Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Wow. A lot has changed in the world of Glee since our TV screens were rocked by the first Britney Spears-inspired episode two years ago. Ms. Pilsbury is no longer engaged/married to hot dentist Dr. Carl (John Stamos), Rachel‘s wardrobe has evolved beyond “one of the bait-girls on To Catch a Predator,” and Brittany — well, Brittany is still just as awesome. In the all-new “Britney 2.0,” the Glee cast tackles the darker side of the pop princess and leaves us with more questions then answers in the end. So grab your favorite snake, bust out that plaid skirt, and make sure you have plenty of body glitter because Britney’s back!
So Here’s What You Missed on Glee:
It’s Brittany, Bitch: The episode opens on our beloved Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) strolling through the halls of McKinley, reciting her own voiceover and preparing for the best year ever. She’s captain of the Cheerios, vice-Rachel of glee club and has a plan to stay senior class president forever. Holler! To celebrate, Brittany performs an amazingly over-the-top version of “Hold It Against Me” with her fellow Cheerios and everyone loved it. (Side-Note: And by “everyone,” I mean me.) Unfortunately, Coach Sue (Jane Lynch) is not a fan of Brittany’s F- GPA and kicks her off the Cheerios. Um hi, harsh much?
Back at Brittany’s place, we finally get a glimpse of Santana (Naya Rivera) via Skype (yay!), but unfortunately, the call was a super quick one. Even though Santana gave a really sweet, “I love you,” we can tell that Brittany is definitely depressed. Plus, the fact that Lord Tubbington joined a gang does not make her feel any better (Side-Note: That 2.5 second glimpse of Lord Tubbington in a biker jacket and shades seriously just made my day)
The next day at school, we see that Brittany is — to put it lightly — having some wardrobe issues. Crocs, mom jeans and an oversized “Worlds Best Grandmother” t-shirt are just some of the goodies that Brittany threw on when she is called into see Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) and Ms. Pilsbury (Jayma Mays). (Side-Note: Emma is alive!!! And looking cuter then ever, I might add.) Mr. Schue gets the inspiration that he needs from his fabulous fiancée and hopes to bring Brittany out of her slump with this week’s assignment: Britney 2.0. To kick things off, Blaine (Darren Criss) and Artie (Kevin McHale) perform a boy band-esque mash up of “Boys” and Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” while Brittany proceeds to eat an entire bag of Oreos. HummelBerry Has Arrived!: Over in New York, we see Rachel (Lea Michele) in her dance class, listening to her sensationally snarky teacher, Cassie (Kate Hudson), describe the tango. If Rachel is ever going to get a sexy role on Broadway, she’ll need to know this dance, but sadly Ms. July shuns her: “You don’t have enough sex appeal to pull off an incredible tango. You’re awkward and tentative in your body and you move like you’re ashamed of it.” Ouch!
Fast-forward to our first glimpse of Hummelberry in NYC. They are so cute together that kittens are starting to feel jealous. It seems that Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Rachel have found their new apartment. The pros? It’s huge. The cons? It’s a 45-minute train ride from pretty much everything. But, of course, none of that matters because the best friends are just happy to be together and they then celebrate by riding their bikes around and around in their new pad. (Side-Note: That last bit sounds silly when you read it but believe me, their bicycle version of a merry-go-round was presh.)
Later that night, while enjoying true New York pizza (ahem, Dominos), Rachel and Kurt get into the subject of Finn (Cory Monteith). Although neither one has heard from him, Kurt assures Rachel that Finn is just giving her “space.” Kurt then reveals his plan for the future in the Big Apple: he is going to reapply in the second semester for NYADA and, in the meantime, he has applied to work at Vogue. (Side-Note: Perfection. I couldn’t imagine anything better for Kurt.) After some light NYADA complaining from Rachel, we learn via YouTube that Cassie July is just a couple sprinkles short of a cupcake. Basically, she’s a little crazy and was kicked off of Broadway for jumping off the stage and attacking a man. Classy.
Puckerman’s a Player: It looks like little Puckerman is following in his big brother’s footsteps. Jake (Jacob Artist) is flirting up a storm in the McKinley halls, and even though practically every girl in school warned Marley (Melissa Benoist) — in an fierce rendition of “Womanizer” — she still agreed to “hang out some time.” (Side-Note: Um duh, I would too. Have you seen his smile? Swoon!) Out on the bleachers, Marley opens up to Jake and says that after constantly being picked on, she finally feels like she’s in a place where people accept her. The chemistry between the two misunderstood teens is electric and they sing my favorite song of the night: “U Drive Me Crazy/Crazy.” Their duet was seriously so sweet that I now have a toothache. (Side-Note: Heck yes, I just used a Clueless reference right there!) After an amazing almost-kiss, we see the first act of chivalry from little Puckerman when he gives a shivering Marley his leather jacket.
The next day during lunch, two jocks started making jokes about Marley’s mom right in front of her. Jake comes to the rescue and after demanding an apology, and the three hot-headed guys begin to fight. Cue Mr. Schue to break up the brawl. But instead of taking Jake to Principal Figgins' office, he brings baby Puck face-to-face with his older half-brother Noah (Mark Salling). (Side-Note: Who else squealed with delight after seeing the original Puck?! Anyone? No? Okay, cool. Just me then.) Noah explained to Jake that sleeping with a bunch of girls and starting fights won’t solve his problems, but having the support of the New Directions will help make him a happier person. Noah concludes, “Whether you join glee club or not, you’re my brother.”
NEXT: Leave Brittany Alone!
Leave Brittany Alone!: Over in the choir room, Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) is leading a beautifully stripped-down version of “3,” when all of the sudden Brittany gets up and tries to shave off all her beautiful blond locks. “Coach Sue has taken away my high pony. If I can’t have my high pony I don’t want any hair at all.” Luckily, the glee club stopped her just in time, but Jacob Ben Israel was not so lucky. When the McKinley reporter tried to hassle the former Cheerio, she attacked him with an umbrella for a solid four minutes. (Side-Note: It was thrilling to watch.)
The glee club has decided that the best way to help Brittany is to have her sing lead vocals at the pep rally, but there’s only one problem: Brittany will only perform if she can lip-sync the song. Reluctantly, they agree to pre-record the song and keep their plan a secret from Mr. Schue, but the day of the pep really, we see that Brittany is less concerned with the performance and more focused on Puffy Cheetos. (Side-Note: Those who follow me on Twitter know that I am a huge fan of these bright orange snacks. In fact I’m eating them right now. This is definitely a sign from the universe that Brittany and I would be great friends.) Needless to say, the performance is a train wreck — very similar to Britney Spear’s 2007 VMA catastrophe — and Kitty (Becca Tobin) outs the group by shouting that the New Directions are lip-syncing. Mr. Schue is furious and warns that if the National Show Choir Board of Review finds out, they could be banned from competing this year. After following a map to the auditorium, Brittany meets up with Sam, who has figured out his fellow blonde’s scheme. Brittany has been attacking reporters, dressing like a hobo, and lip-syncing terribly because she wants to make a glorious comeback just like the real Ms. Spears. Brittany reveals that she really misses Santana, not just as a girlfriend but as a best friend. (Side-Note: Sam and Brittany are absolutely adorable together and I’m officially campaigning for him to appear on the next episode of Fondue For Two.) After confronting Coach Sue, introducing us to a new language, and admitting that she now has a tutor, Brittany’s high pony was restored and she was put back on the cheerios. Praise Lord Tubbington!
Rachel’s Not That Innocent: To amp up her sex appeal, Rachel asks Brody to dance with her and show Cassie that she has what it takes. After half a second of hesitation, Brody agrees to help Rachel out and also adds a compliment to the conversation: “You’re crazy sexy.” Rachel’s performance of “Oops!... I Did it Again” featured fog, flashlights, and a whole lotta fierce dancing. In a word: incredible. (Side-Note: Gaaah Brody!) However, once again, Cassie does not think that Rachel’s performance is up to par. So Rachel snaps at the teacher saying that she is just jealous: “We have our entire careers ahead of us and yours ended before it even began. We’re the future and you’re just some YouTube joke.” Yikes! Rachel was kicked out of class and told not to come back.
Of course, she wouldn’t be Rachel unless she went back to apologize. Rachel has a really nice conversation with her teacher and begins to understand why Cassie has been so hard on her. “Believe me, it’s a whole lot more vicious out there then it is in here. That’s why I pick on my students.” Reluctantly, Cassie tells Rachel that because of a school policy, this is her one and only warning and she is allowed to stay in the class. Later at night, we see that HummelBerry are beginning to paint their new apartment and Rachel draws a heart around one word: Finn. Kurt once again reassures Rachel that she hasn’t heard from him because he loves her and happily saunters out of the apartment to get cake because cake makes everything better. Brody knocks on the door and the collective hiss of Finchel fans can be heard worldwide. The NYADA junior, who road on a train for 45 minutes just to see her, brought Rachel a beautiful pink orchid for good luck in her new place. After a brief hello and calling her sexy once again, Brody went in for a kiss. (Side-Note: For all you Finchel fans out there, let's just pretend that Brody was hitting on me instead. I know I am… Leady forever!) After Rachel politely turned him down, Brody left her with this intriguing line, “I will respect your boundaries, but just know that when we’re together, whatever we’re doing, I’m thinking of kissing you.”
The Final Five: Jake has decided to join The New Directions, and after some light flirting in the hallway, Marley realized that she was still wearing his jacket. Of course, just as things were starting to get close to perfect, Kitty pounces into the conversation, revealing that she and Jake are a couple. (Side-Note: I’m sorry, but Jitty, both the name and the couple, is not nearly as cute as Jarley.) In glee club, Marley leaves us with our last Britney song “Everytime” and it is just lovely. During the song in New York we see that Cassie is finally letting Rachel have a chance to tango and Brody is watching from the doorway. Later back her apartment, Rachel paints over the heart she drew for Finn.
Most Heart-Warming Moment: Brittany being reinstated as head Cheerio.
Most Heart-Breaking Moment: Watching Rachel paint over her Finn heart.
“I’m not speaking to you, I know you joined a gang.” —Brittany to Lord Tubbington
“Kiki is Siri’s super smart older cousin who is really jealous of how famous Siri has gotten.” —Brittany “You’re late. And dressed like a Wallgreens underwear model." —Cassie
“I had my first threesome at seven and once I beat up a police horse.” —Noah Puckerman
“My voice is too weak to sing live. I’ve been up every night yelling at the shrubs in my yard that have been making fun of me.” —Brittany
Vote it out!
&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/6549316/"&amp;amp;amp;gt;What was the best Britney song of the night?&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;
What did you think of “Britney 2.0”? We’re you excited to see Santana and Noah (briefly) return? How are you doing out there Finchel fans? Shout out everything you liked and disliked about the episode in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: FOX]
Here's how I know Tom Hiddleston is one of the most talented up-and-comers in Hollywood: he's the nicest guy in the world, fully capable of playing the most evil dude in the universe.
I had a chance to sit down with Hiddleston at New York Comic Con to discuss The Avengers, his second round of playing the villainous Loki, God of Mischief. Judging from the recent trailer (and the preview footage we got a glimpse of at the film's panel), Loki looks more powerful than ever, enhanced by (if the end of Thor is any indication) otherworldly forces. Still, charm is his deadliest weapon—something Hiddleston has plenty of in his arsenal.
This is the second time you're playing the God of Mischief under two very different men. What are the differences playing the character under Kenneth Branagh in Thor and Joss Whedon in The Avengers?
Tom Hiddleston:The thing about the two of them is that they actually share more than you might first imagine, weirdly. Joss is a huge Shakespeare buff and Ken is a closeted comic book fanboy. True story. But they also have a pan-literacy about storytelling and mythology and literature and comics, and they understand classic tropes of storytelling. Narrative arcs.
They're also both immensely passionate people. Really good at leading, really good at inspiring actors. All that stuff. But everyone has a different artistic fingerprint, and whatever that is changes as you grow older anyway. Ken has a very classical warmth. Thor is both warm and classical in tone. Joss is really interested in comedy as well, within a sci-fi context. You have this huge canvas where eight superheroes are teaming up to save the world, and he's brave enough to make it funny.
How did that affect your performance as Loki?
TH: He changes in that he's definitively more menacing. A lot more. I think Loki in Thor is a lost prince. There's a degree of vulnerability and confusion about his identity. In The Avengers he knows exactly who he is, he's completely self-possessed. He's here with a particular mission.
Why does Loki take out his vengeance on Earth?
TH: Like all autocrats, he doesn't see it as vengeance. He sees it as a good thing. Essentially, he's come down to Earth to subjugate it, to rule as their king. His primary argument is that this planet is rife and populated with people who are constantly fighting each other. If they're all united in their reverence of one king, there will be no war. [Laughs] I'm not sure he's right about that.
But to bring [Chris] Hemsworth into it, I think Loki's still jealous that Thor has a kingdom, Asgard. And Loki has nothing. So he's going to make his own kingdom.
Do you get any comedy in this movie or are you all hellfire and brimstone?
Oh, a lot of hellfire and brimstone [laughs], but Joss had two notes for myself: more feral and enjoy yourself. And I think there's a kind of relish that Loki takes in just being who he is, that I hope the audience will enjoy as well.
You have a lot of physicality at the end of Thor, will we see more of that as well?
Are you working alone or do you have some cronies?
TH: [Laughs] There's a lot of working alone, but there's a little support too.
How does one bad guy take on eight superheroes?
TH: It's all in a days work, man! There's something about Loki that's been expanded. He's a enormously powerful being. He's the God of Mischief. Between the end of Thor and the beginning of Avengers he's evolved. It's as if he's been on three years of military training and he knows a few extra things. A few tricks up his sleeve.
It was really fun and hugely physically demanding for me. Because there's a kind of lethal, yet sinewy strength that he has, that sometimes is about magic and supernatural power that he has, but other times a raw physicality that's just me and my body.
Did you and Chris discuss how you were going to make your relationship different in this film than in Thor?
TH: Well we sat down with Joss individually, then we kind of talked about it together. Joss had such good ideas, we kind of followed his lead. Because it's not a sequel to the Thor film, it's a sequel to the Iron Man films and the Captain America film…his ideas were just so smart. I took it as a huge compliment that what I did in Thor was OK enough to warrant putting me in the next one. Joss has a soft spot for Loki, he likes him as a character and thought he could take both Thor and Loki further down that path. Make the sibling rivalry a really interesting element of the clash of egos in Avengers.
We see you playing with a weapon in the recent trailer. What were you wielding?
TH: It's a kind of evolution of the staff he played with in the end of Thor. That was Odin's spear. This his own makeshift staff of mischief.
There's a lot of New York blowing up in the trailer. Is the action primarily set there or does the movie have a larger, global scope?
TH: Well, no, it's not just one city, but Manhattan becomes a focus point mainly because that's where Tony Stark lives. There's one shot in the trailer where you can see the jet flying towards Stark Tower, which in the fictitious world of the comics, Tony Stark has a huge, interestingly-shaped [laughs] tower, opposite the Chrysler Building. So that becomes a focus point.
How familiar and immersed were you with Marvel mythology before playing Loki?
TH: Well, in England we have this game called Top Trumps and it's like a really simple game for kids. You have them for racing cars, fighting planes or something. And I had the Marvel Superhero Top Trumps. Each hero is on each card, with each of their vital statistics. You'd have Thor and I'd have Loki and you'd say, 'height, 7'2"' and I'd be like 'uh…' and then you'd win Loki. Galactus, he's the Top Trump!
Because you were the movie's villain, did the other cast keep you at arm's length or was there camaraderie on set?
TH: [Laughs] No, no they didn't. All the Marvel movie's have a code name to keep them secret. Thor was called 'Frostbite' and The Avengers was called 'Group Hug.' There was a huge camaraderie on set. Partly because none of us could quite believe we were there making this movie. Also, we were shooting in Albuquerque and Cleveland, and of course, no one is from Albuquerque or Cleveland so no one has anywhere to go. So you finish up at work and it's like, 'does anyone want to grab a beer or something?'
We had some fun houses. Chris Evans had a good table tennis table. Loki beats the crap out of both Thor and Captain America at table tennis. And one night Chris Evans sent a round robin text message saying 'Avengers Assemble' [laughs] and we ended up at a bar in Albuquerque, the place where everyone goes to hang out on Saturday night. What was quite interesting was that your regular Albuquerque bar-goer looking around going, 'Is that Jeremy Renner doing a lunge on the dance floor?' Or, 'why are Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson at this bar dancing together?' But, yeah, it was really fun.
What is Loki's relationship with Stellan Skarsgaard's character in this movie? We know at the end of Thor the two of you were quite close.
TH: This is where I can sense the red dot forming on my forehead and the Marvel sniper on the roof over there has his eye on me.
Working with Stellan is amazing. I really do think he's an exceptional actor, capable of bringing a layer of complexity and truth to roles, which in another actor's hands might seem dry and invisible. He's been doing it for so long—I love the fact that he's done so many different things. Lars von Trier so many times, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Angels & Demons and he's in Fincher's new movie, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A kind, sweet man.
He plays the same character in The Avengers, Eric Selvig. He's employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. after his encounter with S.H.I.E.L.D. in Thor. And that is all I can say [laughs].
How does Loki contend with the eclectic mix of superpowers presented by The Avengers? How do they balance all the characters?
TH: I think Joss is a great genius in the way he put the film together. These guys don't find it easy to share the space. It's not a easily functioning team. You've seen the bit in the trailer where Steve Rogers and Tony Stark bickering. A lot of the strength and the uniqueness of the film comes from square pegs/round hole fitting.
With Loki being the big bad in The Avengers, do you have any particularly threatening lines you drop on the team?
TH: Oh God…there's so many. There's on in the first scene, if I can remember. It's connected to the one in the trailer, which is, "You were made to be ruled." That smacks of an entitlement and arrogance and a menace that sums Loki up pretty well. There's more where that came from.
The writing teams behind The Office and My Name Is Earl led nominations for the 2006 Writers Guild of America awards with two nods apiece.
The Office, Earl, Grey's Anatomy and Six Feet Under figured prominently in the three new categories recognizing the teams behind the best dramatic series, comedy series and new series.
The WGA will announce its feature film nominees on Jan. 4, with all of the winners being announced at the WGA West ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and the WGA East's event at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York on Feb. 4.
Some of the highlights from the nominations include:
Grey's Anatomy, ABC
Six Feet Under, HBO
The West Wing, NBC
Arrested Development, FOX
Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO
My Name Is Earl, NBC
The Office, NBC
Everybody Hates Chris, UPN
Grey's Anatomy, ABC
My Name Is Earl, NBC
The Office, NBC
"Autopsy," House, FOX
"A Good Day," The West Wing, NBC
"Grave Danger," CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS
"Normal is the Watchword," Veronica Mars, UPN
"Rhea Reynold," Nip/Tuck, FX
"Singing for Our Lives," Six Feet Under, HBO
"Diversity Day," The Office, NBC
"Exile on Main Street" pilot, Kitchen Confidential, Fox
"Motivational Speaker," Malcolm in the Middle, Fox
"Next," Desperate Housewives, ABC
"My Name is Earl" pilot, My Name is Earl, NBC
"You Can't Miss the Bear" pilot, Weeds, Showtime
Long Form, Original:
The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, TNT
The Reading Room, Hallmark
Warm Springs, HBO