybe if, per the title, there actually is a depiction of winter in this film, Redford can urge directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Community, You, Me, and Dupree) to shoot part of the film in the snowy peaks of Utah, near the site of Sundance. Oh wait, it starts production this May. Sorry, Jeremiah Johnson fans.
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[Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri/AP Photo]
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