Associated Press AP

Jennifer Beals Says the 2016 Election Ignited the Reboot of ‘The L Word’

I almost called Jennifer Beals “Bette” three times during our interview—but it’s not my fault her character from The L Word, Bette Porter, is so iconic. Plus, I’d be lying if I said Jennifer and Bette didn’t share similarities: They’re articulate, well-spoken, and fiercely opinionated, and both carry huge “step on me” energy. After a 10-year hiatus, the groundbreaking lesbian show returns to Showtime Sunday as The L Word: Generation Q, with Bette Porter—err, Jennifer Beals—at the helm.

“I’ve always loved Bette Porter,” Beals told me. “Even in her worst moments. I love her.” On the original L Word, Beals costarred with Laurel Holloman as the show’s leading lesbian couple, Bette and Tina. A decade later Bette and Tina have long split, but their child—now a vaping, class-cutting, possibly queer teen, Angie (played by newcomer Jordan Hull)—is front and center, alongside a slate of new queer cast-members and two other familiar faces. Katherine Moennig returns as lesbian legend Shane McCutcheon, and Leisha Hailey as the loquacious fan-favorite (or maybe just my favorite) Alice Pieszecki. The trio teamed up with The L Word’s trailblazing creator, Ilene Chaiken, to bring the Showtime drama back to life.

“Kate Moennig, Leisha Hailey, and I initiated the idea of the idea of the return of the show because we were really confident that something would take its place right after the show went off the air, because it was so successful,” Beals said. “But nothing did.” She added, “Certainly, shows like Orange Is the New Black,, around that time, occupied that space. But shows that we think of now, like Pose or Transparent, all came considerably after The L Word went off the air.” Beals pointed out that, when the original show was airing, things were very different for queer people; mainly, same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal.

Jennifer Beals Says the 2016 Election Ignited the L Word Reboot

I asked Beals if the press tour she’s on right now differs from that of 10 years ago—as in are she, her co-stars, and Chaiken being well-received by media? Or have they faced challenges? She believes it’s the culture, more broadly, that’s changed. “What’s different is that people are more attuned to these conversations and ready to have these conversations,” she said. “Back then, people didn’t quite even have the vocabulary to have the conversation. You know, when language is changing, when language is trying to keep up with the reality of experience, it’s a tectonic shift in the way we think, and the way we see each other, and the way we see ourselves. So, I think the conversations are different now.”

In Generation Q, Bette Porter is campaigning to be the first out lesbian mayor of Los Angeles—a fitting job for her and a fitting mayor in the cinematic universe of The L Word (and let’s be real, probably IRL too). In the pilot alone, Bette makes a series of inspiring speeches that made me remember just how special and important Ms. Porter was in the aughts, and how important Beals’s voice remains as a bullheaded ally of the LGBTQ+ community. When I asked Jennifer if she misses anything about the original show, she channeled Bette and set me straight.

“I don’t. I try to move forward. I try not to hold on,” she said. “Holding on will just lead you to nostalgia, and we don’t have time for nostalgia. We’re living in a time that requires all of us to be intensely present, because what’s interesting about these conversations about gender and sexual identity is that they also pertain to how we are on the planet, and how we are treating the planet. Both things require us to shift the paradigm, and shift absolute consciousness, and shift entire systems.”

What she said next is truly a mantra I’ll be carrying into 2020: “Holding onto the past? We don’t have time for that. I don’t have time to be nostalgic.”

The L Word: Generation Q premieres this Sunday, December 8 at 10 P.M. ET on Showtime.

Jill Gutowitz is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @jillboard.

What Star Wars Movie Should You Watch Before Episode: IX Rise Of Skywalker?

We are just two weeks away from the final film of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. One of the most beloved stories in movie history will come to an end after more than 40 years. These films are known for incredible space battles, political drama and, of course, lightsabers. Not to mention an avid fanbase who love to get into the nitty gritty details.

So, before the saga concludes, we’re offering a chance to prepare for the end by revisiting one of the earlier films in the Star Wars franchise. Just fill out the quiz below for a personalized recommendation!

After Seeing Frozen II, Parents Are Having A Field Day On Social Media

Frozen II, like the original film that came before, is a bonafide hit. The sequel has grossed over three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide so far and it seems certain to become Disney’s sixth billion dollar film of 2019, which is insane all by itself.

The movie may not be getting quite the critical reception that the original movie did, but it’s still largely being praised, and audiences are clearly still in love with Anna, Elsa, and all the rest. Having said that, the primary audience that seems to truly be embracing Frozen II is the younger set, that’s being brought to the theater by mom and dad.

Those adults that find themselves checking out the movie seem to be having more fun poking fun at Disney’s newest animated musical. Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings took to Twitter to suggest that Disney missed the mark when titling Frozen II.

An animated Disney movie is a pretty safe bet when it comes to family entertainment. Especially during the holidays, it’s just the sort of thing that a family might share together. For a lot of us a Disney movie was probably our first theatrical experience. You can bet that Frozen II is probably becoming the first movie a lot of kids have seen in a theater.

Of course, kids and movies don’t always mix well. They can have trouble sitting still, they don’t always stay quiet, and the really young ones can get fussy. Also, other problems can pop up.

And if you’ve just sat through a movie in a theater full of little kids, you may become very much in need of a different kind of Frozen II.

As the father of a two-and-a-half-year-old who clearly can’t sit still for a 90-minute feature film, I’m not yet at the point where I’ll be bringing her to the movies. Even when I do, I can guess it will be a chore. Although, I have hopes that, as the daughter of a professional film critic, I’ll be able to bring her up to appreciate film the same way this dad apparently has.

While it makes sense that kids are going to be Frozen II‘s real audience, there’s actually quite a bit in the movie for parents to enjoy. Some of themes of the film are a bit darker and might resonate more with those who have lived life a bit longer. Olaf’s song “When I Am Older” is going to mean something entirely different to parents than it will to their kids. And Everything about “Lost in the Woods” is going to be lost on anybody who doesn’t have a functional knowledge of music from the 1980s.

Disney has always tried to be family entertainment, not simply children’s entertainment, and Frozen II succeeds in that, even if it is easy to poke a little fun.

5 Not-So-Great Movies Al Pacino Made Better

Al Pacino - Jack and Jill

Al Pacino is one of our all-time greatest working actors. It is hard to dispute his legacy. Having starred in a number of excellent movies over the years, including, but certainly not limited to, The Godfather trilogy, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Heat, Glengarry Glen Ross, and, most recently, Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood and The Irishman, Pacino has proven his talents in a wide number of well-acclaimed movies. But the renowned thespian has also starred in just as many not-so-great movies — if not more. In fact, one could reasonably argue that, for every great movie Pacino has starred in, there are just as many stinkers attached to his name. But just because the film itself is bad doesn’t mean that he’s bad in them. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Al Pacino likes a challenge. As he recently admitted in an interview with GQ, the veteran actor often knows when a movie is going sideways (or wasn’t very good from the beginning). Rather than take his lumps, though, Pacino is strangely invigorated by the possibility of upping the ante and improving the film from bad to simply “mediocre.” Some folks say you shouldn’t strive for mediocrity. But Pacino isn’t simply anyone. In any case, while it’s not too clear which movies he’s referring to in this case, there are several examples of lackluster movies attached to Pacino’s name. And within a number of those wayward movies are entertaining or inspired performances from Al Pacino, who is clearly working overtime to salvage whatever he can there.

Even when Al Pacino isn’t very good, it’s rare to see the actor half-assing it. He is a committed performer, and he will do whatever he can to leave an impression or make the most of his time starring on the silver screen. Suffice to say, Pacino has provided us with a number of impressive or simply memorable performances over the years. These are a simply a few times where his talents, insistence, and persistence as an dedicated, hard-working actor resulted in great/rewarding Pacino performances in not-very-good movies. Some movies don’t deserve his skills, but he provides them anyhow.

Al Pacino - Jack and Jill

Jack And Jill (2011)

Al Pacino won not one but two Razzie awards for his supporting work in 2011’s Jack and Jill. One for his performance and one for his odd on-screen dynamic (or perhaps lack thereof) with Adam Sandler in the role of Jill. While that movie earns no shortage of disdain, much of which has been dished out by the critics already, it’s hard to properly criticize Al Pacino’s mesmerizing performance. While it’s a fascinatingly bizarre turn from the acclaimed actor, it’s absolutely a scene-stealer — one that lets the dramatic heavyweight to let loose and play with his public image in strange, surprising ways.

In the part of “Al Pacino,” the role he was born to play, Al Pacino fully embraces the liberating opportunity to have fun playing a heightened version of himself, one who has fallen madly in love with Adam Sandler’s Jill. It allows the actor to say lines he would otherwise never get to say and participate in an elaborate musical number for Dunkin’ Donuts as “Dunkaccino,” which gave us the line “Say hello to my chocolate blend!” It’s utterly insane that the Oscar-winning actor even agreed to do it at all, but his involvement in Jack and Jill is, nevertheless, the comedy’s only funny or redeeming aspect.

Al Pacino - 88 Minutes

88 Minutes (2007)

With its overly melodramatic tendencies, lame story twists and clunky execution, 88 Minutes can easily be called one of the worst movies to star Al Pacino. Yet, even when he’s in a total stinker, the Academy Award-winning actor will make the most of his time on-screen. Pacino is clearly trying to make this one work, flailing around, yelling, hooting and hollering. He takes the air out of the room every time he’s on-screen. Yet, there is no denying that he is a charismatic presence. Al Pacino is not doing his best work in 88 Minutes, but he is certainly putting on a performance — to say the least.

The premise itself is decent enough: a college professor (and part-time forensic psychologist?) gets a call saying that he has only 88 minutes to live. From there, it’s a chase to find out who is hunting him down and why. Unfortunately, with the plot’s over-reliance on red herrings and flimsy character work, 88 Minutes isn’t a breezy watch. It also doesn’t help that it’s actually 108 minutes long (stick to the script!). (Side note: this movie does, in fact, actually stay true to the timeframe found in the title after the clock is set inside the plot, for whatever it’s worth.) Nevertheless, what would’ve been a totally disposable, “2 p.m. on a lazy Sunday on HBO” movie becomes moderately watchable thanks to Al Pacino’s lunatic lead performance. From his zany haircut to his flair for the dramatic, Pacino isn’t going to let this weirdly sleepy movie fall to the waist-side without him giving everything he’s got.

Al Pacino - Two For The Money

Two For The Money (2005)

While I hold a soft spot for it, Two for the Money isn’t necessarily a great film. It’s a gambling drama that relies heavily on cliches and a formulaic plot, and it doesn’t stand out on its own to be fully rewarding of the talents of its two Oscar-winning stars, Matthew McConaughey and, naturally, Al Pacino. Nevertheless, while the plot itself is forgettable in its approach, Pacino does leave an impression thanks to his memorably loud, crude supporting turn.

As a gambling tycoon, Al Pacino plays a character who lives and dies in the moment, with everything always on the line and everything to lose in an instant. As a result, the veteran actor plays up his appetite for high dramatics, verbal dexterity, and foul-mouthed giddiness. The resulting performance is expectedly explosive, and one that gives what might’ve been an otherwise boilerplate movie a little bit more kick and flavor. Suffice to say, it is one for the money and two for the show. While Matthew McConaughey can be known for his great performances, it’s Al Pacino stealing the spotlight here.

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino - Righteous Kill

Righteous Kill (2008)

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are undeniably two of the most well-acclaimed, well-regarded and most instantly recognizable actors in cinema history. And they have graced the screen together on a select few occasions. They both star in The Godfather: Part II, for instance, but they don’t share any scenes together. Beyond that, they starred together in Heat, though they only have one highly memorable scene with one another, and they were both recently at the forefront of Martin Scorsese’s newest film, The Irishman, where they share a surprisingly tender on-screen bromance as Frank Sheeran and Jimmy Hoffa, respectively. But nobody really talks about their other cinematic duet, 2008’s Righteous Kill. There’s a pretty good reason why …

In short, Righteous Kill is a misfire. It’s a boring, plotting mess of a movie, and one that certainly doesn’t deserve the pedigree of either Robert De Niro or Al Pacino, let alone both of them working together. Nevertheless, you can give these two actors the worst screenplay imaginable and they’d still try to find a way to salvage it if they could. While Righteous Kill never hits its target, it’s hard to make anything with these two thespians completely dull. Sure enough, both Al Pacino and notably Robert De Niro turn in enjoyable turns. While De Niro might be stronger of the two in this film, Pacino’s work is certainly much flashier, allowing the actor to have another chance to play it up and cut loose once more — even if he doesn’t reconnect his spark with De Niro. Thankfully, as noted earlier, the actors were given another chance to work together in The Irishman. That movie is certainly much better.

Al Pacino - Gigli

Gigli (2003)

One of the most notoriously bad movies in arguably the history of cinema, there have been many bad things said about Gigli. It had an impact on the careers of both of its romantic leads, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, it ended writer/director Martin Brest’s filmmaking career (he’s still residing in director’s jail) and it won a whopping 10 Razzies, including Worst Picture of the Decade in 2010 and Worst “Comedy” Of Our First 25 Years in 2005. It’s safe to say that it’s not a well-beloved movie. That’s putting it mildly, to say the least. Yet, Al Pacino continues to provide a magnetizing presence.

Al Pacino only has a bit part in the proceedings, yet he spends the majority of his screen-time in Gigli yelling and demanding your attention. The actor isn’t one to walk gracefully into the movie’s demise. No, he’ll make a production out of it, as the actor has proven several times throughout his career. Notably in several of the movies mentioned in this list. Sure enough, Pacino goes out swinging. And while he garnered Pacino his second Razzie nom, it proved that even under the worst circumstances, Al Pacino will make his time on the silver screen worth the while — even if he cannot save the film.

These are only a few of the not-so-great movies to star Al Pacino over the years. Unfortunately, while the award-winning A-list actor has most certainly proven himself several times over throughout the decades, he isn’t not immune to making bad movies. Sure enough, while he tries his best to save a few of them, he can only do so much. Nevertheless, as we have noted, Pacino isn’t one to simply accept a paycheck. He will try to save a movie as best as possible, and though he’s not always successful, he knows how to make it count. These movies certainly wouldn’t be the same without him.

More From CinemaBlend

 

Venom 2 Has Added A Star From Netflix’s The Irishman

While some have quibbled about the extremely long runtime of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman or the quality of the de-aging, one thing beyond reproach is the acting talent of those involved. The Netflix film assembled an all-star cast of acting heavyweights and character actors, any of whom would be a solid addition to another movie. To that end, Sony’s upcoming sequel Venom 2 has added a star from Netflix’s The Irishman.

Actor Stephen Graham, who plays Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano in Martin Scorsese’s crime epic, has joined Venom 2 according to Deadline. For the moment, Stephen Graham’s role in the sequel is being kept under wraps. So, for now, we’ll merely have to speculate whether he will be a good guy or a bad one and whether or not he’ll be sporting a symbiote sidekick.

The two time SAG ensemble award winner for Boardwalk Empire joins a cast that includes the returning Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, as well as Woody Harrelson, who made a cameo as future Carnage, Kletus Kasady, in Venom and is expected to have a much larger role in the sequel.

Stephen Graham is also only the second new actor that has been reportedly added to the cast of Venom 2. The other is Oscar nominee Naomie Harris, who is in talks to play the villain Shriek in the film.

Stephen Graham may be new to comic book movie fare, as he is perhaps best known for gangster films like The Irishman, Snatch and Gangs of New York, but in Venom 2 he will be among old friends and frequent collaborators. The prolific actor previously starred with Venom star Tom Hardy in HBO’s Band of Brothers and the 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. More recently, the duo teamed up in the so-gritty-you-have-to-brush-your-teeth-afterwards TV series Taboo.

In addition to his frequent collaborations with Tom Hardy, Venom 2 also won’t be Stephen Graham’s first time working with Andy Serkis, who is replacing Ruben Fleischer as the director of Venom 2. Andy Serkis and Stephen Graham both star in the upcoming FX mini-series adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring Guy Pearce.

In the new take on the classic holiday tale, Andy Serkis plays the Ghost of Christmas Past with Stephen Graham handling the role of Jacob Marley. One of the executive producers on A Christmas Carol? Tom Hardy. So, everyone involved should be pretty comfortable working with each other at this point.

We don’t yet know the story of Venom 2, but we do know that the sequel will be leaning into the relationship between Eddie Brock and his symbiote hitchhiker, which was such a highlight of the first film.

Venom 2 is now filming and is set to hit theaters on October 2, 2020. You can see Stephen Graham in The Irishman on Netflix now and check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of all of next year’s biggest movies.

Disney+ Could Cross Over With Star Wars’ Theatrical Movies, Per Jon Favreau

CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

It’s a very exciting time for the Star Wars franchise. We’re just weeks away from the release of The Rise of Skywalker, which will end up the nine-film Skywalker Saga that George Lucas began back with A New Hope. Additionally, Lucasfilm recently introduced live-action TV for the first time with The Mandalorian on Disney+. At least two more shows are coming to the streaming service, and according to The Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau, those stories are bound to connect to the movies.

While The Mandalorian is telling a wholly unique story within the Star Wars universe, the next two shows will star characters that originally appeared in film. After all, Diego Luna and Ewan McGregor are reprising their roles in their respective shows. Jon Favreau think it’s only a matter of time before the crossover goes in the other direction, and original Disney+ series interact with favorites from the films. As he tells it,

Well, that’s exciting. Serialized storytelling has become popular since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe– another property owned by Disney. And with the galaxy far, far away growing thanks to the original content coming to Disney+, there’s ample opportunity for crossovers in the future. But the question is, what could they be?

Jon Favreau’s comments to THR are sure to excite the generations of Star Wars fans out there who are excited for the franchise’s mysterious future. With The Rise of Skywalker ending the main storyline as we know it, Lucasfilm should have particular freedom with its TV and film projects, and how they interact. The Mandalorian has already got a strong following, and crossovers have the potential to draw even more subscribers to Disney+.

Smart money says that The Mandalorian will eventually have some type of connection to the franchise trilogy. The new show is set between The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, in a lawless time without The Empire. I’d love to see the title character to eventually cross ways with The Resistance or the early formation of the First Order. The heroes may be very interesting The Child, and its connection to The Force.

The Mandalorian is currently streaming on Disney+, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will hit theaters on December 20th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies. And our 2020 release list to look ahead toward the New Year.

See The First Images From Ghostbusters: Afterlife

The Ghostbusters franchise is a piece of film history, which has been passed down among generations. The titular group of supernatural experts have gone through a few incarnations, including a kids’ cartoon and Paul Feig’s all-female version from 2016. Next up is Jason Reitman’s upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which will star Paul Rudd alongside (most of) the original cast of actors. The film’s contents have been largely a mystery, but the first images have just arrived. And they’re a doozy.

The overall plot of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is currently unclear, but it’s set up to be a direct sequel to the original pair of movies. It looks like Jason Reitman’s upcoming addition to the franchise will have a large cinematic scale. Because the first images from the movie tease some stunning landscapes, as well as Paul Rudd’s newcomer Mr. Grooberson. Check them out below, courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Bop Shop: Songs From The Weeknd, Kacey Musgraves, Beach Bunny, And More

Kacey Musgraves ft. Troye Sivan: “Glittery”

If you’re looking to have a country Christmas this year, look no further than Kacey Musgraves‘s “Glittery” featuring Troye Sivan. The slow-moving, sparkly duet is chock-full of holiday imagery, from snow globes and presents to Christmas trees and snowy gray skies. But underneath the warm holiday visuals, the track is actually a sweet exchange between two people in love. And if there’s one song that’ll melt your heart this holiday season, it’s this one.

“Outside it’s coming down / But here inside it’s warming up,” Sivan croons on the second verse, setting the scene for a cozy night in with his lover. On the chorus, Musgraves chimes in to swoon as well. “Glittery / You light me up like starlight on a Christmas tree,” she sings. “Every single kiss is like a gift to me.” And although she loves to decorate for the festive holiday with twinkling lights and shimmery ornaments, there’s one thing she loves more. “I love the way you decorate my heart,” she sings gently. Christmas is here, and with this song, we truly feel its magic. —Jordyn Tilchen

The Weeknd Puts Your Brain On Spin Cycle In Mind-Scrambling Colbert Performance

The Weeknd‘s spaced-out and delirious performance of his new single, “Heartless,” for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, will make your cerebellum do origami. It was wild, to say the absolute least, and you’ll probably grow a phobia for long, winding corridors. When it ends, you’ll say “huh?” and scratch the left side of your head, wondering where the trick was at.

Colbert introduced The Weeknd by panning the camera to where the singer was supposed to be on stage. The host’s band looked back at him curiously and then Colbert himself began to wonder where The Weeknd was. The cameraman then goes to look for the singer who’s apparently in the back enjoying a glass of wine before the show. So he won’t get lost again, the camera follows his journey to the stage. Neither of them could have had a clue about the journey that they would be undertaking.

The Weeknd trades in the glass for a microphone and gives an impromptu performance of “Heartless” on his way to the stage, jumping, thrusting, and sliding like some kind of dancing magician trying to loosen his legs for the real show.

It’s here that things get weird.

The lights begin to flicker whenever he moves and, suddenly, entire stretches of hallway begin to shift into nothingness. But out of the black void comes other hallways and whenever they change, the lights cycle from a neon blue to the red of a fire truck’s siren. Before long, The Weeknd isn’t even worried about getting to the stage; he’s fully immersed himself in this in-between realm, having a blast playing the song while he’s literally lost in late-night show limbo.

As he finishes the song, he continues to walk down one of the many changing hallways and he, surprisingly, ends up on the stage of Colbert ready to perform for real this time. No time has passed since he came from backstage before his performance. You’re left with so many trans-dimensional and time-traveling questions that you have no choice but to give a slow clap to the singer for scrambling your brain like that.

The Weeknd released “Heartless” in November. He shared the trippy video for it earlier this month along with another single, “Blinding Lights.”

Check out The Weeknd’s wild performance on Colbert up above.