In recent interviews with Empire Magazine, the team behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier have divulged the main themes and struggles for Steve Rogers in the sequel film. The Winter Soldier will delve deeper into Steve acclimating to modern times since Marvel’s The Avengers glossed over the consequences of him waking up 70 years in the future.
Co-writer of Captain America 2 Stephen McFeely said they wanted to give the character a moral dilemma, since Cap has the ethics of someone raised in the '40s; they looked to ‘70s political thrillers for inspiration. To Steve, right and wrong — as well as where the government fell on that spectrum — were very cut and dry. However, the events of The Winter Soldier will have him questioning everything he believed.
Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President of Production, pointed out that in the comics Cap dealt with Watergate and the Reagan era, a time in which many people became distrustful of the government. But the film version of Cap slept through that era. So, Feige said, that moral dilemma will take the form of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Co-director Anthony Russo brought up the NSA scandal of last year as well as the morality of drones, which will make The Winter Soldier even more interesting than if it had taken place during Watergate.
“Is it right to preemptively use them to kill suspected terrorists prior to any sort of trial?” Russo said. “So the times we’re living in are even more complex.” We saw Steve asking nearly this exact question in the UK trailer for The Winter Soldier.
Captain America 2 star, Chris Evans, also spoke about the development of his character in the upcoming film.
“For everybody else, it’s been a slow burn to get to where we are in 2014. But for him, suddenly there’s the Internet, cellphones and The Patriot Act.” Evans said. “The technology’s new to him and so is the access the government has to that technology.”
Given what we now know, it seems Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be very unlike the other films in the Marvel universe. However, for fans who loved the ‘40s aspect of Captain America: The First Avenger, it looks like that historical context will still appear in the sequel.
Everyone has their heroes, exemplars by which we strive to live our lives. As we grow up, those heroes take on many forms: from the brightly colored pages of comic books to movie stars to members of our own families. As a culture, we’ve also adopted heroes that change from decade to decade, reflecting the zeitgeist of their various eras. When things are going well for America, the heroes tend to reflect values in keeping with the highest moral turpitude. However, there are instances, harsher times, in which our heroes are those who operate by their own personal code of ethics that may exists outside the black-and-white boundaries of right and wrong.
The overwhelming rise in poverty and seeming lack of mobilization of our own government to turn the tide of economic downturn during The Great Depression created an atmosphere of contempt for “the system.” As desperation often does, the climate gave rise to spree criminals the likes of which had not been seen since the days of the old west. John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Bonnie and Clyde Barrow began robbing banks across the country, often leaving a trail of bodies behind them. Yet somehow, the general populous did not scorn them nearly as much as they admired them.
The devastatingly ill-fated romance between the latter outlaw couple became the stuff of folklore. In 1967, director Arthur Penn gave us Bonnie and Clyde, the cinematic retelling of this dangerous love affair/crime wave starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. The movie is gorgeously shot, superbly performed, and creates a nice balance between the thrill of the outlaw lifestyle and digging into the psychological and environmental motivations for the couple’s actions. These insights begin even as the opening credits are still rolling.
Penn opts to open the film with snapshots of young Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, and not simply to remind the audience of the plot’s true story roots. These images reflect the arid, dusty, desolate landscapes that typified The Great Depression. When the short captions appear, serving as further prologues for these characters, they specifically mention what their occupation history was before turning to crime. It seems such a minor choice, but it speaks specifically to the circumstances that provided the catalyst for their folk hero ascension.
What made Bonnie and Clyde so amiable in the eyes of the public, or at least what served as a major mitigating factor in the judgment of their actions, was that they were so in love. They were young lovers who thrived despite the socioeconomic odds they faced. They were basically a gun-toting Romeo and Juliet. Penn’s film certainly plays us this aspect. Right after telling Bonnie he cut off two toes to escape work detail, another nod to the abject economic conditions of the era, Clyde proceeds to rob a bank just to impress her. His career as a criminal was just as motivated by boyish adoration as it was the financial crisis. Even their bloody demise, especially given the way in which Penn shoots it, is oddly romantic.
Bonnie and Clyde refused to live by the letter of the law, but during a time when bureaucracy and our system of government were perceived to have failed us all. Their larceny was seen as two crazy, mixed-up kids in love leveling the playing field. The scene in which Clyde shoots up a bank foreclosure sign outside a dejected farmer’s house, and then invites the farmer to do the same, speaks perfectly to this perception. Penn’s film actually does a fair job showing Bonnie and Clyde’s darker side so as to not heroicize them as much as did a goodly amount of the public, but he makes no qualms about portraying them as a couple of gorgeous, rustically charming icons either.
Bonnie and Clyde also examines the relationship between the young couple and their dysfunctional families. The idea that looking out for one’s family supersedes the law is precisely the central theme at play in John Hillcoat’s Lawless. Opening today, Lawless is also based on a true story about a family of moonshiners who must contend with law enforcement agents out to shut down their business. The Bondurant boys are not willing to abandon the only surefire moneymaking venture in Depression-era America so they decide to fight. When life becomes as desperate as it was in the 1930s, the line between hero and villain is awfully hard to see.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
'Lawless,’ Moonshining, and America’s Modern Prohibition
Tom Hardy: Always The Talking Point, Never the Star
New 'Lawless' Trailer: The Other Bad Boys of Summer
As movies become more and more commonplace, no matter the subject matter, the junkets for journalists who review the movies are becoming more and more lavish. As the number of movies released each year increases, studios are looking for more outrageous ways to catch reviewers' attention.
It's not uncommon for movie reviewers to receive, among other things, airfare, meals and hotel accommodations for attending premieres; merchandise, whether related to the movie or not; and/or chances to meet and interview select Hollywood movie stars, unreachable to their peers.
All for the sake of a favorable review, hopefully elevating a single movie above the fray.
Now, a group of movie viewers are taking the reviewers to task in court. Ten class action lawsuits have been filed against the major movie studios, questioning the ethics of movie junkets and the reviews that the junkets spawn. The lawsuits' intended goal is to prevent studios from wooing reviewers with junkets, merchandise and interviews.
Four individuals and a group calling itself Citizens for Truth in Movie Advertising filed the complaints in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday. The complaints allege that the studios use endorsements by film critics that were given such perquisites as the focus of advertisements for the film.
Defendants named in the lawsuit are Sony Corp. of America, Viacom Inc., Artisan Entertainment, AOL Time Warner, The Walt Disney Co., Vivendi Universal U.S. Holding Co., DreamWorks SKG, Lions Gate Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Fox Entertainment Group Inc.
No studio contacted would comment while the suit is pending.
The Radio-Television News Directors Association's Code of Ethics advises that followers will "[s]trive to conduct themselves in a manner that protects them from conflicts of interest, real or perceived. They will decline gifts or favors that would influence or appear to influence their judgments."
Gifts or favors, says RTNDA President Barbara Cochran, would apply to those provided for professional as well as personal use. Use of junkets, she says, "certainly raises questions."
[Full discosure: Hollywood.com does attend junkets paid for by studios, when offered.]
Reviewers were named in the suit, not as defendants but as examples of the alleged misconduct. They include Maria Salas of Telemundo/Gems Television, Jim Ferguson of The Dish Network/Fox TV, Jeff Craig of Sixty Second Preview, Mark Allen of UPN, Ron Brewington of American Urban Radio Network, and Earl Dittman at Wireless magazine.
Some of these critics have already received negative reviews in the press themselves.
The New York Post's Lou Lumineck wrote, " there are some people who doubt [Jeff Craig] even exists."
Gil Whitely of InfoDenver.com was highly critical of Maria Salas.
"Would you trust a critic who declared I Dreamed of Africa is 'the most beautiful and moving film of this year!' and called Drowning Mona a 'gutbusting laugh-a-thon!?' No? Well, then you'd better steer clear of Maria Salas."
Salas is no longer with Telemundo, and could not be reached for comment.
Anthony Sonnett of Yukevich & Sonnett, attorney for the plaintiffs, called studio-paid movie junkets Hollywood's "dirty little secret."
"Does anybody really believe that somebody saw Battlefield Earth and thought it was as good as Star Wars? Give me a break!" Sonnet said.
Specifically, the papers filed allege three infractions of California penal law: fraudulent concealment, unfair business practices and misleading advertising.
Punitive and compensatory damages are being asked for. Additionally, the suit seeks court orders barring the defendants from making "false, misleading and deceptive advertising;" requiring the studios to provide warnings, corrective advertising or public notice of their alleged violations; requiring the defendants to correct their ads; and establishing a legal duty to disclose to the public the benefits the reviewer received.
The lawsuits come on the heels of Sony's admission that the studio created a fictitious critic, David Manning, and used favorable testimonials from that critic in the marketing of certain Sony films, including The Animal.
Sonnett asserts that the Sony case just takes studio movie junkets to the next, logical step.
"They know what the people are going to write anyway. Why not just go and make it up?"
Two advertising execs at Sony have been suspended in conjunction with the fictitious testimonials and an in-house investigation was conducted.
Information from CNS contributed to this report.
Hollywood Reporter editor Anita M. Busch resigned Monday following a dispute with publisher Robert Dowling over his decision to quash an article by the trade paper's labor reporter. The article by David Robb questioned whether the paper's gossip columnist, George Christy, had accepted favors from movie producers in return for mentions in his column. Robb resigned last week. Another Reporter writer, Beth Laski, also quit Monday. Busch, who last week appeared to be trying to control the internal fallout from the incident, apparently was jolted by a statement issued by Dowling to The Associated Press on Friday accusing Robb of losing his objectivity and failing to adhere to the Reporter's standards and journalistic ethics. In a letter to the editorial staff, Busch said, "I just can't stand by comments made to The Associated Press about a journalist that I know as being one of the most ethical and incorruptible I have ever worked with." In a statement Monday expressing disappointment over Busch's resignation, Dowling repeated his accusations against Robb and, in interviews with other publications, maintained that Robb's story was not killed but "reassigned." He told the Internet media magazine Inside: "As I said in the staff meeting today, if I had to do it over again, I would make the same decision." A story about the Christy matter, written by two other Reporter writers, appeared in the trade paper on Monday, noting that the Screen Actors Guild is investigating charges that Christy received credits in movies without ever working in them in order to receive benefits from the guild's pension and health fund. Robb told the New York Post that it was "a shadow of my story. They had to write something." Meanwhile, Christy, in an interview with AP, insisted that he had in fact worked in the films for which he was credited. He added, "I should say that there is such a thing as a cutting-room floor."
LITTLE TV "DIVERSITY" AT 8 P.M., SAYS STUDY
According to a study by the organization Children Now, the so-called Family Hour between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., contains the least racially diverse casts in all of primetime TV. Minorities are included in these shows only to provide "a service, a piece of information or a punch line," the study said. It found that only 13 percent of network fare during the hour featured a mixed cast, versus 67 percent during the 10 p.m. hour. The study also found that men outnumbered women on programs during the 8 p.m. hour by more than 2-1 and that the female characters on them tended to be "beautiful, young, thin and white."
BACK TO THE '70S COMMERCIALS, TOO
In a one-time stunt, Fox TV's That '70s Show on Tuesday will include commercials for five regular advertisers -- Cola-Cola, Dr Pepper, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Volkswagen -- that originally aired in the '70s. Jon Nesvig, president for sales at Fox Broadcasting, told Tuesday's New York Times: "We were looking for a way to 'event-ize' That '70s Show for the sweeps. ... It becomes a little bit like the Super Bowl, where the commercials are part of the show, so hopefully people will stay tuned to watch." Although the TV Land cable channel regularly runs vintage commercials for free, advertisers will be paying an estimated $150,000 apiece for those airing on Fox tonight, the Times reported.
CAMERON SAYS HE'LL WAIT HIS TURN TO FLY INTO SPACE
James Cameron, who has proposed a television series for Fox TV filmed aboard the International Space Station, has indicated that he does not want to become embroiled in the same sort of controversy between NASA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency that involved "space tourist" Dennis Tito. In an interview with Tuesday's USA Today, Cameron said that he would await the completion of safety and training protocols for non-professional astronauts. The newspaper quoted a Russian space official as saying that Cameron would be required to undergo extensive training before being allowed to fly to the space station and that he would not be able to make the trip until late 2002 at the earliest.
WEAKEST GROWS WEAKER
Although it won its time slot, NBC's The Weakest Link slipped significantly in the ratings Monday night. The Anne Robinson-hosted quiz show sank to an 8.7 rating and a 14 share versus a 10.5/16 a week earlier. The slide helped CBS regain the leadership on Monday night as it averaged a 9.3/14. ABC took second place with an 8.7/13, while NBC slid to third with an 8.5/13, just a notch above Fox, which scored an 8.4/13.
DISNEY DOESN'T WANT DREAMWORKS SPOTS ON ITS KIDS RADIO NET
The Walt Disney Co. is attempting to block affiliates of the Radio Disney kids radio network from accepting promotions and advertisements for the upcoming DreamWorks movie Shrek, the online media magazine Inside reported Tuesday. Inside published a notice that appeared in Radio Disney's affiliate newsletter, reading in part: "Due to recent initiatives with the Walt Disney Company, we are being asked not to align ourselves promotionally with this new release. Stations may accept spot dollars only in individual markets." Promotions and screenings for Shrek that had already been arranged in San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland Phoenix and Seattle were canceled, Inside said.
IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
Spokespersons for the Writers Guild of America and for film and TV producers continued to express optimism Monday that the two sides would be able to agree to terms for a new labor contract before the current one expires at 12:01 a.m. PT Wednesday. However, as Tuesday's Washington Post observed, there is "little clear evidence to support the sunnier view," and many expect that the guild may ask members for strike authorization following today's meeting (although it is likely to agree to an extension of the deadline). On Monday, Mayor Richard Riordan renewed his offer to mediate the dispute and implied that he was miffed that his previous offer had not been accepted. "Both sides so far have said they don't want politicians involved," Riordan said, "but a strike could be devastating to the city."
GET-OUT-THE-VOTE ACTOR DIDN'T GET OUT TO VOTE, SAYS WEB SITE
Calling it a "colossal display of hypocrisy," the enterprising online investigative site The Smoking Gun reported Monday that actor Ben Affleck, who received much TV coverage during the last election when he participated in get-out-the-vote drives for Al Gore, never bothered to vote in the election himself and in fact has not voted in federal or state races since 1992. Although on election day, Affleck concluded an appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell show by remarking, "I think this is the time to get involved, especially the young folks who are here. ... I'm about to go vote," he had not even registered to do so, the article claimed. A spokesman for the actor said that he was prevented from voting because of a "bureaucratic snafu."
A NEW EALING COMEDY IS COMING
For the first time since 1957, the Ealing comedy logo will be attached to a new film when a remake of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest is released next year, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Tuesday. The $15-million film starring Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Reese Witherspoon recently began shooting in the west London studio, now owned by the BBC, where such classics as Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Man in the White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers were produced.
A nine-part series in which politicians, journalists, lawyers, philosophers, physicians and business leaders discuss questions involving loyalty, trust, confidentiality and other matters of ethics. The discussions are moderated by professors of law from leading law schools.