S1E2: Based on the first episode of HBO’s new drama Luck, I think it is no grand leap to assume that the show’s meager ratings will not be seeing a huge spike anytime soon. The subject matter, and the way it is delivered to audiences, is alienating to those not already well versed in the world of horserace gambling. As our TV editor, Kelsea Stahler, pointed out in her review of the pilot, Luck places a heavy focus on the emotionality inherent in horseracing—to the trainers, the jockeys, the gamblers, everybody. But interspersed are jargon-heavy conversations that act to further the plot and set us in a vividly realistic depiction of the scenery. To those of us who are complete strangers to the racetrack, these conversations do more harm than good.
But the second episode, while not completely free of this problem (I won’t exactly call it a flaw, because the show doesn’t seem at all oblivious to what it is doing), is a clear indicator of why HBO might have decided to pick up the series for a second season. We already guessed that Luck’s strongest selling point would be its cast. Film legends like Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina lead the list of players in this drama. And even if the premise doesn’t grip you inherently, they will. The cast—and the characters—are exemplary.
“Like the whole state economy, the track is desperate for new streams of revenue. The perfect f**king Trojan Horse.” – Ace
We see Hoffman’s Chester “Ace” Bernstein, just freed from a three-year stint in jail—all because he took the fall for his partner (the yet-unseen Michael Gambon)—getting readily back into the game. But as we learned in the pilot, Bernstein is not the man he used to be. His mind is going. His temper is unkempt. I predict a long, slow demolition of this character from the inside out. This week, Bernstein institutes a meeting with potential investors for his racetrack purchase—but his agitated demeanor is a deterrent to the men. Right by Ace’s side is the wide-eyed thug Gus (Farrina), whose experience with gambling is akin to that of the confused viewer I described above. Ep.2 Clip - Comprende? Although we haven’t seen Gus lose his cool just yet—he actually seems the kindest of the characters we’ve met so far—his one-off comment about plugging Ace’s betrayer Michael (Gambon) and Ace’s description of his assistant as “hot under the collar” might suggest a background in playing rough. It also might suggest a degree of projecting for Ace, whose collar is perpetually on fire. As the duo struggles to find its place back in the underworld, I find their scenes together to be delightfully classic. They’re an old school formula: Rocky and Mugsy. The small, shot-calling brains with the hot temper, and his mild-mannered, milder-minded muscle. A line of dialogue in the pilot makes the pairing really endearing: “I don’t trust anybody. Even myself,” says Bernstein, concluding to Gus: “You get a pass.” Unconditional (and unlikely) friendships amid worlds of deceit and corruption are terrific story devices. I’m looking forward to see how far this one takes us. “I appreciate the good fortune we’ve had, but ball-breaking over my wardrobe is not my idea of fun. And my mental adroitness is dulled by this constant negativity!” – Lonnie In the pilot, the band of Marcus (Kevin Dunn), Jerry (Jason Gedrick), Renzo (Ritchie Coster) and the Ringo the group, Lonnie (Ian Hart), were mostly just noise to wade through due to the heavy amount of technical chitchat about the gambling process. But the second episode boosted them up to a dynamic force, thrusting them at odds with one another due to divergent perspectives on how to handle their newfound riches. Marcus, the unofficial leader of the group and rejecter of all ideas not his own, insists that they all lay low with their intake for the time being, as not to attract any attention. The others succumb to various weaknesses. Jerry, apparently a gambling addict (there has to be at least one in a show like this) spends an inordinate amount of time losing at a poker table to a trash talking high roller. Lonnie lets two women get the better of him—they beat him senseless after he suggests that he’ll be cutting off ties (and funds). There’s something fantastically interesting about this aspect of the series: four men—not friends, not family, not coworkers…four men disconnected by everything except for their partnership in what might well prove to be a problematic financial deal—are bound to one another and forced to wade through the consequences together. Their actions affect each other (as Marcus chants throughout the episode), so they need to keep tabs on one another. When a badly injured Lonnie is delivered to the neighboring motel doors of Marcus and Renzo, the two anxiously take him into the room to tend to him. They’re all in this together, despite having absolutely no emotional connection to one another. Yet. Ep.2 Clip - Ready? “You know what breaking legs sounds like? Branches snapping…” – Walter
But the most wonderful part of the show, as we might have guessed from the first episode, is Nick Nolte’s Walter Smith. A pained, guilt-driven man whose heart bleeds endlessly. He loves horses. He can’t get over the murder of a prized racehorse who cost some business associates a good deal of money. And his heart bleeds (thought slightly less so) for young rider Rosie (Kerry Condon), whom he looks into helping out professionally after he refuses to let her handle the horse he most prizes presently. Smith is a man dipped in such a thick sap of sadness that every word he utters is so valuable. I cannot see this character getting boring, or alienating. He is pure, raw emotion, and his will be the journey—if only one rears—that keeps us adhered to the show cathartically. The remaining characters are interesting in their own right. Richard Kind plays Joey Rathburn, a version of his regular type amped up with more anxiety than he can handle. His business partner, trainer Turo Escalante (John Ortiz) is as hotheaded and distrustful as Bernstein is said to be. He chastises his good-natured jockey, the young Cajun boy Leon Micheaux (Tom Payne) for “flapping his mouth” about his horse’s ability. Escalante values the secrecy of his horse’s abilities in order to keep bets on and barters for him few and far between. When word gets out about the horse’s ability and a cowboy named Mulligan wagers a purchase, Escalante is furious—and Renzo, whose mission was to buy the horse himself, is let down. After the pilot, the second episode of Luck is a refreshing, deeply human piece of work that promises good things for the future of the show. What did you think of the episode? Are those of you with limited knowledge of the gambling world deterred by the show? How about those who know a lot about gambling—is the show getting it right? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter (@MichaelArbeiter).
British funnyman Russell Brand interviewed Beatles legend Ringo Starr for a special radio broadcast in Hollywood on Monday (30Jan12). The pair chatted about George Harrison and Eric Clapton during SiriusXM's Town Hall show.
The Forgetting Sarah Marshall star will ask the drummer a number of questions for the Town Hall With Ringo Starr show, to be aired live from Los Angeles on 30 January (12) for Sirius XM.
Brand, who is a "massive fan" of the veteran musician, says, "Now we can unravel the enigma of Ringo."
The show, on which Starr will perform a number of songs, airs a day before he releases his 17th studio album, Ringo 2012.
Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and Tom Petty have all previously had their own 'Town Hall' specials.
All they need is love! Paul McCartney and New York businesswoman Nancy Shevell officially tied the knot during an afternoon ceremony in London at the Old Marylebone Town Hall on Sunday. The beautiful bride wore a flower in her hair and a long-sleeved, v-neck, knee-length ivory dress and shoes, which were made by her new step-daughter, fashion designer Stella McCartney. The Beatles star's youngest daughter Beatrice, 7, served as the flower girl and was seen wearing a long dress under a pink wool coat, and with a flower wreath in her hair. After the ceremony, the newlyweds waved to guests as they left the Town Hall amid a shower of pink and white rose petals tossed by their guests. "It was terrific – thank you!" McCartney told the crowd, joking with fans and press that he felt "married." The couple began dating in 2007 and became engaged this past May.
Afterward, guests headed over to McCartney's home in St. John's Wood for a rock 'n' roll reception. Ringo Starr commented he wishes the couple "peace and love," while Barbara Walters (Shevell's second cousin) said "the wedding was lovely." Paul's brother Mike, who served as the best man, added that Nancy is "so charming. I mean, she's one of us." The 120 guests were welcomed with champagne or orange juice in the "arrivals lounge," which was a marquee erected in front of the house. Dinner consisted of savory tarts, goat cheese and chervil polenta, vegetable gyozas, a side salad of mixed greens and other condiments including chili yogurt. Dessert included elderflower-flavored creme fraiche with mixed berries, as well as two wedding cakes: one vegan (made with apples) and one chocolate.
One special festivity of the night included McCartney singing and playing a new ballad specifically written just for Shevell, which brought tears to his eyes. Overall, the day could not have gone any better -- a wonderful wedding for a hopefully wonderful marriage. This is the singer's third time saying "I Do," but maybe this time he really does. Congrats to the happy couple!
Click on the image below for more photos of Paul McCartney!
Source: People, US
All he needs is love! Although reports were claiming that Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell were planning to get married this weekend at his farmhouse in Sussex, it turns out that these rumors are completely untrue. BUT a wedding is definitely in the works for the happy couple. The musician and Shevell -- who announced their engagement this past May -- posted their notice that they intend to get married at the Old Marylebone Town Hall, in London. You die-hard Beatles fans may feel a sense of deja vu and here's why: this happens to be the same venue Mr. McCartney married his late wife, Linda. Former bandmate, Ringo Starr, also got married at that same location. In fact, many other celebrities have chosen that specific venue simply because of its connection to The Beatles.
The notice was made on Wednesday, after the pair met with Superintendent Registrar Alison Cathcart. Upon meeting with McCartney and Shevell, Cathcart stated, "They were lovely, very relaxed and very charming and clearly in love with each other." Always a good sign for a couple that's about to get married. So when is the actual wedding day? No official day has not been announced yet, but there has been speculation they will wed in October.By having filed the notice on September 14th, the couple can marry as early as Sept. 30, after 16 days. But they also have until Sept. 14, 2012 to carry the ceremony out. I doubt they'll make us wait that long though. My bet is on October!
Click on the image below for more photos of Paul McCartney!
So, let's just put this out there: this is a Martin Scorsese film. And it's about The Beatles. Scratch that; it's about the BEST Beatle. So if you don't want desperately to see this movie, then you're just being a contrarian for the sake of it. Sure, the below trailer for Scorsese's George Harrison: Living in the Material World seems to cover a lot of well-tread territory -- but it still looks fresh, gripping, and more important than anything, spirited. The film involves collaborative efforts from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Tom Petty... even Yoko Ono. It looks like a true testament to one of the truest public artists of the twentieth century, and incredibly engrossing.
The veteran star visited the horticultural event in London to introduce the Natasha Richardson rose, named after her actress daughter, who died two years ago after a skiing accident.
The light pink flower will be sold in the U.K. to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Redgrave says, "Natasha's family, her husband (Liam Neeson) and her boys are so happy that the Natasha Richardson rose will be on view to rose lovers at the Chelsea Flower Show from May 23rd. I share their happiness as Tasha's mother. Tasha was born in the merry month of May, and every rose you buy will help bring joy to a child through Make-A-Wish."
Dame Helen Mirren also brought star power to the show as she was presented with the Nepenthes Helen, a carnivorous plant named in her honour.
She told the crowd, "It's lovely to come (to the show) and get inspiration. We look at these incredibly grand gardens and we can never do that. But there's always a little thing that we can get inspiration from."
Queen Elizabeth II, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ringo Starr were also in full bloom as they toured exhibits at the world-famous flower show.
If you were hoping for a rousing, hilarious episode of Saturday Night Live this weekend, prepare to be disappointed. The all Elton John episode was without a doubt, one of the worst episodes this season despite Elton's ability to take whatever material they threw at him AND the fact that celebrity walk-ons were rampant. (Seriously, Jake Gyllenhaal stopped by, Carmello Anthony waltzed into a few sketches, and Tom Hanks practically hijacked the whole show.) We still love Elton, even though the SNL writers made him dress up like a poorly-dressed gay cowboy and another tasteless gay stereotype and otherwise just had him be himself in every other sketch. He did the best he could with what he was given. Here are the skits you need to see just so you know what everyone's blabbing about in the break room.
You know it's not a great episode when one of the best sketches is a reprisal of one we've seen over and over again. We got another Lawrence Welk cold open featuring whatever SNL girls they had at hand, Elton John in a pink -- or lilac, I really can't tell -- and of course Kristen Wiig's Junice. Sure the character's a little old at this point, but she never ceases to be entertaining. Plus, Elton John as some Liberace-type singer was pretty funny.
From one of the funniest to one of the worst skits from last night: The Digital Short. You know it's bad when it gets help from Tom Hanks and Elton John AND they acknowledge that it's bad and it's STILL not funny. Enter, Laser Cats The Musical, a.k.a. the second Laser Cats Digital Short that should never have been made.
Finally, we have the Knights of The Realm. It was just one of many skits that attempted to really stick it to England but it was just plain awful. It's like they ingested every half-baked Brit stereotype and regurgitated it for us. They tried the whole let's make fun of the Brits game with Russell Brand and again here with Elton, but let's hope they stop embarrassing themselves when Helen Mirren takes her turn at hosting. Luckily for us, we get a weird but entertaining Michael Caine impression from Tom Hanks, a damn good Ringo from Fred Armisen, and a bitchy burn on the Spiderman musical from Sir Elton.
Susanne Bier's Oscar win is already paying off.
According to Variety, the filmmaker, fresh off her foreign-language Oscar win for In a Better World (her first Academy Award), has picked her next project -- a movie called All You Need Is Love. The picture will be a drama "with a comic tone," Bier said. Not many plot details are known, except that it will center on a Danish family.
"It's a tender story with a much lighter atmosphere than my previous works: enough with conflicts," she said.
No word on casting yet, so right now there's still hope for Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to make cameos, revealing what The Beatles' hit single "All You Need Is Love" was really about: their secret life of wearing wooden shoes in Denmark, but "with a comic tone."
"My aunt used to babysit Ringo. And he was a monster, apparently!" SEX AND THE CITY star KIM CATTRALL reveals her little-known link to RINGO STARR. The actress was born in Liverpool, England - the former BEATLES star's home city.
A modern re-telling of "The Prince and the Pauper" wherein Ringo Starr plays himself, pop star and former Beatle, and his double, the indistinguished Ognir Rats, an average guy who has absolutely nothing to do with the music business.