Over the years, numerous films have seen themselves re-formatted and …
The splitting of the conclusions of recent fantasy or sci-fi franchises into two parts (or more – looking at you, Peter Jackson) has been financially successful for Hollywood studios, but less so creatively. Only arguable trendsetter Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I proved a satisfying film in its own right by being so rich in character interplay and having an actual sense of progression. Mockingjay – Part I is heavy on character beats, but they are repetitive ones due to its limited scope through withholding all the big stuff until Part 2.
What is sure to be one of the year’s biggest films, Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I, has its first trailer. Luckily this film appears to be doing something other than having a second half of the film be another round of the Hunger Games, as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) becomes the face of a rebellion against Donald Sutherland’s President Snow.
All season, Boardwalk Empire’s decision to focus on a fractured group of characters has hampered its ability to give its long-running arcs weight. The highlights, and there have been a few, have been in episodes pared down of extraneous characters, allowing the writers and performers to create specific, episode-long journeys. In “Farewell Daddy Blues”, due to the writers’ unwillingness to trim the ridiculously talented fat throughout season four, several characters’ journeys come to a less-than-compelling close and one in particular winds up his time on the show memorably, but nowhere near as emotionally as he deserves.
This season of Boardwalk Empire has struggled somewhat, due to its rather distracted focus on too many characters. Finally, in episode 10, one of the long-simmering arcs, the conflict between Chalky and Narcisse, comes to a boil, erupting in action and forcing Nucky and several ancillary characters to show where their loyalties lie. It’s frustrating that this is only happening now, but even so, the dramatic confrontation between Nucky and Narcisse is incredibly satisfying and the results of Narcisse’s quiet negotiations are effective. Did we need to spend several episodes lingering on Will’s struggles at college to get him, or Eli, to where we see them this week? This viewer would argue no. But the shared family moment at the end, with Nucky, Eli, and Will all ready to go to war, undeniably works.
The slow build of season four continues this week, with Wright again a standout. Nucky’s excursion to Tampa is a clear step down from last week’s riveting scenes with Dr. Narcisse, that is until Patricia Arquette joins the fray as Sally, the smart and intriguing bartender who wins Nucky over on getting involved in Florida. Her few moments crackle with energy lacking from the rest of the Tampa storyline (and side note- she should always wear that particular shade of blue green. Props to the costume department!).
Sam Rockwell’s secret weapon is not his gift of gab, but his ability to use that chatty nature to disarm everyone around him. Rockwell, so rakish and charming in this summer’s indie hit The Way, Way Back, isn’t the kind of actor who can’t play taciturn, but deliberately robbing him of his quirky, squirrelly speech patterns is always a bit of a letdown.
In last week’s season premiere, we checked in with most of our main cast, the significant exceptions being Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller and a touted-in-the-marketing new character played by Jeffrey Wright. Both are front and center this week, along with Agent Knox and the ever intriguing Richard Harrow, and prove to be excellent additions to the ensemble.