The House


Homeland

What the fucking fuck?

So exclaims CIA director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) as the shit hits the fan in the riveting "There's Something Else Going On," an hour of looming catastrophe that counts among Homeland's finest. Sanding down the narrative detritus accumulated over the course of four seasons until all that remains is the lonely image of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) stranded on an airfield's tarmac, the episode returns the series to the relationship with which it began, between the old hand and his brilliant protégé. In this sense, Lockhart's words express not only the shock of seeing Haissam Haqqani's (Numan Acar) conspiracy come to fruition, but also the understanding to which Homeland has been building all season. On the ground and at the U.S. embassy, in offices, interrogation rooms, operations centers, and prison cells, "There's Something Else Going On" confronts the terror of fighting a war with no victor.

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TAGS: claire danes, homeland, laila robins, Mandy Patinkin, nimrat kaur, Raza Jaffrey, recap, Sarita Choudhury, there's something else going on, tracy letts


Lost

1. "The Lost Interviews." Todd VanDerWerff interviews Damon Lindelof about 10 episodes from the show's first season.

"A decade after its debut, Lost seems ever more like a weird, collective dream we all had. A complicated, character-driven sci-fi/fantasy hybrid with heavy elements of horror? And we all watched it? And it was on broadcast network television? When looking at the modern TV landscape, it's hard to find anything quite so ambitious, especially on the broadcast networks, which increasingly manage toward the margins in a dying business model. 'Even if you fail, people will appreciate you having attempted the harder trick and crashed than just kind of doing the easy stuff,' said co-creator Damon Lindelof during a 90-minute interview about the show's first season. He said this wisdom was instilled in him by his fellow co-creator, J.J. Abrams. Abrams would leave the show seven episodes in, but leave an indelible mark upon it: the mark of going for broke, of trying anything, of never settling for the routine."

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TAGS: alan turing, albert serra, benedict cumberbatch, blue velvet, cutprintfilm, damon lindelof, david lynch, dna, fbi, jake pitre, lost, mike mccabe, Morten Tyldum, movie mezzanine, nick pinkerton, patti smith, pussy riot, story of my death, the imitation game, todd vanderwerff, twin peaks


Mike Nichols

1. "Mike Nichols R.I.P." The acclaimed director of The Graduate dies at 83.

"Mike Nichols, one of America's most celebrated directors, whose long, protean résumé of critic- and crowd-pleasing work earned him adulation both on Broadway and in Hollywood, died on Wednesday. He was 83. His death was announced in a statement by the president of ABC News, James Goldston. Dryly urbane, Mr. Nichols had a gift for communicating with actors and a keen comic timing, which he honed early in his career as half of the popular sketch-comedy team Nichols and May. He accomplished what Orson Welles and Elia Kazan, but few if any other directors have: He achieved popular and artistic success in both theater and film. He was among the most decorated people in the history of show business, one of only a handful to have won an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy."

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TAGS: assassin's creed, bennett miller, foxcatcher, global strike command, glynnis macnicol, justin clark, medium, mike nichols, paste, princess leia, reid cherlin, richard brody, star wars, the graduate


American Horror Story: Freak Show

"Test of Strength" is a work of bookkeeping, an episode intended to remind audiences who Freak Show's denizens precisely are before a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. Everyone's accounted for this week, and the narrative, busy and lacking in urgency, serves as a representative reminder of why Freak Show has grown so interminable: The characters' actions exist in respective vacuums, appearing to affect nothing. A flamboyant murder can be quickly swept away, leading to the next episode, which starts at a moment of relative peace, builds toward another murder or betrayal, only to reset yet again. Characters are constantly plotting against one another, but this often scans as weirdly harmless, because a "surprise" atrocity will reliably render the prospective conspiracies moot. American Horror Story grows tedious every season, excluding the high-water mark that's Asylum, but no prior installment has flat-lined as quickly as Freak Show. It's an impressive costume and set pageant, and little more.

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TAGS: american horror story, american horror story: freak show, denis o'hare, erika ervin, evan peters, finn wittrock, Frances Conroy, grace gummer, jessica lange, kathy bates, Lee Tergesen, Michael Chiklis, recap, sarah paulson, test of strength


Side Show

The historical link between vaudeville and the American musical—the only difference, really, is that the latter tells a single story—has been exploited in more than a few musicals, perhaps most successfully in Chicago and Gypsy. But nowhere is that connection more uncomfortably deployed than in Side Show, the story of conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, which premiered on Broadway in 1997 with music by Henry Krieger and book/lyrics by Bill Russell. Revived now under the direction of Bill Condon with a reworked book, the show is even darker than its original production, and though full of some remarkably tender moments and peerless performances from its leading ladies, it's still more well-intentioned than compelling.

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TAGS: Bill Condon, bill russell, david rockwell, david st. louis, emily padgett, erin davie, henry krieger, jules fisher, matthew hydzik, peggy eisenhauer, ryan silverman, side show, st. james theatre


Charles Champlin

1. "Charles Champlin R.I.P." The former Los Angeles Times arts editor and critic dies at 88.

"Charles Champlin, the former Los Angeles Times arts editor, film critic and columnist whose insightful, elegantly written reviews and columns informed and entertained readers for decades, died Sunday at his Los Angeles home. He was 88. The cause was complications of Alzheimer's disease, said his son, Charles Champlin Jr. The Harvard-educated Champlin had worked 17 years at Life and Time magazines before joining The Times as entertainment editor and three-times-a-week columnist in 1965. During his 26 years at The Times, Champlin served as the paper's principal film critic from 1967 through 1980. He then shifted to book reviewing and, with his 'Critic at Large' column, offered a more general overview of the arts. He retired in 1991 but continued to contribute to The Times' daily and Sunday Calendar sections and wrote two books despite becoming legally blind from age-related macular degeneration in 1999. In honor of his film coverage and criticism, Champlin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007."

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TAGS: charles champlin, cinderella, imogen sara smith, inherent vice, jean grémillon, jesse baaron, kenneth branagh, la weekly, los angeles times, men's central jail, reverse shot, roxane gay, the new inquiry, virginia quarterly review


Sons of Anarchy

The slow-moving guillotine that's been hovering over the heads of so many characters in Sons of Anarchy's final season starts to speed up in "Suits of Woe." All the lies and betrayals perpetrated by SAMCRO and their kin are coming undone, leaving many significant members stricken with the kind of suffocating guilt that can only be assuaged by confession. As the title of tonight's episode suggests, wearing disgrace for this long takes a massive toll on one's strength and sense of purpose.

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TAGS: recap, sons or anarchy, suits of woe


Straight White Men

Young Jean Lee both does and doesn't traffic in subtlety. Two earlier plays by the South Korean-born playwright, The Shipment and Untitled Feminist Show, presented extreme versions of black and feminist theater tropes, respectively, to defamiliarize the ways we process race and gender on stage. In both cases the results were controversial (the former has particularly angered many of her spectators), but never simple. Among Lee's charges against "identity" plays is the false sympathies they promote for characters who're different from some presumed norm. It was only a matter of time, then, before Lee wrote Straight White Men, a play that targets the one racial group that few in the liberal class are inclined to feel particularly bad for. The result is as surprising and challenging as her other work, though almost unrecognizable in its approach.

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TAGS: Austin Pendleton, david evans morris, Gary Wilmes, james stanley, pete simpson, straight white men, the shipment, untitled feminist show, young jean lee


Emoji

1. "Smile, You're Speaking EMOJI." Adam Sternbergh, for New York magazine, on the rapid evolution of a wordless tongue.

"This elasticity of meaning is a large part of the appeal and, perhaps, the genius of emoji. They have proved to be well suited to the kind of emotional heavy lifting for which written language is often clumsy or awkward or problematic, especially when it's relayed on tiny screens, tapped out in real time, using our thumbs. These seemingly infantile cartoons are instantly recognizable, which makes them understandable even across linguistic barriers. Yet the implications of emoji—their secret meanings—are constantly in flux."

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TAGS: Adam Sternbergh, charles taylor, charli xcx, emoji, genevieve koski, hollywood, jillian mapes, new york magazine, pitchfork, pitchfork music festival, Sleater-Kinney, st. vincent, the dissolve, the happy wanderer, the sopranos, todd vanderwerff


Christopher Nolan

1. "Christopher Nolan Breaks Silence on Interstellar Sound (Exclusive)." The director says the movie's 'adventurous and creative' sound is 'the right approach for this experiential film.'

"Nolan attributed Interstellar's sound to 'very tight teamwork' among composer Hans Zimmer, re-recording mixers Gary Rizzo and Gregg Landaker and sound designer Richard King. 'We made carefully considered creative decisions,' he said. 'There are particular moments in this film where I decided to use dialogue as a sound effect, so sometimes it's mixed slightly underneath the other sound effects or in the other sound effects to emphasize how loud the surrounding noise is. It's not that nobody has ever done these things before, but it's a little unconventional for a Hollywood movie.'"

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TAGS: charles taylor, chris strompolos, christopher nolan, eric zala, gary rizzo, gregg landaker, hans zimmer, hayao miyazaki, hickey & bogg, inherent vice, interstellar, john semley, los angeles review of books, los angeles times, raiders of the lost ark, rebecca keegan, rollin






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