Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
British TV shows, including the Ab Fab 20th anniversary specials, scored a total of seven nods when the shortlist was announced on Monday (08Oct12).
Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs will battle for the Best Performance by an Actor trophy for his role in detective drama series Case Histories - he'll be up against Argentina's Dario Grandinetti from Television por la Inclusion, Norway's Stein Winge (Norwegian Cozy), Singapore's Arthur Acuna (The Kitchen Musical) and China's Zhu Yawen (Flying Eagle).
Actress Joanna Vanderham will represent the U.K. in the Best Performance by an Actress category for her turn in The Runaway, opposite Denmark's Sidse Babett Knudsen (Government), China's Rina Sa (Zhong Guo Di) and Argentina's Cristina Banegas (Television por la Inclusion).
Meanwhile, controversial BBC film Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die, which chronicled the author's Alzheimer's Disease battle and his bid to end his life, is in the running for Best Documentary, up against South Korea's Across Land, Across Sea, Argentina's Hitler's Escape and Germany's Wettlauf Zum Sudpol (Race to the South Pole).
The Best Drama Series honour will be a fight between France's Braquo, Hong Kong's ICAC Investigators 2011, Singapore's The Kitchen Musical, Australia's The Slap and Argentina's The Social Leader.
Competing for the Best Comedy Series prize with Absolutely Fabulous will be Brazil's The Invisible Woman, Britain's Spy and Belgium's What If?
The winners will be unveiled at the annual prizegiving in New York on 19 November (12).
The Avengers star announced she was close to signing a deal to take on the role made famous by the late Elizabeth Taylor in the 1958 movie adaptation of the play earlier this summer (12), and now she's confirmed to lead an impressive cast.
The actress, who won a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in the 2010 revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge, will play the wife of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter star Benjamin Walker. Ciaran Hinds and Debra Monk have also signed on for the hot-ticket play.
Evita choreographer Rob Ashford will direct the production, which is scheduled to begin previews just before Christmas (18Dec12) at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
Downey, Jr. and Law have enjoyed great success with their portrayals of the detective and his sidekick in Ritchie's all-action take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation, with the first two movies taking more than $1 billion at the box office.
Studio bosses are rumoured to be planning a third outing, and Law can't wait to get back in front of the camera alongside Downey, Jr.
He tells Collider.com, "There's certainly talk of it and I know there's a script being played around with, but Downey's a busy boy and I'm a busy boy so we'll see. But we want to (do another one). We're a very happy team and we have a lot of fun and we also think there's still a lot of legs in the duo."
The Cruel Intentions star gave birth to Bleick's baby, son Arthur, last year (11), but Blair has now moved out of their Los Angeles home and begun renting a pad in nearby Venice after the couple decided to call it quits.
A source tells Us Weekly magazine, "They were fighting non-stop."
The actress began dating Bleick in 2010.
Wright will direct a production of Arthur Wing Pinero's Trelawny of the Wells.
The show is set to debut at the Donmar Warehouse in February (13), and the venue's artistic director, Josie Rourke, says, "Joe is one of the leading lights of British film. It feels very apt that having grown up in a theatre, Joe should be directing Trelawny of the Wells, as it's a play set in that corner of London, and a love letter to actors and life in the theatre."
Atonement director Wright is also backing a new initiative to encourage locals to attend the theatre, by selling selected tickets for just $16 (£10).
He adds, "It's very important theatre is an inclusive experience."
Actor John Lithgow will be spending Christmas in London after signing up to star in a stage production of Sir Arthur Wing Pinero's The Magistrate. The National Theatre show will begin previews at the Olivier Theatre on 14 November (12) and run through January (13).
The third-in-line to the throne went under the name of Spike Wells on the social networking site but has now logged off for good following advice from his private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, according to Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.
Officials at Buckingham Palace are allegedly concerned images taken while at business tycoon Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island property prior to the Las Vegas trip could surface online after they were published by a friend on Facebook, making them visible to hundreds of people.
Harry's close friends Tom Inskip and Arthur Landon, as well as one of the Prince's minders, have also closed their accounts after posting pictures of themselves with the royal.
Prince Harry became embroiled in the scandal after he was pictured in the nude during a game of 'strip billiards' at the MGM Grand hotel in Sin City.
The Scottish-born star, who has appeared in films such as The Man Who Sued God and The Eye of the Storm, shocked the audience at the city's Belvoir St Theatre when he stumbled across the stage and passed out during the play's second act.
A doctor in the audience got up to help Friels and the 59-year-old actor was taken to St Vincent's Hospital for tests.
A spokesperson for the theatre revealed Friels had been feeling unwell during the interval but "was very stoic and insisted on continuing with the show".
Friels, who has been battling pancreatic cancer, reportedly came down with a bout of flu earlier in the week (beg13Aug12) and is now resting at home after being discharged from hospital. Theatre bosses cancelled Friday night's (17Aug12) performance as well as two shows on Saturday (18Aug12).
Up All Night: Two SNL lady legends will reunite when Rachel Dratch guests on the second season of Up All Night alongside fellow alum and former co-star Maya Rudolph. Dratch will play Linda, a giant fan of Rudolph's Oprah-lite Ava, who is ecstatic when she's given memorabilia from Ava's show. (This isn't the first time Dratch has lent a funny bone to a former SNL co-star's show — she's a frequent guest on 30 Rock with Tina Fey.) [THR]
How I Met Your Mother: Better call Saul — especially if you need someone to guest on your show again! Bob Odenkirk, who plays Breaking Bad's resident douche-lawyer Saul Goodman, will return to CBS's long-running comedy in Season 8, reprising his role as Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) GNB boss Arthur Hobbs. Odenkirk will pop up in the season's second episode. [TVLine]
White Collar: CSI: Miami's Emily Procter is set to join Season 4 of USA's Matt Bomer bonanza as Amanda Callaway, the new gal in charge at the New York White Collar Division. She'll keep an eye on Bomer and Tim DeKay for at least two episodes. [TVLine]
Smash: Broadway and Dreamgirls diva Sheryl Lee Ralph has been tapped to play Cynthia, the mother of Jennifer Hudson's character Veronica Moore, who will be introduced in the upcoming second season of NBC's musical dramedy. It's a vote of confidence for the meat of Hudson's role that we're already going to meet her mother, who may wax more Bernadette Peters in her matriarchy (Peters guested as Megan Hilty's character's stage mom extraordinaire last season). [Vulture]
Suburgatory: Voice actor H. Jon Benjamin will play Cheryl Hines' character Dallas's post-divorce life coach. [TVLine]
Arrow: Torchwood star John Barrowman will recur on The CW's new superhero drama as a "mysterious," "well-dressed man." [EW]
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