Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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The former Doctor Who star took to the stage on Friday (21Dec12) in a black wig and a flowing white gown alongside DJ Christian O'Connell, who played Joseph, and former soccer star Ian Wright, who played a bizarre dinosaur midwife.
Singer Newton Faulkner provided the music for the unusual ensemble while the Three Wise Men were played by a trio of Tennant's fans who won a competition to co-star with him.
The nativity pantomime aired live on Absolute Radio and a video of the show, entitled Dude, Where's My Donkey?, can be viewed on the station's website.
Many wondered how Two and a Half Men would be able to top its ninth season, a run of episodes that featured the inclusion of Ashton Kutcher and even weirder plot lines than ever before. (Alan suffering a fever dream while institutionalized in a mental hospital might rank as one of the most deranged TV episodes of all time.) The answer is now clear: Miley Cyrus.
Last night's "You Know What the Lollipop Is For" put the young, tabloid-friendly starlet in the spotlight, pushing the entire cast (Kutcher included) into the background while her character, Missi, yammered for 22-straight minutes. The southern belle, a family friend of Walden's who arrives at his doorstep for an Los Angeles vacation, was something to behold. She never stopped talking. In the beginning, that was the joke — "Oh man, does this girl ever stop talking?!" By the closing credits, it became a monologue that would impress even Spalding Grey. No one could get a word in, the episode solely riding on Missi's stream-of-consciousness rambling to push the random action forward.
Impressively, Cyrus was up to the task. She spouted signature Two and a Half Men off-color remarks with cacophonous twang like she was in a David Mamet play (or as Berta puts it, the result of what happens when "hillbillies have unprotected sex with hummingbirds"). Horrifying, but impressive. The all-grown-up child star didn't back down from entering the raunchy territory of the show. Here are the highlights from this madcap comedy maelstrom:
"…Have you ever been to the Caribbean? I went once three years ago for Spring break and got stung by a jellyfish once. My friend had to pee on my leg."
Cyrus' arrival kicks off the nonstop chatter, with Missi segueing from nonsensical discussion point to nonsensical discussion point with the sentence structure of Faulkner. Two and a Half Men is known for its out-of-nowhere inappropriate metaphors, but in this opening scene, it's less about whatever the heck Cyrus is actually saying and all about how she is saying it. Last year, Two and a Half Men had an episode entirely devoted to vomiting. This year, they have one devoted to word vomiting.
"You gay for each other or something? I have a gay friend. His name is Russell. I got him to make out with me once but it didn't take."
It wouldn't be Two and a Half Men without an insinuation that Walden and Alan are a gay couple! Cyrus fulfills her civil sitcom duties with her own character spin, stretching out the inquiry with the awkward tale of her attempt to convert a gay man into a kissing partner. Wasn't that the plot to an episode of Hannah Montana?
"Don't forget to rub-a-dub-dub! Would you mind if I took the girls out? Get a little color on Kim and Khloe?"
Everyone was in a tizzy when the first photos of Cyrus surfaced for this episode. Scantily clad and provocative, most assumed the actress would be wooing Mr. Kutcher. Not the case — but that doesn't mean she wasn't ready to play up the sex angle. In the same scene, Missi makes a crack about (and juggles) her breasts, sending Walden into an uncomfortable tizzy. If the audience is able to take a breath in between Cyrus' strings of dialogue, the moment may actually be a little disturbing.
"This is a nice bed. I bet you could do some serious drilling on a workbench like this."
Walden and Missi's sexual tension hits new heights when the ingenue, dressed in a revealing nighty, tiptoes into Walden's bedroom. Luckily, thanks to Missi's complete lack of filter, Walden never has a chance to make a wrong move with his friend's daughter. Missi suggests Walden actually get with her Mom (who has been recently surgically enhanced).
"I sort of have a boyfriend. Technically, we broke up because I was tired of him putting his career ahead of me. He's a doctor. Not a real doctor. A glass doctor. Like if you have a crack in your windshield, he'll come and fix it."
Missi jumps from character to character, feeding on their souls with her anecdotal assault. With Walden and Alan out of the picture, the show wisely finds a way to bring Jake back from the army (coincidentally, he had the weekend off!) so it can pair the two young lovebirds. Jake is a moron. Missi is a self-obsessed monologist. It's a match made in heaven… until Missi confesses she might have another man in her life.
Will Miley be sticking around for good? The episode concludes with Jake returning to his military career, Walden declining Missi's offer to date her mom, and Missi heading upstairs. Little was actually accomplished — meaning Missi's stay may be a longer arc, and the one-woman show may only be in its beginning stages.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: CBS]
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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Freaks and Geeks has a unique position in the world of cult television. No other show (be it cult or huge hit) can boast the sheer magnitude its actors, creators, and even bit players have had in the entertainment world following the demise of the little program.
Take, for instance, this past month at the movies. Three big films each featured one of the three main freaks. 127 Hours with James Franco, The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen and Gulliver’s Travels with Jason Segel. And they can all be traced back to that one little TV show about a high school in Michigan.
No other show can attest to that level of saturation post-ending. None of the four main cast members of Seinfeld have come close. Arrested Development might make it if Jason Bateman were to suddenly become uber-famous, and does anyone remember what happened to the kids from The Wonder Years? Of course not.
Perhaps the most consistent F&G alum, Rogen has neatly divided his post-TV career into three (respectable) categories: acting, writing and voice work. While his acting has been most prominent, he often writes his own material, having penned the screenplays for Superbad, Pineapple Express and The Green Hornet. His distinctive voice has also been utilized in many childrens movies and coming later this year he can be heard as the titular alien in Paul.
The insane one. After F&G, what hasn’t James Franco done? No, seriously. What hasn’t he done? He’s done high brow, low brow, enrolled in four graduate-level degrees (at the same time), had a book published and even had a recurring part on General Hospital. He’s delivered comic gold in Pineapple Express, played moody men in Tristan and Isolde and Annapolis, garnered heaps of critical praise with Milk, 127 Hours and Howl and for the hell of it made a documentary about SNL. Appear in drag on the cover of a magazine? Yep. Next up, he’ll be directing adaptations of Cormac McCarthy and Faulkner.
After F&G, Segel has taken the cautiously adventurous road. He’s been a main character on How I Met Your Mother for the past six seasons, but in between he has made several films expanding his career beyond sitcom territory. We saw his penis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which he wrote as well) and is currently writing and starring in the next Muppet Movie.
I often wondered what happened to my beloved Linda Cardellini. Her portrayal of Lindsay Weir was simply astounding and that moment when she walked in with that dress? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I thought she simply disappeared for a while. Sure, she was in Grandma's Boy but I hadn't seen her in anything really worthy of her presence. It was something like three years after seeing it that I realizes she was in Scooby Doo (Ruh Roh) and then I sat down to watch TV with my mother one evening several years ago when in walked Miss Weir as a nurse on ER. Needless to say, it was good to have her back. And this picture is just here because, why not?
John Francis Daley
The other main character who seemed to fall off the face of the Earth post-F&G turned out to be hiding in plain sight. Daley has been a recurring character on Bones for several years now, playing the baby faced psychologist (can he ever really play anything else?). He had the memorable young waiter-in-training role in Waiting and also plays in the band Dayplayer. They’re not too bad. His next big thing is Horrible Bosses, a Warner Bros. comedy that he wrote. The film stars Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and I shit you not, The Old Spice Guy. My how our geeks have grown.
I'll be honest, I didn't enjoy the Kim stories on F&G. That's not to say that I don't enjoy Phillips, I just never could get into her character. But luckily Phillips has found success recently on Cougar Town, much to everyone's surprise (the show, not Phillips success of course).
Seemingly appearing in any given sitcom at any given time, Levine has been busy since his F&G days but unfortunately nothing has been able to stick. He played a Basterd in Inglorious Basterds, which was his most visible role, but also in a bit of meta-casting, he played another high-schooler in Not Another Teen Movie. A gifted actor, we hope to see more of him in the future.
The biggest surprise of them all. Who would’ve thought Martin Starr, good old Bill Haverchuck, would end up in some of the best comedies of the past decade? His look in F&G was so iconic that many people don’t make the connection when they see him in Superbad or Knocked Up. Its easier to see in Adventureland or Party Down, where he is basically playing Haverchuck with more balls each time, but his distinct delivery and incredible sense of humor elevate him above those around him. Also - check out this picture of him and fellow F&G alum (and Party Down too) Lizzy Caplan. Get'em Haverchuck!
And it doesn't even end there. Several bit players from F&G have etched their own place in the entertainment community. Here are five of the most prominent:
Shia Labeouf played the original mascot whose injury gave Sam the chance to show off. Now he's off on Wall Street and transforming all over the place.
Ben Foster was the mentally handicapped character Eli. He stars along with Jason Statham in The Mechanic later this month.
David Krumholtz was Neal's cousin in F&G, appearing in only one episode. But he later starred in over 100 episodes of Numb3rs. Not too shabby.
Rashida Jones played one of Kim's tough friends. Now she's off stealing hearts in Parks and Recreation, The Office, I Love You, Man, and basically anything she's appears in.
Jason Schwartzman sported one hell of a haircut in F&G. This year alone he appeared in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Bored to Death, two of the funniest comedies from 2010.
Lizzy Caplan, oh Lizzy Caplan. Even in F&G she was cute and it just continued and continued through Party Down, True Blood, Cloverfield, and Mean Girls.
Kristen Stewart Owns 'Wolves': Late Last Night
Eclipse opens tomorrow! I hope you're planning on sleeping under your desk at work tomorrow night because there's no way in vampires and werewolves you'll make it past the fans outside the theaters and into your apartment before you're due back in your cubicle. In fact, you'd have a better chance surviving an attack from a pack of Kristen Stewart's 'wolves' than being unaffected by Twihard mania. David Letterman held up a few pictures of her bad boys, and pointed out they look and snuggle like dogs -- not wolves. She claims she has documentation that proves they are wolves. Also, photographs of them eating human arms!
Then, Letterman talked to Gary Faulkner, the guy who flew to Pakistan in search of Osama Bin Laden. I'm not going to criticize him too much because he made it so easy, anyone can do it.
The only thing more sure than nothing getting resolved during the G-8 and G-20 Summits is that there'll be protesters! Jon Stewart reminded us how President Obama went to Canada and argued other countries should continue spending so as to stimulate the world's economy, but other countries didn't think that was such a good idea and advocated for an end to the deficits. So did he actually succeed at all up there? Not really! He couldn't even convince new Britain Prime Minister David Cameron to drink his beer cold! Womp womp!
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cOMG-20www.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party
Stephen Colbert told us the world really is going to end, and there's actually a way we can survive it: by creating our own fancy shmancy fallout shelter! Bring on the binge eating!
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cDoomsday Bunkerswww.colbertnation.comColbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News
Welcome to Hollywood.com’s Insomniac’s Guide to television, where we bring you our guide to strange, dark underbelly of television that is after-11 programming. So if you’re a night owl, or just want to set your TiVo, check out our recommendations for the week. But there’s no guarantee that these shows will look as good by the light of day.
Note: TV is recorded by the night, rather than date that it airs. For instance, if a show is on at 2 AM Tuesday morning, it will be listed as a Monday night show. All times EST.
Monday Night 6/28
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 - 12-1 AM on SyFy
Alright, I messed up a little bit with this one. The season technically started last week, so if you start tonight you will have missed the first two episodes. But it’s only two, and you’re not really watching this show for the plot, you’re watching it for the giant robot battles! And the series has that in abundance.
Tuesday Night 6/29
10 Ways to Kill Bin Laden- 12:01 on The History Channel
Ever sit around your house at night and wonder if there’s anything you could be doing to kill Osama Bin Ladin? If so, you may be Gary Faulkner, but if you lack the drive/crazy necessary to get yourself to Afghanistan with a 40-inch sword, you can just watch this show on the History Channel instead.
Wednesday Night 6/30
Heathers- 3 AM on IFC
Heathers is a cult classic, a clever, biting parody of those ubiquitous John Hughes high school movies. If you’re sick of the latest 80’s nostalgia trend, this film will remind you that people hated the 80’s in the 80’s too. Plus, it’s got Winona Ryder as the original Hipster Pixie Dream Girl, and some great quotable lines. I love my dead gay son!
Thursday Night 7/1
30 for 30: The 2 Escobars- 1:30 AM on ESPN
I’m not so much of a sports person, but ESPN’s special documentary series, 30 For 30 can even get me interested. This episode, The 2 Escobars, follows the intertwined fates of Pablo Escobar, the powerful drug lord, and Andres Escobar, the famous soccer player. If you know your history there won’t be any surprise endings, but it’s still such a skillfully told story you won’t want to miss it.
Friday Night 7/2
Blue Velvet- 2 AM on Turner Classic Movies
David Lynch is a rare filmmaker with the talent of actually capturing what it is to be in a dream. Blue Velvet may not be his most surreal film (if you want to see Eraserhead, it’s on IFC Sunday night), but it’s still deeply weird and deeply Lynch. I don’t think I’d like to fall asleep to a Lynch film, but I’m sure it would be very simple.
Saturday Night 7/3
Batman- 12 AM on Fox Movie Channel (FMC) and Batman- 12 AM on WGN America
Depending on your mood, interests, and level of inebriation, you can choose between two different Batman movies Tuesday night: the 1960’s campy, Bat-Shark-Repellent-using Batman on FMC; or the 1980’s Jack Nicholson, Tim Burton-back-when-he-was-vaguely-original Batman on WGN. Or you can flip between the two and deal with the mood whiplash. Either way, this is a great chance to get some Bats into your life, besides watching The Dark Knight for the thousandth time.
Bonus: Still need more of the Caped Crusader? Then check out Batman: The Animated Series on Sunday night to see ‘Heart Of Ice.” The episode, which introduces anti-villain Mr. Freeze, won the series an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing” and is a high point for the excellent animated series. Catch it Sunday night on Disney XD at 2:30 AM.
Sunday Night 7/4
Jaws: The Revenge- 1:45 AM on Encore
The shark from Jaws is back, and this time, it’s personal. No, really, that’s actually the tag line from Jaws: The Revenge, the fourth Jaws film, in which the shark decides to specifically target and torment the Brody family. Tune in to watch Michael Caine slum it up, and see the characters conveniently forget that sharks can be easily avoided by going inside or moving to non-coastal regions.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy Elvis (Gael Garcia Bernal) heads home. With only his duffel bag and rifle he seems an aimless and penniless drifter but Elvis knows exactly where he’s going: Corpus Christi Texas to find his estranged father (William Hurt). Now a locally renowned pastor David Sandow has absolved himself of any and all sins he committed before “becoming a Christian ” which includes his illegitimate son with whom he wants no contact. So Elvis goes behind the pastor’s back and forges a relationship with his pristine naïve teenage daughter--and in reality Elvis’ half-sister--Malerie (Pell James). When her brother (Paul Dano) a teenager who wears the Bible on his sleeve threatens to reveal their love affair everything changes irrevocably. If The King were to ever get more than a very limited release in American theaters as many as three of the actors could vie for Oscar noms. Leading the way is Bernal (in his first English-speaking role) who may have the most esteemed resume of any contemporary actor (Y Tu Mama Tambien Amores Perros Bad Education The Motorcycle Diaries and Cannes’ most buzzed-about film this year Babel are just a few). His Elvis is impenetrable and still there’s a sense of menace--which is a feat no actor has pulled off this side of Brokeback Mountain; Oscar-worthy. Hurt fresh off his Oscar nom for A History of Violence again shows us why he’s one of the best most versatile in the biz. He embodies a man whose crisis of faith is but the tip of the iceberg following a role that couldn’t have been more the opposite; Oscar-worthy. James (Undiscovered) can’t quite succeed in obscuring her beauty but she does everywhere else lending a naïveté and an uncanny Southern accent to Malerie who’s 13 years younger than James herself; Oscar-worthy. And Dano gives perhaps the most haunting albeit very brief performance as a misguided teenager hurt more than helped by his dad’s heavy hand.
The King will ruffle more than a few feathers in the Jerry Falwell--and perhaps George W. Bush--sect for its thinly veiled take on Christianity and religion altogether. Well praise the Lord! Finally someone has used the medium of film for something besides a CGI test drive potentially spurring--dare we say--healthy debate in the process. That someone is British director James Marsh who co-wrote the film with Milo Addica (Monster's Ball). Together the two are careful to never assign condemnation to any one character and they touch upon every single dark almost gothic theme imaginable resulting in a film as engrossing as it is galvanizing. And the cinematography is so beautiful it surpasses CGI with landscapes so lush and vivid they look surreal. All of these elements pooled together form a story reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet or something Faulkner might concoct if he were around. But again for its sinful look at Christianity good luck finding it in (American) theaters.