Sometimes movies slip through the cracks and, for better or worse, I catch up with them. Here's a handful, from the shirtless to the offensive to the gloriously ecstatic.
Mud, directed by Jeff Nichols
Ordinarily, two boys who happen upon Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon in the same movie have probably gone to heaven — but in Nichols's latest, their starriness is just off. He's missing some of his front teeth, and one of her eyes is black. The situation is trouble. The movie is set in rural Arkansas on and near the Mississippi River, and tells of the hard times that have befallen the titular gentleman, a handsome, drawling drifter played by McConaughey. When we meet him, Mud has been sleeping in a boat that's stuck in a tree. Two teenage friends discover him and find themselves enlisted in abetting his attempt to stay hidden from the family of criminals seeking revenge for the man he killed. The boys also enable his reunion with Juniper, the woman in whose name he did the killing. She's played by Witherspoon as the sort of fallen angel who mopes through a Piggly Wiggly parking lot in a pair of short-shorts and espadrilles.
The past few weeks Chris and I have been constrained by time and topic, rushing through our recording as if Tywin Lannister were watching us from behind a desk, shaking his head and pointing to an hourglass. Well, no longer! Taking inspiration from Reese Witherspoon, Great(est) American Hero, we've decided that nothing is going to obstruct our justice anymore. This week's episode stretched out and stayed awhile, allowing us to give the Ballad of Reese and Jim the attention it so richly deserves (1:45), not to mention a whole host of other topics, including (but not limited to): Shane Black, Iron Man 3 (9:35), summer movies, Fast and the Furious, cars, muscle cars, that time Chris almost bought a muscle car, the time Chris tricked me into reading X-Men comics again, magic, Melanie Laurent, and the Season 1 finale of The Americans (30:00). And even with all of that in our rearview (car reference!), we still had time to shimmy up this week's draggy episode of Game of Thrones (36:30) like wildlings over the Wall and chase after an excellent installment of Mad Men (50:40) like Roger Sterling on a last-second flight to Detroit. Littlefinger may be right that chaos is a ladder. But if so, I know an Academy Award–winning actress who's currently climbing two rungs at a time, in high heels and a killer hat. #freereese
Reese, in pieces: Here is yet another video of Reese Witherspoon mismanaging her husband's DUI arrest. In this clip, Toth informs Witherspoon that she just "turned it really bad." Ah, scenes from a marriage. Police dash cams just make me feel more nervous about Google Glass.
It's one thing to know that, while being arrested during a drunk driving traffic stop in Atlanta earlier this month, America's sweetheart Reese Witherspoon let fly such perfectly crafted phrases as "Do you know my name?" and "You’re about to find out who I am" and "I'm an American citizen!" It's a whole other thing to see footage, via gloriously grainy black-and-white dash cam. I mean, no words are necessary. Just prepare yourself.
The Rock Had a Tough Childhood: "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has a reputation for being the ultimate showman, playing badass tough guys in movies like G.I. Joe Retaliation and The Scorpion King, and winning over WWE wrestling fans with his charisma, sarcasm and million-dollar smile. But behind his confident facade, it turns out the 41-year-old actor has been hiding the truth about his heartbreaking past — one in which he's had to overcome the pain of an alcoholic, unfaithful father and his run-in with the law." I love The Rock so much. "Dewey had a really hard time as a child growing up because he never saw his dad," according to Luan Crable, who had a "25-year-long romantic affair with Dwayne's father, former pro wrestler Rocky Johnson." Oh, my god, his father was a wrestler??? "Rocky was on the road 12 out of every 14 days" and "Dwayne must have worshipped his father, having followed Rocky into pro wrestling after a severe back injury ended his early football career." Man, this is Shakespearean.
On Thursday night, Reese Witherspoon — yes, the Reese Witherspoon — got into a little scrap with Atlanta PD.
Witherspoon, in town shooting a movie, was being driven home in a 2013 Ford Focus by her husband, CAA agent James Toth. Apparently, though, they'd had a little too much fun that evening. According to the police report obtained by Variety, Toth was pulled over for driving in the wrong lane; outside of the car, he "appeared disheveled and his breath smelled of alcohol."
Now it gets good: While the cop was administering the sobriety test, "'Mrs. Witherspoon began to hang out the window and say that she did not believe that I was a real police officer,' according to the police report. 'I told Mrs. Witherspoon to sit on her butt and be quiet.'" Toth blew a .139 on the Breathalyzer and was arrested. And then Reese, finally, got real worked up: She got out of the car to protest the arrest, was told to get back in, and responded that she "she was a ‘U.S. citizen’ and that she was allowed to 'stand on American ground.'"
As they do every year, Forbes has compiled a list of the Hollywood's most overpaid actors. Their methodology is simple: How much box office did the actors generate for every dollar they were paid? And yet, the results can be devastating: What star wants to wake up to see themselves bandied about as overpriced tchotchkes?
Scarlett Johansson Is Depressed: "She was totally out of control in Moscow recently" at a champagne brand's promo event. "She was drinking nonstop and barely slept. It was obvious that she was trying to numb her feelings." She's sad about her breakup with ad exec Nate Naylor. "She's not used to going home alone — it's a shock to her system. The fact that Ryan Reynolds is happily married while she's single again has done a number on her. And the drinking is taking its toll — she's been crying because she feels so fat." She got a lucky horseshoe tattooed on her ribcage "because she's feeling a bit unlucky." A rebound with ex-boyfriend Jared Leto quickly went south. "She thought a fling with Jared would make her feel better, but since it was only a hookup, it only made things worse." Time for Lost in Translation 2? I know I'd pay good money to watch Scarlett be sad in Russia.
Kristen Stewart & Rob Pattinson: Pattinson is sequestered at Reese Witherspoon's ranch in Ojai while he sorts out his feelings. Reese understands Pattinson's situation, as she weathered her own cheating scandals with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe. Damn you, Tracy Flick. Always meddling!
Pattinson has been running a lot to work off some of his anger, "huffing past a lavender-scented meadow, a pool, and a horse paddock" as he jogs his way around the compound. "Yet no matter how peaceful the scenery, the actor, 26, could not escape the hell his days had become." The news that Kristen Stewart had cheated on him with Rupert Sanders "blindsided" Pattinson. "He's questioning everything and wants nothing to do with her." Stewart's public apology made him even more furious. An "inconsolable" Stewart is camped out at her parents' home in the San Fernando Valley. Pattinson is "not using electronic cigarettes anymore. He's been smoking real ones since this news came out." He had noticed that Kristen "was being really weird lately but she reassured him nothing was going on." Rob is "disgusted because he had a feeling about this director." Nobody but Rupert and Kristen knows exactly when the affair started. Stewart realizes "how totally self-destructive this was. She just can't believe she fucked all this up and ruined everything." Even her parents are embarrassed for her. Now they must brave the Breaking Dawn: Part 2 press tour together, during which their every mumble will be parsed for clues.
Tracy Flick, Captain Kirk, and Bane make up the points of a love triangle in this broad action-comedy from director McG. Fill up on heavy artillery, CGI schlock, and neck-swiveling double takes while Chelsea Handler salts the rim with her patented zingers about being slutty and drunk. I'll probably watch this eventually, but it should be said that I would watch a movie of Tom Hardy's beard growing for two hours (This Means Fur).
John Travolta's Secret Life Surprises Kelly Preston: "Kelly was suddenly besieged by the reports of John's secret sex life." After their 11-year-old daughter asked what was up, Kelly "fell to the floor in a flood of tears. Suddenly, Kelly feels like she's been living a lie for two decades, and it's like a knife to the heart." The rumors about Travolta "have swarmed around Hollywood since at least 1990, when Paul Barresi, a gay porn star, publicly claimed that he and John were having sex." As a complete coincidence, Travolta married Preston in 1991 in "a quickie Scientology wedding ceremony." They signed a contract whose "exact contents are unknown" and "such agreements can contain almost anything — including prohibiting a spouse from speaking publicly about scandals." Jeff Conaway, who co-starred as Kenickie in Grease alongside Travolta, claims "that John once tried to perform oral sex on him while he slept." Conaway also says "that Kelly knows that John is gay" and agreed to beard for him, because she "wanted the lifestyle that comes with a marriage to a Hollywood celebrity more than love."
Deadline is reporting that Ryan Murphy has netted a deal with Sony Pictures for a music comedy called One Hit Wonders. And your one-hit wonders are — Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, and Gwyneth Paltrow! They'd all play pop stars who had one big song in the '90s before fading away; now, in the harsh light of day, they decide to form a super group and to make their return. Also: Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island will be writing the songs. Also: Beyoncé is involved somehow (best guess: she'll play the mean-girl reigning pop star who is at first dismissive, but then ultimately supportive in a major way, of the plucky trio's chances of redemption. A backstage awards show group hug is not out of the question here). Murphy will write the script with his Glee team, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, and is hoping to direct after he's done with the long-gestating adaptation of Larry Kramer's AIDS crisis play The Normal Heart.
Reese Witherspoon is attached to Atom Egoyan’s movie on the West Memphis Three, adapted from Mara Leveritt's Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. She will play the mother of one of the victims, who eventually doubts the guilt of the wrongly convicted Jessie Misskelley Jr., Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin. As something of an expert in the legal considerations and financial remunerations conventionally involved in adaptations of true life stories, I would like to officially state that if Misskelley, Echols, and Baldwin don’t make mad bucks off this movie, it’d be some bullshit. Grade: A [HR]
James Gandolfini's Attaboy Productions is adapting the French-Canadian comedy Taxi-22 as a potential starring role for Gandolfini, with Hung writer-producer Brett C. Leonard is writing the screenplay. The show, which would revolve around a politically incorrect New York City cab driver with some life struggles, has seen two previous writers, Kenneth Lonergan and Dave Flebotte, attempt scripts. If Leonard’s version isn’t up to snuff either, the folks at Attaboy are planning on printing out a transcript from a particularly juicy episode of Taxicab Confessions, scratching out the title, and hoping Gandolfini doesn’t notice. Grade: B+ [Deadline]