‘Constance’: Kevin Dunn To Star In TNT Drama Pilot From Team Downey

Read on: Deadline.

Veep’s Kevin Dunn is set to co-star opposite Elisabeth Shue in TNT drama pilot Constance, from Team Downey, Sonar Entertainment and Studio T.
Written by KC Perry and directed by Jesse Peretz, Constance is a fun, darkly humorous, veneer-stripping …

TNT Orders Pilots ‘Constance’ Starring Elisabeth Shue From Team Downey & ‘Beast Mode’

Read on: Deadline.

TNT has ordered its first 2018 drama pilots, Constance, starring Elisabeth Shue, and Beast Mode (working title).
KC Perry (The Originals) wrote Constance, with Emmy nominee Jesse Peretz (Glow, Girls) attached to direct. Constance is produced by Team Do…

Elisabeth Shue And ‘Mudbound’s Rob Morgan Join Tom Hanks’ ‘Greyhound’ At Sony

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Elisabeth Shue and Rob Morgan, who played one of the leads in the four-time Oscar-nominated Mudbound, has joined the cast of Greyhound for director Aaron Schneider (Get Low).
The Tom Hanks’ starring WWII drama is about an international convoy of 37 Allied ships, led by captain Ernest Krause in his first command of a U.S. destroyer, crosses the treacherous North Atlantic while hotly pursued by wolf packs of Nazi U-boats. Krause is being played by Hanks…

‘Death Wish’ Film Review: Bruce Willis’ Revenge Served Tepid by Eli Roth

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The NRA would have you believe that the answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But what about a bad movie with a gun? There will surely be those who approach Eli Roth’s updated “Death Wish” — with Bruce Willis taking over outlaw-justice duties for Charles Bronson — as the fantasy balm of righteous violence they need after the headline horrors of so many mass killings.

But is an upstanding man turned instant vengeance machine, who slays only the right criminals, who never hits a bystander, really the message our roiling gun-debate conversation needs right now? Especially when packaged as warmed-over, ’80s-style Schwarzenegger Lite with Roth-ian splashes of looky-looky gore?

Despite its initial success in a gritty era of urban-nightmare thrillers, there’s now only one way to take in the original 1974 movie: as the story of a serial killer’s awakening. Bronson’s leftie-architect-turned-heat-packing-reactionary, his grief warped by a violent sexual assault that kills his wife and psychologically shatters his daughter, simply starts gunning down muggers who are rarely any harm to him, and the movie begged you to get savage pleasure from the cold, racial, artless deliberativeness of it.

Also Read: Bruce Willis ‘Death Wish’ Trailer Blasted as ‘Alt-Right Fan Fiction’

Paul Kersey, as stoically rendered by Bronson, may have appealed to audiences at the time as a civilian Dirty Harry, and by the fourth loony sequel as a geriatric Rambo, but now? He’s just the inspiration for the world’s George Zimmermans.

When you cast Willis, though — as a Chicago doctor who goes from saving bullet-riddled gang members on the operating table to plugging them with lead in broad daylight — you get a tried-and-true combo of decent acting chops and action-hero panache that, strangely enough, helps in leeching this version of even zeitgeisty outrage. (Chicago’s real murder problems are, for once, the perfect Hollywood gloss.)

This one’s strictly a shoot-‘em-up, and only an average one at that. And since we’re already cartoon-sensitized to payback slaughter by “John Wick” (over a dog, no less), there’s something almost disingenuous about how much time this “Death Wish” takes establishing its family-tragedy bona fides before soliciting hoots, hollers and applause from Willis’s street-cleansing escapades. “John Wick” had athletic style to go with its operatic brutality. The rebooted “Death Wish” is a box-checked order form.

Also Read: ‘Black Panther’ Could Beat ‘Death Wish’ and ‘Red Sparrow’ Combined at Box Office

The set-up, adapted from Brian Garfield’s novel this time around by Joe Carnahan, couldn’t be simpler. After a home invasion by three masked gunmen leaves his wife (Elisabeth Shue, on screen all too briefly) shot dead and his college-bound daughter (Camila Morrone) in a coma, surgeon Paul Kersey (Willis) spirals into depression.

He’s not only a man who couldn’t protect his family, but he also feels helpless at the inability of the detectives (Dean Norris and Kimberly Elise, oddly paired) to make any headway in catching the criminals. Watching his rural father-in-law (Len Cariou) fire his rifle at poachers, then seeing a beautiful blonde on TV hawk a gun shop, suggests a way out of his funk.

Also Read: Armed Teacher Opens Fire at Georgia School

Using a swiped firearm from a shot gangbanger needing emergency surgery, and wearing discarded hoodies from the hospital’s laundry bin, Kersey prowls Chicago’s streets. After his inaugural killing of two carjackers, a witness’s phone video goes viral and he’s labeled The Grim Reaper. The movie’s lip service to vigilantism’s downsides amounts to a wound on Kersey’s left hand (guns recoil, ouch!), later a bullet graze (the physician can heal himself), and repeatedly inserted snippets of various radio deejays — both white and black — arguing different sides of the issue. (See, balance!)

Never addressed, though, is the racial truism that if an anonymous, hoodie-shrouded person of color from a poor neighborhood were dispensing street justice, he’d hardly be labeled a “guardian angel” or people’s hero. He might not even be covered by the media. But that kind of truth-telling would just harsh this movie’s NRA-friendly buzz.

Though this superficially slicker, violence-as-punchline “Death Wish” is a genre-familiarized eye-roll of irresponsibility compared to the insidious politics of the 1974 film, there’s still no emotional equivalent here to the scene where Bronson gets physically sick after his first kill. That moment at least acknowledged some form of gut check before the endorphin rush. But as soon as Willis deploys his trademark smirk, and the comfortable vengeance of tracking down his wife’s killers while avoiding detection takes over, it just becomes a million other B-movies about lowlifes getting what they deserve.

Another nod to caution comes when a news segment references a fed-up middle-aged family man tragically killed trying to copycat Kersey’s crime-stopping ways. Kersey’s non-response, having just dispatched an unrepentant baddie by medically torturing him before dropping a jacked-up car on his head, is this “Death Wish” in a nutshell. Nice try, bumming me out with “consequences.”

It’s anyone’s guess if the nation’s newly politicized, gun-control-hungry teenagers will be a decisive demographic in this movie’s box office fate. But as I left the screening for “Death Wish,” one middle-aged white guy barked out over the credits, “God bless the NRA! Arm the teachers!” Trigger warning, indeed.



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‘Battle of the Sexes’ Review: Emma Stone and Steve Carell Recreate a Cultural Turning Point

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Look anywhere around you, and it’s obvious: Sexism sells. In 1973, tennis hall of famer Bobby Riggs exploited that fact to goad Billie Jean King into competing in a match he billed “The Battle of the Sexes.”

Riggs knew which buttons to push to get a whopping 90 million viewers to tune into the game. “She doesn’t stand a chance against me,” Riggs told one journalist. “Women’s tennis is so far beneath men’s tennis.” For the cheap seats, he bragged, “I want to prove that women are lousy, they stink, and they don’t belong on the same court as a man.”

Played by a sideburned and snaggle-toothed Steve Carrell in “Battle of the Sexes,” Bobby comes off as an ass and a clown but, importantly, never a buffoon. Most of us will go into Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ biopic of King with the knowledge that the female sports pioneer will trounce her showboating opponent. But it matters that Billie Jean (Emma Stone) squares off against a worthy adversary; there’s nothing impressive about being smarter than a caveman. Handsome and moving if a bit cautious, “Battle” is full of smart complexities and sensational acting, and it deserves to be considered a serious awards contender.

Watch Video: ‘Battle of the Sexes’ First Trailer: Emma Stone, Steve Carell ‘Put the Show Back in Chauvinism’

There was nothing fair, whatever that means in this case, about the Battle of the Sexes: Riggs was 55 and had retired from the main circuit years ago; the 29-year-old King was the reigning champion of women’s tennis but also saddled with the burden of “justifying” female professional athletics, if not the entire Second Wave of feminism, to the world.

At the drama’s outset, Billie Jean and her sardonic, skunk-streaked business partner Gladys (a career-best Sarah Silverman) form their own championship tour when the female players are offered an eighth of the prize money that male athletes get. Writer Simon Beaufoy (“Slumdog Millionaire”) weaves the story of Billie Jean’s fight for gender equality with that of her sexual coming of age.

Billie Jean’s eyes fall just before joining her husband Larry (a terrific Austin Stowell, “Bridge of Spies”) in a dance. But when the athlete meets liberated hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough), she can’t stop looking. The scenes of blossoming eroticism, as Marilyn cuts Billie Jean’s tresses and gives the tennis star a new way of seeing herself, forge a new dialect of sensuality.  

Watch Video: ‘Battle of the Sexes’ Filmmakers on Why Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs Showdown Is Still Relevant

Stone gives a much more compelling and subtle performance here than she did in “La La Land,” for which she won the Best Actress Oscar earlier this year. Dayton and Faris, whose previous films include “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Ruby Sparks,” accomplish via their close-ups of Stone what Todd Haynes’ “Carol” could not: a thrumming, throbbing period romance conveyed through a series of gazes. It helps that, other than on the court, the only place where we see Billie Jean exploit her physical grace is in the lonely hotel rooms where the athlete and hair stylist discover one another.

If “Battle” betrays its subject anywhere, it’s in the meekness of the characterization of King. Hardly anywhere in sight is the ambition and hyper-competitiveness that it takes to become a record-breaking champion. (Serena Williams is still routinely pilloried for exhibiting such “unfeminine” traits today.) In a climactic scene, when Billie Jean sets the record straight about what message she wants to send with the Battle of the Sexes, she merely states, “We deserve some respect.” (Just some?)

And when Bobby suggests that their match pit “Male Chauvinist Pig [against] Hairy-Legged Feminist,” Billie Jean shoots back that she does shave her legs before hanging up on him. Women can do anything, the film implies, as long as they stay within the box of Hollywood’s standards for female likability.

Also Read: Fall Festivals Say It Loud: Here Comes Awards Season

Unsurprisingly, then, Carrell nearly steals the picture as a man who’s so busy hustling for a second chance that he doesn’t realize his life is actually a tragedy. The domestic scenes in which the aging gambler chafes against his wealthy wife’s (a superb Elisabeth Shue) aloof disapproval make up some of the film’s most heartfelt moments. When the huckster starts believing his own hype, everything goes downhill. (“Battle” discards the latter-day theory that an indebted Riggs threw the game after betting large on King.)

Gleaming among the large supporting cast are Bill Pullman as a vindictive announcer, Alan Cumming as Billie Jean’s mentor to LGBTQ reality in the early ’70s, and Jessica McNamee (“CHIPS”) as rival tennis star Margaret Court.

“Battle” builds gradually to the big event, which, thanks in part to Riggs’ showmanship, becomes something of a circus, replete with farm animals, palanquins manned by gladiators, and a wedding ceremony. (If Riggs wins, the bride will take the groom’s name, and vice versa.) The actual match is surprisingly tense, if disappointingly shot mostly aerially.

What’s at stake — in a clash that feels particularly resonant in 2017 — is the one between the past and the future. In these divisive times, “Battle of the Sexes” allows us all to cheer for the right side of history. 

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