This past Friday, the Toronto International Film Festival hosted the premiere of Imogene, the highly anticipated “feel-good dark comedy” from Kristen Wiig. Wiig served as both executive producer and leading lady for Imogene, heading up an all-star ensemble cast including Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Christopher Fitzgerald, and of course, fandom’s favorite son Darren Criss, in his first feature film.

Imogene tells the story of the title character, a failed New York playwright who fakes a suicide attempt to win back the attention of her former boyfriend. The plan backfires, and she is carted back to the family home in New Jersey. Imogene Duncan, played by Wiig, attempts to re-examine her life whilst living with her mother (a gambling addict called Zelda, played by Bening,) Zelda’s boyfriend (Dillon) – an alleged CIA agent known only as the Bousche; her reclusive brother Ralph, played by Broadway veteran Christopher Fitzgerald, and Lee, the Yale-graduate lodger renting Imogene’s bedroom while he moonlights as a Backstreet Boys impersonator (Criss). The film was a passion project for Wiig, who fought hard to get it made after reading Michelle Morgan’s script, and it is directed by husband/wife team Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. Here’s a round-up of what the critics had to say:

The Hollywood Reporter:

Straight comedy is pretty far removed from what Springer Berman and Pulcini are usually up to, though one can feel the wry influence of Woody Allen sprinkled like stardust over the characters, notably in the scenes set in uptown Manhattan at its most pretentious. Imogene is superbly introduced as the 10-year-old star of a school production of The Wizard of Oz, who has issues with sending Dorothy back to Kansas. She is next seen all grown up (ironic Saturday Night Live star Wiig) and living in New York, trying to fit in with an insufferable bunch of false friends and a boyfriend who doesn’t like her.

Hollywood.com:

Wiig may have shtick, but she’s a capable performer who is capable of stretching her style to fit riskier vehicles (Paul was one such attempt). Imogene touches the surface of a twisted, dysfunctional family antics and but with Wiig at the wheel, it could have (and should have) pushed harder. The saving grace is a lovely dynamic between Wiig and her young costar Darren Criss.

Indiewire:

…there is Kristen Wiig, and she once again proves her value. Whether smuggling a library book under her old phys. ed. shirt or weeping in the rain on a broken chair, she is adorable, heartfelt and smart. Bening is typically wonderful, of course. She’s been on a heckuva run during the past few years, and her role in “Imogene” plays to her acerbic strengths. Quite simply, the pair, and their co-stars, elevate the material.

But the real surprise is Darren Criss. For audience members who have never turned the channel to “Glee” (guilty), his name stands for little. Yet in “Imogene” he is likable, funny and poised, and plays remarkably well opposite Wiig. This could be a breakout role for the actor, whose character, the singer in a Backstreet Boys tribute band, is one of the film’s highlights.

Variety:

An amusing scene at the halfway mark, featuring one of Lee’s nightly performances as a Backstreet Boy lookalike in a hokey ’90s-nostalgia lounge act, marks a turning point for their relationship as well as for the film, as Wiig and Criss begin to generate an appealing older-woman/younger-man chemistry, and Bening and Fitzgerald bring animating subtleties to their broadly eccentric roles.

This is the first bigscreen production directed but not also scripted by Springer Berman and Pulcini, working here from a screenplay by Michelle Morgan (who had a role in their 2011 telepic “Cinema Verite”). As such, the originality and conceptual ingenuity of the filmmakers’ 2003 breakout debut, “American Splendor,” are even less in evidence here than in their prior two pictures, as “Imogene” tells a thoroughly predictable tale of a needy, self-pitying city girl forced to renew bonds with the unsophisticated beach-town folk who really care about her.

Variety also listed the film as one of the most likely to sell within 24-48 hours, and this proved accurate – on Monday night, Imogene was picked up for U.S. distribution by Lionsgate, who will release the film in conjunction with its partner, Roadside Attractions.

We also found this fantastic report on Tumblr from a fan who attended the premiere screening:

On paper Imogene is somewhat similar to her character in Bridesmaids— a bit of a trainwreck, jaded, her life a total mess. However, Kristen really made this character different. It was just the way she carried herself…I was just surprised that she was able to differentiate the role from the one in Bridesmaids.

Annette Bening – I mean, not that it’s any surprise, but she was flawless. It’s a really great character role and she did fantastic with it. Her rapport with Matt Dillon, who plays her boyfriend, was hilarious, and Matt Dillon himself KILLED in his part. Christopher Fitzgerald played Imogene’s brother and again, just really fantastic.

And Darren! He was honestly, genuinely great in the role. It was not Blaine-like at all. He played Lee as much more laidback, a little sarcastic but not too biting, and charming as hell in a not slick at all way. His role is significant, but like the other characters, firmly in the supporting role of Imogene — as far as material, it was a lot of banter with Kristen Wiig, charming Kristen Wiig, and getting a little hot and heavy with her too. There wasn’t much in the dramatic department, though he has a few sweet, sort of earnest scenes with her character. It’s definitely a bit of manic pixie boy syndrome but it fit him perfectly. The writing is smarter and just better than what Glee churns out, and so I think that helped elevate him too – personally I’ve always thought of Darren as an actor who can carry strong material, but when the writing isn’t there, he can fall down on improving it, if that makes sense; if you give him dialogue that sounds like a HUMAN BEING, he is much stronger.

You can watch a cast Q&A from the premiere right here, as well as a cool video featuring Darren and the directors discussing the ensemble piece:

And because we’re us, we just wanted to make sure you also saw this video posted by Darren Criss on the day of the premiere:

“In the car, on the way to the world premiere screening of Imogene… Don’t have many words other than this:”


Darren Criss on WhoSay

How are you liking the sound of Imogene so far? Will you go see it in theaters?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Read full article

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

Read full article

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Read full article

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!