GAME OF THRONES S04E03

"Breaker of Chains"

"Do I have a champion?" Dany (Emilia Clarke) asks towards the end of "Breaker of Chains." It's a question that a lot of people—particularly, but not exclusively, women—ask in one form or another throughout the episode. Will someone stand up for me? Will someone protect me? Is there someone I can count on to do the right thing?  Continue reading

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ORPHAN BLACK S02E01

"Nature Under Constraint and Vexed"

ORPHAN-BLACK-2x01---'Nature-Under-Constraint-and-Vexed'

This week, I'm beginning ongoing coverage of Orphan Black's second season. This first review is a bit longer than future reviews will be. (I haven't written about the show before, and—though I'm not going to attempt to summarize the first season here—I do have some preliminary thoughts to get out of the way.) 

As with all my TV reviews, I'm assuming that, if you're reading this, you're all caught up with the episodes aired to date, including this one. So, if you haven't watched the season premiere yet, do that first.  Continue reading

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GAME OF THRONES S04E02

"The Lion and the Rose"

Yes, I know: all anyone really wants to do after viewing "The Lion and the Rose" is celebrate the fact that—for just about the first time since Game of Thrones went on the air—someone we didn't like actually died. I mean, there have been a few other reprehensible characters who have met ugly ends along the way, but those were mostly minor-league sadists: soldiers and slaveholders and torturers and the like. (I'd argue that the last time a major character got what was coming to him was in Season One's "A Golden Crown," and even there Viserys had a pathetic humanity that made his murder rather more tragic than triumphant.) For nearly thirty-two episodes, we've seen the good suffer, and we've seen the bad prosper, and we've seen very little evidence of anything resembling justice. Continue reading

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OCULUS (2014)

Movie Review

To say that Oculus is a better-than-average scary movie is to acknowledge the tragically lowered expectations of the genre itself. Oculus is reasonably well acted, it manages some creepy moments, and writer/director Mike Flanagan generates some real energy by finding fairly original things to do with the film's structure. Shouldn't that be enough to recommend it? What more could we possibly ask of a haunted house movie?

Well, of course, there is a lot more we might ask, and that something more is the difference between an enjoyable-but-disposable experience and an actual movie. Oculus shows some promise, but ultimately it's satisfied with being simply competent. You can almost feel the creators saying, "It's just a scary movie." Continue reading

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GAME OF THRONES S04E01

"Two Swords"

GAME OF THRONES 4x01 - Two Swords

It may seem a strange thing to say about a massively successful TV show with three full seasons already under its belt, but this season will be make-it-or-break-it time for HBO's Game of Thrones. Executive Producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have said that when they originally envisioned building a TV series around George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the event that called to them most strongly was the Red Wedding. ("When we read the books, we knew we just wanted to get to this scene, and do this 'holy shit' moment justice," Weiss has said.) In the penultimate episode of Season Three, "The Rains of Castamere," Benioff and Weiss finally got to do that moment justice, and bring the main storyline that had begun back in Episode One to a shattering, irreversible climax.  Continue reading

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

Movie Review

CAPTAIN AMERICA - THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

Captain America's first film—the underrated Captain America: The First Avenger—took place almost entirely during the WWII era that spawned the character, and had a refreshingly idealistic, gee-whiz feel that was entirely appropriate. Now, Captain America: The Winter Soldier—directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, and loosely based on a popular comic run written by Ed Brubaker—finds the revived Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) navigating the murkier waters of what America has become in the 21st century.

Continue reading

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NOAH (2014)

The Book of Darren, Chapters 1-34

1 And so it came to pass, in the two thousandth and fourteenth year, that Darren Aronofksy turned his eyes towards the Powers That Be.

2 Powers, spake he, Give to me monies totaling twenty-five and one hundred thousand thousands, and I shall deliver unto You the story of Noah. Continue reading

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