Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Andre Holland
Every time Hollywood releases another civil rights sports movie, it calls to mind comedian Bill Burr’s funny bit about white guilt, because audiences have been inundated with so many of these films recently that they’ve begun to lose the potency of their message. Of course, if you are going to make another civil rights sports movie, the story of Jackie Robinson is pretty much the definitive version, so it’s surprising that only one other film (“The Jackie Robinson Story”) has been made on the subject, and that movie starred the famous baseball player as himself. It’s probably because no matter how inspiring Robinson’s tale may be, he’s not a particularly interesting figure apart from his contribution to history, and that’s something that director Brian Helgeland constantly wrestles with in “42.”
Unlike most biopics, the film only covers three years of Robinson’s life, beginning in 1945 when he was still playing in the Negro league after serving in World War II. Spring training has just begun and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) has decided to make the bold move to break the color line and bring the first black player into the National League. Initially assigned to the Dodgers’ minor league team in Montreal, Jackie (Chadwick Boseman) must overcome immense racism from both the fans and his teammates, much to the concern of his wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) and black sports journalist Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), who’s aware that there’s much more at stake than Jackie realizes. But instead of lashing out against his detractors like everyone is expecting, Robinson lets his talent do the talking on the baseball field, eventually earning a spot with the Dodgers and leading them to the pennant in his first year.
Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen
After watching Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine,” it was clear that the writer/director would be one to watch for the future, even if the anti-romance film wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. His follow-up feature, “The Place Beyond the Pines,” reunites Cianfrance with his “Blue Valentine” star Ryan Gosling, and though the movie is hindered by its own set of problems, the multi-generational crime drama makes good on the potential he showcased in his directorial debut. While it’s difficult to talk about the movie without wading knee-high into spoiler territory, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is an impressive piece of American filmmaking that’s every bit as compelling as it is annoyingly flawed.
The movie’s triptych structure is like watching three separate but interconnecting films, and Cianfrance kicks things off with what is easily the best of the bunch as we’re introduced to Luke Glanton (Gosling), a motorcycle stunt driver who reconnects with a former one-night stand named Romina (Eva Mendes) at the local fair where he plies his trade. When he learns that Romina has given birth to his son, Luke agrees to quit his nomadic job and stay in town, even though Romina has already moved on with another man. Determined to do his fatherly duties and provide for his son, Luke decides to put his unique skills to use and start robbing banks, placing him on a collision course with rookie policeman Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), an honest family man who gave up his promising career as a lawyer to serve on the force. After becoming privy to some dirty cops in the department, however, Avery must decide what’s more important: his integrity or loyalty to his brothers in blue.
Leah Gibson may not have a deep background in American television, but she’s breaking into the field in a big way as one of the stars of DirecTV’s first original series, “Rogue.” Bullz-Eye chatted with Gibson during the January 2013 Television Critics Association press tour, where we got some details about the show, including how she found her way into her character, as well as her reflection on being a part, albeit a small one, of the “Twilight” franchise.
Bullz-Eye: So how are you enjoying “Rogue”?
Leah Gibson: It’s great! I’ve never done anything on this scale before. I’m from the west coast of Canada, so I’ve lived in Vancouver for the last five or six years and worked on different TV shows…guest stars, recurrings, whatever…and had some small roles in some big features, like “Twilight” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” But being a part of this show feels very different. It’s a very wonderfully written series that’s been an absolute joy to be a part of. The characters are very in-depth, and the intricacies between their relationships are just a joy to explore from script to script. Being a part of it has felt very much like being part of a 10-hour film, in a way, and I certainly have never seen anything of the like in Vancouver while I’ve been there. So being the token “foreigner” with all these Brits… [Laughs.] It’s been a whole different vibe on set and everything than I’ve been used to!
BE: Can you talk a bit about your character, Cathy Laszlo?
LG: Yes! Cathy Laszlo is…I’m the devoted wife to a hot-headed gangster, Alec Laszlo (Joshua Sasse), who’s the eldest son of Jimmy (Marton Csokas), who’s basically a crimelord. The Laszlos in general are a very infamous crime family, and my husband is very sort of… [Hesitates.] A lot of muscle, not so much brain. He often creates a mess for others to clean up, and my character sort of represents his foundation, his support network, the thought behind his action. I come to influence him in taking advantage of certain opportunities and claiming the status that goes along with those things at what turns out to be at a very high cost to our family.
BE: How much of the character was already on the page when you came to the role, and how much were you able to bring to her? Were there any aspects that were added?
LG: That’s an interesting question. You know, I went through a handful of auditions before I was booked on this job, and initially the sides for my character were sort of…I could tell that there was more being alluded to than was on the page, and as an actor with limited knowledge of where the show is going to go, you don’t want to make any really solid choices and, y’know, sort of make the wrong decision. I heard at some point that I was no longer being considered for the role, but then I got a phone call saying they’d like me for a chemistry reading with Joshua. So I went in and met Josh, and we did our thing, and we workshopped a couple of scenes with Nick Hamm, the executive producer, and…it was only then that I started to realize where they were really going with Cathy.
And then I showed up on set and, really, to be honest, I was very much informed by the wardrobe, the hair, and the makeup. It was a total transformation for this character. I’d never physically played a role like this before, so it was kind of a joy to embrace the character in a physical sense and be informed by the wardrobe, and the specific choices about the hair and makeup. She’s decked out to the nines, long nails, long, big hair, heavy makeup. I’m, like, “Okay, I get it.” So I would step onto set and just feel a different energy. And I had a few comments from…y’know, I’d worked with some of the crew members before on various different productions in Vancouver, and they’re, like, “Oh, my God, I didn’t even recognize you!” So it’s such a joy to play something like that, and to really physically feel it that way.
James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel, Danny Sapani
Danny Boyle is one of the few directors working today whose projects are almost always met with fervent excitement, and that’s certainly the case with “Trance.” Though moviegoers were forced to wait a few years for Boyle’s much-anticipated follow-up to “127 Hours” – due to other engagements on stage (the National Theatre production of “Frankenstein”) and for his country (the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony) – the delay seemed well worth it following the news that he would be reteaming with frequent collaborator John Hodge (“Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting”). In retrospect, my expectations were probably set a little too high, because although “Trance” is an entertaining psychological thriller, it doesn’t quite live up to Boyle’s more recent, award-winning work.
The film’s whiz-bang opening sets the stage when art auctioneer Simon (James McAvoy) teams up with a group of criminals to steal Francisco Goya’s 1798 masterpiece “Witches in the Air” during an auction in progress. Everything is going according to plan when Simon suffers a blow to the head during the heist, only to awaken with no memory of where he hid the painting. When more conventional methods (i.e. torture) prove ineffective, the gang’s leader Franck (Vincent Cassel) hires hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to dig deep into Simon’s psyche and help jog his memory. But as Simon starts to piece together his broken subconscious, he becomes increasingly suspicious of Franck and Elizabeth’s ulterior motives, reconfirming why he chose to stash the painting in the first place.
Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez,
Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore
It’s hard to watch “Evil Dead” after seeing “The Cabin in the Woods,” and not just because the movie takes place in a cabin in the woods. On the one hand, it’s admirable that director Fede Alvarez went to great lengths to keep this, a remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 game-changing original, grounded in a style similar to the source material. (Case in point: there isn’t a single piece of technology used in this movie that didn’t already exist in 1981.) On the other hand, this type of movie has either been borrowed or parodied approximately six million times in the 32 years since its release, and as a result, the story structure seems less retro than it does arcane. No amount of blood can wash that away, though God knows they tried.
David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) meet up at his family’s desolate, run-down cabin with David’s sister Mia (Jane Levy) and old friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) for the purposes of helping Mia quit heroin cold turkey. Mia swears the house smells horrendous, though no one else seems to notice but the dog (yes, the dog), and after some prodding, the group uncovers some ghastly atrocities in the cellar, along with a book wrapped in barbed wire. Eric pries the book open and, despite the fact that there are warnings etched into the pages advising the reader not to write, read, or say any of the words the previous owners tried to hide, proceeds to do all three of those things, which unleashes an unspeakable demon that possesses Mia, and then spends the rest of the evening toying with the others while slowly plotting to kill them all.
With their 50 year anniversary at hand, the Rolling Stones will be touring in the US and Canada. The band really isn’t the same these days, but for die hard fans, or those fans who want take advantage of perhaps their last chance to see this legendary band, this will be welcome news.
After 200 episodes of “That ’70s Show,” Danny Masterson would be well within his rights to stay away from sitcom work for the rest of his life, reasonably claiming, “I’ve done my time,” but to hear him talk about the experience of doing TBS’s “Men at Work,” which returns for its second season tomorrow night at 10pm, there’s no question that he’s doing something that makes him very happy, indeed. Bullz-Eye talked to Masterson in conjunction with the start of the show’s new season, and he chatted about how his character, Milo, has changed a bit, which guest stars he’s most enjoyed, and why he prefers sitcom gigs over hour-long dramas.
Bullz-Eye: Just the fact that “Men at Work” has gotten a second season, period, has got to be pretty thrilling in and of itself, but how was it to go back to work for season two?
Danny Masterson: You know, it’s funny: we actually only took about six weeks off, so we didn’t feel like we had a whole summer hiatus. We just took six weeks, and then we kept going with the same director and same crew, so it just feels like a really long first season that we’ve shot. We just had a lot of excellent new guest stars, I guess.
BE: Yeah, the list is pretty impressive.
DM: Thanks! I think it’s sort of a benefit of having both Breckin (Meyer) and I both working since we were little kids. We’ve worked with a lot of people who are known actors, so it’s fun to sort of bring those friends in to work with you for a bit.
BE: When you guys came onto the series, how well-defined were the characters on the page versus what they became once they were actually cast?
DM: You know, I think they were pretty well defined. Breckin sort of based them off…well, he based my character, Milo, off himself. [Laughs.] And the three friends are based off of his three best friends. So pretty much everybody knew exactly who they were in the beginning. And then, obviously, as you’re going through the episodes, you sort of change your characters a little bit to make them suited towards you a little bit, just in terms of everyone’s own personalities. But I’d say 95% is exactly how Breckin wrote it to begin with.
BE: Did the cast bond pretty quickly?
DM: Yeah, I’d say so. I’ve known James Lesure for…I dunno, maybe 10 years. I hadn’t met Adam (Busch) or (Michael) Cassidy before, but, y’know, right from the table read everyone was really excited to have a really cool job, so… I get along with everybody, and they’re all really great people. Three totally different personalities, but we’ve never had a single fight. I mean, it’s only been two years, obviously, so we’ll probably wrestle at some point. [Laughs.] But they’re really fun. Everyone’s really stoked to have a good job, we all enjoy it, and as long as the writing stays good – and the writing’s been really good – I think we’ll all stay really happy.
April has always been an odd month for new releases, particularly now that the spring movie season doesn’t really exist anymore, at least not in the minds of studios. Instead, everything seems to be split into two groups: films that fit the summer mold and those that don’t. But while moviegoers will be pretty limited with their options this month, it’s definitely one of the more promising Aprils in recent memory.
Who: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas and Lou Taylor Pucci What: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. When: April 5th Why: Remakes are always a worrying proposition, especially for fans of the original film, but when it was announced that Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert were behind the modern-day update of “Evil Dead,” there was a collective sigh of relief. After all, who better to trust then the trio responsible for the 1981 cult original? It’s also nice to know that the film isn’t just a rehashing of Raimi’s first movie, but rather a whole new story with new characters in an otherwise familiar setting, and if the early buzz from the film’s world premiere at last month’s SXSW festival is any indication, Fede Alvarez’s remake/reboot/sequel (whatever you want to call it) has everything horror fans could possibly want – namely, the gooey red stuff, and plenty of it.
Who: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel and Danny Sapani What: An art auctioneer mixed up with a group of criminals teams up with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting. When: April 5th Why: Danny Boyle’s follow-up to “127 Hours” can’t get here quick enough, especially after being delayed by the director’s other engagements on stage (the National Theatre production of “Frankenstein”) and for his country (the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony). His new movie is a return to roots of sorts, reteaming with frequent collaborator John Hodge (“Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting”) for the kind of gritty, edgy crime thriller that he cut his teeth making in the mid-90s. It’ll be interesting to see what Boyle brings to the genre now that he’s a more mature and wiser filmmaker, because “Trance” looks a lot more experimental than his recent work, and despite its “Inception”-like premise, that’s probably the most exciting thing of all.
Sporting some off the wall categories like “Elephant, Mustard, Teddy Roosevelt, or Dracula?,” and college grad level questions (“Suppose Jackson Pollock had become a sandwich artist at Subway. What would his supervisor have noted about his performance?”), there has never been a game with same sense of humor or style that “You Don’t Know Jack” has, which is why it was great to see it make a fairly recent comeback on systems, mobile platforms, and even Facebook.
If you’ve already tried that series and just can’t get enough, then you’ll be happy to know the creators of “You Don’t Know Jack” have a new game out that takes everything great about the YDKJ series, and applies it to a new, yet familiar concept.
Called “Lie Swatter,” it tasks you with choosing a category and an opponent (who can be selected amongst your friends or at random), then looking over a series of flies and bugs, each with a statement on them. To win, you have to swat the ones with statements that are lies.
Sound simple? Well then you truly don’t know jack, as the catch here again is that these categories and statements are all incredibly obscure and absurd. Often, every single statement will read like a bold faced lie, due to how outright bizarre they are. Choosing the right one often comes down to luck and deductive reasoning as much as direct knowledge of the subject.
It can be tough then trying to push ahead, but its helpful that the humor and the styled presentation of “YDKJ” are back in full force, as you’ll not only laugh your ass off reading and sorting out the statements, but learn something about each topic along the way. While not as diverse in its questions, themes, round types, or general gameplay as “You Don’t Know Jack,” it does provide a condensed experience of the best that series offers, with only a few app related hiccups (go for the ad-free and unlimited play $1.99 option to save yourself most of the trouble).
Trivia apps are a dime a dozen, or often cheaper, on mobile platforms, but “Lie Swatter” gets those crucial lightning round bonus points in the competition by being deceivingly simple, incredibly addictive, and most importantly drop dead hilarious. In a game all about separating lies from truth, there can be no doubt “Lie Swatter” is the app of the week.
Whenever I attend the Television Critics Association press tour, be it the summer event in Beverly Hills or the winter event in Pasadena, I invariably walk away from the proceedings with at least one interview—but generally several—done in conjunction with a series I barely know the slightest thing about, save for whatever’s been put in the press releases sent out by the network.
This, as you might have guessed, is precisely what I experienced when I went into the room at the Langham Huntington Hotel which served as a temporary home base for the publicists of BBC America and was introduced to the cast of “Orphan Black. “
Fortunately, the young trio awaiting my arrival—Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, and Dylan Bruce—had already been dealing with this problem with the interviewers who’d preceded me, as I was their last chat of the day. As such, they had a sense of humor about the situation…which worked out quite well, as I’d decided to throw caution to the wind and have a bit of a laugh about it myself.
Bullz-Eye: Well, as you know, you have me—and everybody else here—at a tremendous disadvantage, since I haven’t been able to see the pilot of “Orphan Black” yet.”
Jordan Gavaris: Ugh, I know.
Tatiana Maslany: We haven’t even finished shooting the series yet!
Dylan Bruce: How often does that happen to you guys?
BE: It…happens. Maybe 10-20% of the time. It’s certainly not unheard of.
TM: Okay, ‘cause when we’re done here, we go back to shooting Episode 7…no, wait, 6!
JG: Episode 6, yeah.
TM: So we’re not even halfway through shooting yet!