Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Fun fact: Did you know that when you go to Starbucks and ask for the strongest, most caffeinated drink on the menu, they’ll give you an iced coffee with two shots of espresso? Not only am I wide awake, but I’ve discovered three amazing things this morning: 1.) I can spin in my chair eight and a half times before getting insanely dizzy. 2.) Googling Harlem Shake videos and then having a heated debate with your co-worker over the best one is a fantastic way to spend 30 minutes. 3.) I type really really quickly when I have amazing TV scoop to share.
This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List is filled with a great mix of five fantastic shows. Hollywood.com's spoiler spies gathered details from Giancarlo Esposito about Revolution’s dynamic return to TV and chatted with the unbelievably lovely Keri Russell to learn more about the heated scenes between our favorite Cold wars spies on The Americans. Grab some tissues because I’ve got spoilers on a pivotal Beauty and the Beast death, and how our favorite dysfunctional family will be ripped apart on Shameless. Plus, I answered one of your Twitter questions with some sexy Smash scoop! Read on for all the caffeine-fueled TV craziness below!
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1. Revolution: A Fast-Paced Return
When we last saw Monroe, he had accomplished what seemed like the impossible for our favorite characters on Revolution: not only did he have power, but he used that power to control working helicopters! That doesn't mean good things for Miles, Charlie, Danny, and co. — something star Giancarlo Esposito agreed with when we chatted during a break from filming — but Esposito added that it may not be too good for Monroe either. "Monroe has got stuff going on and he's slowly becoming unhinged because he has too much to think about," Esposito revealed.
But what about Esposito's Captain Neville? "I would hope that Neville is off meditating in the mountains or the Himalayas but he's not," Esposito teased. "He's trying to figure out how to survive just like everything else." Let's hope that doesn't mean plotting retaliation against Miles, who had just kidnapped and threatened Neville's wife in the midseason finale. We know how much Neville loves to get his revenge... and it's usually bloody.
And just in case you were worried Revolution was going to slow down in the back half of its freshman season, time to put those worries to rest. "This show is quickening. The pace is quickening and also the storylines are quickening," Esposito said. "I don't want to spoil it, but it's probably going to be double-matched, doubly more action-packed than it was in the first [half] and I think people are going to be very surprised... It's going to be a full-on ride now for the next few months." We can't wait!
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2. Shameless: Sibling Hide and Seek
Remember way back when in episode two of this season, when Frank drunkenly called Child Protective Services from the phone at the Alibi Room? Did you really think that Shameless would let that gem of a moment fall into the hazy alcohol-induced past? Nope! Since life is never easy for the Gallaghers, the kids' lives will get even harder when social services places them in different homes throughout Chicago.
Jumping straight into mommy mode, Fiona's first order of business is to find where everyone is — then to make sure they're all okay. And of course her next goal is to do everything humanly possible to get our favorite dysfunctional family back together. Unfortunately, even though she's been taking care of the kids for years, Fiona has no authority in the eyes of the court. Perhaps there's a more permanent solution out there...
Meanwhile, Veronica and Kev's quest to have a baby takes a bizarre turn when the couple tries to find a surrogate. Their selection is a person who's closer to them than you'd think — but they'll get even closer when they take unconventional steps to conceive. Gotta love that crazy couple.
And here’s another tidbit, just for fun: Someone that several of the Gallaghers are intimately acquainted with returns to town. Who could it be?! Shout out your speculations in the comments!
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3. The Americans: Short-Lived Marital Bliss
The end of last week's episode may have infuriated some fans of The Americans (I know I was mad!) Here’s a quick refresher: Philip gave Elizabeth the cold shoulder for her former affair with a colleague, possibly forgetting the fact that he is currently embroiled in an affair of his own. Double standard: party of one?
To help sort out all of the Cold War craziness, Hollywood.com spoke to Keri Russell last week, and she said that Elizabeth will catch on sooner than we think. "Oh, I think she's going to care," Russell teased. "I think she's going to start caring, a lot. I have a feeling she'll take care of things."
Uh-oh... does that mean a certain mistress may find her head on a stick (Oh wait, sorry! This isn't Game of Thrones... ) I’m not too sure, but I do know that their recent marital bliss will be short-lived. "Things heat up, instantly," Russell said. "They are heightening the relationship. Philip and Elizabeth have been working together all of this time — she has always been the hard-liner, where he's been the one that can bend.”
The actress explained that even though these two are leading false lives, their feelings for each other are far from fake. “This new aspect of their relationship, where they may truly be in love now, doesn't change that past. Some things are going to be brought up that are documented facts of the way they were different back then, and could be very fractious to the relationship."
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4. Beauty and the Beast: A Killer Episode
Get ready for one killer episode of Beauty and the Beast when the Grim Reaper comes a knocking in Thursday’s all-new episode. You read that right, fans: someone’s going to die! Sheesh, first The Vampire Diaries and now this? Why can’t you just let us be happy, CW Gods?!
Jay Ryan, the hunky hottie behind beastly Vincent Keller, warned us weeks ago that someone was going to bite the dust in “Tough Love”… we just didn’t want to believe him! Sigh.
“Vincent is in a position where he has to save the life of Catherine’s sister, and in doing so it forces the beast to accidentally kill someone that was in the way of saving Heather’s life,” Ryan told Hollywood.com. “And that person is very close to one of our series regulars. So it basically ramps up the witch-hunt on Vincent.”
Eek! I checked in with my all-knowing CW spoiler fairy and we can confirm that this “someone” is definitely close to more than one of our series regulars. But of course I can’t exactly tell you who, now can I? I can tell you that executive producer Brian Peterson says you definitely don’t want to miss Thursday night’s jaw-dropping episode.
“What happens after Vincent has killed somebody is that it will galvanize a certain group of people on the show against the vigilante and motivate their need to destroy him. Everything gets turned on its head. It is the most pivotal episode of the whole series thus far,” Peterson told Hollywood.com. “The tragedy of Vincent’s nature and his instinct to protect switches everything up.”
One thing that BatB fans should definitely know: Make sure you have your kleenex box handy, because this episode is a tearjerker. Don't say I didn't warn you!
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5. Twitter Question: @Whattowatch100: Smash news please! Is there hope for Karen & Derek after the beer bottle snub? #leanneslist
That moment — which I’m now officially declaring as the Beer Brushoff of 2013 — was certainly an interesting interaction in last night’s Smash, wasn’t it? We all saw that Karen definitely has a little bit of a crush on Broadway’s newest bad boy, and in next week’s episode things get even more heated. Okay, I’m all hopped up on caffeine so I’m just gonna say it: there’s going to be a smooch, y’all!
Sure, it may not be the most romantical of moments, and there may or may not be heavy drug use involved, but let’s be honest: If Jimmy’s face was right next to yours, you’d kiss it too!
Just because next week’s episode, “The Song,” has some Kammy (Karen/Jimmy) chemistry, doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for the world’s most debonair director. Derek is a bit preoccupied with Ronnie’s phenomenal Bravo-televised one-night-only spectacular, and dealing with the stage mom from hell. If you thought Rebecca Duvall was a diva, just wait for the ferocity to hit the fan when Ronnie’s mother hits the stage.
And speaking of Season 1 storylines, does anyone happen to remember a smarmy, peanut-wielding, rat of an assistant named Ellis? Let’s just say that my wish did not come true and he was not run over by a bus after last season’s finale.
How are you feeling about the new Jimmy/Karen chemistry on Smash? Who do you think is going to die on Beauty and the Beast? Intrigued by the familiar face returning to Shameless? Tell me everything in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
—Additional reporting by Sydney Bucksbaun, Jean Bentley, Shaunna Murphy and Kelsea Stahler.
[Photo Credit: John Domoney/NBC, Will Hart/NBC, Chuck Hodes/Showtime, Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW, Craig Blankenhorn/FX]
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.