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Tag Archive: Andrea Riseborough


   

A new political satire film is coming to U.S. theaters next week–The Death of Stalin.  Ahead of its U.S. release, it has already caused controversy in Russia and other former Soviet Union states, and it’s been banned in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.  Russian leadership has stated, “The Death of Stalin is aimed at inciting hatred and enmity, violating the dignity of the Russian people, promoting ethnic and social inferiority, which points to the movie’s extremist nature.  We are confident that the movie was made to distort our country’s past so that the thought of the 1950s Soviet Union makes people feel only terror and disgust.”  The Death of Stalin is based on a French graphic novel by writer Fabien Nury with artwork by Thierry Robin and Lorien Aureyre.

Sounds like something worth reading, right?

Nury’s The Death of Stalin is a dark comedy take on befuddled Russian leadership in the 1950s.  Strangled by Joseph Stalin’s paranoia and violent extremism, his lieutenants can barely function enough to call for a doctor when he suffers a heart attack that strikes him following his reading of a letter insulting him.  Who will lead after his death and how many Russians will die as power is re-aligned?  The story plays like a Quentin Tarantino film–think of the bulk of the political machinations in Inglourious Basterds mixed with Seth Rogen’s The Interview, plus the absurdity of Doctor Strangelove set against the historical visuals and serious edge of Valkyrie.  And it’s all a very British comedy.

Sourced with a handful of well-known British comedic actors, the film stars Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series, Star Trek Discovery), Steve Buscemi (Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski), Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion, Quantum of Solace), Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion, Never Let Me Go), Michael Palin (Monty Python & The Holy Grail, A Fish Called Wanda), Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), and Jeffrey Tambor.  Armando Iannucci (Veep) directs with cinematography by Zac Nicholson (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables, The Scarlet Pimpernel) and costumes by Suzie Harman (The Bourne Ultimatum).

Check out this preview of the graphic novel The Death of Stalin and a trailer for the film:

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Michael Keaton in Birdman

Review by C.J. Bunce

It always makes sense to be wary of movies that trickle out to the public in limited release.  If you’re not in the movie business, you may also want to be careful about seeing films about the movie business, especially shows about Broadway.  Sometimes knowing what is behind the stage door ruins the magic.  A Chorus Line, The Player, Barton Fink, are all about staging theater or film.  But it often seems like writers choose this topic as a crutch–these are the topics drama college professors praise, of characters full of angst, a script riddled with expletives and characters bantering long speeches full of dialogue and situations calculated to shock and surprise.  They hope the industry insiders will latch onto the movie even if the movie-going public could care less.  These movies come off as self-indulgent and trite, the stuff of drama school or Summer stock.  Birdman unfortunately is another one of those movies.

Michael Keaton plays an actor named Riggan.  You would never know Riggan was his name from watching Birdman as it sounds more like Reagan as uttered by the cast.  Riggan has some kind of schizophrenia, causing him to think he is being talked to by the Birdman, a costumed character Riggan played that once earned him fame.  There’s not enough of the Birdman in the film to understand whether Riggan simply has mental problems or he really has some magical power.  Or maybe it’s intended to be allegorical.  It’s hard to know.  Riggan is trying to produce and act in a play, doing something to get recognized, to make himself relevant, when in fact, he’s still a household name.

Keaton in Birdman

Behind Birdman is a variety of movie gimmicks, all arising out of an ambitious director.  Ambition is a great thing, to be certain.  Yet director Alejandro González Iñárritu throws too much at the audience at once, and although he is certainly getting noticed on the awards front, Birdman doesn’t have the balance to stand the test of time.  Slathered in tongue-in-cheek irony, Birdman relies on the misconception that Michael Keaton, who played Batman in real life, is a washed-up has-been who hasn’t had a good job in years and we will all have some nostalgic reaction to this.  (In fact, Keaton has hardly seen a year since he started in movies where he wasn’t in one film or another).

So the publicity folks want to spin this film as the next Sunset Boulevard, another story of a has-been actor struggling with self-worth.  It’s a mirror image of the New York film and theater industry looking back on itself.  A critique?  Poking fun?  Maybe actors care about that.  Maybe producers and movie moguls.  But why should audiences?  It just doesn’t come close to the subtlety and grand storytelling that made Sunset Boulevard so superb.

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borg-label hall-of-fame-label

After climbing over our 1,000th daily post at borg.com this week, it’s time to update the borg.com Hall of Fame, with borg in genre fiction from past, present, and future, and from all media.  Click here for our “About” page if you need a refresher on what makes a borg a borg.

Some of these more than two dozen borg inductees were overlooked in our initial list.  A few may or may not be borg, depending on your point of view.  Robots or androids that look perfectly human, for example, that have organic looking material but may not have actual living tissue are not technically cyborgs.  But if Cylons are borg, we think most of the characters below should be considered borg, too.

So here is Round 2, the 2014 borg.com Hall of Fame honorees, in no particular order:

harrycobra photo on flickriver of Mike Power

Mike Power, the Atomic Man from the 1970s.  We hope he shows up again in this year’s The Six Million Dollar Man, Season 6, from Dynamite Comics.

Borg HOF TMNT Slayer becomes Rat King in 2003 animated series

In the 2003 animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was revealed the Rat King was once the Slayer, a bio-mechanical super soldier prototype.

Borg HOF Vandroid

From Dark Horse Comics’ 2014 comic book series, we have Vandroid.  Chuck Carducci is a mechanic.  Chuck is also an android created by Chuck, but does he have any humanity?  This one is just out so we’ll know for sure soon whether Vandroid is a borg or not.

Borg HOF Manborg

From the low-budget sci-fi B-movie, we reviewed Manborg here at borg.com back in 2013.

Skektek

From the classic fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, it’s SkekTek the Skeksis scientist who had multiple bionic parts.

Borg HOF Almost Human Kennex and Dorian

From 2013’s new TV series Almost Human, Karl Urban’s detective John Kennex (who has a cybernetic leg) is a borg, but is his partner, Michael Ealy’s out-dated android Dorian?  The newer model police officers appear to be androids only, but is there any organic part, any living tissue, in Dorian?

Borg HOF Almost Human cyborg prostitute

Almost Human features a society full of androids (including the prostitute, above)–some with illegally-trafficked actual human skin–real skin, which, of course, makes them borg.  We don’t know if Dorian has any organic material yet.

Borg HOF cybernetic Gunslinger from A Town Called Mercy Doctor Who

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