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Entries in HBO (23)

Monday
Jan122015

Looking for the Promised Land: A Midsummer Night's Queers

If the comments on last week's recap of Season 1 of Looking are any indication, what fascinates yours truly, Manuel, about the show is also the very thing that makes it so divisive. Disclaimer: what follows should in no way be taken as an apology for the show nor a glowing endorsement of it as "the best!" As I pointed out last week, there's room for improvement and Patrick & co. have great heights to scale before being able to sit alongside Don Draper, Selina Meyer, Valerie Cherish, Piper Chapman & Jane Rodriguez (my Top 5 shows for 2014). 

The burden of representation. That's how I diagnosed what has fallen on Looking for the mere reason that it's one of the few shows openly about gay people men. As some of you pointed out in your comments, issues of entertainment value and overall quality depend on the fact that the show (whether intentionally or not) announces itself as a mirror. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan052015

Looking Back: Season 1 Recap

Manuel here bringing us up to date on Andrew Haigh’s first season of his HBO show Looking in preparation for the weekly recaps that will take up this space starting next week. 

“You know how I know you’re gay? You’re boring,” With those nine words, Mick Stingley (writing for Esquire) summed up his reaction to Looking, one which continued to be echoed even as Andrew Haigh’s low-key San Francisco-set show about a group of gay men blossomed into a fascinating (if, yes, clipped and narrow) show, ably experimenting with the long-form storytelling of TV to offer mundane snapshots of the contemporary gay male experience. “Boring” became a code word for viewers (both gay and straight) who for the first time found themselves exposed to gay characters on screen who didn’t mince or flounce (no Wills or Jacks here), nor who aimed to become a banner ad for a movement (no Michaels or Emmets here). It was also an HBO show hard to pin down. It doesn’t have Sorkinean monologues, or Dunhamesque sex scenes. It doesn’t have the acidic comedy of Veep nor the pathos of Enlightened. There’s a level of mundanity in Haigh’s show that's decidedly un-HBOish; this is no Westeros nor Bon Temps. In many ways, it feels like an indie film with its closest kin being Haigh’s 2011 film, Weekend. [Full disclosure, I hated that film, but that’s neither here nor there].

I bring this all up front to showcase what it is that interests me about Looking; its rather transgressive indifference towards politics of representation. There’s transgression in the very banality that so characterized the show's first season which, while climaxing with a wedding, a hook-up, a breakup and a pitch-perfect Golden Girls shout out, nevertheless seemed quite content in what Haigh & co. bill their show as: merely looking, observing really how these young able-bodied (and damn good-looking) gay men navigate their lives. It’s not surprising then that the best episode of the first season was solely focused on Patrick & Richie in a long, romantic date around San Francisco.

So, before next’s week’s premiere episode, let’s briefly recap/meet our boys:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec232014

some say the blog will end in fire, some say in ice

GeekRex on great sounding movies of 2014. So glad they included Wild but I don't understand the defense of Interstellar's sound mix given how difficult it sometimes was to hear the dialogue
Gurus of Gold I believe there's an update today but look at where things stand now in the big Oscar categories
AV Club Sarah Jessica Parker may be returning to HBO sitcom glory via Divorce (no, not from Matthew Broderick. On the show!)
In Contention Antonio Sanchez is not happy about his disqualification from Best Original Score for Birdman and why shouldn't he be. Their rules are so arbitratily enforced. Remember when Gustavo Santaolla won his second consecutive Oscar for a film FILLED with pre-existing music (Babel) and his score only being a small percentage of it.

The Dissolve Robert Rodriguez to helm a live action remake of Ralph Bakshi's Fire & Ice. I used to love that rotoscoped sword & sorcery movie so much but Rodriguez seems like he'll amplify what was already turned up to 11
MNPP I love this review of Mommy by Jason
Newsweek Maggie Gyllenhaal working all the actor mediums
VF Selfie hijinx with Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, The Baker's Wife and Cinderella
The Atlantic on the year's best trailers
Carpet Bagger looks at the costumes of The Homesman
Playboy Matt Patches goes looking for Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run, Scent of a Woman) in this cinematic true life detective story 
Comics Alliance Mike Coulter will play Luke Cage (Power Man) for Netflix's Marvel Series. No word yet on Iron Fist but now would be the perfect time to do that reverse white washing and cast an Asian man in a lead role, since he's white in the comics but his origin story involves growing up in an Asian mystical city in the Himalayas, you know? Please money and Marvel people -- Come correct!  It's a whole new world than it was was in 1974.

Happy (?) Christmas

Yikes.

Sorry about that.

Binge Watch Worthy?
I enjoy being an Opinion-Maker but I'll admit I am usually happy to cede that responsibility to others when it comes to TV. There's just too much product to keep up with.  So whoever is binge-watching Mozart in the Jungle let me know, will you? The cast includes two of my all time favorites (Gael García Bernal and Bernadette Peters) but this is my single busiest two-month stretch of the year so I need someone else to do such scouting. Report back!

Top Ten Film Critic Frenzy
If you love reading top ten lists, pick an article any article... 'tis the season!

Richard Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel to Butter on a Latch) | Justin Chang (Boyhood to Interstellar) | Manohla Dargis (Beyond the Lights to well mostly Beyond the Lights) | Peter Debruge (Calvary to Class Enemy) |  David Denby (Ida...well, mostly Ida) | Scott Foundas (Goodbye to Language to American Sniper) | Stephen Holden (Boyhood to Only Lovers Left Alive) | Lou Lumenick (Boyhood to Into the Woods) | Omar PL Moore (The Grand Budapest Hotel to The LEGO Movie) | Wesley Morris (Norte the End of History to Stranger by the Lake) |  A.O. Scott (Boyhood to The Babadook) | Dana Stevens (The Babadook to We Are the Best) | Stephanie Zacharek (Under the Skin to Top Five)

Wednesday
Sep172014

Top Ten: Movie Stars Coming to TV

Margaret here, with a Tuesday Wednesday Top Ten. Ready to rank the incoming class of movie stars trying their hand at the small screen. Every TV season, a new group of movie actors crops up on the fall schedule, either because scarcity of good film roles or the lure of a hefty paycheck.

Here are the top ten series soon to debut, in order of how much we're looking forward a weekly date with their stars. Set your DVRs accordingly!

#10 True Detective - HBO - 2015

This spot is a placeholder for True Detective Season 2, the impossibly buzzy crime drama anthology series at HBO. While the show has yet to cast its leads, if any of the numerous rumours prove true it will certainly feature at least one famous and undervalued actor looking for a McConnaissance of his or her very own. Although it's not due until early 2015, it's safe to assume we'll be hearing at least as much about it all fall as we will any other show.

#9 Madam Secretary - CBS - 8 pm Sunday, 9/21

Téa Leoni stars in this drama series as a female Secretary of State. (Sure, she's got a globally-essential job, but what I want to know is can she have it all????) It's CBS, so unless it turns out to be a Good Wife-type anomaly, chances that it will be a formula-busting creative showcase are low. The supporting cast includes Tony winners Patina Miller (Pippin) and Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago, Sweet Charity), so we can always hold out hope for a musical number.

8 more starry series after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Aug302014

Game of Links

Catching up on news & noteworthy we didn't cover the past couple of days...

Brangelina
Vanity Fair the details of the Brangelina marriage that we know. I'm really so happy for them as a longtime fan but...
Time knocks them for not keeping their promise to the gays. I knew this backlash would happen. But they did hold out a long time and they've done so much good for the world including for marriage equality that I think we should let it slide
Gawker asks the intriguing question: "Why is Angelina Jolia a movie star?"

Some of her movies have been well-received acting vehicles. Some of her movies have been gargantuan commercial products. There is no place where those circles overlap on the Venn diagram. 

It's worth pondering her atypical celebrity.

Absolute Must Read!
/bent has a fascinating long essay about HBO, Game of Thrones, and the distinct feeling that TV series are beginning to go for sex and violence just to have them rather than serve the story. It's a super interesting detailed piece that covers more than just Game of Thrones but past series as well and troubling gender politics and rape fantasies. 

More Linkage For Infotainment
Variety has intriguing film/stage news: Vincent Kartheiser of Mad Men fame will be playing the legendary filmmaker Billy Wilder on stage in a play about the making of Double Indemnity. Good luck finding someone who can pull off Barbara Stanwyck!
The Film Stage a new trailer for Stephen Daldry's Trash. You guys no matter what I do, I cannot remember to watch this. I didn't see the first one either. I still know nothing about this movie
Deadline the first Oscar FYC screener to go out is actually Snowpiercer. That's a fun surprise. They're pushing Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress. I can't find a large enough photo of the screener online to tell who else they're pushing though. 

/Film The Maze Runner is being shown in "Panoramic Projection" which is a new thing that's apparently descended from CinemaScope.  
In Contention Kate Winslet and a bunch of acclaimed actors are starring in John Hillcoat's (Lawless) next feature in 2015 called Triple Nine
Out profiles Belgian superstar Matthias Schoenaerts
Empire Charlie Hunnam to play King Arthur for Guy Ritchie
The Wire explains the messy chain of events of that Bryan Singer sexual abuse lawsuit, which has now been dismissed 
Variety The Art Directors Guild has expanded their annual awards categories. Lots of interesting things will be honored now like storyboard artists and such 
Gizmodo wonders how NYC would respond to an actual Stay Puft Marshmallow Man attack. 
/Film Actor Bill Hader shares a list of his 200 favorites  (I was super happy to see Trouble in Paradise, Nashville, and L'Atalante... let's just say he has really good taste)
Vulture talks to Jessica Chastain about yet another season of multiple movies and her love of movies, even the bad silly ones.

But tonight I'm going to the movies and I really go to the movies any chance I can... I love 'em all."

Small Screen
Decider looks back at a very special episode of "The Facts of Life". Weren't they all? 
Variety on why the Emmy rules are so hard to fix
Variety talks to Allison Janney about her career and double Emmy night
TV Line great news: Enver Gjokaj, so brilliant on Dollhouse and not as well employed as he should be is joining the Marvel Universe via that Agent Peggy Carter show 
Pajiba David Fincher's Gap commercials  

DISCUSSION TOPIC
Do you ever find yourself reading a blog post or essay or watching a conversation and one casual remark will totally throws you out of the piece until it's all you can think of? That's what happened to me with that Hilary Swank comment the other day. It happened twice more last night. I was watching an interview with the star of Obvious Child, Jenny Slate, where she was all "I miss romantic comedies where women are complex". Me too! But then her example of non-complex is shade thrown Kristen Wiig & Bridesmaids way? HUH? That's one of the only great romantic comedies of the past decade with complex female characterizations. Then I'm over at Film School Rejects reading a take on the Honorary Oscars and they're complaining about no "career tribute" style Oscar nomination for Maureen O'Hara in that John Candy movie Only the Lonely (1991). And then Christopher Campbell writes:

Did they really need to honor Juliette Lewis instead?

What-the-what-now? Juliette was the best one in her category that year! Plus, sucking Robert DeNiro's thumb is really going above and beyond for art on account of gross.

Has this happened to you recently where you just can't with one sentence? 

 

Thursday
Jun192014

Callas, Streep, and "Master Class"

Tyne Daly played the role on BroadwayYou've undoubtedly heard the news by now that Meryl Streep will be playing opera diva Maria Callas in the film adaptation of the play Master Class, about Callas teaching a voice class at Juilliard. Well, telefilm adaptation I guess... so ink Streep down for the Emmy whenever that arrives since Hollywood is all about over-rewarding the winners. On stage the role has been played by Fanny Ardant, Zoe Caldwell, Faye Dunaway and Tyne Daly. Master Class is, in a way, a distant cousin to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as each involve an imperious older woman teaching students while also basically monologuing about her own glory days.

Terence McNally's play has been around since 1995 and as recently as last Winter Faye Dunaway, who played the role in a Los Angeles production, was still being interviewed about her struggle to get it on film. If Dunaway was that invested in it I'm confused about the rights issues because wouldn't she have already acquired them? 

As much as I love Streep, her dominance continues to haunt me. I'm an actressexual but I am in no way monogamous about it. (I assure you, 1000% percent that if my beloved Pfeiffer returned to the movies and got every part for a 50something woman, I'd complain, too.) And while I despair for the other supremes Streep's age who can't get around her to get their shot at golden roles (both because Hollywood always wants Streep and because Streep is more prolific now than she has been since her late twenties!), this could be truly great. Mike Nichols is Streep's best collaborator and truly gifted at guiding her. Streep has rarely been better than she was in Silkwood, Postcards from the Edge, and Angels in America. I'd list only two of her other performances as equal to that realm of pure transcendence.

Maria Callas

That said it'd be more tantalizing, at least from afar, to have a lesser lauded less ubiquitous performer and it'd definitely be fascinating to have a "has been" goddess  in the role. Consider that on Broadway one of the raves for Daly's performance said:

one of the most haunting portraits I’ve seen of life after stardom

Not that Streep doesn't have prodigious gifts of imagination but "life after stardom" is not something the three time Oscar winner has or ever will experience, despite it being a universal journey for 98% of movie actresses.