RIDLEY SCOTT REPLIES TO THE MARTIAN CASTING CONTROVERSY

HOLLYWOOD – Ridley Scott replies to accusations of white washing in his casting of The Martian.

Another Ridley Scott – film another casting controversy. First Exodus: Gods and Kings, then his projected Roots remake and now this time his latest film, The Martian is the film under fire, though the cast includes gender diversity and racial diversity, many have argued that the film is still not diverse enough, with one of its main characters not being from the place that their name would suggest.

Ridley Scott popped into the Studio Exec Bungalow to discuss the matter and offer a rebuttal:

The film is called The Martian and it has as its lead character Mark Watney. Matt Damon, one of the best actor’s of his generation, plays the role perfectly and what’s more his name is a surefire way of getting people into the cinema. He is a star. And this film with the budget it has, not huge but still this is a big film, I can’t make that money back if I cast so and so from Mars, who no one has ever heard of.

But some are saying with so few films being made about Mars it seems a pity not to have an actual Martian in the role of The Martian.

I know and I appreciate that, but ultimately this is a business and the number of real Martian actors who can open a film are very few. There’s Will Smith and that’s it.

What about Taylor Kitsch?

Oh come on. Be serious.

The Martian is currently on release.

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 3 TO HAVE TITLE CHANGE

HOLLYWOOD – Nic Pizzolatto revealed today that True Detective Season 3 will have a title change and some significant differences to the first two seasons.

“A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet” wrote Julian Fellowes or someone, but HBO seem to disagree and are hoping that the title change of True Detective 3 will create a much needed in critical and audience reaction. The second season indeed was so poorly received that its still quite high ratings were explained as being due to ‘hate watching’.

Nic Pizzolatto, close friend of the Studio Exec, popped in to the Studio Exec bungalow to explain his thinking:

I think I’ve got bogged down in certain genre aspects of what I was trying to do. The first show had this Lovecraft type thing going on. The second I was Los Angeles bound and I was very influenced by James Ellroy. But with the next season I’m going to take George Romero as my primary influencer.

That sounds like a real change.

Oh it is. And it will be reflected in the action of the story. I can’t tell you too much as we’re in the process of casting and still developing the scripts, but my thoughts are clear that what people want is something much more direct, less dense, packed with action as well perhaps.

But George Romero is more famed as a horror director. 

And we will be going more in that direction and why not? We had element of that in the first season and I’d like to bring it back. I feel it was something that a lot of people missed from the second. Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in the second show. We managed to Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell and no one laughed. Not once. At least not intentionally.

Fear the True Detective will be broadcast June 2016.

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: BLACK MAPS AND MOTEL ROOMS

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2: EPISODE 7: BLACK MAPS AND MOTEL ROOMS  – So we’re almost at the light at the end of the tunnel, but that unfortunately means – we’re still in the tunnel.

The penultimate episode of the second season of True Detective finally got rid of a major character, but my nonchalance was almost unbearable. Let’s rewind to the motel room where the now framed Velcro (Colin Farrell) and Euripedes (Rachel McAdam) basically recreate the inside of Nic Pizzolatto’s writing room of a head as he desperately tries to remember what happened in all the other episodes as a way of bringing out some closure. As they do this the sexual tensions fizz, leading them to some of the silliest dialogue – ‘You’re not a bad man’ ‘Yes, I am’, ‘Oh no you’re not’  ‘Oh yes I am’ etc. There is a sense that finally the show is becoming leaner as David Morse and the sister split along with Paul’s (Taylor Kitsch) mom and girlfriend. Velcro’s fat son was busy watching Friends so we saw not a whisker of the grumpy lad (my favorite character of the whole show thus far).

Frank (Vince Vaughn) is finally getting smart and violent. Even though having just been told everyone has been bought, he entrusts his wife with shady henchman #5. His showdown with Zee Roooshun is going to be fun. I hope he shoots Osip while the nasty man is elongating one of those endless vowels of his.

Next week we have the last 90 minute episode – which I hope begins with Paul on a stretcher being told by Ray, ‘Lucky he hit you with one of those fancy paint balling guns and not an actual bullet’ (from an idea suggested by @pennywisereject).

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘OTHER LIVES’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘OTHER LIVES’ REVIEW – True Detective: why do I bother? Part 5.

The second half of True Detective felt like a reset, with everyone getting a costume change, a mustache shave and the possibility to all stand around saying why they’re doing though we no longer care about what they’re doing. The big shoot out happened and rattled the box. Ani has been demoted; Velcro has quit the force; Paul has been promoted to a bad suit and Frank has been dragged back in just as he thought he was out. I honestly don’t remember from week to week who got killed and there are literally zero emotional stakes. Half way through the episode a black lawyer (DA, police, I don’t remember) has Velcro, Paul and Ani meet in the middle of the street so she can have everyone state baldly their motivation for continuing the show, or be given it by her if they had trouble remembering why they should give a shit.

People have talked a lot about what doesn’t work this season, comparing it to what worked last season, but it goes through the whole DNA of the show. It isn’t simply too many characters, or an uncompelling drama, piss-poor dialogue or acting that simply doesn’t know what to do with what’s been given. It’s all of those things, but what is most irritating is there is somewhere here a really good idea.

What Nic Pizzolatto needed was a very good script editor, a writers room maybe, and another year of rewrites. The Chinatown, LA Confidential stuff is there it just needs someone to say go back and do over. And it helps if the twists are surprises for the audience as well rather than being the characters discovering something the audience guessed back in episode one.

 

 

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘DOWN WILL COME’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘DOWN WILL COME’ REVIEW – Halfway through the second season of True Detective we are served up with a Michael Mann style shoot out, but does it actually make any sense?

I try and I try and I try to like Nic Pizzolatto’s second season of True Detective. I admire the anthology form. I think the stunt casting of Vincent Vaughn is courageous. I love the setting of an updated Chinatown Los Angeles, with its arterial freeways and empty nighthawk spaces. But whereas True Detective 1 was The Matrix –  a lifetime in the making – True Detective 2 is TV’s Matrix Reload. That same cold sweat of watching talented people being disappointing. The same fear that the first one that impressed you so  much won’t stand a re-watching.

Episode 4 is the halfway point and nothing much has happened since the first one. Taylor Kitsch is still gay; still pretending not to be. Velcro is still soulful. Rachel McAdams still hasn’t had that shit; constipated expression remains. Vince Vaughn is still unconvincing as an unconvincing gangster. Everyone still talks in that all-our-dialogue-has-been-written-by-the-same-teenage-poet-way.

None of the escalations actually seem to escalate. When Paul is mobbed by the press, they seem remarkably un-persistent. They seemed to be there only so that Rachel McAdams could also be put in further trouble and Velcro’s comment about them all being scapegoats to be proved likely. Pizzolatto himself seems to have got bored with this episode and so provided us with a WOW moment of a shoot out.  This is what Game of Thrones lapses into at its worse i.e. Season Four. It really was unnecessary, but it was fun and it escalated amusingly. The CGI head shots made it a bit too video gamey, but still … it woke me up and Frank didn’t talk about his dental care.

 

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘MAYBE TOMORROW’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2: EPISODE 3 REVIEW – The ‘plot’ deepens, I think, as someone does something somewhere. Meanwhile somewhere else some other people doing other things.

F*cking sh*t! Colin Farrell is not dead. The survival of Colin Farrell felt like a kick in the chest. So we’re not going with the bold move. He didn’t even wake up in hospital. Though it was funny that he pissed himself. The danger element that would have added greatly to the show if Velcro had been offed is now removed and then some. Now we know the creepy murderer isn’t going to hurt people who need to be around for contractual reasons.

In other news, Nic Pizzolatto continues to own dick dialogue with the impeccable ‘suck your own dick’ delivered to Vince Vaughn in something that looked like a dark out take from his hit comedy Delivery Man. Vince’s Frank is still looking hassled and petulant by turns. But at least he gets to punch someone and gets the best line of the show so far: ‘Don’t take off your rings, it won’t be a problem for me.’

Velcro and Rachel McAdams stalk around a studio back lot where something like Mad Max is being made. The on set photographer sneers that they’re making a load of shit. To which I wanted to scream, Mad Max: Fury Road was a million times better than this bull crap. This show just isn’t good enough to sneer at anything else. The desultory plotting continued as people wandered around a bit more. Taylor Kitsch’s repressed gay is right out of one of James Ellroy’s LA Quartet, but those were set in the fifties, when it made sense. This sense of anachronism plagues the whole show. Despite a hoarding of American Sniper in the background, this feels like a show that should have been set in the eighties. When Kitsch goes into a nightclub and looks traumatized at the depravity he finds – girls and boys dance unchaperoned – we’re supposed to feel in touch with an underbelly, as if internet porn doesn’t exist. There is no underbelly. It’s all belly now.

The final foot chase was a bit of much needed dynamism and looked good, but like the rest of the episode led nowhere. All we know of the prime suspect is he can’t kill people even when he shoots them twice in the chest with a shotgun, and he failed ninja camouflage school, with his high visibility mask.

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: NIGHT FINDS YOU REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE ‘NIGHT FINDS YOU’ REVIEW – There follows a review of the second episode of season 2 of True Detective. There are spoilers.

I’m not sure if I’m going to review every episode. I don’t know if I have the energy. I feel like every single character on the show, darkly brooding, vaguely incompetent and humorless to the point of rigor mortis. This week’s episode began with an opening monologue by Vince Vaughn – to put beside all those other Vince Vaughn monologues – and herein we have some of the problems with this season so far. Vince’s gangster lies in bed with his wife and starts muttering about the water stain on the ceiling. Cut! Leave it there. We get it, everything is falling apart. No, now we have long monologue about a childhood of neglect, locked in a cellar for a few days. It’s a bit needy, and the feeling is we’re being positioned to feel sympathy for this character, before he has done anything to earn it. We’re supposed to root for him, because of this. Just to make sure we got it, Vince makes sure we know not only that he is still in that cellar, but that the water stain was a symbol of this. If Nic Pizzolatto was a first time writer, this scene would have been slashed by red pen – ‘show not tell’ would be written in the margin, but as it stood the overwritten grandstanding was allowed to stand.

The investigation gets under way as each of the jurisdictions is given a representative on the special squad: Ray Velcro (Colin Farrell) has floppy hair and a tragic mustache, Antigone Flibby-dibbly-dee (Rachel McAdams) smokes an e-cig and Paul Exposition (Taylor Kitsch) has the haunted look of a man who starred in John Carter and won’t be allowed to forget. The latter also revealed himself to be a repressed homosexual  in one of the clunkiest exchanges of the series so far which even had one of the characters commenting on the clunkiness of it. The dialogue is uniformly awful, with everyone saying everything, sometimes twice. ‘There are appointments with his psychiatrist. Looks like he was seeing a shrink,’ says Ray ‘Sherlock’ Velcro.

The ominous soundtrack and the industrial landscape hint that something terrible is lurking here – ‘What is this place?’ Ani says as they drive past what I believe is usually called ‘a factory’. And these are detectives? The final scene offers the first real hook of the series and will probably guarantee that I’ll tune in again next week. I will be hugely disappointed if we open to ‘INT: HOSPITAL. NIGHT. Ray is hooked up to a life support machine.’ Ray dying would be a nice quick twist. And frankly he deserves to die. He walks into a house where a murder might have taken place, sees a large pool of blood and then holsters his weapon? I might not be a ‘true’ detective, but I’ve got a feeling neither is Ray.

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TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘WESTERN BOOK OF THE DEAD’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: EPISODE 1 REVIEW – John Carter from Mars and a Mean Girl look moody with Alexander the Great and  Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend.

I used to be a big fan of James Ellory. I loved the LA Quartet and American Tabloid. But The Cold Three Thousand. Spoiled it for me. There’s a point when you hard boil something that everything evaporates and all of a sudden all you have is the smell of burning. In that book there was nary a sentence longer than four words. Everything was clipped and succinct to the point it suc.t.

The Western Book of the Dead – the first episode of the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO anthology series True Detective is geographically and tonally in prime James Ellroy territory, a dark noir set in the underworld of Los Angeles and environs. It features a set of characters, none of whom ever go to supermarkets or laugh at reruns of The Simpsons (the first five seasons). None of them have even heard of Game of Thrones. Colin Farrell plays Ray, a corrupt cop who drinks, does drugs and who has a fat dopey ginger haired son who is probably the son of his wife’s rapist. Rachel McAdam is Ani, a police officer whose day’s work seems to be going around the county arresting her own backstory – sister’s a prostitute, dad’s a mystic. Taylor Kitsch is officer Woodrugh, a traffic cop and war veteran who is so troubled that he can’t even have a blow job without a haunted facial expression. And Vince Vaughn is the local mobster with the Corleone urge to get into some legitimate business and leave it to his yet to be conceived heir.

I’m not sure if this anxiety over paternity that goes through the first episode is directly related to the shadow cast by the success of True Detective Season 1, and I do have to remember that I couldn’t stand the first show for at least the first three episodes. However, the incessant soundtrack, clipped dialogue and the constant moodiness feel like they’re covering up something superficial and wrong: ‘I wanted to be an astronaut,’ Ray complains into a voice recorder. ‘But astronauts don’t even go to the moon anymore.’ Well, boo-f*cking-hoo.

The body turns up at the end, giving the impression that this was all prologue and there’s hope this might find its groove, as the characters finally swoop on the story, but the familiarity and Justin Linn’s full immersion in True Detective style is not a good omen. And some of the writing is awful. Police detectives approach the mansion of a local big wig who has gone missing: ‘This is a big house for one man’, which is political commentary + exposition – anything anyone would actually say. The guy lives in Los Angeles and he hasn’t noticed that rich politicians live in big houses? Maybe I’m being harsh but Ray did say ‘I welcome judgement’.

Oh and finally…

[SPOILER PREDICTION: If it turns out that Vince Vaughn set up Colin Farrell’s wife’s rape as a way of compromising a cop and putting him in his debt, and then Colin Farrell finds out in episode 7, I will be very displeased.]