Lionsgate via Everett Collection
Even if you haven’t seen The Expendables or The Expendables 2, you’ll feel pretty confident in what sort of film you’ve signed on to watch by the end of the very first scene in Stallone and co’s latest on-in-years ensemble. Expendables 3 opens with an action sequence that lacks any visual coherence, falls short of its intended adrenaline, and hangs its sense of humor on a single meta joke about one cast member’s life outside the franchise. But then, almost instantly, you’ll be thrown for a loop. A very weird loop, in fact.
The second scene in the movie — a segue between the first high-intensity set piece and the next — is a long (and I mean long) silent shot of a helicopter landing outside of what, if memory serves, is Sylvester Stallone’s character’s HQ. It might not sound like a particularly big deal, but it takes form as a jarring, almost laughable dagger to the movie’s would-be momentum.
It’s the first of many instances of peculiarity so obtrusive it’s emotionally rewarding, and often (intentionally or otherwise… I really have no idea in most of these cases) quite funny. Between the running theme of characters staring motionlessly and wordlessly into the camera, a sullen montage documenting the empty lives of the Expendables when they’re not expendabling, and the bizarre reoccurrence of the word “s**tstorm,” you’ll discover a rare, inimitable identity in The Expendables 3: one that amounts to a better time than you might anticipate, and certainly more interesting one.
Of course, there are plenty of missed marks throughout the film. As established from minute one, the action is flagrantly uncoordinated, and a lot of the scripted comedy — the hypermasculine chiding and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s callback lines — will provoke hearty groans. But sweeping past the excess of the prerequisite bro jokes and ‘80s movie quotes, we get to the real fun. We get to the odd, often uncomfortable (and delightfully so) hiccups in pacing. We get to Mel Gibson spouting Biblical passages and tirades against big government. Best of all, we get to Antonio Banderas, prancing around the wide shot like a romantic bandit. Off to the side of the top-heavy bulk, these elements make up the real victory of Expendables 3: the fun is in the weird.
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The former child star who played Mel Gibson's daughter in The Patriot has died at the age of 21. Skye McCole Bartusiak died at her home in Texas on Friday (18Jul14).
Bartusiak also appeared alongside Charlize Theron and Tobey Maguire in The Cider House Rules and in Don’t Say a Word, opposite Michael Douglas. She also featured in hit TV shows House and Lost.
She becomes the second member of Gibson's The Patriot family to die young - her movie brother Heath ledger passed away following a prescription drug overdose in 2008.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Are we headed for a Farrellaissance? Hopefully not, because that's a terrible bit of word play, but we are likely headed for some other, better realized pun about Colin Farrell's career upswing. The actor is currently in talks to star in the second season of True Detective, which probably doesn't click with some of Twitter's snarkier ideas via that whole "True Detective Season 2" meme that flooded the Internet a few months ago, but it does follow the TV series' modus operandi of targeting marquee movie stars to portray its brooding leads. Taylor Kitsch is also in talks for a lead role in the series, and would play opposite Farrell's character.
The union of Farrell and the HBO series feels almost symbiotic in nature. With only one season under its belt, True Detective has proved it has the ability to rejuvenate the career of wayward actors. Just look at what the series did for Matthew McConaughey. Some of us were in on the ground floor when McConaughey started his rise to renewed relevance, with roles in films like Richard Linklater's Bernie, the darker-than-dark Killer Joe, and the coming of age film Mud. But the general public really took notice of McConnaughey's career transformation (the McConaissance, as the phenomenon has come to be known) with the one-two punch of Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective. HBO's stylish and meditative crime drama became an unlikely sensation with viewers, and it gave people the chance to really see McConnaughey's brilliance as an actor. And suddenly Fools Gold, Failure to Launch, the shirtless jokes, and everything else we came to associate with the actor fell away. In eight short hours, he became Rust Cohle, waxing poetic about time and flat circles and winning the heart of TV fans everywhere. The same thing can easily happen with Colin Farrell.
There's no question that Farrell is talented, but his filmography reads like a list of wasted potential. His great films like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths are nestled between some more unfortunate dreck like the shmaltzy Winter's Tale, the bland remake of Total Recall, and the dreary Dead Man Down. This lead role in True Detective could be just the shot in the arm that Farrell's career needs. And since Taylor Kitsch has been Hollywood's resident blockbuster killer for the past handful of years, maybe True Detective can help him as well.
The new trailer for The Expendables 3 shows off an unsurprising abundance of explosions, gunfire, and sexagenarians saying things like "Lock and load." A bit more surprising in its ubiquity, however, is the action hero's old friend the helicopter. Yes, any film bording the lethal dose of adrenaline is bound to feature a chopper or two, but the two-and-a-half minute preview for Sylvester Stallone's upcoming threequel shows off an irrational number whirlybirds. And yeah, those are the only slang words for "helicopter" I know, so we're going to have to get creative now.
We catch glimpse the first of many propellerinos swooping down over an enemy train to rescue the apparently nonexpendable Wesley Snipes from incarceration. After rendering the entire locomotive to ruins (hopefully those were Nazis or something and not, you know, just military men doing their job apprehending criminals), we move onto a slew of other hummingbots prime for adventure: one drops off a maniacal Mel Gibson. One launches explosive at the side of a dock. One hovers over the speeding car of Natalie Burn. And one hovers just out of reach of what we can only assume is a ketamine-engendered Sylvester Stallone. And that's not even counting the jets (of both the plane and Li variety) sprinkled throughout the trailer.
If the trailer offers up this many circle-spin-bumble-droids (too creative?), we can only imagine what the 103-minute runtime has in store.
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MCA via Everett Collection
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar was ahead of its time. Audiences can easily take for granted the immense importance of this film. It’s a high profile film in the 1990s that features three high profile actors, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, and Wesley Snipes playing gay men. Granted, they spend 99 percent of the movie in drag, but the film is monumental for the community. There’s wider acceptance of the gay community, appreciation for the art form of drag due to RuPaul’s Drag Race, and education about the clear distinctions between drag performers and trans women. But in 1995 this wasn’t the case. Sadly, this film is considered more of a cult classic than a major motion picture. All the same, the film is hilarious, quotable, and politically responsible. Here are some fun facts about the film:
Wesley Snipes and Jennifer Garner got to second base with the same man.Before he found success on Alias, Garner’s ex Michael Vartan had a major role in this film. In one scene, he antagonizes the ladies and Snipes grabs his privates and drags him by his member for an extended period of time.
Queen of 30 Rock You might think that Tracy Morgan and Snipes look equally bad in drag, but the real connection is Kathy Geiss. The nonverbal, unicorn loving CEO of GE was played by Marceline Hugot. She plays Katina one of the town’s residents in the film.
One Degree from Mindy Kaling As great as it would be to imagine Kaling playing a character named Noxema Jackson, the real connection is Beth Grant who plays The Mindy Project’s irate nurse Beverly also played irate townsperson Loretta.
Catwoman Connection Not only did the three leads all star with notable Catwoman Newmar in this film, all three have also starred with the most infamous Catwoman Halle Berry. Leguizamo in Executive Decision, Swayze in Father Hood, and Snipes in Jungle Fever. Snipes even dated Berry.
Start Your Engines, May the Best Woman Live Leguizamo has not been shy about his major friction with the late Swayze on set. Swayze was method and Leguizamo was improvising and making jokes to get more screen time. He says the two physically got into a fight until it was broken up by production. ChiChi, you in danger, girl!
A Cavalcade of Drag Stars This film was one of the first major motion pictures about drag. It gave early acting credits to RuPaul, Lady Bunny, Coco Peru, Laritza Dumount, and Flotilla DeBarge. It also was a major credit for the first transwoman on television Candis Cayne. Talk about helping to define the stars of tomorrow.
Work it Out! David Barton the founder of the popular New York City gym franchise has an early role as a muscle boy.
Drag is Leguizamo’s Bread and Butta’ By the time he did To Wong Foo, Leguizamo had already becoming accustomed to acting in drag. He played female roles in his one-man shows Mambo Mouth, Spic-O-Rama, and on his Fox series House of Buggin’.
Robin Williams: The Drag Years Although uncredited with his hilarious cameo, this film is sandwiched between Williams other two drag movies. In 1993, he gave old lady realness in Mrs. Doubtfire. In 1996, he played husband to a drag performer in The Birdcage.
Thanks for Everything, Carol Lynley! Before the producers secured the rights to Newmar’s name their alternate actress for the iconic photo that inspired the queens was Fantasy Island star Lynley. It doesn’t have the same ring to it, and she isn’t quite as statuesque.
It all goes back to Chinese Food. The name of the film was taken from a photo at a Times Square Chinese Restaurant that was later seen in the film where the ladies find the photo.
Curse of Wong Foo? Both Mel Gibson and Gary Oldman were in talks to potentially play drag queens in the film.
Is that a corn cob in your pocket, ma’am? Swayze surprised Chris Penn during the scene where he discovers Vida Boheme is a man. He hid a corn cob in his dress. Way to commit.
ABC Television Network
Lindsay Lohan has had multiple run-ins with the law but has served significant time only in rehab. Like Lohan, Paris Hilton walked in and out of prison. Directors Roman Polanski and Woody Allen have had questionable sex scandals and faced no jail time. Even O.J. Simpson was tried for murder and acquitted but then declared guilty in a civil trial. It’s unclear whether the court of justice gets interrupted by the court of public opinion, the legal system is not prepared to handle high profile inmates, or if justice can be effectively carried out with such high profile figures. So does the burden fall on Hollywood to police its own?
Shh! It’s a Secret
One challenge to Hollywood policing its celebrities is that they have high powered lawyers and are very litigious. How can journalists report on crimes if they are subject to high profile lawsuits? Also, if you’re rich enough you may have a built in network of alibis and accomplices. It’s easy to have "friends" (or paid-off bouncers) take the rap, or to have people in your employ sign non-disclosure agreements. But having inequitable legal protection does not allow celebrities to be above the law. Stars like Lindsay Lohan may not serve jail time, but judging from her reality show, the time incarcerated may have served her well. With so many celebrities dying of drug related deaths does this behavior not warrant some sort of action?
The NBA has banned Donald Sterling for life for inflammatory statements he made about minorities. Paula Deen was let go from The Food Network and lost many endorsements because of things she said. But what about the things actors and performers say that get out. During stand-up performances, Tracy Morgan said if his son was gay he would kill him, and Michael Richards used the N-word. Lest we forget the many inflammatory comments by Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin. And yet, no one is around to fine, ban, or police them.
Shonda Rhimes: Avenger
One of the few showbiz figures policing her stars seems to be Shonda Rhimes. Columbus Short, star of Scandal, has been let go by ABC amid allegations of spousal abuse. It’s sad to lose such a vital character on the show but there are some things you just can’t abide. He may be able to get away without having to do prison time but he shouldn’t appear on a national television show, with major notoriety, about a Washington power player that is a woman. It’s unclear whether it is Rhimes or ABC that removed Short, but Rhimes does have a long history of keeping her actors in line. When Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington engaged in a major physical altercation, used a gay slur, and outed an actor derisively, he was let go from the show. Now this may also be a case of responding to a public outcry but it was a decision based on outrage by the cast, crew, and creators. Regardless of whether it is ABC or Rhimes making the order, letting these actors go sends a clear message: this behavior is not permissible. Look at a show like Two and a Half Men, which kept Charlie Sheen on until his public face became too much to handle. The show was a cash cow but could have afforded to let Sheen go earlier. Clearly, he has issues with drugs and his own hubris. He didn’t start out at rock bottom and had the show intervened earlier his career might have been saved.
No one is above the law but it seems like actors and Hollywood types will not realize until they lose everything. The one lesson from Lohan’s OWN show Lindsay is that you can get yourself ejected from Hollywood for bad behavior. The trip back is an uphill climb. There’s tons of talented actors and directors, beautiful models, and enjoyable comedians… but you only get a few chances.
Joan Jett is reportedly set to jam onstage with the surviving members of Nirvana on Thursday night (10Apr14) as the grunge rockers are inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Kurt Cobain's band will be part of the Class of 2014 inducted into the Ohio music museum during a ceremony in New York, and remaining rockers Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic are expected to reunite for a special performance after the bassist dropped a big hint about rehearsing for the gig on Twitter.com last week (ends04Apr14).
Now rumours suggest Jett will be joining them onstage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn after a photo of instruments belonging to Grohl, Novoselic and Nirvana musician Pat Smear was posted on Instagram.com alongside what appeared to be Jett's distinctive Gibson Melody Maker guitar.
The group will be inducted by former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, and other reports indicate he could also be standing in for late frontman Cobain alongside Jett.
The stars have not commented on the claims, but Jett and Grohl are no strangers - the Foo Fighters star previously teamed up with the I Love Rock 'n' Roll hitmaker for a U.S. TV performance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Nirvana will join KISS, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt and Hall & Oates among this year's inductees.
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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Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha found success in his native country with his popular crime films, Elite Squad and its sequel Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. Now, the 46-year-old is about to make his Hollywood directorial debut with his updated version of one of the most iconic films of the 1980s: RoboCop.
The sci-fi remake hits theaters this Friday and stars Joel Kinnaman in the title role. Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson and Abbie Cornish round out the cast. Padilha says: "I am a fan of the original RoboCop, and I understand [the] preconceived idea of, “Oh no, they’re going destroy it!” But you know what? We haven’t done that." To read more, the full interview is here at Studio System News!
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
Costume designer Michael O’Connor has been to the Oscars twice, winning for The Duchess in 2009, and again as a nominee for Jane Eyre in 2011. He was recently nominated a third time for his work in The Invisible Woman. In this look into the nominated costume design from the film, we feature four key sketches from O’Connor’s vision and asked him to take us through his process. To read the full story, check it out at Studio System News!