Back in the glory days of Glee — before the scripts became so desperate for love triangles that they actually began considering storylines for Principal Figgins and the bearded guy who plays the piano — fans of all ages would tune in for a scathing take on the coming-of-age genre, a dark but charming and progressive underdog story. Also, for singing. While many love the musical interludes, a small number of us — those in it for the likable characters and acerbic look at high school politics — felt the Lea Michele solos became an opportunity to check your texts real quick. After Season 2 brough on a severe dip in quality, a few fans lingered and among these, we have to imagine, some of the song-haters remained as well... and it is this community, the tiny population who preferred the later days of Glee but fast-forwarded through the musical numbers, for whom Camp was made.
Also, maybe a few people who went to camp. So NBC has got itself quite the target demographic with this one.
Catching the pilot of Camp will give you 'Nam-style flashbacks to your frustrated toils with post-Golden Era Glee. The debut ep introduces a selection of counselors and CITs, ages ranging from high school to post-grad, all embedded in some definingly maudlin quality. Misanthropic loner Kip (Tom Green, but not that... well, that goes without saying), joins the summer tradition against his will, his father hoping the experience will help his teenage son overcome some psychological turmoils to befall him in recent months. Obviously, he hits it off immediately — despite being aggressively standoffish — with another newcomer, the charming Marina (Lily Sullivan), who finds herself among the outcasts after the Internet becomes privy to her exposed breasts. Thanks to some heavy-handed heart-to-hearts and some extended silent glances, we know that their budding romance is going to be Camp's most laborious endeavor in the weeks to come.
But for all those not interested in this duo, the romances are plentiful from every corner! We've got romance between an Olympic swimmer and a law student, between an idiotic tag-along and a girl with no discernible characteristics, between the divorced camp director (hey, Rachel Griffiths is in this!) and an Aryan lethario half her age. It's got it all. Without that pesky interference of people singing about their feelings every eight minutes.
No, Camp does not have the wit of Season 1 Glee, nor the overindulgence of Season 4 Glee. It's middle-of-the-road Glee, set lakeside and with more opportunities for shirtlessness. So if that was the era you found yourself most fond of, NBC's new program might be up your alley. Or, perhaps, if you went to camp. You ever notice how people who went to camp are really, strangely into camp? What's up with that?
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"I had to gain 30 pounds for filming because they wanted me to be extra bulky, so when I watched the movie it's like, 'Who ate Riley?'" Super 8 star Riley Griffiths looks completely different from the character he played in the sci-fi movie, now he's lost weight and grown seven inches (18 centimetres) since the end of filming.
The film's star Riley Griffiths was given the task of breaking the bogus bad news to Abrams as part of an April Fools' Day prank, and he admits he was terrified of upsetting the director.
He says, "We came up with this idea where we tell him that I lost the script in a mall in L.A. and it's online right now... I didn't want to do this... I was so scared and when I go in, I look up and there's a window above J.J's office and I see all the boys lined up.
"I was on the verge of crying because I didn't want to do this... I could just see the disappointment in his face."
Thus far, much of the discussion surrounding J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 has centered on its secretive production, its sophisticated marketing campaign, and its sweeping resemblance to the works of Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment. Relatively little attention has been paid to its cast, which includes Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights’ Coach Taylor), wunderkind Elle Fanning (Somewhere), and a talented collection of erstwhile unknowns. Expect that to change this weekend, when the film finally unspools in theaters and audiences get a whiff of Super 8’s splendid ensemble. Forget train crashes and monsters and artificial lens flares – it’s the performances in this film that make it stand out above the din of hollow summer spectacles.
We caught up with the cast of Super 8 to find out what it’s like to live inside the Abrams mystery box:
Kyle Chandler interview:
Elle Fanning interview:
Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, and Zach Mills interview:
You can read our review of Super 8 here.
Super 8 opens everywhere June 10, 2011.
In this era of remakes and reboots writer-director J.J. Abrams is here to introduce a third option: the throwback. Though ostensibly an original work his new film Super 8 is meticulously designed to appear as otherwise. Its intent which it makes no effort to hide is to mine our nostalgia for the early oeuvre of Steven Spielberg to invoke our affection for films like E.T. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and even Jaws. Should Mr. Spielberg be concerned? Hardly: He’s complicit in the scheme. The presence of his name atop the poster and his production company Amblin in the opening credits doesn’t just bestow credibility; it embeds the association in our memory making the bridge between what is and what was that much shorter.
Super 8 is set in 1979 – a creative decision which affords a measure of built-in nostalgia and allows the filmmakers to sidestep modern narrative nuisances like cell phones and Google – in the fictional working class community of Lillian Ohio. Our hero our embodiment of those prized (and I believe copyrighted) Spielbergian virtues of youthful innocence and wonder and unbounded curiosity is Joe Lamb (wonderful newcomer Joel Courtney) a polite earnest boy made all the more sympathetic by the recent death of his mother a steelworker in a workplace accident. Joe’s home life is rather dreary – his father Deputy Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler) is too immersed in grief to be much of a parent – so he jumps at the chance to spend the summer with his mates shooting a DIY zombie movie.
They gather one night at a local train station to shoot a key scene for which they’ve pulled off the minor coup of convincing a pretty classmate Alice (Elle Fanning) to play the female lead. But the camera has scarcely started to roll when a passing train collides head-on with a pickup truck. resulting in perhaps the most over-the-top train crash I’ve ever seen on film an interminable sequence of ever-escalating vehicular carnage that would make the Final Destination folks gasp.
The driver of the truck that caused the crash is revealed to be the kids’ science teacher Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman). Bloodied but still breathing he delivers them an ominous warning: “Do not speak of this. They will kill you.” We learn who “they” are soon enough when hordes of soldiers members of a top-secret branch of the Air Force descend upon the crash site to comb the wreckage.
Shortly thereafter the town is beset by strange unexplained phenomena. Engines disappear from cars. Dogs flee en masse. Worst of all townsfolk are vanishing abductees of a creature glimpsed only in shadow and yet utterly terrifying nonetheless. We need not see the monster to know its fearsomeness: All of the scare scenes are expertly choreographed by Abrams the score shot and sound design fine-tuned for maximum menace.
Chaos and panic spread. Believing the mysterious events and the train crash to be related Joe and his pals decide to mount their own investigation. With each successive clue they gather the implications of the conspiracy become clearer and they are soon on the verge of a revelation that will change their lives – and indeed the world – forever.
Super 8’s genre spread is staggering. The film is equal parts sci-fi epic conspiracy thriller creature feature coming-of-age drama and teen comedy. (You can even add “zombie flick” if you include the film-within-a-film.) The mish-mash isn’t so much a problem in the first half of the film – Abrams is such a gifted storyteller that he handles massive tone shifts with almost laughable ease – but as the story gathers steam it has more and more difficulty reconciling its disparate elements. More than once in the third act does Super 8 teeter on the edge of Shyamalanism only to pull back at the last moment.
The film is surprisingly affecting but never in a cynical or manipulative way. (This is a minor miracle.) Abrams’ secret weapon in this regard – and easily the film’s best feature – is his cast of child actors who are universally superb. Their interactions feel genuine their comic rapport natural and unforced. Fanning in particular is wondrous. At this point calling her a “child actor” feels somehow belittling as her talent easily outpaces that of the majority of her adult counterparts.
Their efforts are largely betrayed by an ending that feels false. A hasty and belated attempt is made to turn the creature into a sympathetic figure followed by a denouement drenched in artificial sentiment with smiles and hugs and assurances both stated and implied that everything is going to be all right from now on. It’s an ending that Spielberg might have been able to pull off but Abrams is no Spielberg. Not yet.
Actress Selma Blair is in talks to play one of the lead roles in the U.S. version of Australian TV comedy Kath & Kim.
The Hellboy star is set to appear in the NBC adaptation of the hit dysfunctional-mother-and-daughter sitcom as Kim Craig, joining actress Molly Shannon, who has already been cast as her on-screen mom, Kath, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The planned stateside version of Kath & Kim follows the success of comedian duo Jane Turner and Gina Riley's series, which has attracted cameo roles from stars such as Kylie Minogue, Michael Buble, Rachel Griffiths and Little Britain star Matt Lucas in its four-season run.
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Ape descendant Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) gets yanked from the Earth by best friend and alien Ford Prefect (Mos Def) seconds before a Vogon constructor fleet destroys it to make way for a hyperspace expressway. Next thing he knows Arthur is aboard the Vogon ship reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (voiced by Stephen Fry) and wondering where he might get some tea. But he and Ford are not in the clear: the Vogons (some of whom look like the nightmarish drawings of Ralph Steadman come to life in S&M leather) want to throw them into the vacuum of space right after they read some of the third worst poetry in the known universe. Luckily the spaceship Heart of Gold picks up the stranded hitchhikers in the nick of time. Stolen by the dim but groovy President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) the ship has an Improbability Drive that causes certain mischief turning the stowaways into loveseats and later two missiles into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale. Also onboard is doe-eyed Earth girl Tricia "Trillian" McMillan (Zooey Deschanel) who previously ditched Arthur at a costume party on Earth to satisfy her wanderlust with Zaphod. The crew then embarks on a quest to find the Ultimate Question to Life the Universe and Everything after supercomputer Deep Thought (voiced by Helen Mirren) found the answer: 42. On the run and without a home Arthur discovers that life's true meaning comes from the answers found within.
The slapstick antics and sharp dialogue evoke enough laughs to make one forget that the characters are rather one-note. Rockwell's Zaphod is a riot at first but the cheeky smile and devilish winks soon wear thin. Deschanel has little to work with playing Trillian though it's fun watching her wield a point-of-view gun on Zaphod. Mos Def mumbles some lines but does manage to act like someone from another planet. Freeman does an amiable job playing the fish-out-of-water Earthman but neglects to express the grief and bewilderment of someone who just lost his planet. Even John Malkovich as Humma Kavular--the spiritual leader of a cult awaiting the arrival of the Big Handkerchief--fails to make much of an impression in his brief appearance. Only Alan Rickman as the perpetually glum robot Marvin and Bill Nighy as the stammering planet designer Slartibartfast remain funny without becoming routine--though unfortunately Nighy only appears in the third act. A half-cocked romance between Arthur and Trillian is thrown in for good measure with the couple merely going through the motions.
Directed with considerable flair by first-timer Garth Jennings whose frantic visual style blends well with Adams' ironic wit the film looks as good as can be. CGI is used to display Adams' universe in ways never seen before: The massive concrete slabs of the Vogon fleet surrounding Earth the Heart of Gold tricked out in 1960's Formica kitsch the stark bureaucratic world of Vogosphere and the eye-popping factory floor on Magrathea are all vividly brought to life. Although the graphics of the Guide look more like Internet pop-up ads than stellar entries from the best-selling book in the galaxy the exposition from the Guide is clever and amusing though one should brush up on the material prior to viewing. Even with all the stunning visuals however the plot is still thin. Jennings and screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick (Chicken Run) have trimmed the story--and witty banter--to its barest essentials leaving out some of the funnier bits to quicken the pace. Memorable exchanges--like the opening battle of wits between Arthur and Mr. Prosser--are reduced to a few meaningless lines while the always hinted-at love affair between Arthur and Trillian gets the full Hollywood treatment. In the past Adams who died of a heart attack in 2001 has allowed the Guide to change and progress with each incarnation so new additions--like the point-of-view gun and the cult of the Big Handkerchief--are welcomed. But the patchwork of wacky vignettes and neutered banter particularly between Arthur and Ford leave one yearning for something more meaningful.