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From Lorraine Warren to Norma Bates: 7 Essential Vera Farmiga Performances

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From Lorraine Warren to Norma Bates: 7 Essential Vera Farmiga Performances

From dramas to horror films to psychological thrillers, there doesn’t seem to be a genre in which Vera Farmiga can’t succeed. In starring, flashy roles like Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring franchise or supporting ones like Dr. Emma Russell in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Farmiga’s consistently brilliant (and critically acclaimed) performances prove that there’s no such thing as a small part.

Before she became a household name with Up in the Air and The Departed, her breakthrough performance came when she starred as a drug addict in Down to the Bone followed by appearances in films like Nothing But the Truth, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Now, Farmiga continues to churn out quality work no matter the genre or size of the role. After all, her Emmy and Oscar nominations don’t lie. She’s currently set to star in (and produce) the upcoming horror film Bad Bloom, as well as appearing in the mystery thriller The Salamander Lives Twice and the Apple TV+ miniseries Five Days at Memorial. But until then, here are Vera Farmiga’s seven most essential roles in film and TV over her 25 years on the big and small screen.

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Norma Bates (Bates Motel)

Farmiga’s longest running performance is also perhaps her best. We never saw much of Norma Bates, Norman’s mother, in the original Psycho film or novel, but she’s featured prominently in its prequel series, Bates Motel. Farmiga pours every drop of herself into the role and succeeds at bringing the complicated Norma to beautiful three-dimensional life. From scenes with Norman (Freddie Highmore) that captivatingly vacillate between love, heartbreak, and anger, to quiet and solitary moments of deep sadness and regret, Farmiga clearly understands the character. Her commitment to the demanding role makes the Bates matriarch feel completely real and lived-in, gifting the audience with a beautiful and robust arc for a character who’s easy to fall in love with, even when we’re privy to some of her unsavory decisions.

Alex Goran (Up in the Air)

Farmiga brings a genuine sense of realness and humanity to Alex, a businesswoman who begins a relationship with a corporate downsizing expert (George Clooney) she meets while traveling. Alex is charming and easy to like, and Farmiga’s natural performance makes the audience both love her and be disappointed in her over the course of the film. Farmiga’s chemistry with Clooney is palpable and she manages to bring both gravitas and humor to a story of two people with the desire to escape from their “real” lives. Up in the Air features a surprising third act character reveal and it’s a testament to Farmiga’s acting chops that she manages to deliver and sell it in a deft and convincing way — not to mention earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

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Corinne Walker (Higher Ground)

Corrine Walker is one of Farmiga’s quieter and more understated roles, but it’s one that she completely dedicates herself to. Based on the memoir by Carolyn S. Briggs, Higher Ground is a story of the complicated and messy nature of religious faith, and Farmiga skillfully brings a beautiful humanity to Corinne as she grapples with her belief in God while navigating life in a very religious community. She manages to be a compelling and sympathetic character full of skepticism, curiosity, and grace. It’s also a credit to Farmiga’s performance that the film’s themes of faith and speaking out against authority manage to be delivered in a dexterous way rather than being heavy-handed. It’s an even more impressive feat considering that she also directed the film in her directorial debut.

RELATED: The ‘Conjuring’ Universe Explained: From Demon Nuns to Deadly Dolls

Lorraine Warren (The Conjuring franchise)

In the hands of a lesser actress, the role of real-life clairvoyant Lorraine Warren could have easily become a clichéd horror movie character. Instead, Farmiga manages to take the role just as seriously as some of her more award-garnering dramatic ones. She brings a deep humanity to Lorraine and the series’ horror proceedings, instilling her with doubts, fears, hopes, and a pure and honest desire to help others experiencing demonic activity. Farmiga’s passionate performance and deeply expressive face completely sell it, her wide eyes oozing Lorraine’s love and compassion. It’s also a testament to her sincere portrayal that Lorraine’s chemistry with husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) shines so brightly. Whether in the series’ more overt horror sequences or quieter, contemplative moments with Ed, it sizzles on the screen, especially in The Conjuring 2, where their love and relationship is on full display. The character of Lorraine Warren may be one of Farmiga’s most well-known, but the way she beautifully builds all facets of the character also makes it one of her best.

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Kate Coleman (Orphan)

In her role as Kate Coleman, Farmiga skillfully disrupts the “crazed mother” horror movie cliché by crafting a tough, smart, and capable character whose dark instincts about her daughter (Isabelle Fuhrman) are 100% accurate. Farmiga is no stranger to the horror genre and with Orphan she once again manages to bring a sense of authenticity and deep emotion to the film’s darker elements. The result is a dynamic character that you can’t help but root for. It’s a juicy role that gives Farmiga plenty to do, and she completely sells Kate’s fluctuating emotions and mental state with her performance and commitment to the material.

Abby Cairn (Joshua)

On the flip side of her performance in Orphan is her role as Abby Cairn in the psychological thriller Joshua. Abby’s depressive state is heightened to one of fear when she begins to become afraid of her own son’s sociopathic tendencies. As Joshua begins to take (and deny responsibility for) actions that make Abby believe she is going crazy, Farmiga plays the frazzled mother to perfection. She digs deep into Abby’s character and skillfully portrays the heartbreak, panic, and horror of her increasingly terrifying circumstances. Thanks to Farmiga choosing to play her as realistically as possible, Abby’s character skirts over-the-top melodrama and instead becomes a sympathetic protagonist.


Dr. Madolyn Madden (The Departed)

Farmiga’s part in Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed is a small one, but one that she sells. She gives herself completely to the role of police psychiatrist Madolyn Madden, and her honest performance allows the character to successfully serve as an avatar for the audience in the film’s latter developments. Madolyn manages to be an intriguing, strong, and emotionally honest character, and Farmiga’s chemistry with actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon feels genuine and easy-to-watch.

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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