THE DEATH OF STALIN – REVIEW – Veep Goes to the USSR.
The Death of Stalin is as black as Beluga caviar and as strong as vodka, as absurd as totalitarianism and yet much much funnier. Armando Iannucci brings together a hugely talented cast including Mr. Pink, Larry Sanders’ pal, the new Star Trek captain, one of the Fast Show fellas, a Monty Python and Simon Russell Beale as Beria. The latter is a famous Brit Shakespearean who has dedicated himself to the theater, at the cinema’s expense, it has to be said.
Following Stalin’s collapse the members of the Politburo, sharpen their knives and run about trying to make their own futures secure even as they dodge their comrades conspiracies and the purge to come. The backbiting and fighting is hilarious and some of the most ludicrous details are the bits which are actually the most historically accurate.
Iannucci made his name in British radio and then TV comedy before going stateside with In the Loop and Veep. But here he has hit it out of the park. In a world of Dirty Grandpas and crappy product placement disguised as comedy vehicles, this is one of the most original comedies of the last decade. There’s a wealth of comic detail and wonderfully realized performances from everyone including Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend as Stalin’s hilariously mad children. It’s pertinence to the current resident of the Kremlin can be seen in the fact that it has been banned in Russia. Iannucci’s talent should now be employed closer to home.
HOLLYWOOD – IT star Bill Skarsgard signs on to play Steve Buscemi in the biopic Young Buscemi.
After frightening folks as Pennywise, Bill Skarsgard is to pay actor Steve Buscemi in a new film documenting the early career of the Reservoir Dogs star. Skarsgard spoke to the Studio Exec about the role:
I’ve always been a huge fan of Steve’s work especially the stuff he did with the Coen Brothers. Our film will really meet Steve before he became Buscemi. In fact, the working title was Becoming Buscemi for a while.
We meet him in New York, struggling to catch a break. Then he gets a role in Tales from the Darkside. It’s all about how he prepares for the role and what his new found fame does to his life.
Do you cover his role in The Rock?
Young Buscemi will be released in 2019.
HORACE AND PETE – REVIEW – Louis C.K. writes and directs and stars in a brilliant dark drama set in a run down Brooklyn pub.
Louis C.K.’s new webseries Horace and Pete dropped taking everyone by complete surprise. The second surprise was the tone which was much dark and more dramatic than anything we’d seen so far, though some episodes of Louis had already hinted at depths of brilliant drama. Set in a dingy Brooklyn pub, Horace (Louis C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi) are the two owners who have followed a century old tradition of taking control of the pub which has always been run by a Horace and a Pete. Uncle Pete (Alan Alda) is the prior owner who now tends bar and who ran it with the previous Horace, Horace’s father. An assortment of customers hang out like an ensemble from an episode of Cheers written by Samuel Beckett and include Jessica Lang as Horace senior’s former lover and Stephen Wright as a mumbling drunk jotting things in a little notebook. Uncle Pete is the foul mouthed, politically incorrect id of the bar and the repository of the dark history. Edie Falco is the sister who feels that they should sell the pub and get on with their lives, to escape its toxic effects.
I’ve got to episode four and find this to be some of the best stuff that Louis C.K. has ever done. And I say that as a huge fan of his stand up and his series. Having carved out a niche of his own creative freedom, he is here using it to do something that feels wholly new and totally ambitious. There are moments of wry comedy and dark almost terrifying honesty. Some of the episodes are long with an intermission, reinforcing the impression that this is primarily a theatrical work. The last one is a mere thirty minutes.
As James Stewart said in Harvey, ‘No one brings anything small into a bar’. And here everyone has demons and problems. Pete has seriously mental problems, has been hospitalized and must take his meds. Horace has one broken marriage and a faltering relationship with his overweight daughter. His son hasn’t spoken to him for years. He is a good listener, but incapable of fully expressing himself. Louis C.K. the director lets his amazing cast do their work. In one episode Laurie Metcalf, playing Horace’s ex-wife, tells a long story and it must be a good ten to fifteen minutes before the camera even reveals who she is talking to. Her performance steps right up to the challenge. Of course this could be seen as indulgent and it won’t be for everyone, but for me Horace and Pete reveals Louis C.K. to be a truly great dramatic writer while never losing sight of the dark comedy of failure.
HOLLYWOOD – First we hear The X-Files is coming back and now David Duchovny has revealed that popular nineties erotic anthology show The Red Shoe Diaries are also coming back.
Of course everyone is excited about the return of Twin Peaks and some even more so about the imminent revisiting by Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) in “The X-Files”, but for some of us David Duchovny will always be the gate keeper to television erotica that was “The Red Shoe Diaries”. Running throughout the 90s and directed by Zalman King and Raphael Eisenman, the anthology show featured Duchovny in the role of Jack Winters, a man whose lover has committed suicide and who asks women to write in letters describing their knocking off experiences in a quest to understand the mystery that is woman.
The Californication star dropped by the Studio Exec hot tub to talk EXCLUSIVELY about what had got the creative juices flowing once more:
You know how it is, you get to a stage in your career and you simply don’t want new challenges. You want to go back to the old challenges and see if you can do them over and better. I was in Aquarius and that was quite good and Californication, but really I wanted to get back to the X-Files and once I was doing that I thought why don’t we do Jack Winters again. I’m really curious to find out, where is Jack today and what, in the age of internet pornography, is he doing with himself.
And what’s the answer?
He’s been spending a lot of time in his room and he’s lost weight! No, I’m only kidding you. The fact of the matter is the more we allow a free run of our desires – 5 Shades of Grey etc. – the more mysterious the become and the more alienated we become from them. It’s the paradox of our time that we have all these freedoms and what do we fantasize about? Being tied up and told what to do. It’s as if capitalism had a direct through line to our id.
What everybody loved about the original – apart from the cinematography and music – were the high end cameos. Who have you got lined up for the new show?
Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis…
…are just a few of the actresses who have turned us down. But I’m hoping to pull some strings and maybe we can persuade Lindsay Lohan and Tara Reid to make an appearance. Steve Buscemi is definitely in for the pilot. Which ironically is going to be about a pilot! Ha!
The Red Show Diaries will be broadcast early next year.
HOLLYWOOD – HBO have decided to reboot its flagship show Boardwalk Empire in the hope that people will give a damn this time around.
“Unfortunately we broadcast the show during the reign of Breaking Bad,” said producer Martin Scorsese.
In many ways Boardwalk Empire is the superior product but people related to a drug dealing school teacher more than a bunch of bootlegging gangsters. Well, we’ve listened to the audience and so the next incarnation will tick all the boxes.
Tentatively titledBreaking Boardwalks, Scorsese revealed that Steve Buscemi will be replaced by Bryan Cranston in the lead role of crime kingpin Nucky Thompson.
I loved Steve’s work but Bryan is hot right now so the casting makes sense. We’ve also replaced Michael Pitt with Aaron Paul, Kelly Macdonald with Anna Gunn and it’s goodbye Stephen Graham, hello Dean Norris.
Asked if there will be any changes to the original script Scorsese nodded:
It’s totally different. We begin during Prohibition but this time around Nucky discovers a time travelling device and somehow manages to transport himself and a bunch of other people to New Mexico in 2008. Down on his luck and eager to make some money, he gets into the meth amphetamine business and creates his own unique product which is bright pink in color. It’s a great script, totally original and I’m sure the public is going to love it.
HBO is rumoured to have planned for five seasons of Breaking Boardwalks with the last season being split into two parts.
“We’re excited,” said HBO spokesman Rourke Sledge
We’ve got a budget of 200 million and although 90% of that will be used to pay off Vince Gilligan when he inevitably sues us, we’ll still have more than enough left over to produce a quality show.
Breaking Boardwalks is due to be released in 2014.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE: REVIEW – I started watching HBO‘s Boardwalk Empire when it premièred and I’m now struggling to finish the 3rd season. Everything boded well. Martin Scorsese and Terrence Winter, Tim Van Patten, a great cast: Michaels Pitt, Shannon and Kenneth Williams, Stephen Graham, Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald. Sumptuous sets, high production values, the wonderful prohibition period of Once Upon a Time in America, whisky colored interiors and the manic rhythms of jazz. I started fast forwarding the show halfway through the second season.
What was wrong with it? Well, first off when a show boasts about how much it cost to reconstruct something you can bet that the show runners will try to get their money’s worth out of the furniture. I got bored of the magnificent establishing shots which never ever looked like a real place any more than Rome ever looked like Rome. Then there was the central casting of a brilliant bit player. Buscemi is a lot of things, but a romantic lead? No. He has no heft, no weight and no charisma. His bow-legged trot away from camera during the title sequence sets the tone. He looks like a someone you could knock over with a feather.
All the hallmarks of HBO productions now look like hallmarks: the sexposition, the OTT violence, the glossy production values that now get in front of the story. I began fast forwarding Kelly Macdonald’s Margaret Shroeder. Hard to think of a less interesting character lumbered with butt-aching story lines, none of which seem attached to the character as such. From tea-totalling to women’s health issues via a slap of catholic hypocrisy and making jollies with an ex-IRA terrorist, her hair sometimes changes but her pursed lips expression and her obnoxious children remain resistant to any temptation to like her.
But it wasn’t only her. The writers had effectively painted Michael Shannon’s glowering G-Man into one of the most uninteresting corners imaginable. When he turns up at the beginning of season 3 selling irons, you know it won’t be long before someone ends up wearing one as a facial piercing. Everything is telegraphed from a distance, which is at least consistent with the period. The villain obviously villainous; the innocent victims lined up to be despatched. This is the show that makes Al Capone a dull little man.
Anyway, it’s almost over and I shall stop occasionally to find out what happens. Hopefully, I won’t have to see many more naked beauties draped over Mr. Buscemi’s thankfully dressed form. And if you think I’ve been unkind, I’d like to point out, I’ve not used the word Sopranos once. Well, twice.
NEW YORK – The week after announcing the world’s sexiest woman – Mila Kunis (?) – Esquire have now declared the world’s sexiest man: Steve Buscemi.
Usually the editors would use a panel of women to decide on who to bestow the ‘World’s most prestigious honor’ but the results in the past have always left the male readership dissatisfied, disgruntled and overly pressured and so this year, in a break with tradition, the editor’s allowed a panel of male experts to vote. They took into account such factors as ‘Is he taller than me?’ and ‘Who do I think of to delay orgasm?’ and came up with a short list that included Robin Williams, Jack Black and Max Von Sydow.
Unlike ‘The World’s Sexiest Woman’ Mila Kunis, Buscemi will not be appearing on the cover, or doing a three minute black and white promo video looking sulky in a lacy bra. The news was announced at three o clock this morning and it is believed Mr Buscemi will not be told.