DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on the “Bourne” Legacy

Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy

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This weekend sees the unveiling of “The Bourne Legacy,” an unusual twist on the current reboot/remake trend in Hollywood. Rather than bringing back the same character from a popular series, Universal Pictures is returning us to the franchise’s milieu but with a completely new protagonist at the center. That puts pressure on Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner, the lead in “The Bourne Legacy,” to prove himself as a viable action star. (Granted, he played Hawkeye in “The Avengers,” but it’s not as if he was asked to carry that superhero extravaganza.) But with pressure comes opportunity, and Renner should keep this in mind: Before the Bourne films, people didn’t necessarily think of Matt Damon as an action star, either.

“The Bourne Identity” opened June 14, 2002, and it wasn’t as if audiences weren’t aware of Damon. He had won a screenwriting Oscar (with his buddy Ben Affleck) for “Good Will Hunting,” and he was the Ryan being saved in “Saving Private Ryan.” But even in 2001’s hit caper comedy “Ocean’s Eleven,” Damon was overshadowed by his higher-profile co-stars like Brad Pitt and George Clooney. So doing “The Bourne Identity” was definitely a bit of a stretch, playing an elite assassin who has lost his memory and must quickly regain it while being chased by those who want him dead. This wasn’t exactly the same thing as being the sensitive Will Hunting or insecure Linus Caldwell — he had to be a chiseled, believable killing machine.

When “Identity” came out, it performed well in its first weekend — grossing $39 million — but in a sign that audiences weren’t exactly salivating for either a Bourne film or an action movie starring Damon, it ended up in second place, crushed by a $76-million opening for “Scooby-Doo.” (Yes, there was a time when people were more excited about a Scooby-Doo flick that a Bourne film.) But “Identity” showed legs and earned good reviews, snagging almost $122 million during its theatrical run and becoming a huge hit on DVD.

Even more importantly, though, “The Bourne Identity” helped establish a template for what this series could achieve. For as much credit as director Christopher Nolan rightly received for reinventing Batman with the dark, realistic tone of 2005’s “Batman Begins,” “The Bourne Identity” had adopted much of the same approach three years earlier. Directed by Doug Liman, who previously had made the indie films “Swingers” and “Go,” “The Bourne Identity” featured terrific stunts, but most of the best moments stemmed from human-scale tension, such as in the dynamic shootout between Bourne and a lethal sniper (Clive Owen). Damon was able to convince as an action hero, but he didn’t have to jettison his empathy and soulfulness in the process — if anything, those qualities were just as critical to his construction of a character who only slowly begins to understand the monstrous things he once did for the U.S. government.

By the time of 2004’s “The Bourne Supremacy,” the series was popular enough that it opened to almost $75 million, dwarfing everything around it. Ending up as the eighth-highest-grosser of its year, “Supremacy” was even better than “Identity,” thanks in no small part to the arrival of director Paul Greengrass. Before “Supremacy,” the English filmmaker had never made a Hollywood movie, but he proved more than capable, delivering a beautifully intense thriller that upped the action while simultaneously deepening the emotional resonance of an assassin’s reckoning with his past. Add to that one of the greatest hand-to-hand combat scenes in recent Hollywood history, and you’ve got a supremely riveting film that was hugely influential. (The steely 2007 James Bond reboot “Casino Royale” is heavily indebted to the quick cutting and realistic tone of “The Bourne Supremacy.”)

2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which reunited Damon and Greengrass, was even more commercially successful, satisfyingly resolving the trilogy while also being faithful to the series’ critique of government surveillance and unchecked power. Between “Supremacy” and “Ultimatum,” Greengrass made “United 93,” a dramatization of the terrorist hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 during 9/11, and while that film largely eschewed political messages, his big-budget Bourne films were in a way a response to the aftermath of the events portrayed in “United 93,” showing a world in which personal liberties were sacrificed in the name of homeland security. Of course, you didn’t have to read any deeper meaning into the “Bourne” films to be whisked away by their propulsive energy, but that subtext made them rather nervy for mainstream entertainment — and yet all three films combined have brought in almost $1 billion worldwide.

Now it’s 2012, and Greengrass and Damon have moved on to other projects. “The Bourne Legacy” has a financial legacy to live up to, but even more so, a creative one. Outside of Nolan’s Batman films or the “Lord of the Rings” movies, no recent trilogy has been so wholly entertaining as the Bourne series, offering a new level of kinetic thrills and stripped-down drama that also boasted some real brains. The new film is directed by Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote the first three films and also directed “Michael Clayton,” so it’s not as if “Legacy” won’t share any DNA with its superb predecessors. But if Renner felt any wariness about signing up to play a Bourne-like soldier, he might be cheered to know that, of all recent franchises, the Bourne films have been the most welcoming of fresh faces. Doug Liman had never made a film on this scale, and neither had Paul Greengrass or Matt Damon. If anything, Renner’s in fine company.

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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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