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.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
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.
SNL alums might actually be taking over television.
It used to be that a position on Saturday Night Live would launch you to film—that’s how it worked from Bill Murray to Will Ferrell…but things are beginning to take a different turn. Television is growing as a medium, broadening its artistic spectrum and attracting creative forces. As such, a lot of the comedic geniuses of the SNL stage are finding powerful projects on the small screen, such as the kingpin of "nice guy" deadpan, Will Forte. It was announced March 9 that Forte, who immortalized the character of MacGruber, will be starring in a new television series: Rebounding, a single-camera comedy on the Fox network about a man whose pickup basketball games serve to help him through the death of his fiancée. The series comes from Steven Levitan, creator of Modern Family and Just Shoot Me!. Forte is among many former (and some current) SNL stars who are, or will soon be, starring on original series on TV: Tina Fey is likely the first example that comes to mind. Fey not only stars in but created 30 Rock: the sitcom created as a means to chronicle her experiences as the head writer on SNL, whose sixth season is airing on NBC. One of NBC's most celebrated comedies running is Parks and Recreation, starring the unstoppable Amy Poehler as the even less stoppable Leslie Knope, head of the Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana, and candidate for city council. A third NBC entry is Up All Night, which features Maya Rudolph as the vapid but good-hearted Ava, a talk show host and best friend to central characters and new parents, Reagan (Christina Applegate) and Chris (Will Arnett). And finally, the network offers Late Night viewers a host in Jimmy Fallon, who, although still honing his skills as an interviewer, has brought his knack for impressions and sketch comedy to the show. In development, also for NBC, is a new comedy for Sarah Silverman who was famously fired from the sketch show by fax. The new series is produced by Ron Howard and explores the life of a newly-single woman just getting out of a decade-long romantic relationship (the show is based on Silverman's real life experiences dating and breaking up with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel). Leaving the SNL home network, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose stint on the variety show helped launch her Seinfeld career, will be starring in a new HBO comedy series titled Veep. On the show, Louis-Dreyfus will play the harried vice president to an incapacitated presidential figure (mirroring the oft deliberated "what if"s of the McCain/Palin presidency). Veep will premiere Sunday, Apr. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Finally, current cast member Fred Armisen acts as co-creator and co-star on IFC's sketch comedy series Portlandia, which serves as a clever send-up of contemporary "hipster" culture. Source: Deadline
The film and television nominations for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been released, recognizing achievements in both individual performances and the strengths of ensemble casts. This year's film award nominations are listed below, and many of us will be quite pleased with the tributes paid to 2011's greats, such as The Descendants, Bridsmaids, and Moneyball, which each garnered multiple nominations. Some others to make the list include The Help, The Artist, J. Edgar, My Week with Marilyn and Albert Nobbs.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Jan. 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS.
Click here to read the list of this year's television nominees.
18th ANNUAL SAG AWARDS NOMINATIONS: THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURES
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Demian Bichir - A Better Life
George Clooney - The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio - J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Armie Hammer - J. Edgar
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Artist - Berenice Bejo, James Cromwell, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller
Bridesmaids - Rose Byrne, Jill Clayburgh, Ellie Kemper, Matt Lucas, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris O'Dowd, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig
The Descendants - Beau Bridges, George Clooney, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Shailene Woodley
The Help - Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Chris Lowell, Ahna O'Reilly, Sissy Spacek, Octavia Spencer, Mary Steenburgen, Emma Stone, Cicely Tyson, Mike Vogel
Midnight in Paris - Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Owen Wilson
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is one of the most successful of all-time with the first three films earning a global total of $2.7 billion. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened in 4,155 theaters earning $90.1 million for the weekend after $4.7 million in midnight screenings. The first Pirates movie to be released in IMAX and 3-D, On Stranger Tides follows in the very large footsteps of its predecessors and shattered IMAX’s global record with $16.7 million in 394 theaters and a whopping $61,000 per screen. On Stranger Tides posted the biggest international debut of all-time with $256.3 million and the 4th biggest global opening of all-time with $346.4 million. Johnny Depp proves the continued popularity of his iconic Capt. Jack Sparrow character while Penelope Cruz clearly added to the global appeal of this important franchise.
Strolling down the aisle in second place with $21 million is the Judd Apatow produced female-driven comedy Bridesmaids from Universal. As one of the strongest word-of-mouth movies released this year, the R-rated and raunchy sensibility of the film boosted it to first place in the mid-week box office top 10. Starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, the film’s appeal to both men and women looking for edgy summer fun at the multi-plex was realized in a mere 20% second weekend drop and a domestic total to date of $59.5 million.
Paramount’s Thor has been a box office God having topped the chart for its first two weekends and thus proving the continued drawing power of super heroes in the summer. Boasting a terrific ensemble cast and director Kenneth Branagh known more for his Shakespearean endeavors at the helm, this above average effort has generated solid buzz among audiences and a 3rd weekend gross of $15.5 million and domestic total of $145.4 million.
Universal’s Fast Five refuses to leave the top 5 and has been in the driver’s seat for a month building on continued support from audiences that cannot get enough of this hyper-kinetic popcorn epic. An impressive fourth place 4th weekend finish with $10.6 million, the film is making a fast and furious run toward the $200 million mark at the domestic box office.
The very popular and angry birds of Fox’s Rio did battle with Sony’s Priest to take 5th place with a gross of $4.65 million. Rio enters its 6th weekend of release having dominated the family film marketplace since its debut while Priest is movie catnip for the fanboys coming in just $50,000 behind Rio.
Last year’s comparable weekend saw the $70.8 million debut of Shrek Forever After and a solid 3rd weekend for Iron Man 2. However, this weekend’s top 5 led by Pirates gave us our 2nd consecutive up weekend at the nation’s theaters.
Weekend Box-Office Estimates
Top Movies - For Weekend of May 20, 2011
Movie Weekend Gross Total to Date
1 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (PG-13) $90.1M $90.1M
2 Bridesmaids (R) $21.1M $59.5M
3 Thor (PG-13) $15.5M $145.4M
4 Fast Five (PG-13) $10.6M $186.2M
5 Rio (G) $4.65M $131.6M
Oscar-winner Julia Roberts wants to see Denzel Washington walk way with an Oscar next month. She joins a growing list who believe Washington has been robbed one too many times. "He should be on his third Oscar by now, and that might not be enough," Roberts told Newsweek magazine in its Feb. 25 edition. "I cannot absorb living in a world where I have an Oscar for best actress and Denzel doesn't have one for best actor."
In the 73 years of Oscar tradition, only five black actors and actresses have won Oscars. Sidney Poitier is the only black actor to have won a Best Actor Oscar (for 1963's Lilies of the Field). Washington picked up his fifth Oscar nomination for his performance as a crooked cop in Training Day, when the nominations were announced last week and won Best Supporting Actor in 1989 for his work in the Civil War drama Glory. The Oscars will be handed out March 24.
Agent down! I repeat, agent down! Pierce Brosnan, who plays suave secret agent James Bond, apparently sustained a knee injury while filming a stunt in the latest 007 movie, tentatively titled Bond 20. Brosnan will be out of commission for two weeks, but the film is still set to be released in November.
Comedian extraordinaire Robin Williams, 50, is returning to his stand-up roots by going back on tour. Williams told the New York Times he'll face live audiences again because, "I just want to find out what the rest of the country is up to. What is the middle like? What are they laughing at?" His routine will cover current topics such as Enron and President Bush's pretzel incident. "I think they may be grinding everything up now," he quipped.
Britney's been bitten by the acting bug. After her new movie Crossroads raked it in at the box office this past weekend, pop singer Britney Spears is now set to appear in HBO's hit Sex and the City as the sex-crazed niece of PR exec Samantha (Kim Cattrall). Ironically, Cattrall also plays Spears' mother in Crossroads.
Kenneth Starr is stepping into the ring with Rocky! Starr (no relation to the Lewinsky prosecutor) has counterattacked Sylvester Stallone's suit against him, claiming that Rambo is sue-happy, having been involved in at least 30 different suits over the last few years. Stallone sued Starr, his former business manager, last week for $17.3 million. The suit claims Starr urged Stallone to hold onto Planet Hollywood stock even though Starr knew the company was slipping into bankruptcy.
A mentally-ill woman, who admitting stealing mail from Britain's "It" couple, soccer star David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, has been detained indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital. She was arrested in July for sneaking into the couple's luxury apartment building and taking 13 pieces of mail.
Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager's Captain Kathryn Janeway, is heading back to Earth and taking on a completely different, if somewhat similar sounding, role: playing Katharine Hepburn. Mulgrew will star in the one-woman show Tea at Five, portraying the legendary actress as she muses about her life and loves. The play will have its world premiere at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Conn.
The poster for the independent film Amen, which blends a cross with a red swastika, has created an uproar within the French Jewish and Catholic communities. "We consider this amalgam of the Nazi symbol with a religious symbol to be unhealthy," said a statement signed by 10 of France's leading Jewish figures,. The Catholic Church objected to the advertisement as "an unacceptable lack of respect." The film examines how the Vatican was partially responsible for the millions of Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust by remaining silent.
USA Networks will be developing a TV-movie about the one and only Rudolph Giuliani, New York City's knight in shining armor. Based on Wayne Barrett's book Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani, the film will either air at the end of the year or the beginning of 2003. No casting choices have been made as yet.