We've known for some time that Chris Evans, super tired of being famous, didn't just want to be an actor: He told Variety last year that he isn't interested in acting beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe, explaining, "If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing." He's since made his directorial debut with 2014's Before We Go, but what's to come of his future as Captain America? After next year's Civil War, Evans only has two more films left on his Marvel contract, with both the Avengers: Infinity War movies, slated for 2018 and 2019. And he now tells Collider that, if possible, he'd like to remain in that role even longer:
While we got a name for Neil Patrick Harris's upcoming NBC variety show, Best Time Ever, we still weren't sure what, exactly, would constitute such a good time. Turns out: lots of pranks! Judging by this promo video, there will be pranks on celebrities, pranks orchestrated by celebrities, pranks on normals, and pranks on normals by celebrities. Also, there will be that dreaded moment of audience participation that will recall those awkward moments of America's Funniest Home Videos.
Today is Force Friday, the grand worldwide debut of all of the Force Awakens toys that you will be seeing at toy stores, and later garage sales, for decades to come. Most of the stuff on sale has little spoiler danger — we already knew there would be X-Wings and TIE Fighters in the movie — but if you're looking for hints to the movie's plot, look no further than the few talking toys to be released: masks of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), as well as an action figure of Finn (John Boyega). Besides giving us a glimpse of what everyone's voices sound like (Boyega sounds American, Christie sounds like Brienne, Driver sounds disconcertingly similar to his Girls character), the brief words these toys speak also reveal a few crucial story tidbits. Pull the cord, and let's explore.
The madly (as in angrily) prolific Alex Gibney is back with another provocative doc on someone who has had more impact than Julian Assange, Lance Armstrong, Tom Cruise, and almost anyone else whom Gibney has profiled put together: the demigod Steve Jobs. The movie — Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine — isn’t exactly a takedown, although anything less than worshipful of Jobs and the world he ushered in will be experienced as such. It’s a skeptical essay, a meditation, a corrective. Gibney makes a reasonable case that the man who presented himself as a counterculture Zen visionary striking a blow for individualism and freedom was a more ruthless and powerful species of capitalist than most who’ve walked the Earth. Little here is new, but the archival footage is well chosen, the interviewees are illuminating, and Gibney, as usual, potently synthesizes what’s out there. He also knows enough to throw a spotlight on what can’t be synthesized: the contradiction between everything Jobs strived to be/said he was/thought he was and the harsher reality.
Before Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation arrives on Netflix and in theaters next month — right on Oscar's schedule, October 16 — it premiered at the Venice Film Festival this week. Already, Idris Elba's performance in the film as a calculated rebel leader who trains child soldiers is earning him rave reviews, and it's not hard to see why. Netflix has released the film's full trailer, which has Elba terrorizing a group of young boys against a beautiful, albeit war-torn, Ghanaian backdrop. Looks like all those near-death experiences paid off.
Game of Thrones casting season came late this year, but it currently appears to be in full swing. Days after Danish actor Pilou Asbæk was cast as Euron Greyjoy, BuzzFeed reports that unREAL's Freddie Stroma has joined the cast as Dickon Tarly, younger brother of our beloved Samwell. (In the Game of Thrones books, he's supposed to be about 13; in real life, Stroma is 28, a year older than John Bradley-West.) Dickon has not yet appeared in the books, but he's described as everything poor Sam is not: In the words of the leaked season-six casting breakdown, he is "athletic, a good hunter, an excellent swordsman, manly, not particularly bright, but the favorite child of the father." Stroma is also known for playing Cormac McLaggen in the Harry Potter films, so this latest role does not seem like too much of a stretch.
Writers have a hard time controlling what they’re known for: It could be the wrong book, or no book at all but instead some provocation, feud, love affair, scandal, or autopsy. In his new memoir, I Can Give You Anything But Love, Gary Indiana laments that a young reporter profiling him seems mostly interested in “the art criticism I wrote for three years in the mid-1980s ... a bunch of yellowing newspaper columns I never republished and haven’t cared about for a second since writing them a quarter century ago.” A memoir, of course, is an opportunity to shift the emphasis. But it’s no surprise that a crucial player in the East Village art scene of the '80s — an era that’s attracted acute nostalgia as one of the last gasps of downtown authenticity, and a phase when there were still giants in the pages of the Voice — would be identified with that time. The cultural appetite for a bygone Manhattan is evident in the laurels and big advances for touristic historical novels like Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers and Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire.
The chances are high that you spent your sick days home from school — or, let's be real, even work — watching The Price Is Right, wishfully thinking you could one day play the beloved pricing game Plinko in the game show's Hollywood studio. Clearly one for that nostalgia, Jimmy Fallon and Jason Sudeikis decided to give it the Tonight Show treatment last night, forgoing potential cash prizes for an array of beverages. Behold Drinko. Things get weird.
For five seasons, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have inhabited a variety of characters both real and imagined on Key & Peele. They’ve played celebrities from Lil Wayne to Barack Obama and Martin Luther King. But more often, they’ve played eccentrics created from a strange, wonderful universe: football players with idiosyncratic names, ’80s workout stars, and the citizens of Negrotown. A great aid to their physical transformations has been their wigs, designed by Amanda Mofield, who received her second Emmy nomination in a row (Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special) this year for her work. “I’ve definitely worked harder on that show than any show I’ve been on,” Mofield said. “But it was so much fun that it was okay.” Vulture had Mofield choose the most memorable wigs from the show — her favorite, most difficult to pull off, and zaniest looks from the past five seasons of Key & Peele. Take it in, because before you know it, Key & Peele will be hair today, gone tomorrow.
I am a black woman, and this week the internet says I should be angry because Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” video is set in an Africa full of white people. In it, director Joseph Kahn channels old Hollywood, with Swift and her co-star, Scott Eastwood, playing actors from the 1950s filming a movie on the African plains. The co-stars have an affair offscreen. There are exotic animals. When the actors return to the States for the premiere, it turns out one of them is already hitched. Hearts are broken. End scene. Oh, wait, sidebar, almost forgot — there are no black people.
After watching the video during its debut on the VMAs Sunday night, my initial thought was that it's boring. It's the visual equivalent of a harlequin novel on flibanserin. But then, like a stampede of zebras across the sunbaked savanna, the outrage started to roll in via headlines across the globe. Jezebel called it “a highly stylized, white-washed celebration of African colonialism.” NPR went further: “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa. Of course, this is not the first time that white people have romanticized colonialism: See Louis Vuitton's 2014 campaign, Ernest Hemingway's Snows of Kilimanjaro, the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and of course Karen Blixen's memoir Out of Africa. But it still stings.”
If you're reading this post Friday morning, you already missed most of the madness of Force Friday, Disney's global unveiling of its Force Awakens merchandise. The international spectacle of commerce was preceded by days of official unboxing videos, and kicked off in earnest with midnight events at retailers like Target, Walmart, and Toys ’R’ Us. The first 1,000 guests at Disney stores in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco received a free poster; shoppers at Disneyland and Disney World got a commemorative messenger bag.
This is where we stop and reflect on the fact that capitalism has led us to a place where we're having what amounts to a red-carpet premiere for tie-in toys, three months before a movie comes out. Which is strange, we suppose, but less strange if you consider that people have been camping out for books and phones and video-game consoles and sneakers for years. If your passions include lining up on a Thursday night to buy Star Wars merchandise, then by God, Disney is going to give you that dream with all the pomp and circumstance it can muster. Let he who never obsessed over a miniature B-Wing cast the first stone.
As Marvel continues its quest to stuff everyone who's ever so much as glanced at a SAG card into next year's Captain America: Civil War — except Mark Ruffalo, sorry, Mark Ruffalo — THR reports that the film's growing cast was the impetus for a behind-the-scenes rift that culminated in a corporate reshuffling last month that put Marvel Studios under the aegis of Disney, rather than Marvel's own executive board. The move was supposedly to get Marvel studios head Kevin Feige out from under the hands of "famously frugal" Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, who had attempted to slow down Civil War's ever-increasing budget. This is perhaps bad news for anyone who thought Marvel films were already too jam-packed with cross-promotional character appearances — but it's great news for the MCU's middle class of actors, who, under Perlmutter, were held to cheap contracts that didn't pay them any merchandising royalties. You can start renovating your kitchen now, Marisa Tomei.
The Transporter: Refueled is stupid, stupid, stupid — and it certainly knows it. You might even chuckle contentedly at its knowing silliness — that’s sort of what this low-rent franchise is here for — but you’ll also miss Jason Statham, whose deadpan self-awareness somehow legitimized the ridiculousness of the previous films. Statham, as some may already know, departed the series over a contract dispute; they wanted to make more movies and pay him less, so he (rightly) bailed. Maybe the faint vestige of his spirit is all that’s needed: The new film gets by to some extent on the good will carried over from the earlier films, and most of that good will was due to the now-absent star.
In an interview with the Sunday Times last weekend, Pretenders front woman Chrissie Hynde stirred up controversy with comments about rape that many viewed as victim-blaming. "Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing and I take full responsibility," she said of being sexually assaulted at 21. In an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, she offers more general opinions about rape: "If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?"
Since then, other rape survivors have criticized Hynde's words, most notably, former Runaways bassist Jackie Fuchs, who revealed her own assault earlier this summer. "It’s a really dangerous message ... Poor judgment is not an invitation to rape, nor an excuse for it," Fuchs told Yahoo on Tuesday.
Despite the outrage, Hynde is standing by her original comments. She tells the Washington Post in a new interview:
"They’re entitled to say whatever they want. Do I regret saying it? I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. [What I said] sounds like common sense. If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask me for it. At the moment, we’re in one of the worst humanitarian crises in our lifetime. You see that picture of a Turkish policeman carrying the body of a 3-year-old boy who got washed up on the shore. These are the heartbreaking images we have and we’re talking about millions of displaced persons and people whose families have been destroyed and we’re talking about comments that I allegedly made about girls in their underwear."
The Carmichael Show’s David Alan Grier on How Fast the World Is Changing and Playing the Cowardly Lion in The WizBy Maria Elena Fernandez
People keep asking comedian David Alan Grier for tickets to The Wiz, NBC’s third live musical, airing this December. “The ticket is the flat-screen in your house!” Grier said during a phone interview with Vulture. “There is no audience! They don’t get it.” Grier will play the Cowardly Lion, but the repeat ticket encounters would serve as a terrific bit on The Carmichael Show, NBC’s summer sleeper hit comedy based on the life of stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael. Grier plays Jerrod’s conservative and opinionated father. “That could be a whole episode — how do I get tickets? That would literally be a half-hour conversation with myself and Cynthia [Loretta Devine, who plays his wife] trying to explain that.”
In Wednesday night’s “Gender” episode, Grier’s character, Joe, has come to accept gay people (“the Supreme Court has told me I need to accept these people, so I always do what the Supreme Court says”), but hits a wall when his son mentors a transgender child. If that sounds like unusually heavy material for a multi-camera sitcom, it’s standard fare for Carmichael: The show has also dealt with the death of an unarmed black man and will take on religion and gun control when it concludes its six-episode test-run on Wednesday. Vulture caught up with Grier between lion fittings to discuss how the show captures political discussions among families, why it speaks to his generation, and playing the Cowardly Lion for his daughter.
The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions, September 1)
The four books in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, of which this is the dark and clamorous finale, are really just one thick novel, but its piecemeal translation has allowed the pseudonymous author’s American cult to swell to Knausgaardian proportions. You’d have to start from book one in order to fully appreciate the complex friendship at its core, between intellectual Elena and tempestuous Lila, two women fated to live very different lives. In part four, Elena and her cohort age from their turbulent 30s to their 60s, raise and struggle with children, and seek solace in the unlikeliest place — the vibrant, violent Naples of their birth.
When Craig Finn began work on his second solo album, Faith in the Future, the Hold Steady front man told his producer Josh Kaufman that he wanted it to be "elegant and hopeful." And by elegant, he meant "something that befits a 44-year-old man." He started writing the songs, which possess far more subdued vibes than the loquacious bar-rock of his main band, in the wake of his mother's 2013 death by examining how people move forward following tragedy. Some songs are more autobiographical than others: "Newmeyer's Roof" stems from Finn’s experience on 9/11, watching the towers fall from a friend’s roof in the East Village; while "Going to a Show" is partially about his love of going to concerts by himself. To accompany Vulture’s exclusive early stream of Faith in the Future, out September 11 via Partisan Records, we caught up with Finn at a bar in Greenpoint to talk about how life in New York inspired these soulful troubadour songs.
After making snarky comments about YouTube gaming and invoking the ire of internet users everywhere, Jimmy Kimmel decided to appease his new haters by testing out the trend himself in a new segment. It all goes about as well as you'd expect, which is to say: poorly. Jimmy reads mean comments, Jimmy learns how to swear in Tagalog, Jimmy tries to be a matchmaker, Jimmy tries to play video games, Jimmy tries to hug gamers, and so on. It's kind of like one of Conan's Clueless Gamer remotes. Actually, it's a lot like that, just with less yelling.
The Daily Mail on Thursday unearthed this vintage clip of Angelina Jolie workshopping her budding skills in an acting class at age 25. (It features some very creepy faces that match some very creepy lines, and then some.) Soon after this footage was originally captured, Jolie, now 40, would win an Oscar for her work in 1999's Girl, Interrupted. Makes sense, more or less. Tough to tell, though, if this particular clip itself is the stuff of dreams or nightmares. Maybe both — there is a roller-coaster range of emotions here, after all.
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