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.
Nearly every scene of HBO's telefilm Game Change, I recall from
John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's excellent nonfiction book of the
same thing. But the movie directed by Jay Roach (of the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents
franchises) only tells half — maybe even one-quarter — of the story,
ignoring the 2008 presidential-campaign narratives of Barack Obama,
Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for the one it finds most compelling:
that of Sarah Palin and John McCain, and not the other way around.
If Sen. McCain's choice of the largely unknown Alaska Gov. Palin as his veep choice seemed out of nowhere then, there's good reason: Because it pretty much was. McCain, here played by Ed Harris (Man on a Ledge), wanted Sen. Joe Lieberman, but was talked into someone “more transformative” by hired gun Steven Schmidt (Woody Harrelson, Rampart).
At that point, so pressed for time was the McCain campaign, Palin (Julianne Moore, Crazy, Stupid, Love) wasn't vetted properly. For example, she informed Schmidt and company of her daughter Bristol's out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but not of her husband's membership in Alaska's secessionist party. Nor the extent of her political knowledge — or lack thereof — as she doesn't know why there's a North and South Korea, what the Federal Reserve is, or who ordered the 9/11 attacks (she says Saddam Hussein).
While facts were not Palin's strong point, acting was. Once the campaign just let her be her, McCain’s journey toward the White House got back on track ... but at the expense of McCain, who no longer could control her power grab. About all he could do is say "fuck" an awful lot (in stark contrast to her one and only curse word: “flippin’”).
To that extent, Harris' McCain is pretty much a beer-drinking cartoon. That's not the actor’s fault; that's all the script gives him to do. He's a supporting player to the tug of war between Schmidt and Palin. Harrelson is strong as expected, but Moore is stronger — so much so that I literally forgot I was watching her. Naturally, she's best portraying the side of Palin we've never seen: so stressed, she's increasingly catatonic, and not from her constant consumption of Diet Dr Pepper.
While Moore proves the best choice for the role, the scenes of the behind-the-scenes reactions to Palin's speeches and debates are the definition of forced, from "She's incredible!" to "Now I know why they call her Sarah Barracuda!" Lines like those keep Game Change, premiering Saturday, at that made-for-TV level, despite that top-drawer talent. It’s good, but not transformative good. —Rod Lott