FIRST LOOK: DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON IN BAYWATCH: THE MOVIE

HOLLYWOOD – As San Andreas hits the screens, the Studio Exec can proudly release this EXCLUSIVE first look at Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the new reboot Baywatch: the Movie.

Very little is known about the movie except that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson plays CJ Parker, a young lifeguard who patrols the beaches of Los Angeles with a little red board on a string attached to the ankle.

‘The Rock’ Johnson spoke exclusively to the Studio Exec:

The thing is I’ve wanted to expand my range as an actor for quite a bit. I’m always this very masculine action guy, you know the Rock! Well, CJ gives me the opportunity to explore another side of my nature, a softer more sensitive side which I hope will also show audiences that there’s more to the Rock than testosterone. And I look great in red.

Justin Malen is on board to rewrite the ‘script’ and We’re the Millers team Jeremy Garelick and Peter Tolan are rumored to be directing.

Johnson (the Rock) continued:

I’ve had to do a lot of preparation,especially yoga and Pilates. But it’s going to be worth it when you see the film. Baywatch is going to be funny and self-aware and edgy, but it is also going to be sexy and kinky and sexy and occasionally brutally violent. Imagine 21 Jump Street but on a beach. No, I’m serious… imagine that! Are you imagining it? Okay? Now take Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill away. Right? Now add me. But with long blond hair. There you go. Now you see it.

It is understood that the David Hasselhoff role of Mitch Buchanon hasn’t been cast yet but both Ann Hathaway and Kirsten Dunst have expressed an interest.

Baywatch will be released in 2015.

(Image courtesy of @perspectivator)

FARGO AND THE WOMEN

FARGO – What is it with Fargo Season 2 and the women?

Season 2 of the hit FX show Fargo just concluded and the praise received if anything exceeded the first season, which itself had come as a surprise. And yet there was something that disturbed me throughout my viewing of Noah Hawley’s intelligent crime drama: namely the women. I remarked on this in my mid-season review (CLICK HERE to read that) and my perplexity only increased as the show went on. A brilliant essay by Kat George for the Decider website posited the absolute opposite of what I’m going to argue here (read that OVER HERE), so first I better concede some points. First off, Fargo gives women a central role. This is the core of the Coen brother’s original motion picture with Frances McDormand’s  Marge Gunderson, a down to earth police woman whose apparent simplicity firm moral rectitude and sharp investigative nous. The first season we got a riff on that with Allison Tolman’s Deputy Molly Solverson. And season two has a quartet of major female characters, all of whom are intelligently written, well performed and move the narrative: Kirsten Dunst as Peggy, Jean Smart as Floyd Gerhardt a would be matriarch of the local crime family, Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) the Sheriff’s ailing wife and Rachel Keller as Simone Gerhardt, Floyd’s granddaughter, a would be femme fetale. In the first episode we get a taste of the strong women when a young Gerhardt tries to prove himself by threatening Judge Mundt (Ann Cusack). Her refusal to concede to the male bluster and her resistance is part of what sets off the chain of events that will unravel throughout the rest of the show – Peggy gives the coup de grace driving her deus ex machina – but it should also be noted that she ends up dead. This is a world not kind to strong women. Not kind to anyone, it might be conceded.

So let’s take the Gerhardt’s next. The ‘would be’s a stuck on there are essential here. Floyd and Simone are both responding to and trying to best the patriarchal mob family from opposite ends of the spectrum – Simone is trying to betray it from without and Floyd take it over from within. And they both fail dramatically. Kat George describes Floyd as a ‘rousing, formidable woman’ but there’s not much evidence of this. This is what she would be, but her only moment of anything like control is when she orders a massacre. All her other decisions end in failure and her sons systematically undermine her. As does her granddaughter whose inept betrayals and manipulations show her as naive and easily manipulated.

Next comes Peggy. The hair dresser with a butcher for a husband and a yen for self-improvement (actualization) is the narrative catalyst that just keeps on giving. George describes her as ‘the puppeteer’. However, giving her power as the lead agent fails to see that her agency is fatally compromised by her mental illness. As the hallucinations in the final episode make clear, Peggy is delusional. Diagnosing her is a tricky task, partly because mental health is always at the behest of narrative in such cases but also because she is the re-enactment of that old misogynistic stereotype – the hysterical blue stocking. Her dissatisfaction and yearning for self-improvement is part and parcel of her madness, hoarding travel and beauty magazines and hallucinating lifestyle gurus. In the final episode we have replay of the scene from the original movie when Marge confronts the main criminal Gaear (Peter Stormare) through a rear view mirror conversation in the police prowler. Her interrogation of the silent banal evil sat on her back seat reveals his smallness, his cupidity in stark relief to her basic un-cynical decency – it is the moral core of the film. The gender roles reversed, it is Patrick Wilson’s police officer Lou Solverson who asks the questions and Peggy who gives a passionate feminist reading of the whole situation – the constrictions of small town life, the limitations and criticisms and surveillance a woman is subject to, her inability to become who she really thinks she should be. ‘People got killed,’ Solverson reminds her. All her problems in the context of the dead bodies reads as a petty complaint of a desperate and desperately selfish housewife, whose delusions led to the death of her doltish but basically good husband (Jesse Plemons).

But Lou is not the only person to give a rebuttal to Peggy and her concerns. His wife Betsy is the counterpoint to all of the women striving to dominate their men, striving to realize themselves. Of her, George writes: Betsy ‘is just as threatening to her world as Floyd and Simone were to theirs, or as Peggy is to the world at large. Betsy has mastered the men in her world, managing to be smart, biting, motherly and gentle all at once.’ So mastery has come through being an uncomplaining, saintly, self-sacrificing, self-abnegating mother and housewife? She masters the men by doing the dishes? By waiting patiently at home, dying quietly while her husband does everything he can not to come back, under the guise of duty? Sure she finds the gun and dispenses stern advice to the town drunk, but all this only secures her in the one role that women are allowed to flourish in. She is a matriarch and not without power, but the matriarch is not necessarily a woman who opposes male power; much of the time they facilitate it – the woman who gets to boss the other women in how best to look after their men.

I get that Fargo is set in the mid-West in a nascent Reaganite America. This is a small town conservative homeliness pitted against the forces of darkness, the interlopers – blacks and native Americans, or just people from Kansas city. It is hard to unpick where that conservative world view is being satirized or lionized – a stickiness that is crucial to the appeal of the source film as well as the TV show. But women, at least in my ledger, seem to get the worst of it. They are mad, bad and dangerous to know on one side, or saintly, motherly and imminently dead on the other. And although misogynists all got short shrift as well – ‘You have a woman problem,’ hisses Dodd Gerhardt, the worst offender – one can’t help but feel the show comes down very much on one side – the Nancy Reagans rather than the second wave feminists.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Use that l’il ole comment box below.

For more Fargo, Click Here.

FARGO 2: REVIEW

FARGO: Season 2 – Mid-Season Review: The second season of Fargo is some great television but its depiction of women though true to the 70s period is pretty hard to stomach.

At the beginning of every episode, Fargo underlines its fictive status with the greatest lie in art ‘based on true events’. Although in the Coen Brothers’ original movie the assertion was slippery – many took them at their word at least at first – in Noah Hawley’s inspired show the repeated assertion of sober truth is weekly reminder that we are watching a brilliant blackly comic fantasy show. Yes it might be set in Minnesota and there aren’t any dragons, but this is as realistic as Game of Thrones using its comically exaggerated aw heck ordinariness as merely a counterpoint to the operatic levels of violence and the Manichean extremes of good and evil portrayed in the snowy wastes.

Season 2 sees the action shift to 1979 and unfurls as a crime turf  war played out against the background of the irresistible rise to power of Ronald Reagan. Everyone is against Carter, whose original sin seems to be the oil crisis which sees people having to queue to fill up their cars as a sign of the decline of America. The characters are drawn with broad strokes. The honorable and decent police officers Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson are played with ramrod moral probity and down to earth wit. No phone footage of them beating up or shooting unarmed black men. Fargo is set before camera phones made the police act that way. On the other side are the wicked criminals, the Gerhardts and the Kansas City crew, both sounding like progressive rock bands and both with a superbly operatic and unrestrained sense of violence. In the middle are the simple folk, the Blumquists played by Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst, who have to pay for the consequences of poorly made decisions and ultimately the violence of everybody else. Missing is Billy Bob Thornton’s truly compelling performance as an avenging angel of violence, but his bemused extreme violence remains as does the opposition provided by the down to earth folks. This is a world that could easily bring forth the dualism with crayons of Reagan’s morning in America versus the Evil Empire rhetoric.

Part of this conservative universe is the treatment of women who are either dangerously duplicitous (Rachel Geller as the Gerhardt daughter), dangerously dumb bimbos (Dunst) or saintly and dying (Cristin Milioti as Betsey Solverson). The one person who could buck the trend, Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart) Matriarch of the Gerhardts is seen consistently as ineffective and always a step behind her feral offspring as well as her adversaries. Now this is a mid-season review and I’m betting that the worm might well turn at some point but thus far what is really missing from the show is not Billy Bob Thornton’s entertaining grandstanding but Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman)’s strong woman at the core.

Fargo remains one of the best and most unlikely successes of recent television. And it is testament to how good it is that I haven’t even mentioned Nick Offerman’s turn as town lawyer and blow hard.

For more Reviews, Click Here.

LARS VON TRIER: ‘ALCOHOL TASTES GOOD’

HOLLYWOOD – Lars Von Trier admitted today that after a year on the wagon, he has begun drinking again because ‘it tastes good and it makes me feel squiffy’.

Speaking EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec, the Danish director of Nymphomaniac, Melancholia and Breaking the Waves Lars Von Trier said:

I tried not to drink for a year, attended AA meetings and the like, but beer tastes really nice and if I have a couple of pints of the stuff, I don’t know what it is but my face feels warm and I have this sense of pleasant well-being.

But what about the drawbacks to alcohol dependency?

I don’t know about dependency. I mean there might be some drawbacks. I do tend to act a bit silly if I have a bottle of wine. And I have occasionally done the odd interview a little worse for wear and then I wake up in the morning and see the newspaper and BANG! I think ‘Oh my God! What have I done?’

Is that what was responsible for…?

The Hitler comments at Cannes. Yes. You see I’d just had a snakebite with Kirsten Dunst and I was feeling loosey-goosey. But those bloody French are so serious. They were all Nazi this and Nazi that. I didn’t realize it would be so controversial. After all Mel Gibson was appearing at the same festival so I thought they like Nazis. After that I swore never to do interviews again.

But you’re doing one now.

Am I? You’re not a journalist. You’re my best friend. Yes you are. I… I…. I love you.

I can’t breath. Please release me from this affectionate headlock and stop rubbing my head with your knuckles.

No.

Lars Von Trier’s next film 1000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall will be released in 2016.

BEAUTIFUL RICH YOUNG WOMEN ‘NOT FEMINISTS’ SHOCK

 HOLLYWOOD – Lana Del Ray, Shailene Woodley, Taylor Swift and Kirsten Dunst are not feminists and have taken the radically brave position of standing up for the status quo, ‘because patriarchy works for all of us and not just men who feminists – if they had their way – would almost certainly kill, or something’.

The movement against feminism taken by privileged rich women should be applauded. Kirsten Dunst has come out as a pioneer for those women who wish to go back to the Fourteenth Century to enjoy the benefits of death in childbirth and droit du seigneur:

Sometimes, you need your knight in shining armor. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work.

Asked if she was a feminist, Divergent actor Shailene Woodley diverged from the Femi-Nazi-ist position:

No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance … And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance.

Here she joins the vast majority of men who also would like a fine balance with women cleaning lavatories and being sexy while the male takes care of the football watching and porn. Taylor Swift remarked: 

I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.

Lana Del Rey said the whole thing was a snore bore, compared to intergalactic politics which nowadays are much more pressing than female circumcision, reproduction rights, the terrifying incidents of rape around the world, income parity and domestic violence: 

For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested. My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.

You can almost hear Sylvia Pankhurst shouting ‘You go girl!’ as she spins energetically in her grave. 

KIRSTEN DUNST’S NOTES FOR WOMEN

HOLLYWOOD – Hi, my name is Kirsten Dunst. You might recall me from such brilliant films as Spider-Man 2 and Maria Antoinette! Lately I’ve been talking about men and women. And specifically women and some of my statements have been misinterpreted so I’m here to set things straight.

First things first. 

Men are men and women are women. Women should not be men. Nor should men be women. I’m not having a crack at homosexuals here either. No. Gay should be gay as well. And transgender should be transgender. Women should not be toothbrushes, nor should they be lamp posts, pencils, submarines, zebras or buckets of steamed mincemeat. Men, on the other hand, should never be burlap sacks, store fronts, German pastries or helicopters. Men should be men. Women should be women. I was shocked that what I said was controversial. It makes perfect sense to me. 

Second thing: 

The casting couch. Now I said something in an interview recently which upset people. All I said was that some women give off a vibe that leads to inappropriate situations. I don’t give off that vibe so I don’t get into those situations. People think I’m insinuating that women who are coerced into sex in order to advance their careers in some way shoulder the blame, but I’m not insinuating it, I’m inferring it. Insinuating doesn’t mean what you think it means. You have to know the meaning of words. Life would be simpler if we ALL understood that a casting couch is not a sex bed, unless it folds out (and most of them do).

So there you have it. Men and women are men and women and casting couches are casting couches. 

Any other questions?