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Entries in Viola Davis (86)

Sunday
Aug072016

Review: Suicide Squad

Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  But it wasn't very good, either.

by Lynn Lee

Suicide Squad was supposed to be DC Comics’ answer to Marvel’s big-screen dominance.  It had even more pressure riding on it to make up for the underwhelming Batman vs. Superman.  Unfortunately for DC, there’s nothing here to challenge Marvel’s crown.

It’s not that it’s unwatchable, it’s that everything about it is either unfocused or uninspired: the plotting, the fight scenes, the visual aesthetic, and most damning of all, the character development.  Let’s face it, most superhero movies are variations on the same handful of basic plot arcs and themes; their rhythms are so familiar to us that they rarely pack true surprises.  What makes some more compelling than others is the characterization of the heroes (and, less frequently, their villains)...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug032016

Queen Viola. And Other Links

Bless Viola Davis forever
A TMZ reporter asks her if Suicide Squad will net her another Oscar nod. Her face at this question! Her quote while laughing:

No. But that's okay. I'll stick with it. 

We'll take it she means acting and not critically lambasted supervillain movies. P.S. Have you heard about the hilarious petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes because of  Suicide Squad's abyssmal approval percentage (worse than Batman v Superman's score!). I guess we need a PSA on what "aggregate" means and also a PSA on how to find a good therapist in your neighborhood. In more Suicide Squad news, THR has a story about its rushed production and competing edits. Worth a read if you're curious (but just ignore that confusingly written subheader). 

Showbiz
Vulture Mark Harris on the indie boom for actresses over 60: Streep, Smith, Danner, Field, Mirren and hopefully more to come...
Times Talk Meryl Streep will be doing one on August 11th so watch the live webcast
Awards Daily Cheryl Boone Isaacs reelected as Academy president
Awards Daily TV on how a new rule may hurt shows with multiple nominees in various Emmy categories
TFE ICYMI we looked at David Harbour's best work --> He was glad to see stage work on it

Off Cinema
The Washington Post The once prolific Stephen Sondheim, who hasn't written a musical since 1999, reportedly has a new one nearing the finish line!!! 
Playbill Cheyenne Jackson lists his favorite theatergoing experiences - fun group
Social Justice For All "How very dary you Hillary" a change of heart from a former Bernie man
Esquire "A few words about progress. And grace. And American cool." Gorgeous piece on Obama's place in history and his Democratic Convention piece.

P.S.
Look at this perfect instagram from the Academy! 

 

#Oscars #movies #greatmovies #oscarweekend

A photo posted by The Academy (@theacademy) on Aug 2, 2016 at 9:00am PDT

 

Sunday
Jul172016

Q&A: Magnani, Cameos, Oscar Ties, and Homoeroticism

I promised a second round of Q&A this week so here we go. Seven more reader questions answered...

Mr W: Do you have any thoughts on Anna Magnani? She's one of my Top 10 Actresses of all time, but I don't think I've ever read anything on her from you.

I do not. Embarrassing to admit but I've only seen her in The Rose Tattoo (1955) which she was wonderful in. Any suggestions as to where to start?

/3rtful: Is there one unsung veteran actress you would like to see get an award season career boost through Ryan Murphy?

There's very few veterans I wouldn't want to see good a career boost. But i'll just name a dozen (and anyone reading should know I could list another 5 dozen with ease -- I shoulda been a casting director). Given that Murphy usually pulls from the 80s and 90s actressing packs (which, one assumes, reflects his formative fandoms) I wish he would throw a bone to Shelley Duvall (though maybe given her rumored mental health this isn't a good idea), Ally Sheedy, Daryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, or Lesley Ann Warren any of whom might be brilliant within his unusually creepy heightened worlds...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun242016

Thoughts I Had... The 'Suicide Squad' Character Posters

After Finding Dory's big opening this past weekend, our last remaining potential mega hit of the summer is Suicide Squad. The twist on the superhero super-antihero blockbuster is our only comic book film of the season left (shocking, right?) and is pushing hard to turn favor for the DC Universe after this spring's unmentionable. While it has a cast packed with stars and recognizable faces, some of its characters are still unknown to the masses.

And wouldn't you know, here's a new set of character posters to get you acquainted! We've covered the film's building teases, but this is too poppy and fun to pass up. 

Here are some thoughts...

Viola Davis: Superhero sounds like the summer blockbuster we actually need and deserve. Special powers include being flawless, cutting victims down to size with a single withering glance, and making the masses cry on cue. "Worst. Heroes. Ever."?? Not on your life, darling...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May032016

Linky Nyong'o

The Playlist Guillermo del Toro working on a movie where Richard Jenkins is a merman and Sally Hawkins is in love with him? What? And also: why not! 
Sense 8 returns soon. Here's a fun photo album blog on the making of Season 2
Decider It's the 20th anniversary of everyone's favorite crazy teen bitches and also witches movie The Craft (1996)
Variety because sooner or later every male star is required to play a serial killer, Michael Fassbender will do his duty for Entering Hades based on the John Leake's true crime novel
Vulture Jennifer Hudson gets unexpectedly honest about her lack of a Tony nomination

 

Interview talks with romance-novel-cover ready fantasy man, the Outlander star Sam Heughan
Playbill George C Wolfe and Oprah Winfrey are working on a cool sounding project called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks about a woman whose cervical cancer cells were harvested without her permission in the 50s and cloned again and again.
Pajiba this is not the angle of Pajiba's story but as with seemingly all biopic subjects Harriet Tubmann suddenly has two competing biopics in the work: Viola Davis's for HBO and one for theatrical release about which we had previously heard nothing. (Too bad that they can't be fused into one with the best elements of both because good luck finding an actress as famous and as talented and as theoretically bankable  as Viola for the actual theatrical version)
Playbill Patti Lupone on Penny Dreadful (uff, she's so great on that show) and her next musical War Paint
Lenny Letter Tony nominee and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o reveals why she chose a small play as Oscar follow up in a great piece. Here's a brief excerpt:

As an actress, feeling connected to a fully realized, complex character is what I look for first. The size of the role, and the budget, and the perceived "buzz" around the project are much less important to me. As an African woman, I am wary of the trap of telling a single story. I decided early on that if I don't feel connected to, excited by, and challenged by the character, the part probably isn't for me. If I'm ever in doubt, I envision the career choices of artists I admire, like Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, and Viola Davis. They are all fearless actresses who approach every role without ego or vanity. They have a fierce commitment to the moment and the role, whether it's the lead or a character we see for just one scene. They give it their all, and it shows. The thought of having a career that in any small way might resemble theirs excites me.

She has good taste in actress heroes!

To Get It Off My Chest
Collider says the Captain America & Avengers filmmakers, the Russo Bros, are game for an LGBT character in the Marvel-verse and the article praises them accordingly for saying so (sigh). I'm not pinpointing Collider but this is a classic example of something the internet loves: 'filmmakers/actors/authors are for insert progressive thing!' news (this is also happening a lot with Star Wars of late). But here is the thing: it is NOT news but hypothetical speculation and, as such, we should not be praising anyone. Until Marvel (and other studios) and filmmakers actually show diversity we MUST stop giving them credit for suggesting that they will one day show diversity. This is also true of their issues with race. Let's stop congratulating people for hypotheticals and start concentrating on praising filmmakers who already have diversity in their films. It's like everyone praising JK Rowlings for retconning Harry Potter's Dumbledore when she wasn't brave enough to actually have him gay within the books. UNLESS PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY DOING IT, STOP PRAISING THEM FOR SUGGESTING THAT THEY'RE COOL ENOUGH TO DO IT AND THEY MIGHT AT ANY MOMENT. JUST NOT RIGHT NOW 

Sunday
May012016

Best Actress: An "Overdue" Narrative or Fresh Blood?

The next Best Actress race hasn't remotely started so we're at the "anything goes" stage. Sally Field is the only player thus far who feels like a distinct if long shot possibility. With a Golden Globe Comedy nod highly likely for Hello My Name is Doris she'll be discussed again at year's end reminding people of her endearing star turn in the sleeper hit. But what to make of the Best Actress race. Most or all of the contenders are yet to come and there are no sure things. 

Sure, Viola Davis looks good on paper to repeat her Tony win in 2010 for Fences as the long suffering wife of a trash collector who was once a promising ball player. But there are some "what ifs" involved. Denzel Washington hasn't yet proved he's special as a director and when the revival in which they starred on Broadway hit not everyone agreed on her category placement with some theater awards deeming her "featured" (the stage's term for "supporting") rather than lead like the Tonys. And then there's the not small matter of whether the Fences will be ready in time for a release and a big Oscar push. If Viola doesn't dominate, will we have an Overdue Narrative this year or a Fresh Blood moment in Best Actress?

Consider: La Pfeiffer (3 nominations... deserved many more. Waiting to win since 1988); The Bening (4 nominations... waiting to win since 1990); Amy Adams (5 generous nominations. Waiting to win since 2005); Viola Davis (2 nominations... waiting to win since 2008). With Jessica Tandy, Hilary Swank, Rachel Weisz, and Meryl Streep winning their rightful Oscars there's ample opportunity for a "make up" year in Best Actress. 

But then again not every leading race sees a "career win" like Julianne Moore's or Leonardo DiCaprio's recently. Do you think 2016 will be an old guard year like that or a new blood situation (Negga? Pike?)? Or will it be somewhere inbetween (Emily Blunt...waiting so long for a first nomination? Jessica Chastain, twice nominated thus far?). Check the Best Actress chart and make a call in the comments. 

Thursday
Apr212016

Tribeca: Custody

Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Manuel on "Custody".

"I wanted to have the film center on female characters." That was James Lapine in a post-screening Q&A of his latest film, Custody, which premiered this past week. And boy has he delivered. Steering pretty far from familiar ground for him (he of Into the Woods and Six by Sondheim fame), Lapine has crafted a mosaic-like portrait of the labyrinthine bureaucracy that are the family court proceedings in New York City. Sara Diaz, a young single mother of two (Catalina Sandino Moreno, putting those wounded eyes to great use), finds herself embroiled in a custody battle when an accident leaves her son with a black eye that forces the school to call child services. Sara is assigned to a freshly minted lawyer, Ally Fisher (Hayden Panettiere, in her most mature role to date) who quickly realizes there's more to this case than her client leads on. This makes pleading her case at Martha Schulman’s court all the trickier, especially as the city is still reeling from a previous tragedy caused by a failure in the system; all involved are committed to not letting another child be sent back to a negligent household.

The structure of the film is such that we see the court proceedings but also get to know these characters: we see Schulman (Viola Davis, imperious and sympathetic in equal measure) as she struggles with marital problems, and see Sara adjusting to the increasingly frustrating ordeal of being separated from her kids, while Ally finally attempts to bring closure to a family secret. And while these three actresses are fantastic all around, coloring their interactions with the complexity and nuance which Lapine's script demands, it is Ellen Burstyn, in two key scenes as Ally’s grandmother, that gives everyone a master class in acting. She's helped by a prickly (and at key times light-hearted) script that grapples with Big Issues but wraps them in personal stories that never feel (solely) didactic. 

That is, until the last 20 or so minutes when Lapine inexplicably gives Viola and Catalina two monologues that play like bluntly-written thesis statements for the film. They’re impassioned pleas that nevertheless sell the screenplay short, giving viewers who would dub this a "TV movie on the big screen" all the Law & Order/Boston Legal comparisons you'd ever need. 

Grade: B / Performances all around: A