Advertisements

Tag Archive: Kate Walsh


Review by C.J. Bunce

Not all TV shows are made for binge watching.  Case in point:  The Umbrella Academy, now streaming on Netflix.  The TV series is based on a six-issue comic book series created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá.  Most comic adaptations for the screen have more content to pull from, but there are exceptions, like Cowboys & Aliens, From Hell, A History of Violence, iZombie, Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Men in Black, Oblivion, Polar, Road to Perdition, Sin City, 300, Timecop, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and Wynonna Earp.  Just as most of these were able to hold up something substantial to the audience, some comics, like Cowboys & Aliens, Polar, Sin City, and 300, either didn’t have enough content, were insubstantial, or are simply too difficult to translate.  The Umbrella Academy falls somewhere in this last group.  The story is entirely derivative with nothing new to be found here, which doesn’t need to be a bad thing.  Slow moving, painfully so at times, pretentious in one story thread and over-dramatic soap opera in the other, at ten episodes this might be the most difficult series produced by Netflix to trudge through so far.  But some key elements are so well done it may be worth a try if you’re patient and have the extra time on your hands.  But don’t be afraid to have the remote control handy for fast forwarding.

Unlike timeless characters and worlds from DC Comics and Marvel Comics, which have some benefit in not needing to be completely explained in each adaptation, The Umbrella Academy offers only a brief glimpse at its origin story, leaving many questions unanswered.  In October 1989, 43 women on Earth give birth unexpectedly.  Don’t expect to learn why.  It is never revealed.  Seven of these babies are purchased by a strange, wealthy, apparently Dr. Moreau type, played by an unrecognizable Colm Feore (Thor, Anon, Paycheck).  Do all 43 have superpowers?  It doesn’t seem so and we don’t learn why.  But these seven, or at least six of seven, do.  The wealthy man takes on the role of father in name only, turning them into the Jackson Five of superheroes, and the kids are provided a mother who is actually a life-like robot (Jordan Claire Robbins), and a sort of butler who is a talking ape (Lodge 49’s Adam Godley).  Why?  The story never tells us.  These are but a few of the frustrating parts.

The good–maybe even great–parts are found in four of the seven superpowered siblings.  Number Five is a boy who stepped out of time, deemed lost to the others, and lives into the distant future only to find a way back to his siblings looking like the very boy who left years ago.  Young Nickelodeon actor Aidan Gallagher steps into this role perfectly, playing a kid with life experiences of a 58-year-old with the authority and bravado of George Clooney.  Irish actor Robert Sheehan (Bad Samaritan) plays Klaus, one of the singularly unique characters of comicdom:  He is a mess, an addict, with no drive or direction, and he can see dead people, and maybe much more if he can only stay sober.  He is also the only one who can see the only brother who has been killed in action, off camera, years before, and with no explanation how or why for the viewer.  That’s Number Six/Ben, played by Justin H. Min.  Ben tries to guide Klaus onto the right path from the other side.  And then there is Number Two/Diego, played by David Castañeda (Sicario: Day of the Soldado).  Diego has a history of being nervous about his powers, and he’s the only one who seems to want to save the world with his powers–the classic superhero character of the group that you’ll cheer for.  The special effects are a high point–as when Number Five, Klaus, and Diego get to use their powers.  Of all the characters in the series, only Klaus and Ben get a clear, satisfying character arc, but if you only watch The Umbrella Academy to catch these four characters and fast forward through the rest, you’ll witness some solid superhero performances and story elements.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Forty-five years later it’s become clear that confidential informant Deep Throat’s role in the Watergate scandal that resulted in the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon was far less than the legend that had been built over the years.  Despite the top journalism by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein–it was really good ol’ fashioned dogged reporting and investigation that brought the White House down–it is their own account, as documented in their book All the Presidents’ Men that in fact created the mythos of the secret crusader that revealed all.  For 30 years the mystery of what Washington insider was really the pseudonymous Deep Throat was one of the biggest mysteries of modern political history, the history of journalism, and the history of modern America.  Who was the secret informant?  Many around during Watergate would never find out, including Nixon, although he had speculated it was FBI Director Mark Felt.  The world knew that Woodward and Bernstein knew the answer.  It was all the exciting stuff of a paperback suspense thriller, until Felt admitted in 2005 that he was, indeed, the informant.

Yes, the title violates the “don’t make it so damned long” rule of titling a great movie, but since we’ve known the secret persona of Mark Felt for twelve years, it’s really been only a matter of time until we’d get to see Watergate from a new angle.  Mark Felt:  The Man Who Brought Down the White House, from Sony Pictures Classics, looks like an interesting enough thriller, but can it possibly have what made the four-time Oscar winner All the Presidents’ Men such a benchmark in the history of film?  All the President’s Men was exciting despite the audience knowing the ending.  Now the audience even knows the key secret of the story, so it will be up to a compelling story for this new account to succeed, and a great cast.

Director Peter Landesman has assembled an impressive cast.  Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Taken, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, The Chronicles of Narnia) plays Felt.  Diane Lane (The Outsiders, Judge Dredd, Man of Steel) plays his wife.  Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Paycheck) is White House counsel to Nixon, John Dean.  Julian Morris (New Girl, 24, Valkyrie) is Bob Woodward.  Tom Sizemore (Twin Peaks, Striking Distance, China Beach) plays an FBI agent, and CIA agents are played by Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, Super 8, Thirteen Days, Knots Landing) and Eddie Marsan (Atomic Blonde, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Morrell, The World’s End, Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta).  Noah Wyle (Donnie Darko, The Librarians, A Few Good Men) plays Department of Justice official Stan Pottinger.  Pat Gray, acting FBI Director at the time of the break-in at Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel complex, is played by notable genre tough guy actor Martin Csokas (The Lord of the Rings, The Equalizer, The Amazing Spider-man 2, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Alice in Wonderland, Aeon Flux, Timeline, Xena: Warrior Princess).  Also look for Josh Lucas (Hulk, A Beautiful Mind) and Kate Walsh (The Drew Carey Show, Scary Movie 5).

Here is a preview for Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House:

Continue reading

Martin Freeman in Fargo

Did you hear the one about the British actor who played a guy from Minnesooootah?

Following in the footsteps of the dark 1970 Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould comedy flick M*A*S*H, the Coen Brothers are taking their Oscar-winning script from their movie Fargo to the small screen, turning the setting into a new series on the FX Network.  An all-star cast will make TV viewers who might not have liked the Coen Brothers humor in the film give the idea another chance.

With an all-new “true crime” story with a new case and new characters, and that far-North Central U.S. accent that drifts from Wisconsin to Minnesota, The Hobbit and Sherlock star Martin Freeman will play a put-upon local who encounters a troublemaking outsider played by Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade).  Orange County star Colin Hanks plays a Duluth police deputy.  Other cast includes Allison Tolman, Oliver Platt (A Time to Kill, Beethoven), Keith Carradine (The Long Riders), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Nebraska), Brian Markinson (Arrow, Continuum), Kate Walsh (The Drew Carey Show), and Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused, Zodiac).

Here’s the first seven minutes of the new series, Fargo:

Continue reading