Tag Archives: Woody Harrelson

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The final installment of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay – Part 2, received relatively little fanfare compared to the releases of the previous films. Though it is probably fair to say that the interest dwindled after Catching Fire due to many audiences feeling the series had become “too dark,” it wasn’t really until after Mockingjay – Part 1 that the general fan base seemed to disappear entirely.

For me, the issue with the Hunger Games film series is relatively simple: it is neither brutal enough nor committed enough to what the essence of the Hunger Games story is.

I read all of the books in the Hunger Games series, and remember that I felt a similar disinterest about the final book as I did with the final film. It just seemed that the idea had run its course by the end of Catching Fire, and that anything that followed the second book’s publication was just a feeble attempt to bring in more money and to wrap up a story that didn’t particularly need more wrapping.

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Film & TV News: September 16

News

  • The Toronto International Film Festival continues to champion small, independent art-house efforts while the vast majority of us sit back and continue to pretend to care. Meanwhile, the King Kong and Godzilla franchises are merging.
  • In other festival news, the 53rd New York Film Festival kicks off in just over a week. Check out the teaser for the festival below, and be sure to check back in our Event Series archive for reviews of Miles Ahead, The Measure of a Man, a special screening of O Brother, Where Art Thou? and many more.
  • War of the Planet of the Apes has cast Woody Harrelson as the primary villain, which is much more exciting after you’ve seen Harrelson’s twisted turn in Out of the Furnace.
  • Oliver Stone’s Snowden has been pushed to 2016 because of a leak or something.

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True Detective 2.1 – “The Western Book of the Dead”

Most everyone is comparing last night’s premiere of True Detective‘s second season with all of the highs of the first, which is both an inevitability (it’s True Detective, after all) and an exercise in futility. For the purposes of our Season 2 reviews we’ll be largely ignoring Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson’s Marty Hart (trying, anyway) although some comparisons do hold favorably with the current cast of characters. Our recent piece “A Man Without a Family” touched on the various family circles throughout the first season, and it’s clear in characters like Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro and Rachel McAdams’s Ani Bezzerides that some themes are inherent to the show regardless of which season we’re in.

“The Western Book of the Dead” was jam-packed with stuff, juggling a handful of protagonists and delving into flashbacks and allusions to mysterious pasts. Ray, a California cop in the Vinci Police Department, is introduced to us as the father of a young boy. The kid’s afraid of his classmates picking on him, but Ray seems tender and loving in his encouragements. “Be proud,” he says. When we discover that Velcoro’s kid is likely  product of the years-ago violent rape of his wife, our picture of Ray the Loving Father starts to disintegrate. By the end of the episode he’s ripped into his son, driven to the home of the kid that’s been bullying him, and beaten the father of that kid to hell while making the kid watch. The beauty in the fact of watching this scene on Father’s Day is not lost on me.

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True Detective 1.4 – “Who Goes There”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

After a two-week hiatus, True Detective roared back last night with one of the most intense episodes of television you’re likely to find. Major developments in the Dora Lange case in 1995 and a twist in the recounting of that case in 2012 were highlights — but an unbroken, heart-in-your-throat tracking shot of the eruption of a street battle brought the HBO series to a whole new level. Spoilers follow for the fourth episode “Who Goes There”.

When we left Cohle and Hart two weeks ago (read the review here), the fourth hour seemed set up for greatness. A gun battle alluded to during the interviews of 2012, along with the arrival of one Reggie Ledoux, promised both action and developments in the Dora Lange case. Both were needed, as the Lange case had been stewing at a low boil for a few weeks and the closest we’d come to an action sequence was a brief tussle between Cohle and Hart in the locker room. And we did indeed receive both — but what we got wasn’t at all what was expected.

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True Detective 1.3 – “The Locked Room”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Horror creeps ever closer in the third hour of True Detective, and Rust Cohle and Martin Hart may not be doing all they can to slow the arrival. After last week’s episode “Seeing Things” revealed more about both characters, the most recent entry in the eight-part season dug still deeper into the good and the bad inside the detectives portrayed by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson — but mostly the bad. Spoilers follow for the third episode “The Locked Room”.

Not long ago, if you told me the hunky McConaughey and the thick-jawed slacker Harrelson would be in a show together and the latter would be the one involved in a love triangle, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. In a distinct continuation of the character arc presented in the first two episodes, Harrelson’s Hart is far from the family man he pretends to be, and his treatment of the women in his life seems increasingly self-centered. Though he is drunk, the scene where he barges in on his younger lover (Alexandra Daddario) and beats the hell out of the kid she’s with still shows Hart’s penchant for quick violence in much the way Cohle’s sudden flare of brutality with the mechanic in last week’s episode showed a similar capacity. These are men with morals but they are also bad men, inescapably, calling to mind Marlon Brando’s musings as Kurtz near the end of Apocalypse Now, seeking “men who are moral, and at the same time…without feeling…without passion…without judgment…without judgment.”

Continue reading True Detective 1.3 – “The Locked Room”

True Detective 1.2 – “Seeing Things”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

After a strong, stimulating pilot episode last week, True Detective returned with a second episode that further steeped us in the characters of Rust Cohle and Martin Hart. Headway is made on the murder investigation, but True Detective continues to emphasize the characters over the plot. Spoilers follow for the second episode “Seeing Things”.

Last week, the 1995 murder of Dora Lange brought State Police Detectives Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Hart (Woody Harrelson) together for the investigation while their disproportionate attitudes kept them distanced outside of work. A connection was made between the Lange murder and the shady disappearance of the young Fontenot girl years earlier, but other than that very few pieces of the puzzle can be placed by the young detectives. The pilot episode also introduced a part of the story unfolding seventeen years after the Dora Lange murder, and in 2012 Cohle and Hart are seemingly estranged, definitely changed from the men they used to be, but somehow definitely still the same.

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True Detective 1.1 – “The Long Bright Dark”

This review appeared shortly after the initial premiere of True Detective in early 2014 — slight edits have been made since the original posting.

Touch darkness, says the promotional poster for HBO’s latest series True Detective, and darkness touches you back. A tagline like this is all too generic these days, paired with a moody title card or a black-and-white shot of the strong-willed protagonist of a new film or television series. True Detective’s ad campaign has all of that — but one thing to take away from the pilot episode, which aired Sunday night in the US, is that the weighty tagline is rightfully deserved. Spoilers follow for the first episode “The Long Bright Dark”.

Conceived as an anthology series (more on that in a bit), True Detective’s first season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as newly-paired State Police Detectives in backwater Louisiana. The year is 1995, and the detectives are still operating in an awkward alliance as they begin an investigation into a gruesome murder. The victim’s name is Dora Lange, and it’s already clear that her case is a driving element of this season — and yet the vast majority of “The Long Bright Dark” is spent with McConaughey and Harrelson, and it’s also clear that this is a show that will focus on the character above the plot. The tension in the partnership is nothing revelatory for a cop show: McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is the unconventional but brilliant loner, Harrelson’s Martin Hart is the by-the-numbers family man looking to succeed in his position. These parts are acted perfectly, though, and McConaughey especially deserves to ride high on the wave of critical praise he’s received for recent roles such as this.

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