Boardwalk Empire

Zodiac

Please read the following sentence: Look here, sister, start usin’ them getaway sticks or you’ll be takin’ a pill from this roscoe here.* Did that make any earthly sense? Yes? No? Well, either way we’ll be learning the ways of the noirish gentleman (and lady) soon. Hopefully. Because David Fincher and James Ellroy are in talks with HBO to start up a film noir TV series. From the Playlist, we’ve got a scant few details: it’ll be set in Los Angeles and steeped in the same general ’50s backdrop as previous Ellroy works (they cite “L.A. Confidential” as a biggie). And that’s about as far as “scant” gets us. The Playlist stresses that there’s “no deal in place,” but given the talent involved, HBO would be foolish to pass this one up. Fincher’s never made an out-and-out film noir (unless you count a couple of ads for The Gap), but he’s dabbled in things with noir-ish vibes to them. Like Se7en, which was kind of a horror movie and kind of a neo-noir but still had Morgan Freeman in a three-piece suit, trenchcoat and hat. Totally counts in that regard. Ellroy, by comparison, is 100% gumshoe, having written two of the best noirs in recent history: “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia.” Also, here’s a salient quote that should be mentioned every time his name comes up — Said by Ellroy, about Ellroy: “declarative and ugly and right there, punching you in the nards.”

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TIE ME UP discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Criterion) Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was a massive cross-Atlantic hit in the early 1990s, helping to launch the global career of Antonio Banderas. Following an obsessive but charming former mental patient (Banderas)  as he captures a porn star (Victor Abril) so that she learns to fall in love with him, the dark comedy was the import of the season on summer movie screens 24 years ago, accompanyingWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown as the one-two punch that made Almodovar an arthouse fixture. While Almodovar has gone through various stylistic phases since, Tie Me Up remains a prime example of his unique propensity for comic chaos that plunges unabashedly into the trenches of sexual id. The film’s success can be credited in part to its massive controversy: its sexual content threatened its US release with an X rating, which began a lawsuit that resulted in the creation of the NC-17 rating. The story behind the film is thus as much a part of it as the film itself, and Criterion justly adorns this set with a collection of new special features that illustrate how the film changed the career of those in front of and behind the camera, with Almodovar thankfully present across all of them. Hopefully this first release of Almodovar’s work promises many Criterion treatments of the Spanish auteur to come. […]

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discs floating city

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Floating City Bo Wah Chuen (Aaron Kwok) is a successful businessman in modern day Hong Kong, but his journey to the top is a trip through the city’s shifting history. Born with blue eyes and abandoned by his mother, Bo grows up with a strong work ethic and a desire to achieve more than his social status would allow. He eventually joins one of the biggest British companies in the colony and sets about making a name for himself while never forgetting the value of family and the concept of giving back. Director Yim Ho‘s film starts a bit slow as Bo’s early days as a child are explored, but once he grows into a young man (and Kwok appears on-screen) the film comes into focus as essentially the modern history of Hong Kong itself told on the intimate scale of one man’s life and family. We see the struggle of Chinese citizens dealing with their conquerors, but we also follow them out of British rule in 1997 to the destination city they inhabit now. There’s emotion and heart to be found here as family becomes the driving force, both on the personal level as well as the larger one, and it’s a valuable message complete with some gorgeous photography as well. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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Channel Guide - Large

This season, the most consistently compelling part of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire has been its opening title sequence. (Impossibly cool Steve Buscemi smoking a cigarette on the beach as the clouds morph above him, empty bottles of booze float onto the shore, and Brian Jonestown Massacre’s “Straight Up and Down” plays over the scene—it’s gorgeous.) Humdrum episode after humdrum episode, I’m left asking, “Why am I still watching this show? What kind of unholy power does it have over me?” Boardwalk Empire has never moved at a terribly fast pace. It’s about 1920s bootlegging and all of the politicking and scheming that comes with that, which gives most of the scenes between Atlantic City top dog Nucky Thompson (Buscemi) and his co-conspirators an expository quality—the show revolves around characters brokering shady deals or, as is the case with the current third season, discussing the Volstead Act ad nauseam. But there are also unexpected deaths, unlikely dalliances, and, of course, there’s delightful gangster drama. These flashier story elements in combination with the fact that patience is usually rewarded (sometimes with a character being scalped, other times, simply, with smart writing) make the slow pacing bearable. But we’re now nine episodes into the third season and Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden—one of the most complex, tortured, and surprising characters on the show—is hardly ever present and any time some glimmer of excitement pops up, it’s quickly stomped out.

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Searching for Sonny Elliot reluctantly heads home for his ten-year high school reunion, but instead of the expected disappointments he discovers a missing friend, a murder and a mystery. Writer/director Andrew Disney’s feature debut is an indie rarity in that it’s as funny as any big screen comedy. The laughs come in part due to Disney’s sharp and witty script, but credit should also go to the main cast of Jason Dohring, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney. The trio has a smooth and perfectly timed chemistry together, and they help make the film a joy to watch. The lovely Minka Kelly helps in that department as well. [Extras: Commentary, additional scenes, bloopers, featurettes] Also available on Blu-ray.

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When you take all of the distaste for remakes and reboots that’s out there and add it with the love that people have for Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film RoboCop, it adds up to a situation where not very many people are looking forward to José Padilha’s upcoming re-do of the material. And yet, with every casting announcement that this new RoboCop makes, it’s becoming harder and harder to not be at least a little excited about its possibilities. First off, Padilha cast an on-the-rise young actor who’s done nothing but impress so far named Joel Kinnaman in the title role. Then he systematically surrounded his star with supporting names that everyone loves, like Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Laurie, Abbie Cornish, Jay Baruchel, and Jackie Earle Haley. It would be hard to sneeze at that cast no matter what they were being assembled for, but get them all together for a post-apocalyptic tale of robot cops versus violent street gangs and evil corporations, and it’s not too difficult to start forgetting how much you dislike all of the remakes going on in Hollywood. I don’t know how they get ya, but that’s how they get ya.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that’s picking up the pieces as Hollywood takes off for an extended mid-week holiday weekend. Sure, the streets of Burbank are empty at the moment (quick, someone sneak onto the Paramount Lot and steal a rough cut of Star Trek 2!), but there’s plenty of news and notes to go around. We’re just that good, friends. We begin this evening with a shot of Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom) in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim wearing futuristic robot driving suits. Not only did Shock Till You Drop pull these from the pages of Entertainment Weekly, they also scored a pretty in-depth synopsis.

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Movie News: Dredd

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. That is all. We begin this evening with a look at Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd, the revival of the Judge Dredd franchise. First impressions: Karl Urban’s helmet is huge and Olivia Thirlby needs more leather. Or something along those lines. Either way, it’s a good conversation starter.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of movie and television news that throws caution to the wind, but never ever pees into the wind. That’s just not smart, friends. We begin this evening and this week with artist Kinjamin’s depiction of the Community cast as the characters from Street Fighter. It was found via Twitter, as posted by the show’s executive producer Dan Harmon. Needless to say, it’s inspired. So inspired, perhaps, that it makes us hope that Harmon is writing this one down. How about a Street Fighter episode in season four? Hey NBC, how about a season four?

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This Week in Blu-ray

Hey look, it’s an edition of This Week in Blu-ray. We’d bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? Anyway, it’s back to the grind with plenty of great new Blu-ray releases to talk about. Everything from one of the best shows on television to Brad Pitt revolutionizing the game of baseball to a few releases from previous weeks that we’re sad to have missed. This includes, of course, a release from last week that has us developing a severe case of mysophobia. Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season It has taken HBO something like forever to get their premiere drama out on Blu-ray and DVD, but the story of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and his power struggles at the top of 1920s Atlantic City is more than worth the wait. From an all-star cast led by Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon and Kelly McDonald (alongside Paz de la Huerta’s naked body), Boardwalk is one show that does not fail to keep its audience glued from episode to episode. Which makes it the perfect title for a Blu-ray purchase, as you’ll want to keep watching until you hit the end. And with its beautiful menus, well-designed and sturdy packaging and decent assortment of extras, the Blu-ray set feels right at home in the stylish world of Nucky and friends. It’s the collector’s item that you’ll want to have on your shelf for years to come.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Not a big or high profile week of releases, but there are some solid titles just the same. And there’s even a theme! Of sorts. More than a few of the titles below far exceeded my expectations including HBO’s Boardwalk Empire which I feared would be little more than a period piece Sopranos, Anna Faris’ latest comedy (What’s Your Number?) that I never expected to be so damn funny and charming, and my pick of the week about the accounting behind the business of baseball. Because seriously, how could that not be boring as dirt? As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Moneyball Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland A’s, tries to end his team’s losing streak with an unorthodox mathematical approach to picking and playing his players. We all know baseball is the most boring team-based sport in the world, so it would seem to follow that a two-hour plus movie about the behind the scenes management of a baseball team would be a complete and utter snooze-fest. But Moneyball is a fascinating watch even when Pitt and Jonah Hill are just bouncing stats back and forth and comparing players. The end feels a bit underwhelming, but getting there is far more interesting and engaging than any baseball game.

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The 11 Best TV Shows of 2011

Because it’s Saturday, we’re talking television. That’s when Amber Humphrey publishes her weekly entry of Channel Guide, our twice-weekly column on all things television. But there’s something else at work this week. It might be Saturday, but it’s also the final day of the year. And what better way to send off our coverage of television in the year 2011 than with a list of the shows that we loved most dearly. In order to do so, Channel Guiders Amber Humphrey and Mikela Floyd each contributed their picks for the five best shows of the year, in no particular order. In keeping with our ’11 Best’ theme for the Year in Review, FSR Publisher and closet television fanatic (don’t tell movies, we don’t want them to be jealous) Neil Miller throws in one final pick with his own best show of the year. All powers combined, they have unleashed our list of the 11 Best TV Shows of 2011.

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Ah, the Golden Globes. The redheaded stepchild of award show season – a veritable island of misfit toys in terms of pop cultural offerings. Ridiculous as they oftentimes may be, the picks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are now among us, and up for the inevitable scrutiny of the Internet as a whole. Film nominations aside, the small screen selections for this year’s statuettes are as random as ever. With regular contenders ineligible for nomination (Mad Men), and former heavy-hitters now struggling to stay relevant (I’m looking at you, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy), the pool of nominees is a hodgepodge one – often seeming as shallow as Paris Hilton. So just which shows should take home the statues when the Golden Globes are telecast January 15th? Here’s my breakdown of the nominees – from the way-to-go to the WTF.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Primetime Emmys broadcast. Winners will be highlighted in bold and you can check out the winners that were already announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The very first Emmy Award was given to a ventriloquist named Shirley Dinsdale who worked with a puppet called Judy Splinters. Is that significant? Of course it is. That fact coupled with the design of the award itself – a woman holding an atom – represent the true heart of television’s most significant celebration: artistic inspiration, scientific technology, and wooden humanoids that only talk with a hand shoved up their back. Ponder that while you bask in the glory of the victorious. Here are the winners of the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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Guess what everyone, the Emmys are back in town! Aren’t you excited?! No, that’s okay, neither am I. Just another night for some of Hollywood’s biggest talents to pat themselves on the back for making pretend (really good pretend, though). But you know what, we here at FSR will treat this with the utmost respect that we do all awards ceremonies. That said, before we get to the predictions, let’s take a look at some of the top winners from the Creative Arts Awards portion of the Emmys which were awarded last week: Futurama walked away with the top honor for animated program based on the episode ‘The Late Philip J. Fry,’ beating out front runners South Park and The Simpsons who dominated the category between 2000 and 2009. This also marks the second time Futurama has won the award for Best Animated Series. Maurice LaMarche also walked away with the award for Best Voice-Over Performance for his work on the series as Lrr and Orson Welles. Gwyneth Paltrow took the award for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Holly Holiday on Glee. Game of Thrones took the award for Best Title Sequence. Boardwalk Empire took the win for Best Visual effects beating out the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Deadliest Catch won the award for Best Reality Series (a win that is more than acceptable in this category). Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? For tonight, it’s simply a movie news column working on a very, very slow news day. So it has opted for fun instead of informative. It’s betting you won’t mind. We begin tonight with the thought of big, badass robots killing the whole of humanity in Robopocalypse, a film that director Steven Spielberg will now direct for July 3, 2013. Fox and Dreamworks were announced as the studios putting up the money today, which means that Daniel H. Wilson’s excellent book will finally get some big screen love. If done right, it could be massive.

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With premiere week over I’ve compiled a list of the week’s top premieres from each night. The winner of each night is based upon the quality of the writing, the shows entertainment value and if it’s a new series, the shows sustainability. This year had some extremely heavy hitters and some of the best performances we have seen on the small screen. So without further ado, here are the winners of the FSR Fall 2010 Watch List (please note that this list only applies to shows that started before or during the week of September 19th). Sunday: Boardwalk Empire In what should come as no surprise, Boardwalk Empire was top dog on Sunday. I’m not big into period pieces which is why I really never got into Mad Men, but Scorsese has made me fall in love with the 20’s and Atlantic City. Steve Buscemi is a great lead and a guy I can’t wait to watch every week. If only Scorsese could direct every episode and not just the pilot.

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Culture Warrior

I really love Mad Men. I talk about it a lot. Since The Wire ended in 2008, and I haven’t seen any episodes of Boardwalk Empire yet, then as far as my knowledge takes me it’s the best damn show currently on television. Nothing I’m saying here is necessarily new, but Mad Men effectively does a great many things I’ve never seen television do before in that it 1) delivers is an incredibly entertaining and engaging media object while it uses its protagonists to criticize and reveal the potentially manipulative processes of media itself, 2) interrogates any continuous notion of the ever-interpretationally-oscillating “good old days” by showing how they were neither that good nor that long ago, thereby criticizing our culture’s all-too-convenient rotating manufacture of nostalgia, 3) utilizes the past to criticize white male heteronormative hegemony and reveal a systematic culture of sexism, racism, and homophobia, and all the while 4) creates compelling drama as manifested by ambiguous, layered characters with the combination of beautiful cinematography and impeccable production design. Mad Men, in short, is an engrossing, enjoyable, and thought-provoking series in unprecedented ways. But for a show to engage in such a rare criticism of a cultural moment, a bit of negotiation is required. And it is in this respect that some major problems with the show have arisen recently.

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Today begins a week long TV feature on FSR, as this week is officially premiere week for all major networks. So we’re here to tell all the good stuff premiering (both new and returning), or in some cases what has already begun. So get your DVR remote ready because this is the first of six all new FSR WATCH LISTs. The first night on our list is Sunday. Sunday is notorious for being both a haven of creation, and a pit of downfall for many TV series. So let’s begin…

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