We admit a month ago having known v. little about HBO‘s new series BIG LITTLE LIES, based on the novel by Liane Moriarty. Since discovering it though, we’re helplessly hooked. We have previewed the first six of seven episodes and cruelly were left hanging at the end of it. It consumed us fully this weekend and it’s been on our mind all day.
The seven-part series follows the lives of three mothers in Monterey, California as they cope with family-life balance, each facing their own unique demons. We have Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), a well-to-do stay at home mom of two, invested in a local theatre production of Avenue Q much to the disapproval of the local mayor and conservative locals. Celeste (Nicole Kidman), a lawyer-on-hiatus, has a seemingly-perfect life too with twin boys, a gorgeous house and a handsome husband in Perry (Alex Skarsgård). Enter to the picture, mysterious single mother Jane (Shailene Woodley) and her son who are new to the area, drawn to its affordable private school education at a public school cost. Things begin to unravel one day at school when Jane’s son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) is accused of hurting Renata’s (Laura Dern) daughter Anabella (Ivy George). This ignites what becomes a rampant fire as we see these mothers go to all costs to protect their children. Passions flare as Celeste and Madeline rally to support their new friend Jane and the consequences are well, fatal. As the story unfolds we get eyewitness accounts, some less reliable than others, and we learn the deep, dark secrets each of our three leading women are harbouring, leading them together to where they are today. Who dies? Why? Who did it? How? We have so many questions.
Canada’s very own Jean-Marc Vallée does a phenomenal job at the reins here and while BIG LITTLE LIES at times is a bit of a meditative slow-burn, we nonetheless are invested every step of the way. Our characters are richly-developed, complex, aware, intelligent and multi-dimensional. Nothing is ever just black or white with them, there is a rather large, beautifully-messy gray area. Domestic violence, consent, sexuality, infidelity are just some of the meaty matters the series examines with great depth and it leaves us with plenty to think about.
Although Witherspoon’s brand has become synonymous with being Elle Woods and Rom-Coms like Sweet Home Alabama, we really love her pairing with Vallée which as we saw in Oscar-nominated WILD, has given her a real opportunity to shine as a dramatic force. Kidman seldom disappoints and she has shown that when she is in full-control of her output (remember the outstanding Rabbit Hole?), as she is here serving with Witherspoon as Executive Producers, she is devastatingly good. We also really enjoy Woodley’s work as Jane, careful never to give too much away about her character as one of the story’s most fascinating aspects. And we love LauraDern in a performance that is worthy of top-billing, as a woman on fire in the deeply-angry Renata.
See a Tease:
HBO Canada airs BIG LITTLE LIESSunday, February 19, 2017 at 9 PM EST.
Where does one start with Oliver Stone? The man has made some incredible Films and fortunately hia newest effort, Snowden it falls in this category.
Joseph-Gordon Levitt stars as Edward Snowden the man who single-handedly took down the National Security Agency. Snowden was one of the youngest recruits to the NSA and took it upon himself to make it known through the leaking of highly-classified documents proving the government had access to our communication devices. However, how does Snowden go about his noble feat while protecting himself and the ones he loves, including Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) his girlfriend?
What makes Snowden so facinating is the amount of detail the Film reveals about Snowden’s journey, even if it feels disjointed at times with its non-linear approach. The Film falls flat slightly within the Third Act in what should be Snowden‘s intense escape from prosecution. However the performances from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley are remarkable.
SNOWDEN screens Friday, September 9, 2016 at 9:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall and Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 12:00 PM at Roy Thomson Hall.
It was a massively star-studded second day in Toronto and Team Mr. Will had a bit better luck after a bit of a slow start to TIFF ‘ 16! Newly-minted Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio had King Street shut down as he walked the Red Carpet with grace for Global Warming Documentary BEFORE THE FLOOD, signing a whole lot of autographs for Fans who queued hours to see him in a rare visit to the City! Later on in the day, Joseph Gordon-Levitt faced the Media and Fans at the Premiere for his Award Season vehicle, SNOWDEN at Roy Thomson Hall. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway brought a sizable crowd to Ryerson Theatre to see her latest effort, COLOSSAL at its World Premiere. While immersed in controversy of late, THE BIRTH OF NATION, starring, written and directed by Nate Parker got two Premieres tonight around town and its run at TIFF ’16 just might be the publicity it needs to get itself back on the right path.
Elevation Pictures + Mr. Will want to take Readers to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in SNOWDEN! The Film is making its World Premiere at TIFF and then opening in theaters across the country on September 16th.
Screenings take place Monday, September 12, 2016 in the following cities:
Toronto – Sept. 12, 7pm
Cineplex Queensway (1025 The Queensway, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 6C7)
Vancouver – Sept. 12, 7pm
Scotiabank Vancouver (900 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3G5)
Victoria – Sept. 12, 7pm
Odeon Victoria (780 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8W 1L4)
Edmonton – Sept. 12, 7pm
South Edmonton (1525 99 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6N 1K5)
The Black and Blue Carpet was rolled out tonight at Toronto’s Scotiabank Theatre as Mekhi Phifer and Jai Courtney, Stars of Veronica Roth AdaptationThe Divergent Series: Insurgent, flew-in for the grand occasion. Filled with Selfie-aspiring Fans and eager Television and Digital Media, the Carpet was adorned in blue lit-panels depicting the five Factions known so well by Fans of the Franchise. After strong Reviews and grossing over $150 million in North America, expectations are high of this second Installment.
Many know Phifer for his work on long-running, celebrated TV Series ER and a string of popular Films he made in his early 20s, including O, 8 Mile and Honey. Australian-born Courtney‘s star is emerging quickly with high-profile Roles in Unbroken, A Good Day to Die Hard and recent news of his casting in DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, to film in Toronto next month with a Cast of Heavyweights.
INSURGENT picks-up where Divergent left-off in a futuristic dystopian Chicago. We witness Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), (Miles Teller) and (Ansel Elgort) on-the-run from ruthless Erudite Faction Leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet), who is determined to capture and test the limits of potentially destructive Divergents (those not belonging to any one particular personality type) at all costs – sparing no lives, placing them through a grueling and deadly set of simulations. Jeanine is in possession of a box containing secrets which Tris‘ Parents lost their lives in the name of protecting. Tris finds herself having to face Jeanine, risking her life for the protection of her People once she is captured. What is the secret which Jeanine is so set on keeping it hidden from Tris and the Population? And how will Tris survive Jeanine‘s fatal Regime?
At the heart of The Divergent Series are some strong Female Characters. Legions of young Women look-up to Tris and we ask Phifer who plays Dauntless Leader Max, about his own Female Role Models. “My Mom first of all”, he says without hesitation, “She was a single Parent who raised me in Harlem. She was a School Teacher who loved the Community – a Choreographer and Dancer. My Mom was definitely an inspiration.”.
Courtney, who just turned 29 this week, thinks likewise, crediting “My mother of course, I think.”. He adds, “My Sister too. There a lot of strong Women in my life, including some friends of mine.”.
Phifer recounts his transition from a young impoverished Actor, overcoming the odds to make it in Hollywood with a Career spanning 20 years. We ask what’s changed from then till now for him. He says, “I’m 40-years-old, a Dad of two and married. I mean, it’s inevitable.”. “That’s the beauty of acting – there’s no age limit. As long as you can remember lines and read, that’s all you need.”.
Our Justin Waldman asks Courtney about his physically-intensive role as Dauntless Leader Eric, who like Phifer‘s Max, reports to Winslet‘s Jeanine. His Character is menacing, in hot pursuit of Tris and Four, playing a Key Role in her eventual surrender to Jeanine. “I was working on Terminator Genisys at the same time as Insurgent”, he reveals. “It was a lot of Cardio and Circuit Work – boring stuff. It’s what I have to do to prepare for work. It’s like reading or researching for a role, but you have to become a bit of an Athlete.”. “It gets old.”.
And for those curious, Courtney remains tight-lipped about his return soon to the City for the star-studded Suicide Squad with the likes of Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne and Joel Kinnaman. “What am I gonna tell you? We haven’t started yet, but we’re getting ready”, he says before hinting “I’m gonna get to use my Australian accent. I can tell you that much.”.
Watch our Video Chats with Phifer and Courtney:
eOne Films release THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT on Friday, March 20, 2015.
Let’s be real. We can never have enough Celeb Selfies! 2014 was a year I’ll never forget and will forever go down as one of our most star-studded yet! Our travels brought us to L.A. and New York, but our most exciting adventures took place here in our Hometown of Toronto! Let’s take a walk down our star-studded memory lane to some of our fave Celeb moments of 2014!
Who were you most excited to see? The red-hot Benedict Cumberbatch? The private Usher? The iconic Tom Cruise?The adorable Anna Kendrick? “It Boy” Ansel Elgort? How about “It Girl” Shailene Woodley? The incredibly-tough Reese Witherspoon? The irresistible Tom Hardy?!
Also, we want to share with you some of our fave of the several thousand Celeb Snaps we took in 2014! Chances are if there was a major Star in-town this year, we at some point snapped them!
2014 will go down as one of the strongest years for Cinema in recent memory, but which Movies rocked our World? And which Singles ruled our iPod? You’re about to find out!
Re-live some of our Fave Celeb Selfies of 2014 (click HD for better quality):
My most “liked” Selfie on Social Media of 2014 though? Easy!
2. GONE GIRL
6. THE IMITATION GAME
8. THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
9. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
10. THE LEGO MOVIE
Perhaps under-seen, WHIPLASH is the one Film you absolutely must see this year. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller will shatter your World with their performances! You’ll leave shaken and sobered.
1. ALL ABOUT THAT BASS – Meghan Trainor
2. BLANK SPACE – Taylor Swift
3. WEST COAST – Lana Del Rey
4. BOOM CLAP – Charli XCX
5. POMPEII – Bastille
6. STAY WITH ME – Sam Smith
7. SHE LOOKS SO PERFECT – 5 Seconds of Summer
8. COUNTING STARS – OneRepublic
9. SHAKE IT OFF – Taylor Swift
10. SAY SOMETHING – A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera
2014 was all about that bass for us. Meghan Trainor blew our mind with her positive message about body image. We’re sold and extremely excited for her 2015 full-length Debut.
Won’t you join us as we embark on more exciting adventures in Entertainment 2015? Also stay tuned for an upcoming Post where our Contributors Jonathan Godfrey, Justin Waldman, David Baldwin and George Kozera share their fave Films of 2014 too!
Happy Holidays, Willionaire$!
Photos Post-TIFF ’14 taken on Nikon D3300. Photos pre-TIFF ’14 taken on Olympus E-PL5/Samsung S4.
If there ever was any doubt that INSURGENT will leave Fans satisfied, let this first Teaser Trailer for the Film alleviate any concerns. See Tris (Shailene Woodley) cling for dear life as she defies gravity to get to her Mother (Ashley Judd).
Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Caleb (Ansel Elgort), Peter (Miles Teller), and Four‘s father Marcus (Ray Stevenson) take refuge at Amity. Tris tries to cope with her guilt at having killed Will, even though it was in self defense. The group, especially Tris and Four, find Amity‘s no weapons rule difficult to live with and they soon find themselves on the run again.
See the Teaser:
eOne Films release THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT on Friday, March 19, 2015.
Shailene like we’ve never seen her before! Ever since we first saw the Trailer for WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD from Director Gregg Araki, we’ve been mesmerized and now we’d like to take some Toronto Readers to see it first!
Official Synopsis: Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley) is 17 years old when her perfect homemaker mother, Eve (Eva Green), a beautiful, enigmatic, and haunted woman, disappears – just as Kat is discovering and relishing her newfound sexuality. Having lived for so long in a stifled, emotionally repressed household, she barely registers her mother’s absence and certainly doesn’t blame her doormat of a father, Brock (Christopher Meloni), for the loss. In fact, it’s almost a relief.
But as time passes, Kat begins to come to grips with how deeply Eve‘s disappearance has affected her. Returning home on a break from college, she finds herself confronted with the truth about her mother’s departure, and her own denial about the events surrounding it…
See the Trailer:
Did we just see Gabourey Sidibe in that Trailer too?!? I think we did!
The irony of tonight’s Divergent Toronto Advance Screening is that Fans were anything but unalike. Whether they call themselves Initiates or Priorities, they were united in their ardent support for what has been pegged the next breakout Young Adult Franchise. Following in the footsteps of The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games Series, this first Adaptation of Veronica Roth‘s best-selling Trilogy, not only is led by two of Hollywood’s brightest Rising Stars in Theo James and Academy Award Nominee Shailene Woodley, but it also boasts an impressive Supporting Cast which includes Tony Goldwyn, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort and the always phenomenal Kate Winslet.
Taking place at Scotiabank Theatre, tonight’s Premiere saw a multitude of Media and Fans waiting on Divergent‘s two Stars in a later scheduled start time than normal. After flying-in from the Chicago leg of their Press Tour, both James and Woodley were greeted with a cool, collective cheer amidst this pestering Extreme Cold Alert. The former brought forth pure British sophistication to this side of the Atlantic in a smart three-piece Suit, while the latter sported proudly her new Pixie locks, pairing a green sweater over a button-down and shimmery black pants – reminding us indeed we were at a Red Carpet Affair. Fans demanded hugs from their Hero and Heroine and some were lucky enough to get theirs!
Divergent centers around 16-year-old Tris Prior (Woodley), who like all others her age must choose which Faction she wishes to belong to, living in a Society divided by personality types. Tris decides she wants to join the Dauntless Faction, known for its bravery, but of course with this comes dangerous risks. She then learns that she’s actually Divergent, meaning she’ll never purely belong to any one distinct Faction and this could cause an issue or two.
I ask Woodley, what it is that she looks for when she chooses a role. She says, “It’s a physical reaction when I read a script. If I get butterflies, then I know it’s something to fight for”. We learned also that her Pal, Jennifer Lawrence, actually encouraged her to sign aboard the Franchise after some hesitations initially. “She definitely encouraged me to take this on – she said ‘There’s lots of beautiful things which could come from a Franchise like this!'”.
On Toronto, which she last visited in 2011 for the Toronto International Film Festival with eventual Academy Award-winning The Descendants, she tells me that this actually is a City she’s quite fond of, drawing parallels to the Big Apple. “I love Toronto and one of my Best Friends is from Ontario”, she tells us, “I spent some time here as a Child”. “The City feels like a clean New York. There’s something refreshing about it.”.
Hailing from Oxford, James with his refined talent and good looks is on the verge of major recognition stateside. On the decision to cast him in the coveted Four role opposite Woodley, he walks me through the day he discovered the news which could well change his life forever. “Well, I was working in Florida. I heard the news and looked around and there was no one to celebrate with, so I went to a bar with no one to celebrate with but myself”, he remembers. “It was Rock ‘n’ Roll!”. Things aren’t stopping any time soon for the Actor, who appears alongside Johnny Depp in London Fields and Richard Gere in Franny next.
Watch Mr. Will‘s Chats with James and Woodley below:
eOne Films release DIVERGENT on Friday, March 21, 2014.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong/Christina Miguel)
Although I had some doubts about it after first hearing of it being in production, I must say I am rather pleased with how promising this Adaptation of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS looks. One-part John Hughes-esque, one-part A Walk to Remember, this Romantic-Drama looks a bona fide Tearjerker.
Official Synopsis: Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them — and us — on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, based upon the number-one bestselling Novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.
Watch the Trailer below:
20th Century Fox releases THE FAULT IN OUR STARS on Friday, June 6, 2014.
The Cast of The Fault in our Stars and Mr. Will:
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong/20th Century Fox)