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Showing posts from 2017

Is "Big Little Lies" Season Two a Bad Idea?

Big Little Lies, the most critically acclaimed and one of the most popular shows of 2017, is coming back for another season. The all-star cast, which includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern, is expected to return, along with writer David E. Kelley. British director Andrea Arnold will direct all of the seven-episode new season. While this news, rumored to be in the works ever since the first go around became a pop culture phenomenon last winter, has fans rejoicing. And while I was one of the series' biggest supporters, I am not so sure this is good news. 
Sure, season one ended with a perfect tease of where a new season could go, but I was content letting that be it. In its final moments, Big Little Lies revealed itself to be a show about all types of women coming together to fight the forces of evil keeping women down. Although the five leading ladies had spent much of the previous episodes fighting with one another, all their petty …

Kenneth Branagh's "Murder on the Orient Express" is a Stunning Adaptation of the Agatha Christie Classic: Review

Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express I first read Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express when I was in the sixth grade. I needed to pick a book for an independent reading assignment for English class and after an arduous forty-five minutes browsing the shelves of Barnes and Noble, I settled on MOTOE, not knowing much about it, aside from that it was a classic. Reading it, I fell in love. The glamorous and exotic location! The murder with no logical solution! The funny little detective! The impossible-for-me-to-pronounce character names! OK, that last one was not one of the reasons I fell in love with the book, but, seriously, there was mabye one character whose name I felt comfortable pronouncing. Anyway, that experience began my minor obsession with all things Agatha Christie. I read more books (Death on the Nile! Death in the Clouds! Evil Under the Sun!), sought out film and TV adaptations (Billy Wilder's The Witness for the Prosecution remains a favorite), and …

Who is The Black Hood on Riverdale? Here are 5 Possible Suspects

There's a killer on the loose in Riverdale, the setting of the CW's dark adaptation of the Archie Comics, now in its second season. He's called the Black Hood, a reference to the vigilante superhero comic book of the same name published by Archie Comics. So far, he has shot Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), murdered Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel) with a cello bow, and shot at Midge and Moose (Emilija Baranac and Cody Kearsley), all while wearing his executioner's hood-style hood, which is how he got his name. His letter to the Coopers in the third episode of the season reveals he is targeting victims that he sees as criminals or hypocrites and the fourth episode revealed he got the idea from Betty's (Lili Reinhart) speech from the end of last season, where she pleaded that "Riverdale must do better." It's looking like figuring out the Black Hood's identity will be the big mystery of season two, so I have put together a list of possible suspects.

Note: The Black…

Ranking the Five Best On Screen Portrayals of Hercule Poirot

Before Kenneth Brnagh dons the iconic mustache in the highly-anticpated new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (in theatres November 10th), I thought I would take a look back at some of the most famous portryals of Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie's signature creation, Poirot is peculiar. meticulous, and at times, bombastic and arrogant, but he always solves the case in the end, with the help of his little grey cells. Countless actors have portrayed the Belgian detective on stage, screen, or radio, including Charles Laughton, Austin Trevor, Orson Welles, and Ian Holm. But this list focuses on TV or film adaptations just becuase those are the ones I have seen.


5. Alfred Molina (2001)
Molina played Poirot in the 2001 TV movie version of Murder on the Orient Express. He's a terrific actor, generally, but his Poirot is not distinctive or memorable in any way. The accent is not great, the mustache is not great, and he is not eccentric enough to get away with being rude to peo…

The Muppets Bring Humor and Heart to the Hollywood Bowl in "The Muppets Take the Bowl": Review

The Muppets are in a bit of weird situation. Six years ago they made their big comeback with a smash hit movie, but since then they have had another flop movie and a short-lived television show. The franchise is still figuring out what iteration of itself works best for a 21st-century audience, and if it's not movies and it's not TV, what is it? It seems like they are trying to answer that question by putting on a rare live performance, happening September 8-10th at the Hollywood Bowl.

Like the good Muppet fan I am, I was on hand opening night in eager anticipation of finding out what a live Muppet show looks like. It looked like, well, what you might expect it to look like. Puppeteers dressed in all black performing their characters right before our very eyes. That is when there wasn't a platform or podium they could hide behind, which there occasionally was during the course of the two-and-a-half hour show. While it certainly isn't how we are used to experiencing the …

Great Performances Are Highlight of Moving But Flawed "The Glass Castle": Review

Film Review: The Glass Castle
The trailer for The Glass Castle did not impress me. It looked like just another generic awards hopeful, but I was surprisingly quite moved by the film. The Glass Castle tells the story of the Walls family, led by father Rex (Woody Harrelson), an alcoholic who can't keep a steady job and moves his family (including his artist wife Rose Mary played by Naomi Watts) around often as a result. The film deals with the effects of living in poverty has on the family's children, mainly daughter Jeanette (played at different ages by Chandler Head, Ella Anderson, and Brie Larson). The film alternates between the story of Jeanette's childhood and when Jeanette is an adult gossip columnist in the 1980s in New York, where her parents are squatting in an abandoned building.

The movie is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and written by Cretton and Andrew Lanham. I have a feeling that it would have been better if the story had been told chronologically instead …

Is the New Boomerang Streaming Service for Cartoons Worth It?

Boomerang, the recently launched streaming service from Turner and Warner Bros, offers a host of classic cartoons from the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and '00s that I loved as a kid. I have fond memories of watching Boomerang (the cable channel) as it always had old episodes of Scooby Doo and The Smurfs and without commercials to boot. It was the sister network of Cartoon Network, which had some cartoons I liked, but many that I didn't. But the cable channel known as Boomerang today carries primarily modern cartoons and is advertiser-supported, meaning the classics have been bumped to graveyard time slots or off the schedule completely. The first time I realized that the Boomerang channel of today does not resemble the Boomerang of my childhood is the first time I ever felt old. I mean, it's been less than a decade since I was obsessively collecting everything Scooby Doo I could find. But the past is past us now. I start college next week and no longer have the…

"Wind River" is a Bleak Crime Story With Thrilling Performances By Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen: Review

Film Review: Wind River
Ah, the kinds of movies Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen can make when they aren't busy playing Avengers. Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch have teamed up for another movie, one that is about as far from a superhero movie as I can imagine; a depressing indie set on an impoverished Indian reservation. Wind River is a masterfully written look at a largely overlooked sector of American life that features several powerhouse performances. From the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water comes another tale about the intersection of poverty and crime in America.

Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is a dark crime thriller set on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Jeremy Renner plays Corey Lambert, an agent of the US Fish and Wildlife Service who while hunting for a mountain lion that has been killing livestock on the Reservation stumbles across a dead body lying in the snow. The body is that of 18-year old Natalie Hanson (Kesley Chow), who died …

Channing Tatum Leads All-Star Caper Comedy "Logan Lucky": Review

Film Review: Logan LuckyLogan Lucky, the new movie from Steven Soderbergh, is the perfect distraction from life. It's funny, breezy, and not too deep. An excellent choice for people who want to see a fun summer movie that isn't a sequel or reboot of something. 

The movie stars Channing Tatum as Jimmy Logan, a blue-collar worker who has recently been fired from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jimmy, along with his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a war veteran with a prosthetic arm, come up with a plan to rob the vault at the Speedway. They enlist the help of Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), an expert safecracker who's currently incarcerated. Also helping out with the heist is Jimmy and Clyde's sister, Mellie (Riley Keough) and Joe Bang's dumb brothers (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson). Katie Holmes appears as Jimmy's ex-wife, Bobbi Jo, who is planning on moving their daughter (Farrah Mackenzie) to Lynchburg, Virginia from Boone County, West Virginia. Set…

Why ABC's Live-Action "The Jetsons" Is Not Such a Bad Idea After All

When I first heard that ABC had ordered a pilot of a live-action version of The Jetsons to be executed produced by Robert Zemeckis, my first thought was why? Too many reboots! Come up with something original! But then I started thinking about the original series, which I have been rediscovering lately thanks to the new Boomerang streaming service, and how good it still is 50 years later. Perhaps a new version that reintroduced the characters to a modern audience is not such a bad idea after all.

The Jetsons revolves around George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, and Jane, his wife, a typical family living in the futuristic Orbit City (which I think is supposed to be in space?). It premiered on ABC, in primetime, in September 1962, the very first ABC program to be broadcast in color. It lasted one season of 24 episodes, before airing in Saturday morning reruns for the next several decades. The Jetsons, like The Flintstones before it, was an animated sitcom. It was aimed at adults a…

Vanessa Redgrave in "Camelot": Review

Classic Film Review: Camelot (1967)The following post is a part of the 2017 TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon, hosted by Journeys in Classic Film.
In celebration of Vanessa Redgrave day on TCM (which will be showing her movies all day long August 14th), I decided to revisit one of my all time favorite movies, Camelot. The 1967 film is an adaptation of the 1960 musical of the same name by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The musical, which was based on T.H. White's retelling of the Arthurian legend The Once and Future King, which was a huge box office success and won four Tony Awards. The original cast recording was the best selling record in the country for over a year. A movie version was inevitable. 
That movie came seven years later. Directed by Joshua Logan, Camelot starred Richard Harris as King Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere and Franco Nero as Lancelot. When the King of England decides to use might for right and establish a new order of chivalry, stop waging war…

Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen are Excellent in Timely Comedy "Ingrid Goes West": Review

Film Review: Ingrid Goes West
I was worried based on the trailers and marketing for Ingrid Goes West that it was going to be a cautionary tale about the perils of social media. One of those condescending 'lessons' about how much better the world would be if we still used rotary phones and things like that. You know, stuff like this. Thankfully, Ingrid Goes West is not that, it's not even about social media despite being set in the Instagram Age.

Written by Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith and directed by Spicer, the movie is about Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), who has recently been released from a mental hospital and following the death of her mother decides to reinvent herself in Los Angeles, inspired by the Instagram feed of a seemingly perfect influencer named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). Using clues from her Instagram, Ingrid tracks Taylor down and befriends her. Yes, Instagram plays a large part in the story, but it's one that could be (and has been) told in many …

It's Time to Rediscover Sissy Spacek's Forgotten 1983 Country Album

In 1983, Sissy Spacek, at the height of her success as an actress, released a country music album called Hangin' Up My Heart.  It did not lead to any more albums or a long musical career for Spacek. When I recently learned of the album's existence, I was surprised I had never heard of it, so I immediately had to download it from iTunes. 

According to this 1979 Rolling Stone profile on Spacek (which was written by Cameron Crowe!), Sissy Spacek moved to New York in the late 1960s with her guitar in the hopes of becoming a musician, not an actress. When 18-year-old Spacek first moved to out New York from her home town of Quitman, Texas, she stayed with her cousin Rip Torn and his wife Geraldine Page. With the intention of becoming a rock star, she hung around Greenwich Village and recorded a demo that went nowhere. Eventually, in 1969, she (using the name "Rainbo") recorded a single for Roulette Records, a novelty song she had written called "John, You Went Too Far …