It was a welcome surprise to find out out that season 2 of the hit FX series American Horror Story would feature an altogether new story rather than a continuation of season 1. Now, with season 3 – subtitled Coven – just a couple of months out, we’re learning more and more about the plot of the newest installment of the anthology series, thanks to teaser trailers, interviews, and more.
For example, we know that the story will take place in both 19th century and modern-day New Orleans and will center on a war between Salem witches and the local Voodoo practitioners. Much of the cast of the previous seasons will return – including Jessica Lange, Lily Rabe, Evan Peters, and Sarah Paulson – but there are newcomers as well, like Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates. Bassett and Bates recently talked about the plot of Coven, their characters, and what we can expect from the new season.
Courtesy of Collider, the actresses talked about the characters they’re playing:
Bassett: “Well, I play Marie Laveau. It’s been interesting, being in New Orleans, because there’s such a regard and respect for who she was. She lived to about 80 years old, and she was a very influential person in the city. My character is based loosely on her.”
Bates: “My Southern accent has come roaring back. Now that that cat is out of the bag, one of the things I enjoyed reading about Madame LaLaurie is that my great-great-grandfather came from Dublin to New Orleans in the 1830s, and he became personal physician to Andrew Jackson. And I read in the book on LaLaurie that his plantation was next door to theirs. So, I was very curious to know whether my grandfather ever met her because I think he would have been there just before she left. I thought that was interesting.”
For those unaware, both Marie Laveau and Madame LaLaurie are based on actual historical figures (though, as Bassett says, probably very “loosely“). Laveau was a renowned practitioner of Voodoo in New Orleans during the 1800s.
LaLaurie, on the other hand, was more notorious than renowned – she was one of the few known female serial killers of her day. A Louisiana socialite, she tortured and mass murdered slaves and was eventually chased out of town by an outraged mob.
The actresses also talked about what enticed them to join Coven:
BATES: “I went out for a drink with my friend, Jessica, after seeing the first season. And I said, ‘You’ve got to get me on that show.’ I thought it would be maybe a couple of episodes. So, I went in and sat down with Ryan [Murphy], and when he pitched this show to me, this little kid that lives inside all of us just started jumping up and down and running around. I said, ‘I want to do it!’ It just got me so excited that it washed most of the crap away. Clearly, there’s some residue. But, it’s delightful to be among such a glorious group of actors and have such magnificent material to play. I’m going on the record to say that we’re going to knock your socks off.”
BASSETT: “I just got a call to come in and meet Ryan. I watched every single episode, but to hear him talk about it, and knowing who would be joining the cast, and that it would be shot in New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities – for the music, the food, the character and their love of death – and people from different strata live within 10 to 15 minutes of each other, it’s just very unique. There is such a history of that town, with free people of color, slaves, whites and Haitians. That I would be able to be in a city that I love, working with artists that I love, that obviously write for women, and to be able also to come home and not neglect my family for six months straight, it had everything going for it, as far as I was concerned.”
With Jessica Lange winning a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a Screen Actor’s Guild Award, and more for her performance on season 1 (a.k.a. Murder House), it’s not difficult to understand why great actresses like Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates would be raring to sign up. Ryan Murphy and company do some strange things on American Horror Story – some of which don’t always pay off – but it has to be a pretty attractive opportunity for actors looking for meaty, original roles.
Personally, I preferred the completely unpredictable season 2 (a.k.a. Asylum) to Murder House, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what Coven can bring to the table. It’s not often that you have almost NO idea as to what’s in store for the third season of a television series – and it’s kind of refreshing.
Ben Moore blogs at Screen Rant.
If there’s one thing Breaking Bad and the White family has mastered, it’s the subtle art of the painfully awkward, excruciatingly tense family dinner. Whether it is Walt and Skyler sitting angrily across the table from one another while Jesse tries in vein to cut the tension by commenting on just how delicious the store-bought green beans are, or a nerve-racking birthday morning where Junior insists his mother mark the occasion by forming a 51 on his father’s plate with bacon – which results in Walt commenting on the merits of “sacrifice” and “Family teamwork.”
Unsurprisingly, things aren’t much different when Walt and Skyler ask Hank and Marie to meet them at a local Mexican restaurant to, you know, discuss the whole Heisenberg thing and maybe clarify any recent suggestions that certain DEA agents should “tread lightly“ over a bowl of freshly prepared guacamole and a pitcher of ice-cold margaritas. Naturally, given the Whites’ penchant for making a little time around the table wind up being as solemn as a funeral, things don’t go too well, as Marie continually insists that Junior come live at Schraderhaus and Hank tells his brother-in-law that being a man means coming clean about his wrongdoings, cancer or no cancer.
And like the cancer that has recently resurfaced in Walter’s lungs, ‘Confessions’ takes a look at the tendency these characters have to relapse into previous conditions and behaviors, and how that recidivism defines them in moments of turmoil or confrontation. Hank comes at Walter straight, giving him no option but to confess to his crimes and to face the music like a man. That’s precisely how Hank sees the world, how he approaches his job and the criminals he pursues and, with a little bit of due diligence, sees them thrown in prison.
Walt, meanwhile, comes at everything and everyone completely cockeyed; his whole plan to provide for his family after being given a terminal diagnosis was to cook meth with a former student and then he wound up the kingpin of an empire he’d never dreamed of building. So, naturally, his move is to offer up a confession wherein he implicates his primary accuser of being the mastermind behind the whole thing because, at the end of the day, the evidence that Hank has on Walt is no more damning than any Walt has on him. And if Walt’s confession were to ever surface and be scrutinized by the DEA – and it would be – the one hundred and seventy-seven thousand dollars in medical bills that were paid out to a critically injured Hank Schrader by one Walter White is far more convincing than a copy of Leaves of Grass signed by the man formerly believed to have been Heisenberg.
It’s a strategic blow that hits Hank well below the belt, but lets him know that the ball is in his court, because, after all, he is family and we know how important family is to Walt. And the episode brilliantly illustrates that importance by having Walt offer up his son as the reason Hank should just back off. Walt’s all but promising that he’ll soon be dead and the world may just be a better place without him, but no one should tarnish the memory Junior has of his father, as that might just ruin the young man. It’s a merciless play that capitalizes on Walt’s knowledge of just how much his children mean to Hank and Marie, and how bringing down Heisenberg would also bring about the end of this ultra-dysfunctional family unit. In the end, it’s left to Marie to inadvertently plant the seed of ending it all (or making it look that way, perhaps?) as a way to save those that he loves. And that, of course, ties into the near-future timeline and the larger theme of how everything seems to move in a circular fashion and all misdeeds seem to be revisited upon those who commit them.
But the most interesting aspect of this low-key, yet somehow frantic episode is in how Gennifer Huchtison (who’s credited with writing ‘Confessions’) overtly plays with the concept of Walt as a misguided parent by making sure his two surrogate sons – Jesse and Todd – have a brief moment with their shadowy father figure. Todd is all smiles recounting his misadventures in hijacking a methylamine shipment (and glossing over the killing an innocent child), and even calls Walt to let him know how he’s moving up in the world. But it’s Jesse, who has been so quite over the past two episodes, who erupts, ready with violent-retribution-by-way-of-gas-can, after nearly being talked into a new life somewhere by Walt and Saul.
It’s only at the last moment that Jesse pieces together the missing ricin cigarette and how, for all his fatherly concern, for all the warmth that was in that dad-like embrace in the desert, at this moment, family is just another tool for Walter to use, to ensure that when the end comes, it’s the ending that Walter White envisioned and no one else.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Eminem’s newest album will be titled “Marshall Mathers LP 2” and will be released Nov. 5, according to the rapper.
The first single off “Marshall Mathers LP 2,” titled “Survival,” had already been posted on Eminem’s site, according to the Detroit Free Press, and the second, “Berzerk,” is scheduled to become available on Aug. 27. “Survival” was reportedly part of a “Call of Duty: Ghosts” trailer promoting the new video game.
Both trailers for the new album on Eminem’s website feature Beats By Dre headphones. (Rapper Dr. Dre is producing the album along with Rick Rubin.)
A commercial for Beats By Dre headphones aired during the MTV Video Music Awards featuring Eminem and also promoted his new album.
Eminem, who was born Marshall Mathers, released his first album, “Infinite,” in 1996 and followed it with releases including “The Marshall Mathers LP” and “The Eminem Show.” His seventh album, “Recovery,” was released in 2010 and debuted at number one on Billboard, winning the Best Rap Album Grammy for the year and earning a Best Album nomination.
He has received 13 Grammy Awards in total and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself,” which was featured in his 2002 film “8 Mile."
There has been a long and furious debate about the next stage in Batman movie development. There have been many fans holding holding out hope that the world of Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy would be incorporated into Warner Bros. and DC Comics’ larger shared movie universe – including the return of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. But Nolan and Bale have made it increasingly clear that their time in the DC Universe is done, leaving the world in need of a new actor to step into the iconic cape and cowl.
Now the world has the actor who will be the next Batman… and it’s Ben Affleck. Affleck will stand alongside (and presumably against) Man of Steel star Henry Cavill in the Superman sequel film, which is tentatively being referred to as Batman vs. Superman.
Variety confirms the announcement from Warner Bros. that Affleck – who directed the studio’s Oscar-winning film, Argo – is indeed the new Dark Knight. In addition to that information, we now know when the Superman-Batman movie will hit theaters: July 17, 2015, after Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The collective sound you might be hearing right now is jaws dropping all over the Interwebs. While we here at Screen Rant have been hard at work coming up with casting choices for a new Batman, it’s safe to say that nowhere in our discussions did the name “Ben Affleck” come up. However, despite what is likely to be a tidal wave of knee-jerk reactions, Having Affleck step into the role isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for the following reasons:
- He’s established a good relationship with WB, and was once rumored to be directing the Justice League movie. With his involvement in the franchise now secured, that scenario could still be in the cards. Fans weren’t upset at the notion of an Affleck-helmed JL movie, so…
- Ben Affleck has left his pretty-boy persona of the ’90s/early 2000s WAY behind at this point. He’s demonstrated real skill both behind the camera and in front of it, playing brooding, troubled figures in both Argo and The Town.
- He’s a good match for Cavill in terms of looks and charm and bulk.
- At 41, Affleck is a perfect fit for the slightly older, more experienced, mature (and strategic) Batman that has been rumored for the film.
Of course, these reasons alone are likely not enough to dissuade those who see this news and automatically go into meltdown mode, but hopefully some of our forthcoming features on the subject will help convince the holdouts. All things considered, it’s probably safe to say that this isn’t the end of the World’s Finest.
Now all that’s left is to find a proper Lex Luthor…
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones we are handed the revelation that the world we think we know exists on top of a supernatural plane in which the forces of good and evil are constantly at war. New York teenager Clary Fray (Lily Collins) lives a normal existence – that is, until her latest birthday reveals strange new powers like “the sight” – a mystery that turns into panic when Clary’s overprotective mother, Jocelyn (Lena Headey), goes missing.
While on the search for her mom, Clary is attacked by a fearsome demon – only to be saved by Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), a mysterious demon-hunter (“shadowhunter”) that only Clary seems to see. Jace reveals to Clary that she – like her mother – is one of a select group of shadowhunters, tasked with protecting the world from demonic forces. With a dark threat rising, and her mother in peril, Clary, Jace, and their allies will wage warrior against a clandestine threat within the shadowhunter order, while searching for the powerful talisman known as The Mortal Cup, whose location only Jocelyn knows for sure.
The Young Adult movie genre has gotten something of a stigma since Twilight invaded the mainstream, and most moviegoers approach any film within that genre – specifically the YA supernatural sub-genre – with a very critical eye for quality storytelling over hokey romance fantasy and skewed supernatural mythology. I’m proud to report that despite having a very skilled cast of both younger and older actors doing it justice, the material propping up The Mortal Instruments is every YA genre skeptic’s nightmare, and the cinematic interpretation is such an overwrought, drab and cumbersome film that it’s not even a suitable popcorn-muncher to help pass the time.
At the helm is director Harald Zwart, who is best known for the 2010 Karate Kid reboot and his early 2000s film, Agent Cody Banks. City of Bones is an ugly movie (in no uncertain terms) that squanders so much potential. The blocking, framing, angles and mis-en-scene are poorly imagined and executed; the cinematography by Hollywood newcomer Geir Hartly Andreasen looks like someone’s grainy home video; and the director can’t seem to capture or realize any of the imaginativeness of the source material – ultimately resulting in a fantastical world that looks anything BUT fantastical.
Zwart even manages to make his pretty leads just as often look awkward, grimy or otherwise unattractive – a rare feat in filmmaking. In terms of both action and (budgeted) visual effects, however, City of Bones is a definite step up from The Twilight Saga, offering a few sequences of genuinely exciting action and/or visual splendor.
To be fair, beyond the imaginative world and premise, there isn’t much good material for Zwart to work with. City of Bones screenplay writer Jessica Postigo tried to streamline the convoluted novel by Cassandra Clare, but still winds up with an overwrought story that has little emotional punch or payoff and a whole lot of awkwardness by the end. It starts as an intriguing enough mystery, evolves into a suitable second-act quest; however, some third-act “twists” just derail whatever narrative momentum the story manages to build, and muddles both the mythology and character relationships developed up to that point, leaving us with an awkward ending that doesn’t feel much like an ending so much as a chapter break.
This story also has more sappy romantic drama and soap opera-style love triangles than Twilight ever did, making it even more exhausting to endure. As this is both an adaptation and the opening chapter in a larger saga, there are many subplots, foreshadowings and other developments that the movie introduces but fails to explain or resolve – a detriment when set against the need for a film to tell a complete standalone story.
Too bad for the cast of actors in the crossfire, as they manage to do pretty well with their characters and the flimsy material they’re working with. Blind Side and Mirror Mirror star Lily Collins is overqualified for her role, bringing real gravitas and emotion to a performance that is ultimately doomed by the movie around it. Jamie Campbell Bower is sharp and witty as Jace, Clary’s newfound ally and love interest, and he and Collins have strong chemistry. Supporting players like Jace’s adopted siblings Alec (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle (Jemima West) or Clary’s competing love interest, Simon (Robert Sheehan), are all interesting but ultimately shortchanged by a narrative that spreads itself way too thin in both focus and development.
There is also a cast of well-known stars given bit parts to play (to varying fun or ridiculousness). Game of Thrones star Lena Headey; Mad Men star Jared Harris; Tudors star Jonathan Rhys Meyers; Being Human star Aidan Turner; Warehouse 13 star CCH Pounder and Lost star Kevin Durand are just a few of the quality character actors this film manages to (somehow) wrangle together. With the exception of Meyers, the veteran actors’ respective scenes certainly elevate the material where possible – but unfortunately, those scenes are few.
In the end, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is yet another would-be franchise trying (and quite likely failing) to fill the post-Twilight void. Even with a richer, darker, more action-packed premise; a more intriguing world; and a cast featuring some quality UK thespians with actual acting chops in the leads, there is just no denying that the story and the movie are both sub-par, forgettable – and worst of all, crushingly boring by the end. Bury this one under a city of bones, and tell the cast to seek more lively pastures.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
The Counselor is a milestone event of a film, as it marks the screenwriting debut of Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of books like The Road and No Country for Old Men – who is arguably one of the best American writers living today. That’s a lot of expectation to live up to – especially in the wider and more savage arena of feature-filmmaking. But with a directing heavyweight like Ridley Scott in his corner, not to mention an all-star cast (more an them later), McCarthy certainly has the foundation under him to make an impressive debut on the Hollywood scene.
For the uninitiated: there are two main topics that McCarthy tends to favor in his writing: rumination on the south/southwest region of the United States, and rumination on the darkness and violence that lies in the hearts of human beings. The Counselor looks to continue in that proud McCarthy tradition on both counts, and this new trailer reveals just how dark the ride will get.
In The Counselor, Michael Fassbender stars as a respected lawyer living in the Southwest, who tries to take a quick dive into the drug business to make a quick buck. Of course, once he has crossed the border (literally and figuratively) into the dark world of greed and violence, he discovers that even a quick glimpse into the abyss is enough get yourself swallowed by the darkness.
In addition to Fassbender, The Counselor stars Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez, Game of Thrones‘ Natalie Dormer and Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz as two femme fatales. All in all an impressive cast. On the filmmaking side of things: the washed-out shadowy tones of Dariusz Wolski’s (Prometheus, Pirates of the Caribbean) cinematography look to be a suitable match for the pared-down and brutal prose of McCarthy’s writing, and the direction looks pretty good overall, with some clever visual ideas.
However, based on the clips, it is clear that The Counselor will also follow the tradition of McCarthy’s books, which are often punctuated by almost stage play-esque scenes of conversation. The author’s style is arguably comparable to Tarantino – if Tarantino hung around academics, intellectuals and scientists, that is. Some moviegoers might be thrown by such an experience, in the same way that McCarthy’s brutally clean prose has only now and again struck a cord with the mainstream.
Still, The Counselor looks like an interesting experiment, to say the least, and could turn out to be one of the best crime dramas to come along in some time. Or, it could be the next Killing Them Softly on Brad Pitt’s resume (read: heavy-handed “talkie” disguised as a crime flick). We’ll see.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
The Scarlet Witch character isn’t making an appearance in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past despite her brother Quicksilver having a small part to play, but Joss Whedon has big plans for the pair in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
While there remains many questions and mystery surrounding the interest in including the character(s) in both the X-Men and Avengers franchises from rival studios, Bryan Singer’s take on half of the duo has already been shot with Days of Future Past wrapping production this week. For Joss Whedon and The Avengers 2, they’re still in the casting process.
From the sheer amount of buzz and headlines raised from Aaron Taylor-Johnson about being in talks with Marvel Studios about playing Quicksilver for The Avengers sequel, it seems all but confirmed that he will play the speedster. As for his sister, earlier reports had Saoirse Ronan being used as a design template for Scarlet Witch with the young actress even expressing her interest in working with Whedon.
The latest rumor is therefore a little strange, with Bleeding Cool claiming that their sources reveal that Ronan was offered the gig but turned it down. Why would she do such a thing? The source continues to explain that Marvel has instead turned their attention towards up-and-coming star Elizabeth Olsen, another proven talent who’s making the jump from indie fare to mainstream studio flicks next year with Godzilla.
Both names are incredibly talented and proven to be so and if the decision is truly one or the other, it’s a good problem to have for Whedon and co. The one key difference however is that the same report which initially tapped Ronan for the role explained that for the sake of the Marvel Cinematic Universe the origins of Pietro (Quicksilver) and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) would be altered to make them British.
Not only would the “brother-sister act” not be the children of X-Men villain Magneto and of Eastern European descent, but they could even have the source of their powers changed since there are complicated rights issues between Fox and Marvel both being able to use the characters in their films. From Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s words, the Quicksilver character will still be all about super speeds, but for Scarlet Witch and her over-powered abilities, there remains a big question mark and it depends on just how deep into crazy Joss Whedon wants to go with the franchise. By that we mean Scarlet Witch can alter reality but we’re unsure of whether or not that sort of plot element would be introduced this soon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In any case, if the origin rumors are true, Olsen obviously isn’t British (Ronan is Irish, Johnson is British) so would that entail a fake accent, a lack of accents from the pair, or something else entirely?
Rob Keyes blogs at Screen Rant.
Is ‘90s boy band 'NSNYC going to reunite at the MTV Video Music Awards this year?
It was already announced by MTV that former 'NSNYC member Justin Timberlake would be at the VMAs to receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which celebrates those who have made an impact on the music video genre. Now the New York Post has quoted unnamed sources who said other members of 'NSYNC – Joey Fatone, J.C. Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Lance Bass – will also be present at the ceremony and will “join him onstage for a reunion performance," according to the Post.
Bass spoke about the rumors on his radio show, “Dirty Pop,” but wouldn’t settle them one way or the other.
Bass mentioned that he believed the rumors began when he posted a photo of himself with Fatone and Kirkpatrick on Instagram. The group had gone to a Timberlake concert.
“I think that's what started the rumor that there was going to be this big reunion with 'NSYNC,” Bass said.
Whatever the truth is, the former 'NSYNC member said he was impressed with how much enthusiasm the idea of a reunion was generating.
“It's amazing to see the reaction out there on Twitter and social media of how many people really are supporting a thing," he said. "When we ended things ten years ago, there was no social media, so, I mean, there was no Twitter fans or that type of stuff. It's so cute to see how many people are supporting it.”
So far, MTV has not addressed the story.
In addition to receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Timberlake is tied with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for the most nominations of any artist or group at this year’s VMAs.
The awards ceremony will air on MTV on Aug. 25.
The TV program, which premiered in 2002, puts country singers (or bands) on the same stage with artists from other genres. Past pairings have included Rascal Flatts and the band Journey, Emmylou Harris and Mumford & Sons, and Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler.
According to CMT, Lady Angebellum (which consists of Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood) and Nicks will share “harmonies and stories” during the program. The episode combining Nicks with Lady Antebellum is scheduled to air Sept. 13.
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According to Rolling Stone, Nicks said she often has mixed feelings about others covering her song “Edge of Seventeen” but that she’ll be singing it with Lady Antebellum during the episode.
“I’m proud to share it with Lady Antebellum, because they’re good enough to do it,” the singer said.
During the show, Nicks’ other songs “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” will be performed as well as Lady Antebellum’s tunes “Need You Now,” “Golden,” and “Love Don’t Live Here,” according to CMT.
The concert was filmed in Los Angeles.
Nicks, who is a member of the band Fleetwood Mac, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 with the rest of the group and has released seven solo albums. She recently toured with other members of the band – Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, and John McVie – through North America and the group is embarking on a European and Australian part of the tour later this year.
Lady Antebellum won the Best Country Album Grammy Award for “Own the Night” in 2012 and took the “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year” titles in 2011. The group will also be embarking on a tour this fall.
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