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Tag Archive: Steve Buscemi


   

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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Review by C.J. Bunce

By the time of his death in 1982, science fiction writer and future visionary Philip K. Dick wrote some 44 novels and 121 short stories.  A master storyteller, Dick’s short story writing was often simple and straightforward, but it was packed with amazing worlds, prescient technologies (and glimpses at what would be real problems resulting from those technologies), plus truly unique and inspiring ideas and ideals.  The real genius of Dick can be found in these quick stories.  The 2017 British and American co-production Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is a science fiction series of ten episodes inspired by ten of his short stories, available now in the U.S. for the first time via Amazon Video.  If you find you’re not a fan of the series, don’t hold it against Philip K. Dick–the episodes are only very, very loosely based on his short stories, opting instead to expand on the stories and update most of the settings and plots, including swapping new technologies for those he wrote about.  Ideally those new to Dick’s works will be inspired by the ideas in the series to delve into his written works and experience his creations for themselves.

Written and directed by a variety of filmmakers, Electric Dreams is a hodgepodge of styles, storytelling, and continuity. Surprisingly the writers opted against sticking with the magic of Dick’s stories, deleting key memorable scenes, and choosing to add extra subplots with a few stories barely recognizable from their source material.  Most of the updates detract from the underlying story.  Three episodes fare the best–coincidentally or not, these are episodes that stay the truest to Dick’s own work.  The rest are less compelling, but each has its high points, either via surprisingly good special effects and production values for TV, or the choice of and performances by the actors (including Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel, Source Code), Anna Paquin (X-Men series), Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series), Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Fargo), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Total Recall), Jacob Vargas (Luke Cage), Terrence Howard (Wayward Pines), and Anne Reid (Hot Fuzz, Doctor Who, Marchlands).  Based on one of the best of all Dick’s stories, Impossible Planet follows the original story to create the best episode of the series, taking viewers on a final voyage home accompanying an old (more than 300 years old) woman played by Geraldine Chaplin (even this episode cuts the most powerful scene from the short story).  The Father Thing takes its time getting to the story, but once there it keeps the guts and spirit of the original story.  Loyal to the source material, it also has a great John Carpenter-esque soundtrack and Greg Kinnear is perfectly cast as the father.  For a person who was not remembered as a family man, Dick’s stories involving children are among his best and “The Father Thing” is no different.  Ideas furthered in a story familiar to most sci-fi fans, “The Minority Report,” are examined in The Hood Maker, complete with precognitive telepaths and the concept of pre-crime.  The episode follows the original story, and its “buddy cop” duo would make a great spin-off series.

The remainder of the series offers concepts that will be familiar to fans of Dick’s works, particularly those short stories previously committed to film, including “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” adapted into two Total Recall films, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, John Woo’s Paycheck, The Adjustment Bureau, and Next (from “The Golden Man”), among others.  Many Dick full-length novels have made it to the big screen, too, most notably Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? released as Blade Runner, and although it does not credit Dick, The Truman Show is obviously sourced in Dick’s novel Time Out of Joint.  In addition, recently Dick’s award-winning novel The Man From the High Castle made it to home video as another Amazon series.

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Ridiculous 6

Today we have three previews for coming theatrical releases of the comedy variety.  Two of them hail from two of the most financially successful former Saturday Night Live cast members, and one a coming-of-age zombie flick full of young actors.  Are they all dumb comedies, or will any of them break through the pack and be worth the ticket price?

The first film comes from Adam Sandler’s production company and will be a Netflix release.  It’s a Western comedy–a rare genre appearance for audiences–with a large cast that might make you think of big cast pieces of years past like Airplane!  Along with Sandler, The Ridiculous 6 stars Steve Buscemi, Terry Crews, Norm MacDonald, Danny Trejo, Will Forte, Luke Wilson, Steve Zahn, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Chris Parnell, John Turturro, Jon Lovitz, and Vanilla Ice.  That’s a lot of former SNL cast members!

will-ferrell-daddys-home-scene

The stars of the hilarious comedy The Other Guys are back.  Will Farrell, the most successful SNL actor since Eddie Murphy, and along with Sandler one of the big three of the box office grossing SNL elite shares billing again with one of our favorite actors, the versatile Mark Wahlberg, in Daddy’s Home.  Farrell is a step-dad and must contend with his wife’s tougher and cooler ex-husband, played by Wahlberg.  This is the film widely reported on earlier this year where Farrell and crew broke in on an actual basketball game and seemingly drunk Farrell beaned a dance group gal in the face (no worries, she was a stunt woman in on the gag).  Definitely one for the Farrell and Wahlberg fans out there.

Zombie Scouts

Finally, The Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is the latest zombie flick.  It’s a comedy and coming of age movie, but also seems like it has a bit of Steven Spielberg’s Super 8 meets American Pie.  Definitely a strange entry, it features a slate of young actors including Arnold’s son Patrick Schwarzenegger, plus comedic actors Cloris Leachman and David Koechner.

Here are the trailers:

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Brosnan 2015 Bond ad

We haven’t seen them all yet, but these early released new ads for Sunday’s big game will be hard to beat.  Danny Trejo as Marcia Brady?  Pierce Brosnan back as Bond?  More Schwarzenegger as Terminator?  You’d have to drift back to the Bowl ads of 2012 for commercials this good.

Wait no longer.  Check out this new trailer, with plenty of Arnold and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as the latest Sarah Connor, in Terminator Genisys:

We’ll be first in line for Terminator opening weekend.

If you don’t agree with us that Daniel Craig is the best James Bond of all, maybe you’ll be happy with the visuals of Pierce Brosnan back in a The Spy Who Loved Me setting:

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Monsters-University-Mike

A few reasons we’re previewing the trailer for the prequel to Monsters, Inc., the June 2013 release Monsters University.

1.  Monsters, Inc., as a Disney/Pixar release was a pretty funny movie, with an actual plot, and with some laugh-out-loud comic dialogue of Billy Crystal and John Goodman.

2.  The trailer for Monsters University is a good one for a prequel, taking Crystal’s one-eyed Mike Wazowski to his first meeting with Goodman’s furry blue monster Sulley.

3.  The post-movie features and gag reel that played after Monsters, Inc. was one of the best shown after any movie since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and we hope Disney/Pixar includes more after Monsters University.

4.  This is the first time I’ve seen scenes from my own college experience reproduced in a motion picture.

5.  Just look at the great line-up of actors featured in this movie:  Nathan Fillion, Frank Oz, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Bonnie Hunt, Dave Foley, and Joel Murray.

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