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Michelle Rodriguez (#110 of 7)

Steve McQueen’s Widows Starring Viola Davis Gets First Trailer

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Steve McQueen’s Widows Starring Viola Davis Gets First Trailer
Steve McQueen’s Widows Starring Viola Davis Gets First Trailer

Today, 20th Century Fox released the trailer for Widows, Steve McQueen’s first feature-length film since 12 Years a Slave. The film is co-written by McQueen and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, and is adapted from the 2002 ABC series Widows written by Lynda La Plante that starred Mercedes Ruehl, Brooke Shields, Rosie Perez, and N’Bushe Wright. The film is set in present-day Chicago and concerns four women who take fate into their hands in the wake of their criminal husbands’ deaths, forging a future on their own terms.

Toronto Film Review Walter Hill’s (Re)assignment

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Toronto Film Review: Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment

Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto Film Review: Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment

Walter Hill’s first feature film since 2012’s Bullet to the Head is, like much of the finest pulp fiction, designed to shock. To wit: Did you hear the one about the rogue surgeon who turned the hitman into the hitwoman? What a hook! And what a lurid, tattered paperback it would make, though Hill treats the story more like an underground comic book, complete with transitional sequences featuring exaggerated thought bubbles and garish splash panels.

Sensitivity, at least of the calculated sort, doesn’t enter into the proceedings. The film’s as steely as Sigourney Weaver’s Dr. Rachel Kay, a sort of Hannibal Lecter by way of Marlene Dietrich who liberally quotes Shakespeare and Poe, and has a monomaniacal disdain for most of humanity. But as she tells the smug head psychiatrist (Tony Shaloub) of the mental hospital where she’s imprisoned, the main target of her ire is assassin Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez), who murdered her brother (Adrian Hough) several years before. The doctor’s elaborate revenge culminates in the bearded, virile Kitchen given forced gender reassignment surgery. And then the counter-revenge begins.

Understanding Screenwriting #112: Before Midnight, Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, Stories We Tell, Mad Men, Behind the Candelabra, Graceland, The Fosters, & More

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Understanding Screenwriting #112: <em>Before Midnight</em>, <em>Iron Man 3</em>, <em>Fast & Furious 6</em>, <em>Stories We Tell</em>, <em>Mad Men</em>, <em>Behind the Candelabra</em>, <em>Graceland</em>, <em>The Fosters</em>, & More
Understanding Screenwriting #112: <em>Before Midnight</em>, <em>Iron Man 3</em>, <em>Fast & Furious 6</em>, <em>Stories We Tell</em>, <em>Mad Men</em>, <em>Behind the Candelabra</em>, <em>Graceland</em>, <em>The Fosters</em>, & More

Coming Up In This Column: Before Midnight, Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, Stories We Tell, Some Late Spring and Early Summer 2013 Television, but first…

Fan Mail: A month or so ago a comment was posted to US#68. The original column ran on January 24, 2011 and included an item on Slave Ship. The comment was from Greg Lehman, whose grandmother, Gladys Lehman, was one of several screenwriters on the 1937 film. The story he got from her deals with Darryl Zanuck’s suggestion on the script. At first glance it makes Zanuck sound racist, but after studying him and his career for 45 years, my judgment is that he wasn’t, or at least he was less of one than most of his fellow studio heads. He may well be thought to be treading the fine line between being racist and accepting the potential audience’s racism. Also keep in mind he did not insist on not having blacks in the film; it was simply a suggestion that the writers did not follow. Read Lehman’s comment and make up your own mind.

Of the two comments on US#111, the most interesting one was from “A Very Bemused Commenter,” who thought that the example I gave of 42 dealing with racism in a subtle way wasn’t all that subtle. Reading the item over I can see why he thought that, since it sounds rather blatant the way I wrote it. In the context of the more horrendous scenes in the film, however, it plays as more subtle than I made it seem.

And David Ehrenstein and I are agreeing yet again, this time on what a wonderful actor Fabrice Luchini is. Well, David and I can’t disagree all the time.

Before Midnight (2013; written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke; based on characters created by Linklater and Kim Krizan; 109 minutes.)

Checking in with Jesse and Celine. It all started 18 years ago. Jesse, a young American, persuaded Celine, a young Frenchwoman, to get off the train in Vienna and spend the night with him seeing the city. They walked and talked. Boy, did they walk and talk. And fell in love. And the next morning agreed to meet each other back in Vienna in six months. They were young, in love, and stupid enough not to get each other’s addresses or phone numbers. Ah, well, it would make a good memory for each of them, and a nice minor film called Before Sunrise.

Lost Recap Season 5, Episode 12, “Dead Is Dead”

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Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 12, “Dead Is Dead”

ABC

Lost Recap: Season 5, Episode 12, “Dead Is Dead”

When Michael Emerson’s Benjamin Linus came along midway through Lost’s second season, the series was having a bit of an identity crisis. In its first season, Lost had been a show full of gently sweet character moments and goofy pulp excess. This became a recipe for a really big hit, a show that blended a big ensemble with a few sci-fi and action-adventure trappings. In the manner of most successful science fiction shows, it managed to build a genre show atop the trappings of a previously successful television template. In the broadest possible terms, Lost basically just took what made The Love Boat so successful (a huge ensemble with weekly storytelling that delves into various characters’ backstories), stripped out the guest stars and added a smoke monster.

Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, “The Cost of Living”

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Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, “The Cost of Living”
Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 5, “The Cost of Living”

Call it a coincidence, call it karma, call it the weirdest grand design imaginable, but if there’s one thing you can take away from Lost it’s that the show has no tolerance for moving violations.

Fellow “Tailies” Ana-Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez) and Libby (Cynthia Watros) were arrested for DUI, and eerily, their characters both got written out of the show. Last night’s episode “The Cost of Living” said good-bye to the mysterious and always fascinating Eko, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), who was busted for driving without a license. The charges were dropped, yet after Eko spent much of last night’s episode wrestling with his personal demons over murders he committed in his previous life as a priest/drug runner and eventually coming to terms with his actions, he fell victim to a really pissed-off, mechanized cloud of black smoke and got tossed around like a rag doll until his pulverized body finally expired, but not before offering a parting warning that the rest of the castaways “were next.” Is Lost sponsored by Geico?

Lost Thursday: Season 2, Episode 21: “?”

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<em>Lost</em> Thursday: Season 2, Episode 21: “?”
<em>Lost</em> Thursday: Season 2, Episode 21: “?”

Give the producers of Lost credit: they know the pulse of their audience. It may not be the first show to cultivate an internet fan base, and it may not be the most forthcoming with them, but you better believe these people hang out at message boards. They read our weekly griping and, for better or worse, they respond.

When people started combing through their Tivo’s looking for obscured and tenuous clues to the mysteries of the island, the show kicked it up a notch, slapping the shadowy Dharma Initiative logo (or was it just plain shadows) on the shark that menaced the raft at the beginning of the season and burying the Latin word for “polar bear” in the black light map found by Locke (Terry O’Quinn). As theories began to fly that perhaps this has all been a prolonged dream just before the plane crashed or that the survivors are caught in an otherworldly stasis where the living fraternize with the dead, we see characters reach for their nearby copies of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Turn of the Screw (and hey, aren’t those malevolent forces traipsing around the jungle referred to as “the others?”) So what have the creative team of Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and absentee creator J.J. Abrams been hearing as of late from their loyal fans?

Well, mostly that the show’s gotten sort of dull, the characters have become depressingly passive, they’re not revealing enough about the island and that we viewers have been getting restless.