With his good looks, Liev Schreiber (TV's Ray Donovan) seems born to play an astronaut. In Magnet Releasing's The Last Days on Mars, he finally gets the chance. As chief systems officer Vincent Campbell, he's part of Aurora's six-month mission on the red planet with only 19 hours left to go before heading home. What could go wrong?
According to The Slumber Party Massacre, young women love to have group sleepovers so fun that the girls don't have the good sense to leave the house when their party is crashed by the arrival of a drill-wielding serial killer.
We vilify people for bad behavior in real life, yet celebrate it in our entertainment, particularly on the small screen. When the results are as strong as the current crop, all new (or new-ish) to DVD and/or Blu-ray, why question the disconnect?
Prior to his Spider-Man trilogy, director Sam Raimi cut his superhero-movie teeth on 1990's Darkman, a character of his own creation. Although it's clearly not the most polished of his works, the summer sleeper plays even better as the years tick by. Look no further than Shout! Factory's colorful re-release on Blu-ray.
Someday, celebrity cyclist Lance Armstrong may regret hiring Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney to document his 2009 "comeback," but I doubt it. As The Armstrong Lie demonstrates time and again for two mostly gripping hours, the athlete is still unable to tell the whole truth and nothing but.
Woody Harrelson’s LAPD officer of Rampart is a very bad man.
As one character states boldly to his face, “You’re a classic racist. A bigot. A sexist. A womanizer. A chauvinist. A misanthrope. Homophobic, clearly, or maybe you just don’t like yourself.”
Mind you, this is just from his daughter, so imagine what those with no emotional investment to cop David Brown would think. Or just see for yourself, as the cop takes advantage of his badge, skirts the boundaries of the law and even bullies his fellow officers.
He only takes exception to the charge of racism: “I hate all people equally.”
Now playing exclusively at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial, Rampart reunites Harrelson with director Oren Moverman, who guided the Zombieland leader to a career-second Oscar nomination in 2009’s The Messenger. Until now, that harrowing film captured Harrelson at his most dramatic.
Here, he’s even more stark, even more sober (not in alcoholic terms, just to clarify) as Brown, a chain-smoking, bitter-veneer cop who harbors a history of so many bad habits, his squad nickname is “Date Rape Dave.”
Being corrupt and cheerless is simply par for the course, more or less tolerated by the force until his anger gets the best of him following a car accident, and he beats the other driver senseless. The only thing he contends he did wrong is that he did it in front of someone’s video camera. Because of the ensuing media coverage, the department is, in the words of an assistant DA (Sigourney Weaver, Cedar Rapids), “hemorrhaging prestige.”
The movie is not. Better than The Messenger, Moverman’s follow-up essentially gives Harrelson his Training Day, minus the pat Hollywood ending. Instead, it ends (properly, I’d argue) on an ambiguous note, rendering the story more authentic. Honesty had to be the director’s intent, because group dialogue overlaps in the style of Robert Altman, as everyday conversations do.
Rampart also radiates a dark shade of L.A. soul, with a can’t-be-faked flavor I couldn’t quite detect until I saw with whom Moverman co-wrote the screenplay: James Ellroy, one of finest practitioners of crime fiction, and no stranger to real-life tragedy and despair.
The cast does their words justice, including an initially unrecognizable Ben Foster (Harrelson’s Messenger co-star) and a chilling Ned Beatty (The Killer Inside Me), who is to this film what Albert Brooks was to Drive.
And speaking of the Oscar-snubbed, add Harrelson alongside Michaels Fassbender and Shannon for an extraordinary performance not nominated for Best Actor by this year’s Academy Awards. He deserved that third nod. —Rod Lott