Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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The CW broke new ground in random rebooting with The Tomorrow People. The original was a British neo-futuristic series from the 1970s. It follows the next stage of human evolution as they toy with telepathy and time travel. In 1992, the series was given an update with British teenagers, including Naomie Harris (Skyfall), teleporting around town trying to stop would-be criminals.
The latest version of the series is an interesting blend of Alias and Charmed. Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) develops super powers and finds out he’s one of The Tomorrow People. (Just like that?) He gets drafted into a secret government agency by his uncle, Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino) and must play both sides to protect his species from extinction.
The show has a great blend of action, suspense and super powers. Hear that, Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? However, it features a cast of sexy robots. Amell’s blue eyes and abs do not compensate for his cold robotic acting. Peyton List plays the group's resident telepath, Cara Coburn. In “Girl, Interrupted” we find out that Cara was deaf before her powers manifested. Despite the big developments of her character, List spent the whole episode giving sultry looks to the camera. Luke Mitchell and Madeline Mantock are also breathtakingly attractive but completely flat. I can’t help but wonder if the show could be recreated using an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue and some really elaborate special effects. The one test of any actor is being able to say the title of the series and not sound like a total dork.
Robotic casting aside, the show’s saving grace is that it’s well written and really subverts your expectations. You think you know what will happen but the show keeps surprising you. Also, the show has the right level of special effects. The super powers are seamlessly choreographed into fighting and action sequences and open up possibilities for plot twists and surprises.
There are some great characters on the show. Aaron Yoo brings some humor and badass fighting moments in the character of Russell Kwon. The group’s supercomputer TIM (Dan Stevens) also has some witty repartee and pop culture references for an artifically intelligent piece of equipment. Entertainment Weekly reports that Veronica Mars star Jason Dohring is set to join the cast. Here's hoping he brings some Logan Echols snark to the cast.
Hopefully, the series can reprogram their robotic supermodel cast members' acting hard drives because this show is well written, action packed and a great addition to The CW’s line-up. In the meantime, enjoy this Brit-tastically awesome clip from the original series.
Kirsten Dunst must have winced slightly yesterday when Lindsay Lohan posted this Throwback Thursday picture of them modeling for some sub-Laura Ashley kids' catalog in the early '90s. Not just because of the flower prints and denim, but because for two former child actors who went to rehab, Dunst and Lohan could not have more different adulthoods. They be one of the strangest, but they're not the first pair of celebrities to work together as kids but grow apart as adults.
Selena Gomez/Demi LovatoLong before the Disney Channel, these two met on a casting call for Barney. Instant childhood friends, they grew up together, both starring in their own sitcoms. Nowadays, Gomez is friends with stars like Taylor Swift and has a long on again/off again relationship with Justin Bieber while Lovato is outspoken about the mental health issues she incurred in the Disney enviornment. While they're not the best friends they used to be, Gomez did express sympathy and pride for Lovato.
Leonardo DiCaprio/Sara GilbertThough Leo is famous for his league of pals, one former friend he's fallen out of touch with is Sara Gilbert, host of The Talk. DiCaprio actually guest-starred in an episode of Roseanne as one of Gilbert's classmates in 1991, just two years before his breakout role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. The pair were friendly, but once Leo hit it big, it was just him and the boys.
Tom Welling/Ashton KutcherThe two, like Dunst and Lohan, modeled together, showing off their collective abs for Abercrombie and Fitch. But only one short year later, Kutcher was cast in That 70's Show and the two fell out of touch.
Maya Rudolph/Gwyneth PaltrowPaltrow's and Rudolph's families were old friends and they lived nearby one another, even attending the same school. In 2000, they reunited to work together in a family film, Duets. But since Rudolph's comedy career has taken off and Paltrow has rebranded herself as a lifestyle guru, the two have found their own circles of friends.
Everyone From the All-New Mickey Mouse ClubWe all love at least one member of this cast. But whether they dated, fueded, or simply got the hell out of there and became an Oscar nominee, the Mouseketeers are no longer speaking. It's a shame. How can you not like Keri Russell?
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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.