It has action, romance, and wigs--lots of wigs. There's also plenty of 80's knitwear and some of the decade's most loved tunes. But while there's an element of camp to The Americans, there's also a range of haunting themes that ground it in realism.
The Cold War-set series centers on a pair of deep cover KGB agents (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), who go by the names Philip and Elizabeth Jennings. The arranged couple, which was trained in Russia, has been living in the U.S. under the guise that they are an average married couple. They've even raised two children, who are unaware of their parents' true identities. What threatens their covert operation is the fact that they have contrasting priorities. Philip not only loves his children and fake wife, he's grown fond of America (he's rather enthusiastic about cars, malls and cowboy boots). Elizabeth, however, is an absolute daughter of the KBG and will face death before betraying her homeland.
Yet when Philip makes a monumental sacrifice for Elizabeth, she begins to develop genuine feelings for him. As a real relationship takes form, they are forced to recognize whether they are more devoted to their country or one another. To further complicate matters, their FBI agent neighbor (Noah Emmerich) has his suspicions about them and is slowly getting closer to uncovering who they really are.
I recently had the chance to speak exclusively with The Americans’ creator and former CIA officer Joe Weisberg as well as writer Joel Fields about the hit FX thriller, which goes into its second season on February 26, and has its first season currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.
As Justified continues its stellar fifth season, show creator Graham Yost continues to lend his talents to The Americans, as the hit thriller's Executive Producer.
Set in 1981, the series follows two KGB spies (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), posing as a married couple in the suburbs of D.C. The pair, who has raised two children as part of their cover, has grown to develop real feelings towards one another and their children, which begins to hinder their ability to carry out covert missions in the name of Mother Russia. If that's not enough, their neighbor happens to be a dedicated FBI agent (Noah Emmerich) who specializes in counter intelligence.
I recently had the chance to speak exclusively with Yost on keeping fans happy, colorblind casting and how he advised The Americans creator Joe Weisberg on developing his first series.
A buddy comedy is all about the two buddies.
In this Friday's Ride Along, Ice Cube (Friday) and Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) make like buddies for an action-comedy that puts a little spin on the standard mismatched unlikely partners cop adventure.
The man who famously had words for the police during his days with N.W.A. stars as James, the biggest badass on the Atlanta police force. Ascendant comedian Hart, meanwhile, is Ben, a high school security guard and passionate video game enthusiast who is deeply in love with James's sister Angela (Think Like a Man co-star Tika Sumpter).
Having finally been accepted to the police academy, Ben thinks it's finally time to seek James's approval of his plan to marry Angela. In order to win the laconic detective's grudging respect, Ben sets out on a one-night ride along with James. What they thought would be a routine ride along spirals out of control, however, when the duo end up on the trail of the city's most dangerous criminal.
At the Los Angeles press day promoting the film, IAR had the opportunity to speak with Cube and Hart. The unlikely duo enthusiastically discussed the finer points of Ride Along, from their unique chemistry to their co-stars, working with director Tim Story (Fantastic Four), and staying creative even after decades in the business.
This Friday, Jack Ryan returns to theaters for the first time...again.
With Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the hero of bestselling author Tom Clancy's popular novels receives a cinematic origin story chronicling his first globe-trotting adventure in the CIA.
The character has led four previous thrillers over the last twenty-four years, starting with The Hunt for Red October and continuing with a different star in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger before an eventual prequel, The Sum of All Fears.
In this Friday's Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Chris Pine (Star Trek) takes over as a Ryan for a new generation. Though Shadow Recruit is not based on any specific novel, it incorporates elements of the backstory established by the late Clancy. The film follows a young Ryan starting with his days as a Marine in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001. When Ryan subsequently signs up for the CIA's contemporary Financial Intelligence Unit, however, he gets more than he bargained for: the brilliant analyst uncovers a Russian plot to bring the U.S. economy to its knees. Suddenly, Ryan and the love of his life Cathy (Keira Knightley, Never Let Me Go) are directly in harm's way, attempting to stop an unprecedented act of financial terror.
At the Los Angeles press day for the reboot, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, along with entertainment journalists from around the world, had the opportunity to speak with Chris Pine and Kevin Costner (Man of Steel), along with director and co-star Kenneth Branagh (Thor) about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. The stars and helmer were happy to talk up the enduring appeal of Ryan, updating Cold War tropes, mentors, stunts, and the possibility of another Ryan sequel.
And just like that, another year is coming to a close.
2013 isn't yet over, but as we enter the last few days of December, everyone is giving in to the urge to look back, to take stock, to see how far we've come, and think about where we're going. We haven't yet busted out our 2014 calendar, but we are still taking for granted that Earth is bound to complete another rotation of the sun.
It's been a busy year around IAR HQ, one complete with plenty of material of which we're immensely proud. So at the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, we're flipping through our figurative family photo album to select those pictures in which we look the most attractive. And we're doing it for your enjoyment. By which I mean to say we're sharing a selection of notable stories, updates, interviews, and oddities that represent what we're all about.
For your navigational convenience and enjoyment, out BEST OF 2013 conglomeration has been divided into several simple categories, from Big-Time Rogue interviews to coverage of superhero movies to IAR's set visits to our discussions with some directors and legends, as well as highlights from promotional junkets and the biggest conventions. We also have sections devoted to some of the stars we've lost over the last year, as well as interview material with figures from awards season favorites.
Simply click on any of the colorful links to enjoy the best material from 2013!
It wouldn't seem that a film about a phone sex hotline could be so imaginative and creative but Sweet Talk: An Unexpected Love Story manages to be just that.
Written by author, playwright, and screenwriter Peter Lefcourt (Desperate Housewives, The Deal) and directed by actress Terri Hanauer (whose short Recycling Flo proved promising), the indie comedy marks the pair's first project as a married couple. This no doubt contributed to the intriguing dynamic between the two leads, a frustrated yet fiery young woman (Natalie Zea) and a blocked writer (Jeffrey Vincent Parise). The pair, who begin chatting over a phone sex hotline, soon find that they're on a journey of self-exploration. What starts out as soulless small talk, turns into something much more—as they create scenarios that have less to do with sex and more to do with the excitement of feeling alive and connected to someone.
Zea's portrayal of Delilah is what makes the film so grounded and alluring. This is no surprise given that the actress turned what could have been hollow small screen roles on shows like Justified and The Following and gave them an edge. In Sweet Talk, Zea takes Delilah from a woman consumed with bitterness to a woman who openly shares her fantasy about having a dangerous love affair in war-torn Budapest.
I had the chance to speak with Zea about acting with a phone instead of a scene partner, the scarcity of dynamic female roles, and how she approached conveying her character's sexuality in an honest light.
This Friday, Bilbo's unexpected journey grows ever-more perilous, darker, and more adventurous in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
The second installment in Peter Jackson's epic trilogy adapting the first Middle Earth novel by J.R.R Tolkien hits theaters nationwide on December 13th.
A year ago, the first film introduced the younger Bilbo, following him as he set off from the Shire on an adventure, accompanying Thorin Oakenshield's dwarf-party and Gandalf the Grey.
In The Desolation of Smaug, the group grows closer to the Lonely Mountain, where they attempt to reclaim the underground dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the formidable dragon who slumbers within. Along the way, they encounter Mirkwood elves, a skin-changer, Lake-Town, and all manner of orcs. Every threat pales in comparison, however, to the might of Smaug himself.
Along with entertainment journalists from all over the globe, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand for the film's press conference in Beverly Hills earlier this month. He had the opportunity to discuss The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with director Jackson, co-writer Fran Walsh, and stars Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger), Evangeline Lilly (Lost), Luke Evans (Furious 6), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness).
This holiday season, one of the most celebrated and beloved plays of Langston Hughes finally makes the transition from stage to screen.
Black Nativity hits theaters this Wednesday, November 27th.
The film is based on the gospel musical of the same name, which the playwright and towering Harlem Renaissance figure first staged more than half a century ago.
In adapting the play, Black Nativity brings the story into a contemporary setting, following Langston, a streetwise teen who ventures from his native Baltimore to New York for Christmas. Raised by his single mother, Langston is forced to spent the holidays with estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs. Bristling under the Reverend's strict rule, Langston sets his heart on returning home to Baltimore, but finds himself on a journey that teaches him new lessons about himself, family, forgiveness, and God.
Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), Black Nativity features an all-star ensemble led by Jacob Latimore (Vanishing on Seventh Street) as Langston. Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler) plays Reverend Cornell, with Angela Bassett (Olympus Has Fallen) as Aretha Cobbs, and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) as Langston's mother, Naima. Lending support are Mary J. Blige (Rock of Ages) and Tyrese Gibson (Furious 6).
At the Los Angeles press day for Black Nativity, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick had the opportunity to speak with Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Mary J. Blige. The actors enthusiastically discussed their connection to the material, the role of spirituality, challenges inherent in musicals, working with Lemmons, and the film's uplifting messages.
This Friday, November 15th, The Best Man Holiday lets audiences catch up with some old friends played by Morris Chestnut and Monica Calhoun.
It's been fourteen years since The Best Man introduced moviegoers to a group of college companions setting out on their own in the world, optimistically juggling their romantic and professional lives with only each other to depend upon. Through the drama and hilarity surrounding the wedding of Mia (Calhoun) and Lance (Chestnut), the film gave a snapshot of their lives and sense of their future.
Now, that future is coming to the screen. In The Best Man Holiday, it's once again Mia and Lance Sullivan who bring the characters we know and love together again. This time, the legendary professional football player and his wife of fifteen years invite the old gang to their palatial New York home for the Christmas holiday. In no time at all, everyone is back in their familiar rhythms, from struggling author Harper (Taye Diggs, Equilibrium) and his wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan, Contagion) to Jordan (Nia Long, House of Lies), married couple and charter school administrators Candace (Regina Hall, Think Like a Man) and Julian (Harold Perrineau, Zero Dark Thirty), reality TV star Shelby (Melissa De Sousa, Ashes), and unapologetic ladies' man Quentin (Terrence Howard, Prisoners).
IAR participated in a discussion with Monica Calhoun and Morris Chestnut at the Los Angeles Best Man Holiday press day, where the two actors enthusiastically discussed the process of reuniting the Best Man ensemble, returning to these familiar characters, dancing onscreen, relating to one another, proud moments in their careers, and their hopes for The Best Man Holiday.
In About Time, expanding to a nationwide release this Friday, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy are players in a quietly unconventional time travel story, one unconcerned with saving the world or overblown visual effects.
Written and directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), About Time instead follows Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson, Anna Karenina), an earnest young man who discovers that all the men in his family have possessed the unique ability to travel through time. Though he does not have the ability to change history, Tim can alter what has happened and will happen in his own life. Setting out to create the perfect romantic relationship, Tim gradually discovers that, even for a time-traveler, life is full of surprises and fleeting, unrepeatable moments.
In this romantic comedy, Rachel McAdams plays Mary, the love of Tim's unusual life, with Bill Nighy as the father who shows his son the ropes of chrono-hopping. McAdams is a household name here in American and around the world, having demonstrated her inimitable charisma and charm in films as diverse as The Vow, Mean Girls, Sherlock Holmes, and Morning Glory. Nighy, meanwhile, is known best to Stateside audiences for his supporting performances in British gems like Shaun of the Dead, genre fare like Underworld, and blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
Thanks to Brenna Smith, IAR was on hand to discuss About Time with McAdams and Nighy in Los Angeles recently. Both actors enthusiastically shared their thoughts on romance, their leading man, working with one-man-romantic-comedy-empire Curtis, their roles, how the ordinary can be sublime, and the effect About Time is having on audiences.