The Leftovers 1.4 – “B.J. and the A.C.”

Right down to the title of the show, The Leftovers isn’t necessarily one for subtlety. Any time something isn’t where it’s supposed to be, a parallel is drawn to the mysterious Departure that inexplicably claimed 2% of the world’s population. This is Drama, capital D, and these people have Problems, capital P, and sitting down to an hour of cap-D plus cap-P — especially “B.J. and the A.C.” — can end up being too much CAPS LOCK to handle if you’re not ready for it. But on one level The Leftovers sacrifices subtlety intentionally, I think, allowing for clarity instead. Supreme clarity, in fact, and one that should make nearly every other show on television envious.

Take the opening Breaking Bad-esque montage of “B.J. and the A.C.”:

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Deception (1992)

Okay. I just put on Deception, streaming on Netflix. Looks and sounds fairly enticing in an early-’90s Juror/Basic Instinct/Malice sort of way. It’s got Liam Neeson and Viggo Mortensen, both of whom I’m eager to see in a movie together, and Andie MacDowell, whom I really know nothing about. I’ve seen Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral, so maybe it will be interesting to see her in a drama. The poster has moody lighting and Neeson is standing behind MacDowell in a subtly menacing way, suggesting that Deception is a cat-and-mouse game of, well, deception.

Okay! This sounds pretty exciting! Let’s get this movie started!

…….wow. Did David Lynch direct the credit sequence? That wasn’t very intense at all — oh, but I get it, I’m being deceived.

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Film & TV News: September 9

News

  • Christopher Nolan has announced his next film will hit theaters in 2017, but that’s all we know. Besides Michael Caine.
  • Netflix has picked up the fantastic Charlie Brooker series Black Mirror for more original episodes, which is welcome news for those dreading the proposed American remake. For those who’ve yet to see the show, take the first episode with a grain of salt. From the second episode onwards, you’ll be hooked.
  • Spectre‘s theme song “Writing’s on the Wall” will be theme sung by Sam Smith, the first British male solo artist to do Bond since Thunderball‘s Tom Jones.
  • The Force Awakens will be opening one day early in the U.K., as if I needed another reason to move to Europe.

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Regarding Henry (1991)

The upcoming Star Wars movie won’t mark the first time Harrison Ford and J.J. Abrams have crossed paths. As the 1980s became the 1990s and Harrison Ford traded in Han Solo, Deckard and Indy for a string of lawyers, doctors, politicians and playboys, the young writer Jeffrey Abrams was just getting his start. His first singlehanded script was Regarding Henry, a story about a heart-of-ice lawyer who is irrevocably changed by a horrific accident, and he scored big time with Ford and director Mike Nichols coming on board to bring his script to the screen.

Thankfully, even though Ford’s ’80s history is repeating itself with returns to Star Wars, Blade Runner and possibly Indiana Jones, Abrams has matured out of his Regarding Henry self and doesn’t appear to be looking back. A solid cast and crew does not a solid movie make, and Henry is far more by-the-numbers than you might expect from the Ford/Nichols/Abrams triumvirate. There must have been something in the water in Hollywood in the ’90s, as Henry takes a prominent station in the decade’s prized Overly-Emotional Tearjerker Oscar-Bait category.

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The Leftovers 1.3 – “Two Boats and a Helicopter”

Alongside the sixth episode “Guest”, “Two Boats and a Helicopter” provides the most effective hour of character drama in the stellar first season of The Leftovers. The first episode to zoom in on a single character depicts the sad struggle of Reverend Matt Jamison, portrayed with suitable passion by Christopher Eccleston, in the wake of the mysterious Departure. The first and second hours showed glimpses of Matt, passing out flyers at a rally that damn the Departed rather than deify them. “It was not the Rapture!” maintains Matt. In “Two Boats and a Helicopter”, he reveals what he thinks the Departure actually was: a test.

And his sister Nora sums up one side of the episode with perfect succinctness: “if it was a test, I think you might be failing it.” Thus is his post-non-Rapture existence a continuous test of faith wherein Matt attempts to hold onto his beliefs in the face of that unthinkable and impossible event. Matt’s story keeps turning in on itself, offering hope in one instant and ripping it away just as quickly. It’s a cruel-seeming existence, one that forces Matt to eventually view the smallest of occurrences as a direct sign from God. After a certain point, the letdowns are more or less inevitable.

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White God (2014)

One of the most egregious snubs in the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences concerns last year’s Best Actor trophy, and no, it has nothing to do with Leonardo DiCaprio. Eddie Redmayne walked away with the Oscar for his turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and indeed his performance was groundbreaking and heartfelt. But it pales in comparison to the tour de force delivered by Body, the Hungarian star of Kornél Mundruczó’s White God, in his role as the tortured, tragic, life-loving, revenge-seeking, slobber-mouthed Hagen. Due respect to Redmayne, but Body’s performance is simply one of the most emotional and drool-covered performances in years.

As a young actor Body was met with obstacle after obstacle as he tried to make ends meet while pursuing his craft. He auditioned for some of the most iconic roles of our time and even received a callback for The Beast from The Sandlot, but the dude who played Mr. Mertle claimed Body was “impossible to work with” and cited the Hungarian-English language barrier as a primary qualm. He was an extra in Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch but soon disowned the film and distanced himself from the creative vision of the entire Air Bud series. Body struggled to be taken seriously as an actor, forced to take work in Iams commercials and as a busboy of sorts in the alley behind an L.A. hotspot.

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