homeland

Homeland - The Star

For such an uneven show, Homeland has always excelled at season finales. At the close of every year, the writers have shaken up the show enough that even the outlines of the following season are a complete mystery. Homeland‘s third season was a plot-heavy slog during many of its early episodes, which seemed like filler and empty melodrama. And the show wasn’t all that interesting in the last few installments, when the action completely took over to the detriment of character development. But “The Star” brought things to a thoughtful, daring, necessarily cynical end that felt every bit as satisfying as the rest of this season had not.

read more...

Homeland - Big Man in Tehran

I remember the instant I was hooked on Homeland. After a ten-year separation, Nicholas Brody, a POW presumed to dead, and his wife Jessica, who had moved on with her life after being effectively widowed, were reunited. He was a ghost, she a vision. In his need for comfort, familiarity, and sexual need, Brody effectively tackled her onto the bed, while she accepted it in a cloud of confusion, guilt, and compassion. Then, for the rest of that first season, they assessed and reassessed their marriage to see what worked (very little) and what didn’t (most everything). Homeland used to be unafraid to feel. The big question that overhung that debut season — whether Brody had been flipped by Abu Nazir to the dark side, and thus whether he was being honest with his family, which he desperately wanted to be a part of once more  — was fraught with emotional weight. But in the past few weeks — and this season as a whole — the show has traded in character for cheap suspense.

read more...

Episode 310

“Good Night” was another transitional episode. Last week’s “One Last Time” had Brody shuttled from Venezuela to D.C. to Iraq, while “Good Night” focuses on the difficult border crossing from Iraq to Iran, where the former Marine is to kill General Akbari, the head of Tehran’s intelligence agency. Saul’s plan thereafter is that his “asset,” Majid Javadi, take over and work with the CIA, creating peace on earth and goodwill toward men in the season’s final two episodes just in time for Christmas. Though there were a few obligatory thinkpieces about the similarities between Homeland and Zero Dark Thirty when Kathryn Bigelow’s film about Osama bin Laden’s assassination came out last year, the two have never felt overtly similar until last night’s hour. Switching back and forth between the unpredictability on the field, the frustration within the control room, and the various political maneuverings to cover one’s own ass in the higher echelons of power in case things go south, “Good Night” borrowed liberally from Zero Dark Thirty‘s structure to construct a suspenseful, poignant narrative out of what is basically filler material.

read more...

Homeland One Last Time

“One Last Time” was a great acting showcase for Damian Lewis, who, having appeared only thrice so far this season, really needs to pad his portfolio to earn another Emmy nod. Other than that, last night’s episode was about as rote as they come, serving as a necessary transitional interlude between Brody the Junkie to Brody the Badass Marine so the season can propel toward its final espionage plot. Which, it turns out, is another convoluted assassination mission. Believing he has Javadi under his thumb, Saul has Brody dried out and back in fighting mode, so the latter can become besties with Javadi’s boss and eventually get close enough to kill him. Then Javadi will be installed as one of the most powerful men in Iran while being an American double agent. It’s all a bit Dr. Evil, no? Is Brody going to attack Javadi’s boss by hurling a shark with a laser attached to its head at him?

read more...

Homeland A Red Wheelbarrow

After last week’s episode focused on an intellectual debate between swift justice and the twisted road of espionage, Homeland ditched all of that entirely in “A Red Wheelbarrow” to opt for a well-plotted if characteristically ridiculous installment that found Carrie getting shot and Saul tracking down Brody in Venezuela. Like the William Carlos Williams poem it alludes to, “A Red Wheelbarrow,” is all about suspense: the “set piece,” I suppose, of Carrie butting heads with Dar and Quinn and getting a bullet in the shoulder for it and the longer one of Saul’s mystery trip. Both have in common Brody, who has been on the lam or drugged into glass-eyed docility since the Langley bombing. He’s maintained a presence back in Washington through Carrie, his sole advocate back home. She’s explosive in nature, attached enough to him and righteous enough about the truth that we don’t really need the excuse of a baby for us to understand why she’d champion him and his innocence within the CIA. I’m really hating this pregnancy for slathering an extra level of drama on a show that’s already 100% cheese. The show has written itself into a cowardly corner by making her fetus at 13 weeks, and therefore un-abortable. Of course, the best outcome might be for the massive blood loss from the shoulder wound to cause her to miscarry, or for Carrie to pull a Peggy Olson and put the baby up for adoption before telling the father about it. 

read more...

Gerontion

The third season of Homeland has been a kind of meditation on the merits and and demerits of espionage, a thematic venture that sounds much more promising on paper than what’s been offered on screen. Part of that disappointment stems from the fact that the writers haven’t really come up with a point of view on the subject: one week Saul is the voice of reason for railing against the increasing devaluation of human relationships in spy work, the next week it’s that same kind of relationship that jeopardizes an operation. The show’s debates have become sound and fury, signifying nothing. Last night’s episode, “Gerontion,” is a continuation of this season’s unfocused jumble of ideas. Take, for example, its attempt at staging a debate between the moral relativism necessary to work with evildoers versus the ethical imperative bringing those evildoers to justice. “We should try [Javadi] for what he’s done,” says newbie analyst Fara, referring to the Iranian intelligence official’s role in funding the Langley bombing. Later in the hour, Quinn gets uncharacteristically introspective, declaring, “I just don’t believe it anymore…that anything justifies the damage we do.” He still feels guilty over killing that kid in Venezuela, which is good, because he’d be a sociopath otherwise.

read more...

Homeland: Still Positive

Saul is a dinosaur. He wears his years on his face, in the form of a rabbinical beard. His marriage is based more on lifelong loyalty than passion or affection, while his faith in the old way of doing things — namely, espionage — is keeping him from his dream job as the Director of the CIA, as well as from having a say in the future of the agency he’s devoted his life to. His right-hand man, Dar Adal, senses the coming change in the tides and seems ready to jump ship. And neither Saul’s decades of experience nor his shared past with Javadi helps him in preventing the deaths of two innocents. Papa Bear started Homeland as a semi-peripheral figure of fatherly comfort and mentorship for Carrie, but this season he’s taken over her place as the center of the show. The switcheroo might be a betrayal of what the show initially promised — that it’s about a lady spy — but it’s one that makes a great deal of sense given this third year’s focus on the uncertain direction of the spy agency.

read more...

After last week’s surprise ending, where we learned about Carrie and Saul’s two-person undercover operation, “The Yoga Play” couldn’t go back to the shock well again. Thus we have a more relaxed (and meandering) episode this week, one that’s more focused on character and (hopefully) wrapping up dud storylines. We finally get a glimpse of the terrorist du saison, Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub), who cuts quite a different figure from the deceased Abu Nazir. In keeping with the third season’s focus on the white-collar aspect of terrorism, Javadi comes across as a baddie with soft hands, someone who has a white-shoe law firm on retainer, is rarely seen out of a suit, and for whom burger juice on his button-down is always a first-priority problem. And the tall, thin, neat-looking Javadi doesn’t just strike a different visual note from the Nazir: Saul theorized last week that the second-in-command in the Iranian intelligence agency is less motivated by ideology than by money. (Insert joke about wanting some cheddar to go with that burger.) If he’s already filched $45 million from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, though, it’s unclear thus far why he ordered the Langley bombing, unless it’s to prove his anti-American bona fides. 

read more...

Homeland Game Over

Carrie is Homeland‘s cockroach. We begin “Game Over” with her mired in a Kafkaesque nightmare, frustrated at every turn and more or less confined to her bed. By the end of the hour, though, she’s the survivor who, with Saul’s help, outwits and out-wiggles her way to the top of the heap. There’s no way to get rid of her — she’s just too good. If Carrie and Brody’s affair is the adrenaline-pumping, feeling-your-blood-course-through-your-veins kind of drug, Carrie and Saul’s bond is the opposite — the calm that comes after, the sensation of landing back on Earth and feeling strong and clear-headed again. Though the idea of Saul and Carrie at war and butting horns was interesting in theory, it was less so on screen, largely because they plotted alone, then only met up so Claire Danes could yell obscenities at Mandy Patinkin. Thus, it was extremely satisfying to see the two characters reunite and celebrate the success of the first step in their plan. “You’ve been very, very brave,” Saul reassures Carrie, then offers, “Come on, I’ll make you a nice cup of tea.” It feels so good to have Papa Bear back!

read more...

Homeland

The last time we saw Homeland‘s Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), he was at the Canadian border, being framed for the murder of 200+ CIA agents and ready to run away with Carrie (Claire Danes). Out of loyalty to Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and her her former place of employment (and maybe even a sliver of a survival instinct), though, Carrie decided to stay in D.C., but promised her bad romance that she’d clear his name. Since then, she’s no closer to fulfilling that promise. Instead, Carrie’s been stuck in a terrifying psych ward, where she figures the only way out is through groveling. Assuming that Saul and her doctor are in cahoots, she tries to thank them for doing her the “favor” of putting her back on lithium. The doctor thinks she’s still paranoid, though, which isn’t going to bolster her Brody-was-framed argumemt; she’s in fact so far from being able to leave she’s not even allowed visitors yet. Nor does she help her case by bashing her head against the bathroom mirror. “I’m going cr — I’m doing everything’s that’s asked of me,” she cries to a sympathetic nurse, who inexplicably risks her own job to allow Carrie to meet with a lawyer. But Carrie sees this white-bread attorney, Paul Franklin, as a recruiter for one of America’s enemies – a sign of her paranoia, perhaps, but also a surprising indication of her extant loyalty to the CIA.

read more...

Homeland Uh Oh Ah

Terrorism is a blunt, imprecise force by design. Anti-terrorism is a blunt, imprecise force by necessity. That’s essentially Homeland‘s big statement about the War on Terror. The initial impetus for the series was an unmanned drone strike that killed an innocent little boy, Abu Nazir’s son, whose death a Stockholm Syndromed Brody was convinced to avenge. The carefully choreographed assassinations of six terrorists last week also ended in another child’s death — collateral damage is as unavoidable on CIA missions as a black turtleneck. Now we see that hammer come down on one of the agency’s own, with a newly Machiavellian Saul gripping the handle. After exposing Carrie’s mental illness and affair with a terrorist suspect to the world, Saul spends “Uh… Oh… Ah…” (I hope the episode isn’t named after Dana’s scene in the laundry room) playing hide-and-seek with his former protege. Fully aware that her mentor has set her up to be the agency’s scapegoat for the Langley bombing, Carrie attempts to confront him at the start of the hour. But he won’t be found until he wants to talk to her. Even then, it’s only after he’s exercised his power to have her discredited in the eyes of the press, then detained, subdued and medicated — all against her will.

read more...

Homeland

As far as I can recall, there was no theme song for Homeland‘s season three premiere. That seems appropriate – it’s in line with the fact that, with Brody in hiding and the CIA in tatters, the Showtime drama is undergoing an identity crisis. For the first two seasons, Abu Nazir, Homeland‘s Osama Bin Laden, was the show’s Big Bad. Then Nazir was killed. Now what? For the first half of “Tin Man is Down,” it seemed like Marid Javadi, an Iranian terrorist responsible for arranging the bombing that took out over 200 senior CIA officials in the second season finale, might step into Nazir’s shoes. But showrunner Alex Gansa has promised “something that’s smaller, that is sort of a little more John LeCarre” for the series’ third year, which might mean something more inwardly focused: the point of the CIA. The Langley bombing occurred two months ago, and the rubble still stands as a rebuke to the intelligence agency for failing to foresee the event – Congress is forcing the CIA to sleep in the bed it wet. As the spy bureau’s acting director, Saul now carries the burdensome responsibility of not just rebuilding and redefining the organization, but defending its actual existence.

read more...

Old Spice Unchained

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the most talented, most handsomest, often silliest movie news column on the planet. Movie news columns from other parts of the galaxy might be able to compete, but they are yet undiscovered, so they can suck it. He’s On a Horse – Sometimes memes are fun. In this case, mashing the Old Spice guy together with Samuel Jackson’s head house slave character in Django Unchained is a simple, wonderful choice.

read more...

Culture Warrior on 2012

In this end-of-year editorial, Landon Palmer discusses the pattern that movies demonstrated in 2012 for telling stories through protagonists defined by their various personality traits rather than through conventional, straightforward characters. In so doing, movies this year showed how our individual identities have become divided within various aspects of modern social life. This trend made some of the year’s movies incredibly interesting, while others suffered from a personality disorder. Landon argues that movies ranging from The Hunger Games to The Dark Knight Rises to Holy Motors alongside cultural events and institutions like the Presidential election, social media, and “Gangnam Style” all contributed to a year in which popular culture is finally became open about its constant engagement with multiple cults of personality. Six years ago, Time magazine famously named its eagerly anticipated “Person of the Year” You in big, bold letters. Its cover even featured a mirror. As a result of the established popularity of supposedly democratized media outlets like Facebook and the home of the cover’s proverbial “You,” YouTube, Time declared 2006 as the year in which the masses were equipped with the ability to empower themselves for public expressions of individual identity. More than a half decade later, social media is no longer something new to adjust to, but a norm of living with access to technology. Supposing that Time’s prophecy proved largely correct, what does it mean to live in a 21st century where we each have perpetual access to refracting our respective mirrors?

read more...

The Best TV Shows of 2012

While the new fall line-up wasn’t too impressive (there are only two freshman series on this list, neither of which premiered in the fall) and former powerhouses have stumbled (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire), this is still an amazing time for TV. The most outstanding programs don’t just have excellent writing and actors, they’re reinventing genres and challenging viewers with daring storytelling. TV is gutsier now (sometimes literally gutsier with blood and innards all over the place) and its fantastic. When compiling this list, I chose the shows that sparked visceral reactions. These are the comedies, dramas, and (often overlooked) animated gems that made me laugh out loud, cringe, cry like an idiot, or yell “oh snap” at every wild turn.

read more...

Matt Damon

What is Casting Couch? It’s not so much a couch as it is a list, a list of recent castings. And it seems to be talking a lot about World War II today. George Clooney and Matt Damon must have decided that they both look super handsome when they’re standing next to each other, because not only have they already worked together on the Oceans movies and Syriana, but now Deadline is reporting that Clooney has decided that he’s going to cast Damon in his next project as a director, The Monuments Men. This is that one about the museum curators who try to save as many artifacts and works of art as possible during the Nazis’ slash and burn campaign that took place during the dying days of World War II. If Damon’s negotiations go well and he signs up, he’ll be joining a cast that already includes Clooney himself, Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban—which is enough big name actors that they should probably just cash in and rename this thing Oceans Monuments Men.

read more...

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.

read more...

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.

read more...
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 11.26.2014
B
published: 11.26.2014
B
published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3