TIME movies

How Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper Went Both Bad and Sad in Serena

Jennifer and Bradley together again. Sounds great — but not in this drama made in 2012, now getting a release that's really an autopsy

Bad movies: they can be tatty classics of crazed ineptitude, like Edward D. Wood’s Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space, or big-budget misfires like the 1987 Ishtar, a would-be comedy that sent Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman on a Hope-Crosby Road to Dystopia. Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, a “bad movie” that practically torpedoed its sponsoring studio, United Artists, is actually often a great one — anyway, much of it errs on that side — but in “gate” notoriety it’s up there with Richard Nixon’s Water-, Bill Clinton’s Monica- and Chris Christie’s Bridge-.

Connoisseurs of bad movies are looking for bold wrongness: the urgency of a child screaming its lungs out with what may be madness or a hint of genius. But another type of certifiably awful movie just sits in a corner muttering about issues that neither it nor any spectator can care about. Such a one is Serena, Danish director Susanne Bier’s DOA adaptation of Ron Rash’s 2008 bestseller. Filmed in 2012 and finally limping into theaters after a few weeks on VOD, Serena fails in ways that are fun neither to sit through nor to write about.

The picture would barely be worth an obit except for its leading actors, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. They made ideal wounded sparring partners (and ballroom dancers) in Silver Linings Playbook. They flirted with malicious intent in American Hustle. They’re big stars, frequent Oscar nominees and, from available evidence, decent people for whom one wishes the best. And somehow they stumbled into a muted kind of worst: the story of a North Carolina lumberman and his Colorado bride, in an effort that has star wattage up the wazoo but zero emotional voltage.

George Pemberton (Cooper) is a powerful rogue employing any means necessary to battle government regulations in the first years of the Great Depression. He must also cope with his new wife’s knowledge that, before they met, he fathered a child with a local girl (Ana Ularu). Serena (Lawrence) says that nothing in the past matters; but that’s just the cooing lie of a femme fatale — the type that Barbara Stanwyck brought to seductive life and death in Hollywood’s Golden and Noir ages.

Iconographically, Lawrence looks just right for the period. Platinum blonde, she instantly evokes such early-talkies actresses as Mae West. Toby Wing and Jean Harlow. Too bad she gets no help from Bier, who won a Foreign Film Oscar in 2011 for the Danish In a Better World after a calamitous foray into Hollywood drama with the 2006 Things We Lost in the Fire.

Foreign-born directors, from Billy Wilder to Alejandro González Iñárritu, can be the most acute observers of American ways and mores, but Bier lacks either the empathy or the simple competence to establish a forboding tone and bring the Serena story to pulsing, plausible life. The movie was shot in Prague, not in the American South, but distance is no excuse for disaster. The Anglo-Italian Anthony Minghella filmed a dark Carolina love story, the 2003 Cold Mountain, in Romania and still managed to extract plenty of Tar Heel kick from his Civil War epic.

In Serena, stuff happens, then nastier stuff, without ever engaging the viewer’s rooting interest or sick fear. Sometimes it’s a question of sloppiness on the set or in the editing room. In one intense scene with Cooper, Lawrence provides the money shot of a tear coursing down her cheek. In the next closeup, her face is dry, suggesting that no one noticed or nobody cared.

Behind this inert movie is the shadow of a better, or at least creepier, one. Serena was originally to star Angelina Jolie and be directed by Darren Aronofsky immediately after he made Black Swan — a movie that reveled in the display of a sympathetic woman going toxically bonkers. Black Swan shared some of those excesses, but its vigor gave it a liveliness he might have applied to the Serena project. Bier’s directorial timidity spells doom.

It’s like some fateful old Broadway tryout that should have closed in New Haven. In fact, Serena opened last Oct. at the London Film Festival. Lawrence graciously showed up, beckoning the audience to embrace the movie. “And if you don’t,” she added, “just don’t tweet about it.”

The more appropriate social medium would have been Grumblr, the Tumblr spinoff that, like Serena, suffered an early death in 2012. This weekend’s theatrical premiere marks only the sighting of a glamorous zombie — a movie that is a poignant subspecies of bad: just plain sad.

TIME Television

Jimmy Fallon Singing With Five Wax Dummies of Himself Is the Stuff of Nightmares

"Barbara Ann" never sounded so creepy.

On The Tonight Show Thursday night, thanks to what looks like an accident in the laboratory of an Internet-savvy mad scientist, host Jimmy Fallon sings with five wax copies of himself.

While, theoretically, it should be entertaining to watch the comedian sing the Beach Boys’ classic “Barbara Ann” alongside the wax doppelgangers borrowed from Madame Tussauds, the result is unsettling and just plain creepy.

That said, it’s also hard to look away. But when Questlove crashes the singing party, he speaks for us all when he shakes his head and walks away.

TIME celebrities

See the Dress Sophie Hunter Wore to Marry Benedict Cumberbatch

Here comes the bride, all dressed in Valentino

Actress and director Sophie Hunter wore a beautiful dress by Valentino to marry Benedict Cumberbatch on Valentine’s Day.

Before the private ceremony on the Isle of Wight, Annie Leibovitz photographed the bride being fitted in her gown for Vogue. The lacy dress was reportedly inspired by William Blake watercolors and featured a high neckline and an empire waist that flattered her baby bump.

The photo was initially posted on Maison Valentino’s Instagram page as well, but now seems to have been taken down.


TIME movies

Watch How the Interstellar Team Created Those Terrifying Dust Storms: Exclusive

Christopher Nolan ditched the CGI in favor of truckloads of real dust

Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi spectacular from last year, was widely praised for its visionary use of special effects to imagine far-off planets, and a dessicated future Earth. The film, which was featured on the cover of TIME in November, won an Oscar for its visual effects last month.

Those visual effects weren’t just CGI. As this exclusive video shows, the process of creating the dust storms that bedevil earthbound Jessica Chastain was laborious, focused on the movements of the wind and the tossing of very real dust.

The dust storms, and all the rest of Interstellar‘s imaginings of a dystopian future, will be available to view on Blu-Ray and DVD March 31.

TIME celebrities

Emma Watson Named Most ‘Outstanding Woman’ in the World

British Fashion Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals
Mike Marsland—WireImage/Getty Images Emma Watson attends the British Fashion Awards at London Coliseum on December 1, 2014 in London, England.

Ronda Rousey and Kim Kardashian round out AskMen's top three

AskMen has placed actress Emma Watson at the top of its list of the Top 99 Outstanding Women, citing her work on the United Nations’ HeforShe campaign as a “noble pursuit.”

The men’s website says their list celebrates women who are both beautiful and remarkable within their industries. MMA fighter Ronda Rousey clocks in at No. 2 on the list, and Kim Kardashian rounds out the top three. Laverne Cox was named No. 16, and though the list is heavy on actresses, there are plenty of spaces for athletes, from Alex Morgan to Lindsey Vonn.

Publisher James Bassil called Watson “rich, successful, famous, stylish, beautiful, intelligent, personable, kind,” yet emphasized that she has “thrown her back” into the issue of feminism.


TIME Television

Jeremy Clarkson’s Dismissal from BBC Celebrated by Argentinians

Jeremy Clarkson in London in 2012.
Ian Gavan — Getty Images Jeremy Clarkson in London in 2012.

BBC announced Wednesday it would not be renewing Jeremy Clarkson's contract after an 'unprovoked physical attack' on producer Oisin Tymon

Many Argentinians were delighted to hear the news of the BBC refusing to renew Jeremy Clarkson’s contract as host of Top Gear, after a controversy sparked during filming in the South American country last year.

Clarkson drove a vehicle with a license plate apparently referencing the bloody 1982 Falklands War, which left 649 Argentine and 255 British military personnel dead. Clarkson’s ‘H982 FKL’ license plate sparked outrage among locals, who pelted the Top Gear crew’s vehicles with stones.

The BBC said the license plate was a coincidence and not intended to reference the war, while Clarkson wrote on Twitter that they had done “nothing wrong.” The Argentinian ambassador to the U.K., Alicia Castro, demanded an apology from the BBC and accused Clarkson of “fabricating a horror story” and seeking “to portray Argentinians as savages.”

A few months on, Argentinian news articles discussing the end of Clarkson’s career at the BBC have seen a flurry of comments from Argentinians who are overjoyed to see the presenter go. One commented on the Clarin newspaper’s website: “This is what happens when you mock the Malvinas,” using the Spanish name for the Falkland Islands. According to the Daily Express, one person called Clarkson a “disrespectful pig” and another merely said his fate was “Karma.”

Read next: Russian military TV offers Jeremy Clarkson a job

TIME celebrities

Can You Tell The Difference Between Lena Dunham’s Dog And her Jewish Boyfriend?

Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff
Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff attend the "Girls" season four series premiere after party at The Museum of Natural History in New York City on Jan. 5, 2015.

Readers are divided over whether Dunham's quiz is funny or just plain offensive

Writing in The New Yorker this week, Lena Dunham asked readers to guess whether a number of statements apply to a) her dog or b) her Jewish boyfriend. While some have criticized Dunham for perpetuating tired stereotypes, others have been tweeting it, praising Dunham’s sense of humor.

Read some of her statements below and decide for yourself:

– We love to spend hours in bed together on Sunday mornings

– He’s crazy for cream cheese

– I feel that he is judgmental about the food I serve him. When I make something from scratch, he doesn’t want to eat it, but he also rejects most store-bought dinners.

Read the rest here.

Read next: What If Michael Bay Directed Girls?

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Watch George Lucas Assure Fox News He’ll Only Make Patriotic Movies Now

Get ready for The Clinton Menace and American Exceptionalism Graffiti

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,Daily Show Video Archive

After Megyn Kelly complained that Fox News doesn’t get enough credit for good reporting on sensitive stories, Jon Stewart decided to send up that network’s egotism with a congratulatory cake: Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale, since Fox News is “a whale of a network.”

The icing on top? George Lucas promises that thanks to all the groundbreaking work they’ve done, he’ll now only make movies “that are blindly uncritical of America—like The Empire Strikes Back, Justifiably.” Buy your tickets now, folks, it’s sure to be a summer blockbuster.

Read next: 11 Movies Starring Women That Will Rival Summer Blockbusters

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

Watch Will Ferrell Pretend There Is Not a Bird on His Shoulder on Conan

"I don't want to talk about my personal life, okay?"

It’s so hard for celebrities to maintain a sense of privacy these days. So when Will Ferrell visited Conan O’Brien on Thursday night, he just wanted to be left alone when it came to questions about the bird sitting on his shoulder, Professor Feathers. Doesn’t anyone have boundaries anymore?

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