Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
A Bolivian family lives a life of entitlement in a changing La Paz
"Southern District," playing as part of Sundance's World Cinema Narrative Competition, is very likely the best Bolivian film this critic has ever seen.
Sure, that speaks to my personal limitations in the field of South American cinema, but it's not entirely faint praise. Juan Carlos Valdivia's drama is a formal stunner, taking a premise that could have become boring and claustrophobic and yielding something that's frequently engrossing and always technically compelling, even for viewers lacking in more than a rudimentary Bolivian socio-historical context.
[My review of "Southern District" -- a short-ish review, probably -- after the break.]
New doc provides startling insights into The Killing Fields of Cambodia
For most audiences, Roland Joffe's Oscar-winning "The Killing Fields" stands as the definitive portrait of the horrors inflicted by the Khmer Rouge on the people of Cambodia. As powerful as that drama is, though, it's still a glimpse at Pol Pot's bloody cleansing regime through Western eyes.
Premiering as part of Sundance's World Cinema Documentary Competition, "Enemies of the People" takes its place as a definitive take on the Killing Fields, looking at the atrocities through Cambodian eyes and with the benefit of three decades of historical distance.
"Enemies of the People" is directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath and was certainly the most powerful film I saw in my first day at the Festival.
[Full review of "Enemies of the People" after the break...]
Hitchcock meets Hitchcock in Johan Grimonprez's Cold War docu-treatise
One of the buzz-words of Sundance 2010 is "rebel," conveniently usable as either a noun or a verb. Of the six movies I saw on Friday (Jan. 22) -- a number I have no intention of equalling in the days to come -- no film fulfilled that edict to be rebellious with as much zeal as Johan Grimonprez's "Double Take," part of Sundance's New Frontiers program.
I could write thousands of words trying to explain how "Double Take" is structured and it functions, but at 1 a.m. that might not be a good idea. Suffice to say that almost no simple description of "Double Take" can do the film justice and no list of genres could properly contain it.
[Full review of "Double Take" after the break...]
Danish director Mads Brugger failed to expose the truth about North Korea, so he added a voice-over
Jacob of 'The Red Chapel'
A potentially eye-opening premise goes astray in Mads Brugger's "The Red Chapel," playing as part of the World Documentary Competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
[Description and review of "The Red Chapel" after the break...]
Shorts Program I includes new films by Spike Jonze and Rory Kennedy
On Thursday (Jan. 21) night, after more than 30 hours in Park City, Utah, I finally got around to doing a not-so-unusual thing for the Sundance Film Festival: I saw some films.
As Drew McWeeny has already discussed, HitFix is hitting Sundance hard, with five of us on the ground seeing movies, listening to the bands and talking to the stars. As part of our effort to showcase the breadth and depth of the Sundance experience, I'm personally going to be trying to wander off the beaten path, catching as many documentaries and World Cinema offerings as I can. I may not see that many movie and TV stars testing their indie cred, but instead I'll see movies from places like Bolivia. And isn't that what Sundance is really about? I sure hope so.
Kicking things off for my 2010 Sundance experience was the Opening Night presentation of Shorts Program I, featuring Spike Jonze's "I'm Here," Rory Kennedy's "The Fence," François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain's "Logorama" and Patrik Eklund's "Seeds of the Fall"...
A review of Sundance 2010's Shorts Program I after the break...
Joey, do you like TV shows about gladiators? Starz offers all of the violence, nudity and Romans you can handle.
Andy Whitfield of 'Spartacus: Blood & Sand'
The new Starz drama "Spartacus: Blood & Sand" is an orgiastic tidal wave of ludicrousness.
It's a no-punches-pulled landslide of viscera, softcore sexuality, salty language, historical anachronisms and masculine posturing. And, as such, some people are going to love the heck out of "Spartacus: Blood & Sand."
For other viewers, the headache will set in within five minutes and never subside, but at least "Spartacus" doesn't aim for delayed reactions. The Roman gonzo-trashiness starts early and carries on with an admirable persistence.
One thing is for sure: You've never seen anything like "Spartacus: Blood & Sand" before, unless you've seen "300," Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus" and "Caligula" all in the same night and had horrifying dreams making a mash-up of those three films. If you've done that, then you know exactly what to expect from "Spartacus: Blood & Sand."
Full review of "Spartacus: Blood & Sand" after the break...
Billy Zane terrorizes a group of young lawyers on a 'Grey's Anatomy'-esque legal drama
Matt Long and Tina Majorino of 'The Deep End'
Credit: ABC Family
With "FlashForward" taking an extended hiatus until March, ABC is using the Thursday night 8 p.m. slot to launch "The Deep End." Proximity to "Grey's Anatomy" is no coincidence, because if imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery, "The Deep End" is flattering Shonda Rhimes' popular medical drama to the extreme. Think of it as "Grey's Attorney" (not to be confused with "Grey's Astronomy," as I dubbed the brief summer run of "Defying Gravity").
Created by David Hemingson, "The Deep End" is mighty familiar, but the young, attractive cast is enthusiastic enough to yield some amusing moments, even if the odds of the show eliciting any real passion are low.
[More on "The Deep End" after the break...]
Ryan Murphy and company talk Jennifer Lopez, summer tour and more...
Because I like to complain (part and parcel of being a critic, I suppose), I could detail the arduousness of a day with six set visits on three studio lots in the middle of a torrential downpour of Biblical proportions. But any day you get to sit in the McKinley High School choir room listening to Lea Michele and Amber Riley sing is probably complaint-proof.
Millions of "Glee" fans would certainly agree.
That's where the Television Critics Association found itself late Monday (Jan. 18) afternoon, on uncomfortable chairs on a Paramount lot stage, listening to Riley singing "Don't Make Me Over" (a number cut from an episode earlier this season) and Michele reprising her show-stopping take on "Maybe This Time." The assembled reporters were duly impressed, but the more surprising thing is how, even after more than half a season of production and a summer tour, the members of the cast still appear love watching each other perform. The smiles and enthusiasm from all of the stars and supporting players were utterly genuine, an authenticity that has carried over in the show.
Still glowing after their big Golden Globe win on Sunday, Ryan Murphy and the "Glee" cast fielded questions for a half-hour. Highlights are after the break.
Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak and company met with reporters at the Buy More
Adam Baldwin, Chris Fedak, Josh Schwartz, Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski on the set of 'Chuck'
Credit: Warner Bros TV
The Television Critics Association has become a regular fixture at the "Chuck" set on the Warner Brothers lot. We know the different employee morale signs hanging around the Buy More, price breaks on high definition TVs which real DVDs are hiding on the movie racks.
We don't know any new secrets regarding what to expect from the rest of the third season of "Chuck," but that's just because Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak and company are a secretive lot.
Here are a few highlights from what was discussed by Schwartz, Fedak, Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, guest star Brandon Routh and the rest of the "Chuck" team during the TCA's visit on Monday (Jan. 18) afternoon.
[Click through... No spoilers for the future, really, but if you're behind on "Chuck" there are spoilers for the past. But those aren't really spoilers, now are they?]
"Chuck" Highlights from the TCA Q&A Held at the Buy More Set on the Warner Bros Lot:
It's a family dramedy with an Old School WB flavor, if that kind of thing appeals to you
Brittany Robertson of 'Life Unexpected'
Credit: The CW
In the balance, The WB was the winner of the great UPN-WB merge of 2006. Four years later, "Supernatural," "Smallville" and "One Tree Hill" all remain on The CW in various capacities, carrying the WB banner. Meanwhile, UPN is represented by aging reality hit "America's Next Top Model."
The reformatted CW has stuck mostly to The WB's core of younger female viewers, largely jettisoning the "urban" sensibilities (i.e. shows featuring pretty people who aren't white) that characterized UPN. But despite adhering to The WB model, The CW has struggled with developing shows from a vein that's recognizably WB-y. The new female-friendly CW mode is made of cattier stuff, with shows like "Gossip Girl" and "90210" and "Vampire Diaries" lacking in the sweetness and sentimental streak that seemed to characterize my mental image of The WB's best.
The CW actually took a respectable stab at an Old School WB show last fall with "Privileged," driven by what ought to have been a star-making turn for Joanna Garcia.
It's too bad that "Privileged" didn't stick around, because it would have made a fine pairing with "Life Unexpected," an even better Old School WB series premiering on The CW on Monday (Jan. 18) night.
[Review after the break...]