Paradise Lost filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were in court today to witness the stunning conclusion to a trial they’ve been following for nearly two decades, as Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley – the so-called West Memphis Three, wrongfully accused of mutilating and murdering three prepubescent boys – were set free after 18 years in prison.
The award-winning documentary series Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000) spawned a worldwide movement to liberate the three, who were maligned by a conservative Arkansas community largely on the strength of rumors about their ties to “black magic” and paganism.
When Joel and Ethan Coen first asked him to take a supporting role in The Big Lebowski as Theodore Donald Kerabatsos, the mild-mannered, oft-dismissed bowling enthusiast who succumbs to a heart attack while fighting a trio of nihilists, Steve Buscemi didn’t recognize their invitation as a ticket to immortality. If anything, his gut told him to decline.
“I remember thinking that I didn’t want to play this part,” he says now, reunited on the stage of New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom with principal members of the Lebowski cast and crew – including Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, John Turturro, Julianne Moore and musical director T Bone Burnett – to celebrate the movie’s Aug. 16 premiere on Blu-ray.
What’s got Jesse Eisenberg so jittery? The onetime Oscar nominee (for last year’s The Social Network) is so often cast as a stammering, quick-witted neurotic, like a younger, slightly more imposing Woody Allen, that it’s easy to believe the mannerisms are no act.
As it turns out, they’re not. Like fellow New Yorker Allen’s, Eisenberg’s mind seems to race at such speed that it’s no surprise when he pauses for a moment of reflection, then unleashes a torrent of rapid-fire thoughts. Today’s topic of discussion: his new comedy, 30 Minutes or Less, in which he stars opposite Aziz Ansari (TV’s Parks and Recreation) as a pizza delivery boy facing the most daunting deadline of his career.
Pedro Almodóvar takes over the Castro starting Wednesday, as Spain's most internationally acclaimed auteur (whose latest offering, The Skin I Live In, arrives in October) is honored with three double-features, featuring Bad Education, Talk to Her, All About My Mother and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Elsewhere:
1. Grease Sing-Along
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Aug. 12-14
The sadism of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s estranged elder son who tortured Iraqi Olympians and served three months in a private prison for murdering his father’s closest confidante, is documented well enough without The Devil’s Double.
Yet Lee Tamahori’s adaptation of the tell-all by Latif Yahia, who reluctantly served as Uday’s body double before fleeing Iraq in 1991, isn’t merely the lurid chronicle of a lunatic son of privilege, but also of an escalating battle of wills between a madman and his disapproving sidekick.
Every Final Destination follows a simple, durable formula. We start with The Premonition, in which the Cassandra of the doomed (here Nicholas D’Agosto, of TV’s Heroes) foresees a gruesome tragedy. He alerts anyone who will listen, though his warnings are usually dismissed as lunatic ravings. Disaster strikes, and a small group of survivors is left bewildered by their unlikely salvation.
Their relief is short-lived. Death has a plan, you see, and he doesn’t take kindly to revisions. Rather than hunt down those who escaped his wrath at some later date, he pursues them with madcap persistence, leaving a trail of gratuitously mutilated bodies in his wake.
We hate it when our friends become successful, or so the saying goes, but try telling that to Tate Taylor, the self-described “nobody” whose adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling 2009 novel The Help arrived in theaters Wednesday.
Who is Taylor? Don’t worry, you’re hardly alone in asking. The 41-year-old actor, screenwriter and director, for whom The Help is his first studio production, grew up with Stockett in Jackson, Miss. Like Skeeter, one of the heroines of the fledgling author’s story about African-American maids and their complicated relationships with white families in early-’60s Mississippi, both were looked after as children by black housekeepers.
Rarely a leading man, Brendan Gleeson (28 Days Later) brilliantly dominates the stage in John Michael McDonagh’s invigorating feature debut The Guard, tearing through the longtime screenwriter’s sharp, cheerfully profane dialogue with the seasoned grace of a virtuoso.
Who else could have played Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a glib Irish garda (Gaelic for “guard”) whose devil-may-care approach to police work, in a normally sleepy corner of the Emerald Isle, includes on-the-job pints, bedroom romps with imported hookers and the occasional tab of acid?
“Ten years from now, it will be the 1968 version that people are still renting.” So predicted Roger Ebert, after Tim Burton’s scattershot Planet of the Apes remake, released a decade ago this summer, did more to discredit primates than Charlton Heston ever could.
Whether the stench of that earlier experiment still lingers could help determine the future of a still-vital franchise, confidently revived this week in Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Essential SF knowledge in your inbox
Sign up for our email newsletters to keep up on events, restaurants and SF haps.