July 21, 2019
Nothing about "Big Little Lies" demanded an encore, although the casting of Meryl Streep -- and reuniting of the big-name cast -- provoked understandable excitement about the return of the Emmy-winning limited series.
Big Little Lies finale explores the cost of keeping secrets
Yet after a solid start -- exploring how the members of the "Monterey Five" would deal, individually and collectively, with the aftermath of those explosive, fatal events -- the narrative began feeling a trifle aimless. Controversy about the behind-the-scenes relationships -- and specifically, whether the producers undermined the contribution of director Andrea Arnold -- only magnified those perceptions.
With all of that as context, expectations for the finale, which aired Sunday night, went from being too high to perhaps unreasonably low. In the final analysis, an episode that spent much of its time in the courtroom yielded a split decision: While the payoff proved anticlimactic in some respects, it finally came around to addressing the core issue -- that for the five women connected by the first season's closing act, as Nicole Kidman's Celeste put it, "The lie is the friendship."
The driving force behind the latest season, other than Streep's suspicious mother-in-law Mary Louise, thus became the daunting challenge of keeping secrets, especially when they involve the guilt associated with a killing, even if it was a righteous one.
In the finale, the cost of that deception motivated each of the characters to advance their individual stories: for Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) to find a way to save her marriage; for Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) and Renata (Laura Dern) to end theirs; and for Jane (Shailene Woodley) to brave embarking on a new romance.
Writer-producer David E. Kelley shared story credit with "Lies" novelist Liane Moriarty, but the narrative arc bore many of his hallmarks, especially in its turn toward courtroom drama, as Celeste battled to maintain custody of her sons. That created a showy platform for Kidman and Streep to face off in court, but it also risked transforming "Big Little Lies" into the equivalent of an NBC procedural, just with an Oscar-quality pedigree.
After those fireworks and others, the low-key finish -- as the five marched purposefully into the police station -- offered the hope of cleansing, the prospect of everyone putting the lie behind them and moving on. It wasn't especially satisfying but felt more on point, and true to the characters, than much of what preceded it.
"Big Little Lies" was a big hit for HBO in Season 1, the kind of marquee franchise with which networks are reluctant to part. Yet the track record for extending such shows -- basically, attempting to catch lightning in a bottle twice -- has been decidedly mixed. (CNN and HBO share parent company WarnerMedia.)
It's simple enough to write off Season 2 as a novel if unsuccessful experiment -- one that was watchable enough and delivered strong moments, without making a convincing case for its own existence.
The stars aligned, literally and figuratively, to make "Big Little Lies" feel like a genuine occasion. But not everything merits a second act, or complete closure.
Besides, times being what they are, it's somewhat comforting to think -- or merely speculate -- that the truth, ultimately, will set everyone free.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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