Emily Mortimer

The Newsroom

This season’s premiere of The Newsroom was a bit like drinking an entire bottle of NyQuil before being forced to read a children’s copy of “The Economist” knowing there’d be a quiz later (drone strike!). It tried to distance itself from the previous season almost entirely without learning from its narrative missteps, so now we’re down one bodyguard, and they’ve used two scenes to dump a love quadrangle that used to monopolize screen time. That last part is probably for the best (and hopefully it sticks), and now we have a different crisis to deal with in the form of what looks like a factual honey trap for Will and the news team. But beyond the possible fatal flaw of trying to make us relive news that just happened (while so much current news is out there to contend with right now), there are three things holding the show back from being successful. Things that Aaron Sorkin has produced out of a magic hat before on The West Wing. Things that don’t at all include musical theater history.

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Culture Warrior

Two nights ago, Aaron Sorkin’s heavily-anticipated and rather polarizing new show The Newsroom aired its debut on HBO. With the pilot’s central focus on the BP oilrig explosion, the premium cable network has established itself (alongside with their recent TV movies) as the primary venue for dramatizing recent political history. However, other contemporary television shows have addressed political issues well beyond the headlines of the past few years. In this election year, it seems that TV comedies and dramas from several networks have a surprising amount to say about the political process in a way that resonates with this uncertain, often frustrating moment. Here’s how The Newsroom stacks up against a triumvirate of other TV shows with overtly political themes…

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Aaron Sorkin

Please read this article with caution as it does contain plot details that some may consider spoilers for the first episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. After screening the pilot episode (“We Just Decided To”) of Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom, the Los Angeles Film Festival audience was treated to a Q&A session which featured Sorkin himself along with executive producer Alan Poul, director Greg Mottola, and moderated by Madeleine Brand (The Madeleine Brand Show.) Anyone who has attended a Sorkin Q&A (or seen the man speak) knows that it is the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon. Sorkin’s signature fast-talk does not just live on the pages he writes, it is also how Sorkin speaks himself. It was clear that whatever Sorkin and Brand had spoken about prior to coming into the theater had left them both riled up. Brand (much like the Northwestern professor does to Jeff Daniels’ character, Will McAvoy, in the first scene of the premiere episode) refused to let Sorkin get away with non-answers or quips. Brand continuously pushed him until Sorkin, the man of a million words, let out an exasperated breath… and then jumped right back in.

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Channel Guide - Large

In 1985, John Fogerty was sued for plagiarizing himself. It was a bizarre courtroom situation that arose because Fogerty had forfeited the rights to his old Creedance Clearwater Revival hits to a former record label that went after him when a song he wrote on his new album “Centerfield” sounded too much like his own work. Copyright law is complicated. What can you do. In the last week, a script surfaced that’s purportedly the pilot to The Newsroom, the new HBO show from Aaron Sorkin, and it feels a bit like Fogerty all over again. Sorkin is cribbing off of Sorkin. Of course there are a million grains of salt to throw with this. The primary one being that random scripts on the old internet could be from anywhere. For some reason, writers believe they can fake leaked scripts in order to gain a name through the back door (like writers did on Studio 60 when they weren’t being heard in the room), but it’s actually the writing equivalent of suicide by cop (which a troubled man did on an episode of The West Wing). The internet can be an unforgiving place and pretending to be another writer automatically creates a comparison that no one can survive against. However, this particular script (which you can find if you search for it) seems legit. But there’s a funny thing there, when you’re reading a curious script that can be from anyone. In the back of your mind, you’re imagining that someone […]

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Over Under - Large

Today is Valentine’s Day, and a big part of what that entails is time spent thinking about the one you adore. And, for me, it means thinking about romantic movies. So what has happened is I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on my current mancrush Ryan Gosling, what films he’s done that explore the concepts of love and romance, and how I feel about each of them. And surprise, surprise, a column idea sprung forth. Today I’ll be looking at The Notebook, a film that a lot of people respond to very strongly, a film that most every girl you know loves, and a film that’s an instant panty dropper when thrown into casual conversations with hormonal coeds. Also, I’ll be looking at Lars and the Real Girl, a movie that’s well regarded among the people that have seen it, but that was too strange for many moviegoers to take a chance on, or for any mainstream award shows to champion. And also, it’s a movie that can mean instant death if you try to explain it to a girl in a bar.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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It’s hard to overstate just how amazing it is to consider a big-budget, major studio-produced 3D family adventure centered on Georges Méliès. Before now, the work of the early cinematic innovator, whose movies (most famously 1903’s A Trip to the Moon) revolutionized and advanced special effects, has been relegated to film history texts and brief snippets of televised specials. If there’s one filmmaker to make Méliès matter again, to introduce him to a mass audience, it’s Martin Scorsese. After all, the Oscar-winning legend is not just one of the foremost cinematic masters, as a noted film preservationist, he’s among the chief protectors of the long, glorious and frequently threatened legacy of the motion picture. In Hugo, Scorsese transforms the trappings of a 3D holiday picture into a loving tribute to Méliès and the earliest masters of the cinematic dream factory. From the structure of its narrative, to the details of its plot, and the industrialized nature of its majestic visuals, this is a film infused with the joy and wonder of movies. Set amid the glittering magic of Paris in the early 1930s, the film follows 12-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who secretly lives in a train station. Hugo, who winds the station’s clocks, dwells inside a labyrinthine interior comprised of enormous grinding gears, rising steam currents, and other elaborate metallic concoctions. Among the latter is a non-functioning automaton brought home by Hugo’s late father (Jude Law), which the young man works on incessantly in the hope that he can bring […]

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Our Idiot Brother floats by on the genial charms of Paul Rudd, an apparently nice guy in real life who’s playing just about the nicest, most pleasant guy in the world. That sounds like a recipe for ho-hum disaster, but Rudd happens to be ridiculously adept at selling you two bags of goods at once, imbuing that geniality with a fount of deep tangible feeling. Audiences accustomed to Judd Apatow-era Rudd might forget that he’s acted in Neil LaBute plays and films (before LaBute turned into a director-for-hire) and once played F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway in a Great Gatsby adaptation made for TV. The guy has dramatic chops, and he’s one of the few actors in Hollywood who can naturalistically flow them into a deceptively low-key framework. Here, Rudd stars as Ned — or Nedley, as mom calls him — a lovable, trusting hippie farmer who sells a cop some weed and winds up in jail. After his release, with nowhere to go, Ned moves in first with mom and then with his three high-strung sisters in succession.

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It’s fascinating that the director of Taxi Driver is the man who put this together. Martin Scorsese once again shows his versatility by tackling Hugo, an adaptation of the popular children’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Interestingly, it look like he’s channeling Chris Columbus here with a healthy dose of Lemony Snicket. Yes, it looks fun and silly, but this trailer makes it look a bit too childish (and features far, far too much of Sacha Baron Cohen falling down and smashing into things Kevin James-style).

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is inspired by Larry the Cable Guy and his character of Mater in the Cars movies. After all, if a buck-toothed rusty redneck pick-up truck can travel the world, why can’t a bald-yet-hairy fat guy from Ohio can do so as well. Kevin lurked in the streets of Tokyo, hoping to stumble onto some classy British spies and uncover a plot to undermine green energy sources. Then he brushed off his teaching degree and got a job at a middle school where he drank profusely, slept through the day and threw dodge balls at the kids. When he tried to explain to the cops that he was just following in the way of Cameron Diaz’s character from Bad Teacher, they just laughed at him and hauled him away.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly round-up of all that is interesting. Being based in Austin, TX, it’s also obligated to include something that will give off the vibe that it’s “keepin’ it weird.” The folks at LucasFilm ominously dropped the above image in my email inbox this evening. No press release, no notes. Not even a response to my “WTF is this? Also, tell George I said what’s up!” follow-up. On May 4, all will be revealed. My best guess is that we’ll be given a look (via StarWars.com) at what will be included on the upcoming Blu-ray release. If it’s the original theatrical cuts, expect internet mayhem rivaling the Osama Bin Laden is dead news. This is important stuff, people.

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“Tell me what you like about my body,” came a shy voice from behind me. I mulled that sentence over for a moment. It seemed like such a strange request considering I already thought the guy was sexy enough to lay next to in my birthday suit. Not to sound like a Christina Aguilera video here, but I couldn’t stop touching this man and the post-activity head spins weren’t adequately allowing me to sum up how much I enjoyed his company. And bluntly, would saying how attractive I found him really change how he felt about himself? A few days later I had time to reflect on this jarring moment. It was the first of its kind for me, and I haven’t experienced anything like it since. Of course men have these questions of body image, but I’ve never been with someone who felt so comfortable (or maybe uncomfortable) as to ask what their partner preferred about their physical appearance. Being a nerd who refuses to live in the real world, I couldn’t help but compare this real slice of life with a film that for all intents and purposes hasn’t really stayed in the minds of many viewers.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema, what’s that smell? Abandon all hope kids, you’ve reached the end of the Internet, somehow stumbling upon the column with the highest calorie count on the web. The cinematic selections found here are schlocky, cheesy and just plain bad but we kinda love them anyway, like Code Red Mountain Dew and slap bracelets. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then pull up a chair! Our usual host, Lord Salisbury, is otherwise occupied this week and I swear it doesn’t have anything to do with that boar attack. I’m left to pick through the sugary shards and try to point this lard barge towards the finish line. I’ll brutally savage this week’s carefully selected film with reckless abandon. But in the end, I’ll pick it up, dust it off and help it bandage the wounds. Then to top things off, I’ll choose a delicious snack of dubious healthiness for us all to enjoy, making us fatter as the movie gets dumber. This week’s tasty morsel: Scream 3

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My Idiot Brother will premiere at Sundance later this month, bringing its sunny disposition to the cold of Utah. The movie features Paul Rudd as the eternal optimist with an uncanny beard-growing ability who springs back into the lives of his three sisters – played by Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel. There are 9 new images from the film which mostly show off the hippie rug covering Rudd’s face, as well as the strong, aforementioned talent pool playing his siblings.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by presenting a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today.

Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t marry Emily Mortimer for her money and cheat on her with Ryan Reynolds’ wife.

Part 15 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Murderous Adultery” with Match Point.

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Expecting a quality film from Martin Scorsese is like expecting to get wet in the rain. It’s the anticipation of the inevitable with the director who has given us so many excellent cinematic experience, and you wouldn’t be foolish to expect quality here again with Shutter Island.

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shutter-island-header1

The first trailer for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming thriller Shutter Island, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley, has arrived online today. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t bring some intense creepiness.

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Pink Panther 2 is not the worst movie ever.

I come not to bury Pink Panther 2 but to praise it. Not from the hilltops or anything, but it’s not like I want to write an open letter to the filmmakers or anything.

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2009preview-header

In a country that has replaced the motto of “land of the free, home of the brave” with “make sure you Tivo it,” it only makes sense to throw away last year’s actors like a DVD of an Ashton Kutcher film at Christmas. But worry not, we’ve got you covered on who everyone will be talking about in 2009.

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Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson in Transsiberian

Brad Anderson’s Hitchcockian thriller Transsiberian hits DVD and Blu-ray today. And we’ve got an exclusive clip to take you behind the scenes.

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