(This recap features MAJOR SPOILERS for the episode ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner.’ Stop Reading If you have not yet seen the episode.)
After the well-paced zombie killing antics of last week’s ‘18 Miles Out,’ The Walking Dead returns to where it is more comfortable, by focusing on the internal squabbles of the survivors – but this time the argument centers on the worth of a man’s life. While everyone else seems to think executing Randall (Michael Zegen) is in the group’s best interest, Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) does his best to dissuade whomever he can in ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner.’
Randall’s future looks pretty bleak from the onset, as the group’s resident ear collector (Daryl) puts his apparent apathy to good use by torturing the young man for information regarding the group he was traveling with. Daryl (Norman Reedus) knocks Randall around for a bit, but when he’s not getting the right kind of answers, puts his knife in Randall’s gnarly leg wound from ‘Triggerfinger.’ The cringe inducing technique is enough to get Randall to spill the beans on what kind of group he’s been with, and the details are less than encouraging (The Governor, perhaps?).
Supported by the information that Randall’s companions are both heavily armed and prone to violence toward women, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) finds it difficult to see another solution besides killing him. Naturally, having championed (read: forced) Andrea (Laurie Holden) into choosing life at the end of last season, the sentence of death does not sit well with Dale.
‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’ takes a David Milch (Luck) approach to storytelling, in that it begins in the morning and plays out until the end of a single day. Most of that day is spent with Dale visiting various members of the group, and begging them to take his side with regards to the execution of Randall. He first visits Andrea, and manages enough of an appeal that the former civil rights lawyer agrees to stand watch, lest anyone (read: Shane) get the idea to remove Randall ahead of schedule.
Next, Dale meets with Daryl and Hershel, but to little avail. Hershel seems wracked with self-doubt after the barn incident and is driven mainly by a need to protect his daughters, so Hershel places his faith in Rick. On the other hand, seeing as how Daryl happily bloodied his knuckles with Randall’s face, it’s a wonder Dale even bothered talking with him. The discussion does raise the notion that the group is broken, and once more brings up the fact that everyone seemingly knew Shane (Jon Bernthal) killed Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince), but no one – especially Rick – was bothered by it enough to do anything about it.
While Dale is making his rounds, Carl (Chandler Riggs) decides now is his moment to lose it, and start acting like a complete tool. He began the day by sneaking into the barn to have a brief chat with the captive, and then has some choice words for Carol (Melissa Suzane McBride) about her spiritual beliefs regarding her daughter Sophia.
Following his father’s reprimanding, Carl skulks around Daryl’s fly-ridden hang out and manages to come up with a handgun from Daryl’s belongings. Spurred on by his newly inflated sense of self-esteem, Carl goes exploring and stumbles upon a walker that’s gotten himself stuck in the mud near a small creek. After realizing the walker is immobile, Carl proceeds to antagonize it, getting dangerously close while brandishing the handgun. Inevitably, the walker breaks free enough to lunge at the boy, causing Carl to lose the handgun and make a run for safety.
As the sun sets on the day, Dale makes his final appeal to the group as a whole, where even his frequent ally Glenn (Steven Yuen), can’t seem to muster the justification to keep Randall from his death sentence. And with that, it appears Randall will be executed in the barn – but Rick’s hand is swayed by Carl’s arrival and encouragement of his father to pull the trigger. Rick relents, and Randall is once more remanded to custody.
Dale, sickened by what has transpired, walks out into a field in search of solace, but instead stumbles upon one of Hershel’s cows that has been eviscerated and is slowly dying. Poor Dale has only a fraction of a second before he is tackled by the ginger-bearded-walker Carl was provoking earlier. Despite the group’s best efforts to reach him, Dale is ripped open by the walker just mere seconds before Daryl can dispatch it.
The group gathers around the dying man, with Carl making the connection between Dale’s condition and his irresponsibility earlier in the day. Although Rick steps up to handle the unpleasantness, it is Daryl, who after quietly saying goodbye, puts the gun to Dale’s head and pulls the trigger.
Although much of the suspense for the rest of season 2 was lessened by a website faux pas earlier in the week, this episode will certainly have many fans talking about Dale’s gruesome exit from the show.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
The topic of loss can be something of a hard sell to audiences. In addition to the different feelings loss and mourning may evoke in all of us, it has the tendency to bog the viewer down with an ever-present cue to the frame of mind they should be in. Some dramas have handled the concept very well – albeit in small doses – while others ride the lowest common denominator all the way to ratings glory. The key, it seems, is to utilize the concept of death and loss, and from it build a convincing story that holds some value beyond reminding us of the eventuality we all face. Thankfully, NBC’s newest drama, Awake, manages such a feat.
By now you likely know the concept: Los Angeles police detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) wakes from a horrific car wreck to find himself split between two realities – one where his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) survived, and one where his son Rex (Dylan Minnette) lived. As he alternates back and forth between the two planes, he must face the notion that although both of his loved ones still exist on a part-time basis for him, Britten’s wife and son are left in a world where the other no longer lives. Awake is, at once, heart-wrenching and compelling, and it is easily one of the best dramas on television, right now.
The project comes from screenwriter Kyle Killen, whose last two projects, FOX’s Lone Star and The Beaver, garnered him a hefty dose of critical acclaim, even though neither project managed to find a large audience. Notably, when it comes to Awake, certain thematic elements regarding duality and the idea of separate, but connected lives led by the series’ protagonist, are shared with the con man of Killen’s Lone Star. So, if nothing else, its clear that Killen is interested in revisiting themes that he obviously didn’t get to explore the first time around.
Right off the bat, though, Awake feels like a completely different animal – one that is more mature and interested in examining itself through thought-provoking ideas, which it is capable of since it is not constrained by the burden of perpetuating a con. Instead, Awake has the realm of the unknown to play in, and it does so by leaving many questions unanswered, yet still manages to tell a thoughtful and complete story in the series’ pilot.
For Britten, his seemingly fractured world is the only way in which the life he had prior to the accident can still exist, and he sees it as a better alternative to the permanent loss his wife and child must endure. This reluctance to see his two realities as either a dream or coping mechanism brought about by a combination of grief and guilt vexes his two therapists, Dr. Lee (B.D. Wong) and Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones).
And this is where the series cleverly utilizes its concept in an original fashion. While Britten accepts his situation by going on with his life(s), working with his partners, Det. Isaiah Freeman (Steve Harris) or Det. Efram Vega (Wilmer Valderama), and coming home to either his wife or his child, neither of his therapists can accept this. Lee and Evans both implore Britten to reject the other’s hypothesis, and accept them as the true reality. But their patient is not convinced that one or the other is necessarily false – he is of the mind that the two are real, and his moving between them makes him whole.
The intriguing thing is that Britten does not need any convincing, and maybe it’s everyone else who can’t handle the thought that they may not exist. Each therapist is adamant in providing irrefutable proof that the other reality does not and cannot be real, but the evidence they provide is really just to confirm their reality is not a construct of Det. Britten’s troubled mind.
Naturally, the episode (and perhaps the series, too) is rife with symbolism that serves to inform which reality Britten is in, but also hints at larger questions. There is the significance of the colors red and green, representing Hannah and Rex, respectively, and those specific colors pop up in each reality with enough frequency to suggest something is amiss. Additionally, there is the sense that an ambiguous force is subtly dictating events.
Several times throughout the pilot, Isaacs refers to “they,” which is obviously his superiors, but like the colors it is mentioned enough to suggest another element. They, who are they? There is a feeling of persons unknown who are pulling the strings and dictating, with subtle gestures, the events in Britten’ life. They = his superiors, but perhaps they = something more. They want to know if Britten is fit for duty, and they are peppering Det. Vega with questions about Britten’s capacity to do his job.
There is also the question of the accident, and Britten’s elevated blood alcohol level. Is Britten responsible for his son/wife’s death? He cannot remember the events that led to the accident, so that mystery is yet to be solved, but like Det. Freeman said, solved and fixed are not the same thing. This could prove simply to be a byproduct of the intrigue surrounding the nature of the program, so it will be interesting to see if it manifests in later episodes.
In regards to the pilot, which was directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Awake is beautifully realized in both performance and style. Utilizing his cinematographer from Days and Hard Candy, Jo Willems (who coincidentally also shot the pilot for FOX’s Touch), Slade manages to craft two separate, but equally believable realities. Given that many key scenes consist of only dialogue between Isaacs and either B.D. Wong or Cherry Jones, Slade still manages to pull an entertaining and swift moving hour of television from Killen’s remarkable script.
The most intriguing aspect of Awake, however, is the cast. Killen and executive producer Howard Gordon (Homeland, 24) have assembled a group of actors committed to portraying interesting characters, not caricatures, like so many other programs. Isaacs is unquestionably persuasive as Britten, which, given the diversity of his past film credits, really shows off a natural ability to embody a myriad of roles and make them all feel at once familiar yet original.
High marks as well to Laura Allen and Dylan Minnette, who are primarily tasked with being signifiers of grief, but still manage to make Hannah and Rex into actual people. Allen in particular, takes the notion of coping mechanisms and, instead of making them a point of direct conflict, guides them into potential worry down the line. Redecorating, enrolling in school, moving, getting pregnant…Hannah is moving a mile a minute, and her trajectory is going to put her at odds with Britten’s need to maintain his duality. Yet through it all, Allen convincingly portrays Hannah with a sense of sorrow and intense desire to move on.
In the end, the viewer comes to want the existence of two realities to be as real as Britten does. The moment when the two realities cross over actually comes off as an interesting way to engage the viewer in the procedural aspect of Britten’s job, but also forces Britten to make more of his situation than simply coping with the loss of his loved ones. Again, it is the hint of something more, driving the purpose of this duality that comes to light in the articles of importance as they relate to each case Britten is investigating.
One of the best things about Awake is the way it expertly avoids many of the clichés that are so often attached to dramas of this nature. Those grieving aren’t prone to violent outburst or flights of recklessness that have become stock Hollywood examples of dealing with a loss. Instead, most of the characters, and especially Britten, choose to internalize the grief and cope by listening to what is said to them, and choosing to respond with contemplation, as opposed to a flat out counter. It is key that Britten listens to his therapists, even though he may disagree, otherwise the interplay between them, which is arguably the cornerstone of this story, will not work. Thankfully, Awake handles that interaction skillfully – specifically when Dr. Evans tells Britten to communicate to Dr. Lee that the whole situation is not as simple as he makes it sound. And that’s just it: Awake is not as simple as it may sound, and that is the beauty of this incredibly gripping show.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, would have been 108-years-old this Friday, March 2nd and in celebration of the event, Universal Pictures is unveiling their latest contribution to the Seussian canon of adaptations: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
The film boasts an impressive voice cast that includes Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Betty White and of course, The Lorax himself, Danny DeVito. DeVito was present at a roundtable press event for the film earlier this month and spoke a bit about what drew him to the project, his work translating the film into four languages and the crotchety creature that is The Lorax.
We presented our very Geisel visit to the edit bay of The Lorax as well as our interview with producer Christopher Meledandri back in January. Now let us see what the protector of the trees has to say about this modernized version of a classic tale. And in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, remind ourselves of some of the magic and wisdom of The Lorax.
“It all started back. Such a long, long time back. Way back in the days when the grass was still green, and the pond was still wet, and the clouds were still clean, and the song of the Swomee swans rang out in space. One morning I came to this glorious place.” – The Oncel-er, ‘The Lorax’
The Lorax, the film, is the story of a man (the Once-ler, voiced by Ed Helms) in need of redemption and a boy (Ted, voiced by Zac Efron) seeking to understand the world around him and to win the heart of a girl (Audrey, voiced by Taylor Swift). At its heart, there is a message about respecting our resources and being honest and realistic about their limits – for all of our sakes.
“The wonderful thing about ‘The Lorax’ is that it offers that message to folks,” DeVito said of the film.
“It isn’t like beating them over the head. I found that to be really well done, well mounted and well exhibited. Because the only thing, really, that the Once-ler did wrong besides get greedy with the thneeds (the product the Once-ler is seeking to sell in the tale) was that he didn’t provide for the earth in any other way. And that’s a message that we can take away. It’s not that we can’t be inventive, or think of things to sell, or make or manufacture, but the idea is that if we are going to take the goods from the earth, the supplies and the materials, then we should think about the sustainability of it, the replenishing of it.”
The Lorax: “Sir, you’re crazy. You’re crazy with greed. There’s no one on earth who will buy that fool thneed!”
The Once-ler:” The birth of an industry, you poor, stupid guy! You telling me what the public will buy?” — ‘The Lorax’
“Greed,” DeVito mused about one of the films central themes.
“We operate most of the time based on greed and fear. And that’s the thing, somebody will scare the hell out of us and we’ll follow them anywhere. I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan and he does a monologue in the middle of one of his songs where he talks about blindly following our leaders. And its true, we all have to be aware, and get involved, and be calling people on stuff because we can’t just say that just because he has the shiny hat and the badge he knows everything.”
DeVito clearly feels passionately about this project, so much so that he was willing to devote several weeks to working with language coaches to personally translate his role in The Lorax into Spanish, Italian, German and Russian so that the spirit of the character would come through no matter which version of the film the viewer experienced it in.
“I set out to speak to the kids in the audience as well as their parents,” DeVito said of his interpretation of the character.
“But I also wanted my fans who know me from other kinds of movies, or other TV shows, like say, ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,’ to think this is like Frank Reynolds doing the Lorax. I felt we captured that idea really well. There’s a cantankerous quality (to the character) that I see in myself. The stuff that I found surprising was that the sweetness kind of worked out too. I felt like the Lorax had a sweetness about him. “
As to the film’s conservationist core, DeVito says he thinks about what he can do towards that end, “all the time.” He drives a 100% electric car (which he makes a rather convincing pitch for), uses 7th generation toilet paper and only cloth napkins at home among other green measures he and his family have taken. “The idea is that it’s a little bit more work, but it pays off in the environment in the end,” DeVito said. “It’s like Dr. Seuss said: unless someone like you…meaning everybody out there, meaning all of us, meaning me…”
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” –‘The Lorax.’
Roth Cornet blogs at Screen Rant.
Believe it or not, just over two months are now left in the countdown to the release of Marvel’s The Avengers. The comic book movie studio has been especially busy cranking up the buzz surrounding its estimated $300 million superhero juggernaut over the last week, to help heighten anticipation for today’s unveiling of a second official trailer.
The new Avengers trailer is now online and unlike previous trailers, it basically dives head-first into the plot of the film. While a good deal of the mystery surrounding Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his powerful alien army remains in place, the stakes have now been made clear and the stage is set for Earth’s most powerful superheroes to unite in its defense.
Overall, there’s a lot to admire in this new Avengers footage as far as sheer action spectacle and the scale of everything is concerned. Between sequences of Hulk rescuing a downed Iron Man and vast alien vessels laying ruin to metropolitan landscapes (among other noteworthy moments) it looks like Marvel’s money has been well spent. More so, this is the first trailer to suggest that The Avengers may truly be worth the price of admission for either a 3D and/or IMAX screening, based on some of the more elaborate shots and action sequences teased here.
Rather than divulge the secrets of Loki’s forces just yet, this new Avengers trailer instead highlights the clashing of personalities and difficult team dynamic between the various members of the Avengers Initiative. Chalk up another early point for writer/director Joss Whedon, as he appears to have recognized that the conflicts between the various superheroes who make up The Avengers are (in many respects) just as important as the exterior ones they’re working against.
As for all those brief scenes where the Avengers are (literally) at each other’s throats? Well, don’t forget Tom Hiddleston’s promise that Loki will be up to more mind games in The Avengers. Should be fun to see how that plays out, to say the least…
Without further ado, we present the epic second official trailer for The Avengers:
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
Amanda Seyfried stars in Gone as Jill, a troubled young girl who is the supposed survivor of a twisted abduction and murder attempt by a serial killer no one believes exists. Due to her extreme ordeal, Jill lives as a rattled and suspicious pill-popping loner, whose only friend is her recovering alcoholic sister, Molly (Emily Wickersham). One night after Jill is working a night shift as a waitress at the local diner, she comes home to find Molly gone, though the house is seemingly undisturbed but for a few small details, like a missing photo and discarded earring.
The police who investigated Jill’s alleged abduction could never find evidence to back her story, so they have even less reason to believe that Molly has been taken by the same figment killer, who would be ostensibly risking exposure just to finish off the one escaped girl. The detectives tell Jill to back off and settle down, but she does just the opposite (surprise) and goes on the hunt herself. Before long, she’s searching the streets of Portland wild-eyed and waving a gun, inviting both a police manhunt to bring her in, and the widespread view that she is a mental case.
But if Jill is right, and there is a predator in their midst, then she may be all that stands between Molly and a brutal, gruesome death.
Gone is an attempt to make a modern B-movie thriller in the style of classic Film Noir, by filmmakers who don’t quite have the insight or judgement to pull off such a feat. The script was written by Allison Burnett, who penned other half-cooked mystery/thrillers like Untraceable and Underworld Awakening. Burnett’s Noir narrative is full of heavy-handed contrivances and awkwardly composed scenes, stilted dialogue and cheap red herrings. One could almost make a drinking game out of the amount of times this film will have you rolling your eyes at what has just happened or been said onscreen.
Director Heitor Dhalia (Adrift) makes matters worse by trying to infuse things with a classic Noir style he is far from proficient in. If you are well-versed in the Film Noir sub-genre you’ll find many of the familiar tropes present and accounted for: the addled sleuth (Seyfried); the sharp camera angles and interplay of light and shadow to create a menacing world around the protagonist; odd-looking actors playing the working-class types the sleuth runs across, shot at sloped angles to make them look more suspicious or sinister, and the general sense that this world is gritty, dark and full of immoral types at every turn.
What Gone manages to prove is that classic Noir style looks silly when presented straightforwardly in a modern context. Homages to classic cinema need to be winking and self-referencing, allowing the audience in on the fact that the oddball stylistic choices are in fact a purposeful reference. Seeing it represented in this kind of way just comes off as a failed experiment. The resolution of the mystery is unsatisfying and full of so many logical gaps that it is hard to say whether it holds together at all. The character arc for Jill goes to pieces towards the end, when the movie tries one final pivot between the questions of ’Is she crazy, is she not crazy?’ only to fizzle out into a bizarre and unceremonious ending.
Besides those massive disappointments, one of the more vexing things about Gone is its fumbling of red herrings that add nothing to the story except cheap (and totally irrelevant) distractions. As this Noir tale follows a female sleuth, there are no traditional femme fatale characters, and instead American Beauty star Wes Bentley and Captain America star Sebastian Stan play two potential “homme fatale” types (a rookie cop and Molly’s boyfriend, respectively) whose arcs ultimately go nowhere at all, making them completely arbitrary additions to film.
Another reviewer in my screening was thoroughly vexed and perplexed by one particularly flagrant empty red herring (Mild Spoiler): in the middle of the film, one of our “homme fatales” disappears in order to supposedly ‘bring soup to his sick mother’ – a blatant and obvious excuse to create suspicion about his whereabouts and actions, one would naturally assume. Only, in a movie like Gone, that red herring is ultimately discarded (after a lot of screen time) as the character reappears in the background of a later shot (no explanation, just standing there), and we are only left to assume that he actually did disappear to bring soup to his sick mother. A moment like that would be hilarious in a parody film, but is funny for all the wrong reasons when presented seriously.
For her part, Amanda Seyfried does a fine job playing the difficult role of a girl who is either crazy and or legitimately panicked, while still being sharp enough to put connect clues, deduce facts, outwit pursuers, and solve a crime an entire police force could not. The role itself is ridiculous, but Seyfried has talent enough to keep it grounded. Here’s hoping she gets lands in better projects going forward.
In the end, Gone is a movie that should’ve been released in the straight-to-DVD market where it belongs. As a rental, I would probably give it two stars; but as a movie you’re being asked to pay theater prices to watch? Well, see our rating below. (1.5 stars)
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has a problem. Each year, it neglects or fails to appreciate some of the best films of the year. While it makes a lot of great decisions, often it overlooks certain genres or stories that don't appeal to them.
This year was no different. (Check out the 2012 Oscar Nominees.)
With that in mind, here are the five major films that the Academy undervalued in 2011. Although many of the films on this list received a few Oscar nominations, overall the Academy did not give them the credit they are due. Instead of a nod or two, these films deserved much greater recognition and appreciation from the Academy.
The Ides of March, George Clooney's great political thriller only received one Oscar nomination this year. It is vying against The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for best adapted screenplay. But this film is worth so much more. It was actually my third favorite film of 2011.
In addition to the writing, the film deserved recognition for Clooney's steady direction and a best picture nomination. The acting was credible but no one performance stood out in this cast that included Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I can understand why none of the performances were recognized - in a lesser year, they would have been - but the film itself deserved more recognition than it's getting.
Super 8 was an epic summer movie that appealed to both critics and audiences alike. It had a phenomenal cast of young actors and a great story combined with wonderful visual effects. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams, this was a film that showed that summer blockbusters could still be intelligent and exciting, not just one or the other.
With no Oscar nods to its name, this film was completely overlooked by the Academy. It wasn't on my top ten list of the year but it should have been nominated for its great visual effects, wonderful score and maybe even its fine direction.
Like Super 8, 50/50 received zero Oscar nominations this year. The film tells the story of a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with cancer and given a 50/50 shot chance of surviving. Yes, the film includes some crude humor and off-putting jokes, but it's a great film with its heart in the right place.
In a lesser year, Gordon-Levitt would have been nominated for Best Actor for his performance, but the abundance of strong male performances in 2011 ruined his chances. Regardless, I still believe that either Anna Kendrick or Anjelica Huston should have been nominated for their brilliant supporting performances. And without a doubt, Will Reiser - who faced cancer in real life - should have been nominated for his honest and heartbreaking screenplay.
Unlike a few of the films on this list, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II did receive a few Oscar nominations. It was nominated for Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects. But this epic finale to the "Harry Potter" series deserved more. It was an elegant and visually-stunning conclusion to a masterful series of films.
Many have argued that Alan Rickman deserved an Oscar nod for his supporting performance. His performance wasn't nominated and I can understand why in this year of great supporting male performances. I can't, however, understand why this film wasn't nominated for Best Picture. It was a critically-acclaimed blockbuster that appealed to adults and children alike. To not give it a best picture nod is an insult to those who loved the film as much as I did - and ignores the epic achievement that the series, as a whole, represents.
Drive, a dark film about a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver, was a thought-provoking and brilliant film. Instead of relying on a lot of dialogue, its story was mostly told through great performances and unique direction. Critics will be talking about this movie for years to come. But how did the Academy recognize it? With one single nomination for Best Sound Editing.
This is the most surprising film to be on this list because not only did I think that it should be nominated for more awards, I also thought that it should win a few of them. Nicolas Winding Refn directed this film with an awe-inspiring fierceness and intelligence and Albert Brooks delivered a brilliant performance as the story's malicious villain. Both men should have been nominated and in my opinion, both should have returned home with statues. The lack of nominations is beyond disappointing.
Actor Sacha Baron Cohen has released a video in character as his “Dictator” persona Admiral General Aladeen, saying the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has until noon on Sunday to give him his Oscar tickets back. Following rumors he planned to walk the red carpet in character as Aladeen, there were some reports that the Academy had banned Cohen from the ceremony Sunday evening.
“We want him to come to the show,” he said in an interview. “But we would like him to come as Sacha.”
Sherak did not say in the interview with The Wrap if any action would take place if Cohen arrived in costume as Aladeen.
Cohen’s minute-and-a-half-long video, beginning with a line of text stating it was produced by the Republic of Wadiya Media (the fictional country ruled by Aladeen) and instructions to “Please Stand,” was filmed with Cohen sitting on a throne. Two actors playing guards held guns and stood at attention behind him, with portraits of Aladeen on the back wall.
Cohen delivered the video in his Aladeen accent of rolling Rs, beginning his speech with, “Good morning, great Satan of America” and adding a polite, “How are you? I am fine, thank you.”
Cohen continued, “I am outraged at being banned from the Oscars… while I applaud the Academy for taking away my right to free speech, I warn you that if you do not lift your sanctions… you will face unimaginable consequences.”
The actor also made jokes about romantic comedies like “You’ve Got Mail” and added that he had hired Hilary Swank as his date.
Cohen smiled at the end of the video. “Good luck, Billy Crystals,” he said. “Fantastic.”
Check out the video below:
Pixar animation will try its hand at telling an original princess fairy tale with this summer’s Brave, a Celtic-themed fable that chronicles the adventures of the independent-minded Princess Merida (voiced by Boardwalk Empire‘s Kelly Macdonald), whose “impetuous” behavior and manner forever changes life in the mystical Scottish highlands.
The new full-length theatrical promo for Brave isn’t so much a trailer as it is an extended clip; it encompasses a scene where the firstborn sons of the kingdom’s three lords attempt to prove their talent with a bow and arrow, so as to win Merida’s hand in marriage. Naturally, the feisty flaming-haired princess (who’s got some mad archery skills herself) decides to take matters into her own hands.
Check out that new trailer for Brave below:
While the “grrrl power” aspect and female empowerment metaphor of Brave play pretty heavy-handed in this new footage (Merida must break loose from the confines of her dress – get it?) the official synopsis suggests this Pixar flick will amount to more than simply another “modernized” spin on the stereotypical Disney princess coming-of-age storyline.
Brave will focus heavily on Merida’s transition from unruly teenager to mature young adult, no doubt, but the stakes are going to pretty high as the fate of the princess’ kingdom depends on her ability to “undo a beastly curse.” Similarly, the obstacles in Merida’s path sound more dangerous and threatening than, say, an evil step-mother who ultimately proves to be a pretty neurotic and powerless foe (a la Tangled or the upcoming Mirror Mirror).
That’s all to say: there’s good reason to suspect that Brave boasts a more complex and sophisticated narrative than early trailers might have you think. Even if that doesn’t turn out to be the case the film still looks like another solid family-friendly offering from the computer animation powerhouse, complete with some gorgeously detailed visuals and memorable characters.
Brave will arrive in 2D and 3D theaters around the U.S. on June 22nd, 2012.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
School’s back before summer!
In a move that has no doubt set your Twitter feed afire, NBC has just announced a much-anticipated return date for COMMUNITY. Or, as creator Dan Harmon more eloquently tweeted, “What you call 8:00, we call home. COMMUNITY returns to Thursday nights on March 15th.”
Making room for your favorite student body will be 30 ROCK, which NBC will push to 8:30PM in addition to sending PARKS AND RECREATION packing to Thursday April 19th at 9:30PM, where it will return in the not-nearly-as-plum-as-it-used-to-be-post-OFFICE timeslot following UP ALL NIGHT’s season finale.
In other Peacock Programming news, Wednesday night is getting an “Extreme Makeover: Scheduling Edition” thanks to the arrival of BENT, a delightful new single cam rom-com centering around a recently divorced Alex (Amanda Peet) and her charismatic contractor Pete (David Walton) that will bow with back-to-back episodes on March 21st at 9PM. Also joining the NBC family on Wednesday’s following the season (series?) finales of WHITNEY and ARE YOU THERE, CHELSEA on April 4th will be the premieres of BETTY WHITE’S OFF THEIR ROCKERS and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. The latter of which features Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham playing old friends who reunite after the divorce of St. Clair’s character.
The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.
Playwright Beth Henley’s latest work “The Jacksonian,” debuting in its world premier in Los Angeles, is certainly Southern, but it is anything but comfortable. This 90-minute, part-David Lynch, part-Flannery O’Connor slice of Southern gothic is a reminder of the simultaneously dark and often hilarious mix of confusion, rage, and just plain eccentricity that marked Henley in her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Crimes of the Heart.”
The five-character, one-act play is set in Jackson, Miss. – the playwright’s hometown – in 1964, during the tumultuous transition era of the deep South, rife with Ku Klux Klan fighting the rising civil rights movement. Real-life husband and wife stars Ed Harris and Amy Madigan play Bill and Susan, a dentist and his social-climbing wife who blames him for her hysterectomy. He has been banished to a dreary motel room at The Jacksonian, where denizens Fred and Eva – played over the top by Bill Pullman and Glenne Headly – haunt the bar and lives of those unlucky enough to pass through what are clearly one-way doors at this flop house on the edge of town.
Holding together the narrative thread of the events that unfold is Bill and Susan’s outrageously unattractive daughter, Rosy. Her fevered, second-sight and nonlinear recollection of the crescendoing events that now define her life swirl around her rising chorus of premonitions and wails for a normal life that was never to be granted this tortured soul.
The tale of Bill’s fall from grace – both in his work as a dentist and his role as a husband and father – rolls out as a weirdly grotesque counterpoint to the seething, explosive rage suffusing the South. Ku Klux Klan riders were still part of life – the play itself is framed around a real-life story of Henley’s sister’s fifth-grade teacher, affiliated with the KKK, who was shot while wearing hot pants.
A scene in which daughter Rosy delivers a sad, miniature Christmas tree to her father’s motel room – and the two discuss whether or not it requires more lights or ornaments – is torn right out of the playwright’s own life story. Her parents divorced when she was in high school and she was herself the go-between, delivering the tiny tree to her father’s motel room.
This easy juxtaposition of the violent with the cozy is what keeps the genteel veneer of Henley’s work from being either predictable or even necessarily believable. The denouement of the narrative is as unhinged from reality as the characters are from their own lives.
Dancing around the flames of their downfall like dark shadows are Fred, the Elvis-wannabe bartender (Pullman) – complete with lambchop sideburns and slicked-back hair – and Eva, the wiley goldigger motel maid (Headly), with her frowzy rat’s nest hairdo. Each finds particularly juicy pleasure in watching the snooty Bill and Susan slide down the social scale from wealthy suburban home to their life’s finale played out in the 25-ft. radius between the hallway ice-machine and Bill’s motel room.
It is one of the particular pleasures of theater in Los Angeles that some of the screen’s top acting talents turn up to showcase their stage chops – in short-run shows such as this. This evening was directed by Robert Falls who came to L.A. from Chicago’s Goodman Theater specifically for this production which runs in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse.