HBO

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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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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Toby Jones and Sienna Miller in The Girl

The girl in The Girl  is Tippi Hedren as played by Sienna Miller, and the first teaser trailer for the HBO Films project which premieres on October 20th uses a familiar rhyme scheme in order to haunt. Of course, it helps that the limerick is spoken by Toby Jones deep-voicing his way through Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic drawl. It’s a goose bump machine which hints at Hitch as the villain. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see a real-life story told with a bit of melodrama and framed in the same genre that Hitchcock worked best in. Hedren, like the young girl in the limerick, sounds like she’s knowingly in for some psychological torture, and anyone who knows the history of the production (or Hedren’s views on Hitchcock following it) are probably going to see hell by way of a movie set. Check the teaser trailer out for yourself:

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Culture Warrior

Two nights ago, Aaron Sorkin’s heavily-anticipated and rather polarizing new show The Newsroom aired its debut on HBO. With the pilot’s central focus on the BP oilrig explosion, the premium cable network has established itself (alongside with their recent TV movies) as the primary venue for dramatizing recent political history. However, other contemporary television shows have addressed political issues well beyond the headlines of the past few years. In this election year, it seems that TV comedies and dramas from several networks have a surprising amount to say about the political process in a way that resonates with this uncertain, often frustrating moment. Here’s how The Newsroom stacks up against a triumvirate of other TV shows with overtly political themes…

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Culture Warrior

Last week, Thomas Catan and Amy Schatz of The Wall Street Journal published an article about the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation into whether or not cable companies are manipulating consumers’ access to streaming competitors of television content in order to reduce competition. The investigation’s central question is this: are cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner setting data caps to limit download time, speed, and amount of content in order to stave consumers off from using alternatives like Hulu and Netflix? Furthermore, the DOJ is investigating whether or not selective data limits applied to certain streaming outlets (like the fact that Comcast’s data limits can apply to streaming Hulu, but not Comcast’s own Xfinity services) violates Comcast’s legally-binding oath to not “unreasonably discriminate” against competitors. According to the WSJ, “Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday suggested he had sympathy for those who want to ‘cut the cord’ rather than paying for cable channels they don’t watch. At a Senate hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) said cable bills are ‘out of control’ and consumers want to watch TV and movies online. Mr. Holder responded, ‘I would be one of those consumers.’” What’s most important about this story for TV consumers is not so much the specific outcomes of this investigation (though that will no doubt have wide-ranging but uncertain implications), but the fact that lawmakers, regulators, and the industry will continue to be forced to recognize new distinctions being made between cable companies, networks, and individual shows as citizens increasingly […]

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If you’ve never seen Jonathan Ames’s recently cancelled HBO show Bored to Death, you might want to brush up on the premium cable mystery/comedy show, for costar Ted Danson recently suggested in an interview with French journalist Pierre Lenglas (according to Lenglas’s Twitter account) that a feature-length Bored to Death movie might be in the works. To be fair, nothing official has been announced and, according to Vulture, HBO qualified Danson’s statement my stating that the creators and talent of the show are only in the early stages of conversation. But with Jason Schwartzman and Zack Galifianakis rounding out the show’s cast, a Bored to Death movie might make quite a bit of sense. Bored to Death ran for three seasons from 2009-2011, and chronicled the misadventures of Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman), a struggling writer who becomes an amateur detective in order to get over being dumped by his girlfriend Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby). His best friend Ray (Galifianakis) is a deeply insecure comic book artist who struggles to maintain power in his relationship with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Leah (Heather Burns). Danson plays Ames’s boss, George Christopher, the editor of a New Yorker-style magazine and a ginormous pothead. While the show lost steam for me in its third season, Bored to Death was a clever and surprisingly warm show about the difficulties of commitment, the changes in New York City’s boroughs, the death of the printed word, and narcissism. It’s the type of show that could only have aired on HBO.

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Channel Guide - Large

There may be spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen the True Blood premiere, you might want to come back after you have. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” the season five premiere of HBO’s True Blood, begins just moments after the events of last season. All necromancers have been defeated, hella people are dead, and everyone’s tense (but no one’s genuinely afraid of the cops, or at least they shouldn’t be, because murder isn’t something that you can be arrested for in Bon Temps). Sookie, Lafayette, Eric, and Bill are dealing with all of the blood and viscera from their respective calamitous situations; shape-shifter Sam is cornered by a pack of growling werewolves; and Jason, who has the thigh muscles of a ninja turtle, is naked per usual. This first episode gave anxious fans a glimpse at what’s going to be this season’s major problem. No, it isn’t Russell Edgington, it’s the ever-growing ensemble. Every character—from Sookie to tertiary, background players—has his or her own elaborate drama. While that may be realistic (most of us aren’t just props in the lives of a small group of inordinately sexy people), there’s too much happening on this show!

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
C

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