The Newsroom

The Newsroom

Any talk of “News Night with Will MacAvoy’s” credibility hurts The Newsroom‘s credibility. Because the series takes place in what is basically a vacuum, connected to the outside world only through cameras, the Internet, and the occasional white-guilt trip to Africa, any plot device or emotional stake that hinges on how the fictional program is perceived by those outside its self-contained universe is difficult to care about. Charlie and Will can bemoan their show’s falling polls and the petitions demanding its cancellation all they want, but those threats have all the significance of a Sloan non sequitur. The only thing that apparently matters is that “News Night” stays in Leona and Reese’s good graces, and since Leona’s had a personality transplant and Reese is getting laid by a Rockette, “News Night” is in luck. That’s why the second season of The Newsroom, while being an improvement over the slapsticky first, has been such a disappointment. Watching the elaborately structured Operation Genoa storyline – which was hinted at from the season premiere – play out was like looking at a garden maze you later realize is made of plastic trees. Its intricacy is admirable, but there’s something off-putting about its artificiality. All the horrific consequences Charlie alluded to – falling ratings, angry letters, the airing of ACN’s dirty laundry – is about as dangerous as sarin gas to that polyurethane labyrinth.

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The Newsroom

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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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Uwe Boll Postal

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Newsroom Red Team III

Dramatic irony is encoded in The Newsroom‘s genes. Since the show is set two years in the past, viewers already know, for example, what inflamed rioters to attack the Benghazi embassy before the characters do. Using the newspapers as a cheat sheet (I assume Aaron Sorkin wouldn’t deign to read the “horrible, horrible snakepit” known as the Internet), the show’s scripts generally use the dramatic irony afforded by hindsight for Sorkin to deliver sermons from his mount. But “Red Team III” is so overstuffed with dramatic irony that the whole thing falls apart like a wet burrito. Last night’s episode was a solid if overly complex procedural that finds the lawyers, led by a less-mannered-and-therefore-much-more-tolerable Marcia Gay Harden, trying to reconstruct how “News Night” was hoodwinked into running a false story about the Marines deploying sarin gas. One by one, their sources’ credibility falters or interviews become unusable, until Mac and Will are forced to retract the Operation Genoa story.

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The Newsroom One Step Too Many

I would never watch “News Night With Will McAvoy.” I don’t watch cable news anyway (unless The Daily Show counts), but Will’s prosecutorial style, so vaunted by The Newsroom for its intelligence and honesty, also strikes me as playing gotcha journalism and fueling some needy asshole’s urgent desire to feel like the smartest guy in the room at all times. Given Will’s open belligerence toward all his guests, it’s no longer believable that any serious figure or spokesperson would avail themselves to be on the show, either. The Newsroom‘s first season — and last week’s daddy issues – promised that the show would finally delve into Will’s desperate need to be loved by his audience, one of the most intriguing tidbits about the character. It’s also a trait that’s been a glaring omission in Aaron Sorkin‘s oeuvre, especially given how often his shows are set in show biz and politics, two industries populated by charismatic attention junkies whose jobs revolve around garnering the respect and admiration of strangers. Instead, Sorkin has consistently filled his White House and his fictional studios with noble but flawed do-gooders, the kind of people more likely to work at nonprofits and schools than the natural ratings- and poll-obsessives he loves to depict. Last night’s episode, “One Step Too Many,” doesn’t move a single foot toward deepening Will’s psychology. (Yes, the title refers to Jerry Dantana’s misdeeds in the editing bay. More on that below.) Will’s fling with gossip columnist Nina Howard leads him to take her advice on appearing more personable on TV […]

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News Night With Will McAvoy

At least half the fun of The Newsroom is the game of guessing how much Aaron Sorkin the Thin-Skinned Celebrity is apparent in Aaron Sorkin the Writer. “News Night With Will McAvoy” feels like a compilation of miscellaneous rants that Sorkin had rattling around in his head, from criticisms of the show’s sexism to cast member Olivia Munn’s nudie pics to his hatred of the Internet. Hence the sour grapes delivered by the bunch with, “It should be obvious to you by now that fundamentally small people are going to try to raise their profile by standing on your neck.”

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Newsroom Unintended Consequences

It’s only midway through the season, but Jerry Dantana (Hamish Linklater) has already emerged as the MVP of The Newsroom’s sophomore year. Since he was introduced in the season premiere, the hyper-curious, ever-persistent, chronically underestimated Jerry often feels like the only journalist in the room. (Neal shares these qualities too, but he’s so robot-like that he doesn’t have the social awareness to draw stories – or sources – from people on the street. Remember when he wore his ACN ID badge to a no-journalists Occupy meeting? Yeah.) In a show that’s so much more often about packaging the news rather than discovering or gathering it, Jerry is the necessary outsider, and his presence brings a serious and focused energy that the show’s artificial suspense and screwball mania can’t compete with.

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Did you hear that this weekend is Comic-Con? It’s true! It’s weird that no one told you. Fortunately, this week’s show features a visit to San Diego where our sentinels Robert Fure and Jack Giroux will tell us all the crazy stuff that’s happening on the ground there in geek paradise (which happens to be a hotel room that’s missing a bathroom door). Plus, Geoff and I disagree wildly in our reviews of the new season of The Newsroom, and we prepare for the possibility of Spike Lee’s retirement by discussing his legacy and forcing him to autograph old football paraphernalia. You can follow Robert Fure (@robertfure), interviewer Jack Giroux (@jackgi), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) for more fun stuff on a daily basis. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #25 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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The Newsroom

This season’s premiere of The Newsroom was a bit like drinking an entire bottle of NyQuil before being forced to read a children’s copy of “The Economist” knowing there’d be a quiz later (drone strike!). It tried to distance itself from the previous season almost entirely without learning from its narrative missteps, so now we’re down one bodyguard, and they’ve used two scenes to dump a love quadrangle that used to monopolize screen time. That last part is probably for the best (and hopefully it sticks), and now we have a different crisis to deal with in the form of what looks like a factual honey trap for Will and the news team. But beyond the possible fatal flaw of trying to make us relive news that just happened (while so much current news is out there to contend with right now), there are three things holding the show back from being successful. Things that Aaron Sorkin has produced out of a magic hat before on The West Wing. Things that don’t at all include musical theater history.

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discs house of cards1

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. House of Cards: The Complete First Season Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is as ambitious as they come, but his drive to succeed includes more than simply doing the best job for the American people that he can. Instead he uses every opportunity to manipulate those around him towards outcomes favorable to his career. His wife (Robin Wright) shares a similar trait in her dealings. Together and separately the pair use their influence to shape their world, and while many other people are swept into their narrative only one will meet a tragic fate. Netflix officially entered the TV production game with this 13 episode redo of the classic UK series, and the result is a solidly entertaining, wonderfully acted look at our political animals at work. It has far less bite than its UK predecessor, and least in its first season, but the drama remains engaging. Creators David Fincher and Beau Willimon kept the original’s framework (albeit transplanted in time and space to modern day Washington D.C.), but they wisely chose not to mirror the characters instead leaving viewers with new creations and plenty of surprises. It’s a less salacious but smarter Boss for those of you familiar with Kelsey Grammer’s Starz series, and while Spacey and Wright rule the roost it boasts a spectacular supporting cast in Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Corey Stoll and others. [DVD […]

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Aaron Sorkin Syracuse

Aaron Sorkin gave us a counter-programmed President, and now he’s trying to imagine what the world of the press should have looked like over the past two years. Perhaps most known for creating TV shows like The West Wing and Sports Night, he’s also an Oscar winner who’s written 6 excellent films, starting with A Few Good Men. His resume is one thing, but even it can’t really encapsulate why he’s an important figure in filmmaking. That’s more ephemeral, the kind of thing that comes with making a distinctive name for yourself through a particular style. There’s no denying that Sorkin’s writing can be picked out of a line up, and that’s one of the major reasons he’s become such an intractable part of popular culture even while rising above its lower regions. Here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who can handle the truth.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a vicious sonofabitch, back from a weekend of debauchery (and candle-lit research) to bring you news and notes from around the film blogosphere. The best links end up here. If they don’t, you should email them in so that we can include them tomorrow. No seriously, do it. We begin this evening with a first look at Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in Caught in Flight, a film from Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel. The film will see Di’s relationship with Dr. Hasnat Khan, who will be played by Naveen Andrews. Because all those blonde-haired dames love a little Sayeed. Also because it really happened, in real life.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a hunter of the best stories of the day. Most days. Pretty much every week. It works 24/7 to give you one article per night. Because sleep is for the week. And whatnot. We begin this evening with a new image from Breaking Bad and its upcoming season five premiere, a shot of a particular character who is likely to be the most interesting story. At least, early on in the season. How will everyone’s favorite henchman Mike (Jonathan Banks) react to the events that concluded season four? This new image gives us a bit of a preview.

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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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Aaron Sorkin

Please read this article with caution as it does contain plot details that some may consider spoilers for the first episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. After screening the pilot episode (“We Just Decided To”) of Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom, the Los Angeles Film Festival audience was treated to a Q&A session which featured Sorkin himself along with executive producer Alan Poul, director Greg Mottola, and moderated by Madeleine Brand (The Madeleine Brand Show.) Anyone who has attended a Sorkin Q&A (or seen the man speak) knows that it is the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon. Sorkin’s signature fast-talk does not just live on the pages he writes, it is also how Sorkin speaks himself. It was clear that whatever Sorkin and Brand had spoken about prior to coming into the theater had left them both riled up. Brand (much like the Northwestern professor does to Jeff Daniels’ character, Will McAvoy, in the first scene of the premiere episode) refused to let Sorkin get away with non-answers or quips. Brand continuously pushed him until Sorkin, the man of a million words, let out an exasperated breath… and then jumped right back in.

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Pacific Rim

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a collection of all the things you’ll be talking about tomorrow with your friends. Assuming you have friends. We hope you do. If not, we’ll be your friend. We begin this evening with the first image from Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, featuring Idris Elba looking badass in a suit that, if our guess is right, allows him to control giant robots or something. Everything about this film makes it a giant, sloppy, wet orgy for nerds. We cannot wait.

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Channel Guide - Large

In 1985, John Fogerty was sued for plagiarizing himself. It was a bizarre courtroom situation that arose because Fogerty had forfeited the rights to his old Creedance Clearwater Revival hits to a former record label that went after him when a song he wrote on his new album “Centerfield” sounded too much like his own work. Copyright law is complicated. What can you do. In the last week, a script surfaced that’s purportedly the pilot to The Newsroom, the new HBO show from Aaron Sorkin, and it feels a bit like Fogerty all over again. Sorkin is cribbing off of Sorkin. Of course there are a million grains of salt to throw with this. The primary one being that random scripts on the old internet could be from anywhere. For some reason, writers believe they can fake leaked scripts in order to gain a name through the back door (like writers did on Studio 60 when they weren’t being heard in the room), but it’s actually the writing equivalent of suicide by cop (which a troubled man did on an episode of The West Wing). The internet can be an unforgiving place and pretending to be another writer automatically creates a comparison that no one can survive against. However, this particular script (which you can find if you search for it) seems legit. But there’s a funny thing there, when you’re reading a curious script that can be from anyone. In the back of your mind, you’re imagining that someone […]

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published: 04.16.2014
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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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