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<p>Valorie Curry of &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Valorie Curry of "The Following"

Credit: Barbara Nitke/FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'The Curse'

A familiar face returns, the FBI gets closer and Claire confronts Emma

To quote "The Curse": "???????????????????????????"

 
In all seriousness, "The Curse" is one of "The Following"'s better episodes, but I have to agree with Claire -- Joe's writing is atrocious. If it weren't for that little aside in tonight's episode, I'd question the writers' decision to include the manuscript. Well, okay. I question it anyway. But I question it a little less now that I know at least Claire hates Joe's work, too.
 
"The Curse" is clearly one of the few episodes in "The Following's" arc that was planned out right from the start -- I feel like we've been waiting for this episode for weeks now, slogging through a few filler episodes that crammed in a kink club and a few more dead women for no clear reason. By comparison to those catastrophes "The Curse" is downright masterful -- thematically consistent and even compelling, at times. For once, it feels like things are happening -- plot devices that seem to push forward the creepiness, rather than continue treading water with empty horror and needless gore.
 
Nothing is very creepy, of course. But the episode is playing with a few of the major characters' morality, revealing some of the tension between good and evil that drives the characters forward. I'm not convinced that a morality tale is really the best way to move forward a suspenseful plot, but it provides an avenue for the killers to get inside our heads, with their twisted logic. It also gives the killers to get a chance inside Ryan Hardy's head, who is our Everyman stand-in, more or less.
 
The terrible book Joe is writing is his attempt to finish the chapter of the story with Ryan Hardy. But dude, Joe is stuck. He has writer's block. Murderer-writer's block. Because Ryan, his main character, is a dark, twisted personality whose motivations are very difficult to determine, apparently. I really did like how this storyline ended up, but I have to call shenanigans on the idea that Ryan is all that difficult to figure out. Joe already knows about his survivor's guilt, and he has all kinds of intelligence from Molly, the nurse that sleeps with Ryan.
 
According to the exposition, though, Joe is unraveling. Along with the writers' block, his followers are not as reliable as they were when they started out. Roderick is a wildcard, motivated by… something… to be randomly murderous and vicious; and as the FBI inches closer to finding the cult, Roderick's weaknesses as a manager and the cult's (obvious) vulnerability as a target are becoming more important. Joe's not in a very good mood much of the time lately, and that apparently leads him to do something drastic -- to go out in public himself to lock down the leak. (I have to say, the subplot this week about how exactly the FBI gets into the same space as the killers is very hard to follow. There's a lot of running around in abandoned hallways, but more than that, I can't tell you. Fortunately, it doesn't matter much.)
 
The climax of "The Curse" is two separate but simultaneous confrontations -- Jacob with Agent Parker, and Joe with Ryan, over a gagged and bound Agent Weston. It's the type of showdown we've seen on television before, but I liked that both conversations are mini-dramas themselves, where each character is trying to manipulate the other. Ryan's trying to draw out Joe to protect Mike, and Joe is trying to goad Ryan into admitting more details of his particular version of survivor's guilt. Parker is trying to wheedle some humanity out of Jacob, and Jacob is trying to convince her that she's in real danger.
 
"The Following" wants to be a show that plays with morality. It's not subtle enough to get into the nuances of life and death, good and evil -- but what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for with shlocky exposition and sound effects, which you know, can work if you're in the right mindset. I didn't love the flashback to Ryan's father's death, but I like knowing that he killed a guy with heroin as a teenager, because that's kind of interesting. My problem is that it's hard to get into this morally gray area when the "bad" characters who you are supposed to be interested in and sympathetic to act like they are unhinged, alien, or psychotic. This isn't a war between good and evil, this is a battle between the clinically insane and the slightly less crazy.  If "The Following" can sort out who its evil characters are supposed to be, it might have a shot at getting coherent before the end of the season.
 
This is most obvious with Joe, who is the most inconsistently written character on the show. He's by turns calculating, genius, ruthless, sympathetic, and loving. I think the idea is that because James Purefoy is a recognized actor, those hiccups will work themselves out. But lately it seems like Joe is just a random series of traits strung together. Who would have guessed that the misogynist murderer from the pilot would be writing a really bad book as a way to carry out his nefarious plan? It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?
 
Still, I'm taking a feather from David Sims at The A.V. Club and trying to keep a sense of humor in mind. Because as the season draws to a close, the ridiculous elements of "The Following" are getting more and more hilarious. Random, overwrought hooking up between Joe and Emma? Yes! Fistfight between Emma and Claire because Emma wants to be "friends"? Excellent! Jacob tearfully calling his dad? Awesome! Roderick wearing his uniform all the time for no reason? Why not?! The laughs just keep coming.
 
Odds and Ends:
 
*** Is it just me, or is Agent Weston way unstable after coming out of the hospital?
 
*** Agent Parker is still the only character who feels real and relatable to me. And even she has some hilarious lines in this episode, like "I once got hit in the face with a bat and it hurt, dude, it hurt." Okay, that wasn't a real quote. But you get the idea.
 
*** I hear a heroin overdose is not such a bad way to die.
 
What do you think? Are Ryan and Joe both motivated by death? And if so, do you care?
 
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<p>Henry Cavill's debut as one of the most iconic characters in pop culture arrives in theaters in June, and the first TV&nbsp;spots for 'Man Of Steel' are starting to show up online.</p>

Henry Cavill's debut as one of the most iconic characters in pop culture arrives in theaters in June, and the first TV spots for 'Man Of Steel' are starting to show up online.

Credit: Warner Bros.

A restrained TV spot for 'Man Of Steel' appears during the NCAA Championship

Why doesn't Warner Bros. show us the action?

The most frequent question I heard from those of you who stopped me at WonderCon or who sent me e-mails in the days after the event was "Why didn't Warner Bros. show new 'Man Of Steel' footage during the panel?"

Obviously, Warner Bros. marketing doesn't run their decision-making by me for approval, so I can't answer that question conclusively. I can, however, guess based on the reactions I've heard from people who have seen Zack Snyder's Superman movie, and it seems to me that Warner Bros. didn't bring new footage to screen because, frankly, they don't have to.

The most dangerous thing to do with a giant blockbuster in today's media landscape is to jam it down the throat of the audience to the point where they learn to hate the film before they ever lay eyes on it. Sometimes, it's the only option that the studio has, and when they know a movie doesn't work, that's when they kick into overdrive. When a movie has a pre-release awareness as automatic as a new Superman movie and they feel like the film completely works, that's when they get to lay back a bit and let the actual anticipation of the audience do the work for them.

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Kristen Stewart, 'Terminator 2,' Jim Carrey: 10 fun facts about the MTV Movie Awards

Kristen Stewart, 'Terminator 2,' Jim Carrey: 10 fun facts about the MTV Movie Awards

The 22nd annual show is set for April 14

The MTV Movie Awards are coming up this weekend (April 14), and the slate of nominees wasn't as terrible as it has been in recent years, so it might actually be a fun watch. Last year I went back in time for a retrospective on the inaugural edition from 1992, and I plan to go back to the 1993 awards in an upcoming piece. In the meantime, here's something different.

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<p>Matt Damon plays a sick man desperate to make it to an off-world space station where he can be cured in Neill Blomkamp's new science-fiction action film 'Elysium'</p>

Matt Damon plays a sick man desperate to make it to an off-world space station where he can be cured in Neill Blomkamp's new science-fiction action film 'Elysium'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Neill Blomkamp unveils new footage from the Matt Damon science-fiction film 'Elysium'

The 'District 9' director discusses his new big idea and how he put it together

Sony Pictures held an event today in Hollywood to introduce new footage from Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," the first film from the acclaimed science-fiction director since his breakthrough debut, "District 9." Ralph Garman moderated the event, which featured in-theater appearances by Blomkamp, actor Sharlto Copley, and producer Simon Kinberg. The star of the film, Matt Damon, is in Germany right now shooting the movie "Monuments Men," and so he was patched in via satellite from a theater in Berlin. The new trailer, which arrives online tomorrow, was the first thing shown, and then there was a ten-minute reel prepared specifically for the event. At the end of the footage, Garman asked Damon what he thought of what he saw. Damon waited for the satellite delay, then answered, "Well, we're in Berlin watching it, so I have to say that I'm impressed. My German was flawless."

It's fitting that the event was staged on an international scale, since the movie was an international affair. The film is a very immediate science-fiction metaphor that deals with the real-world divisions between the haves and the have-nots right now, and in order to create a stark difference between the perfect world of the Elysium space station and the left-behind slum that is the Earth, Blomkamp shot the Earth footage in Mexico City, and everything on Elysium in Vancouver. He did his best two treat the two parts of the production as totally independent units, and it pays off in the visual contrast we saw even in the ten minutes of footage they showed us.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 176: 'Mad Men,' 'Da Vinci's Demons,' 'Nurse Jackie,' 'Veep & more

Dan and Alan also break down the finales for 'Justified' & 'Shameless'

The

I had to rush out on the end of today's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, and yet we still wound up talking for over 90 minutes, thanks to a dense "Mad Men" premiere, a pair of notable finales and three premieres. And we didn't even talk at all about Roger Ebert, which was a giant failure on our parts, and something we can hopefully rectify in next week's podcast — though it's not clear what day that will be published on, depending on Dan's travel schedule. The lineup:

"Da Vinci's Demons" (00:01:10 - 00:18:00)
"Nurse Jackie" (00:18:15 - 00:28:45)
"Veep" (00:28:50 - 00:36:05)
"Justified" finale (00:36:40 - 00:48:35)
"Shameless" finale (00:48:40 - 01:03:30)
"Mad Men" (01:03:30 - 01:31:55)

 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 176

Dan and Alan talk 'Da Vinci's Demons,' 'Shameless,' 'Justified,' 'Mad Men' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for a busy installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
With finales for "Shameless" and "Justified," premieres of "Veep," "Nurse Jackie" and "Da Vinci's Demons" and our first in-depth "Mad Men" discussion of the season, we went 90+ minutes and could have done much more except for scheduling restrictions.
 
Whee!
 
It's unclear if next week's podcast is going to be delayed a day or two. We'll let you know when we know!
 
Anyway...
 
Today's breakdown:
"Da Vinci's Demons" (00:01:10 - 00:18:00)
"Nurse Jackie" (00:18:15 - 00:28:45)
"Veep" (00:28:50 - 00:36:05)
"Justified" finale (00:36:40 - 00:48:35)
"Shameless" finale (00:48:40 - 01:03:30)
"Mad Men" (01:03:30 - 01:31:55)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Listen: Queens Of The Stone Age's awesome 'My God Is the Sun'

Listen: Queens Of The Stone Age's awesome 'My God Is the Sun'

'... Like Clockwork' due in a month

Queens Of The Stoneage will release their first album in six years on June 4. Judging from first single "My God Is the Sun," it will be worth the wait.

Just listen to those crunchy guitars. You could spread butter on them and a sell 'em at Whole Foods but, like,   the hard rock version of Whole Foods, which I think may be opening in Norway later this year. Anyway. Every part is exacted and I feel an amphitheatrical rising in my chest when the bass takes the lead in those first few bars. Josh Homme -- who now goes by Joshua Homme, apparently -- keeps his operatic tenor in the same wheelhouse as ever, but the mix is all gnarls and groove.

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<p>Brad Paisley's &quot;Wheelhouse&quot;</p>

Brad Paisley's "Wheelhouse"

Credit: Sony Nashville/Arista

Album Review: Brad Paisley's wide-ranging 'Wheelhouse'

Hear his provocative song with LL Cool J, 'Accidental Racist'


Brad Paisley is country music’s consummate artist: he writes, sings, plays guitar, and entertains at a higher level in all four areas than most acts do in just one. On his ninth studio album, “Wheelhouse,” out Tuesday (9), he adds producer to the list.

“Wheelhouse” opens with a few seconds  of  the WW1 chestnut, “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm,”  which segues into “Southern Comfort Zone,” Paisley’s No. 1 hit about exploring the rest of the world, while still feeling there’s no place like home.

[More after the jump...]


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"So You Think You Can Dance"

"So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: Fox

'So You Think You Can Dance' to return May 14 with new guest judges

New series "Toxic Office" also gets an air date

True dance fans, rejoice. You no longer have to slog through amateur hour on "Dancing with the Stars," as Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" is set to return for its tenth season with a two-night premiere on Tues. May 14 at 8:00 p.m. and Wed. May 15 at 9:00 p.m.

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Listen: Selena Gomez releases new single 'Come & Get It'

Listen: Selena Gomez releases new single 'Come & Get It'

Tablas and little tiny race cars

Vanessa Hudgen's first song since starring in "Spring Breakers" was much inspired by Spring Break in general. For Selena Gomez' "Come & Get It?" Her new boppy, fun track has some Indian influence.

Check out the Disney star's full-throated singing on "Come & Get It," rife with tablas and adages that are most definitely not about Justin Bieber, according to her interview with Ryan Seacrest. The pop personality was the first to present Gomez' single this morning, and among the first to hear that harmlessly bitter-sweet bridge on the "death of me." It's backed by synths that sound like really little race cars racing.

Dust off your na na na nas and eh eh eh eh eh ehs: this is like Rihanna Lite and will undoubtedly be on all summer long. Is the the first of the 2013 Certified Summer Jams?

"Come & Get It" is off of Gomez' next, as-yet-untitled album, due this summer. The song goes on sale tonight.

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<p>David Geffen</p>

David Geffen

Credit: AP Photo

David Geffen donates $25 million to the Academy, gets a theater named after him

The David Geffen Theater will be a premiere-sized venue at the Academy Museum

Lots of rumblings from the lab over at the Academy these days. Details have surfaced on what to really expect from that big May 4 membership meeting and today the organization has announced that entertainment industry magnate David Geffen has donated $25 million to the Academy's ongoing Museum of Motion Pictures project, which is enough to land his name on the big theater planned for the space. Hawk Koch sure is making a lot of waves on his watch.

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<p>B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo in &quot;The Past.&quot;</p>

Bérénice Bejo in "The Past."

Credit: Memento Films

Bérénice Bejo not so silent in French trailer for Cannes-bound 'The Past'

No subtitles needed to get excited for Asghar Farhadi's follow-up to 'A Separation'

The lineup for next month's Cannes Film Festival is announced next week, and while much of it is still shrouded in mystery, at least one title we're certain will show up (and one of those we're most eagerly anticipating) is Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi's "The Past."

The Iranian director of the Oscar-winning "A Separation" has never played the Croisette before; "A Separation" and his 2009 breakout "About Elly" were both Berlinale premieres, but it's time for a move up the hierarchical festival ladder. And given that Farhadi's latest is a French production, Cannes is the obvious place to unveil it -- most likely in Competition. (It opens in France on May 15, presumably simultaneously with its festival premiere.)

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