By Jose Solís
Few actors can command the screen like Melissa Leo. She has cemented her status as a true scene stealing chameleon in films like The Fighter, Frozen River, Mildred Pierce, and The Big Short. And while she’s mostly regarded as a character, read supporting, actor, she gets a chance to show off her leading lady chops in The Most Hated Woman in America which debuts this week on Netflix. She plays atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair who led a campaign that banned Bible readings in public schools.
Leo infuses the part with heart and courage, so that she becomes a perfect embodiment of the notion that the personal should be political. Director Tommy O’Haver uses Madalyn’s kidnapping and horrific murder, to frame a film that aims to reach everyone’s humanity, regardless of their religious beliefs. Anchored by Leo’s majestic performance, it becomes one of the most important films of the year, in terms of the conversations and debates it could, and should, spark. I had the chance to speak to Leo from SXSW where the film premiered...
The Rachel Weiszenaissance looks to be continuing at full speed after last year's indie hit The Lobster and her good notices for the otherwise middling Light Between the Oceans. We now have the trailer for her latest project, a Victorian era thriller based on a novel by the OG spookmaster Daphne du Maurier called My Cousin Rachel.
There have already been a few film adaptations over the years, but none that star Rachel Weisz, so I'm very excited to see what this latest has to offer.
Let's do a "Yes No Maybe So" after the jump, shall we?
In the fifth episode, we've reached what has to be a boiling point as Jane, Madeline, Celeste and Renata all seem to be coming absolutely unhinged simultaneously. Spoiler alert for the rest of this post: this show is just superb and it's giving us more actressing than we even know what to do with. *tosses roses at television*
Top Ten MVPs of Big Little Lies. Episode 5 "Once Bitten"
10. Madeline's Dream
Bonus points to the show for having a sense of humor about its hardcore annoying refusal to let us know who was murdered. Also any Avenue Q reference is golden.
09 "Bully Free Zone"
That damn bright yellow & red sign.
Don't you feel like it's constantly just taunting everyone in the school? At least half of the adults in this show are bullies themselves and everyone seems so helplessly ill equipped to deal with bullying in school on top of their other issues...
Today's Must Read
Vulture has an amazing profile on Jenny Slate which also gives personal insight into her career and life and, more surprisingly, her former relationship with Chris Evans. He comes off sounding so dreamy which is not what you expect in a breakup discussion!
Variety the tennis film Battle of the Sexes gets a Sept 22nd release date. Will Emma Stone be back in the Oscar race or will there be no need for a victory lap?
Coming Soon there's a project being pitched in Hollywood that unites classic fairy tale heroines in one story (like a superhero team but fairy tale princesses)
Collider interviews the undervalued Michael Peña about CHIPs and he reveals that he still doesn't know if he's in the Ant-Man sequel (which seemed foolish of Marvel since he totally stole that movie)
lots more after the jump...
By Eric Blume
It’s difficult to review Song to Song, the latest film from Terrence Malick, because based on the standards of cinema (plot, characters, structure, acting, etc.), it’s a pretty terrible movie. But with this film, Malick continues his journey to discover some sort of new cinematic language and style that has a weird beauty all its own.
The story, such as it is, revolves around three people in the music business (played by Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, and Ryan Gosling). They go in and out of relationships with each other and a few other folks (notably Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, and Bond girl Berenice Marlohe). Malick gives you no real sense of time, so it’s never 100% clear what happens when exactly. But there are many, many scenes with those five people running their hands over each others’ bodies while voiceover proclaims banalities about sex and connection...
Solitary could have gone in many different directions. Filmed over a year inside the supermax solitary confinement prison of Red Onion, Virginia, all sorts of independent narratives that are weaved throughout could have made for their own captivating feature. There are the guards, disturbed by what they see, and the death of the region’s prime coal mining industry that brought them to this line of work. There are the crimes of the prisoners, most of them violent, some of them not so. And then there is, like Ava DuVernay’s (broader, superior) Oscar-nominated 13th, the system itself that is obviously damaged and flawed at its very core.
It's nice, but also a little frustrating, then that director Kristi Jacobson (known best for 2012’s A Place at the Table) chose something far less sensational by focusing on the concept of nature versus nurture. Nice because that feels rare in film, but frustrating because it doesn't make the most of its unique access while doing so...