Chris O’Dowd

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Calvary. The place of the skull, wound through Latin into English from the ancient Aramaic name Golgotha. This is the place, outside the walls of Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified. It’s not exactly a light title for a movie, but writer/director John Michael McDonagh isn’t interested in levity. He opens with a quote from St. Augustine: “Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.” Referring to the two men crucified next to Christ, it’s an ominous declaration of ambiguity. This film does not aim to end on a note of simple closure. That said, this is not a sober and humorless cry of despair from the heart of Catholicism. That St. Augustine quote has cropped up once before in the work of an iconoclastic Irishman, Samuel Beckett. Waiting for Godot, in its god-killing irreverence, evokes the two thieves as an example of the unpredictability of paradise (we’ve all got a 50/50 shot at heaven) and the questionable nature of the bible (the second thief is only saved in one out of four Gospels). These weighty concerns weigh heavily over Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson), the grizzled hero of Calvary. What is the usefulness of a priest in a world where people have stopped waiting for God?

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Brendan Gleeson and Chris ODowd in Calvary

When you become a priest, and you’ve done so for purely innocent reasons, you’re probably under the impression that you’re in the clear for the rest of your life. You’re doing the lord’s work and keeping to yourself, so there’s really no reason to be in fear for your safety or think that anyone would want to target you for a crime. But them’s the brakes, Father. Anyone who studies the Bible should have a firm grasp on knowing that life isn’t fair. The first trailer for Calvary presents Father James LaVelle (Brendan Gleeson) attempting to do his job, listening to confessions of the weary and the sinning all day long. For those unfamiliar with the Catholic practice, the priest sits on one side of the confession booth, shrouded from view of the “sinner” on the other side of the panel (and that person remains anonymous to the priest, as well). The churchgoer then confesses all of her sins since the time of her last confession, and the Father assigns a prayer repentance and she’s forgiven of her sins in the eyes of the lord. Being Catholic is super easy.

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Nick Frost in CUBAN FURY

After years of directing television episodes for comedies, including work on Episodes and Up All Night, director James Griffiths makes his film debut with Cuban Fury, a spicy comedy led by Nick Frost and a backing cast of other famous funny people. Similarly, the film is written by Jon Brown, whose resume was also previously film-free. Bruce (Frost) and his sister Sam were an award-winning salsa duo in their youth, until a gang of young bullies vanquished Bruce’s love of dance and upbeat attitude. Many years later, adult Bruce falls for his new boss Julia (Rashida Jones), and when he realizes that her favorite hobby is his childhood pastime, he’s inspired to get back in the salsa game. Cue Bruce’s grizzled old dance instructor (Ian McShane), and the fire in his heart is re-ignited.

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trailer cuban fury

Nick Frost is a funny man, but he’s a bit of a bridesmaid when it comes to his film roles. Sidekicks and supporting roles have been the entirety of his career, but no more. Step aside Simon Pegg, the dance floor belongs to Frost now! Cuban Fury stars Frost as Bruce Garrett, a chubby chump who falls for the new girl (Rashida Jones) at work but finds himself in competition with the office Lothario (Chris O’Dowd). Bruce discovers that no woman can resist a dancing man so he sets out to learn and master the art of the salsa dance. Check out the first trailer for Cuban Fury below.

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dark crystal room

While watching Thor: The Dark World, my desire was to switch this week’s list of movies to watch to a list of TV series to watch. The whole movie is like Game of Thrones meets Doctor Who, the former an understandable influence since director Alan Taylor has helmed six episodes of that show (the fact that Christopher Eccleston is in the movie has nothing to do with the latter). He’s also won an Emmy for his work directing The Sopranos and a DGA Award for his work on Mad Men. Other series I was reminded of while watching include The Wire, because of Idris Elba, Lost, because of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and The IT Crowd, because of Chris O’Dowd. But most of these are already so well known, and they really don’t have a lot to do with Thor 2 other than talent connections. I also wasn’t interested in checking out 2 Broke Girls just to make a well-rounded yet thin point. So, here’s your usual list of movies I thought to recommend after the Thor sequel. Not surprisingly, there are no appropriate documentaries included this time. You’re welcome. Minor SPOILERS if you haven’t seen Thor: The Dark World. 

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costnerdrunk

What is Casting Couch? It’s a gathering together of casting news from all across the Internet. Today we finally, finally know who Disney has cast as the lead of their new version of Cinderella. It seems like just yesterday Kevin Costner was playing sleazy baseball players and checking little girls for tattoos of the map to dry land, but now he’s going to be a grandfather. Deadline is reporting that the veteran actor is all set to re-team with his Upside of Anger director, Mike Binder, to star in a new film called Black and White. The story will see Costner’s character taking care of his bi-racial granddaughter after both his daughter and his wife die due to tragic accidents. If all of that isn’t already bad enough, more trouble comes along when the baby’s paternal grandmother comes along and wants to take the kid away from him. Sounds like he’s going to have to lay on some of that patented Costner charm to get through this one.

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review sapphires

Editor’s Note: Allison’s review originally ran during the film’s premiere at last year’s AFI Film Fest, but we’re re-running it as the movie opens in limited release this week. The music industry is a brutal landscape scattered with broken dreams and unrecognized talent, but when you take this landscape and add to it racism and war, the stakes are set even higher. Based on a true story (and adapted from the stage play of the same name), The Sapphires is not simply another tale about a girl group trying to make it, it is about a family fighting for a better life for themselves while at the same time coming to terms with their painful past. In 1950s, the Aboriginal population of Australia was considered “not human” and ignored by society until the government began raiding these small communities and stealing their fair-skinned children to pass them off as white. Known as the “stolen generation,” these children were ripped away from their families and traditions to instead be taught “white ways” in an attempt to make them “acceptable” to society.

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The Sapphires

Everyone likes music, and everyone in their right mind thinks that Chris O’Dowd is hilarious, so the new film from Australian director Wayne Blair, The Sapphires, should be a real crowd pleaser. Heck, it’s fun enough that our own Simon Gallagher gave it a kind review after seeing it at Cannes last year, a review in which he called it “the point where Dreamgirls and Cool Runnings meet.” I don’t know about you, but where I come from, to invoke Cool Runnings is high praise indeed. Now that The Weinstein Company has picked up the film and set it for a North American release on March 22, they’ve put out a new trailer to sell it to American audiences, and as you can see, it does indeed seem like a really good time. It’s got humor, a charming period setting, tons of soul music, and even a little action and drama once it goes to the Vietnam freaking War. What more could a movie offer up in an attempt to warm the cockles of your icy heart and make you decide to give it a chance? Come on, just try to watch this trailer and not beam at O’Dowd’s cuteness with the twinkle of a crush gleaming in your eye. Try not to get sucked in by these vivacious young ladies‘ enthusiasm to chew up the world and spit it out. Dare you.

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The Sapphires Movie

“The simplest way to sell Wayne Blair‘s film debut The Sapphires is to say it is like the point where Dreamgirls and Cool Runnings meet, only with a more explicit socio-cultural message, and played out against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. And all in all it’s a largely undemanding, entertaining affair.” Sweet and easy, that’s how Simon described the new film about an all-Aboriginal singing group who deal with drama from outside and within when he saw it at Cannes. He liked it, and now that there’s a trailer out, it’s easy to see why. Check it out for yourself:

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The only way you can describe the new trailer for This Is 40 is to say that it looks, unmistakably, like a Judd Apatow film. Not only are his wife and kids front and center, but so are a ton of other actors that he’s known for collaborating with, they’re all engaging in that stoner-shenanigans-that-still-tug-on-the-heartstrings humor that Apatow perfected if not invented, and it’s all set to a George Harrison song that feels like it was written precisely so it could accompany the sentimental hard sell of a trailer for a Judd Apatow movie.

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Why should you go see Frankie Go Boom this October 12? If not to support a burgeoning talent in newcomer writer/director Jordan Roberts, do it because it stars names like Charlie Hunnam (who you might know from Undeclared or Sons of Anarchy), Lizzy Caplan (who is awesome in everything she does), Whitney Cummings (who has a lot to make up for after making us sit through her sitcom) and Chris O’Dowd (who charmed the world as the love interest in Bridesmaids and most likely has big things ahead of him). And, if all of those names aren’t enough to convince you to buy a ticket, see Frankie Go Boom in order to take in just how beautiful Ron Perlman looks when he’s dressed up as a woman.

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Ian McShane is an accomplished actor who’s been steadily working in the business for more decades than he’d probably like to admit at this point, but these days he’s likely best known for bringing the phrase “cocksucker” back into style while playing the cutthroat and dastardly saloon owner Al Swearengen on HBO’s Deadwood, so it’s kind of funny to picture him salsa dancing, which is what he’s going to be doing in his next film. According to THR, McShane has just signed on for a big role in the upcoming UK comedy Cuban Fury. The film, which was penned by a television writer named Jon Brown but which comes from an idea of Nick Frost’s, will feature Frost playing a schlubby doormat type who’s inspired to return to the world of salsa dancing because of a crush that he has on his boss. You see, his character used to be a dancing prodigy, but he had his career ruined early on by a rival dancer. Probably the idea of watching Nick Frost sexy-dance sounds appealing enough to sell you on seeing this one already, but wait, it gets even better.

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The Paperboy John Cusack

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival featured this year’s Oscar winning Best Actor performance thanks to the inclusion of the wonderful The Artist in competition, and though the films seem to have been chosen for their artistry and provocative subtexts more than any really commercial pointers (as always happens the year after the festival is deemed “too commercial”), there have been some seriously fine performances this year as well. There wasn’t an Uggy this year, but there was a murdered pooch in Moonrise Kingdom, a bitey Killer Whale in Rust & Bone, and a striking performance from an armadillo in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, so we’ll have to wait and see who emerges with the best animal performance. Probably won’t come from Madagascar 3 though…so for the time being, let’s stick to the humans.

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The simplest way to sell Wayne Blair‘s film debut The Sapphires is to say it is like the point where Dreamgirls and Cool Runnings meet, only with a more explicit socio-cultural message, and played out against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. And all in all it’s a largely undemanding, entertaining affair. The title refers to an all-Aboriginal vocal group – Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Kay (Shari Sebbens), and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) – who leave the discriminant community their families live on the edge of and travel to Vietnam to entertain the American troops, under the guidance of their self-styled “Soul Man” manager (played by the excellent Chris O’Dowd in a role that bears resemblance to John Candy‘s in Cool Runnings). Along the way The Sapphires explores similar issues to Dreamgirls: the group are initially torn by personal frictions and haunted by underlying racial tensions both within their own group and in the wider world, and have their heads turned by the new opportunities of fame.

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At a certain age, everyone has them – people they love, friends they’ve grown up with, beloved compatriots that have turned into frazzled, mewling monsters. Let’s call them what they are – Friends With Kids. In Jennifer Westfeldt‘s film, she stars as one half of a non-couple with no kids – her Julie Keller has a great apartment and a great job and a great pack of friends, but she’s nowhere near the stage of life when she’ll announce at a dinner that she’s pregnant, or move to Brooklyn to have more space for the rugrats, or to turn into a shell of herself after months of no sleep and no sex and a crying baby. Her best friend, Jason Fryman (Adam Scott) is in the same boat – a bit of a playboy, he’s loose with both his morals and his money, and in absolutely no state to settle down and have a kid. Which doesn’t quite explain how much they both secretly want to. When the other four members of their inner circle (including Bridesmaids veterans Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm, and Kristen Wiig), already paired off and married, start having children, Julie and Jason are both struck by two thoughts. One – they want kids. Two – they don’t want to have them the way their friends have them. All Julie and Jason can see is the disintegration of romance, beaten down by babies screaming for binkies, lack of sex, and abject exhaustion – which is why […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? Whatever it was last night has been shed, and tonight it is back to its old self: a movie news round-up that appears nightly, pulls no punches and always delivers the goods. For those who were disappointed in last night’s non-entry — especially that guy who called me “LAZY” — please accept my apology in the form of tonight’s exquisite assortment of entertaining goodies. Tonight’s lead image comes from Pixar’s new short, Luna. It’s the coming-of-age story of a young boy who is taught the strange details of his family’s business. As with everything Pixar-related, it looks beautiful. And we can only imagine that it will have some sort of heart-warming human elements. Nothing plucks heart strings like a little lineage and a father with a massive mustache.

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The comparison of Bridesmaids to The Hangover is surface level, marketing nonsense, but the idea is so prevalent that it seems like it needs to be shaken off before talking about the movie. Are there pre-wedding antics? Yes. Is it outrageous? Only sometimes. It is pure situational comedy? Not at all. In contrast, Bridesmaids is far more character driven, and that’s where half the humor comes from. Of course, it’s hilarious to watch these women get into ridiculous situations involving body functions, but there’s far more to the story than a group jumping from absurdity to absurdity in hot pink taffeta. This review should also be taken with a grain of salt, though, because I missed several minutes of the movie. Why? Because a fight almost broke out in the theater. An upstanding member of society kept pulling out his cell phone, an older gentleman asked him politely to put it away, and curse words were flung back. More curse words came, and rather than watch a cell phone-addicted asshat get himself so worked up that he leaped over a row of seats to beat up a senior citizen who just wanted to enjoy a movie, I ducked out to go snag a manager. So, yes. I missed a little bit. But even still, Bridesmaids worked fantastically well. That seems like a testament to its strengths.

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Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… the UK!

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PirateRadio

Pirate Radio is a perfectly balanced comedy with a brilliant cast. Hard to believe it’s only Richard Curtis’s second film as director.

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published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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