Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
Sundance interview includes much discussion of sympathetic villains
PARK CITY, UTAH - Jason Isaacs
is an extremely nice guy who makes an extremely evil guy when circumstances require.
The "Awake" and "Brotherhood" star was battling a near-total vocal outage when we talked at last month's Sundance
Film Festival, but he fought through the hoarseness to discuss his dark turn in "Sweetwater
In the Miller Brothers' not-exactly-Western, Isaacs plays self-appointed prophet Josiah, who rules a small frontier fiefdom with the alleged word of God and an iron fist. A man of faith, Josiah is also heavily invested in worldly goods, including land, multiple wives and a band new mahogany desk from British Honduras. This all causes him to run afoul of the initially passive, but increasingly vengeful, Sarah (January Jones).
Josiah is not a good guy, but to hear Isaacs describe him, he's not exactly a bad guy either. Then again, Isaacs has a deep and abiding sympathy for Lucious Malfoy, the dastardly Death Eater he played in the Harry Potter franchise.
In our Sundance conversation, Isaacs discusses the fine art of playing villains without thinking of them as villains. He also talks about his love for Apple products and -- this will be exciting for fans of the short-lived "Awake" -- his desire to get back into TV this year. In fact, he says he's weighing several TV offers.
Check out the full interview above...
'Mad Men' star was already comfortable with firearms
PARK CITY, UTAH - In hiatuses from her Emmy nominated role as Betty Draper on "Mad Men
," January Jones
has somewhat unexpectedly gravitated towards a brawny brand of films.
She messed with Liam Neeson's head in "Unknown." She displayed mutant powers in "X-Men: First Class." She set off Nicolas Cage's vigilante streak in "Seeking Justice."
In The Miller Brothers' 1880s-set not-quite-Western "Sweetwater
," which premiered out-of-competition at last month's Sundance
Film Festival, Jones' character makes all of those other roles look like so many Mothers Theresa.
Initially, Jones' Sarah is just a milquetoast frontier wife, but when tragedy hits her family, she goes on an escalating spree of revenge that leads her closer and closer to Jason Isaacs' Josiah, a prairie prophet with grand aspirations and delusions. Were this justice being meted out by a Clint Eastwood "Man With No Name," we wouldn't blink, but when it comes from a character who's a corset-wearing daughter of a prostitute, it becomes a revisionist discourse just waiting to happen.
Up in Park City during the Festival, I chatted with Jones about this role reversal and about the chance to play this sort of badass female lead. We talked about her native comfort with firearms and horseback-riding and about underplaying opposite flamboyant performances by co-stars Isaacs and Ed Harris. [I already posted the brief side conversation
in which I was able to tell Jones the premiere date for the sixth season of "Mad Men," which she promises will feature a little more Betty.]
Check out the interview above.
We're off to Hollywood next week on 'Idol'
One of the great things about missing the first two weeks of "American Idol" audition recapping is that I'm not even vaguely burnt out on "Idol" auditions even thought they're reaching their end on Thursday (January 31) night.
I'm not actually sure where tonight's auditions are emanating from, so this is gonna be a big mystery.
Sit back and enjoy the auditioning action...
The judges head to Texas and LA-adjacent for more bickering
OK, "American Idol" Season 12... Let's do this!
First off, thanks to HitFix's Liane Bonin Starr, who did a terrific job of recapping while I was spending my evenings watching obscure documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival. If you loved Liane's recaps more than mine, feel free to complain and I'll force her to add "Idol" to her recapping plate full-time.
Til then, for the 11th straight season (I didn't have a venue for recaps in Season One, plus the Internet wasn't really recapping "American Idol" back then), I'm ready to spend some quality time with Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest and lament the passing of such favorites as Dunkleman, British Guy, Ditzy Girl, Angry Songwriter Girl, The Fish From "Finding Nemo," The Mummified Remains of Steven Tyler and The Co-Star of "Parker."
But let's see what Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Nicole Kidman's Husband have to say about "American Idol" auditions from Long Beach and San Antonio... Shall we?
Dan and Alan talk 'House of Cards,' 'The Americans' and much more
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
After taking last week off, we're back for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
We didn't miss any new shows in our absence, but we did miss the series finale of "Fringe" and the season (hopefully not series) finale of "Parenthood." So we talked about those. We also reviewed FX's "The Americans," NBC's "Do No Harm" and the first two episodes of Netflix's "House of Cards." We also pre-eulogize NBC's "30 Rock" on the eve of its series finale. We may check back in on "30 Rock" next week after Thursday's finale, so if there's anything retrospective you want from us, feel free to ask.
It's a full podcast and next week's podcast also seems likely to be busy!
Sundance (00:00:50 - 00:4:30)
"The Americans" (00:04:40 - 00:15:55)
"Do No Harm" (00:15:55 - 00:29:20)
"House of Cards" (00:29:25 - 00:51:30)
"30 Rock" Pre-Finale Retrospective (00:51:35 - 01:10:25)
"Fringe" Finale (01:10:50 - 01:21:20)
"Parenthood" Finale" (01:21:25 - 01:35:25)
"The Office" (01:35:30 - 01:41:50)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Will the actors help clarify the Oscars picture?
Welcome to Sunday (January 27) night's Screen Actors Guild Awards, one of the only 10 or 20 times per year that Hollywood gathers together to salute itself.
On the TV side, we're just anticipated yet another "Modern Family"/"Homeland" celebration.
But on the movies side, this remains one of the most wide-open Oscars races in years and it maybe up to the SAG voters to led some clarity. Click through for the full live-blog and join the conversation!
Sarah Shahi and Jason Momoa discuss star Sylvester Stallone
NEW ORLEANS - Sylvester Stallone can't talk.
That's not exactly right. Actually, Sylvester Stallone is an exceptionally good talker and prolific writer.
However, the "Bullet to the Head" star is unable to talk to the group of journalists gathered in the August 2011 heat in the Crescent City to visit the set of his new Walter Hill thriller.
Stallone is busy trying to avoid an explosion, which puts the need or desire to speak with a motley assortment of bloggers in perspective. Dodging this explosion requires quick reactions, strong swimming and powerful lungs.
The show travels to Louisiana to search for more talent
After the not-very-explosive on-air edit of the Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey dust-up last night, the search for talent (instead of judges' panel drama) continues tonight in Baton Rouge. However, that doesn't mean there won't be more squabbling, more fake British accents and more big hats. For the record, I am loving the big hats.
Also, if you're not seeing this, having massive technical difficulties. I am live blogging away, but the Interwebs are refusing to let me share. Stoopid Interwebs.
Shaul Schwarz's cinematography is a Festival standout
Subject Repetition Fatigue is always a Sundance Film Festival struggle.
For several years now, it's been tough on any documentary about post-9/11 terrorism or the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan because the subject had been covered so frequently and, often, so well. How are you gonna keep them on the farm after they've seen "Restrepo" or "Hell and Back"?
Just this week, I watched Jacob Kornbluth's "Inequality For All" and then, two days later, I found it difficult to stomach the economic flimsiness and sloppy anger of "99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film." Would I have liked the "Occupy" doc more if I hadn't enjoyed those 90 minutes being lectured by Robert Reich? Perhaps.
Heck, Subject Repetition Fatigue is such a serious issue that I've already discussed it previously when reviewing "Manhunt" in the context of the year's various Osama Bin Laden projects.
We've already moved into Subject Repetition Fatigue Repetition Fatigue, wherein I've grown tired of mentioning the repeated topics that I've grown tired of mentioning. [Yes, it's been a long time since I last had a full night's sleep.]
Or maybe I just need a different name for it? Docu-Deja Vu? That sensation that you're hearing a fact or figure that you've heard in previous films? Or that moment you realize you've seen the same talking head discuss the same subject matter in multiple documentaries?
Just as I praised "Manhunt" for finding a different point-of-entry into the OBL field, I was pleased that Shaul Schwarz's "Narco Cultura" is able to stake its own position within the recent spate of terror-in-Mexico documentaries. While some of the claims and statistics in the documentary are definitely familiar, Schwarz builds his documentary around several fresh and interesting characters and anchors the film with superlative cinematography. "Narco Cultura," ends up being one of the better features in Sundance's US Documentary Competition and its originality ends up being one of my greatest reliefs.
More after the break...
'Warriors' director discusses his return to filmmaking
NEW ORLEANS. It's late August, 2011. The Big Easy. Outside, it's hot. Inside, things are heating up.
A gangster played by Jason Momoa walks into a grungy brown office, highlighted by peeling wallpaper and mold stains. He steps back out. He steps in again. He raises a gun and points it at the camera, raising and lowering the firearm, trying to get the proper eye-line. The gun is fitted with a silencer, but it's all for show. hitmen require silence to escape detection, but movie sets require noise for proper audio synching. As a result, a PA is walking around passing out earplugs and assuring a small group of reporters that things are about to get loud.
Unflappable, Momoa's character reenters the room and demands that a safe be opened. It's Day 40 of 43 on the set of a film the clap-boards call "Headshot," but which will be released as "Bullet to the Head." The titles, temp and future, mean the same thing and Momoa, wearing a suit and a ponytail, much more dapper than in his role on "Game of Thrones" or the recently released "Conan," lives up to the title by opening fire on the reticent hoodlums. He's vicious, efficient and deadly. And the PA was not wrong about the noise.
Moments later, extras exit the stage clutching blood-drenched paper towels.
Walter Hill is back.