At the Movies
Opening on Friday, Feb. 27, is “Map to the Stars,” a dark satire about Hollywood written by BRUCE WAGNER, 60, and directed by veteran DAVID CRONENBERG, 71. The complex plot focuses on the plight of a former child star (Evan Bird) and an aging actress (Julianne Moore) whose career is in decline. Moore won a best actress award for her performance at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. While Cronenberg isn’t a household name, he has a very long and praised body of work and just about everyone has seen a least a few of his films. In his more recent work-- I thought that two Cronenberg films that starred Viggo Mortensen were particularly dramatically compelling, if quite violent. They are “A History of Violence” (2005) and “Eastern Promises” (2007).
New on TV: A Lot of Cops, Some Jewish
PATRICIA ARQUETTE, 46, the betting favorite to win the best supporting actress Oscar for “Boyhood,” indeed won the Oscar last week. She is now the only star of a "CSI" series to be an Oscar winner (Laurence Fishburne was nominated). Arquette, who won an Emmy for best actress for playing the title character in the long-running series, “Medium,” returns to TV as the star of the newest entry in the “CSI” TV franchise: “CSI Cyber.” Here’s part of the official description: “An FBI team of cyber crime investigators, headed by Special Agent Avery Ryan (Arquette),[works to solve cases involving the dark net and deep web. Avery, a cyber-psychologist, is in charge of the Cyber Crime Division at Quantico, Virginia. The team she leads is tasked with solving Internet-related murders, cyber-theft, hacking, sex offenses and blackmail.” (Starts on CBS on Thursday, March 5, at 10PM).
Arquette’s decision to return to TV isn’t that surprising, even in light of her Oscar win. First of all, there is always a shortage of good roles for actors of either gender approaching 50 and, sad to say, women have more difficulty than their male colleagues. Second, Arquette has a 12-year-old daughter and TV work in Los Angeles, where she lives, means regular hours and very little far-away location shooting as is the case with many films.
The ten-part USA network mini-series, “Dig,” also starts on March 5 at 10PM. Much of the series is set in Israel and the pilot was filmed there. Here’s the official description: “When Peter Connelly an FBI agent recently stationed in Jerusalem, begins investigating the murder of a young American, he realizes that he has uncovered an ancient international conspiracy that threatens to change the course of human history. Certain that the dangerous prophecy is nearing fruition, Peter must race against the clock to unravel its mystery.”
Peter Connelly is supposed to be an Irish American. So, “of course”, they went out and cast a British Jew, JASON ISAACS, 51, to play him. Actually, Isaacs has played a lot of American roles and he can do a credible American accent. He is still probably best known for playing “Lucius Malfoy” in the “Harry Potter” movies. (Anne Heche co-stars as Connelly’s boss).
“Battle Creek,” a police drama--with wry comedy---premieres on CBS on March 1 (10PM). It’s set in Battle Creek, Michigan, the home of Kellogg’s (but isn’t filmed there). The basic plot: the FBI sets up a field office across the hall from the bare-bones Battle Creek police department and is tasked with aiding local law enforcement. The FBI has money and tons of gizmos, while the locals don’t even have working tasers. Josh Duhamel plays an FBI agent, while Dean Winters plays a gruff, but sharp Battle Creek police detective who works with the FBI. The show’s quirky humor is exemplified by these advance plot nuggets: the city’s mayor is a dead-ringer for Toronto’s “wacky” ex-mayor, Rob Ford, and, in the second episode, the police have to deal with a criminal cartel selling stolen maple syrup.
The co-creator of the series is the “hot” Vince Gilligan (creator of “Breaking Bad”). He wrote the "Battle Creek" pilot twelve years ago. His “Breaking Bad” success got CBS to put “Battle Creek” on the schedule and the studio brought in DAVID SHORE, 55, the creator of “House”, to update the pilot and help write new episodes. He says, “I raised the child that Gllligan birthed.” Big time movie director BRYAN SINGER, 49 (“X-Men”) produces and directed the pilot. Shore, by the way, comes from a religious Canadian family. His twin younger brothers are both Aish HaTorah (Orthodox) rabbis.