“Get yourself ahead,” Nucky Thompson muses after a drink or seven. “For what, though? For what? No one ever talks about that.” Boardwalk Empire, like so many other antihero shows, is not exactly known for celebrating high-minded idealism over moral ambiguity—which is exactly what makes “The Devil You Know” such a standout episode. Character deaths are hardly unusual, and par for the course in the run-up to a series finale. But characters asking what’s worth dying for, and who deserves to die, and for what? For a show centered around someone as stubbornly amoral as Nucky, that’s as far off course as it gets. … Read More
Michael K. Williams
Paul Thomas Anderson took five years to make his 2007 oil epic There Will Be Blood. He took another five years to make 2012’s Scientology-inspired The Master. He banged out his adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice in two, and you can feel the difference—in the best possible way. The two films that preceded it marked the filmmaker’s transition from wunderkind to Serious Artist; by turns wrenching, challenging, and borderline impenetrable, they plunged the depths of American history and the American soul. Vice, by contrast, is a slang-y, breezy lark, a picture whose two-and-a-half-hour running time, Oscar-friendly release date, and premiere as the Centerpiece selection at the New York Film Festival make it sound like a more important movie than it is—or, more importantly, than Anderson seems to think it is. After a decade spent making two films that are like pressure cookers, he was clearly ready to blow off some steam. … Read More
Hey there reader, been to the movies lately? If the box office reports are any indication, I’m guessing not — and who can blame you? We’re currently in the weird dead zone between the tentpole blockbusters of the summer and the prestige, Oscar-friendly pictures (and, increasingly, tentpole blockbusters) of the fall. But relief will be here soon enough, so in the interest of helping you mark up your movie-going calendar, we’re looking ahead to the fall films we’re anticipating most. … Read More
In a Parks and Rec-like move, HBO’s well-regarded period drama Boardwalk Empire will begin its final season a full seven years after its… Read More
“Your story, it is amazing. And in no good way,” Bass (Brad Pitt) tells Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) near the end of 12 Years a Slave, the remarkable new film from director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame). He’s right; Northup was a real man, an educated, sophisticated, free black man from Saratoga, New York who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Yet his extraordinary narrative (adapted by John Ridley from Northup’s memoir) is not why 12 Years a Slave is such a powerful experience. It is because of the vividness with which McQueen dramatizes the utter brutality of Northup’s everyday life as man treated as though he were less than one. … Read More
Steve McQueen’s second feature film (and second collaboration with actor Michael Fassbender), 2011’s Shame, was a controversial and somewhat… Read More
You know you have to watch The Wire sooner or later, like every other politically progressive fan of quality television. It’s basically a social responsibility. But every time you’re just about to take the plunge, some other, inferior but more fun-sounding show beckons to you. How do you live with the guilt? Well, now you don’t have to, because Funny or Die has created The Wire: The Musical, a 90-minute song-and-dance extravaganza — OK, a four-minute trailer for a 90-minute song-and-dance extravaganza — that condenses all five seasons into one entertaining spectacle. The hilarious clip stars none other than Omar himself, Michael K. Williams, along with a slew of other The Wire stars and features songs with such lyrics as, “There are complex problems / Inherent in the bureaucratic institutions of the state / But there’s no one to blame / It’s a vast array of personal interests that conflict in a way that undermines the overall system.” Watch it below, and laugh harder at The Wire than you ever thought possible. … Read More
Tomorrow marks the opening day of the Sundance Film Festival, the annual winter movie orgy/buyer’s market/excuse to party for those who make, buy, watch, and act in independent films (or what passes for independent, in this IMAX 3-D superhero climate). Your humble film editor is traveling to Park City (for the first time) to take it all in: the swag, the hobnobbing, the VIP parties. Or he may just end up going to movies all day and staying up all night writing stuff about them. That’s probably a bit more likely.
Taking on the screening schedule is a bit daunting; the festival is screening 110 feature-length films from 31 countries, and, well, there’s only so many hours in the day. (If you think that’s heavy, it’s worth noting that the number of submissions was up to 4,042 films. Yikes.) But I think I’ve plucked out the cream of the crop; I’ll probably find out that I’m wrong, that the movie I missed to see the Sean-Penn-as-an-emo-Nazi-hunter movie (yes, that’s real) ends up winning the competition and getting picked up for $5 million by the Weinstein Company. But until that happens, here’s the ten Sundance films I’m most looking forward to. … Read More
The Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle I Don’t Know How She Does It, in which Ms. Jessica Parker plays a woman has both children and a career OMG HOW DOES SHE DO IT, is out this week on DVD, giving you another opportunity to not see it. But the most confusing aspect of IDKHSDI (besides the fact that it exists) is its supporting cast, which is just full of people we like: Christina Hendricks, Seth Meyers, Jane Curtin, Busy Phillips, Kelsey Grammer, Greg Kinnear… and Pierce Brosnan. Wait, what? What’s Pierce Brosnan doing filling a supporting role in a warmed-over Sex in the City retread? He was JAMES FRICKING BOND, for God’s sake.
Brosnan is but one of many actors who either used to be A-list or should be, yet have inexplicably fallen to B-list status. Sometimes it’s voluntary; some actors choose to concentrate on smaller, supporting roles, or to focus on stage work and the like. But more often than not, a couple of unfortunate moves can create a narrative as to what kind of an actor someone is — what they can do, both qualitatively and financially — and that becomes the common wisdom. It’s a crap shoot. After the jump, we’ll take a look at ten actors who aren’t getting the kind of work they deserve. … Read More