Recently, We Are Men was canceled after only two episodes aired. That was too many episodes, in my opinion. They tried to use the crutch of the man who bands with his "bros" over the "shrill, angry" women who would ruin their fun. People didn't want to see emotionally adolescent men stay stuck in those mindsets for a whole season. In other words, the crutch broke REAL fast.
The thing is, the TV genre of "man doing dumb things" on TV has been dwindling. There have been several in the last few seasons, including How to Be A Gentleman, Man Up! and Work It! (the last two were separate shows, though I am afraid someone may come out with a show called Man Up And Work It!) and were all cancelled quickly. At least Last Man Standing has Tim Allen's genial presence behind it and actually has good messages amidst the gags. Though the Duck Dynasty cash-in episode that shoehorned in religion was juuuuuuuuuust a bit heavy-handed.
I think that audiences have really recognized how lazy the premises of these shows are. Yes, men can do dumb, stupid, and crude things. There's always reality shows like Jersey Shore and their ilk if they want to see it up close. When it is played on sitcoms, it just distorts these men into even more grotesque caricatures of themselves and it rapidly devolves into pure stupidity.
Sure, there are shows where men act plenty silly and goofy, but they also show themselves to be capable of being mature adults when the time calls for. The failed shows paint the guys as those who would be rushing fraternities until they were 90.
So, sorry Jerry O'Connell, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn - the next time that your agent pitches you for a casting call for one of these types of shows, your best bet is to politely decline...and then run very quickly for the door.
In honor of Breaking Bad's upcoming premiere, Flavorwire's Judy Berman wrote a great analysis of Walter White and how he differs from our favorite TV antiheroes: Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Nucky Thompson, etc.
Is there anything likeable about White? Check out Berman's thoughts here and share yours below!
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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.
My favorite aspect of being an online film journalist -- or blogger, if you’re a fan of brevity -- is the opportunities it offers to meet my heroes. When those heroes bear names few people have heard of, it’s all the more rewarding. Absent is the narcissistic desire for future name-dropping, and in its place grows the realization of a true movie-geek dream. That being said, William Lustig is a name every fan of exploitation and horror should know. As a matter of fact, one of the greatest things about Lustig is that his films are of such a high caliber that they resonate even with those who harbor no passion for grindhouse cinema. I recently interviewed Mr. Lustig for Cinematical in conjunction with his visit to Austin to host screenings of three of his films at the Alamo Drafthouse -- each screening being immortalized with its very own limited edition Mondo Tees poster.
Here’s the interview that inspired me to provide this crash course in Lustigology.
Much like Martin Scorsese, William Lustig is a filmmaker whose identity is inextricably linked to New York City. His films explore the authentic grittiness of the big city as well as some absurdly magnificent supernatural elements. He never skimps on the genre-based shocks and thrills, but his films are sharper, more ambitious, and far more competent than the vast majority of the cult films of his era. Here are a few Lustig essentials with which you should acquaint yourself…
In what should have been a conventional serial-killer flick, Maniac is a masterpiece of low-budget artistry. Lustig gets an awe-inspiring, career-defining performance out of lead actor Joe Spinell, whose psychotic murderer Frank Zito is truly the stuff of nightmares. The entire story is told from Zito’s perspective, which lends a dark introspection to Maniac and dares you to sympathize with this monster. The cinematography is far more refined than one would expect from an exploitation film, and even the grisly horror effects are beautifully executed -- a credit to the master of practical horror, Tom Savini. Lustig’s all-consuming love for horror shines through the grime and allows Maniac to stand out among its contemporaries.
Here, again, Lustig takes what should be painfully standard exploitation fare and hones it into something remarkable. This time it’s a revenge film about a blue-collar factory worker whose wife and son are attacked by a gangster. When that gangster manages to cheat the system and get released, the grieving father turns to his coworkers -- who moonlight as, what else, vigilantes -- for help. Once again, the performances and the photography really elevate the material. Your heart goes out to Robert Forster as he exhausts every legal recourse at his disposal and ends up having to venture into a bloodstained moral gray area to find justice. Fred “The Hammer” Williamson is superb as the toughest member of this self-appointed law enforcement squad, and the fact that they ride around in a big black van gives the movie a sadistic A-Team vibe.
Maniac Cop (1988)
Of the three films covered here, Maniac Cop is by far the most absurd. It’s about an NYPD super cop who gets too close to uncovering political corruption and is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. While in prison, he is murdered by the criminals he helped put there. But he returns from the grave to get his vengeance on the police force, politicians and anyone found guilty…of being in his way. Maniac Cop is 50 lbs of fun in a 20 lb bag. It’s one of the only times a slasher film and an action film find glorious communion in a single movie as the film features just as much amazing stunt work as it does brutal slayings. Maniac Cop is also a who’s who of cult icons: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Robert Z’Dar, Richard Roundtree and William Smith. I dare you not to enjoy it.
William Lustig has proven himself a hero to movie geeks not only as a director but also as a distributor. His company, Blue Underground, has released stunning transfers of some of the greatest cult and horror films of all time. Sergio Corbucci’s off-the-wall Western, Django, Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, and Dario Argento’s Bird with the Crystal Plumage are just a few of the films given a pristine high-def treatment by Blue Underground -- in addition to Lustig’s own Maniac and Vigilante. Later this year, the company will also give us Blu-rays of Fulci’s Zombie and House by the Cemetery. Like most of us, Lustig is a movie geek, one who not only made movies especially for us but also founded an entire distribution company because he got so tired of spending too much to import Japanese Laserdiscs that he opted to license the films himself. My hat’s off to you, sir.