The House


American Horror Story: Freak Show

"Edward Mordrake (Part 2)" finds Freak Show wallowing in the sort of dull, meaningless outlandishness that usually sets in right around the halfway mark of any given season of American Horror Story. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk seem to forget that if everything is "shocking" and "subversive," then nothing is, as there's no contrast between conventionality and deviation to produce the sort of dramatic friction that's necessary to sustain something like 95 percent of all fiction. The problem with American Horror Story writ large is that there's never any patience exhibited, never any sense of shocks being actively prepared for. For a few episodes, this speed-freakiness doesn't necessarily matter, as TV shows are obviously playing the long game and need to instill in the viewer a notion of the stakes from the outset. But it's becoming clear that there aren't any stakes in Freak Show, and that the characters, who are barely characters, are going to say and do things whenever it's convenient, because Murphy and Falchuk can't ever be bothered to construct a coherent scenario with which to govern their admittedly impressive sense of atmosphere.

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TAGS: american horror story, american horror story: freak show, brad falchuk, edward mordrade part 2, evan peters, jessica lange, John Carroll Lynch, kathy bates, Michael Chiklis, recap, ryan murphy, sarah paulson, wes bentley


The Other Side of the Wind

1. "Hollywood Ending Near for Orson Welles's Last Film." The New York Times reports that cinema buffs are one step closer to seeing The Other Side of the Wind.

"For more than four decades, Hollywood insiders, financiers and dreamers have been obsessed by the quest to recover The Other Side of the Wind, the unfinished last film of Orson Welles. Cinema buffs consider it the most famous movie never released, an epic work by one of the great filmmakers. Endless legal battles among the rights holders, including Welles's daughter, kept the 1,083 reels of negatives inside a warehouse in a gritty suburb of Paris despite numerous efforts to complete the film—a movie within a movie about the comeback attempt of an aging, maverick director played by John Huston. The quest may be over. A Los Angeles production company, Royal Road Entertainment, said on Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with the sometimes-warring parties to buy the rights. The producers say they aim to have it ready for a screening in time for May 6, the 100th anniversary of Welles's birth, and to promote its distribution at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Calif., next month."

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TAGS: adrian chen, catcall, christopher nolan, David Lowery, eric schmidt, force majeure, gamergate, google, interstellar, julian assange, new york city, orson welles, Ruben Östlund, the new york times, the other side of the wind, tom shone


Sons of Anarchy

Coming on the heels of "Greensleeves," in which Gemma's (Katey Sagal) confession of murder was overheard by her lobotomized-looking grandson, Abel (Ryder and Evan Londo), and Bobby's (Mark Boone Junior) sudden capture led to forced optical surgery, "The Separation of Crows" seemed primed for further shocking developments. Strangely, the episode merely rehashes much of the same ground, biding time until the bloody series finale and leaving viewers in a state of disorientation.

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TAGS: Annabeth Gish, charlie hunnam, courtney love, Dayton Callie, drea de mateo, evan londo, jimmy smits, Katey Sagal, kenneth choi, Maggie Siff, Mark Boone Junior, recap, ryder londo, Sons of Anarchy, the separation of crows, Tommy Flanagan


Frank Serpico

1. "The Police Are Still Out of Control." And Frank Serpico should know.

"Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he's typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don't know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on 'the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,' the reports were never issued.)"

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TAGS: a girl walks home alone at night, ana lily amirpour, barack obama, flavorpill, frank serpico, Harry Shearer, jacques tati, james quandt, nypd, reverse shot, richard nixon, the simpsons


Affordable Care Act

1. "Is the Affordable Care Act Working?" After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows. But it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash.

"At its most basic level, the Affordable Care Act was intended to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance. Measured against that goal, it has made considerable progress. A perfect measurement of the numbers of people affected by the law is still difficult, but a series of private sector surveys and a government report reach the same basic estimates: The number of Americans without health insurance has been reduced by about 25 percent this year—or eight million to 11 million people. Of that total, it appears that more than half of people who are newly insured signed up for Medicaid, especially in the states that opted to broaden eligibility for the program to low-income residents. Most of the rest enrolled in private health plans through the new state insurance marketplaces."

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TAGS: 35mm, adrian chen, affordable care act, birdman, citizenfour, dear white people, facebook, i won't let you down, new beverly cinema, nick pinkerton, ok go, richard brody, wesley morris, wired


Doctor Who

Keeping up Doctor Who's tradition of placing its most off-kilter episodes just before the season finale, "In the Forest of the Night" is a rather lyrical fable about trust and fear of the unknown. Writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce is an acclaimed author of children's novels, so it's no surprise that a group of schoolchildren, under the supervision of Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), are at the center of the tale. One morning, they wake up to a startling transformation: A dense forest has inexplicably appeared overnight to cover all of London (and the rest of the world). A baffled Doctor (Peter Capaldi) has landed nearby, and soon joins them to investigate.

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TAGS: abigail eames, doctor who, Frank Cottrell Boyce, in the forest of the night, jenna coleman, peter capaldi, recap, Sheree Folkson


The Walking Dead

"That could have been us!" Rick (Andrew Lincoln) says about three-quarters of the way through "Four Walls and a Roof," not long after mercilessly hacking up the group of "hunters" that chowed down on Bob's (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) leg. It echoes the central questions at the heart of The Walking Dead: What have we become, and what will we become? For Bob, who was secretly bitten during the raid on the food bank, the answer is clear enough, but for Rick, these question hang heavy in the aftermath of his butchering of the cannibals that followed his group out of Terminus. And if nothing else, "Four Walls and a Room" was a startling reminder of just how seriously the series takes murder, even in regard to people who would happily eat your grandmother.

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TAGS: andrew lincoln, Chad L. Coleman, four walls and a roof, lawrence gilliard jr., Michael Cudlitz, recap, seth gilliam, sonequa martin-green, the walking dead


Homeland

"Yesterday you told me I should be worried about the ISI," Aayan (Suraj Sharma) shouts in the early stages of "About a Boy," as Carrie (Claire Danes) tries to scare him into staying in the safe house. "Now, today, you're telling me I should be worried about the CIA!" "You should be worried," she replies, "about both." True enough: With the same terse, fragmented structure as "Iron in the Fire," tonight's episode of Homeland ably frames its accelerating narrative as a clash between competing intelligence agencies, one that threatens to ensnare unsuspecting innocents. "Lie, manipulate, exploit," Fara (Nazanin Boniadi) comments, glossing the rules of the game. "We're using the enemy's own way to bring him down," Quinn (Rupert Friend) confirms. "That is the job."

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TAGS: about a boy, claire danes, homeland, laila robins, Mandy Patinkin, mark moses, michael o'keefe, nazanin boniadi, nimrat kaur, recap, Rupert Friend, suraj sharma


A City Sleeps

A City Sleeps marks Harmonix's first foray outside of pure rhythm games like Frequency, Rock Band, and Dance Central. It's not that much of a stretch, though, as a bullet-hell shooter is all about recognizing and responding to patterns, and many of the enemies and bosses fire their weapons along with each level's beats. Of course, it's also not that much of a game, with much of its play time padded by the grueling repetition necessary to memorize the ever-harder versions or cursed constraints of its paltry three levels. In music terms, this is more of an EP than an LP, one that falls between both Savant: Ascent and Retro/Grade in both length and enjoyment.

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TAGS: a city sleeps, harmonix, retrograde, savant: ascent


Mulholland Drive

1. "Why David Lynch's Mulholland Drive Is a Great Horror Film." For the Vulture, Bilge Ebiri explains why.

"This is about as perfect a 'horror' scene as one can imagine. The oddly floating camera, the strangely somnambulant delivery of the actors, the way they seem to be literally pulled towards the dumpster, the anticipation of the reveal. And, yes, the sound—that ever-present, Lynchian thrum that infects even the most mundane things with anticipation and dread. The scene also sets up this terrifying thing behind the dumpster—is it a hobo, a demon, or something else?—as being a pivotal figure, even though we only see him briefly a couple more times later in the film. ('He’s the one who’s doing it' is such a delectably vague statement.) So, right at the outset of Mulholland Drive, we have the suggestion of the supernatural and demonic, of something fantastical lurking beneath what seems, at least, at that point, to be a somewhat straightforward thriller."

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TAGS: bilge ebiri, blackwater, carrie, david lynch, ikea, jeremy scahill, kenneth lonergan, kieran culkin, mulholland drive, oscar de la renta, piper laurie, sarah jessica parker, the intercept, the shining, this is our youth, vulture






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