It's somewhat easy to forget that Ben Stiller is a weird fucking dude when it comes to directorial choices. His feature debut (after helming numerous episodes of his own bonkers, too short-lived TV series), Reality Bites, is still a staple for former Gen-X slackers. When his sophomore effort - the dark, Jim Carrey vehicle The Cable Guy - hit in '96, most people who went in expecting another Ace Ventura got the pants shocked off of them by its dark, twisted tone. Zoolander and Tropic Thunder are incredible dives in wacko big studio surreal satire (though we don't talk about Zoolander 2 in this house), while The Secret Life of Walter Mitty saw Stiller trying his hand at Awards-ready fluff, and not really pulling it off with the Danny Kaye redux.
All the while, Stiller has steadily worked on smaller screens, churning out TV movies like The Station and even a web series starring his cantankerous funnyman father (Stiller & Meara). This is all a really long-winded way of saying that when so-called Prestige Television came calling, it really wasn't that big of a surprise to discover that Stiller was going to step back behind the camera for Showtime's Limited Event jailbreak dramedy, Escape At Dannemora.
Based on a true story, Escape at Dannemora is the stranger-than-fiction dramatization of a penitentiary plot pulled off in upstate New York during the summer of '15, which spawned a statewide manhunt for two convicted murderers (Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano), aided in their endeavor by a married female prison employee (Patricia Arquette) who carried on a months-long affair with both men. Based on the trailer for the Showtime production (which was penned by The Player/Deep Cover scribe Michael Tolkin), it looks like Stiller went Full Coen Bros. on this one.
Take a gander for yourself:
Damn. That actually looks better than a good chunk of the movies I've seen in theaters this year.
Here's the official synopsis from the network:
"Benicio Del Toro plays convicted murderer Richard Matt, an artistic yet intimidating force within the prison, who masterminds the escape. Patricia Arquette plays Tilly Mitchell, a working-class wife and mother who supervises the prison tailor shop and becomes sexually involved with both men, ultimately agreeing to hide hacksaw blades in frozen hamburger meat to help them get out. Paul Dano plays David Sweat, a convicted cop-killer who may have genuine feelings for Tilly and becomes a reluctant partner in Richard Matt’s plot. The cast also features Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Bonnie Hunt, acclaimed actor Eric Lange and Emmy nominee David Morse."
Sure, I will watch this. The eight part Limited Event Series premieres on Showtime November 18th.