HBO

Paramount Pictures

If there’s anything that HBO has figured out this year, it’s that True Detective‘s success means that audiences are more than willing to sit down for an hour of creepiness, darkness, peculiar monologues and mysteries upon mysteries. So it’s fitting that a series based on Shutter Island, the 2010 psychological thriller from Martin Scorsese that pitted Leonardo DiCaprio against the staff of a rundown mental institution, and ultimately his own head, is coming to the network. Tentatively titled Ashecliffe, as in the name of the mental facility located right on scenic Shutter Island (You’ll never want to leave), HBO and Paramount Television have teamed up to bring the adaptation to life, with Scorsese actually set to direct the pilot and Dennis Lehane, the author of the novel that inspired the film, writing the script, and DiCaprio one of many executive producers. The series is set in the years before Shutter Island takes place, and will explore the past of the hospital. As if the current state of the institution (in 1954, as the film was set) wasn’t corrupt and decrepit enough, it’s clear that before US Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) even stepped foot on that disgusting soil decades of corruption were already underway.

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The Leftovers

No, it wasn’t easy. My personal viewing experience of the first two episodes of HBO’s The Leftovers has stuck with me throughout the entire summer, and I have zero problem with telling people that watching two hours of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta‘s series actually made me feel physically ill, it was just that heavy. The Leftovers may still not be binge-watch television, but it has finally become must-watch television. With just two episodes left, it was about time that some kind of tide turned. The HBO series, inspired by Perrotta’s novel of the same name, was never intended to be feel-good television, just by virtue of the fact that it’s entirely centered on a global-scale tragedy. The series picks up three years after some kind of “event” has whisked away 2% of the world’s population, enough time to sort of get things back to normal, but not long enough to really heal wounds. The lingering sense that something else is about to happen — and soon! — doesn’t help. Set primarily in the small town of Mapleton, New York, the series follows a medium-sized cast of characters as they (continue to) deal with the fallout from said event. Some people lost everyone that day, some people just lost one person, some people lost their loved ones later to outside forces. Still, the entire program is about loss. It’s hard to feel good about that.

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The Leftovers

Hey, there. How are you? Are you okay? How is HBO’s The Leftovers treating you? It’s okay to be tender about it! You can even get mad! Any emotions are welcome here. Since it debuted in June, the latest HBO series has garnered responses that run the gamut. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Maybe some people are in the middle there, but who knows! Some people have already given up on it. Some people continue to plow through. Here at Film School Rejects, we’re into completionism, so yes, we’ve (really, though, I mean me) kept up our watching. It’s gotten better. Sort of. Now the series, pulled from Tom Perrotta‘s novel of the same name and created by Perrotta and showrunner Damon Lindelof, will have another chance to win over viewers — a whole new season, actually. HBO has announced that it will be bringing back their summertime series for another season. There’s no word on when the Sunday night show will debut said second season, but we’re willing to bet we might have another summer of sadness to look forward to in 2015. Putting this thing in the winter might be a bit too much to bear anyway.

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The Leftovers

There shouldn’t be any question that HBO’s latest much-watch series, the Damon Lindelof- and Tom Perrotta-created The Leftovers, is a feel-good affair, but let’s clarify things, just for good measure: this is not a feel-good affair. Based on Perrotta’s novel of the same name, the series (which premiered last night on the cable channel) picks up three years after two percent of the world’s population went – poof – up in totally metaphorical smoke. Two percent of the world, just gone, vanished, vamoosed, missing, possibly raptured (though the first episode of the series does, quite memorably, include a talking head news program that features a host that refuses to acknowledge the possibility that this was “the Rapture” or in any way a religious act), leaving behind the vast majority of the human population, all damaged in their own way. No, really damaged. The whole thing is black as night – The Leftovers isn’t witty like Election or biting like Little Children, Perrotta’s best known big screen adaptions – but it’s moving and unnerving in its own way. The show is mostly without levity or humor, and is often so self-serious as to feel a smidge too heavy-handed (mainly thanks to an overwrought and occasionally awkward score and a series of smash cuts that grate), but it’s still entertaining and very watchable – though binge watching seems particularly ill-advised. In fact, The Leftovers is a show that’s designed to not appeal to the binging masses, if only because it’s too damn […]

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HBO

Remembering the Artist Robert De Niro, Sr. was made not out of desire, but necessity. For most artists, recognition is what keeps them going, pushing them forward onto the next painting, film, book, etc. The story of Robert De Niro Sr., the subject of this HBO documentary short, is a painfully familiar one — an artist who flirted with fame only to fade into oblivion. We open with the 1950 and 1960s, where a coterie of artists, dubbed the New York School of Art, have become the sensation of the art world. Members of this School of Art include Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko and most importantly, Robert De Niro Sr. He was a figurative artist known for still-life paintings, and as we’re shown throughout the movie, his work was straight forward and free of pretension, inspired by the French avant-garde artists like Pierre Bonnard and Icarus Matisse. To the tune of classical music, Remembering the Artist is interspersed with talking head interviews, personal footage from Sr.’s adult life, Robert De Niro reading excerpts from his father’s journal and, most importantly, the subject’s revelatory artwork. In 40-minutes, the film compacts a lot of information in a short period of time. But the film isn’t an exercise in information inundation. Directors Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz work diligently in not wasting a single frame. Each snippet of information presented feels vital to De Niro Sr.’s story.

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True Detective

True Detective is in a slightly difficult position right now. The first season of HBO’s detective story was a fantastic eight hours of television. The central mystery itself was fairly routine, but that’s not what the first season was about: it was about seeing Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) wildly different world views conflict and come together. Each second with Marty and Rust is a treat. Their limited exposure (in an age of 9-season TV franchises) is part of what makes the experience special. Those episodes said everything we needed to know about their relationship. Since they’re not the focus of season 2, show creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto has to create a new dynamic that will be inescapably compared to the star-gazers. Considering how people responded to Marty and Rust, that won’t be easy. Right now all we know about season 2 is it’s set in California and focuses on two men and one woman. One of the show’s executive producers, Scott Stephens, participated in a panel at the Los Angeles’ Produced By Conference over the weekend. While he couldn’t discuss any specifics, Stephens did explain how much more challenging the production will be on season 2.

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Robb Stark and Talisa in Game of Thrones

What happens after The Red Wedding? With Game of Thrones back for its fourth season on Sunday, we’re delivering a singularly-dedicated episode where A Cast of Kings co-host Joanna Robinson and Broken Projector fan favorite Neil Miller join us for a spoiler-less look at what lies ahead (besides Winter). Neil has already seen the first three episodes and reviewed the spirit of the season, and we’re up on all the books, so we follow up the safe portion with a segment focused on spoilers that might shock and amaze virgin viewers. Something for everyone! Except people who’ve never seen the show or read the books. Sorry about that. You should follow Joanna (@jowrotethis), Neil (@rejects), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #54 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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300: Rise of an Empire

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Getting On HBO

Nothing is less interesting to me than a TV series about doctors. Hospital shows take place in astoundingly self-centered, even self-helpy, universes where strangers suffer and die so doctors can learn life lessons. (Everything happens for a reason!) Week after week, procedural medical shows like House, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, and ER wheel(ed) in opportunities for thin, beautiful, hyper-articulate doctors to demonstrate their intelligence and/or compassion. TV’s idealization of doctors personally strikes me as rather strange, as no one I know actually likes them. (Calm down, doctor readers. I’m sure your mothers love you very much.) Big Love showrunners  Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer apparently agree, because they adapted the doctor-skewering BBC series Getting On for American viewers. (They kept the name.) The HBO series is a warts-and-all look at hospital life, taking place in a geriatric wing overseen by a physician-researcher who studies shit. She’s trying to prove that, contrary to conventional medical knowledge, there aren’t seven, but sixteen types of feces. “It’s the 21st fucking century!” she explains.

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Jamie King Private School Girl

Meet Ja’mie King. She’s seventeen, Australian, rich, “a step above hot,” and probably the only overtly racist and homophobic protagonist on TV. Played by 38-year-old male comedian Chris Lilley as a caricature of entitled teenagerdom, Ja’mie also feels like a necessary creation in our New Gilded Age, a well-drawn but ultimately fictional straw woman toward whom viewers can channel their indignation against the one-percenters.

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2014 is almost upon us, and as loyal viewers of things on screens, we must prepare in advance for all that must be watched in the coming year. HBO feels the same way, it seems; in the last day or two they’ve begun rolling out previews for anything and everything available on the network next year. First came Girls, which we saw last week. Now comes a fresh crop of premiering TV for us to devote our lives to and/or quickly grow bored of. And yes, I know that “it’s not TV. It’s HBO,” but were I to actually write using that descriptor, this whole thing would be impossible to read. So let us begin. First to premiere (on January 12th) is True Detective. We’ve already seen a trailer for this one a few months ago, and this “Slow Boil” trailer is actually quicker and shorter than the original one. So no points there. But we’re given a few new tidbits that imply detectives Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey have, in fact, done something not-so-good somewhere between the twin timelines of 1995 and 2012. Also, keep your eyes peeled for Michael Potts, who, to all who’ve ever burned through five season of The Wire in a single weekend, will be instantly recognizable as Brother Mouzone. Glance below to watch.

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news headhunters hbo series

Remakes get a bad rap for some legitimate reasons. From the sheer creative laziness involved to the unfortunate reality that such a high percentage of them are far from good, the mere announcement of one is enough to trigger disappointment. That response is often heightened when the original film is not only fantastic, but in a foreign language too. Why? Because people shouldn’t be so afraid to read some damn subtitles. Of course it’s worth noting that for every ten worthless remakes there’s often one really good film that finds new fans and just maybe becomes a classic in its own right. Think The Thing, The Fly, The Departed, The Ring, The True Grit… So when Summit picked up the rights to the Norwegian thriller Headhunters last year some of us chose to be optimistic about the news. Was a remake necessary? Hell no, but with Mark Wahlberg interested in starring and Sacha Gervasi attached to direct it looked to be heading in the right direction. The original film, like the Jo Nesbo novel it’s adapted from, is a fast-moving and deft mix of suspense and black comedy that feels like a darker After Hours with its abrupt timeline and series of unfortunate events occurring throughout the lead character’s arc. It’s a quick tale by necessity of the plot, so of course the feature remake has been scrapped in favor of stretching it beyond necessity and recognition into a TV series for HBO. I can’t prove it, but I have to think this is somehow Peter Jackson’s fault.

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Lightning McQueen

“Six Degrees of Separation meets Shame.” Sounds like a decent idea, no? A few high society hijinks here, a touch of devastating emotional trauma there, and all wrapped up in a fancy New York-tinted bow. The only thing better would be if you could somehow include Shame director Steve McQueen in the process. Conveniently enough, that’s exactly what’s happening over at HBO. McQueen has assembled a motley crew that includes hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Matthew Michael Carnahan (co-writer of World War Z) and a handful of The King‘s Speech producers for a TV drama described as “Six Degrees of Separation meets Shame.” According to Deadline, the project is “an exploration of a young African-American man’s experience entering New York high society, with a past that may not be what it seems.” McQueen will direct and will share writing duties with Carnahan.

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Eastbound and Down

In just a few more days, the new TV season will be upon us. That means this weekend is the last chance for a binge-watch to catch up on a show you’ve been meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to yet. If you’re looking for one last mini-marathon, you could definitely do a lot worse than HBO’s Danny McBride vehicle Eastbound and Down. With only seven half-hour episodes in each season, it’ll be a cinch to run through the previous seasons before the fourth premieres on Sunday, September 29. For the duration of its existence, Eastbound has been the towheaded stepchild of HBO’s comedy lineup, itself a mere offshoot of the cable network’s programming. Curb Your Enthusiasm exploited the absence of new Seinfeld episodes to neurotic glory, while Veep enjoys star power in Julia Louis-Dreyfus and a BBC pedigree — it sure looks and sounds like a great show. But both series have a bitter-tasting tinge of rich people whipping themselves into a froth over trivialities.

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trailer true detective

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are taking the leap to HBO like so many great Buscemis and Daniels and McBrides and Jessica Parkers before them, for True Detective, a gritty and sprawling crime drama helmed by Cary Fukunaga. Though many of you probably saw the trailer after the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire last night, those who missed it can check it out right now. McConaughey and Harrelson play Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, respectively, two Lousiana detectives entwined in a 17-year chase for a serial killer. A freakish murder in 1995 that would not look out of place on the set of NBC’s Hannibal is the basis for their investigation; the series appears to jump back and forth between their initial finding and 2012, when the case is reopened. Watch the trailer here:

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review newsroom election night part 1

Two weeks ago, when Operation Genoa proved to be a sham, Charlie was in despair. In ACN’s top executive suite, he was ready to fall on his sword and make a big, bloody mess of himself by Leona and Rebecca’s (Marcia Gay Harden) Prada slingbacks. “Leona, we don’t have the trust of the public anymore!” he cried, his voice breaking. But the head honchess who had tried to get Will fired in The Newsroom‘s first season now seems to be in love him, as well as Charlie and Mac. “Get it back!” she coached with exasperation. “Election Night, Part I” covers the fallout from that moment: Charlie cracking the whip on his employees, his persistent attempts to quit to prevent the airing of ACN’s dirty laundry, Will and MacKenzie’s never-ending game of competitive guilt-tripping disguised as flirting. But a show that doesn’t ever leave the studio — seriously, did HBO use up all its production budget on Game of Thrones? — will have a hard time getting its viewers to care about what happens beyond its borders. For all of his huffing and puffing, then, Charlie’s threats that the sky is falling on “News Night” because it’s lost the trust of the audience carries absolutely no meaning when we never spend time with that fictional audience. Nor is the program imperiled by low ratings, as it’s apparently not subject to them. Nor will the dirty laundry sully them. In fact, Charlie’s whirlwind of dejection matters only insofar as it affects the newsroom’s activities, as when his ultimatums — Be perfect or […]

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review behind the candelabra

There seems to have been a decisive change in the mainstream biopic recently. Instead of attempting to chronicle a public figure’s emergence into renown from childhood to death, several biopics find their subject in a way that assumes the achievement of fame to be a given from the get-go. Movies like Capote, Invictus, Hitchcock, and Lincoln (not to mention the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks) choose to examine a particular episode in the life of a well-known person instead of justify its subject’s achievement of fame by depicting a summary trajectory of youth to adult achievement. Sure, J. Edgar and The Iron Lady stand out as conspicuous exceptions, as signs that the conventions of the biopic are still alive and well. But this newer approach to the biopic (Invictus excepted) seems to allow a great deal of opportunities that conventional biopics don’t (to the point where they’re arguably no longer biopics): the ability to understand the exceptional individual not through a portrait of their entire life, but through a detailed examination of a more narrative-friendly set of select events and circumstances drawn from a particular point in their life. Such is the same with Steven Soderbergh’s latest (and purportedly last) film, HBO’s Behind the Candelabra. By taking a more modest and focused route to the biopic, Candelabra is a close and fascinating examination of the bizarre phenomenon of fame itself.

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girls patrick wilson

Kate Erbland and I don’t quite agree on this week’s episode of HBO’s Girls. It’s a shame, too, as we’ve been in such beautiful synch recently. The ep opens with a brief appearance by Ray (Alex Karpovsky) before Hannah (Lena Dunham) disappears down guest star Patrick Wilson‘s rabbit hole for a few days of the high life. That’s it… no Marnie, no Jessa, no Shoshanna and still(!) no goddamn Adam. What’s the deal? Keep reading as Kate and I struggle to answer that question below:

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Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Alex Gibney has relayed shocking stories about the US torture regime and the fall of Enron, but with Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, he turns his documentary cameras on a massive cover up within the walls of the Catholic Church. Obviously a highly charged subject, the movie focuses on the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse stemming from a priest who molested hundreds of deaf children over a span of several decades. It was one of our 12 Best Docs of 2012, and with its release on HBO this coming Monday (February 4th, 9pm ET/11pm PT), it’s a good time to take a look at the trailer for a movie that’s undoubtedly difficult to watch:

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Girls, It

It’s only appropriate on the morning after Lena Dunham‘s Girls picked up two Golden Globes and the HBO series debuted its second season opener that Rob Hunter and I unveil our new Girls column. And, here it is! Just kidding (only sort of). In this new feature, Rob and I will break down the latest episodes of the scripted hit and then talk about them via email for as long as we can stand talking to each other about a scripted television show via email. We know you can’t wait to get inside our heads when it comes to half-hour series about unhappy twentysomething scraping by in the far reaches of Brooklyn, and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this new feature. Much like a still-blossoming Brooklyn twentysomething, this column is still in development, and we appreciate any feedback, hate mail, and demands you feel like sending our way. Or cake. We like cake, too. Without further ado, after the break, Rob and I share our thoughts on the first season, recap some of our favorite bits from last night’s episode, and get deep about Adam finally getting honest.

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