Weird. Brilliant. Stunning.
“Under the Skin” is by far the most memorable movie of the first few months of 2014. It’s as if the script for “Species” had landed on Stanley Kubrick’s desk and he had decided to transform it into a stark mood piece that drills into your psyche and will stay there forever.
This is what we talk about when we talk about film as art.
Scarlett Johansson plays the Woman Who Fell to Earth, an alien of some kind who literally assumes the human features of, well, someone who looks like Scarlett Johansson in a wig, tight jeans, camisole and fur coat. Calling herself Laura, she cruises Scotland in the sort of van favored by movie serial killers, hitting on young lads. (Johansson speaks in a British accent, the better to play the part of a damsel in semi-distress looking for directions.)
It seems important to Laura to know if these men have families or if they’re single and unattached. If they’re in the latter category, she invites them into her van and then into her house.
And that’s when things get really creepy and mesmerizing, with Laura taking off her clothes while walking slowly backward, and the latest hookup taking off his clothes while moving forward, and the score growing louder and ever more screechy and intense.
Does she murder the men? Are they being preserved for their organs to be harvested? Are they held in some sort of black, inky limbo, to be dealt with later? The authentic, docu-style look of the film gives way to dialogue-free, audacious, symbolism-laden visuals that might have some viewers heading for the exits. At times “Under the Skin” almost dares you to say, “What the …?” Suffice to say no good comes of accepting Laura’s invitation for a lift and climbing into her van…
—>>> FOR FULL PRINT REVIEW CLICK HERE <<< —
Sometimes my Pop Culture Radar doesn’t work for spit.
When I first heard about a TV show in which secondary celebrities would team up with professional instructors for a dancing competition, I thought that show would last about as long as “Cop Rock.” And when I learned Hollywood was going to turn the old “Transformers” cartoon/toy franchise into a movie, well, that seemed like a recipe for disaster.
Same thing with the NFL draft. I never understood the mentality of superfans who would don jerseys and face paint and spend hours in a cavernous arena, cheering or booing when the NFL commissioner announced who their favorite team was taking in the seventh round. Have an off-season, people. And I certainly never thought the NFL draft would provide material for a highly rated extravaganza on TV.
Now draft day is the basis for a feature film — a sentimental, predictable, sometimes implausible but thoroughly entertaining, old-fashioned piece.
Directed by the sure-handed Ivan Reitman and bolstered by breezy performances from Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner, “Draft Day” is a cornball “Moneyball,” one of those “all in one day” movies in which game- and life-changing decisions are made and fates are decided over a period of about 12 hours. (I always wonder what the characters do after one of these “all in one day” movies. Stay in bed, exhausted?)
Kevin Costner has a thing for Americana sports films, from “Bull Durham” to “Field of Dreams” to “For Love of the Game” (all baseball) to “Tin Cup” (golf). Now he moves from the playing field to the executive suite, playing Sonny Weaver, the beleaguered general manager of the hapless Cleveland Browns, who are coming off another losing season and in desperate need of some star power to energize the loyal, long-suffering fan base.
One of the things I like about this movie is it’s set in the real NFL (which means, of course, it’s going to be largely complimentary to the NFL way of life). This is not one of those football movies where teams have names like the Chicago Stallions and the Los Angeles Warriors, and they’re all playing in the “North American Football League.” Sonny wheels and deals with the Seahawks and the Broncos in a parallel NFL universe. (Seattle’s fans are restless and the coach is under siege. Obviously “Draft Day” was filmed before the most recent Super Bowl.)
Costner looks, sounds and talks like a general manager as he deals with the most crowded agenda any GM has ever faced on Draft Day. Ready?
—->>> CLICK HERE FOR FULL PRINT REVIEW <<< ——
Here is a horror movie that will reach out and grab that spot on your spine that produces all the chills.
It takes a high level of confidence, maybe even audacity, to set out to make yet another haunted-mirror movie — but thanks to the wonderfully twisted style of director Mike Flanagan and four terrific young actors playing two characters some 11 years apart, “Oculus” is one of the more elegant scary movies in recent memory.
Expanding his 2006 short film to feature length (and, not surprisingly, leaving plenty of room for an “Oculus 2” et al.), director, co-writer and editor Flanagan delivers a carefully paced, superbly photographed psychological thriller in which the villain is a sadistic and very patient entity that seems to revel in playing excruciatingly elaborate mind games before exacting its bloody toll.
Brenton Thwaites is Tim Russell, who is released from an institution on his 21st birthday, some 11 years after a horrific tragedy left both his parents dead. Karen Gillan is his 23-year-old sister Kaylie, who waits about five minutes after Tim’s release to remind him they’ve got a job to do: They must kill the antique mirror responsible for the carnage to their family.
Well, it’s not just the mirror. It’s whatever the hell is inside that mirror, wreaking the usual horror-movie havoc, i.e., making plants die, filling the night with ominous whispering sounds, messing with the family dog, jamming cell phone signals and causing inexplicable fluctuations in the temperature.
The dog. Won’t these characters in horror movies ever listen to the dog? If Max or Rusty or whatever his name is starts howling at unseen threats, whimpering in the night and otherwise acting up, LISTEN TO THE DOG AND GET OUT…
—->>> CLICK HERE FOR FULL PRINT REVIEW <<<—-
The CBS Television Network today announced that Stephen Colbert, the host, writer and executive producer of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “The Colbert Report,” will succeed David Letterman as the host of THE LATE SHOW, effective when Mr. Letterman retires from the broadcast. The five-year agreement between CBS and Colbert was announced by Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation, and Nina Tassler, Chairman of CBS Entertainment.
Letterman, the legendary, critically acclaimed host of the CBS late night series for 21 years, announced his retirement on his April 3 broadcast. Colbert’s premiere date as host of THE LATE SHOW will be announced after Mr. Lettermen determines a timetable for his final broadcasts in 2015.
Specific creative elements, as well as the producers and the location for the Colbert-hosted LATE SHOW, will be determined and announced at a later date.
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” said Moonves. “David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night.”
“Stephen is a multi-talented and respected host, writer, producer, satirist and comedian who blazes a trail of thought-provoking conversation, humor and innovation with everything he touches,” said Tassler. ”He is a presence on every stage, with interests and notable accomplishments across a wide spectrum of entertainment, politics, publishing and music. We welcome Stephen to CBS with great pride and excitement, and look forward to introducing him to our network television viewers in late night.”
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” said Colbert. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
Adding, “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
Since its launch on Comedy Central in 2005, “The Colbert Report” has received widespread critical acclaim while earning two Peabody Awards and 27 Emmy nominations, including an Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Series (2013) and three Emmy wins for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program (2013, 2010, 2008). Prior to that, Colbert spent eight years as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” as an on-air personality and writer of news satire for the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series.
In addition, Colbert is an accomplished author, with two books, I AM AMERICA (and So Can You!) and AMERICA AGAIN: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t, appearing on the New York Times best-seller list. AMERICA AGAIN also won a Grammy Award for Spoken Word (2014).
In music, Colbert’s original holiday musical special on Comedy Central, “A Colbert Christmas,” won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album (2009) and Emmy nominations for Art Direction, Picture Editing and Original Music and Lyrics. In April 2011, Colbert starred as Harry in the New York Philharmonic presentation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.”
After graduating from Northwestern University, Colbert was a member of Chicago’s acclaimed Second City improv troupe with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello. The trio later created and starred in the CableAce-nominated sketch comedy series, “Exit 57,” and created the cult-hit narrative series “Strangers with Candy,” both for Comedy Central.
Colbert has appeared on series such as HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He was also a cast member and writer on ABC’s “The Dana Carvey Show,” wrote for “Saturday Night Live” and voiced roles in DreamWorks’ animated films “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and “Monsters vs. Aliens.”
THE LATE SHOW is broadcast weeknights on the CBS Television Network from 11:35 PM – 12:37 AM, ET/PT.
About CBS Corporation
CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS) is a mass media company that creates and distributes industry-leading content across a variety of platforms to audiences around the world. The Company has businesses with origins that date back to the dawn of the broadcasting age as well as new ventures that operate on the leading edge of media. CBS owns the most-watched television network in the U.S. and one of the world’s largest libraries of entertainment content, making its brand – “the Eye” – one of the most recognized in business. The Company’s operations span virtually every field of media and entertainment, including cable, publishing, radio, local TV, film, outdoor advertising, and interactive and socially responsible media. CBS’s businesses include CBS Television Network, The CW (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment), Showtime Networks, CBS Sports Network, TVGN (a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Lionsgate), Smithsonian Networks, Simon & Schuster, CBS Television Stations, CBS Radio, CBS Outdoor, CBS Television Studios, CBS Global Distribution Group (CBS Studios International and CBS Television Distribution), CBS Interactive, CBS Consumer Products, CBS Home Entertainment, CBS Films and CBS EcoMedia. For more information, go to www.cbscorporation.com.
* * *
You are currently browsing the blog.richardroeper.com blog archives for April, 2014.