REVIEW: LIFE OR, SOMETHING LIKE IT

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Gia)
Edward Burns (One Missed Call)
Tony Shalhoub (The Last Shot)
Stockard Channing (Practical Magic)
James Gammon (The Cell)
Melissa Errico (Frequency)
Christian Kane (Angel)
Lisa Thornhill (Veronica Mars)
Gregory Itzin (The Ides of March)
Veena Sood (50/50)
Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary)
Christopher Shyer (The Core)

Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie), a successful reporter for a Seattle television station interviews a self-proclaimed prophet, Jack (Tony Shalhoub), to find out if he really can predict football scores. Instead, Prophet Jack not only predicts the football score, and that it would hail the next day, but also that she would die in seven days, meaning the following Thursday. When his first two prophecies turn out to be correct, Kerrigan panics and again meets with Jack, asking him for another prophecy so that she can prove it wrong, which would imply uncertainty of her death. Jack tells her that there will be a relatively significant earthquake in San Francisco at 9:06 am; she hopes that it will be wrong but again it also becomes reality. Now Lanie becomes sure of her upcoming death and is forced to reevaluate her life.  The remainder of the storyline, which runs for the week of the prophecy, revolves around her attempts at introspection. She seeks consolation in her famous baseball player boyfriend Cal Cooper (Christian Kane), and in her family, but finds little there.Pete (EDWARD BURNS) offers advice to a skeptical Lanie (ANGELINA JOLIE), whose once "perfect" life has been turned upside-down.Her lifelong ambition, that of appearing on network television, begins to look like a distant dream. In her desperation, she commits professional blunders, but ends up finding support in an unlikely source: her archenemy, the cameraman Pete Scanlon (Edward Burns), with whom she once had casual sex; he introduces her to a new approach to life. Pete tells her to live every moment of her life and to do whatever she always wanted to do. Lanie implements Pete’s advice; she moves in with Pete for a day, he introduces her to his son Tommy (Jesse James Rutherford) who lives with his mother who had separated with Pete, and they spend a whole day together with Tommy; that night they sleep together for the second time. The next day Lanie receives an opportunity for a job she always dreamed of in New York; she asks Pete to come with her, but he declines and tells her that her appetite for success and fame will never end. Lanie sadly leaves for New York.

Pete meets Jack and tells him how wrong he is, as Lanie got the job which Jack foretold she would not get. But Jack explains that he was right as Lanie will never be able to get the job as she’ll die before it begins; he again gives a prophecy of a death of a famous former baseball player in a plane crash. Pete receives the news of the death of the baseball player as foretold by Jack, and tries to call Lanie to warn her. When he cannot reach her, he also flies to New York. Lanie, unconcerned with Jack’s prophecy, interviews her idol, famous media personality Deborah Connors (Stockard Channing). Lanie realizes how petty the opening questions are and shares a heartfelt moment with Deborah live on air. The interview receives which receives huge television ratings. The network immediately offers her a position, but Lanie declines, realizing that she wants a life with Pete in Seattle. As she leaves the studio, a police officer gets into a conflict with a man, who shoots a bullet into the air. Pete tries to warn Lanie across the street, but she is shot in the crossfire. Luckily, Lanie survives, and Pete tells her in the hospital that he has loved her since the first time he saw her; Lanie says she loves him, too. Later, Pete, Lanie and Tommy watch Cal’s baseball game, where Lanie (in a voiceover) says that one part of her has died—the part which didn’t know how to live a life.

Enjoyable film which has both a strong satirical edge and an introspective, philosophical tone. Jolie is fab as the shallower than shallow career journalist who has her life changed by a modern day soothsayer

 

REVIEW: THE IDES OF MARCH

CAST

George Clooney (Out of Sight)
Ryan Gosling (Gangster Squad)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Jeffrey Wright (Source Code)
Max Minghella (The Internship)
Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty)
Gregory Itzin (Adaptation.)
Michael Mantell (Secretary)

MV5BMTkxMTU3MTY4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTMwODQ3Ng@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Clooney’s story  is set during the week of the Ohio primary race for the Democratic presidential candidate, which has basically come down to a two-man contest between Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell), whose campaign is run by shrewd Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), and Governor Morris (Clooney). Morris’s campaign manager is longtime operative Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman); Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is his number two man. The decisive race in Ohio is close, which much riding on who will get the endorsement (and delegates) of Senator Franklin Thompson, who is angling for a cabinet post. In the midst of all of this, Stephen begins a campaign trail romance with intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), who turns out to be the daughter of the head of the DNC. And then things get complicated.The film’s early scenes are its best. The script talks plain and names names, throwing around smart political talk; Meyers and Duffy’s conversation about learning to how to play the game from Republicans is sharp and lucid, while Morris’s comments from the stump about taxation and “socialism” (as well as Zara’s crack that the Republicans “can’t find a nominee that’s not a world-class fuck-up”) are tartly timely. Though some of the details of the campaign stretch credibility (no candidate could proclaim himself as indifferent to religion as Morris does and actually survive a primary for either party), its portrayl of primary politics and their backstage byplay feel authentic;  Gosling and Wood’s two-scenes have a nice zing to them (reminsicent of the screwball comedy homages in his underrated Leatherheads), Clooney’s offhand sense of humor is disarming–see Hoffman and Gosling’s offstage compliments after the first debate, or the business with Wood and Gosling’s tie the morning after their first date–and he draws out some nice directorial flourishes, like the way he handles a late scene with Hoffman going into an SUV.Every member of the cast is utterly convincing. Clooney’s smooth persona has rarely been better employed–both his playful charm and his steely directness. Gosling gets a good, hard arc to play, and he wails on it; the speed which his idealism loop-the-loops into cynicism is dazzling . It’s a memorable turn, even if he calls up a wide-eyed, manic look that will make Drive viewers fear he’s about to break out the hammer. Hoffman gets a showcase scene in his hotel room, a footlights monologue that betrays the film’s stage roots, but he’s so compelling you don’t notice the scaffolding; the way he pivots from cool contempt to utter rage is what good screen acting is all about. Wright is underused, but Clooney juggles the rest of the ensemble cast with ease.

REVIEW: FIREFLY

MAIN CAST

Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Gina Torres (Angel)
Alan Tudyk (I Robot)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jewel Staite (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ron Glass (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sean Maher (Arrow)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Adam Baldwin in Firefly (2002)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
Gregg Henry (Payback)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Christina Hendricks (Drive)
Gregory Itzin (The IDes of March)
Kevin Gage (May)
Zachary Kranzler (Playing Mona Lisa)
ILia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Mark Sheppard (Dollhouse)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Edward Atterton (Alias)
Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours)
Michael Fairman (Dead Silence)
Richard Brooks (The Hidden)
Carlos Jacott (Big Love)

Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Alan Tudyk in Firefly (2002)I could watch Firefly every year for the rest of my life and not get bored with it. IHow does one get tired of well-written characters and entertaining dialogue?Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, and Gina Torres in Firefly (2002)Firefly aired, on Fox, for part of the 2002-03 season. The powers that be at Fox were crack-smoking morons and did their best to make sure nobody saw the series. They aired the episodes out of order and often skipped a week or two, with something else in its place. It worked because the show was soon canceled.

While the series is set in the year 2517, and much takes place on a spaceship, it is really a western at heart. Even the theme song has a western/country vibe to it.Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Summer Glau in Firefly (2002)Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the captain of the Serenity. Mal, along with his second in command Zoe (Gina Torres) fought on the losing side of a brutal civil war six years earlier. While Zoe seems to have accepted her fate, Mal is still bitter and comes across as a surly opportunist that does whatever he has to for a buck. It becomes clear early on that he has a set of principals that he holds dear. With them are Wash (Alan Tudyk) , the ship’s pilot and husband of Zoe. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is the ship’s engineer and is an odd mix of tomboy and sweet young thing (Except that her first visit on the ship was while she was getting busy with the original engineer). Jane Cobb (Adam Baldwin) is a mercenary that acts as the muscle, though it is never quite clear just how loyal he is to them.Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Summer Glau in Firefly (2002)The Serenity has a handful of passengers that are also regulars. Inarra (Morena Baccarin) is an Ambassador (It seems that prostitution is not only legal in the future, but organized and ever semi-respected) that rents space on the ship. Her presence works because she provides them with access to places they might not normally be able to go (She and Mal also have chemistry in the love/hate sense). Book (Ron Glass) is a reverend with a mysterious past. Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) comes on board with his sister River (Summer Glau) in tow. They are on the run from the government as River was part of an experiment that has left her a bit scattered, but with great skills and even powers that lie just beneath her surface.

Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin in Firefly (2002)The galaxy is governed by the Alliance, which appears to be a semi-fascist organization. The outer reaches of the galaxy is full of colonized planets that often appear to resemble border towns in the wild west. The Alliance’s presence is only slightly felt there, with civilization being in the early stages…kind like Iowa or North Dakota only more interesting.Most shows spend their first season developing chemistry, but Firefly hit the ground running with a cast that seems to have known each other for years. The interaction is often magical. Joss Whedon created a show with a very distinct style and feel. The dialogue is peppered with Chinese, to suggest that the Chinese culture became a global influence over the centuries between now and the time of the show. No funky sound effects are used in the space scenes, no roar of engines or squeal of laser cannons (In the reality, there is no sound in space). Even though there are rockets and lasers, most of the weapons are bullet based (adding to the western feel) and the most of the ships have a worn, dirty look to them.