Tagged: Sean Penn

Russell Crowe

At the moment, award season buzz is centering largely around the magnificent performances of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club.” The two men’s performances have reminded a lot of film journalists at how well some actors have depicted gay characters on screen over the years, so let’s take a look at some of the actors who played gay characters not only well, but tastefully and with respect.

Russell Crowe: Yes, it may come as a complete surprise to many, but the great Russell Croweonce played a homosexual character on the big screen. It was before Crowe was making Hollywood blockbusters like “Gladiator,” so people can be excused if they haven’t heard of the film, but it was in an Australian film called “The Sum Of Us.” If you haven’t seen it, then you may certainly want to hunt it down and give it a watch because directors Geoff Burton and Kevin Dowling did a pretty decent job. The film itself has Crowe play Jeff Mitchell a young gay man searching for Mr. Right. His search brings him closer to his father, Harry Mitchell (Jack Thompson), who is now in the look for Miss Right. Touching, yet entertaining, the film is just a true romantic drama.

Ian Somerhalder: Long before he was playing vampire Damon Salvatore in “The Vampire Diaries,” Ian Somerhalder appeared in the very underrated flick “The Rules Of Attraction.” The flick was closely linked to “American Psycho,” was directed by Roger Avary and never really received the recognition it deserved as its alternative style of film-making made it an absolute gem. Somerhalder played Paul Denton, a young gay college student, who was disillusioned with the ‘queens’ around him and finds himself falling in love with the troubled and nasty Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) who was accidentally breaking hearts right across the campus.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal: How could anybody put together a list of actors who have played gay characters without mentioning Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger? When Ang Lee first put together “Brokeback Mountain,” even he admitted he wasn’t sure how the film would be received, after all was there a market for a film about a gay relationship between two cowboys? He need not have worried as the film went on to record 100 award wins worldwide, including three Oscars. It also earned Oscar nominations for Michelle Williams and the two male leads Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Ledger and Gyllenhaal put in brilliant performances as they played Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, two young cowboys involved in a passionate yet troubled relationship.

Michael Douglas and Matt Damon: When it was first announced that Michael Douglas would be playing Liberace and Matt Damon his boyfriend, Scott Thorson, the film world scoffed. In fact, they more than scoffed because the roles both seemed so out of character for both actors that many thought the film would just not work and it was pretty much decided that “Behind The Candelabra” was going to become a car-wreck of a film. People should never have doubted the creative mind of director Steven Soderbergh because he brought out the best in both actors, so much so that film critic Adam Ross was quoted on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show as saying “Douglas was so far into character it looked like he wanted to jump Damon between takes.” So good were Douglas and Damon’s performances that both have had their names mentioned during awards season.

Sean Penn: Another actor who ended up becoming an award winner while playing a gay character was Sean Penn. Penn picked up the Best Actor Academy Award in 2009 when he appeared in Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk” in the title role – playing gay activist Harvey Milk. His fellow co-star Josh Brolin also picked up the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for playing Dan White in the film that had critics ecstatic upon its release.

Tom Hanks: The great Tom Hanks also picked up an Oscar for playing a gay character when back in 1993. He played Andrew Beckett, a lawyer suffering from AIDS in the “Philadelphia.” The film not only educated the world on how hard it is for somebody infected with AIDS, but also dealt a valuable lesson about homophobia as Beckett is forced to work with a homophobic lawyer named Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). The film may be over 20 years now, but if you have never seen “Philadelphia” then it is certainly worth taking a look at.

With so many actors winning awards over the years for playing gay characters then it may seem like Mr. McConaughey and Mr. Leto might be in a good position as we all head into Awards season.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Summary: A timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams embarks on a true-life adventure when a negative goes missing.

Year: 2013

Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December, 2013

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Ben Stiller

Screenwriter: Steve Conrad, James Thurber (short story)

Cast: Marcus Antturi (Rich Melhoff), Jon Daly (Tim Naughton), Craig Dourmashkin (Curtis), Paul Fitzgerald (Don Proctor), Kathryn Hahn (Odessa Mitty), Terrence Bernie Hines (Gary Mannheim), Kai Lennox (Phil Melhoff), Shirley MacLaine (Edna Mitty), Adrian Martinez (Hernando), Nicole Neuman (Rachel), Conan O’Brien (himself), Patton Oswalt (Todd Maher), Sean Penn (Sean O’Connell), Andy Richter (himself), Adam Scott (Ted Hendricks), Ben Stiller (Walter Mitty), Kristen Wiig (Cheryl Melhoff)

Runtime: 114 mins

Classification:PG

OUR THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY REVIEWS & RATINGS

Greg King: Stars(3.5)

Please check Greg’s review of ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ that is available on www.filmreviews.net.au

David Griffiths:

Everybody knows Ben Stiller has one of modern days’ top comedic actors. What many don’t realise though is that whenever Stiller had decided to pull on the director’s cap that success has always followed. His debut directional effort ‘Reality Bites’ drew plenty of applause, while his follow ups ‘The Cable Guy,’ ‘Zoolander’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ were all massive commercial successes.

Now Stiller directrs and stars in the new screen adaption of James Thurber’s classic story ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.’ Now if you judged this film by its trailer you could see that this is a film that could go either way. It could fall in a heap and be a bore just like too many of Stiller’s recent films or it could be abstract and different enough to be interesting.

Stiller stars the downtrodden, lonely loser in life Walter Mitty. A man who has no personal life but lives for his job – a job that sees him looking after photographer’s negatives at ‘Life’ magazine. He also tends to ‘zone out’ from time to time and take himself on magical journeys that only occur inside his head. However, his life is turned upside down when he soon realises that job may be taken away from him when the ambitious and plain rude Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott) arrives on the scene boasting that ‘Life’ is about to go online and heads will roll. The way he bullies Walter also shows him that his will be one of those rolling heads.

Poor Walter believes his biggest problem is finding a way to impress his work colleague and love interest Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) but soon finds himself under even more pressure when he realises that the negative that is needed for the front page of the last edition of ‘Life’ has gone missing. This spurs Walter into action and soon he finds himself on a trip around the world trying to find the photographer, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).

Like ‘Reality Bites’ did early on his career ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ reveals Stiller as a talented director. His directional style takes this film in many different directions, from heartfelt conversations through to an action sequence (thanks to one of Walter’s zone-outs). But Stiller’s directional style really comes to the fore though when he captures some of the stunning environments that Walter visits amazingly well, and the same time lifts this above its closest rival ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’

As a film ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ really draws you in. You find yourself drawn to Walter as a character and you feel sorry for him. But as a film it goes deeper than that, the screenplay has created some interesting sub-characters including the hateable Hendricks and also eHarmony phone worker, Todd Maher (Patton Oswalt).

We all know somebody like Walter and that connection takes this film to a different level, however no matter how much human emotion is invested into the film there are times the film’s script lets it down. There are about fifteen to twenty minutes of this film that doesn’t need to be there, and it’s a shame that script editor hadn’t done a little bit of pruning.

Still that can be largely forgotten due to the fact that Stiller and his cinematographer create some amazing visuals throughout this film. They capture whatever environment they are in amazingly well, especially the barren volcanic wastelands that Stiller ends up skateboarding down. While the story does have its odd low point it clearly outguns the film most similar to it – “Eat Pray Love.”

The smooth screenplay does also allow Stiller to produce a mixture of comedy and drama and as we have learned from some of his previous roles Stiller thrives on getting to play emotionally damaged characters, and once again here he comes to the fore.

Kristen Wiig and Shirley Maclaine almost seem wasted in their roles however Patton Oswalt makes a surprising cameo that is a joy to watch but the actor who steals the show here is Adam Scott. Scott puts in one of the best performances of the year as the villainous Hendricks and while he is a source of comedic relief he also brings a sense of evil to the film.

“The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” may dip at one point but for the most part this is a good film that once again reminds cinema lovers that Ben Stiller is more than capable when he pulls on the director’s hat. As far as feel good movies go this one is a winner.

 

 Stars(3.5)

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5): Stars(3.5)

IMDB Rating:  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) on IMDb

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘American Hustle′: Please check our American Hustle review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep 62.

Trailer:

The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show

The boys from ‘The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show’ take a look at the best films performances when an actor has gone against type.

NICK GARDENER’S LIST

Jim Carrey Eternal

  • Morgan Freeman – ‘Now You See Me’
  • Morgan Freeman – ‘Nurse Betty’
  • Jennifer Aniston – ‘Horrible Bosses
  • Jennifer Aniston – ‘We’re The Millers
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – ‘Django Unchained
  • Don Johnson – ‘Django Unchained
  • Vanessa Hudgens – ‘Spring Breakers’
  • Charlize Theron – ‘Monster’
  • Kisten Dunst – ‘Melancholia’
  • Cameron Diaz – ‘Being John Malkovich
  • John Wayne – ‘The Conqueror’
  • Robin Williams – ‘One Hour Photo’
  • Robert De Niro – ‘Meet The Parents’
  • Christopher Walken – ‘Hairspray’
  • Tom Cruise – ‘Collateral’
  • James Stewart – ‘Vertigo’
  • Michael Keaton – ‘Desperate Measures’
  • Jim Carrey – ‘Kick-Ass 2’
  • Jim Carrey – ‘Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’
  • Jim Carrey – ‘The Truman Show’
  • Vince Vaughn – ‘Domestic Disturbance’
  • Adam Sandler – ‘Punch Drunk Love’

 

ADAM ROSS’ LIST

Tom Crusie Interview With

  • Ben Kingsley – ‘Sexy Beast’
  • Edward Norton – ‘American History X’
  • Jack Nicholson – ‘About Schmidt’
  • Sean Penn – ‘Milk’
  • Michael Douglas – ‘Behind The Candelabra’
  • Charlize Theron – ‘Monster’
  • Harrison Ford – ‘What Lies Beneath’
  • Tom Cruise – ‘Tropic Thunder’
  • Tom Cruise – ‘Interview With The Vampire’
  • Jim Carrey – ‘The Truman Show’
  • Jim Carrey – ‘Kick-Ass 2’
  • Robin Williams – ‘One Hour Photo’
  • Robin Williams – ‘Insomnia’
  • John Travolta – ‘Pulp Fiction’
  • Russell Crowe – ‘A Beautiful Mind’
  • Pierce Brosnan – ‘The Matador’
  • Halle Berry – ‘Cloud Atlas’
  • Hugh Grant – ‘Cloud Atlas’
  • Tom Hanks – ‘Cloud Atlas’
  • Hugo Weaving – ‘Cloud Atlas’
  • Nicole Kidman – ‘To Die For’

GREG KING’S LIST

Henry Fonda

  • Morgan Freeman – ‘Hard Rain
  • Vince Vaughm – ‘Psycho’
  • Gary Oldman – ‘Prick Up Your Ears’
  • Gregory Peck – ‘The Big Country’
  • Gregory Peck – ‘The Boys From Brazil’
  • Gregory Peck – ‘The Omen’
  • Steve Carell – ‘The Way Way Back’
  • Ashton Kutcher – ‘Jobs’
  • David Koencher – ‘Cheap Thrills’
  • John Travolta – ‘The Punisher’
  • John Travolta – ‘Broken Arrow’
  • Nicole Kidman – ‘The Paperboy’
  • Nicole Kidman – ‘Stoker’
  • Michael Keaton – ‘Batman’
  • Henry Fonda – ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’
  • Frank McMurray – ‘Double Indemnity’
  • Frank McMurray – ‘The Apartment’
  • Elijah Wood – ‘Maniac’
  • Elijah Wood – ‘Sin City’
  • Jack Palance – ‘City Slickers’
  • Michael Cera – ‘Youth In Revolt’
  • Brad Pitt – ‘Inglorious Basterds’
  • Ernest Borgnine – ‘Marty’
  • Albert Brooks – ‘Drive’
  • Matthew McConaughey – ‘Killer Joe’

 

DAVID GRIFFITHS’ LIST

Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained

  • Steve Carell – ‘The Way Way Back’
  • Jim Carrey – ‘Man On The Moon’
  • Henry Fonda – ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’
  • Robin Williams – ‘Insomnia’
  • Robin Williams – ‘One Hour Photo’
  • Bill Murray – ‘Get Low’
  • John Stamos – ‘Captive’
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – ‘Django Unchained’
  • Ewan McGregor – ‘Moulin Rouge!’
  • Russell Crowe – ‘Les Miserables’
  • Michael Cera – ‘This Is The End’
  • Ben Affleck – ‘Jay + Silent Bob Strike Back’
  • Matt Damon – ‘Jay + Silent Bob Strike Back’
  • Melissa Gilbert – ‘Ice House’
  • Matthew McConaughey – ‘Mud’
  • Matthew McConaughey – ‘Magic Mike’
  • Matthew McConaughey – ‘Bernie’
  • Tom Cruise – ‘Rock Of Ages’
  • Tom Cruise – ‘Tropic Thunder’
  • Seth Rogen – ‘Take This Waltz’
  • Heath Ledger – ‘The Dark Knight
  • Liam Neeson – ‘Batman Begins’
  • Robert De Niro ‘Stardust’

The Good The Bad The UglyIn Episode 38 of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Dave, Nick and Greg took at look at what they feel are the best acting performances in films made after the year 2000.

NICK GARDENER’S LIST

Joaquin Phoenix

Viggo Mortensen – ‘A Dangerous Method

Christoph Waltz – ‘Inglorious Basterds

Kirsten Dunst – ‘Melancholia

Charlotte Gainsbourg – ‘Melancholia’

Russell Crowe – ‘A Beautiful Mind’

Tom Hardy – ‘Bronson’

Javier Bardem – ‘No Country For Old Men’

Will Ferrell – ‘Zoolander’

George Clooney – ‘The American’

Robert Downey Jnr – ‘Iron Man’

Daniel Day Lewis – ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Lincoln’

Paul Giamatti – ‘Sideways’

Anna Paquin – ‘Margaret’

Michael Fassbender – ‘Shame’, ‘X-Men: First Class’

Heath Ledger – ‘The Dark Knight’

Naomi Watts – ‘Mullholland Drive’

Joaquin Phoenix – ‘The Master’

 

GREG KING’S LIST

Heath Ledger

Matthew McConaughey – ‘Mud’

Heath Ledger – ‘The Dark Knight’

Anne Hathaway – “Les Miserables’

Sean Penn – ‘Mystic River’

Daniel Day Lewis – ‘Lincoln’

Christoph Waltz – ‘Inglorious Basterds’, ‘Django Unchained’

Carey Mulligan – ‘Shame’

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – ‘Mysterious Skin’, ’50/50′

Ryan Gosling – ‘Blue Valentine’, ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’, ‘Drive’

Matt Damon – ‘The Bourne Franchise’, ‘Promised Land’

 

DAVID GRIFFITHS’ LIST

Leonardo DiCaprio

Joaquin Phoenix – ‘The Master’

Michael Shannon – ‘Take Shelter’

Heath Ledger – ‘The Dark Knight’

Anne Hathaway – ‘Rachel Getting Married’

Mickey Rourke – ‘The Wrestler’

Forrest Whitaker – ‘The Last King Of Scotland’

Alan Rickman – ‘Harry Potter Franchise’

Emma Stone – ‘Easy A’

Noomi Rapace – ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – ‘Mysterious Skin’, ‘Brick’

Hugo Weaving – ‘Last Ride’

Ellen Page – ‘Juno’

Christoph Waltz – ‘Django Unchained’

Leonardo DiCaprio – ‘Shutter Island’, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘The Departed’

Michelle Williams – ‘Wendy & Lucy’, ‘Blue Valentine’

Kate Winslet – ‘Little Children’, ‘The Reader’

Penelope Cruz – ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’

Sam Rockwell – ‘Moon’

Jessie Eisenberg – ‘The Social Network’

Justin Timberlake – ‘The Social Network’

Nicolas Cage – ‘Lord Of War’

George Clooney – ‘The Descendants’

Michael Fassbender – ‘Shame’

Jennifer Lawrence – ‘Winter’s Bone’

Matthew McConaughey – ‘Mud’

Ryan Gosling – ‘Drive’

Robert Pattinson – ‘Remember Me’

Tom Holland – ‘The Impossible’

Naomi Watts – ‘The Impossible’

Gangster Squad

Summary: Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and—if he has his way—every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.

Based on the book by Paul Lieberman, GANGSTER SQUAD is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time.

Year: 2013

Australian Cinema Release Date: 10th January, 2012

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Rubin Fleischer

Screenwriter: Will Beall, Paul Lieberman (book)

Cast: Austin Abrams (Pete), John Aylward (Judge Carter), Mick Betancourt (Detective Sgt. Will Hendricks), De’aundre Bonds (Duke Del-Red), Mac Brandt (Bruiser), Josh Brolin (Sgt. John O’Mara), James Carpinello (Johnny Stomp), Dennis Cockrum (Elmer Jackson), Jack Conley (Sheriff Biscailuz), Jonny Coyne (Grimes), Max Daniels (Jeffrey Clark),Darrell Davis (Officer Wyler), Christopher Doyle (Edgar Beaumont), Isabel Dresden (Hedy Lamarr), Mireille Enos (Connie O’Mara), Jim Fitzpatrick (Terry McMurray), Troy Garity (Wrevock), Tanner Gill (Hookey Rothman), Ryan Gosling (Sgt. Jerry Wooters), Frank Grillo (Jimmy Reagan), Don Harvey (Officer Funston), James Hebert (Mitch Racine), Austin Highsmith (Patty), Pat Jankiewicz (Nico), Evan Jones (Neddy Herbert), Neil Koppel (Max Soloman), Anthony Mackie (Officer Coleman Harris), Holt McCallany (Karl Lennox), Nancy McCrumb (Betty Page), Jack McGee (Lt. Quincannon), Brandon Molale (Jimmy ‘Bockscar’ Knox), Anthony Molinari (Lorenzo Molinari), Nick Nolte (Chief Parker), Michael Papajohn (Mike ‘The Flea’), Robert Patrick (Officer Max Kennard), Michael Pena (Officer Navidad Ramirez), Josh Pence (Officer Darryl Gates), Sean Penn (Mickey Cohen), Jon Polito (Dragna), Giovanni Ribisi (Officer Conway Keeler), Esther Scott (Letty),  Sullivan Stapleton (Jack Whelan), Emma Stone (Grace Faraday), Yvette Tucker (Carmen Miranda), Wade Williams (Rourke), Jeff Wolfe (Giovanni Vacarezza)

Runtime: 113 mins

Classification:MA15+

Dave Griffiths’s ‘Gangster Squad’ Review:

Whenever you hear that the editors have taken to a film in a bid to appease the censors and make it ‘okay’ for audiences to watch you know the film is likely to look like a mess. ‘Taken 2’ was a perfect example last year and now the same thing has happened to ‘Gangster Squad’.

Firstly the filmmakers had to change a major scene in the film because of the cinema massacre in the States and then it feels like the editor savaged it again in a bid to try and please the shifting belief on guns in the United States…a big problem considering a large chunk of ‘Gangster Squad’ is set in a time when gun culture was celebrated. The result is a film that doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be as aggressive as ‘The Departed’ or comical like ‘Dick Tracy’.

Based on a novel by Paul Lieberman ‘Gangster Squad’ is set in Los Angeles in 1949 and finds former boxer turned gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn – This Must Be The Place, The Tree Of Life) carving a name for himself by cutting down anyone who gets in his way. With Cohen and his cronies virtually ridding Los Angeles of any other gangsters officials such as Chief Parker (Nick Nolte – Parker, The Company You Keep) begin to realize that if something isn’t done soon than Cohen will soon ‘own’ the City of Angels.

The fact that Cohen also has many Police Officers on his payroll means that Parker now has to technically go outside of the law and put together a secret hit squad to get rid of Cohen. He places trusted hard-working cop Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin – Men In Black 3, True Grit) in charge of the squad. And while O’Mara is eager to take down Cohen his heavily pregnant wife, Connie (Mireill Enos – TV’S The Killing, TV’S Big Love) is not so pleased that her husband is going to war with such a dangerous man.

In the end Connie relents and decides to help her husband pick a group of men that will not only protect O’Mara but also be unapproachable to Cohen. Together she and O’Mara pick tech-savvy Officer Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi – Ted, Columbus Circle), the determined Officer Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Man On A Ledge) and a relic from the old West Officer Max Kennard (Robert Patrick – TV’S Last Resort, Trouble With The Curve).

The posse is then completed when Kennard’s partner and protégé Officer Navidad Ramirez (Michael Pena – End Of Watch, Tower Heist) and the reluctant Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling – The Place Beyond The Pines, The Ides Of March) decide they also want to be part of the action. While the group seem to have the odds stacked up against them their mission is further clouded by the fact that Wooters is having a relationship with  Cohen’s girlfriend, Grace Faraday (Emma Stone – Movie 43, The Amazing Spider-Man).

Director, Ruben Flesischer (TV’S Escape My Life, 30 Minutes Or Less) really is behind the eight-ball with ‘Gangster Squad’. At times his style of filming action works, although it is easy to see that he has been influenced by watching the work of Guy Ritchie, but he is let down by a script that delivers some truly awful lines and an editor that seems intent on sabotaging the film with some edits so corny that people during screenings have broken out into laughter.

The story behind ‘Gangster Squad’ could have made a truly sensational film… especially if someone like Martin Scorsese had taken over the reins as director, but in order for the story to have worked this movie needed to be a lot more aggressive and violent. Mickey Cohen was not a nice man and the version here seems tame when compared to the real life stories. Likewise with the guys in the hit squad, they are portrayed as ‘fluffy teddy bears’ when they are really a bunch of ruthless guys who are willing to do anything to bring down Cohen.

The only actor who really gets anything to work with in ‘Gangster Squad’ is Sean Penn. He relishes getting to play Cohen but the rest of the cast suffer as a result of the poor script. Josh Brolin still seems like he is playing Tommy Lee Jones’ son while Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are well and truly below par.

‘Gangster Squad’ could have been one of the films of the year but sadly an inept screenwriter and editor drag it right down amongst the other average films.

Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Gangster Squad′: Check Episode #15 of our The Good The Bad The Ugly Podcast for a more in-depth review of ‘Gangster Squad’. Also check http://www.helium.com/items/2408688-gangster-squad-review

Rating: 2.5/5

IMDB Rating: Gangster Squad (2013) on IMDb