Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Normal Heart: The Play vs. the HBO Movie

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 11:11 AM

The Normal Heart, an HBO movie starring Mark Ruffalo, based on the play by Larry Kramer
When The Normal Heart debuted in 1985, it was supposed to break your fucking heart. Larry Kramer's drama chronicled very real, recent and still-raw history: the gay community's battle with AIDS, the founding of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, and the widespread indifference from the powers-that-be in the straight institutions that control the world. He wanted to get you engaged, get you enraged, get you up out of your seat and out into the street to join in the fight in whatever capacity possible. To that end, he emotionally manipulated the hell out of you; I mean, there's a deathbed wedding, fer chrissakes. But his scheming feels rooted in the real, and rooted in good cause, so you not only forgive him for what he's done—you ask him for more.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Twin Peaks Deleted Scenes Finally Getting Released

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Deleted Scenes from David Lynchs Twin Peaks movie prequel Fire Walk with Me
For years, fans of David Lynch and Mark Frost's short-lived ABC series Twin Peaks have pined for a peek at deleted scenes from Lynch's prequel film, Fire Walk With Me. Websites would ruefully inform you of their existence, but resignedly admit there was nothing you could do to see them except sign a petition, send an email, beg and plead and promise to spend money. But, hey, that pressure finally came to something: on July 29, CBS and Paramount will release a new box-set, Twin Peaks: The Complete Mystery, Entertainment Weekly reports; it will not only unite the series and the film in the same set for the first time but also feature 90 minutes of excised footage—the same deleted scenes that once seemed as though they'd be as impossible ever to see as Orson Welles' original cut of The Magnificent Ambersons.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

New York is Mentally Ill About Seinfeld!

Posted By on Fri, May 9, 2014 at 12:08 PM

7 trains have been redesigned to resemble the coffee shop from Seinfeld
A few months ago, my girlfriend and I went splitsies on the complete Seinfeld on DVD, all 180 episodes of nine seasons on 32 discs. It's a great show with an astounding number of iconic episodes; you can have a blast blowing through a disc after work. The saddest part always comes when the episode is over, and you see the copyright date under the Castle Rock Productions logo. My god, did this episode really premiere 21 years ago? Am I really so old?

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Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Twin Peaks Weekend in Brooklyn

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM

twin peaks brooklyn
  • Owl's Head co-owner John Avelluto outside the bar, doing his best Agent Cooper
The Owl's Head is not what it seems: two Bay Ridge businesses are celebrating film composer and neighboring Dyker Heights native Angelo Badalamenti's birthday this week by offering Twin Peaks-themed events and foods. The newish bakery Robicelli's, run by the city's favorite cupcake magnates the Robicellis, will offer a Peaks-inspired menu all weekend: the Audrey Horne is a whoopie pie filled with maraschino marshmallow buttercream; the Laura Palmer is an hibiscus tea cupcake with lemon buttercream, lemon cookie shard, and hibiscus syrup drizzle. (LAUUUURA!!!) And so on. You can see the menu on Facebook, though there have been off-menu surprises, too, like a Jerry Horne cupcake! Or, to keep it simple, five bucks will get you a cup of coffee and a slice of cherry pie.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

If TV's So Great, Why Are So Many TV Stars Making Movies?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 12:26 PM

veronica mars movie kristen bell
The sever-crashing mania for HBO's True Detective, starring recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, probably serves as one more notch in the belt for the TV-is-the-new-movies crowd. But despite the number of talented actors and stars that HBO, Showtime, FX, and even major networks have been able to attract, making a movie still holds some obvious appeal, however diminished. For Veronica Mars, appearing on movie screens this weekend, just short of seven years after the TV show of the same name ended appropriately but abruptly, a big-screen revival represents two distinct but intertwined thrills: a chance for two more hours with characters a small-but-passionate segment of TV-watchers have been desperate to revisit; and a chance for that limited time (about the length of three TV episodes, minus credits) to unspool on a giant screen, in the dark, with a low budget that is nonetheless many times more than any given three episodes of the TV series.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Why True Detective Had to Disappoint Us

Posted By on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 2:42 PM

true detective season finale form and void hbo
Shortly after the end of last night’s disappointing True Detective finale, someone updated the show’s Wikipedia page with this synopsis of “Form and Void”: “They find out where the criminal lives and they go to his house to arrest him. He goes into a maze and they chase him and he almost kills them but they kill him so then they are in the hospital and the cool detective tells how he had a near death experience. The end.” It was quickly deleted, but not before a screengrab made its way around Twitter. There’s been a lot of Schadenfreude today among the show’s early skeptics, because last night’s episode definitively proved that we’d all been overthinking this thing.

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The Empty Core of True Detective

Posted By on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 11:37 AM

true detective season finale form and void matthew mcconaughey hbo
Compared to fans, critics have been more measured in their responses to True Detective, the HBO show that concluded its self-contained first season last night, and I'm starting to see why: the finale's centerpiece, a riveting and suspenseful confrontation in an overgrown maze of crumbling stone, was a masterpiece of horror set design, a triumph of visual storytelling. But beneath that impressive veneer, what was left besides Texas Chainsaw-style cliches? Sweaty, dirty countryfolk in their filthy, unkept home, with a preserved parental corpse a la Friday the 13th.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Here's Hoping True Detective's Season Finale Doesn't Get Lost

Posted By on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 10:15 AM

true detective season finale form and void matthew mcconaughey hbo
  • YouTube
  • Is that McConaughey on The Island?!
After I watched the penultimate episode of HBO's beguiling new series True Detective, whose first season concludes Sunday night, I googled in vain for "true detective two hour finale," hoping I'd somehow missed the announcement that the last installment would be double-length. Particularly once you get lost in the subreddits dedicated to the show, it seems as though its creators have posed too many questions to answer in fewer than 60 minutes, have revealed too many tiny details—captured in screenshots and capable of being dissected at length—to hope they could all be explained in what little time remains. (Each season of the show will feature all-new characters and stories, like FX's American Horror Story, so the second season won't do any good.)

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Monday, March 3, 2014

What is Hollywood Escaping?: Classism at the Oscars

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 10:17 AM

oscars pizza ellen brad pitt
  • Oh, you poor people must be so hungry!
Hollywood studios make two kinds of movies: those that offer escape and those with an inescapable message. Rarely is this dichotomy so neatly represented by the two frontrunners for the Academy Award for Best Picture: the dopey but spectacularly space-glittery Gravity and the solemn 12 Years a Slave, wagging its finger sternly at slavery. Host Ellen DeGeneres joked in her monologue that the room would prove itself racist if the producers of any movie but 12 Years took home statues, and dutifully the Academy voters bestowed Brad Pitt, Steve McQueen and some other people in the background with Oscars before ABC syndicates switched to your local nightly news. It was a victory for prestige-picture storytelling, for middlebrow movies with a social conscious. But, despite winners Jared Leto (!) and Lupita Nyong'o speaking directly to troubled audiences in Ukraine, Venezuela, Africa, and elsewhere, the telecast—as usual—was about escapism, which explains why Gravity walked away with seven awards, sweeping the technical side: Director, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, etc.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why Do Women On TV Always Cheat on Their Husbands?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 12:31 PM

betty draper bar scene gimlet sex january jones
Most of our great TV dramas center on the tragic lives of powerful men. Not that that's exactly new: the great tragedies of Sophocles and Shakespeare do the same. But a unique unifying thread in today's serious programming is that these antiheroes' wives always have one recourse: infidelity, so common that it's becoming a cliche. Skyler White on Breaking Bad, Claire Underwood on House of Cards, Betty Draper on Mad Men and now Maggie Hart on True Detective have all violated their wedding vows (often the second person in the marriage to do so; I'm not judging here!). They do it for different reasons, though it's usually reducible to a shared essence: in these shows' man's worlds—whether 1960s New York or 1990s Louisiana or present-day New Mexico and Washington, DC—women are still just Lysistratas, powerless but for their sex.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Account Of The Snow, Petition Netflix To Release House of Cards Early

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 2:50 PM

The money shot.
  • The money shot.

On the off-chance you're lucky enough to have parlayed this dumping of snow and wintry mix into a bonafide, no-work Snow Day—or even if you're just looking forward to a night on the couch after trudging around in this mess—Netflix will be an important crutch for you today. So much so that it seems like they should do us all a solid and bump up tomorrow's House of Cards Season 2 release by a day? This being the internet, there's now a petition for that.

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House of Cards' Most Romantically F'ed Up Moments

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:01 AM

House of Cards Romantically Fucked Up

Tomorrow marks the return of Netflix's critically-acclaimed series House of Cards, which means more fourth-wall-breaking Kevin Spacey moments, more icy coldness and fabulousness from Robin Wright (werk that pixie cut, girl) and more political maneuvering and intrigue we don't always understand, but go along with anyway.

Tomorrow also happens to be Valentine's Day and we thought nothing would be more appropriate than to rank the most romantically fucked up moments from the show's first season. So, without further ado, a look at the deeply disturbing and slightly romantic moments that make House of Cards one of our favorite shows.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

"What A Handsome Beast You're Going To Be:" TV To Fall Asleep To

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 5:54 PM


Time was, if you needed an informative, low-decibel show to lull you to sleep at night, How It's Made was ready and waiting for you, right there on Netflix for the taking. "Frozen Pancakes" is a classic, for the uninitiated:

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A Definitive Ranking Of SNL's Current Cast

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM


This year has been a particularly eventful one for Saturday Night Live with seven new cast members joining the ranks following the 2013 departures of Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg the year before that (they're all doing so well now!). In fact, it's been so eventful that some people may have given up on watching the program with so many audience favorites gone.

We've kept up with this new wave of players for the sake of journalism and so far, there have been a lot of hits and a lot of misses in this, the 39th season of SNL, but that's always been the case whether the cast was full of veterans or not. Still, you deserve to know who's worth watching and who isn't. After all, these are the people who are going to be in all your indie rom-coms seven years from now.

p.s. We're giving Sasheer Zamata a break since this is only her third week on the show.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Sherlock Sounds Terrible, But It's the Best Thing on TV

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM

sherlock the empty hearse bbc series benedict cumberbatch
On paper, Sherlock sounds like something I wouldn't want to watch—I mean, when was the last time you were excited because something that was old that you liked was being "updated"? Usually it just means that touches of modernity have been shoved into the script in a cynical appeal to younger viewers. Set in the present day, the BBC series features texting, and John Watson doesn't write down his adventures with the master detective—he blogs about them! What makes the show work, though, is that it's not ashamed of its source material. "Conan Doyle's stories were never about frock coats and gas light," cocreator Steven Moffat, known for his work rebooting Dr. Who, told the BBC. "They're about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes… Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that's what matters." Whereas Bryan Singer's X-Men reboot mocked the comics' yellow costumes, Sherlock lets Sherlock keep his deerstalker cap, albeit not without comment.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

SNL Isn't Kidding About Diversifying, Adds Two Black Female Writers

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 3:35 PM


Those of you who witnessed the bliss that was the Kerry Washington-led episode of Saturday Night Live know that the show began with a humorous apology to Ms. Washington for the amount of black female characters she was going to play that night to make up for the show’s glaring lack of black female players. Now that apology has snowballed into a string of immediate and impressive actions on SNL’s part with the recent hire of Brooklyn-based comedienne Sasheer Zamata and now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, two black writers, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones.

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The Best Stephen Hawking Jokes on The Simpsons

Posted By on Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

stephen hawking simpsons
Stephen Hawking, who turns 72 today, is equally well-known for two things: his revolutionary work in physics, and his guest appearances on The Simpsons. The British scientist has played himself on the series at least four times, first in the Season 10 episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain," in which Lisa joins the local Springfield chapter of Mensa. Like The Simpsons in general over the last 15 years, his cameos can be hit-or-miss, but when he's on, he can be one of the funniest guest stars the show has ever had. Here are some of his best jokes on the show. (Note: Simpsons clips are notoriously difficult to find online in the US, as the copyright holders are vigilant about keeping them offline. Therefore, I've done my best here, and I wouldn't be surprised if over time some of these links go dead.)

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In Defense of Screech, On His Birthday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 2:02 PM

screech slave to art
Today is Dustin Diamond's 37th birthday. The actor best, or only, known for playing Screech on Saved by the Bell has become notorious for causing controversies over the last several years, including releasing a sex tape and a tell-all memoir, for both of which he recently expressed regret, as well as appearing on reality TV shows to play the boor. It all smacked of desperate anti-typecasting, a frenzied personification of Dennis Haskins's tasteful mustache. But it's something we maybe all should have seen coming. Diamond became "a scarred, desperate child star, forever typecast, alienated and altered by his time on such a seemingly juvenile television show," Sam Greenspan once wrote in an article about Diamond's book on 11 Points:

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Everything Wrong with the 90s in a Single TV Show

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 12:57 PM

undeclared judd apatow tv show jay baruchel jobs jobs jobs
The Clinton boom times of the 90s weren't great for everyone, but they were strong times for the American middle class and its suburban spawn: the economy grew for 116 consecutive months, home ownership rose, millions of new jobs were created, and median family income increased. It was a great time to be a teenager going to college on your parents' dime, as evident on Judd Apatow's 2001 television series Undeclared, a last declaration of Clintonian affluence before the economy-crippling double whammy of terror attacks and Bushonomics.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What Betty White Wrought: TV's Troublesome Depiction of the Elderly

Posted By on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:20 AM

derek tv show ricky gervais
Old people have long had a hard time finding dignified representation on television. "Kaye Ballard and Eve Arden were being annoying on The Mothers-in-Law back when Lyndon B. Johnson was president," Neil Genzlinger wrote in an essay, "TV's Problematic Portrayal of Aging," in the Times last month. There was Sideshow Bob's rueful discovery in 1995 that Vanessa Redgrave, then almost 60, had been drafted onto the small screen and given a catchphrase: "Let's haul ass to Lollapalooza!" And there was Mona from Who's the Boss in the 80s, the kooky grandma who always had a double entendre ready to quip.

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