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Entries in Viola Davis (52)

Friday
Oct172014

How To Get Away With Turning Your Procedural TV Into Gay Porn.

I was going to quit How To Get Away With Murder with this fourth episode but I may have to keep watching from the sheer ridiculousness as well as the fascinating case study of Anything Goes in contemporary television. If you replace all the female characters on this show with gay men (as you could well do with only 1% of your imagination since all the characters are so broadly drawn) this would be the gayest show that ever existed. Sorry Queer as Folk, Sex & The City and Looking.

ABC had promised jaw-dropping with their promos for last night's episode once you heard 'Viola Davis's last nine words'. Those last nine words included the word "penis". Hey, they're the ones who said "jaw-dropping" not me! Naughty naughty. (For the record my jaw did not drop but it did open wide for a long chortle. It's either really terrible writing or A+ lurid paperback but either way it amounts to the same thing) Viola's quotable send-off turned out to be so gay and so trashy that it exemplifies the young series better than I could ever hope to.

The last nine-words were...

 

Why is your penis on a dead girl's phone?

The most important word in that sentence is penis because How To Get Away With Murder is obsessed with them. Let's recap their communal cock collection after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct132014

Viola Davis, Vanquisher of the Unspeakable

Manuel here with your daily reminder that this is Viola Davis’s world and we’re just living in it. Remember Jessica Chastain (she, champion extraordinaire of actresses all around) telling us that "Viola Davis is one of the greatest actresses in the world"?

Well, it shouldn't surprise us, but Ms Davis is as graceful a person as she is a performer. She was one of several women celebrated by Variety this past weekend at their “Power of Women” luncheon. The roster alone should get you excited: Davis, Reese (don’t call it a comeback) Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and producer Donna Langley. That they all got beautiful covers and editorial photo shoots is just an added bonus for us readers.

But it was Viola, being recognized for her work with the Hunger Is initiative, who once again showed us why she’s so fearless and magnetic on and off camera. Her speech below is a brave and touching call to action, and I won’t shy away from mentioning that it made me shed a tear or two. As she notes, she’s intent on getting rid of the word “unspeakable,” for everything should be spoken about, including one’s shame and one’s maybe-not-so-happy childhood. Watch her follow her own advice:

What can one say after that? Do you also wish we knew what it is that Viola's husband says to her every day? Are you just as happy that Davis is being feted left and right these days? 

Friday
Oct102014

HTGAWM: "Smile, Or Go To Jail"

We're three episodes in to How To Get Away With Murder and three episodes is where I draw the line if a show isn't working for me. Time is too precious: one season of a network series is time enough for ten or eleven movies, you know? You could basically catch up with the entire Best Picture lineup from 1939 in that time, something surely all of America is eager to do if someone would only suggest it to them as an alternative to watching another season of CSI: Wherever*. For love of Viola Davis I'm giving this series one more episode to win me over instead. Also because ABC has promised that my jaw will drop with "the last nine words" from Viola's mouth on episode 4. If their prophesy is true, we'll see. But I shall state it simply: after three episodes I can safely say that I think the show is bad. Trashy fun? Eh, Kind of. But more like Trash that thinks it Hot Shit.

On episode three we begin again with that hyper-caffeinated bonfire / murder coverup in the future so basically you never know which episode you're watching until like 5 minutes in. But even after that opening five, deja vu prevails since the show is so formulaic: 1. Annalise takes a case; 2. Her students help solve it with interstitials of them doing sneaky things; 3. The legalese is explained with cutaways to Viola's lectures in class; 4. We learn the client is guilty; 5. Viola wins, or, minor derivation in episode three: Viola doesn't lose; 6. Roll Promo for next episode!

Biggest Pet Peeve Runner Up: Professor Annalise Keating only ever calls on the 5 students who have series regular gigs despite hundreds of hands going up in her lecture hall. Come on showrunners, be good samaritans - give one of those extras their SAG card with a line, you know? This is highly unrealistic classroom behavior. I absolutely cannot buy that her classrooms arebig draws (we hear that she brings in the students for the university big time) when she doesn't remotely seem interested in teaching or involving her students unless they work for her for free when they leave the classroom like indentured servants and drop all their other coursework and abstain from social lives except when it comes to sex scenes which can be used to prevent people from grabbing remotes and switching channels.

Biggest Pet Peeve Winner (by which I mean we all lose)
For a show aiming to showcase Viola Davis she's often crowded out what with all the subplots and her students doing basically everything for her.

Gay Guy vs. Prom Queen shared a penis: pass it on.

This particular episode? If I must. Viola defends Ugly Betty's sister who went politically radical decades ago and bombed a building. Ugly Betty's sister skips bail so Viola's courtroom time abruptly ends. Meanwhile: Wes convinces Annalise to defend his neighbor across the hall instead of the quarterback that the university has asked her to defend in the murder mystery that the first season is built on. Who Killed Lila WhatsHerFace? Who cares! On the sex scene front, Viola is again rebuffed by her muscle stud cop boyfriend (who lies to her about her husband's alibi bur dor what reason? Surely to cause unmotivated hysterical drama later in the season) so Prom Queen gets this episode's big sex scene with her heretofore unseen fiancee who, as it turns out, once slept with Gay Guy Not Matt Not Wes when he was 16 at boarding school. Prom Queen absolutely freaks out because no straight guy in the history of the universe has ever fooled around with another student at an all male boarding school when he was a horny teenager. Say it with me: "SCANDAL!"

* Please do not tell me this is not true in the comments, he says weeping.

Saturday
Oct042014

How To Get Away With Murder - Two Episodes

How to Procrastinate Film Blogging? Live-blog a tv show.

Since The Film Experience has been in Viola Davis's corner for a dozen years now -- I gave her one of her first film prizes even if she didn't know it: a gold medal for best cameo in Antwone Fisher (2002) -- I felt obligated to watch her new headlining gig for at least a couple of episodes. I'm not remotely a procedural kind of person or a Shondaland person. Grey's Anatomy, her career-maker, had too much whining and Scandal is too hysterical and (worse) wildly uneven in its acting. Nevertheless I thought I'd live blog the first two episodes and see if it's fun enough to stay with (?) and largely to see if you are watching, too.

How To Express Your Feelings? Comment on said blog.

1.1 Pilot
00.01 Opening sequence is like those 'we're changing scenes and denoting the passage of time!' interstitials on Scandal but for like a whole interminable two minutes. Average Shot Length of .0001 seconds is not my speed. Some college kids are shouting about what to do with a dead body. Is it mine? Having died from seizures from the editing.

01.48 Tall cute black guy (who has the longest neck I've ever seen on TV) says that "tossing a coin" is OUR ONLY CHOICE. Thank god for coins because decision making, man. Tall cute black guy looks super familiar but I can't figure out why*.

03.03 MATT MCGORRY! (love him on Orange is the New Black. And his sense of humor as a celebrity)

03.33 Giggling that Wes (that's the tall guy's name) is told there's a seating chart in his class. He looks at it for less than .002 seconds while simultaneously swivelling his head around with that crazy neck of his to talk to all the other main characters (everyone with a line will surely be important)...and yet he knows EXACTLY where to sit. Psychic. 

03.39 VIOLA ENTERS... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep292014

but is it a link post?

Awards Daily takes on the unfortunate phrase "but is it an Oscar movie?" in relation (partially at least) to Gone Girl.
Empire Leonardo DiCaprio continues to have a bajillion movies in development. He's now bought the rights toAmerican Wolf which Robert Zemeckis wanted, too
i09 Be careful what you wish for. We've always wanted Christopher Walken in another movie musical. But this picture of him as Captain Hook is TERRIFYING
The Stake good piece on the casting of Vince Vaughn in True Detective 2 and what has happened to the actors original gifts
/bent 10 great queer films by straight directors. This was not prompted by Pride -- which you should totally see in theaters now -- but that also applies 

My New Plaid Pants Frankenstein is so hot right now
Telegraph Profile of Luke Evans who headlines Dracula Untold. This time he actually acknowledges that "Noted Homosexual" business albeit in a very Jodie Foster way
Salon suggests that Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight (which I weirdly have not yet seen) could have been way more fascinating based on the real life magician that inspired it
Guardian so many film festivals happening at the same time. This is a recap of Fantastic Fest in Austin
BadAss Digest investigates why some trilogies will never split up their last film into two parts as is currently the trend. For this we must profusely thank The Four Musketeers?
AV Club really smart scathing review of the new series Stalker and the general problem of victim exploitation on television
/Film The film adaptation of Y: The Last Man is still in Development Hell. Here's what's going on...
In Contention the only SNL actors to win Oscar nominations - can you name all 9 without looking? 
The Guardian on Emma Watson. She continues to have the press hopeless enamored. And I heard random old ladies on the street talking about her UN speech the other day.
AV Club celebrates incest! Perhaps that was a poor choice of words. They're selecting famously incestuous pairs from recent movies & tv from Game of Thrones to August: Osage County

Viola photographed by Graeme Mitchellicymi
Last week the New York Times had fine ass profiles of two of our favorite creatives, director P.T. Anderson and  actress Viola Davis who is our unofficial 'star of the week' since she keeps inadvertedly being brought up in every post lately. Love her quotes in this piece, like...

“I always got the phone call that said: ‘I have a great project for you. You’re going to be with, hypothetically, Vanessa Redgrave, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening. Then I get the script, and I have a role that lasts for a page or two.”

I wish I'd written this
I was trying to voice my frustration about a new terrifying age of lost old movies post-streaming technology on twitter then other day but this KQED Arts article is way more articulate than I was being "For Cinephiles, Netflix is less and less an option." If anyone has a solution or a silver lining to any of this, please speak up! 

Sunday
Sep282014

Denzel Still Rules The (Box Office) World. But Why No Artistic Risks?

Is there any movie star more consistent than Denzel? Pro: No matter what he makes, it opens big. Con: Maybe that's because he's just not a risk taker. He may be our least adventurous megastar.

TOP O' THE BOX OFFICE
1 EQUALIZER $35 million NEW
2 MAZE RUNNER $17.5 (cum. $58) Review
3 BOXTROLLS $17.2 million NEW best animation studio right now

On the stage he only appears in time-tested prestige pieces (Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson or Shakespeare plays). Onscreen he only makes two kinds of movies: disposable action thriller flicks & would-be prestige dramas. The Equalizer, adapted from a television series, is obviously one of the former. People won't remember he made it in a couple of years as a newer model surfaces to replace it. 

Washington hasn't altered this pattern in twenty years -- take a look for yourself if you don't believe me -- unless you count his curiousity about directing (both of his efforts were pitched towards awards gold but neither The Great Debaters nor Antwone Fisher won Oscar nominations). In the first decade or so of his stardom things were a teensy-bit rangier since the prestige pieces were sometimes full-fledged costume dramas (he doesn't do those anymore really) and the mainstream flicks were sometimes romantic (nix on that, too, nowadays). There were even one or two comedies (gasp)!

It'd be nice if he got the balance better. Many major stars try the '1 for them, 1 for me' approach to maintain both audience favor and critical ardor. But it's easy intead to imagine that Denzel Washington's preferred pattern of '5 for them, 1 for Oscar' might actually be a result of 'all for me'; maybe he just has extremely limited taste in movies? It wouldn't be the first time a bonafide superstar had no interest in cinema as art

Viola and Denzel in their 2010 Tony winning roles. The following year Viola won box office gold with The Help. But still no film version of FENCES.

Still as he tops the charts yet again with another violent man-fantasy, one wishes he would use his clout for good. Why isn't he using that financial and creative muscle to push important work to the screen? Couldn't he at least do the right thing in a completely self-serving way? Why not try for a third Oscar for Fences? Supposedly he's going to direct and star in it but things never seem to get moving towards actual filming and there've been rumors that he's doing it for roughly, oh, ever. Denzel and Viola Davis, his original co-star, who has more than earned another big screen big opportunity lead role after the box office / awards success of The Help, both won Tonys on stage. What's more it's positively insane that nobody ever adapts August Wilson's plays for the big screen. Viola has starred in three of them on Broadway, winning two Tonys in the process. Why isn't this a primary mission for the actor to get at least a few of them on the big screen - preferrably with Viola starring - since he has more money than God, they're important works in African American history, and he also produces now?! 

Denzel could get Fences done quickly if that's what he really cared about getting done. There is no way that the money wouldn't be there immediately if he said "sure I'll do that action movie. But Fences is what I'm doing next. And until I do it no more waving guns around for you!" There is nobody who isn't an idiot in Hollywood who would say no to helping him get it done with gazillions for more gunplay on the line the following fiscal year.

But back to the now ~ What did you see this weekend?

Sunday
Sep282014

Yes No Maybe So: "blackhat"

It's a challenge to keep up but better late than never, right? What do you make of blackhat in trailer form? It looks like another robust thriller from the (Michael) Mann. The movie is due in mid January and should provide nice counterprogramming to the two diammetrically opposed types of movies that tend to play in that month: studio prestige movies aiming for Oscars vs. mainstream studio dumping ground movies that they know aren't strong enough to compete for holiday or summer dollars.

Let's take a look through our Yes No Maybe So prism. And the first yes is obviously diversity in casting!

YES

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