Billions specializes in gripping drama. The story of a high-stakes financial cat-and-mouse game between a venture capitalist (Damian Lewis) and the federal attorney who’s trying to bring him down (Paul Giamatti) has thrown some amazing twists and turns our way, resulting in some truly surprising moments. What isn’t surprising, though, is the intensity of the two actors. Lewis and Giamatti both bring their “A-games” to the series, and when the two of them meet in their rare shared scenes, the results are incredible — and both actors can sense that something special is going on. (Click on the media bar below to hear Damian Lewis & Damian Lewis)
As the title of the series implies, the stakes are high on Billions. And so is the tension between Damian Lewis, who plays billionaire Wall Street investor Bobby Axelrod, and Paul Giamatti as the U.S. District Attorney who’s trying to bring down the Axelrod empire. The two Emmy Award winners don’t get to share a lot of screen time together, since the characters are usually scheming and strategizing with their teams to stay a step ahead of each other. So when the two characters do clash in a scene together, it heightens the experience for both Giamatti and Lewis. (Click on the media bar below to hear Paul Giamatti & Damian Lewis)
New episodes of Billions air Sunday nights on Showtime.
It’s episode 36 of CinemAddicts, and thankfully it’s a great week filled with must see movies – two of which star Tom Hanks! First up is Sully, director Clint Eastwood’s insightful look at the pilot and hero Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger (Tom Hanks). Come awards season, Hanks should nab another Oscar nomination for his work in the titular role. Aaron Eckhart, who plays Sully’s loyal co-pilot Jeff Skiles, is also excellent and memorable in the film. Laura Linney, who previously worked with Eastwood in Mystic River and Absolute Power, plays Sully’s wife Lorraine.
One of this year’s most arresting documentaries is Author: The JT LeRoy Story, which details Laura Albert’s creation of a fictional scribe named JT LeRoy. Under the fake moniker and identity, Albert penned novels (including The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things) which turned LeRoy into a literary sensation. Bono, Billy Corgan, director Gus Van Sant, Winona Ryder, and Courtney Love are among the artists who fell under LeRoy’s spell, and the documentary spotlights the writer’s rise and fall in a compelling and oftentimes feverish fashion.
The third film is Ithaca, Meg Ryan’s directing debut that’s based on the William Saroyan novel The Human Comedy. Set in World War II, the story centers on Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter), a 14-year-old telegraph messenger who initially loves traveling around town and meeting new people. His disillusionment begins during his first day on the job, as he must deliver a message to a woman about her son’s passing. Ryan is Homer’s loving yet often distant mother, as she continues to mourn her husband’s (Tom Hanks) passing, and Sam Shepard and Hamish Linklater play Homer’s advice-giving co-workers. As a director, Ryan is adept at capturing the story’s more intimate details and also displays a strong visual eye, and Ithaca, if anything, shows that the actress is a promising filmmaker. Though Hanks and Ryan’s screen time is at a minimum, Ithaca’s talented ensemble, which also includes Ryan’s son Jack Quaid playing Homer’s solider brother Marcus, help deliver an oftentimes heartbreaking yet subtly uplifting narrative.
Anderson’s streaming pick of the week is EXPO: Magic of the White City, a documentary about the Chicago World Fair of 1893. My Blu-ray picks this week is the kidnapping thriller Saving Mr. Wu and the baseball drama The Phenom which stars Ethan Hawke, Paul Giamatti, and Johnny Simmons.
To hear this week’s episode of CinemAddicts, click on the Soundcloud bar below:
Opening in theaters later this month, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is a compelling docudrama detailing the rise and fall of one of the most notorious gangsta rap groups in music history. Set in the late 1980’s in the economically strapped city of Compton, California, the story of how five intensely talented musicians (EAZY-E, ICE CUBE, DR. DRE, MC REN and DJ YELLA) got together to form the core of NWA (NIGGAZ WITH ATTITUDE).
Directed by F. GARY GRAY, the largely unknown cast includes O’SHEA JACKSON JR., COREY HAWKINS, JASON MITCHELL, NEIL BROWN JR. and ALDIS HODGE. Standing out amongst the newbies is Oscar-nominee PAUL GIAMATTI as Jerry Heller, a supportive but largely unscrupulous music producer.
At a press conference held a few days ago to promote the film, director F. GARY GRAY and producer ICE CUBE talked to reporters about how the casting of PAUL GIAMATTI came to be. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)
Slated for a roll-out release beginning late next month, JOHN DIES AT THE END is a sci-fi fanboy’s wet-dream come true that features aliens, drugs, time travel and monsters. Adapted for the screen (from the novel by DAVID WONG) and directed by DON COSCARELLI, the film seems a logical next-step from the maker of such titles as BUBBA HO-TEP, THE BEASTMASTER and the PHANTASM series. Co-produced by and starring Oscar-nominee PAUL GIAMATTI, this bizarrely off-beat saga should sate fans of the filmmaker who have been waiting almost a decade for his return to the screen.
Facing entertainment reporters just a few days ago, GIAMATTI talked about why he wanted to take part in this quirky genre film. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)