Calvary

The opening scene of John Michael McDonagh‘s Calvary is a frightening juxtaposition that perfectly sets the tone for what’s to come. Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is taking confession from a mysterious man who admits to being molested by a priest as a child. Not this specific priest, though, another one, and to get revenge he tells Father James he’s going to kill him for no good reason. In an instant, McDonagh has sucked the audience in.

Much like McDonagh and Gleeson’s previous film The Guard, Calvary is wholly original. It blends elements of mystery, a detective story and comedy with lots of philosophical ruminations. As Father James spends what might be his final week alive dealing with the townspeople, one of which is his would-be murderer, he tries to solve the riddle by delving into their problems (alcoholism, depression, adultery, etc) through his Catholic beliefs. The result is an ambitious, slow-burn drama with dynamite performances from top to bottom that just misses the mark because it’s trying to do too much. Read More »

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Heaven Is For Real

What would you do if your kid had a near-death experience and came back to life claiming to have seen heaven? Real-life couple Todd and Sonja Burpo found themselves in exactly that situation, after their four-year-old son Colton barely survived surgery. While the parents were initially unsure what to believe, they eventually came to trust their son’s revelations, and in 2010 the father published the book Heaven Is For Real about the family’s experience.

And now, in 2013, Sony has turned that book into a movie. Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly play the mom and dad, while newcomer Connor Corum plays their blessed son. Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church also star, and Randall Wallace (Secretariat) directs. Watch the new trailer after the jump.

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After a dozen-year stretch in Uncanny Valley, Robert Zemeckis has returned to the world of live-action with the substance abuse drama Flight. It’s not the smoothest ride. The film’s alcoholism plotline veers toward the generic, the symbolism is often so blunt as to be laughable, and the supporting players are mostly one-note.

What keeps it on course, however, is the compassionate but honest character study at its core. Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins (Real Steel) have an iron grip on who Captain William “Whip” Whitaker is and what makes him tick, and Denzel Washington‘s grounded performance maintains the audience’s sympathy without sugarcoating Whip’s nasty side.

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Today’s TV Bits is a severely mixed bag, as we get updates on two returning shows and a few other shows that are dead or close to it. After the jump:

  • NBC confirms that Community will be back in the spring
  • AMC sets a return date for Mad Men
  • Showtime releases the season premieres of Shameless and Californication online
  • Fox cancels Allen Gregory, begins developing new late-night animated block
  • Fox’s Fringe seems likely to get cancelled
  • Fox decides against Glee spin-off, but devises a plan to keep its biggest stars on the show.

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Robert Zemeckis is getting ready to make Flight, in which Denzel Washington plays a booze- and drug-addled pilot who heroically saves a troubled flight, only to face an investigation into his role in the flight’s troubles. Kelly Reilly plays another addict who comes into his life, and Don Cheadle and Bruce Greenwood are in talks for roles. Now Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker) is in talks to play the flight’s co-pilot, “who finds religion after the crash.” John Gatins scripted. [THR]

After the break, the Tom Cruise thriller One Shot gets one more and Mira Sorvino is in a sordid tale of true crime. Read More »

Robert Zemeckis is preparing to make his live-action return with the film Flight, in which Denzel Washington will play a commercial pilot who safely lands a troubled flight, saving almost all aboard, but finds his own role in the flight’s trouble under investigation.

Now Kelly Reilly (Pride and Prejudice, Eden Lake, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is in talks for the other lead role, “Nicole Devlin, a drug addict who is at rock bottom when she meets Whip,” with the latter character being Denzel’s role. The two characters find their friendship developing as they each deal with their personal demons. John Gatins wrote the script. [Deadline]

After the break, Olivia Wilde becomes the object of one man’s affection, and Vanessa Hudgens becomes another. Things definately don’t work out well for one of the two of them, however, and perhaps for both. Read More »

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