Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
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Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
Filming has begun on the annual Doctor Who Christmas special, which will see current star Matt Smith regenerate into new lead Peter Capaldi. For the uninitiated: one of the rules of the long-running British sci-fi series is that the Doctor can dodge death by altering every cell in his body, allowing the show to continue even as Ryan Gosling steals Smith away to embark on a promising film career.
The Scottish Capaldi will be the 12th actor to take on the role of the traveling Time Lord. At 55, he ties first Doctor William Hartnell as the oldest man in the part. But what else should we know about the new captain of the TARDIS? Read on to meet the new man of mystery behind the universe's ultimate man of mystery.
He's an Oscar Winner!The next actor to whisk us across time and space is the only one who can boast an Oscar! Peter Capaldi won the Live Action Short Film Academy Award in 1995 for directing Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life. Confident from his win, he claims to have taken one disappointing meeting in Los Angeles before getting on the next plane back across the pond.
He's Totally Punk Rock!While in art school in Glasgow, Capaldi was the lead singer of a post-punk band called The Dreamboys. The drummer? Future chat show host and Doctor Who superfan, Craig Ferguson. Ferguson introduced Capaldi on his show as a guest with whom he's "dropped acid." Wouldn't you have liked to have partied with those guys?
He Has ExperienceCapaldi has already been seen in Doctor Who, playing a desperate father dealing with a ready-to-pop Mount Vesuvius right outside his front door in Season 4 episode "The Fires of Pompeii." He also played a significant role in the third season of Who spinoff Torchwood. Tissues required for that one.
The Cumberbatch ConnectionHe costars with Hollywood's current Brit obsession Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming Julian Assange flick The Fifth Estate. But they've also played the same suspicious angel in two different adaptations of fantasy author Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Capaldi's was a charmingly low-budget 1996 miniseries, while Cumberbatch's is a 2013 radio play co-starring James McAvoy.
He's Most Likely Not in Harvey Weinstein's RolodexCapaldi tells reporters that he based his breakout role as the fabulously foul-mouthed Malcom Tucker in comedy series The Thick of It and spin-off film In The Loop on blustering Hollywood heavyweights, particularly Weinstein.
His Last Role Was Creepily PropheticCapaldi was last seen by American audiences in the Brad Pitt-fronted summer blockbuster World War Z, credited as a "W.H.O. Doctor." We know that acronym stands for World Health Organization, but still, hmmmm...
He's a BeatleSort of. He played George Harrison in the 1985 TV movie, John and Yoko: A Love Story.
He's a Grown-Up Fanboy.During the initial, classic run of Doctor Who, UK magazine The Radio Times published a fan letter from 15-year-old Capaldi congratulating them on a recent special edition focusing on the show. Now he's all grown up and essentially becoming his childhood hero, giving faith to Whovians everywhere.
Oh My God, He Totally Knows Brangelina!After fighting zombies with Brad, Capaldi joins Angelina Jolie on the darker side of one of our favorite fairy tales. He spent six hours in makeup every day for his upcoming role as King Kinloch in Maleficent, the origin story of Sleeping Beauty's evil witch.
The Silver Fox EffectThe Doctor is regenerating in December, but his companion is staying put. Jenna Louise Coleman, who plays the Time Lord's current best pal Clara Oswald, is 28 years Capaldi's junior, making their age difference the largest in the show's history.
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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 remains one of the most controversial events in American history; even with the planned declassification of over a million related CIA documents in 2017, it's unlikely that our nation will ever truly find closure.
Now, according to Variety, Inception star Leonardo DiCaprio is preparing to step into the conspiracy maelstrom with his own contribution to the ongoing debate: a feature adaptation of Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann's Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination. DiCaprio will produce the film, and star as FBI informant Jack Van Laningham, whom Waldron and Hartmann claim received the confession of Mafia godfather Carlos Marcello for the 1963 hit on Kennedy. According to the book, the FBI put Van Laningham in place to become Marcello's confidant as part of a dangerous, long secret operation to connect the mob boss - who ruled organized crime in Louisiana and most of Texas for decades before dying in 1993 - to Lee Harvey Oswald.
DiCaprio will produce the feature through his Warner Bros.-based Appian Way banner with his father, George DiCaprio, who first showed the book to his son. The studio is eyeing a 2013 release for Legacy of Secrecy - to coincide with the 50h anniversary of the Kennedy assassination - so it may be a while before a director is attached to the project.
Legacy of Secrecy will include source material from declassified FBI files form the National Archives that detail the Bureau's operation and Marcello's confession to Van Laningham of his involvement, as well as Secret Service files that document the extensive questioning of Marcello's close associates and family in connection with the assassination. Though Marcello's name did not appear in the 1964 Warren Report, the House Select Committee on Assassinations admitted that Marcelo and fellow mobster Santo Trafficante had "the motive, means, and opportunity to assassinate President Kennedy."
But like any good conspiracy theory, Legacy of Secrecy doesn't stop there: Waldron and Hartmann also claim that Marcello and the Mafia had a role in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Watergate scandal. The authors are retaining the documentary and TV rights to that story for a later adaptation.
In the 47 years since the assassination, we've heard endless conspiracy theories, implicating everyone from Fidel Castro to Lyndon Johnson and the CIA in Kennedy's death. The vague, lazy conclusions of the Warren Commission (a single bullet managed to hit Kennedy and caused all of Governor Connally's wounds, i.e. the "Magic Bullet" theory) and the 1976 US House Select Committee on Assassinations (there was probably a conspiracy, but there wasn't enough information to determine more) have done little to alleviate years of fevered speculation. Legacy of Secrecy reopens that conversation with mountains of new evidence that will be difficult to ignore.
Even though this is far from the first time Hollywood has explored the conspiracies surrounding Kennedy's death - filmmaker Oliver Stone covered similar territory in JFK (1991) - it will be exciting to see what DiCaprio will have to offer when Legacy of Secrecy opens in November of 2013.
Top Story: Britney Spears Bitter About Men
Pop princess Britney Spears says she became bitter with men after her very public breakup with ex Justin Timberlake. In an interview with Newsweek magazine in its Nov. 3 issue, Spears says she swore off dating for a while after the experience. "There was a time when I was like, 'OK, I'm over men. They're mean,'" she says. "For like six months, not a single thing happened. Not like they weren't drawn to me, but there wasn't a single real attraction. I'm like, 'What's happening? I know I'm not a lesbian.'" Spears says she is still not involved with anyone and denies reports that she hooked up with 21-year-old Columbus Short, a married backup dancer. Spears also talks about her suggestive layouts for Rolling Stone, British Elle and Esquire magazines. "I did feel kind of weird after those photos," Spears says. "I was in a moment. I had, like, eight Red Bulls and said, 'OK, let's do it.' I learned my lesson and you won't see me like that for a while. I'm kinda over it myself. Not that it's dirty or tacky, but it is really revealing and I wouldn't want my kid, at 21, to be dressing like that."
Price Is Right Announcer Dies
Veteran television announcer Rod Roddy died Monday at Century City Hospital of colon and breast cancer at age 66, The Associated Press reports. For 17 years, Roddy's voice was familiar to fans of the television game show The Price Is Right for the legendary phrase: "Come on down!" Host Bob Barker said Monday that Roddy, who taped his last show two months ago, stayed with the CBS show as long as his health permitted. "The courage he showed during those difficult times was an inspiration to us all," Barker said. "He was quite a character. He was important to the success of the show." A private funeral service will be held in Texas, with a memorial service planned sometime later in Los Angeles.
California Fires Destroy Part of Aviator Set
The Southern California wildfires, which have destroyed at least 1,134 homes, killed 15 people, forced thousands to evacuate and disrupted auto and air traffic, also partially destroyed a set for Warner Bros.' Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator in the Simi Valley area over the weekend. According to Variety, the blaze at Big Sky Ranch forced the production to switch to interior shooting in Long Beach, Calif. Mike Dilorenzo of Santa Clarita Studios said his facility is operating at full capacity with CSI and Carnivale shooting, but added that the studio was on full alert with fires hoses hooked up and ready to go.
David Bowie and Iman To Appear in Hilfiger Ads
Rock icon David Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman, will appear in their first ad campaign together. According to Billboard.com, the couple will be the new faces for designer Tommy Hilfiger's new H Hilfiger line, to be launched in spring 2004. The collection, described as "sophisticated, sexy and refined," will be part of Hilfiger's high-end line. The ad campaign, shot this month in Amsterdam by renowned photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, will debut in American magazines in April 2004.
Rosie O'Donnell, G+J Court Date Delayed
The court battle between Rosie O'Donnell and her ex-publishing partner, Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing, was put on temporary hold on yesterday as a scheduling conflict caused the judge to delay Tuesday's start date. G+J charges that everything unraveled at the now defunct Rosie magazine when O'Donnell shut down her daytime TV show in 2002 and went from being known as "fun-loving" to becoming a self-proclaimed "uber-bitch." O'Donnell, however, claims the publisher seized control of the magazine, fired editors who were loyal to her and tried to smear her reputation. Manhattan Supreme Court officials told Reuters the breach-of-contract case over the messy demise of the entertainer's namesake magazine will likely open later this week.
Fox Pulls Plug on Luis
After only four airings, Fox has decided to pull the plug on its freshman series Luis. The show starred feature character actor Luis Guzman as a doughnut shop owner in Spanish Harlem, but it opened to poor reviews and ratings, averaging 3.6 million viewers in its four airings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the series, which aired Friday at 8:30 p.m., was shut down Monday. Ten episodes of the comedy were produced overall. For the next two Fridays, Fox will air original episodes of Wanda at Large at 8 and 8:30 p.m. The network had previously scheduled movies to run on the last two Fridays of the November sweep.
ABC News: Oswald Acted Alone
ABC said Monday that an in-depth investigation of the Kennedy assassination conducted by ABC News indisputably confirms that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. The network said ABC News worked with an expert who created a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting based on maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, films and autopsy reports. Through interviews and other documentation, ABC News also concludes that Jack Ruby, who later killed Oswald, acted simply out of his love for Kennedy, the AP reports. The two-hour special on the event is scheduled to air Nov. 20, two days before the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Tim Robbins To Host Cash Tribute
Actor Tim Robbins will host the Nov. 10 musical tribute to country legend Johnny Cash, who died Sept. 12 at age 71 of complications from diabetes. According to the AP, The Bull Durham star did an audio interview with Cash for promotion of the singer's 2000 album, American III: Solitary Man. Cash also wrote and performed "In Your Mind" for the soundtrack to Dead Man Walking, a 1995 film Robbins directed. Tickets for the tribute concert, which will take place at the Ryman Auditorium, were free and distributed by lottery. John Mellencamp, Dwight Yoakam, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Hank Williams Jr., Jack Clement, Steve Earle, Larry Gatlin and Cash's daughter, Rosanne, are scheduled to perform.