The summer movie season is a swimming pool. This is the diving board.
Here’s our list of news that didn’t get a full post over the last couple of months, but probably deserved it – our commentary on items worth discussing. All opinions are just that, but as always feel free to post your own in the space provided. Thanks, and have a fun holiday weekend.
1. Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life won the Palme D’Or at the 64th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 22, despite a contentious reception that had some people booing its screening while others cheered. By some accounts, the film – about the meaning of life in the cosmos filtered through the life of a 1950s Texas family – is Malick as his most – well, Malick, and audience’s take on it will likely depend on how well they appreciate the writer-director’s meditative style.
Kirsten Dunst won best actress for her starring role in auteur provacateur Lars Von Trier’s apocalyptic thriller Melancholia. French actor Jean DeJardin won best actor, for his performance in the period romance The Artist.
Tree of Life opens May 27 in selected cities; Melancholia opens November 4. As of press time The Artist has no US release date listed on IMDB.
2. Going from controversial success to almost unmitigated failure, director Jodi Foster’s attempt to resuscitate buddy Mel Gibson’s career with the odd melodrama The Beaver opened to just $107,000 in limited release May 8, with subsequent box office so small that distributor Summit Entertainment has scrapped plans for a wide release. The film earned mixed reviews, alongside the predictable speculation about the state of Gibson’s career moving forward.
As a comeback vehicle, The Beaver is probably just too weird: Gibson ‘s last effort, the far more conventional revenge thriller Edge of Darkness, broke even on its $80 million budget in worldwide release.
We were going to post a trailer for The Beaver but the hell with it. Here’s the drug bust scene from Lethal Weapon instead:
Did Riggs every get that Christmas tree? We’ll never know.
3. As long as we’re on the subject of failure, here’s a recipe for how to tank one of the year’s most promising television dramas: put it on extended hiatus, release the cast member with the organized, devoted fan base, and then reschedule it behind a drama that was doomed almost from its start, runnning the episodes blatantly out of their production order. That’s what NBC had the brains to do with Law & Order: Los Angeles, the latest incarnation of the aging franchise but a worthy successor to the “mothership” original series that the Peacock Network canned last year.
Had the show continued, its breakout star would likely have been Corey Stoll, whose Detective Tomas “TJ” Jaruszalski gave laid-back California mellow a fresh coat of cool. On that note, NBC’s The Event (the show’s ill-starred lead-in) features Jason Ritter, Ian Anthony Dale, Taylor Cole and Sarah Roemer, whom we see as some of the biggest stars of 2013 or so.
4. From the “we should have reviewed this a while back” desk: A&E’s original drama Breakout Kings continues to surprise with its shrewdly intelligent writing, building all its half-dozen interpersonal tensions to a slow boil week by week. The cast’s chemistry, bumpy in the first episodes, has improved as the show nears the end of its first season (to middling ratings).
Jimmy Simpson, formerly the scene-stealing Liam McPoyle on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, brings the best work playing a gambling-addict psychiatrist, and plotlines often pause to let him take center stage with his Hannibal-Lector-gone-geek weirdness. Meanwhile The Wire‘s Domenick Lombardozzi has a beefy intensity that evokes the early work of Gene Hackman, and Laz Alonzo (Avatar) brings retro cool to the center straight-man role.
Breakout Kings‘ season finale airs May 29.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides had a $90 million opening weekend, the biggest of the year so far, but some analysts wonder if even that amount has Disney shivering its timbers. The studio predicted the film would enjoy a $100 million opener – an amount still less than the openings for the series’ two previous installments – but that analysts likely felt was conservative given the additional revenue from 3-D and IMAX showings.
Already the subject of lukewarm reviews, the film faces stiff competition in the coming weeks for the all-important 18-49 demographic, with The Hangover 2 opening this weekend and X-Men: First Class the week after.
6. A better show than anyone who’s never seen it realizes, FX’s Archer is much more than the genre-spoofing jokes its tame promos would indicate. Not for the faint of heart or gentle of stomach, it’s nevertheless a very smart, very dark comedy that most often recalls the first-season heyday of Arrested Development (partly a small wonder, given the bevy of AD veterans among its voice cast.)
Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) is the premiere secret agent for the quasi-governmental agency ISIS, run by his domineering, emotionally withholding mother (Jessica Walter) and staffed by a crew of sexual degenerates and deviants (voiced by, among others, Judy Greer and Chris Parnell.) Arrogant but achingly aware that his stunted maturity comes from a miserable childhood, Archer carries out missions with fellow spy and bittersweetheart Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) while avoiding the machinations of the KGB, rival spy organization ODIN, and pretty much the entire world. Meanwhile the ISIS staff carries on workplace satire that would strip the paint off NBC’s cute/wacky/cute Thursday night sitcoms.
The second season recently concluded, with reruns currently appearing sporadically amid FX’s schedule.
7. With The Dark Knight Rises officially in production as of last week, the film’s official site released this picture of Tom Hardy (Inception) as the monstrous gang boss known as Bane.
In the comics, Bane is a criminal genius who uses a volatile steroid known as Venom to augment his musculature, giving him incredible strength and terrific rage. Raised from childhood in the Caribbean prison of Pena Dura but eventually dominating its inmates through sheer intimidation, he journeyed to Gotham City to beat that city’s own “ruler by fear” – Batman. In his bid to conquer Gotham’s underworld he fought the hero hand-to-hand in a brutal Batcave-set duel that ended when he snapped Batman’s spine.
Currently reformed, more or less, he works with other villains-for-hire The Secret Six, whose perversely witty book is among the best DC publishes each month. Bane also previously appeared in 1997′s little-loved Batman and Robin, where he was played by the late wrestler Jeep Swenson.
8. Finally, because no one wants to work when the weather is nice, here’s Christian Bale in a clip from the unfairly ignored Harsh Times to help you articulate your workplace frustrations. Just let his words ring through your head when your coworkers annoy or frustrate.
We have a review of this film and several other worth-seeing Bale films in this feature from 2009. Finally, it should go without saying but nothing about his clip is SFW.
We’ll return next week with a review of The Hangover 2. Thanks for reading.
- Michael Kabel