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Daily Reads: Why Late Night Has Gotten Way Too Nice, Will Ferrell’s Decline, and More

Daily Reads: Why Late Night Has Gotten Way Too Nice, Will Ferrell's Decline, and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential news
stories and critical pieces to you.

1. The New Niceness of Late Night. Between James Corden, Jimmy Fallon and others, late night TV has become the home for nice people. The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara writes that this wasn’t always the case:

Traditionally, there’s more of an edge to after-hours talk shows, be it Leno’s monologue or David Letterman’s prickly persona. Johnny Carson, who remains the industry standard, has been described in many ways though “nice” rarely make the top 10 adjectives. He was always gracious but there was a mystique to his performance, a distance that could border on aloofness. When he genuinely broke down it was an event, because “The Tonight Show” was very much his; the guests were guests, not cohabitants. Now, the trend seems to be away from the observe and comment ownership of the stand-up comedian towards a host who is both multitalented — Fallon, Corden and Jimmy Kimmel are accomplished musicians — and more accessible. Read more.

2. “The X-Files” Revival Isn’t About Fans. It’s About Streaming. What’s prompting the revival of “The X-Files?” Forbes’ Merrill Barr cites Netflix:

A revival of “­The X-Files” means all of the show’s previous work is valuable again. Old fans are going to start re-watching it, and newcomers are going to start seeking it out in order to get caught up before the premiere. The reason this matters is because Fox can use that leverage to strike yet another highly valuable streaming deal with one of the big three (Netflix, Amazon and Hulu) to make some serious money off the currently dead series. Just as “Transformers” movies are about selling toys more than movie tickets, a new “X-Files” is all about selling Netflix subscriptions more than it is about Nielsen ratings. Fox doesn’t actually care that people want a new season of “The X-Files,” but they do care that Netflix would pay big money to stream the show exclusively in order to allow people the chance to catch-up beforehand. Like “24,” “X-Files” is now nothing more than found money for 20th Century Fox Television. Read more.

3. “Furious 7” Gets Tears. How does “Furious 7” handle Paul Walker’s exit? Robbie Collin of The Telegraph says it earned his tears:

In a gut-twisting mid-film car chase through the mountains of Azerbaijan, we see his character, the FBI agent Brian O’Conner, tightrope-walk across the roof of a bus as it teeters on a crumbling cliff-edge. The film cuts away to another scene of Vin Diesel and Jason Statham careering through a forest driving muscle cars like dodgems, but you wish the camera had stayed with Walker, and allowed him to complete the stunt without allowing us a pause for breath. Even low-born, trash cinema like this can cheat time and beat death. That’s the movies’ single greatest power – and why I found myself unexpectedly shedding a tear at the film’s perfectly judged, sunbathed, final fade to white. Read more.

4. Charles Grodin and the Fine Art of Reaction in “Midnight Run.” Robert De Niro gets plenty of curse-filled monologuess in “Midnight Run,” but Charles Grodin steals the film with his reaction shots. Scott Tobias of The Dissolve writes:

“Midnight Run” has a wealth of great running jokes, like Jack getting the edge on Marvin multiple times by pointing behind him (“Marvin! Watch out!”) and knocking him out cold, or Kotto’s FBI man having to answer to the ID Jack swiped from him (“His real name’s Mosley.” “I’m Mosley!”). But the best recurring gag is The Duke’s constant needling of Jack on a range of topics, including: 

Advising Jack not to open a nice little coffee shop with the money, because restaurants are a tricky investment. 
– Jack’s predilection for fried food (“Why would you eat that?”) and smokes. (“Cigarettes are killers.)
The fact that Jack hasn’t seen his ex-wife and daughter in years. Wouldn’t it be nice if he paid them a visit on the way?
“Why were you so unpopular with the Chicago Police Department?”
“You ever have sex with an animal, Jack?” Read more.

5. Why “Game of Thrones” Won’t Spoil “Game of Thrones.” “Game of Thrones” will now move faster than George R.R. Martin can write the new books. The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg writes that this isn’t going to spoil things:

Certainly, the TV show’s need to streamline Martin’s unwieldy plot means that some red herrings are revealed to be tricks on screen before the books played out those particular threads. In Martin’s novels, we’re still waiting to find out if Robb Stark got his wife pregnant; in the show, she was murdered along with him at the Red Wedding. But the television show is also minimizing the roles for some characters and cutting others out all together. Even if their stories don’t end up being essential to whatever grand conclusion Martin’s disclosed to the show’s producers, their fates will remain mysterious even after the television show has wrapped up, and we’ll have the pleasure of learning them for the first time in Martin’s books. Read more.

6. The Long Decline of Will Ferrell’s Career. Will Ferrell is the biggest comedy star of the past decade, but many believe his movies don’t have the same punch (contrarian argument: “Casa de mi Padre” is funnier than anything else he’s ever done). Grantland’s Steven Hyden writes about his possible decline:

“Anchorman 2” grossed $173 million, nearly twice what the first “Anchorman” did. But is it possible that Ferrell has arrived at some sort of crossroads? Allow me to gingerly broach a subject that’s routinely raised less tactfully with regard to actresses: Will Ferrell has aged out of his dorm-poster period. He turns 48 in July. He hasn’t been a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” for 13 seasons. (For perspective, Eddie Murphy’s heyday was 11 years in the rearview when Ferrell joined SNL in 1995.) Today’s middle schoolers have no first-hand knowledge of “Celebrity Jeopardy” or Bill Brasky. “More Cowbell” might as well be “I’m Chevy Chase … and you’re not” as far as the youngs are concerned. Ferrell’s “Lego Movie” costar Chris Pratt is moving into the “likable doughy Caucasian” lane. The world inches forward. Read more.

Tweet of the Day:

(in re: “The Year Of Ethnic Castings – About Time Or Too Much Of Good Thing?“)

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