Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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In all of popular music, there is no greater tribute to the mood and mentality of 1960s America than Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco," known best for its refrain of the phrase "Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." Tragically, the song's singer McKenzie (born Philip Wallach Blondheim) died on Saturday at the age of 73. The news was reported by McKenzie's website in a passage written by site perpetrators Gary and Raylene Hartman.
The statement reads, "It is with much sadness that we report the passing of Scott McKenzie in LA on 18th August, 2012. Scott had been very ill recently and passed away in his home after two weeks in hospital." Since 2010, McKenzie has suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a nervous system disorder that resulted in regular hospitalization for the singer/songwriter.
In addition to bestowing the great, haunting 1967 ballad "San Francisco" unto the world (the song was written by The Mamas & the Papas leader John Phillips, who formed a band called The Abstracts with McKenzie in the early days of their careers), McKenzie is also the artist responsible for co-writing the Beach Boys' hit, "Kokomo." In '67, he released his first album, The Voice of Scott McKenzie, following up with Stained Glass Morning three years later. In the 1980s, McKenzie began touring with a new incarnation of The Mamas & the Papas; he stayed with the band until 1998.
McKenzie was an active performer well into 2001.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
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The TV star, who played Jerry Seinfeld's dad in the first season of Seinfeld, passed away of natural causes on 8 February (12) in Los Angeles.
Bruns broke into acting in an episode of The Robert Herridge Theater, before going on to star on the small screen in a number of shows, including Car 54 Where Are You?, Route 66 and Here's Lucy.
He rose to further prominence playing the father of the title character in 1970s series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, also guest starring on Kojak, The Six Million Dollar Man and Mr. Belvedere.
Bruns also enjoyed roles in films including The Stuntman, The Out of Towners, and Flashdance.