Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
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Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
Taylor Swift has had her fair share of boyfriends. Not only do we know this because of the attention the 22-year-old pop singer's relationships attract from the media — but also because, well, she tends to write songs about all of her exes. She's rumored to have songs for Taylor Lautner, Jake Gyllenhaal, and possibly even John Mayer, and now she has made a promise to compose some lyrics about another man: David Letterman. Maybe her new song will give Kanye West an actual reason to crash her next acceptance speech because, let's face it, what can Swift have to say about a 65-year-old television host? That he's a good laaaa...te night interviewer?
Here's what you missed last night on late night TV:
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Tom Hanks made his first appearance on Fallon ever. He shared a story about how he recently received a text message from Bruce Springsteen asking Hanks to play a gig with him on Fallon. After spending a few minutes getting psyched about the epic event, Hanks realized that he had to turn Springsteen down because he had to attend his kids' Back to School Day at the same time. "I'm not going to be able to be on the Jimmy Fallon show with Bruce Springsteen playing in the band," Hanks almost cried. Hanks then sent Springsteen a heartfelt message: "Bruce, I'm so honored that you would have the confidence in me to come out and help you blow out 'Wrecking Ball' on national TV. It's an honor beyond compare. I cannot believe that I'm not able to do it. I hate to let you down. No one wants to let down Bruce Springsteen, but I feel like I'm doing it. But I have to tell you, the charge you have given my life is so tremendous. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Enough? I can't do it. But if you ever need me and my six-string to back you up, I'm there for you, my brother. So sorry I can't help you this time. Tommy." Unfortunately, Springsteen meant to send his initial text to Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, and not Hanks. Oops!
Hanks also performed a slam poem about Full House. Watch his performance in the video below.
Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!
Jerry O'Connell joined Kimmel to promote his new Halloween special, Mockingbird Lane, which airs Friday on NBC. In the middle of the interview, O'Connell shared a story about how his Stand by Me costar Kiefer Sutherland helped him get to second base with a girl at the age of 13. "I'm there with my date, and my date says, 'Oh my gosh. That's Kiefer Sutherland.' He was just in The Lost Boys,'" O'Connell recalled. "I said to her, 'I know him. I was the husky kid in Stand by Me.'" And sure enough, Sutherland remembered O'Connell. "He was like, 'Oh yeah, I know you. You're the fat kid from Stand by Me,'" O'Connell said. "That night, I got to second base."
Late Show With David Letterman
Letterman had a big request for Taylor Swift Tuesday night: He wants Swift to write a song about him like she does with all of her ex-boyfriends. Swift quickly agreed as long as Letterman promised not to write an email afterwards with the subject line "Thoughts" — because she's gotten angry emails like that in the past.
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
Leno pointed out that Denzel Washington gained some weight for his new movie, Flight. "I got fat and floppy," Washington admitted. "The first scene you see him [his character, Whip Whitaker, he's half naked and gut hanging out, back side hanging out." That doesn't sound attractive! Washington also took part in a baseball trivia game.
Will Arnett talked to Conan O'Brien about the return of Arrested Development. "Let me put it this way, there are few people on this stage tonight who are a part of it," Arnett said as he looked at O'Brien. "I think we know who we are." And then Andy Richter added, "A few means more than two." Guess we will be seeing O'Brien and Richter in some Arrested scenes. Arnett also slammed his Arrested costar, Jason Bateman. "I love Jason," Arnett said. "He's great to work with. If there were a premium to be paid on bad ideas, I'd want drilling rights to his head." That sure was nice of Arnett.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS]
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Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
You know those nights where you just fall into a YouTube hole watching video after video in the "related" sidebar until you look up and it's 2 AM and you have nothing but a sore mouse finger and tired eyes? Well, when that happens to me, I'm more often then not watching clips of performances from musicals at the Tony Awards. Since stage shows are so rarely recorded, the Tonys offer us a rare occasion to get some of the greatest production numbers on tape. Since we're talking Broadway, the production is absolutely insane. Flying witches, men riding camels, dancing grannies, and tap dancing sailors. It's enough to make your mind absolutely dizzy (and giddy) with craziness.
Before we see Neil Patrick Harris' sure to be amazing opening number at Sunday's Tony Awards show, here are 10 of my all-time favorite, ridiculously amazing Tony Award performance numbers ranked in order of absolutely insanity. (And, no, I did not include Bret Michaels busting his head open on a set.)
Dreamgirls, "And I'm Telling You": Before Jennifer Hudson made it famous in the movie, this power ballad was belted out by Jennifer Holliday on the Great White Way. The only thing crazy here is how good her voice is.
Ridiculousness Rating: 1
Anything Goes, "Anything Goes": Who doesn't love sailors? Who doesn't love a huge tap number? Who doesn't love sailors in a huge tap number? There's a reason this Cole Porter musical picked up the trophy for Best Revival at least year's ceremony (and the tune is still stuck in my head). Oh, and don't be tempted to click on the Patti LuPone version that will pop up after you watch it. She can't hold a candle to Sutton Foster. (Blasphemy!)
Ridiculousness Rating: 2
Evita, "A New Argentina": Speaking of Ms. LuPone, check out her completely insane hairdo when she played the original Eva Peron back in the '80s. My favorite moment (thanks to Broadway legend Seth Rudetsky who pointed it out) is at the end when Patti goes to link arms with her husband but he's a step too far away and she totally whiffs. It's just a millisecond — but now that you know about it, you will always see it.
Ridiculousness Rating: 3
Sunset Boulevard, "As If We Never Said Goodbye": Now we're getting into serious camp territory with Glenn Close performing the big number from Andrew Lloyd Webber's doomed '90s musical. What I love is that there is this huge set filled with extras and props, but the only person moving or singing is Close. She is ready for her Close up, and no one better interfere.
Ridiculousness Rating: 4
Wicked, "Defying Gravity": Wow, this is our second Joel Grey introduction on the list, but by far the crazier production. I mean, one of the women is painted green and she's riding on a broomstick. This video was definitely an influence on Glee's Kurt Hummel in his formative years which explains a lot of his wardrobe choices. As insane as this is, try not to melt like a witch in water when Idina Menzel sours up in the air for her big finale.
Ridiculousness Rating: 5
The Producers, "Little Old Lady Land": Every wonder what The Rockettes will look like when they have walkers? No, I'm sure you haven't — but this musical does. We get Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and a kick line full of knickers. There's nothing else like it.
Ridiculousness Rating: 6
Hairspray, "You Can't Stop the Beat": Who ever thought a movie by "Pope of sleaze" John Waters would be a crowd-pleasing, family friendly musical? Thankfully, they kept the crazy wigs, wacky costumes, and a drag queen hiding in a huge can of hairspray. There's nothing better than a song with a good tune and a better message... except maybe a drag queen.
Ridiculousness Rating: 7
Grey Gardens, "Revolutionary Costume for Today": This musical — based on a documentary about an eccentric (and possibly mentally ill) mother and daughter related to the Kennedy clan and living in squalor — wasn't a box office hit, but it did win Christine Ebersole a well-deserved trophy for her staunch performance bonkers recluse "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale. (Oh, and if you haven't seen Grey Gardens the documentary or the movie with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, get yourself to Netflix, stat).
Ridiculousness Rating: 8
Into the Woods, "Children Will Listen": Into the Woods is probably Stephen Sondheim's strangest musical, and considering he wrote a show about a cannibalistic barber, that is some feat. This medley starts with the show's opening where a bunch of fairy tale characters (including a plastic cow) head into the woods and ends with Claire Huxtable, turning from a witch into a princess who sings the ballad "Children Will Listen." It's a tonal shift that you can't find anywhere else. And Jessica Fletcher introduces the song. I'm surprised someone in the audience didn't turn up murdered.
Ridiculousness Rating: 9
The Boy From Oz, "Not the Boy Next Door": OK, first we have Hugh Jackman in a leopard print shirt and bulgetastic tight gold lamé pants, riding a camel. To repeat: Hugh Jackman, leopard, bulge, gold pants, camel. Then he makes a penis joke. Then he gyrates all over the stage. Then he ambushes Sarah Jessica Parker (seated next to a pre-gray hair Andy Cohen) and drags her up on stage to do some gyrating of her own. I mean, this is Tony zaniness legend, right here.
Ridiculousness Rating: 10
Oh, because I couldn't leave this one out:
Cats, "Memory": It is a woman dressed up as a singing cat!
Ridiculousness Rating: 11
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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