DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on the Return of Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell

Posted by on

When you think of Colin Farrell, what comes to mind? Do you picture the Hollywood heartthrob who’s constant tabloid fodder? Or do you remember the fine actor who’s done everything from “The New World” to “In Bruges”? The betting is that, for most people, it’s the former. Lately, Farrell is trying his best to make it the latter.

On Friday, Farrell stars in the remake of “Total Recall,” the latest film in the Irish actor’s years-long project to rehabilitate his image. For a guy who only recently turned 36, he has already experienced several significant career ups and downs in the 12 years since he came to the world’s attention in “Tigerland.” It’s hardly been a smooth road from there to here, but it sure hasn’t been dull.

Farrell made his Hollywood debut in 2000’s “Tigerland,” a nervy change of pace from director Joel Schumacher who at that point was best known for making blockbuster John Grisham and Batman movies. But “Tigerland” was a gritty, low-budget character piece about young men preparing to be shipped off to the Vietnam War, and it starred the unknown Farrell as the rebellious, antiwar Private Roland Bozz. The actor gave the movie an immediate weight and authenticity — he seemed like a star with real chops.

And thus began the first phase of Farrell’s career, that of a serious actor with movie-star looks. It’s entirely possible that he could have chosen to use that momentum as a springboard for thought-provoking roles, Oscar nominations and critics’ accolades. Instead, he quickly transitioned to more Hollywood films, which proved to be a very mixed bag for him. Usually, he was slotted as the up-and-comer next to the established pro (with Tom Cruise in “Minority Report,” with Al Pacino in “The Recruit”), but too often he was involved in dull studio action films like “S.W.A.T.” and “Daredevil,” the token “respected actor” added to the ensemble to give it a little more prestige. This period of Farrell’s career was capped by 2003’s “Phone Booth,” which found him reuniting with Schumacher for a nasty little thriller about a man forced to stay on the phone with an unseen sniper, lest he be killed. While “Phone Booth” wasn’t great, it suggested the kind of star presence Farrell had, even if it didn’t show off his acting skill to its fullest potential.

But by this point, audiences arguably knew Farrell better from his off-camera exploits than by anything he had done on film. He was linked to starlets like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. He had a problem with drugs and alcohol. And by all accounts, he was pretty miserable. “I had created an environment for myself, a way of living for myself which, on the outside, seemed incredibly gregarious and vivacious,” he later told interviewer Jonathan Ross. “I don’t believe I have any chemical predisposition towards depression, but let’s just say I was suffering from a spiritual malady for years and I indulged it.” If there was a low point, it might have been “Alexander,” the critically savaged 2004 Oliver Stone historical epic that Farrell spent more than a year filming. A few weeks after “Alexander’s” release, which was met with audience apathy, Farrell hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time, and in his opening monologue he joked about the film’s failure and then did a bit where he played into his persona as an arrogant womanizer who got by on his looks and accent. In the span of a few years, Farrell had gone from being viewed as a promising young star to being dismissed as a hopeless party boy.

If it became easy to write Farrell off, there were still signs that he had the goods as an actor. At the time, his turn in “The New World” was deemed by some a surprise: What was a lightweight like him doing anchoring a film by the great Terrence Malick? But it was a nuanced, grieving performance that gave the film’s central love story a soul. And even if “Miami Vice” was an overblown thriller, Farrell’s haunted cop helped cut through the macho bluster elsewhere. Very quietly, Farrell was honing his soulful side.

That came through even more gloriously in two films released in 2008. In the underrated Woody Allen drama “Cassandra’s Dream,” he plays a luckless London lad who can’t live with himself after he commits murder to help pay off his gambling debts. Showing none of the sharp swagger of his earlier roles, Farrell was touchingly, painfully vulnerable in “Cassandra’s Dream” — it felt like seeing him for the first time. Then came “In Bruges,” a tart crime comedy-thriller that once again featured Farrell as a would-be tough guy who simply doesn’t have the stomach for the dark side. (He plays a hitman who inadvertently kills a boy on his first job.) This newfound lack of cockiness didn’t make Farrell dull; rather, it revealed depths that something like “S.W.A.T.” simply didn’t. Critics warmed up to him again, and he won a Golden Globe for his “In Bruges” performance.

Since then, he’s bravely bounced from role to role, seemingly freed of the expectations of his early career. Also undoubtedly helpful, he got sober. (“You develop such f***ed-up attachments that you need to be confused and in pain and high to create art,” he said in 2010 by way of explaining his earlier bad-boy behavior.) Not all of those roles have been successful — he’s enjoyably game, if a bit one-note, as the jerk boss in “Horrible Bosses” — but you can forgive a few misfires for something as eloquent as his turn as the successful country sensation in “Crazy Heart.” For as much praise as Jeff Bridges received for that film — not to mention the Oscar — Farrell’s sweetness and casual confidence in the drama make it one of his very finest performances.

This brings us to this weekend’s “Total Recall,” where he’ll play the role that was originated by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 film. (It’s hard to think of two more different actors, which is probably the point.) Despite all his ups and downs, Farrell has emerged as an actor who audiences are still willing to take seriously: a regular guy who’s got a bit of gravitas to him. But for Farrell, “Total Recall” also represents his most concerted attempt in the last few years to prove himself as a box office draw in his own right. Are moviegoers ready to see him that way? That remains to be seen, but considering where Farrell’s career was just a few years ago, it’s achievement enough that he’s come this far to even have that be a legitimate question.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

The X-Files

The Truth is Scary

The 12 Scariest Episodes of The X-Files

Catch the X-Files movies Saturday, January 23rd starting at 12:15P ET/11:15 PT on IFC.

Posted by on

In the early ’90s, The X-Files was a cultural happening, right up there with Pogs and the Bartman. It hit at a perfect moment, spawning catchphrases and racy fan fiction that helped shape the early days of the Internet. With The X-Files: Fight the Future and The X-Files: I Want to Believe airing this month on IFC, we thought we’d revisit some of the scariest episodes the show ever produced. Wake up your inner ’90s child, and let them know they won’t being going to sleep tonight, because the truth is out there, and it is freaking terrifying.


12. “Our Town,” Season Two

We all know small towns have something to hide, at least on The X-Files. That certainly proved true in this second season episode that made us rethink our eating habits. When The X-Files did horror, the writers always strived to find a new slant on an old genre. Here, that meant taking the iconography of cannibals, masked murderers and factory farming, and whipping them together into a uniquely scary stew. “Our Town” isn’t a perfect episode, falling into cliché at times (Scully pulls the damsel in distress routine for the umpteeth time), but it more than makes up for its faults with some genuine scares.


11. “Chinga,” Season Five

What do you get when you combine the greatest horror show of its time with the greatest horror author of the century? The answer is this fifth season episode, penned by Stephen King himself, about a mind controlling killer doll come to life. Whether it’s clawing out your own eyes, or stabbing yourself with a hammer, this stuffed little lady is impossible to say no to. While the episode received mixed reviews, for any fan of King, it’s a must watch. If nothing else, the surprise the network got when they learned that “Chinga” is actually a curse word in Spanish must’ve been pretty terrifying.


10. “Eve,” Season One

Nothing is scarier than twins. That’s just a fact. But what if those creepy twins were just the tip of the iceberg? What if countless clones were made in some secret government lab, all with one purpose… Murder! That’s the idea here, as Mulder and Scully face off against a ragtag band of grimy killer clones, who will just as soon bite your head off as look at you. “Eve” was a creepy first season episode that demonstrated what a mastery of genre the show would have moving forward.


9. “The Host,” Season Two

For any of us that have worried about what monsters may be lurking in the toilet, this episode confirmed our very worst fears. An early effort at the “Monster-of-the-Week” format that would come to define the show, it’s far from a perfect episode. But what it does do effectively is create a creepy monster with a freakish sucker face that plays on our unspoken fears of the unknown. An early indicator of what this show was capable of, “The Host” (and Flukeman) still freaks us out enough to make the list.


8. “Folie à Deux,” Season Five

There’s nothing scarier than losing your mind. That’s what this season five episode explored, when Mulder found himself seeing monsters no one else could. Was he cracking up? Or were they real (and unstoppable) because no one would believe him? Which is really more terrifying? A spooky outing full of fun ideas and creepy visuals, this was one of the few episodes that made you wonder if Mulder was going to find a way out of it in one piece.


7. “Irresistible,” Season Two

The X-Files would do anything for a scare, even if it meant dropping the supernatural for an episode and showing us how terrifying man can be without all the aliens and ghosts to get in the way. “Irresistible” focused on a Scully-obsessed serial killer who takes misogyny to the next level, killing women and keeping their hair and fingers as trophies. The episode stands out thanks to a furiously creepy performance from Nick Chinlund, who imbues his killer with an oily smugness. Featuring one of the show’s all-time best guest spots, this episode really showed why you should trust no one.


6. “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” Season Two

Everyone knows that substitute teachers are a bunch of pushovers. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Milford Haven, New Hampshire, where desks are filled with student’s eyes and hearts, instead of homework. This season two episode explored what happens when those we trust with our kids prey upon them. While the story was fairly conventional, the scares were intense, playing out ritual sacrifice and supernatural suicide against a backdrop of typical high school drama.


5. “Patient X,” Season Five

Most of the truly scary, full-blown horror episodes of The X-Files were stand alone, and separate from the show’s larger mythology. This episode is different. Diving head first into the show’s labyrinthine plot about alien invasion, “Patient X” showed how terrifying visitors from outer space could be. There’s lots of dark moments here. Bodies burned alive. Alien infections. But none compare to the visual of the infected, their bloody eyes and mouths sewn shut, coming for us all. One of the most striking visuals the show ever came up with, it was a moment that turned an episode that was for true blue fans into something that could freak out just about anybody.


4. “Sanguinarium,” Season Four

Talk about medical malpractice. This fourth season episode explored the trust we place in our doctors to not go batty and start ritually sacrificing us while they’re all up in our guts. Plastic surgery was just becoming a way of life in the ’90s, which meant it was a fertile subject for satire. And what is horror but satire with blood? X-Files creator Chris Carter saw the potential in exploring the glamorous industry’s dark underbelly of vanity and pride. It’s not much of a leap from paying a doctor thousands of dollars for the perfect body to selling your soul for one. And, of course, there’s plenty of blood to boot.


3. “Field Trip,” Season Six

This sixth season episode was a head-trip, for both the characters and the audience. What’s real and what’s a hallucination? In the episode, Mulder and Scully both find themselves under the effects of a potent, psychotropic spore that causes them to vividly hallucinate. We see them kidnap aliens and die horrible deaths, all while still trapped inside their own minds. Each time we think they’ve made it free, we realize this is just another layer of fantasy. A mind-tripping horror show that leave us on the edge of our seats, “Field Trip” was one of the most innovative and freaky episodes in the show’s run.


2. “Detour,” Season Five

You’re lost in the woods, being hunted by a monster you can’t see. AND you have to deal with some serious sexual tension with your work wife to boot. That’s the premise of this classic episode from the show’s fifth season which pits Mulder and Scully against nature itself, by way of a chameleon-like “Monster-of-the-Week.” The monster in this episode was one of the show’s best, blending into its surrounding just enough to be anywhere, while always tipping us off with its disturbing, glowing eyes. If we can all agree to ignore its similarities to Predator, this is one of the show’s very best episodes.


1. “Home,” Season Four

One of the most controversial outings in the show’s history, this season four episode was so brutal, so graphic, and so disturbing that some fans felt like they’d been betrayed. In a sense, this episode posits what would happen if Mulder and Scully wandered into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but with a bit less chainsaw, and bit more inbred freaks. The show would never again create freaks as disturbing as The Peacocks, who were almost scarier for their way of life than their brutal murders.

Jack McBrayer on Conan

Getting Thrifty

Watch Todd Margaret’s Jack McBrayer Offer Tips For Making White Trash Tiramisu

Catch Jack McBrayer in the final three episodes of Todd Margaret season three this Thursday, January 14th at 10P ET/PT on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: TBS

Actor and human ray of sunshine Jack McBrayer appeared on Conan last night to promote the third season of Todd Margaret. Jack and Conan go way back to when the former 30 Rock star was an actual 30 Rock employee and appeared in many sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. So Conan is privy to a trait that you might not know about Jack McBrayer: He’s very thrifty. To what extent? Well, he’ll tell you the cheapest way to get a car if you’re not into haggling, how name-dropping products is a great way to get free stuff, and if you’re into tiramisu on the cheap, then you’re in for a treat!

Watch Jack McBrayer share how his penny-pinching thriftiness really pays off.

Powered by ZergNet