DID YOU READ

“Immortals,” reviewed

“Immortals,” reviewed (photo)

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There are two wars onscreen in “Immortals”: one between armies fighting for control of ancient Greece, and one between a director with an unconventional visual style and the narrative demands of a conventional action blockbuster. The “Greece” of “Immortals” — and you kind of have to put it in quotes because it bears so little physical resemblance to the real geographic location that goes by that name — is an insanely beautiful and insanely impractical landscape of deserts and mountains and homes carved out of the sheer walls of seaside cliffs. It looks nothing like any other film about ancient mythology. The plot is a different story: it looks like every movie about ancient mythology, a generic quest undertaken with generic archetypes who have generic problems that are resolved in generic ways. It makes for a strange film, dazzling and dull all at once.

It seems silly to even try to summarize the plot when the film itself barely does, but what the heck. Evil King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) believes the secret to winning his war with the Greeks is to unleash the Titans, fallen gods who were defeated by Zeus and the rest of his family and imprisoned inside Mount Tartarus. In order to do that, Hyperion needs the fabled Bow of Epirus, a weapon of incredible power. In order to get that, Hyperion needs to consult the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), who’s looking for the Bow herself in the company of a Greek peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill), who wants revenge against Hyperion for slaughtering his mother.

That about does it. No reason is ever given for the war between Hyperion and the Greeks. Nor do we learn what Hyperion thinks he’ll gain from unleashing the Titans (not to spoil anything, but whatever he hoped would happen, doesn’t happen). Really, no reason is given for anything in the movie. The Greek landscape is gorgeous and totally ridiculous. The people live in this super-cool looking and totally implausible system of cliff-wall cave houses. They have no agriculture and no economy. All they do is train to fight and fight. What do they eat? Where do they grow their crops if they live inside mountains? If Hyperion doesn’t get them, I imagine starvation will.

None of it makes a lick of sense when you think about it; director Tarsem Singh is simply counting on you to not think it because he’s throwing so much eye candy at you that your brain doesn’t have time to simultaneously process all the pretty imagery and the imagery’s total lack of cohesion. For the most part, he’s right. This movie is incredibly fun to look at, and that’s even with a thin film of 3D glasses muting Tarsem’s sumptuous color palette. The fights, many of which are strikingly staged inside very cramped quarters, are clear and crisp, and the way Tarsem delineates between man and god by filming their respective battles at different speeds — real time for man, slow-motion for gods — is very clever. Though it doesn’t get used very much, the Bow of Epirus is one badass movie weapon and another really memorable looking element of the film. If there was a projector malfunction at your screening of “Immortals” and the sound died, you’d still get your money’s worth — though you would miss out on the pleasure of hearing Rourke menacingly grumble “A man’s seed can be his most dangerous weapon.” What does that even mean?!?

Ultimately, I’m not sure that Tarsem is even half as interested in any of the characters as he is with what they’re wearing and where they’re standing. The only memorable parts about the lead characters are their physical attributes: Cavill’s chiseled pecs, Pinto’s naked rear, Rourke’s goofy bunny rabbit helmet. Theseus and Phaedra accrue a whole bunch of helpers and assistants in their search for Epirus’ Bow but the film hardly even introduces them; I know Stephen Dorff’s character was a thief, but who was that other bald guy? And how did the silent monk from Rourke’s camp wind up with them? Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that “Immortals” looks like it’s set inside a dream and so we’re meant to assume that everything within the film operates along the rules of dream logic. That’s fair, if a tad unsatisfying. Still, the film is handsome enough to recommend on the strength of the visuals alone, which is basically what I’m doing.

“Immortals” opens today in theaters nationwide. If you see it, tell us what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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GIFS via Giphy

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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