Summer is always an endurance contest: week after week of Movies You Have to See. Once upon a time the season was four months, like actual summer. But climate change has managed to monkey with the Hollywood release schedule. Now summer starts whenever a studio says it does; last week Universal called summer first. So the season pretty much began in the middle of April, with Oblivion, which delivers Tom Cruise as the last man on Earth. The movie industry is hoping you like the end of the world. It's the source of the season's other endurance contest: seemingly endless months of planetary devastation, alien invasion, and surviving. Armageddon is the new Avengers.
Maybe it's foolish to wonder whether the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the subsequent citywide hunt for the perpetrators wasn't summer movie enough. Maybe this should have been the summer Mark Wahlberg partied with the vulgar teddy bear. We are strong, however. Absentminded, too. So if Brad Pitt wants to race around the globe in the name of stopping a zombie pandemic, we might be helpless not to watch. But there's something going on when even the comedies are horning in on that action. I saw the poster for This Is the End, with the faces of all those funny people — Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jay Baruchel — and assumed it was about a bunch of man-children graduating from night school or getting drunk at a wedding or something. It might still be about that. But it's also about how a disaster has hit Los Angeles and left them stuck with each other. I'm going to go ahead and predict that Robinson dies first.
Four years ago, director Neill Blomkamp, then not yet 30, came out of nowhere (well, technically, "came out of South Africa") to drop District 9, a modestly budgeted sci-fi flick that somehow managed to be simultaneously sharp and funny and super sad. Sensibly, Hollywood came a-calling, with their standard Would you like millions and millions of dollars to make a movie that must make millions and millions and millions of dollars more? offer. Blomkamp sacked up, said yes, and now here comes Elysium.
On Jodie Foster's Not-Quite-Coming-Out Party
Cecil B. DeMille was an absurdly prolific showman-producer. He oversaw flamboyant biblical and pseudo-biblical pageants like The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, and The Greatest Show on Earth. They were epics of delirium and decadence that lavished the upside of sin, then sent you home relieved that the sinner isn't you. He manufactured dual celebrations of vice and virtue, vulgarity and purity.
There isn't much about DeMille that has to do with Jodie Foster. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the people responsible for the Golden Globes, named their lifetime achievement award in DeMille's name, and as the recipient at last night's ceremony Foster was less her famously reserved public self and more someone DeMille might have enjoyed: a contradiction.
Before "The Weekend," before "The Vest," before the rise of Mandy Patinkin beard fanfic, the most striking thing about Homeland was its lead character. Back in October, I wrote that Carrie Mathison was part of a proud tradition of Golden Age protagonists, “a complicated, complex character who manages to be both brutally effective and titanically troubled." The key difference was that Carrie, unlike, say, Tony Soprano, was the first to accomplish the feat in a pantsuit and pumps. On Monday, Showtime announced a smart plan to potentially double down on double X chromosome drama by signing Jodie Foster to produce, direct, and develop Angie’s Body, a mob series with a “shrewd and sexy” Godmother in the seat of power. (And, no doubt, some glittery codpieces replacing the g-strings at the Bada Bing.)