DID YOU READ

“Beautiful Boy,” Reviewed

“Beautiful Boy,” Reviewed (photo)

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“Beautiful Boy” is tough in every sense of the term. A film that deals with the aftermath of a school shooting from the perspective of the parents who raised the assailant, it’s the type of subject matter that would rather be left unexplored by most and doesn’t go out of its way to suggest you sympathize with Kate and Bill (Maria Bello and Michael Sheen), a couple in the suburbs who already sleep in separate rooms after their son Sammy (Kyle Gallner) has left for college.

Keeping up the charade of a connected family has become an afterthought for both parents and son — Sammy barely registers interest when Kate calls to suggest they take a vacation together to Miami after school finishes up and Bill takes his dinner alone in the afternoon after telling Kate, “I think you’re putting a lot of pressure on one vacation.” As it turns out, they never do make it to the beach and one of the most interesting aspects of Michael Armbruster and Shawn Ku’s script is that the cause of the family’s collective unhappiness isn’t dwelled upon, dissipating from the moment an officer arrives at their door to inform them that there’s been a shooting at their son’s college and Kate’s collapse into tears as soon as she hears ominously, “There’s more…”

As a story, “Beautiful Boy” depends on those two words, perhaps too much as its 100-minute running time wears on, since the grieving process isn’t all that cinematic, especially when it’s in the service of a suicidal mass murderer. Yet as a director, Ku often literally gets out of the way of his performers to show the emotional and logistical steps the parents must take to accept their loss and reclaim the lives before, even if they know what they’re going back to is equally unsettled.

MichaelSheenBeautifulBoy_05302011.jpgOwing a debt to the likes of Paul Greengrass, the camera hides behind in corners, from the backseats of cars or over the shoulders of its characters, catching moments, rather than seeking them out, an approach that makes Bill weeping in the shower or Kate’s confusion at hearing a description of her son on television feel tastefully observed rather than mawkishly manipulative. The work of cinematographer Michael Fimognari, who also did an impressive job with the low-budget frat hazing thriller “Brotherhood,” unexpectedly leads to the film’s bravura moment – an unmediated fight in a hotel room between the two, who are forced into seclusion by the media attention – which is unedited and unhinged from any stationary position, as if it’s finally out in the open along with the thoughts of the parents who cling onto memories of who they remember they once were while no longer recognizing the person in front of them.

Bello and Sheen are equally fearless in their performances, though the limitations of their characters’ circumstances and ultimately, the predictability of the story conspire to result in something stagey, where their raised voices drown out a gently constructed narrative when a subtle expression would do. There’s no doubt this is what Ku asked for – the film’s introduction with Sammy reading an essay outlining the potential trouble ahead suggests that there will be punctuation marks instead of periods at the end of “Beautiful Boy” and when they start arriving, it becomes obvious the premise has worn thin, leaving Bello and Sheen with little to play but the broadest of emotions. However, they never resort to playing the victim, a quality that sets “Beautiful Boy” apart, even if it can only stay above the fray for so long.

“Beautiful Boy” opens in New York and Los Angeles on June 3rd.

Do you want to see “Beautiful Boy”? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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