HBO’s ‘True Detective’ Should Make Winter Extra-Gritty

With Breaking Bad and Dexter both on their way out for good, and True Blood nearly wrapped up as well, premium cable is going to be hurting for both outlandish crime potboilers and a dose of Southern Gothic ooze. By all indications, HBO will be filling the void with True Detective, a drama series starring Matthew McConaughey alongside Woody Harrelson—one cool thing about the “Golden Age of TV” is that every A-lister seems to want a show of their own. 

Yes, it’s another of those unraveling-an-unspeakable-secret-in-a-rural-or-small-town stories, somewhat in the tradition of Top of the Lake, as well as The Killing, the Red Riding trilogy, BBC’s The Edge of Darkness, and Twin Peaksgoing back finally all the way to The Wicker Man, whose cultish overtones are apparent in the creepy Blair Witch­-like folk art we see dangling from trees in this clip. But we ought not to let this clear lineage—nor the reality of McConaughey being out of his depth against an actor like Harrelson (only one of these guys would show up in a Coen brothers movie)—depreciate our love for gory, unsettling mysteries.
 
 
And there does seem to be a promising twist on this familiar material: the two leads are pursuing their Louisiana serial killer over the course of seventeen years—well, actually, think Zodiac—and the show will have the multiple timelines to flesh that out. In the preview, for example, we see what appears to be a flash-forward to a slightly drunk McConaughey telling other cops the whole sordid story. A promising framing device, we hope, and not some more Lost-style shenanigans. Either way, we’re in for a TV show’s TV show.     

Matthew McConaughey May Take the Lead in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

In the past few years Matthew McConaughey has proved that pithy romantic comedies are clearly not where his heart lies. With a string of roles in Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, and Jeff Nicholas’ upcoming Mud, the 43-year-old actor has finally come into his own. And his own being these rough and seedy southern men on a fringe of the law. But earlier this year, we had been seeing a more gaunt looking version of the handsome actor as he prepared to play the lead role in Jean-Marc Vallée’s AIDS drama Dallas Buyer’s Club. And now, it seems that he’s been tapped to star in one of the most anticipated movies of the next year, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises follow-up, Interstellar

Deadline reports that although "getting details on a Nolan project is more difficult than getting the line on the Pope selection process," McConaughey has been offered the lead role of Cooper in the film that was originally set in place by Steven Spielberg in 2006. But in January, Nolan signed on to write a script that merged the original idea about the existence of wormholes used for time travel written by his brother Jonah, with his own original idea. Nolan and Emma Thomas producing will be prodicing and, "the ambition is a film that will depict a heroic interstellar voyage to the farthest borders of our scientific understanding."

So although he’s been working in Hollywood for over two decades now, McConaughey’s career has had a rather odd trajectory. With Dazed and Confused and A Time to Kill followed by years of films like Failure to Launch andThe Wedding Planner, it took scaling down into independent cinema for his true talents and desires an actor to be unleashed. So it would be amazing to see this new McConaughey or this true McConaughey star in something as epic as a Christopher Nolan movie about time/space travel. I mean, I would gladly watch McConaughey in anything, so I’m game—how do you feel, MM?

But while we’re here, let’s look back on some choice McConaughey moments.

You Can Wear Matthew McConaughey’s New Dillard’s Line “From the Jungle to the Opera”

Ryan Gosling’s girlfriend isn’t the only one launching a fashion line this week. WWD reports that Magic Mike star Matthew McConaughey has teamed up with mid-range to upscale department store chain Dillards to roll out a collection of active sportswear called JKL, inspired by the name of his Just Keep Livin [sic] Foundation. The fashion trade journal notes that JKL comprises of "all-journey gear," and includes "performance features such as oil- and water-repellent pants; guick-dry T-shirts and moisture-wicking tops; UV protection, and rash guards." In short, it’s made for brawny McConaughey and all his outdoors-y friends.

When the actor isn’t enjoying life without a shirt, he’s searching for clothing that can fit into his unpredictable schedule. "I like to be able to wear something that is appropriate for wherever the day takes me: to work, on a hike and then out to dinner," he tells WWD. "I like to take the formality out of the day’s schedule and be ready for any off-road detour." Don’t believe him? One of his first brainstorming notes for the collection was "from the jungle to the opera."

JKL sportswear and swimwear will launch in 150 Dillard’s stores in March.

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Matthew McConaughey Takes Center Stage in Jeff Nichols’s New Trailer for ‘Mud’

It took him almost an entire career of Wedding Planner(s) and Failure(s) to Launch, but Matthew McConaughey has finally found his place in cinema. The recent string of roles he has taken on make us wonder why he didn’t venture down this path in the first place? Perhaps it was an evovling sense of purpose as an actor or something that’s come with age, but in the last year he’s really seemed to hit his stride. With last year’s Killer Joe, The Paperboy, and even Magic Mike, McConaughey has come into his own—his own being a seedy, somewhat disturbed, southern (not so) gentleman on the fringe of the law. And with Jeff Nichols’s Mud, the follow-up to 2011’s paranoia-inducing Take Shelter, it appears McMonaughey is proving again that he’s not someone to take lightly. 

Mud tells the story of a two teenage boys who encounter a mysterious fugitive and form a pat to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trailer and to reunite him with his true love. Take Shelter was well-recieved by critics, garnering Nichols the attention he deserved from a film that was neither pure drama nor thriller, but a psychological study of a descent into madness that played on a mix of subtly and sheer power from its leading man, Michael Shannon—who also makes an appearance in Mud. In their Cannes review, The Film Stage claimed that Mud, "imperfect as it may be…marks a step forward for Nichols as a filmmaker capable of making big entertainment that retains some intelligence and a palpable message as well.” And if you aren’t sold already, Sam Shepard is also in the film and, let’s face it, that’s reason enough.

Check out the trailer below:

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The Movies We Hated In 2012

My colleague Hillary Weston and I see a lot of movies. Sure, we both loved a bunch of movies this year, such as the delightful Moonrise Kingdom, the biting Bachelorette, the lovely Beasts of the Southern Wild. But there were a few that we downright hated. While we don’t always agree on which movies were, in fact, the worst, here’s a brief list of the films from this year that drove us into fits of fury.

Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s sort-of-prequel to Alien left me with more questions than answers. For example, why did they hire Guy Pearce to play an old man instead of, I dunno, an actual old person? Would that automated surgery machine take my health insurance? What’s Michael Fassbender’s daily caloric intake? (It must not be too high.) What I did take away was this: there is no way that this has anything to do with Scott’s original masterpiece other than casually tossing around “Alien prequel” will gain a lot of buzz. I couldn’t have explained the plot of this movie five minutes after leaving the theater, and I had thankfully forgotten Prometheus until I decided to come up with the worst movies I’d seen this year. So there you have it, folks: Prometheus is completely forgettable until you try your best to think of things that are horrifically bad.—TC

To Rome With Love

Oh Woody, how I love thee. But just because you have spent your entire career putting out film after film—back to back every year for what seems like an entire century now—doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be so sloppy. Honestly, I doubt he even liked it, as even Allen’s character felt like someone doing a bad impression of himself. (Larry David, Owen Wilson, and Will Ferrell have all played better Woody Allens.) And don’t even both trying to find anything intelligent or redeeming about the women that populate the picture. Ellen Page’s boyish waif seductress was, to borrow a term in just about every one of his movies, "a pseudo intellectual" who was both manipulative and hollow; Greta Gerwig was an oblivious and passive goof who was supposed to be an intellectual but looked like an witless idiot; Alison Pill’s character was about as bland and lifeless as the canvas pants they wrongly put her in; and even the brilliant and beautiful Judy Davis had absolutely nothing to work with. The whole Penelope Cruz hooker storyline was absurd and a narrative bore, the Roberto Benigni "comedic" meditation on celebrity and the ego was unbearable to watch, and the father-turned-opera-singer sideline was no better than this Flintstones episode. By far the best part of the film was when I left to get a jumbo box of M&Ms and had to spend five minutes searching for the candy attendant. —HW

Silver Linings Playbook

There’s at least one movie released every Oscar season that everyone but me seems to like. This year, David O. Russell’s choppy mess of a movie fills the Little Miss Sunshine slot. Furthermore, this is the first movie that has ever forced me to leave the theater early. What did I hate most? The over-the-top quirkiness of the script? The propensity for each character to explain his or her madness rather than convey them with their actions? The fact the last thirty minutes are better than the first hour-and-a-half, at least according to every person I know who claims I cannot judge it solely on the first two-thirds of the film? (Go watch The Godfather and try to tell me the same thing, folks.) I’ve never been so grateful for Jessica Chastain, who will surely quash Jennifer Lawrence’s shot at an Oscar next spring. —TC

Lola Versus

After seeing Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones’s sophomore effort, I recall writing down a few initial thoughts: "This movie has little to no genuine feeling. The dialogue was trite. The characters were like posed mannequins in an Anthropologie window attempting to tell a joke." And the worst part: even the wonderful and talented Greta Gerwig as Lola and a score by Fall On Your Sword could not save this shallow attempt at an anti-typical romantic comedy. The filmmakers are both young, intelligent people who have lived in New York for years, but I have to wonder: have they ever spoken to other humans? Every moment was contrived and two-dimensional, and it was filled with pathetic portrayals of wallowing that weren’t even accurate save for the lovelorn title character’s affinity for binge drinking and sleeping with people she would later regret. Lola chastises herself, saying "I know I’m slutty, but I’m a good person," even though it’s made clear that her ex was the only person she had slept with until they broke up, and then she sleeps with two other guys. Even the sparse scenes with her ex have absolutely no chemistry, and neither character exhibit qualities that would make you root for them not to wind up alone. All in all, it’s a film that apparently takes place in New York, but not a New York you’ve ever seen. —HW

The Dark Knight Rises

Here’s the thing: I knew I would hate this. But I had to see it, because to completely avoid the movie blockbuster of the summer would prove my own ineptitude at being a blogger. (And, as a blogger, it is my duty to share my opinions.) Christopher Nolan finally wrapped up his dour Batman trilogy with an overwrought political epic complete with as many of The Christopher Nolan Players as possible. Christian Bale brooding? Check. Tom Hardy being gay-question-mark? Yup. Marion Cotilliard for no particular reason? Uh huh. And leave it to Nolan to even strip away all the fun from Catwoman, who, as played by Anne Hathaway, is more like an old, unenthused tabby who only occasionally gets to ride some stupidly overdesigned motorcycle. Don’t get me started on the fact that it took a good forty-five minutes for Batman to actually show up; it was less of a superhero movie and more of a chance for Christopher Nolan and co-writer/brother Jonathan to an Oscar-clip monologue to every single character. —TC

The Paperboy

I don’t know why I expected more from the guy who interpolated shots of incestuous rape with images of bacon sizzling on a griddle in Precious, but I can say without wavering that The Paperboy was not just my least favorite film of the year—it’s also the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I’m all for a piece of well-made trash, but no amount of scrubbing would reveal a diamond under those layers and layers of shit. It’s misogynistic, homophobic, exploitative all around, and relies on the popular opinion that the South is a cesspool of murder, rape, racism, alligators—things that can only take place down there. And something must be said when Macy Gray delivers the best performance in a cast made up of Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, and Scott Glenn. —TC

There Are Other Movies Happening At Sundance Not Involving James Franco

Yesterday, the Sundance Film Festival announced its out-of-competition lineup, which included a lot of hype, a lot of all-star actors and a whole lot of James Franco. In his never-ending, Zelda-esque quest to become Supreme Lord of the Film Festival, James Franco is actually involved in two out-of-competition and rather NSFW films at the festival. One of the “Park City at Midnight” films is kink, a documentary about the employees of the adult website Kink.com, for which Franco worked with regular collaborator Christina Voros (Voros makes her directorial debut; Franco is signed on as a producer).

For the experimental “New Frontier” section of the festival, Franco has offered Interior. Leather Bar., which he both appears in and co-directs with Travis Mathews, who also wrote the film. In it, the directors attempt to recreate the lost gay S&M footage taken out of the 1980 film Cruising, removed to keep the film from garnering an “X” rating. I mean, it’s really only a matter of time before James Franco tries to curate his own festival of all movies involving James Franco as the star or director or EP or maybe he tries to write the soundtrack did you know he plays music now that’s a thing? Maybe he’ll come to the premieres in character. Maybe he’ll start his own filmmaking academy. Maybe eventually our national obsession with James Franco being involved in so many activities will finally come to rest, and we can all be at peace with our accomplishments. That would be nice.

But this isn’t an all-James Franco festival, because that would be boring. There are actually a lot of other talented people who have movies not in the competition. There are other documentaries, even! Including Sarah Polley’s festival-favorite Super 8-laced family tale Stories We Tell and Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers, a rather-relevant profile of members of the Israeli secret service. There’s S-VHS, the sequel to the acclaimed found-footage horror flick V/H/S, which will likely get a lot of play. There’s No, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s look at the later years of Augusto Pinochet, a Cannes favorite featuring Gael García Bernal; Jeff Nichols’ Mud, your classic man-on-the-run-gets-help-from-teenagers story featuring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. The multimedia art installations from the likes of lyrical Twitterati Yung Jake and interactive light-and-sound master Rafael Lozano-Hemmer also sound pretty intriguing. Let’s see you try to do something like that, Franco.

But perhaps the most exciting batch of films are in the “Park City at Midnight” section, which includes S-VHS and kink, as well as a film involving a recently-released prisoner on the road back to family and to his new life that is even called The Rambler, a road-trip horror film, a movie about a cannibal family and Virtually Heroes, which sounds like an alternate-universe Wreck-It Ralph in which “two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence.” Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s demon-house comedy Hell Baby, featuring a whole lot of funny people (Keegan-Michael Key, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Leslie Bibb, Rob Corddry) and road-trip comedy Ass Backwards, co-starring and co-authored by June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson (and featuring Alicia Silverstone!), round out the lineup. 

Stephen King and John Mellencamp Will Stage Their Musical Next Year

Broadway may not be running out of ideas quite yet. After more than a decade in the brainstormin’ and writin’ phase, John Mellencamp and Stephen King will be ready to bring their ”Southern gothic musical,” Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, to the stage. Much to our disappointment, there will not be any “Greased Lightnin’”-style numbers involving a twangy Mellencamp riff and a homicidal muscle car a la Christine from the looks of things, but there will be a soundtrack, featuring Mellencamp’s words and lyrics and production from T. Bone Burnett, our early next year.

The soundtrack, which will be released in full on March 19th, 2013, features an impressive roster, including Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Sheryl Crow (who has a solo song on the soundtrack called “Jukin’”), Rosanne Cash, Taj Mahal, Kris Kristofferson and, of course, Mellencamp himself, performing his finale. When the musical hits the stage next year for real-life performances in a real live theater, Kristofferson and Costello will be a part of it, along with Matthew McConaughey, Samantha Mathis and Meg Ryan.

The team behind the soundtrack released the opening track yesterday, which sounds a bit more like a closing number, maybe with a kick-line of ghosts or zombies and a little more brass at the actual production. Elvis Costello growls and whimpers through first track “That’s Me,” introducing a potentially malevolent character over some just-walked-into-an-Old-West-ghost-town kind of instrumentation. Have a listen below. 

Matthew McConaughey Really Wants An Oscar For ‘The Dallas Buyer’s Club’

Celebrities! They’re just like us! Sometimes they are spotted at the airport looking emaciated and with terrible haircuts and mustaches! Yes, that’s Matthew McConaughey right there, who is looking gaunt and sickly for his role in the upcoming The Dallas Buyer’s Club, in which he’ll be playing an AIDS patient. Ladies and gentlemen, get your 2014 Oscar ballots ready because McConaughey is gunning for a trophy!

McConaughey was spotted last week at LAX while taking a break from filming the movie, which also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto, who, according to E!, will be "playing a cross-dresser with AIDS." This sounds like a fun little flick, huh? How will this fare against Ryan Murphy’s big-screen adaptation of Larry Kramer’s masterpiece The Normal Heart? Well, Jennifer Garner is certainly a poor man’s Julia Roberts, who will be starring in The Normal Heart as a wheelchair-bound doctor (Ellen Barkin won a Tony for the role in the play’s Broadway production last year). The Dallas Buyer’s Club definitely lacks the star power of Kramer’s AIDS epic (Alec Baldwin, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons, and McConaughey’s Magic Mike co-star Matt Bomer have all joined the cast of The Normal Heart). 

This match-up is really the Armageddon / Deep Impact of 2013 AIDS movies, huh?

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Nicole Kidman Gets Sexual in ‘The Paperboy’—But Refused to Say the N-Word

The Paperboy, the new film from Precious director Lee Daniels, is a searing, character-driven thriller set in the southern Florida backwater, and features some dirty, smoldering, and messily spot-on performances from Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Cusack, and Macy Gray (yes, even Macy Gray). But it’s Nicole Kidman’s sexed-up performance as a desperate woman trying to prove her husband’s innocence and release him from death row. Last night Kidman was honored at the New York Film Festival where The Paperboy, which opens in limited release on Friday, was screened for an eager audience. We caught up with the actress to discuss the film, how far she slipped into character, and her affinity for white patent-leather high heels.

How did you find your way into the character? How did you even begin to imagine her?
Well, I just thought, “Thishas to be authentic.” And I really needed to find my way in. So Lee said, “You should meet with some of these women that I know.” You know, women that were in love with men in prison and were sort of obsessed with them. I met with five different women that Lee had arranged, and that was how I kind of found my way in. At one point I freaked out to myself, and I thought, “This isn’t me. I’m not going to be authentic in this role!” One of the ladies said, “No, you can, you go, girl!” And she kind of gave me the confidence. Then I kind of just let it flow out of me, and I sort of went with it. I didn’t censor myself in any way—I just went straight into the character. And I didn’t see her as crazy, because I see very few people as crazy, so…[Laughs]

But, for me playing her, she’s a woman who is very damaged and is terrified of intimacy and of being close with someone. I suppose, the way in which she deals with Zac’s character, she knows he’s following her around like a puppy dog, but at the same time she’s not going to ruin him. Because if she lets him really fall in love with her, and if she lets herself, in some way, give in to him, and softens towards him, she’s going to ruin his life forever. What she says to him—“You don’t want me. Trust me…”—that, to me, is unconditional love. And her destiny, she feels, is that kind of like with [her husband]. That’s where she’s headed. It’s almost like a death wish. For me, that’s tragic, it’s very sad. And that’s where I came from with her—I had a lot of compassion for her. The reason I wouldn’t step in and out of the accent and the character the whole time was because I felt like I was going to be judging her. And if I just kind of stayed in it, I was very much, I thought, incredibly free to follow the instincts that were there. Which is how Lee works. You come on set and nothing is blocked out; Lee’s just sort of like, “Show it to me!” I never spoke to John Cusack through the shoot as “John.” It was always in character. At the end of the film, he came to my trailer and said, “Hi, I’m John!”

Are there physical things that you did? Like thinking about the hair, the walk?
Well, Lee was obsessed with the butt! He wanted my butt to be bigger, and I was like, “Okay, I can do that!” And I think that physically, I just wanted to find the sexuality of her. The director also triggers things that can ignite emotions and other things for you. And I think for me, the freedom of her sexuality was really important, and from the point I was in Lee’s hands, I didn’t really want to be saying “no” to anything.

Wasthere anything you actually refused to do in this provocative film?
Not really! No, yes, there was one thing: saying the n-word. I just didn’t feel like it was right for the character. And obviously, I have a son who is African-American. It just wasn’t right. The other thing I try to do as an actor is fulfill a director’s vision—that’s what you’re hired to do. And I have opinions and ideas, and I’m there to stimulate, hopefully, and ignite things in the director. But, at the same time, I’m not there to stop him. I really try, with every director,never to pull them off their vision. You’re there as a muse sometimes, you’re there as their conduit, and you’re there to create a character—together.

Can you talk about your character’s “Swamp Barbie” look?
Limitations are a great thing. There was no budget for the wardrobe. Everything was so authentic, and the costume designer was fantastic. I walked in there, and there were those white shoes! Lee has a thing about shoes! And as soon as we scuffed them, I was like, “These are the perfect shoes!” And after that, we just started trying stuff on, and Poloroiding and showing to him, and he would say, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” The costumes were really from that time period, and found down in New Orleans. Lee said I was also going to have to do my own hair and make-up, because we couldn’t afford a make-up artist! And I was of like, “Oh, God!” But I just went into the bathroom, and did the mascara and thick eyeliner like that, and put on this hairpiece that I had.

The important part of being an actor is learning not to shut down, not to say no, and being completely free and open. As you get older, you get a little more frightened—particularly now in this day and age, you know, there aren’t many opinions. It just makes me think, “Screw this!” I just want to push through it, and never stop myself from being brave and fighting through my own insecurities. I want to be in places I’ve never been to before and feel discomfort at times, and feel challenged, and feel ripped open. And it’s very, very hard to find those roles. It’s very hard to find those people that are going to do them with you. I do not want to get to an age, at this point in my life, where I am scared, or running scared. I much prefer to be pushing through the next few decades, giving it all I’ve got.