True Blood

Doppelganger Releasing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Black Out Jos (Raymond Thiry) used to be a very bad man. But he’s reformed now, on the straight and narrow, and engaged to be married to a wonderful woman. All of that’s put at risk when he wakes up the day before his wedding in a somewhat compromising situation… namely with a dead body lying beside him and no memory of how it got there. Now he’s in a race to discover what’s happening, who’s behind it and how he can keep his bride-to-be from hearing about it all. This Dutch action/comedy has been a long time coming to our shores — we saw it back at Fantastic Fest 2012 — and it’s an absolute blast from beginning to end as it mixes a dark sense of humor with extreme acts of violence and some highly memorable characters. Comparisons to early Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino are fair, but director Arne Toonen makes it his own creation. Highly recommended for fans of funny, profane and fast-moving R-rated fun. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, short film, bloopers, gallery]

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Ray Donovan

Yesterday, Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress boldly predicted the imminent end of the anti-hero hour and the rise of a new prestige genre: the “Trojan Horse” show. Using Showtime’s Ray Donovan and Netflix’s Orange is the New Black as this new genre’s pioneers, Rosenberg hypothesizes a brave new TV world where viewers might be lured by a conventional white protagonist, then bait-and-switched into watching a much more emotionally complex or racially and sexually diverse show than the one they’d been sold. Ray Donovan, for instance, began as a slick procedural about a professional problem-solver for the rich and famous, but has evolved into an altogether different creature, a psychological drama that explores, among other themes, the long-lasting effects of clerical abuse — a hard sell to any audience demographic. Likewise, Orange is the New Black follows the WASPy Piper Chapman into prison, but the show quickly loses interest in her. Orange creator Jenji Kohan told NPR, “In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan horse. You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women, and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories.” After just the first season, Orange‘s empty wooden shell has become so disposable to her own show that it’s easy to imagine how the series might continue after her release from prison.

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discs murderer lives

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Murderer Lives at 21 (UK release) A murderer is stalking the streets of Paris, and his only calling card is a literal calling card bearing the name “Monsieur Durand.” The police are getting nowhere fast, but when a petty criminal offers evidence that the killer resides in a local boarding house a top detective goes in undercover to ferret the murderer out for arrest. Hilarity ensues. I’m not kidding about it being hilarious either. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot would go on to make Wages of Fear, Diabolique and others, but his debut film shows an assured hand with both the visual style and a fantastic tonal balance between the mystery and the laughs. The dialogue moves at a ’40s screwball comedy pace, and it’s loaded with wit, smarts and innuendo. Even more impressive is the film’s final shot… especially knowing it was shot during the Nazi occupation of France. [UK DVD extras: Interview]

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The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that does not need an animated continuation. It just goes on and on with very live action. We begin this evening with a shot from The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2, the animated follow-up to The Dark Knight Returns. Warner Home Video has released the image with a promise to show some footage at the upcoming New York Comic-Con. This should continue to hold you off until Warner Bros. can figure out what they’re doing with live-action Batman. Or at least until the Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy is available on Blu-ray.

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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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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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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of new releases today with the common theme being that they’re all worth a watch at the very least. So head on down to your local Hollywood Video and check out Coriolanus, A Necessary Death, Goon and yes, even We Need To Talk About Kevin. Seriously, check out that last one as I need someone, anyone, to validate my opinion that the film is more ridiculous than impressive. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Henning Mankell’s Wallander: Swedish Series Two Chief Inspector Wallander has a knack for solving crimes even as he grows tired of man’s inhumanity towards man in this second Swedish TV series (season) to be based on Henning Mankell’s most famous character. Krister Henriksson stars as the talented but beleaguered detective through thirteen episodes of murder, deceit and drama, and he brings real pathos to the character while still keeping him an engaging but likeable grump. The mysteries are well-constructed and excitingly shot, and they serve as a reminder that our own TV series could benefit from a shorter schedule that allows for more quality over quantity. Now to track down Henriksson’s season one…

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

I’m not generally a fan of the phrase “jumped the shark.” I think it’s presumptuous; as if I personally decided the standards with which a show should continue, and how it should be evaluated. I know what you’re saying “but… that’s exactly what you do.” Yes, yes it is. But that doesn’t mean I don’t oftentimes feel bad about it. So when it came time to think of what aspect of 2011’s television offerings I would break down for your perusal, a nagging feeling piqued in the back of my mind – a lot of what’s on television should no longer be on television. And I’m not just talking about shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, or any other number of programs that have worn out their proverbial welcome in the Neilsen households of America. No, I’m referring specifically to the handful of TV shows that chose 2011 as the year to hammer that final nail in the coffin of television irrelevancy. Just what, pray tell, are these shows that I’ve deemed no longer worthy of filling my DVR? Read on, and when preparing the hate mail, remember that Mikela has one A, not two.

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A new Bonnie and Clyde movie from writer/director Tonya S. Holly has been in the works for a while now. It seemed like smooth sailing for the project, because not only does it have a strong Hollywood legacy to build off of because of 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, it also had a known star attached with Hilary Duff signed on to play Bonnie Parker. A remake and a famous face? That’s as good as gold in executive eyes. But these days things don’t seem to be so sure. Joining Duff as Clyde Barrow was going to be Gossip Girl and Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch actor Kevin Zegers, but due to scheduling conflicts, both Duff and Zegers have had to drop out of the film. Okay, so maybe the loss of Duff hurts a bit more, but you get the point. This movie has gone from a surefire hit to a big question mark, and all because of scheduling problems. So why couldn’t the people in charge jostle around the schedule and make this work? A joint statement from Holly and producer Tom Rogers said, “Due to our obligations with investors and international buyers, it is imperative that we stick to our current schedule. Therefore we are forced to explore other options for the two lead roles. Unfortunately this happens all the time in the world of filmmaking.” Ah, good old bureaucratic red tape sabotaging things that would be in its best interest to […]

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It seems like somebody working for the upcoming NU Image/Millenium production Straight A’s has been burning up the phone today trying to get word out about the project. So far Variety has come out with not one, but two casting reports for the film. First, a little bit about what the movie is. James Cox, who has not done much, but is probably best known for his last film, 2003’s Wonderland, is set to direct. The script, from writer Dave Cole, is about a man who has been in and out of rehab for a decade, and who is haunted by the ghost of his dead mother. This pesky old ghost continually gripes at him that he needs to seek out his family and make amends with the people that he turned his back on long ago. Armed with a cache of pills and weed, this man makes his way back to his hometown of Shreveport to spend some time with his brother and his brother’s wife, who still pines after our main character, as he was her first love. Oh what a tangled web we weave.

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Russell Edgington is a prime example of a great villain. Not only was he smart and calculated, but he also had the power and strength to get things done on his own. And when Edgington got down and bloody, he looked cool doing it. The vampire king was one of the few vamps on True Blood that seemed interested in actually having fun. He always looked as if he was going to a party and simply looking for a good time, especially with the help of his slick 70s style wardrobe. Sadly, Edgington isn’t around this season, but don’t fret. As actor Denis O’Hare says below, the plan is for him to return. Things didn’t end well for Edgington last season, but the King of Mississippi had persistence and ambition, so there was no real reason for us to be doubting his return. While Denis O’Hare isn’t on this season, the actor was still kind enough to make the time to discuss his role on the show. Throughout my whole chat with O’Hare he wore his love for Edgington on his sleeve. From discussing the character’s past to his childlike wonder, the actor remained enthusiastic.

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I think we all know each other well enough now. Yeah? Let’s talk fetishes. When I took the position of Reel Sex columnist the first story idea that sprung to mind revolved around BDSM culture. I’ve always been fascinated with the back and forth of this lifestyle, and with so many examples of light to moderate to down-right kinky in mainstream cinema it’s not difficult to find something that everyone can enjoy. Some of the films springing to mind right off the bat are ones we’ve looked at before, like 2002’s Secretary (which we will explore more in depth below), but there are so many more that established the base of mainstream BDSM culture in cinema. Here is just a small sample of what to expect before you dive, gag-ball deep, into some of the most controversially kinky films.

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Often composers fall into a groove, defining themselves with a particular style and running with it across the cinematic board. Not so with Nathan Barr, whose career is speckled with comedies, horror movies and a little of everything in-between. Barr’s eclectic resume includes True Blood; Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever; Broken Lizard’s Club Dread, Beerfest and The Slammin’ Salmon; The Last Exorcism; and Ruben Fleischer’s upcoming action comedy 30 Minutes or Less. His latest, the character-driven thriller The Ledge, was picked up by IFC Films after premiering at Sundance. The movie centers on Gavin (Charlie Hunnam) who has an affair with Shana (Liv Tyler), the wife of fanatical religious man Joe (Patrick Wilson) who forces Gavin to either jump off the ledge of a building or watch him kill his wife. It’s like that middle school game “MFK,” but real. We sat down with Barr during Sundance to talk about his process as a composer, the similarities and differences between his many projects and what how each one is its own musical challenge:

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This Week in DVD

Not every week can be a winner when it comes to DVD purchases, but that’s a good thing right? Gives us time to save more cash for the releases that truly matter… like the upcoming Warner Archive release of The Herculoids: The Complete Series. Hell yes. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to watch this week. As is often the case there are plenty of titles worth renting and avoiding, and they run the gamut from old to new, big to small, good to bad. The highest profile title is probably Nicolas Cage’s Drive Angry, and by “high profile” I of course mean it stars recognizable faces and not that it made any money at the box office. Other releases this week include True Blood‘s third season, Brian Austin Green’s sad attempt at a comic book movie (Cross), Javier Bardem’s Oscar-nominated Biutiful, the Megan Fox/Mickey Rourke (apparent) train wreck Passion Play, and many more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Rookie Blue: The Complete First Season Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym) is a recent police academy graduate just beginning her career as a cop. She’s joined by four other rookie recruits for thirteen episodes of drama, action, and fairly solid character work. Sure McNally sees more gunplay in her first year than most cops see in their entire lifetime, but this is Canada and everything’s exaggerated up there. This first season is lightweight fun, but the actors (both the rookies and their […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

It’s another buy-happy week of Blu-ray selections here on This Week in Blu-ray. Warner Bros. comes correct with a brilliant release of A Clockwork Orange, George Lucas does video commentary and doesn’t talk about Star Wars, vampires and werewolves tear each others’ clothes off, Nic Cage kills just about everyone, Javier Bardem is handsome and someone thought it would be a good idea to put Megan Fox and Mickey Rourke together on-screen. It was not. Reading this Blu-ray column, however, is a great idea. A Clockwork Orange: 40th Anniversary Edition A Clockwork Orange is one of those great films that I’ve had the honor of seeing properly projected. Of course, that was at 3am during a sci-fi marathon and I may have slept through the second act, but the fact remains: I’ve seen what it’s supposed to look like. So when I report that it looks even better on Blu-ray, that’s not something to take lightly. This week’s Pick was an easy one. Warner Bros. has handled Stanley Kubrick’s ultra-violent masterpiece with great care. From the sturdy, book-like packaging to the fresh Blu-ray exclusive features (including one where Malcolm McDowell looks back 40 years later and another that considers the cultural impact of the film’s violent nature), everything is in step with the greatest expectations for what this release should look like. It’s a collector’s item and a wonderful celebration of a film that, even after 40-years, still holds up as a stunning testimony to the greatness of Stanley Kubrick.

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Summer is a time for playing outside, sitting on the beach, going for a swim, taking a stroll in the park with a significant other while… oh, who am I kidding… Summer is for one thing: warm, entertaining television. And with the 2010-2011 television at an end this week, it’s time to look ahead to the wonderful crop that is set to begin at the top of next month. So with that, I present to you 10 Summer Shows Not To Miss! (But beware of some spoilers.)

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Episode: “Evil is Going On” (Season 3, Episode 12) Synopsis: Season 3 comes to a close as Eric’s plan against Russell moves into its final act. In the middle of that, Sookie finds out the truth about both her vampire suitors. Elsewhere, Jason and Sam each face up to the new challenges in their lives. Review: My first reaction to the third season finale of True Blood is “meh.” Not because it was bad, just because when you compare it to previous season finale’s it doesn’t really stack up. There weren’t any real shocking moments, there were no spectacular deaths, and, secure in the knowledge of a fourth season, few things were wrapped up and a few storylines were left wide upon.

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Episode: “Fresh Blood” (Season 3, Episode 11) Synopsis: Eric puts his plan to kill Russell Edgington into play, putting both Sookie and Bill in danger. Jason struggles with the revelation his girlfriend is a werepanther, Tara confronts Deputy Andy over Eggs’ death, and Sam hits the bottle hard. Review: Gird yourself, True Blood fans, there’s only one episode left and Bon Temps is a mess. Well, emotionally, compared to the physical trouble and threats facing the sleepy town at the end of last season. This episode went about shuffling the deck of character relationships, setting up for an explosion of change for next season, though it did seem out of place at times.

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Episode: “I Smell a Rat” (Season 3, Episode 10) Synopsis: An episode of secrets: Jason reveals his involvement in Eggs’ death, Hoyt spills his true feelings for Jessica, and Bill reveals Sookie’s true nature. Review: “A fairy? How lame is that?” You said it all, Sook, though I don’t think any of us are surprised at the reveal. And did Bill just say aliens exist? After three seasons of “What is she” we finally get our answer: Sookie is a fairy. Or an “old one.” What importance is that? Well apparently they’re super tasty and offer special abilities to vampires, who presumed to have hunted them to extinction.

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Episode: “Everything is Broken” (Season 3, Episode 9) Synopsis: Eric is confronted about the death of the Magister by Vampire League of America figurehead Nan Flanagan and the mysterious Vampire Authority comes into play. In Bon Temps, Sookie and Bill reconnect while Sam snaps under the pressures surrounding him and hands out an ass beating. Jason does something awesome. Review: Two in a row! This was another great episode of True Blood, definitely in the top three of the third season. Once again there is increased focus on Eric and the episode is better for it. Talbot’s death last episode was still a sticky residue on the ground, at least until Russell goes all creepy, scoops the goo into a crystal bowl and carries it around, talking to it. Dating someone for something like 3,000 years will do that to you.

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