Fans know him as the late (or based on his involvement in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, resurrected?) Agent Coulson in The Avengers, but before and after his comic book career, Clark Gregg is a triple force actor/writer/director. Gregg added screenwriter to his resume after penning the 2000 thriller What Lies Beneath, then took the director's chair for the 2008 Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke. Now, after a few years rubbing shoulders with Marvel's superteam, he's back at Tribeca Film Festival with his latest and most vivacious work yet, a biting satire of the world Gregg has been immersed in for the last five years.
Trust Me follows child actor agent Howard (Gregg) as he traverses the seas of talent wrangling. At first, he seems like the typical down-on-his-luck shmuck, unable to secure prospective newcomers or hold on to the clients he has. Early on, we see Howard stuck in the middle between Hollywood dealmakers and a terrifying stage mom (Molly Shannon). Life clearly isn't cutting him a break, as he loses his negotiations and caps it off with a vehicular punch to the gut. Sam Rockwell plays rival agent Aldo, who appears whenever life needs to rub Howard's failures in his face.
Things pick up when Howard meets Lydia (Saxon Sharbino), a tween actress ready to bust out of her parents sloppy management strategy. She sees potential in the lackluster representative, and when she presents him with the opportunity to shepherd her in to the next big Young Adult franchise (a la Hunger Games), he seizes the opportunity. Contending with her alcoholic father, Aldo's studio ties, and Murphy's Law slapping him this way and that, Howard goes all in on Lydia — and it's only when he's up to his neck in Hollywood bulls**t does he realize he might be caught up in something dangerous.
Tonally, Trust Me glides back and forth between comedy and thrills like few others. Gregg's history working with the Atlantic Theater Company and dramatic titan David Mamet is apparent on every level here — what starts as a biting satire of Hollywood nonsense twists and turns into a full-blown thriller. It's not an elegant evolution, but it's dynamic, shocking, and absorbing. Trust Me kicks off with snappy dialogue that's overflowing with business jargon and weaponized for laughs. Gregg plays fast and loose behind the camera, convincing us that Trust Me is a Curb Your Enthusiasm riff on State & Main.
But as Howard's life takes an upward turn, Gregg's script steers to darker places and more dramatic turns. On the evening of Lydia's big audition, Howard rehearses lines and pushes the young actress to take the fluffy fantastical YA material seriously (a truly difficult task). Sharbino holds her on against Gregg in the comedic back-and-forths, but in an instance of acting-on-top-of-acting, she asserts as a real discovery. She blows Howard and the audience away.
From the very beginning, Clark chooses to soundtrack his jaunty look at the entertainment industry with a score straight out of neo-noirs. It's sparse and in opposition to what we see. But it's the perfect build-up to the third act, that goes off the rails in a welcome way. The movie daringly subverts expectations like no Marvel movie ever could. Gregg keeps peppering Trust Me with comedy (courtesy of the devilish studio executive played by Felicity Huffman) and heart (his relationship with Amanda Peet's next door neighbor/object of affection is quite sweet), but in the end, the lesson is clear: Hollywood is a frightening, bloodthirsty world and no one is safe to its traps. That's why the twists of Trust Me feel natural — for anyone with inside knowledge of the industry, success one day and complete failure the next is just another week on the job.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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If you think you saw the last of the Cruise/Kidman train wreck, think again.
Cruise will be in Sydney, Australia on Wednesday to promote his new film, Vanilla Sky, alongside co-star and girlfriend Penelope Cruz. Problem is: Nicole Kidman will also be in Sydney--her hometown--on that day, attempting to enjoy the holidays with her family.
Regardless, Cruise is not concerned about bumping into his ex.
"I'm looking forward to it," he told Reuters. "It's a place where my children live. My children are half Australian.'' Cruise and Kidman have two adopted children: Isabella, 8, and Connor, 6. They have agreed to jointly raise the kids.
According to Variety, Universal Pictures is planning to produce a biopic about the life of Joseph Greenstein, the 5' 4" Polish wrestler who came to fame as a circus sideshow freak in the 1900s. A producer of the film, Ed Saxon, is calling the story a combination of Forrest Gump and MTV's stunt show Jackass.
The Fast and the Furious star Rick Yune is being cast as the next villain in the James Bond series of films, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Yune will play a man who becomes disfigured after using a new facial-mutation device. John Cleese is slated to reprise his role as R, as Judi Dench is in the role as M.
According to CNN, Bulgaria's The Naked Truth--a news program launched last week featuring female anchors who strip down to their panties while reading the day's headlines--has already received higher ratings than any other news program in the country.
For the first time in over three months, Paula Poundstone--who pleaded no contest to charges of felony child endangerment on Sept. 12--performed a comedy routine Friday at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, Calif. "This is my first night performing since I've been a criminal," joked the self-deprecating comedienne.
Almost three years since they separated, Garth Brooks and wife Sandy have finalized their divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
LeAnn Rimes' official web site has revealed that the 19 year old is now engaged to dancer Dean Sheremet. Rimes' spokespeople were not available for comment on Monday, says The Associated Press.
On Monday, ex-heavyweight fighter Mitchell Rose filed a complaint with police in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, claiming that Mike Tyson began an unprovoked brawl with Rose on Sunday morning outside of a local eatery. Tyson's spokespeople deny the allegations. No charges have been pressed against either party, PageSix.com reports.
R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, who was charged with assault while drunk aboard an airplane in April 2001, is to be tried for his actions in a London court in March, 2002, according to People magazine.
Starsky and Hutch star David Soul won his libel suit against theater critic Matthew Wright of London's The Mirror newspaper. According to People, Soul was awarded $29,000 in the suit, which he brought against Wright for making derogatory comments about Soul's performance in a 1998 play--a play that Wright did not even attend.
Actor James Cromwell (L.A. Confidential) is now banned from Wendy's restaurants in Farifax County, Va. for one year. The ban stems from Cromwell's no contest plea in a Va. court on Monday in which he was charged with trespassing while attending an animal-rights protest at a Fairfax County Wendy's in July.
The artist and writer who co-created the Casper, the Friendly Ghost franchise, Seymour Reit, died on November 21, The Associated Press revealed on Monday. Reit was 83.