Kevin Spacey

House of Cards

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Netflix gifted its subscribers with the full second season of its hit series, House of Cards, featuring a slam-bang season opener that left viewers reeling (and tweeting copious versions of “OH MY GOD”) and that pushed already-nefarious characters to new levels of both evil and unlikability. No, there’s no rule that characters need to be charming or likable or aspirational, but it sure is nice to watch a show that stars someone (anyone) whose actions you can respect and admire. The Underwoods and their lackeys have always been particularly underhanded, but the second season has already shoved them into new realms and practices of what is best described as over-the-top, unrelatable, and outsized evil. These are bad people doing very bad things, and as fun as it might be to watch them inflict their brand of political and personal striving on enemies, deserving or not, they are not the kind of characters anyone can actually root for. But if you can’t back the two lead characters of a series, who can you? Spoilers ahead for the first episode of House of Cards’ second series premiere.

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House of Cards Season 2

When Kevin Spacey looks dead straight into the camera and says, “Welcome back,” in the House of Cards season 2 trailer, I don’t know whether to be proud or terrified. Proud because it means another installment of the political horror show built on a spider web foundation. Terrified because it means Spacey will continue to talk to the audience directly. That was one of the clunkier elements of an otherwise lung-squeezingly tight show, but it’s easy to shrug away once the intensity of the trailer grabs hold. For the most part, it looks like the same gang of players is rigging the game as the newly nominated Vice President Underwood loads the dice. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Wouldnt Steal a Car

The MPAA was wrong in 2004 when it launched its wonderfully mockable “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” campaign to fight piracy because they elevated a grossly uneven analogy to slogan status. Even with all other things being equal, comparing a movie ticket to something you take out a loan for is pretty moronic. The truth is that downloading a movie or TV show is closer in spirit to speeding in that car you wouldn’t steal: driving over the speed limit is an easy crime to commit; a lot of people do it without qualms; and although it happens regularly without incident, it sometimes leads to catastrophic consequences. Admittedly even that analogy fails because of the uncomfortable equation of loss of life and limb to loss of livelihood, but it’s streets ahead of the MPAA’s now-abandoned scare tactic. Still, just as people are going to text while driving despite dozens of poignantly disfigured warnings, online piracy is (and always was) here to stay. In the past few weeks, three things have happened that highlight this pointless battle again and prove that the pirate chant, “We’d pay if you let us!” was right.

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House of Cards

The similar structure of their titles isn’t the only thing Game of Thrones and the new Netflix series House of Cards have in common. The first is set in a brutal Medieval-style fantasy world, and the second is set in present-day Washington, DC, but the scheming and lustful grabs at power are pulsing wildly at the heart of each. Of course they have their differences as well. Since Cards focuses on House Majority Whip Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), it’s maybe more exact to call it a version of Game of Thrones told almost explicitly through Tywin Lannister’s point of view. The congressman is aggressive and shrewd in his search to become President, but as the complete 13-episode season of the show (or 13-hour movie-you-have-to-keep-pressing-play-to-see) proves, there are other combatants willing to protect their interests just as fiercely and just as intelligently.

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Look – computers will never have souls. It’s disappointing to admit, but we all have to face facts at some point in our lives. Maybe one day they’ll manage to act alive, but they will never feel our love. They have no feelings. They are soulless, uncaring devices that we all too often assign our own humanity to – just like cats. But of course, in film, that would just be no fun. It’s better to have an A.I. that is dynamic and has some kind of personality, even if that personality is a lack of any kind of personality. The key is the voice, and here are some of the most unforgettable ones…

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? It’s Kevin Spacey. And a dummy. With a mind of its own. This short from writer/director Benjamin Leavitt shows off Spacey’s incredible talent – placing the drama and comedy firmly on his shoulders while working with a piece of wood with a face. It’s shot and scored well, but it’s the great physical work on display that shines brightest. What will it cost? Only 10 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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This is the world we live in, one where Kevin Spacey dons a superhero costume and kicks ass in China. It’s a great day to be alive. Although this trailer for Inseparable doesn’t show it, the two-time Oscar winner rocks a lot of tight spandex and a helmet mask for the movie from Dayyan Eng. It also stars the great Daniel Wu (Shinjuku Incident, The Man With the Iron Fists). In a way, it would be far better if this trailer were insane, but it’s maybe even more bizarre that it’s, you know, not bizarre. It looks incredibly straight forward. Except the part where John Doe dressed up like a blue version of the guy in Super.

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Culture Warrior

Veteran filmmaker Paul Schrader, notorious author Bret Easton Ellis, and indie producer Braxton Pope want you to audition for their new film. They’re assembling a microbudget feature for the digital distribution market called The Canyons, and they’re looking for some fresh new faces to star in it. Is your lack of an agent or non-Los Angeles residence preventing you from getting a fair chance at auditioning for legit films? There’s no need to worry, for we live in the 21st century my friend. The Canyons is holding its audition process through Facebook. On the one hand, The Canyons‘s unique production process makes complete sense. We are no longer, after all, in 2006 when studio producers had an overinvested, experimental Snakes on a Plane-level-interest in Internet culture. In this case, even on a small-budget independent film, the visible gatekeepers still possess power over the participants within the supposedly “democratized” framework of social networking. For a while it seemed that cinema – largely an object particular to 20th century logic – could not adapt to the boundary-destroying, power-shifting implications of the 21st century. Now this seems to no longer be the case. Web distribution (which was little more than a fantasy or an overblown threat to theatrical cinema’s hegemony just over a decade ago) is now seen as a conceivable and potentially profitable alternative to traditional film exhibition.

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Years ago director Seth Gordon made a big impression with his critical doc darling, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The film made our own best 30 films of the decade and you’d be on a fool’s mission to find someone who doesn’t enjoy that unique story. To no surprise, the heavily pirated documentary kicked down a lot of doors for Gordon. Just recently he’s been attached to direct the WarGames remake, so it’s obvious he’s come quite a long way in a quick amount of time. His latest comedy, Horrible Bosses, also represents how rapid the filmmaker is rising. The greatest surprise of the film is that, tonally, the film isn’t all that mean. The story’s about three guys plotting to murder their respective bosses, but even with that dark concept and some bastardly antagonists it never goes to the extreme. Gordon flirts with some darkness and satire, but it stays relatively safe. Here’s what director Seth Gordon had to say about the doors The King of Kong opened up for him, going with a lighter version of Horrible Bosses, and the nature of comedic filmmaking:

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Horrible Bosses features some of the most inspired casting you’ll find in any big studio comedy this year, with three actors playing against type with exceptional success. Unfortunately, those three performers — Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston — are the supporting acts here, the titular vile bosses of three of the most boring white guys imaginable. Sure, they’re played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, funny men all, but the stars lack the charisma, the comic energy and the overall appeal of the aforementioned A-listers, who go to some truly whacked-out places. It’s a fundamental miscalculation that filmmaker Seth Gordon can’t overcome.

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This red-band trailer probably gives away too much. Unlike most red-band trailers, though, it doesn’t giveaway all the best gags. I’ve seen Horrible Bosses, and it’s awesome. What the fellow ensemble summer comedy The Hangover II got wrong, Seth Gordon’s (director behind the incredible The King of King: A Fistful of Quarters) comedy got right. The leads aren’t annoying morons, the jokes feel fresh, and there’s at least some sense of reality.

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Have you ever had a horrible boss? Got a good story about that? If you tell us your horrible boss story, and we like it, you can win a pass to an early VIP screening of New Line Cinema’s new flick Horrible Bosses in Columbus, Ohio, hosted by FSR’s resident Fat Guy Kevin Carr. (Please note… former employees of Donald Trump are excluded from this contest because that’d be just too easy. You too, Rob Hunter.) Here’s how you can get in to see Horrible Bosses before it opens and enjoy a VIP reception before the film. Search your brain for your best (and hopefully true) story about a horrible boss you’ve had in the past. Recount your story in the comments section of this post. Please remember to change the names of people and businesses to protect the guilty. Or not. Either way.

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Seth Gordon’s new comedy Horrible Bosses has a trailer. If you don’t know who Seth Gordon is, he’s not only the guy who directed the amazing Donkey Kong documentary King of Kong, but he’s also directed episodes of pretty much every amazingly funny comedy that’s on TV right now. So, I imagine his movie is going to be pretty great, and while this trailer isn’t exactly revolutionary, it does its job of making this look like a barrel of laughs. Horrible Bosses tells the story of three guys, played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis, who have three exceptionally evil bosses, played by Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey, and who get together and decide to have them killed. Of course, they’re just a couple of working class dweebs, what do they know about killing people? Problem solved; just hire Jamie Foxx as your “murder consultant” Motherfucker Jones. Doesn’t sound like enough for you to check out this movie already? Just wait; there’s more. Aniston eats hotdogs, Popsicles, and bananas while wearing lingerie, Day seems to be just about as stupid as he is on Always Sunny, Colin Farrell is looking super creepy with a balding comb over and a finely manicured beard, Modern Family’s Julie Bowen is somewhere in this movie being pretty and funny, and when they guys get arrested for speeding who is their arresting officer but Bunk from The Wire. Plus there’s car crashes, discrimination against the handicapped, comedic cocaine use, and white […]

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I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but the biggest thing I use the instant streaming feature on Netflix for is to catch up on TV episodes from days past. In a mere two hours I can knock out three episodes of an hour long drama, and six of a half hour sitcom. It’s very enjoyable to watch these programs with ZERO advertising, even the kind that is seen through services like Hulu. This year alone, Netflix signed a major deal with CBS to begin streaming classic, and is currently airing programs on the service, but today news came out of what is quite possibly their boldest move in their TV game. According to Deadline, the service is going to begin airing 100% original content. And I don’t mean airing programs twenty four hours after they air like they do with all the Starz programming, I mean brand new programing will air exclusively on Netflix and only Netflix. The first series that will be featured is reportedly the upcoming David Fincher and Kevin Spacey produced remake of the British television series House of Cards.

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Movies We Love

The year was 1998 and Michael Bay’s Armageddon was in the middle of sweeping the box office and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan was just hitting it. But in a cluster of giant blockbusters sat a film from acclaimed music video director F. Gary Gray. It was his third feature and starred Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey. Yes, I’m talking about that amazing action/thriller known as The Negotiator. Danny Roman is the Chicago Police Department’s best hostage negotiator, and seems to be on an unstoppable reign of high profile cases. But things do a complete one eighty when his partner Nate is found dead in his car. Danny is now the prime suspect in a case that goes all the way to the top. His only recourse is to take over the CPD’s internal affairs headquarters in an attempt to unravel the mystery of his frame job. His only demand? A fellow hostage negotiator named Chris Sabian.

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With as many romantic comedies featuring speeches about stealing the moon for a loved one (and at least one where the main character, as God, actually does pull that big rock closer to the Earth), Thad Roberts had a pretty great idea. He’s the former NASA scientist who worked up a scheme to sell pieces of the moon. Apparently if you walk down the street with your left pant leg rolled, it means your holding. According to the LA Times, Sony has purchased the rights to the forthcoming novel from Ben Mezrich (author of “The Accidental Billionaires”), and he’ll be reteaming with Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti (all producers of The Social Network) and Kevin Spacey (who worked with Mezrich previously on 21). The story here is similar to the founding of facebook. Huge ambition, a crazy scheme vaulted into reality by young love. However, the success is a bit less questionable considering Roberts failed and failed hard. Sex on the Moon sounds like a typical heist film with the stakes raised just enough to steal away an entire planet. It’s unclear where the sex comes in (maybe they place some moon rocks under the bed?), but with the right director and cast, this could be another winner.

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Barry Pepper seems to be having one of the best years of his career. He’s got two films in theaters right now: the Coen brothers’ True Grit and the Jack Abramoff rise and fall story, Casino Jack. One being a near-masterpiece, guess which one, and the other being a fun satire. In True Grit, he plays a logical and almost likable lead antagonist, but as Michael Scanlon in George Hickenlooper‘s final film, he couldn’t be further from playing logical. Barry Pepper seems to be very comfortable at playing slimy. He did the perfect type of sympathetic slimy in the 25th Hour, and in Casino Jack, he does the same. And to top off having two films in the cineplex at one time, he also recently got to work with Terrence Malick… ever heard of him? Well, Pepper couldn’t talk at great length about that untitled project, but he did open up about the experience of working with Malick. As always, Malick is described as the type he always is labeled as: the genius kind. Pepper and I started off discussing True Grit, even though we were really on the phone to talk about Casino Jack. But Pepper seemed more than happy to talk about his experience with the Coens and his reaction to the film.

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Today, the fine folks at ATO Pictures have blessed you all with the chances of winning a fairly cool prize pack. So stop thinking about what you’re getting your fat little hands on for Christmas, and start thinking hard about how you’re going to win this. Really, shouldn’t be that difficult. This giveaway includes three DVDs and a poster for Casino Jack signed by the cast. And thankfully, those DVDs are of Spacey’s early, great work. That’s right, none of his early 2000s fluff. So apologies in advance, Pay It Forward and K-PAX fans.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr enters the grid (which is what he likes to call his local IMAX theater) to try and find an old and hairy Jeff Bridges amidst a bunch of young-looking sexy-time people in tight body suits. Afterwards, he has a pic-i-nic at Jellystone Park and faces a bear attack. It’s a good thing he had his hunting rifle with him… but he still wonders why that grizzly he shot was wearing a hat and tie. Finally, he hands out some grades on two limited release award flicks that really don’t jazz him as much as a big, dumb IMAX 3D movie.

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There’s a scene (video below) midway through the Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedy Pillow Talk (1959) that has always fascinated me. Through the benefit of hindsight, it’s impossible to watch the scene as it was viewed contemporaneous to its release.

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