Hypable Movie Review: ‘Smashed’

3:00 pm EDT, October 11, 2012

There is nothing new about the premise for Smashed, a drama about a couple’s battle with alcoholism, but the execution is anything but conventional. With a truly tender touch, director and co-writer James Ponsoldt injects a refreshing energy into the film, which builds upon real-life experiences of co-writer Susan Burke’s own battles with alcoholism. What really makes this film stand out, however, is a breathtaking performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead that is truly one of the best I’ve seen in years.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Kate Hannah, a school teacher whose love for alcohol begins to send her life into a downward spiral of lies, deceit, and waking up in the streets of Los Angeles. With the help of her colleague, Dave (Nick Offerman), and another recovering alcoholic, Jenny (Octavia Spencer), Kate attempts to turn her life around as she struggles with living without alcohol for the first time in her adult life. This change turns her marriage to Charlie (Aaron Paul) upside-down, which was previously based upon a mutual love of drinking.

Exceedingly emotional and honest in its approach, Smashed mostly manages to breathe fresh life into a movie whose themes and issues have been explored countless times. Based in part on the personal struggles with alcoholism, co-writer Susan Burke effuses a distinct personal touch to the story, which briskly explores Kate’s problems without getting too bogged down in the melodrama that often comes with such a tale.

From a technical standpoint, the editing from Suzanne Spangler is top-notch, as the film often employs quick, startling cuts-to-black which add a much-needed technical finesse to the film. Ponsoldt proves he’s a capable director here, in addition to the excellent performances he’s able to get from the cast, using flashy camerawork sparingly to add to, not distract from, the narrative.

Winstead is an utter revelation as Kate, with a truly phenomenal and engrossing performance that is one of the best I’ve seen in some time. Going from warm, charming and relatable to terrifyingly uncontrollable at the flip of a dime, Winstead masters all asked of her character in an absolutely wondrous display of talent from a true up-and-comer. Paul is perfectly placed against this dynamic performance, as Winstead works marvelously against him, making for a believable pairing throughout. Supporting performers Offerman, Spencer, Megan Mullally, and Mary Kay Place all do their part in adding to the film, although they aren’t really given much attention during the short running time.

While it suffers from similarities in narrative structure and execution nearly all films dealing with addiction have, the performances really make this one stand out. No matter if you’ve seen all dramas dealing with addiction, Smashed manages to break new ground with, at the very least, a singular, soul-wrenching performance at its center. At times equally funny and touching, yet often devastating, Smashed is a truly special glimpse into alcoholism that never gets too preachy or melodramatic, and is complete with an absolutely soaring, tour-de-force performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead that demands Oscar attention.

Grade: B+

Rated: R (for alcohol abuse, language, some sexual content and brief drug use)

Smashed opens in theaters on October 12, 2012.

Fox has moved the third and final Maze Runner movie to 2018.

The cast and crew were only a few days into filming The Death Cure in March when Dylan O’Brien suffered serious injuries on set, prompting the production to be put on a break so he could recover. When his recovery ended up taking longer than expected, the production was put on an indefinite hold.

Now, a plan to resume the shoot seems to be in place. Fox announced Friday The Death Cure will be hitting theaters January 12, 2018, which is nearly a year later than the original February 2017 date. The last Maze Runner movie, The Scorch Trials, opened last September.

Production on The Maze Runner: The Death Cure likely won’t resume until late this year or early next. Dylan O’Brien has already committed to another movie which is expected to shoot this summer.

Getting the rest of the cast and crew back together to shoot The Maze Runner finale may be a bit of a challenge since they may’ve committed to other projects that were supposed to be shooting after they finished The Maze Runner. However, the new Death Cure release date suggests Fox has found a time that’ll work for everyone.

Tom Cavanagh will return to The Flash in season 3 as a series regular, though which character he’ll be playing remains to be seen.

Cavanagh has had a unique acting challenge on The Flash, playing a different version of his character in each of the first two seasons — and now it looks like he’ll be doing it for a third season in a row, as EW confirms that he will be a series regular in season 3.

In season 1, Cavanagh played Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, in Harrison Wells’ body. Thawne, after traveling back in time, killed the original Wells and took his form to expedite the development of the particle accelerator so he could return to his own time. Thawne was written out of existence in the season 1 finale, though, leaving fans curious about who Cavanagh would be playing in season 2.

This past season, Cavanagh played the Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells, nicknamed Harry, who was a significantly different character from the man we thought was Wells in season 1. However, in the season 2 finale, Harry and his daughter, Jesse, returned to Earth-2.

The Flash season 2, episode 6 recap Wells

So, who does that leave for Cavanagh to play in the third season?

My guess would be the Earth-1 version of Harrison Wells, who we only briefly met in a flashback in season 1. Why the original Wells? Because in the final moments of the season 2 finale, Barry traveled back in time and stopped Thawne from killing his mother. This means the timeline in which Thawne killed Wells and took his form no longer exists, so Earth-1 Wells would be the version left alive.

Assuming he does play the original version of the character, the one who was killed and had his identity stolen, it will be interesting to see Cavanagh inhabit yet another version of the character. While we already met Wells briefly in the flashback to his death, that was a small sample size. I look forward to seeing him differentiate another Wells from those he’s already played for entire seasons.

Are you excited to see more Tom Cavanagh on ‘The Flash’?

‘Glee’ alum Mark Salling indicted on child pornography charges

The actor is facing a lot of jail time.

4:55 pm EDT, May 27, 2016

Following an arrest in December, Glee star Mark Salling (who played Puck on the Fox series) is now facing child pornography charges.

A federal grand jury has charged the 33-year-old actor with two counts of child pornography after a search of his home turned up “thousands” of images and videos involving children, TMZ reports. He will be arraigned in early June.

Salling’s charges potentially come with big sentences: 5 to 20 years in prison for receiving child porn, and another 20 years for possessing it.

After Glee went off air last year, Salling has worked on only one project: The action movie Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets which is slated to hit theaters later this year.

The actor has been in trouble with the law before — he was sued for sexual battery in 2013.