TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
Sleepless In Seattle co-stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are teaming up for a new movie. Hanks will produce Ryan's directorial debut Ithaca, which will shoot in Virginia later this summer (14). State Governor Terry McAuliffe confirmed the film will be shot in and around Richmond on Monday (23Jun14), revealing the project will begin before the end of the month (Jun14).
He said, "We couldn't be happier that Meg Ryan has chosen Virginia as the location for her directorial debut... We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks on this film about an important time in American history." Ryan will also star opposite Sam Shepard and her son, Jack Quaid.
The film is based on William Saroyan's 1942 book The Human Comedy. Ryan says, "The welcome we've received from Governor McAuliffe and the Commonwealth of Virginia has been lovely. We're happily surprised by the cinemagraphic opportunities, the talent of the filmmaking community and the variety of resources at our disposal. We couldn't be more delighted to be here."
Actress Pamela Anderson is launching her own charity after spending years campaigning on environmental issues and animal rights. The Baywatch star is a longtime supporter of a number of organisations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and many green charities, and now she is stepping up her philanthropy by creating her own foundation.
Anderson has jetted to France to launch her charity during the famous Cannes Film Festival, and she will host a special event to mark the creation of The Pamela Anderson Foundation.
The party will be held in conjunction with Dame Vivienne Westwood's Cool Earth charity and will take place on a yacht off the coast of Cannes on Friday (16May14). It will feature cocktails and a backgammon tournament.
A post on the star's Facebook.com page reads, "I love Cannes! So lucky to be here with my family. And... Dream come true - to launch my namesake foundation (on the riviera)... Glamorous, meaningful.. The good life. To raise money to protect and support the vulnerable areas of the world and support those who are protecting and surviving, thriving - within them."
A message published on the star's official website adds of the charity, "Long time coming Pamela Anderson Foundation (PAF). 20 years of connecting resources - For charity - a natural extension - I have been dedicated to human, animal and environmental rights... It is all Connected... Pamela Anderson Foundation. For our planet and life within it."
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
With only a week and change having passed since the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we no doubt feel the question living fresh in our minds: can we ever judge a remake without considering its predecessors? The conversation about the stark contrast in critical favor between Marc Webb's release and Sam Raimi's trilogy (the second installment of his franchise in particular) buzzed loudly, and we imagine the volume will keep in regards to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. But it'll be a different sound altogether.
The original Godzilla, a Japanese film released in 1954, reinvented the identity of the monster movie, launched a 30-film legacy, and spoke legions about the political climate of its era. The most recent of these films — Roland Emmerich's 1998 American production — is universally bemoaned as a bigger disaster than anything to befall Tokyo at the hands of the giant reptile. With these two entries likely standing out as the most prominent in the minds of contemporary audiences, Edwards' Godzilla has some long shadows cast before it. And in approaching the new movie, one might not be able to avoid comparisons to either. It's fair — by taking on an existing property, a filmmaker knowingly takes on the connotations of that property. But the 2014 installment's great success is that it isn't much like any Godzilla movie we've seen before. In a great, great way.
This isn't 1954's Godzilla, a dire and occasionally dreary allegory that uses the supernatural to tell an important story about nuclear holocaust. A complete reversal, in fact, first and foremost Edwards' Godzilla is about its monsters. Any grand themes strewn throughout — the perseverence of nature, the follies of mankind, fatherhood, madness, faith — are all in service to the very simple mission to give us some cool, weighty, articulate sci-fi disaster. Elements of gravity are plotted all over the film's surface, with scientists, military men (kudos to Edwards for not going the typical "scientists = good/smart, military = bad/dumb" route in this film — everybody here is at least open to suggestion), doctors, police officers, and a compassionate bus driver all wrestling with options in the face of behemoth danger. The humanity is everpresent, but never especially intrusive. To reiterate, this isn't a film about any of these people, or what they do.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
The closest thing to a helping of thematic (or human) significance comes with Ken Watanabe's Dr. Serizawa, who spouts awe-stricken maxims about cryptozoology, the Earth, and the inevitable powerlessness of man. He might not be supplying anything more substantial than our central heroes (soft-hearted soldier Aaron Taylor-Johnson, dutiful medic and mom Elizabeth Olsen, right-all-along conspiracy theorist Bryan Cranston), but Watanabe's bonkers performance as the harried scientist is so bizarrely good that you might actually believe, for a scene or two, that it all does mean something.
Ultimately, the beauty of our latest taste of Godzilla lies not in the commitment to a message that made the original so important nor in the commitment to levity that made Emmerich's so pointless, but in its commitment to imagination. Edwards' creature design is dazzling, his deus ex machina are riveting, and the ultimate payoff to which he treats his audience is the sort of gangbusters crowd-pleaser that your average contemporary monster movie is too afraid to consider.
In fairness, this year's Godzilla might not be considered an adequate remake, not quite reciprocating the ideals, tone, or importance of the original. Sure, anyone looking for a 2014 answer to 1954's game-changing paragon will find sincere philosophy traded for pulsing adventure... but they'd have a hard time ignoring the emphatic charm of this new lens for the 60-year-old lizard, both a highly original composition and a tribute in its way to the very history of monster movies (a history that owes so much to the creature in question). So does Godzilla '14 successfully fill the shoes of Godzilla '54? No — it rips them apart and dons a totally new pair... though it still has a lot of nice things to say about the first kicks.
Oh, and the '98 Godzilla? Yeah, it's better than that.
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One of Tribeca Film Festival 2014's more lighthearted pieces is The Bachelor Weekend — titled The Stag in Ireland, its country of origin — a comedy about a collection of "modern men" who take to the countryside for the main character Finoon's (Hugh O'Conor) bachelor party, only to clash with an unwanted tag-along oozing alpha male bravado: Finoon's future brother-in-law, known only as "the Machine" (Peter McDonald, who also co-wrote the film).
Whereas many a comedy film in the "one last hoorah" genre would go for big, broad laughs and wacky antics at the expense of the plot and characters, director John Butler's Bachelor Weekend instead uses its fun premise to explore the nature of the folks at the center — a collection of guys that Butler and McDonald affirm are based on their friends. This kind of friendship is vivid from the way that they and O'Conor all riff on one another, managing to cover situations as grave as the evolution of masculinity over the course of the last 50 years and the national psyche of present day Ireland all the while cracking a few jokes about O'Conor jumping out a window.
My chat with Butler, McDonald, and O'Conor does contain a few major spoilers for The Bachelor Weekend, so be warned. But those who have seen the film, and who are hankering for a quick insight into the human ego, that breed of really bad bachlor parties, and director Butler's mid-morning hallucinations, enjoy.
We’ve got a whole line of bachelor party movies in America — I’m sure you guys have seen plenty of them. A lot of them are very funny, but I was pleasantly surprised by how different Bachelor Weekend is in a lot of ways. Were you trying to bring something new to the genre specifically?
John Butler: Definitely. We like those films. Some of them are fantastic. One of the things that we thought we might like to try with our film was to create a real investment in the heart of the story, so that you really care for the characters and the emotional arc wasn’t tacked on to serve the jokes. We wanted to write it inside out so that you really felt for these people, while also serving up to jokes that worked. So that was important to us, I think. A comedy film with heart. The films that we might have mentioned in relation to that in the course of writing it would be things like Sideways, or…
Peter McDonald: Diner.
JB: … Diner, or Swingers. You know, films that don’t shortchange you emotionally but still serve up good jokes. So that was part of the inspiration.
PM: It was kind of sitting there waiting for someone to make it. So many films around the event of the wedding have been made. If not the wedding itself, it’s the bridesmaids, or the guys, or whatever. And we love those films, they’re really funny. And they are bigger films. So in that marketplace, it’s a comedy film, [snaps] we need 20 gags, so that’s what they’re going to make. So that’s totally understandable. But so many people go on stags! This is something that they can relate to, so why not have a film that has the comedy but also has the investment in the characters?
JB: We don’t know any of those "bros" that go on and devour stag weekends. That’s not really a familiar type to us. It’s more interesting to write about real guys who go on stags for reasons out of their control. Pushed out of their comfort zones. Not the guys who really love it, the kind of spring breaky types.
PM: Lots of guys go on stags just because that’s what you do. It’s just a ritual that everyone engages in. So [we wanted] to have a look at what place that ritual has in relation to guys and masculinity. Because The Machine is so different from the other guys, that no-man’s-land there is an interesting area.
JB: You show up on those stags, you’re not going to want to be drinking Jäger bombs with 20 strange men in four hours’ time. It’s such a surreal…
Hugh O’Conor: When you go to the West of Ireland a bit, it’s always that kind of — which is lovely! — but you’re away from what you’re used to…
PM: You get up the morning after the first night, and you’re like, “I have to hang out with these guys again?”
JB: And I have to drink!
HO: Yeah, the drinking…
PM: Then you show up to the wedding, and you’re like, “You’re such a tool. I’ve experienced you, and you’re the worst person.”
You’ve seen their true colors.
JB: Have you been on many stags?
No, I’m going on my first one in a couple of weeks, actually.
JB: What’s the deal? What’s the setup?
It’s a high school friend of mine. These guys are probably more along the lines of the Machine than the other guys.
PM: Hookers and blow.
I’m more of a Finoon, so I’ll be reading in the back room.
JB: Team Finoon!
Yeah, we’re going down to the Dominican Republic.
JB: Oh nice!
PM: All right! DR! That sounds like fun.
Yeah. I’m sure it will be.
PM: That sounds a lot more fun.
HO: That actually sounds good!
PM: I’ve got to say, though, I’ve had some killer times on stags.
PM: Absolutely. I’ve had some really great times with my best friends on their stags.
HO: Not yours.
PM: So I think it’s also a celebration of that. And, if anything, [the movie] says stags are a good idea because they all get something out of the weekend. That’s the genre it’s in. It’s not going to have a downbeat ending, this story.
HO: There is that line you have in the scene with the campfire where you say, “You couldn’t put a price on this.” And you kind of go, “Wow, they did get there.”
PM: They did get there!
HO: It’s nice that they got there. Despite everything.
[“Yeah”s all around]
JB: Every experience, obviously, has value. It’s just that sometimes they’re set up the wrong way. You know what I mean? Sometimes the approach is wrong. Definitely it’s great going away with some friends. There can be great stuff in it. But the bad ones are bad…
I like that you bring up masculinity. It’s a very clear theme in this movie. You have the wedding planner in the movie challenging Finoon’s masculinity, then the idea of his father disapproving of Finoon’s brother Kevin and his boyfriend [played by Michael Legge and Andrew Bennett, respectively]. Did you approach this movie wanting to discuss masculinity, or did it come about organically?
JB: We wanted to write about people that we knew, so it started with the characters. And then, obviously, the themes start to emerge from that. In our case, if we started to write about the men that we know, and put them in the context of the story, those themes start to emerge. Because what the masculine ideal these days?
Certain traits that we might consider, traditionally, to be feminine — being in touch with your emotions, and crying — that’s a form of strength! And that’s something, maybe, that modern masculinity is supposed to embody. So yeah, it was fun to play around with that stuff, but we always approached it from the point of view of the characters.
[Peter receives a glass of milk]
JB: We need milk and cookies every half an hour.
PM: I’m a cookie monster! Milk, cookies…
JB: [Pointing to the corner of the room] Did you see something move there?
I don't think so.
JB: I saw something move there, I thought I saw something move there…
PM: John drinks a lot of alcohol.
PM: By this time of the morning, he will start to see things.
JB: I genuinely thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I just realized…
PM: He’s got the heebie-jeebies!
PM: … and an epic hangover.
JB: But no, we definitely don’t go, “What’s the theme?” and then try and write a film. It’s, “Who are the people?” And then we take it from there.
PM: Yeah. And there’s something about [the question], “What is it to be a man?” Any rational person knows — especially now, seeing the changes in the last 50 years for masculinity and men — that question has no meaning whatsoever. It’s always changing. But it’s interesting when you have such changes in masculinity over the last 50 years but, yet, our idea of what it meant to be a man in the ‘50s and ‘60s is still present to us in our generation
So when you have a bunch of modern men engaging in a ritual that they’re very halfhearted about, and on that ritual a guy turns up who is like, “I’m a f**kin’ man!” Like, “I know exactly that I’m…” It’s not even a question for him. He’s so the opposite to them. And he’s almost oblivious to how awkward he can be. He’s just one of those people. So it busts it open for the other guys in terms of their identity.
They’re guys who, in their initial exchange with The Machine, if they were to rewind and replay it, they’d just go, “Look… whatever your real name is. This isn’t gonna happen!” Do you know what I mean? But we know that when you’re with somebody that’s that intense you don’t say the things that you actually want to say. You’re kind of like, “I… I guess… yeah… okay, I’ll have another drink.” Do you know what I mean?
You’re ripped out of your element.
PM: You’re ripped out of your own thing! And the one thing he does immediately when he arrives on the scene, he totally splits them as a group. They’re immediately infighting and backstabbing each other, and saying, “I’m going to go home,” and blah blah blah. It’s the cat amongst the pigeons of masculinity. But we didn’t know that that’s what we were sitting down to write. It was only as we explored the characters…
HO: I suppose, as well, that you can still be a more modern man, like our characters are — me, [Andrew Scott's character] Davin — you can be more in touch with your feelings and be open and talk about things and still be really stupid about stuff.
JB: Oh God yes!
HO: It doesn’t mean that just because you’re in touch with your feelings that everything is okay. I think that was kind of fun to play. Me and Davin both have loads of issues, still. Even though we’re both comfortable, in touch with stuff, we’re still idiots about a lot of things. Which is exactly like real life.
PM: And that, really, is the arc of the story — that these two modern men are engaged in a locking of horns. The same as two old school guys would be doing, in a very different way. But their cultural competitiveness is playing out a deeper unspoken argument. Their words and irony are their weapons.
PM: And the deeper they go into the woods, the more they’re stripped of all their accoutrements. The more pared back the music gets, and the more naked they get, the less value their words have to them. They can’t protect themselves anymore.
HO: Your contact lens falls out!
PM: This guy needs to punch Davin. That’s what needs to happen in the story. That’s when he becomes connected to exactly how he feels.
JB: And Davin, most importantly, needs to tell him that he was so cut up at the time when [he and Ruth, Finoon’s fiancée, played by Amy Huberman] broke up, he felt so vulnerable that the last person he could turn to was his best friend.
PM: Sometimes you don’t turn to the people who are closest to you in those situations, because it reflects you so nakedly.
[Hugh feigns crying, the other two laugh]
JB: That window is shut!
HO: It can be opened!
JB: We just look over and Hugh’s gone.
JB: All we see is that lavenir jacket just kind of fluttering…
PM: Fluttering in the wind! And we hear from the street, very distantly, “Oh my God!”
JB: It’s Finoon!
PM: It’s Finoon!
JB: Can he fly? No.
That’s all in the sequel.
[“Yeah”s all around]
Arrow Film Distributors via Everett Collection
But that actually reminds me — even though there’s a lot of comedy in this movie, it doesn’t get as broad, even in its funnier moments, than a lot of other comedies in this genre. When you guys destroy the memorial, no policemen come and throw you in jail. Or when you take MDMA, you go for a little run, but nobody freaks out and jumps off a bridge or anything like that. I guess I was wondering if there was a specific drive to keep the comedy grounded, or if this is just the style of humor that you guys find funny?
JB: I think that’s a conscious instinct. Particularly in terms of direction, that’s a very conscious decision. At the writing stage, it’s very conscious, too — you have to root the story, and once you commit to that, you have to sacrifice the idea of a sufficiently bigger joke that might derail the tone of the film.
But then when you direct the film you have to police that tone, too. Make sure it’s rooted. There is a kind of world you have to create that’s consistent. I think when you try to write characters inside out in that way, that’s always what you’re going to end up with. The films that we love that we mentioned before, the comedy films that work best are the ones that have a consistent tone. Yeah, that’s definitely the approach.
PM: And also, the overriding policy all the way through is character development. What’s going to happen to these guys? What is going to happen to their relationships? That’s what the audience should be invested in. If you invest the audience in the fact that they’re going to have a laugh every three minutes, like a big laugh, and then you stop doing that, they’re going, “You started off as one film, and then you’re becoming another.”
Whereas you have to do that slowly with a film like this. So you get into a place where there aren’t any laughs for like five minutes, 10 minutes, in this film at one stage. Well, maybe five minutes, whatever. For that to work, the audience has to be… you have to hook them in on the character development. If you put in gags that step outside of the character development, you might get a laugh out of them, but there’s no going back. You’ve already cheated the reality of the world that John is creating as a director.
JB: And it’s an American common tradition that we’re working in. That’s the thing that we totally respect and acknowledge as people who watch films. Since it’s an American tradition, the best comedy films come from that tradition.
PM: Yeah, yeah.
JB: Those are the rules of the genre. I think if there’s any little reinvention or anything that’s going on in our film, I think it’s subtle.
PM: I think there are English examples, like Withnail [and I], which is such a brilliant film. There are films like that in the British comedy tradition as well. And that is a shining example of British comedy at work, because it’s such a funny film but it’s about two guys going to a cottage in the middle of nowhere. Two actors who are broke, going to a cottage and having an encounter with the gay uncle. And it’s all dialogue-driven.
But the whole thing about that film is that you get so invested in their relationship and their friendship that the end of the film is actually a very downbeat ending because it’s so sad. [Bruce Robinson] is a great writer. It’s a pity he hasn’t made more films in the last few years. But you can just tell when there’s a gag there that’s there for getting a gag.
HO: We had some in there.
PM: We did. We got rid of them. And also, when you’re working with good actors, right off the bat they’ll go, “Why is he doing this?” if that’s happening. Do you know what I mean? If they’re being rigorous in how they’re approaching the part…
HO: I said that a lot. “Why is this happening?”
I did want to ask you, Hugh, about that. Finoon is a tricky character. He’s a very serious person, but he’s a funny character. I would like to hear about making this serious, straight-laced guy fun to watch.
HO: Obviously, the guys had thought about it a lot beforehand, so they knew what to do with it. Like I said before, I was pretty much just being myself. [Laughs] And let that ridiculousness come through. I could sort of see his points on all sides. I think you can never really judge… if you start judging the character you’re playing, it’s a really bad thing. You have to just go with what he’s experiencing.
I think he’s right about everything. If you don’t control the flowers… I can’t trust [the wedding planner]. What has she done before, exactly? Give me a list! This is important to me. This is how it works. I’m stupidly anal about things like that myself. In terms of what you’re interested, in you’re really controlling. So he needs to get out of that a bit.
PM: That’s so true. Finoon and all the characters are written from a place of absolute empathy. We’re on the ground floor with them. There’s no standing in judgment over them. They’re us.
Probably the only part where there’s any judgment cast is when Brian Gleeson’s character Simon admits he doesn’t like U2.
You get the feeling you’re saying, “Well, you should like U2!”
PM: But loads of Irish guys don’t like U2.
Oh of course.
JB: But he cries at the end [during “One Love”].
PM: So he’s a liar!
Speaking of that, there are a lot of specific references to Ireland and Irish pride, mostly from the Machine. Were those just sort of ways to play with the character, or does this movie say something specific about Irish culture?
JB: I think the idea in place, that’s the Machine’s expression of his national pride rather than our expression of our national pride. It all emerges through these characters. The Machine makes the decision to make that speech about the state of the nation, and to sing that song. He’s the kind of person who — Peter could probably say this better than me — if he’s given the mic at a wedding, he’s not going to not do that. And that’s a decision that the character makes. And you’re just holding the pen. That’s what he does.
PM: The thing about the Machine, and we said this very early on when we started writing the film, is that he has absolutely no ego. [The others] are all totally weighed down by their egos. And that’s why there has been such a problem in their friendship, because they haven’t been able to be honest with each other.
An ego in that... I’m saying something to you right now and I’ll be editing it. Sometimes you might edit: “Well, I can’t say that. He might think that I’m a bit of a dick if I say that.” Whatever. You’re protecting people’s perception of you. That’s ego. The Machine, he’s just one of those people where that doesn’t even enter into his head. He’s just raw product all the time. And it’s just coming out.
The thing about that character is, while he’s incredibly overbearing, and very funny to start with — actually, when he arrives in the film, he’s a total nightmare — but it’s so liberating to be like that as a person. Because you’re not going around going, “Did he think when I said that…” or “Maybe I shouldn’t have…” He’s just moving forward in life all the time. So at the end, when he expresses national pride, it’s totally uncomplicated for him.
And his view of Ireland is that the thing that matters in a country, which is probably what we all feel, is the people. And that’s obviously a very democratic notion, and all that. But because — and I can only speak for myself here — we had a lot of economic troubles recently, like a lot of the world. America is going through terrible problems at the moment. But for a small country like Ireland that doesn’t have great natural resources, our greatest product or resource is the people of the country. I think there’s a little bit of that in there, as well.
JB: A young country as well. A hundred years old.
PM: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s an ancient culture, but as a democratic state it’s a very young country. We’ve only had the reins for a hundred years. And I think because of all of our history being colonized, the power the church had — all those kinds of things — pride and shame are two of the strongest ingredients in our national psyche. But they can be very divisive.
JB: We’re proud of ourselves and we’re ashamed of Hugh.
PM: Exactly. We’re proud of ourselves, but then we almost don’t want each other to succeed.
HO: [John] keeps staring at me.
PM: But it’s so liberating for a character like the Machine. That’s irrelevant to him. It’s just a positive message that comes out of him. And it’s not weighed down by those larger psychological chains that we wear in general. Over the last hundred years. So that was unconscious on our part, but I only say that looking back on the film. Does that make sense?
HO: You’re going to have an essay.
PM: Yeah! I’ve just given you a big hunk of bulls**t.
PM: And also, it’s the Machine. It’s a character talking.
Well, I got the wrap up signal…
JB: Did you? That s**t is subtle!
…so the final question I need to ask is: Do you guys have an idea of why he is called the Machine?
But you won’t tell me, I take it.
PM: It’s up to the viewer.
JB: It goes to the grave.
PM: Yeah, it goes to the grave. Absolutely.
The Bachelor Weekend is available on Demand now.
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Valeria Lukyanova and Justin Jedlica are easy to judge. They are better known as the Human Barbie and the Human Ken, and because they've gone to great lengths to make themselves look like plastic dolls, it can be difficult to take them seriously. And if that wasn't strange enough, they recently posed together for a photo shoot and ended up sort of dissing each other. Jedlica actually attacked Lukyanova's authenticity (if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black), claiming that because she uses "stage makeup" and wears "extensions" she's not as interesting as someone like him, who is truly dedicated to the cause, having invested $150,000 in plastic surgeries.
But let's forget for a moment the craziness therein, and consider what we're looking at here. Essentially, we're looking at two people who take pop culture and contemporary ideals of beauty very, very seriously. The journalist behind Lukyanova's GQ interview explained it well: "Her features are the features we men playfully ascribe to ideal women; it's how we draw them in manga and comics and video games."Lukyanova does what women everywhere do — she takes an ideal of beauty and aspires to it. Like many of us, she plays dress-up and puts on a face that she's comfortable with... and it's not the one she wakes up with in the morning. That's, actually, quite typical."
And Jedlica, like plenty of men with the resources and desire, has surgically altered his look to make himself more attractive (by his own standards and by standards set in place by others). You could say that these two are like a fun house mirror of sorts — the image is wonky, but it represents and reflects something very real. If Jedlica and Lukyanova seem ridiculous, it's probably a reflection of the ridiculous standards of beauty (to which we all subscribe, in some way) that have less to do with the human body and more to do with a plastic mold. The fact that they have been nicknamed for two cultural icons with which we are all familiar speaks volumes.
There is plenty we can learn from Human Barbie and Human Ken. As difficult as it may be to admit, they are products of an environment in which we all participate on some level. There's nothing wrong with loving, or appreciating beautiful people, celebrities, and fashion movements. But when our ideals of beauty are limited (and Lupita Nyong'o and other women of color in the industry have proven that this is still very much an issue), or we only celebrate a particularly impossible ideal, we have to admit that we've helped create two monsters — two dolls. Such a dangerous creation should open up our eyes about the messages we are clearly sending out to the world.
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
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But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Christopher Nolan, working from a script written by his brother Jonathan in 2008 (and intended for Steven Spielberg), will be bringing this near-future sci-fi story Interstellar to the screen. In this first trailer, we hear Matthew McConaughey (who has officially aged out of "Abs Guy" and into something far more interesting) describe the metaphorical power of space travel and its endless possibility.
Nolan is known for his powerful images and for how he incorporates his theorhetical ideas into his narratives. Here, he has tapped into the American desire for exploration, even subtly reinforcing with McConaughey's speech the Manifest Destiny arrogance of deserving to explore and take over new worlds.
Let's work our way through Nolan's historical images and parse what they might mean for the film's themes.
The Dust Bowl: Much of Nolan's actual footage takes place in cornfields, including one that is burning. Global warming and other natural disasters could spur the characters to pursue space travel as the only way to find new resources for sustaining human life.
Speed of Sound: Perhaps this is a reference to wormhole/time travel, which would allow a vehicle to travel faster than the speed of light, the next major barrier in the way of long-distance space exploration.
Mercury Capsule: The first man in space, alone in his small capsule. Other big names in the cast like Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain imply this won't be intimate like Gravity, but any space travel story incorporates some claustrophobia and cramped quarters.
Gemini 2: An unmanned American mission, launched in 1965 and intended for the testing of the spacecraft's endurance under suborbital heat and pressure; noteworthy primarily for withstanding multiple flights.
Neil Armstrong and Crew: Obviously Armstrong and the rest of his fellow astronauts are famous for being the first crew to set foot on the moon.
Moon Landing: And that's how they got there, in probably the most iconic spacecraft of American history, the Intrepid. Fitting that this comes while the voiceover is all about hope, potential, and optimism — because that's what this image evokes in us.
Atlantis: The final journey of space shuttle Atlantis, which to many represented the close of NASA's golden age of exploration. Nolan's film will be either rewriting history so that this age never ended or figure out a reason how NASA is able to afford this renewed energy for human space travel — perhaps by incoporating corporatism into their science, as we see today with short space trips available to consumers for a steep price.
Nolan is using very carefully chosen images to introduce his story, they just happen to not be the images he shot. It's an evocative way to make a trailer, and hopefully we've accurately parsed out a few of his themes.
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The holiday season is officially in swing and there’s plenty to celebrate: family, faith, and the coming of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. But how in the world are you going to prepare for the epic-ness that this movie will surely bring? Everyone you could ever want to see on the big screen is in this movie: Kanye West, Drake, Paul Rudd, Kirsten Dunst, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jennifer Lawrence, Steve Carrell, Meagan Good, Tina Fey...literally Everyone. But the truth is, we’re all going to show up for one guy in particular. Will Ferrell has been bringing us laughs for decades now, and the only way to get ready for more laughs is to look back at some of his most epic movie scenes. Everybody get ready, we’re going streaking!!!
Zoolander, The Piano Key Necktie
This is either a clip from Zoolander, or an excerpt from a recent Kanye West interview. One or the other.
Semi-Pro, Love Me Sexy
Jackie Moon had a lot of epic moments in Semi-Pro. Yes, the bear fight was amazing. But this moment was just a bit... sexier. Sort of.
Superstar, The Coming of Christ
Will Ferrell as Molly Shannon/Mary Catherine Gallagher’s subconscious idea of God is everything.
Old School, We Are So Going Streaking
You know you're a Will Ferrell fan when you've seen his arse so many times you could pick it out of a lineup. Oh yeah.
Elf, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Will Ferrell, expressing our exact feelings around Christmastime: “SANTAAA! OH MY GOD!”
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, Kind Of A Big Deal
I don't know what you've contributed to the culture but 'kind of a big deal' is a phrase that has defined a generation. And for that, we thank you Will Ferrell.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Baby Jesus Wins
Ricky Bobby taught us about friendship and love, and he taught us how to shake and bake. But most importantly, he taught us to respect differences in faith. It doesn't matter which Jesus you pray to-- baby Jesus or ninja Jesus-- as long as you make grace your bitch.
Wedding Crashers, Funeral Crasher
The legendary Chazz Reinhold switched things up for everyone when he revealed that wedding crashing was out and funeral crashing was in. Because "grief is nature's most powerful aphrodisiac." True story.
Step Brothers, Meet Pan
In the most awkward interview ever, our beloved Brennan and Dale butt heads with the human resources lady. If she had just shushed up, everything would have been just fine.
Wait, how can we really pick just one Step Brothers scene?! Especially when Will Ferrell has the voice of an angel... or of Jesus and Fergie. Enjoy this bonus clip:
The Campaign, Faith And Snakes Don't Mix
Hide your wife, hide your kids. It’s about to get NSFW up in this sanctuary.
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If you haven’t seen Better Off Ted, you don’t know how you’ve been robbed. Much like Arrested Development, this series is a work of comedic brilliance that was never given a chance to grow an audience. Portia de Rossi plays the role of her career as an ice-cold executive. Plus, the series grasps the subtleties of the office work environment that will give even the most irate office worker the lulz.
Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) is the head of a research development team for Veridian Dynamics. They make everything from microwaves to nuclear weapons. His boss, Veronica (de Rossi) is blunt, sexy, self-absorbed and unable to be stopped. His love interest, Linda (Andrea Anders) is morally opposed to the company and steals creamer from the coffee station as her act of civil disobedience. His science team includes nerdy Lem (Malcolm Barrett) and high-strung Phil (Jonathan Slavin) who seem to share a brain. Ted tries to balance it all while raising a precocious daughter, Rose (Isabella Acres).
The series includes some hilarious commercials for the faceless corporation. There’s also really amazing ensemble chemistry. Each episode, the group deals with a new mishap in the lab or a crazy rule coming down from human resources. Better Off Ted is a perfect storm of different types of comedy: physical humor, dirty puns, and outrageous situations. The series is just wholeheartedly funny and enjoyable to watch. Here are a few choice moments from an episode:
The series is great to binge watch. Both seasons of the series are about 13 episodes and available on Netflix. Amazingly, series creator Victor Fresco is currently in charge of Sean Saves the World, which has a similar storyline (single father, crazy boss, selfish co-workers) but just isn't anywhere near as good.
Centers on an eccentric entrepreneur, and his team of employees at TerraCycle, a company whose mission is to eliminate waste on a global scale.The office is a crazy mix of hippies who enjoy kale chips and morning yoga and older and more skeptical employees who find the younger staff to be a "bit naïve." The one thing that the team has in common is a passion for their work and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.