Copious amounts of snow? Check. 1990-something automobile? Check. Old timey tunes blaring on the radio? Check. This definitely looks something like a Fargo series. And even though FX's upcoming adaptation is only loosely based on the Coen Brothers' 1996 classic, we're beyond excited. The trailer is pretty short, only giving us a few precious seconds of Billy Bob Thornton scraping midwestern flurries off of his windshield, before giving us an icy glare, but it has to be good enough for now. Hopefully the next trailer gives us a little bit of Martin Freeman's American accent, and at least a couple "you betcha"s (we'll even settle for a "don'tcha know"). Since Fargo is getting the small screen treatment, we wondered which other of the Coens' films would work on television, let's start at the top and work our way through the list.
Blood SimpleWould it work as a series?Yes. Texas-style neo-noir on a week-to-week basis. We all love True Detective, don't we?
Raising ArizonaWould it work as a series?No. Nicolas Cage's zany baby-stealing high jinks might be fun as a one-off, but 13 episodes of this shtick would be overkill.
Miller's CrossingWould it work as a series?Yes. With Boardwalk Empire ending, the TV landscape is in need of some good old-fashioned mobster moxie.
Barton FinkWould it work as a series?No. His writers block would make us all lose our minds after a few weeks.
The Hudsucker ProxyWould it work as a series?Yes. Who wouldn't want some more Coen-infused screwball hoopla? (Get it?!) We picture it as a much wackier version of Mad Men.
The Big LebowskiWould it work as a series?No. The Dude's story started and ended back in Gulf War-era Los Angeles, and shouldn't be tampered with.
O Brother, Where Art thouWould it work as a series?No. Look at how badly Prison Break fell apart.
The Man Who Wasn't ThereWould it work as a series?Maybe, but the Coens' mostly forgotten follow-up to O Brother probably wouldn't rustle up too many viewers.
Intolerable CrueltyWould it work as a series?Yes. Watching a savvy, debonair leading man play a ruthless divorce lawyer already sounds like something that should be a show. Tuesdays on TBS!
The LadykillersWould it work as a series?Yes. A weekly series where a southern dandy tries to charm his way into the high-stakes crime ring definitely could definitely be fun for some laughs.
No Country for Old MenWould it work as a series?No. There's only so much "floppy haired serial killer" we can take.
Burn After ReadingWould it work as a series?Yes. A workplace comedy about the U.S. government and a local gym, and the points at which they intersect, has the makings for great television.
A Serious ManWould it work as a series?No. Not even AMC could carry a series that depressing.
True GritWould it work as a series?No. Trying to understand Rooster Cogburn's old west grumble was hard enough in surround sound.
Inside Llewyn DavisWould it work as a series?Sure. A TV series about an unlikable main character trying to become a successful artist in New York? It could be like a 1960s version of Girls.
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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British actor Stephen Fry has written an open letter to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to enforce a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Russia. The funnyman is concerned about gay rights issues in the country and believes the 2014 games in Sochi should be moved to another location to protect athletes and send a message of protest to Russian authorities over their treatment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
It is currently illegal to promote homosexuality in Russia, and Fry is convinced this goes against the spirit of the Olympics, so he has written to U.K. leader Cameron and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging them to take action.
The letter, posted on Fry's official website, states, "It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their (Olympic) village. The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin (Russian president Vladimir Putin) has pushed through...
"Let us not forget that Olympic events used not only to be athletic, they used to include cultural competitions. Let us realise that in fact, sport is cultural... An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world."
Fry goes on to compare Russian Winter Games to the controversial 1938 Berlin Olympics in Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, adding, "I am gay. I am a Jew. My mother lost over a dozen of her family to Hitler's anti-Semitism. Every time in Russia (and it is constantly) a gay teenager is forced into suicide, a lesbian 'correctively' raped, gay men and women beaten to death by neo-Nazi thugs while the Russian police stand idly by, the world is diminished and I for one, weep anew at seeing history repeat itself."
Fry's letter proved so popular, his website crashed within minutes of the upload, while a number of fellow celebrities have thrown their support behind the actor.
Mia Farrow posted a link to Fry's letter on her Twitter.com page, along with the message, "Stage the Olympics elsewhere," while Billy Bragg and Matt Lucas have also backed Fry's campaign.
Imagine you happened upon a wormhole that could take you to any place and time in this and all parallel universes. Imagine you took that wormhole to suburban Wisconsin circa 1976. Sounds pretty unimaginative, doesn't it? Well, you'd be surprised at just how interesting a choice you'd be making — there aren't many who'd pinpoint Topher Grace, known best as good-natured wimp Eric Forman from the Fox sitcom That '70s Show, as a probable casting addition for Christopher Nolan's developing sci-fi epic Interstellar. But Nolan is a visionary. The sort of creative mind who can turn dreams into romantic heist missions, memory loss into neo-noir love revenge stories, and comic books into gripping psychological dramas. And his greatest feat of all: turning the world back onto Topher Grace. Because, lest we forget, that dude is awesome.
Yes, while some might cock our brows at the addition of Grace to Interstellar — Deadline reports that the actor is presently in talks for a role — we challenge you to remember a time prior to this modern era of Gracelessness. On That '70s Show, Grace exhibited comic charms far and beyond that of his costars. He has yet to find an explosive vehicle since: Take Me Home Tonight, In Good Company, and Win a Date with Chad Somethingorother didn't do much to help the young actor... and the fact that we couldn't even remember he was in Spider-Man 3 without help from IMDb probably doesn't say much (although, to be frank, he'd be best served distancing himself from that movie altogether).
But perhaps this new turn will be what Grace has been awaiting. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, another former child star from a goofy, low budget sitcom, took a career boost with one of Nolan's flicks, so why can't Grace? The newcomer joins Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, and every single other human being in this and all parallel universes on board the cast.
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is what Napoleon Dynamite might’ve been had he fantasized about Jackass instead of ligers: a gawky half-wit with a penchant for stunts he can’t come close to pulling off. But when his stepfather (Ian McShane) falls gravely ill and can’t afford a heart transplant it’s just the motivation Rod needs to go that extra mile er bus. See Rod has decided to try and jump across 15 buses in hopes of raising money for his stepdad’s operation—but only to get him healthy enough for Rod to beat him fair and square in a fight (which will make more sense if you see the movie). So Rod assembles his “crew”—stepbrother/videographer/team manager Kevin (Jorma Taccone); mechanic Dave (Bill Hader); ramp builder Rico (Danny McBride); and newest member Denise (Isla Fisher) on whom Rod has a massive crush—to help whip him into shape. He hits an emotional roadblock when he learns that his real father did not in fact die testing a stunt for Evel Knievel but ultimately nothing can keep Rod down—except gravity. Usually Saturday Night Live stars have to leave the show before they can headline a movie—like Adam Sandler whose brain Samberg would clearly love to pick (and transplant into his own). But Samberg was wise to allow himself something in SNL to fall back on because his Digital Shorts talent (i.e. the Justin Timberlake collabo “D**k in a Box”) doesn’t exactly translate into feature-length humor. There are undeniably hilarious random freak-outs even to the un-stoned and in a few years he might be the Next Great SNL retiree but the jokes become one-note very quickly. So comedic voice of Generation Y(ouTube)? Not quite. He might not even be the current voice of SNL if costar Hader has any say. Hader is choosing all the right movies and roles in them (see this month’s Superbad—seriously!) and his inane humor is much more sustainable than Samberg’s. Simply looking at Hader is cause for laughter which is half the battle between these neo-SNLers. Unlike Hader Wedding Crashers star Fisher is terribly miscast. Not only does Fisher look more mature (to put it nicely) than her character is supposed to be but she’s much funnier than the stupid-funny of Hot Rod in which she of all people is the proverbial “straight man.” And in a double-take-worthy role revered actress Sissy Spacek graces the screen as Rod’s mom a la Kathy Bates in Sandler’s The Waterboy. You can take the dudes out of SNL but you can’t take the SNL out of the dudes. And the foursome of SNL contributors—Samberg Taccone Hader and Akiva Schaffer who directs—along with screenwriter Pam Brady (Team America) demonstrate why SNL is no longer much to laugh at as they replicate the show’s stupid humor under the guise of fresh humor (“fresh” because you see Andy Samberg is youngish and YouTube-cool). After about a quarter of the way in it becomes clear that Schaffer is satisfied with virtually no storyline resting the movie’s fate in the purportedly funny hands of Samberg. Granted the first quarter holds promise that the movie will take a Talladega Nights-like turn into a mock story but it remains nothing more than the silliness of Napoleon Dynamite (only not nearly as offbeat) combined with the failed stunts of Jackass (only not nearly as dangerous to the star). The Napoleonic resemblance continues with the obscure ‘80s soundtrack which is about the funniest thing Hot Rod has going for itself.
Based on actual events The Believer tells the story of young "Jewish Nazi" Danny Belint once a promising Yeshiva student from Queens. But now disillusioned by Judaism he is an active member of an anti-Semitic band of hoodlums who terrorize Jews and plan attacks against them. He also frequents meetings with self-styled fascist intellectual Curtis Zampf and his wealthy dragon lady companion Lina Moebius. Danny's effete father and sister are clueless about his anti-Semitic activities. And his fellow skinheads with whom he schemes and trains at retreats are unaware of his Jewish background. In conversations with several concentration-camp survivors as part of a sensitivity-training session ordered by a judge after Danny and his gang are hauled in for violence Danny provides clues for his twisted hatred when he blames Jewish passivity and fear for the tragedy of the Holocaust. But Danny's cover is soon shaken when a journalist who has learned that Danny is Jewish presses him for more information. After violent incidents involving synagogue damage and an assassination attempt Danny's life takes a sharp and fatal turn when his lover Carla Lina's daughter triggers in Danny a renewed passion for Judaism and its rituals.
Ryan Gosling's turn as young neo-Nazi Danny is worth more than the price of admission. He delivers a stunning career-making performance that is as disturbing as it is believable. Gosling who has moved on to studio features since his Believer role two years ago gets terrific support from the other actors including Summer Phoenix as beautiful lover Carla Theresa Russell as Carla's fanatical mother Lina and Billy Zane as Lina's sinister companion Curtis.
As brave as he is skilled writer/director Henry Bean does a superb job of conveying the chilling atmosphere and psychological confusion that can turn profound hatred into acts of violence. He also deserves credit for fashioning a convincing script rife with the intellectual questions and issues that can give rise to hatred. Bean's real coup was giving Gosling the guidance and space to deliver so extraordinary a performance. Bean's eye and ear for the authentic are apparent everywhere with both the decent folk and the hateful bigots soaring far beyond cliche or caricature.