In Death by Water, the 16th novel by Kenzaburo Oe to be translated into English, the Nobel laureate returns to the same concerns that have filled his work in the near half-century since his first novel was published. The story follows Oe's alter ego, the writer Kogito Choko, a narrator who's appeared as Oe's representative in many of his previous novels and who's here attributed with writing a few novels from Ōe's own canon, most notably The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away. What could be seen as an attempt to hide behind a pseudonym is in fact central to the issue Oe is concerned with understanding, as he again explores how fiction and truth mingle to create not just personal histories and relationships, but narratives of entire societies.
“Williams and Walker” is another display of spectacular ingenuity from The Knick director Steven Soderbergh and writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, wherein the show's customarily airtight cross-cutting between narratives begins to spell clear doom for the empire of hospital benefactor Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines). But first, the episode features a solid three minutes of pre-coital—pre-foreplay, even—kidding around between Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and his new girlfriend, Genevieve Everidge (Arielle Goldman). Unsurprisingly, Soderbergh's masterful timing is what makes the scene work—which is to say, what makes it uncomfortable: The occasion wracks both Bertie and Genevieve with nervous energy, and the camera refuses to flinch as they laugh their way through one awkward false start after another. It's a surprisingly warm moment given the death of Bertie's mother in the previous episode, with little-to-no foreboding attached—a rarity among The Knick's more intimate moments.
Since its inauguration in 1954, the Mar del Plata International Film Festival has endured several name changes, switched governing bodies, been moved to different months, and been canceled for decades. Yet, since its definitive return in 1996, it's grown into a stable and vital cinephile event. Some of the best movies screened during its latest edition, celebrated earlier this month, echo its resilience and demonstrate what can be achieved with a tiny budget and in unorthodox, even dangerous conditions.
Pixar's The Good Dinosaur is an unusually sedate and uninspired entry in the studio's canon. Which is to say that your holiday weekend might be better spent sitting the children down in front of one of their more engaging outings. Upon the release of Pixar's 16th full-length feature, we're counting down its colorful titles, from worst to best.
“Face the Raven” is an episode that will be most remembered for its climax, which brings a tragic end to the adventures of Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi). But along the way, new writer Sarah Dollard shows that she's a real find for the series, taking a mundane idea—the fake streets inserted by map makers into their products as copyright traps—and putting a very Doctor Who-ish spin on it, to come up with the idea of a Harry Potter-like secret world in the heart of London which acts as a refuge for a host of different aliens, hiding from the humans all around them. (There is a vague analogy to the current European refugee crisis, but unlike “The Zygon Invasion,” political references are very much in the background here.)
Heads up, indeed. Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead begins with a confirmation of almost everything you likely suspected about Glenn's fate. Hasn't every episode since “Thank You” constituted a form of advanced warning—a wink of sorts that one of the show's most beloved characters had yet to reach his sell-by date? This, at least, explains the anticlimactic tenor of the opening minutes. Yes, it's Nicolas's (Michael Traynor) corpse, after falling atop Glenn (Steven Yeun), from which a group of zombies pulls out a string of entrails. And, yes, it's in the ghoulishly agonizing heat of the moment that he inches backward and beneath the dumpster from which he fell.
No wonder Carrie (Claire Danes) trusts Allison (Miranda Otto). When they first met in Baghdad in 2005, Allison was a loyal servant of the U.S. government. She was jaded, like most Americans mired in the hopeless ideals of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but she was doing her best to cling to the rhetoric of locals like Judge Khalil (Makram J. Khoury), who naïvely insisted that “Success is possible if we don't give up.” But at one point, her aspirations didn't extend far beyond a vacation in St. Lucia, at a bar surrounded by gorgeous” men. No, it wasn't until she fell into a honeypot scheme involving her asset, Ahmed Nazari (Darwin Shaw), and his millions of embezzled dollars, that she became desperate enough to ally with the ambitious SVR Ivan (Mark Ivanir), who seemed to understand her deeper ambitions, and knew how to temper them with equal parts fear and opportunity.
Not every strategy game wants to be the next Starcraft or Crusader Kings, but you'd be forgiven for thinking so. In an era where the cooperative action of multiplayer online battle arenas dominates the cold tactics of their stylistic forebears, strategy developers face an onerous fork: to double down on the spheres of interlocking complexity that have come to define the genre, or cast away their hard-won layers of play trying to chase the MOBA dragon by adding mechanics that test a player’s reflexes rather than their tactical acumen. Still, after a few hours with Bit Shifter, a game that tries to wrap the genre's compelling micro-decisions into a lighter, more approachable package, the latter path may be more fraught than once thought.
Even if the at-times unbelievable density of The Knick's second season has felt thus far like no accident, it's a welcome change to see Steven Soderbergh digging his directorial heels deeper into fewer subplots in this week's “There Are Rules.” For the most part, the episode bounces back and forth between two narrative through lines: Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) investigating the possible medical benefits of hypnosis, only to become obsessed with a pair of conjoined Belarusian twins (Miranda and Rebecca Gruss), and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) performing an after-hours, radiotherapy-assisted operation on his dying mother (Linda Emond) at Mount Sinai Hospital.
When writing about the box-office prospects for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire two years ago, I commended the film's producers for shucking a 3D conversion in favor of an exclusive 2D release and staying true to their original intentions by refusing to cash-in on of-the-moment trends. Big questions remain regarding 3D's longevity, but less so for the immediate future. In 2014, 12 of the year's 15 highest domestic grossing film's benefited from a 3D release, with American Sniper, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and 22 Jump Street being the only titles to make the ranks without it. This year has seen similar results.