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Hannibal's design takes shape in 'Yakimono' [TV Recap, Season 2, Episode 7]


Hugh Dancy as Will Graham in “Hannibal” Season 2 Episode 7, “Yakimono”

Characters are dropping like… well, like characters on a televised serial killer drama, I suppose.

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Community is here to let you know everything will keep going when the show ends [TV Recap: season 5, episode 12]

At some point, it all has to end. NBC's Community will close up shop, whether it’s later this spring when NBC announces its fall schedule, after six seasons and a movie, or after it somehow incomprehensibly surpasses The Simpsons for longest-running sitcom and everyone complains even louder how the show isn’t as funny as its earlier golden years. But Community isn’t like other shows. It staved off cancellation due to low ratings thanks to a fervent fan base; it survived the departure of creator Dan Harmon and a creatively tepid fourth season; and now it sits a half hour away from yet another uncertain future after Harmon’s return. Community wants everyone to know that no matter how many stays of execution it earns, the end of a show is ultimately inevitable.

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The unthinkable blooms on Hannibal "Futomono" [s2,e6]

For those keeping track, futomono is the course in a Japanese kaiseki meal that consists of a lidded dish. Keeping the lid on Miriam Lass until the last minute of an episode that was already a feast of sadistic twists, morbid whimsy, and incredible food porn was a real treat.

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Silicon Valley is Mike Judge’s incisive, hilarious return-to-form [TV Recap: season 1, episode 1]

Nearly everyone who sees the Game Of Thrones title sequence praises it for its sheer stylistic audacity, introducing the epic scope of the show with a booming theme song and sweeping summary of the world’s geography. Silicon Valley, Mike Judge’s return to television, accomplishes the same feat with a 10-second title sequence. The camera pans across a SimCity-esque landscape of Silicon Valley, dotted by corporate headquarters for Twitter, HP, and Oracle. Napster pops up as a hot air balloon, and then quickly descends out of sight. AOL topples off a building that becomes Facebook. It’s the proliferation of the tech companies throughout the south peninsula and Santa Clara Valley in microcosm, representing the present moment in the corporate climate where companies pop up and disappear, with major projects existing in a digital realm.

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Game Of Thrones picks up as the Lannisters cope with apparent victory [TV Recap: season 4, episode 1]

The end of Game Of Thrones’ third season offered the bloodiest dramatic high point of the series so far. The Red Wedding capped off the darkest year of the show, and effectively offed the family that in any other classical version of this fantasy arc, would end up victorious. (And that’s essentially why George R.R. Martin got rid of them—to completely buck that trend.) So the big question at the outset of season four, which will depict roughly the other half of events from A Storm Of Swords, is what the Lannisters at King’s Landing will do now that they’ve wiped out the last fully formed threat to their dynasty.

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'Community' knows Jeff Winger’s real age, and knowing is half the battle [TV recap: season 5, episode 11]

Many of the episodes in Community’s fifth season have been modified sequels to previous fan-favorite from previous seasons. “Cooperative Polygraphy” echoes bottle episode “Cooperative Calligraphy.” “Bondage And Beta Male Sexuality” has strains of “Mixology Certification.” “Repilot” and “Advanced Dungeons And Dragons” have easily identifiable equivalents. “G.I. Jeff” is this season’s attempt at a storyline similar to “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” the second-season standout that takes place entirely inside Abed’s rattled mind as he grapples with his mother’s absence.

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The Disorienting and Disturbing Arthouse Science Fiction of Under the Skin [Review]

If Her was all about Scarlett Johansson's off-screen presence–the vagaries of her voice, and what meaning might be read into its inflections–Under the Skin is all about Johansson's looks. And her looking. At you. It's about skin, and bodies, and silent facades. Johansson plays her extraterrestrial invader practically as a mute.

The script for Under the Skin, which opens today in New York City and Los Angeles, and April 11 in select U.S. cities, probably contains a few thousand words of dialogue, max. What conversation there is bridges long silences. Viewers will find no traditional alien versus human action. No chases, or gun battles, or heads exploding with green goo. No little green men or tattooed Klingon wannabes hatching plans to destroy the earth, either.

Likewise, fanboys (and girls) drooling over Johansson won't be treated to some mindless sexcapade. As a nameless woman, Johansson cruises the streets of Glasgow, using her newfound wiles to seduce men for her nefarious purposes. She's an alien femme fatale, and once she's snared you in her spell, gentlemen, her sultry face clicks back to its poker-faced, robotic demeanor. Look out.

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Community revisited one of its best episodes and avoided the sequel curse [Recap: season 5, episode 10]

“Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” stands as one of Community’s all-time greatest episodes, both stylistically impressive and narratively heartfelt. It’s an immensely satisfying episode of television that forms the peak of the show’s run in the heart of its second season. For the show to tackle that style again flies in the face of how the show has normally operated. The paintball sequel was a chance to make a stylistic adventure cap the emotional narrative struggle within the study group. But this is much riskier. And Abed blatantly states the meta-joke that everyone will ascribe to Dan Harmon, as the group makes the plan for a second role-playing game intervention: “A satisfying sequel is difficult to pull off. Many geniuses have defeated themselves through hubris, making this a chance to prove I’m better than all of them. I’M IN.”

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Picking up the pieces of How I Met Your Mother’s finale

“We’ll always be friends. It’s just never going to be how it was. It can’t be. It doesn’t have to be a sad thing. There’s so much wonderful stuff happening in all of our lives right now, more than enough to be grateful for. But the five of us hanging out at MacLaren’s being young and stupid? It’s just not one of those things.”

On various social media channels Monday night, it must’ve seemed like the “group of white people hanging out” sitcom equivalent of The Red Wedding had just gone down. The finale of How I Met Your Mother inspired wildly vitriolic reactions, from righteous indignation to calls for CBS boycotts—that now threaten to undercut the legacy of a good-to-great sitcom about young people living, loving, and learning in New York City.

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The Birth of the Lightsaber, a mini-documentary

George Lucas, Mark Hamill, and Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt provide deep background on an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

Documentary "Stripped" shows the past and future of comic strips

Glenn Fleishman on a crowdfunded journey into the history of comics in AmericaRead the rest

The Dune in our Heads

A problem crops up when filmmakers try to adapt epic fantasy worlds to the big screen—particularly beloved, richly-imagined literary ones. Sacrifices must be made. Characters are cut, and plotlines are re-routed. Scenes and places don’t match what readers have pictured with their minds. Fans of the original book cry foul.

In the case of director Alejandro Jodorowsky, his vision for Frank Herbert’s masterwork Dune was so over the top, so surreal (and, at times, so absurd), it probably would have blown the minds of critics before they had a chance to grumble.

That is, if Jodorowsky’s translation and transmogrification of Dune had ever been made. It never was. Read the rest

Bot & Dolly and the rise of creative robotics

Remember this incredible video above? In the new issue of BusinessWeek, I profile the brilliant minds behind it, creative robotics studio Bot & Dolly, whose astonishing technology was also instrumental in the special effects of Gravity:

Behind a small cafe in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood stands an unmarked warehouse where the future of human-machine interaction is taking shape. Inside this sprawling maze of soundstages, machine shops, and computer labs, artists collaborate with engineers, cinematographers brainstorm with coders, and everyone has a collegial relationship with the small army of industrial robots stationed here. This is Bot & Dolly, a boutique design studio that specializes in combining massive mechanical arms with custom software for movies, architecture, digital fabrication, and entertainment installations. “We’re a culture of makers, of creators with open minds,” says Tobias Kinnebrew, Bot & Dolly’s director for product strategy. “We work on things that don’t seem possible and try to make them possible.”
"Bot & Dolly and the Rise of Creative Robots"

On Justified, Raylan’s getting a little old for this... [Recap, season 5, episode 10]

 

I never thought I’d say this, but Justified could really use Arlo Givens back. Without his father, Raylan Givens has meandered throughout the season, unmoored from his family connection to Harlan County, and detached from his ex-wife and infant daughter now residing down in Florida. He’s truly the lone wolf now, with barely any professional connection to the other Marshals in his office, a Cold War standoff with Art, and a clean break from Alison. There was a time when a lonely Raylan made for some fireworks—as recently as last season, with him living above the bar, getting into trouble with the owner downstairs. But now, as he ticks closer to his breaking point of frustration with the area, with the office, and with the long lonely existence ahead of him, Raylan has become a lethargic quip-machine. It’s still a joy to watch Olyphant in the part, and his drawl is intoxicating, but he’s now been around the track one too many times, rounding up criminals who are just a spectral repetition of more interesting characters from previous seasons.

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Photos of actors playing historical figures

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VanVictor made a terrific image series showing historical figures played by various actors, from Aristotle to Edgar Allen Poe, Jesus to John Lennon. "Famous people in fiction" (via Laughing Squid and Reddit)

New Peanuts movie represents three generations of the Schulz dynasty

A new Peanuts movie will come to the big screen on November 6, 2015, produced by Charles Schulz's son Craig Schulz with a screenplay co-written by his son Bryan Schulz.

"It's about a round-headed kid and his dog, and that's about as far as I'm willing to go," Craig Schulz told USA Today.

Hal Douglas, famed movie trailer narrator, RIP

Imagine a world... where film trailers have emerged as their own art form. Where today, we learn that one of the greats of that genre has passed on. Hal Douglas, the familiar narrator of thousands of Hollywood trailers, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 89 years old. (New York Times)

Captain America, then and now

"When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who chose to oppose his shield must yield."

Elliot The Bull music video; incredible stop motion animation

Animated by Samuel Lewis for Elliot The Bull's single, Colorblind.

True Detective ends its first season as it began: with two indelible performances [Recap: season 1, episode 8]

It’s helpful, I think, to look at True Detective through the lens of Nic Pizzolatto’s career before the bidding war for this show reached astronomical levels. He was an English professor, teaching creative writing and literature at schools like UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago, and DePauw. But he left academia in 2010, the same year his first novel Galveston was published, to work as a screenwriter, first on the staff of AMC’s The Killing (he’s co-credited along with showrunner Veena Sud on the infuriating first-season finale) and now with a presumably lucrative overall development deal at HBO.  I’ve heard many people from various universities argue, dismissively, that this is the route to go in order to make something more than a paltry living as a fiction writer in the current market. But plucking out his work as a novelist is the key to looking at True Detective as an eight-hour story. That sounds about right for the amount of time it would take to read a crime novel on the denser side.

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Community: Greendale points to fictional dystopians to comment on social media apps [s5e8]


Never let it be said that Community goes halfway in its genre homage episodes. “App Development And Condiments” is a full-on dystopian meltdown that pitches Greendale into a disastrous state of rigid social classes determined by an upstart social network. It’s not as airtight as some of the show’s other clear homage episodes, nor is it as coherent as some of the more sprawling, cafeteria-homage episodes (like the David Fincher Ass-Crack Bandit episode earlier this season), but at least it has a kernel of a clear message. If I’m placing this on my scale of Community styles, this is a batshit insane, throw-everything-at-the-wall stylistic extravaganza, but not everything sticks.

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Hannibal's terrifying gaze inward, in "Sakizuki" [s2e2]

Hannibal’s premiere hit the ground running, but it felt like half of an episode. We barely even met the “artist” behind the giant corpse-eye mural, because there was so much fallout from Will’s incarceration. And this new artist still isn’t much of a big deal in “Sakizuki,” despite racking up the show’s largest tableau to date. It's more of an elaborate metaphor.

And that’s perfectly fine. Because this show isn’t about a killer of the week. It’s about Hannibal. And Will. And how both intelligent psychopaths manipulate the people around them to paint their own reflections. Of course, one is doing it to protect his terrible secrets (and the contents of his fridge.) The other is trying to prove his innocence. But make no mistake – Will must know that by directing attention onto Hannibal in his own way, he will be putting his friends at risk. As viewers, we saw at least Crawford’s confrontation with Hannibal, but I’m most concerned about the immediate safety of Beverly and Alana.

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Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 40 years old and newly restored

Leatherface

On its 40th anniversary, iconic splatterpunk film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been restored with a new 4K transfer from the original 16mm film shot by director Tobe Hooper in 1974. A production of Dark Sky Films, the new print premieres at SXSW on Monday, March 10 with wide theatrical release over the summer.

"I haven't seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the big screen for many, many years," Hooper says. "This 40th anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The color and clarity is spectacular, displaying visual details in the film that were never before perceptible. The newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack breathes new life and energy into the film. I am very much looking forward to audiences experiencing this film as they never have before".

Leatherface had no comment.

The return of Hannibal Lecter

Mikkelsen's civilized serial killer returns for another season of Hannibal. Theresa DeLucci takes a bite out of the show's mad metaphors.Read the rest

The Godfather locations, then and now

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Scouting New York visited the New York filming locations of The Godfather (1972) to see how they look today. Top, Don Corleone gunned down outside Genco (128 Mott Street), and that location now. "The New York Filming Locations of The Godfather, Then and Now" (via Laughing Squid)

'After You’ve Gone' sets everything up for True Detective finale [TV recap: season 1, episode 7]

“Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing, if that long.”

Sharing a defining event links people together for life. Rust Cohle and Marty Hart have the covert assault on Reggie Ledoux’s cookhouse, the seemingly culminating event in the worst case they ever drew as detectives. For better or worse, landing that Dora Lange case has defined nearly 20 years in the lives of these men, and there’s still lingering guilt and emotional damage because of it. The pilot opened with a few shots in the darkness: someone carrying what turned out to be a body, a bit of burning brush, and then a field of crops engulfed in flame. That left the first sign of a sinister undercurrent running throughout the bayou. But the total confusion of those first moments—meeting Rustin Cohle and Martin Hart, discovering their work in Louisiana, peeling back the first few layers of a complex and perplexing series of disappearances and murders—is now almost by the wayside. All that’s left is the present-day conclusion.

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Community leans slightly serious again to explore male bonding [Recap: season 5, episode 7]

The fifth season of Community isn’t breaking new ground, but it’s a perfectly satisfying addition to a catalogue of episodes that now breaks down into a number of categories. Right now, I think there’s a bit of a gradient along which episodes fall: Conceptually ambitious and serious (“Virtual Systems Analysis,” “Critical Film Studies”), the lightly serious (“Mixology Certification”), the lightly comedic (“Introduction To Teaching,” basically most of the first season), and the structurally adventurous joke factories (“Epidemiology,” “Paradigms Of Human Memory,” “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics”).

Episodes fall into or between those categories, but largely that’s what the show is working with at this point. “Bondage And Beta Male Sexuality” falls into that second list. It’s not structurally overambitious, nor is it a consistent laugh-fest. But it’s an earnestly serious episode with many laughs examining two male relationships—a pair of old friends out of touch and a student/teacher interaction—that haven’t been featured previously on the show.

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Justified’s fifth season reaches the midpoint by firing a round of narrative buckshot [Recap: season 5, episode 7]

As Boyd and Johnny Crowder sit outside of a Mexican cartel house south of the border, hands zip-tied behind their backs, Boyd’s “silver tongue” doesn’t talk his way out of the predicament he set up, but he does offer some sage advice about the criminal life he and his cousin have chosen. He says he made peace with the idea that his lifestyle wouldn’t allow for him to have a peaceful death at the end of a long natural life. That’s the risk entailed in attempting to make a better life through ill-gotten gains instead of working in the coalmines.

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Iconic film/TV characters 'shooped with tattoos

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Cheyene Randall's Tumblr of "Shopped Tattoos." (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)

True Detective drops more hints about the possible identity of the Yellow King [Recap: season 1, episode 6]

In the rapturous aftermath of the “oner” from the end of True Detective’s fourth episode, Alyssa Rosenberg wrote the most astute pushback against all the hype. In her analysis, the show went into a project in the New Orleans area and didn’t reveal anything about the lives of the people there. That long take depicted all of the minority characters as some kind of criminal, either as residents of a stash house full of drugs, or toting automatic weapons and running through the streets to fend off the biker gang in the robbery-gone-wrong.

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